Omni-Channel: A Paradigm Shift for Retail

This is the third in a series of blogs concerning what I call the Omni-Channel Tsunami. The focus is on the impact of Omni-Channel in the retail sector. On October 9th, I attended the SPS Commerce In:fluence conference in NYC.

This one-day forum focused on the key industry trends, bringing hundreds of retail executives together to sharpen their industry knowledge and share experiences.

using cell phone

What kind of technologies will be required to support customers rising consumer expectations in today’s world – rapid fulfillment, available inventory (anytime and anywhere) and detailed item information, what some call The Amazon Effect? The retail industry certainly has its challenges as they were built to fit a store, not a customer. The majority are running today on legacy systems, relational databases and spreadsheets. From the research that was shared, 43% of product data is wrong, 80% have no confidence in it. Only 1 out of 5 retailers today can integrate data across the enterprise.

Cloud omni-channelAccording to Sanjay Partharathy, CEO & Founder of Indix, there are currently 500 million products across the planet, which will double in a year or so.

Unstructured data from email, the web and social media continues to increase in velocity, there is an explosion of attributes that need to be shared via e-commerce and retail’s “product intelligence” is stored in non-integrated systems all over the place. New business systems are required to provide real-time product intelligence, those based on machine learning to identify, search, discover and close – delivering the right product to the right person.

“It is becoming more challenging than ever for many companies to decide what choices to make in order to keep up with their customer’s demands.”

In an excellent session on cloud computing, Greg Pierce of Concerto Cloud Services shared some of the benefits of private cloud systems. From his perspective, a public multi-tenant cloud is like flying on a domestic airplane vs. a private jet.

  • “…some things are meant to be private”
  • Better security & governance
  • Disaster recovery – what if scenarios
  • System availability

Matthew Rhodus of NetSuite provided the benefits of public cloud systems. From his perspective it helps companies move from a maintenance-centric mode to “…an innovative-centric approach.”

  • Security and privacy are protected
  • Better scalability – targeted at companies with faster/higher growth (IPO track)
  • Upgrades are seamless
  • Designed for the internet

Point of Sale (POS) solutions are critical in capturing real-time information concerning product location and promotions. According to Michael Olshansky, CTO Maurice Sporting Goods, 95% of their key information is captured via POS. As smart phones continue to advance and proliferate, consumers want to use them in retail stores. Thanks to technologies such as Apple’s iBeacon, in the near future “smart stores” will know when you arrived and track in-store behavior. By merging your physical and digital worlds the store will know your demographics and preferences, what you like, when you buy.

It is becoming more challenging than ever for many companies to decide what choices to make in order to keep up with their customer’s demands. With a strong balance of people, process and technology skills, ATS draws on its decades of experience, resources, proven methodology and unique, collaborative approach to assist you in identifying solutions that best meet your business needs.