By Debbie Hauss, Executive Editor
The wait is over. After three years of purposeful acquisitions of best-of-breed retail applications Oracle Retail has introduced Release 13 which Duncan Angove, general manager and SVP says is “an incredibly important milestone for Oracle. With Release 13 we have delivered on our vision to transform the retail business.”
What’s unique about Release 13 is the “breadth of the solution,” notes Greg Buzek, president of IHL Services. “These were all best-of-breed applications that have been integrated. This is what we’ve been waiting for since all of those acquisitions. SAP is the only other vendor that comes close to offering the same breadth of all the components in the retail marketplace.”
Enhancements in Release 13
Oracle notes five key enhancements which comprise Release 13:
1. Regular price optimization designed to deliver enhanced margin, sales and customer-centric pricing
2. Merchant workspace which provides single sign-on, dashboard and reporting capabilities across solutions
3. Wholesale functionality for retailers to grow market share by selling to other businesses
4. Global performance capabilities such as ‘Multiple Sets of Books’ functionality and Stock Ledger VAT enhancements
5. Advanced security features that include enhanced user activity logging and secure implementation documentation
Metric improvements for specific retail segments
Oracle has designed different components of the system to address the needs of specific types of retailers, noted in particular: fashion, grocery, hard lines and emerging markets. “We have designed the system to meet retailers where they live, understanding that they face unique challenges based on the sectors they compete in,” says Dave Boyce, vice president of product strategy.
Boyce describes metric improvements that retailers in each segment can expect to achieve with Release 13:
• Fashion – Five to 15 percent improvements in gross margin with improved pricing effectiveness; and five to 10 percent improvements in gross margin by using forecasting and optimization technology to make smarter buying and allocating decisions
• Grocery – Up to 10 percent reduction in inventory with precision analytics; and a two percent margin improvement through price, promotions and lifecycle management.
• Hard lines – As much as a 2.5 percent margin improvement with space and merchandise optimization; and bottom line improvements through improved trade fund management
• Emerging markets – Ability to manage multiple format and geographies; and speed to market by leveraging mature implementation tools
IHL’s Buzek agrees that these types of metrics are achievable, albeit dependent on a number of factors. “So much of this is dependent on the installation, the timing, the economy and the retailer’s own internal culture,” Buzek notes. “Additionally to get these benefits they likely need to install all of the components or multiple components.” But, he adds: “It’s not that I doubt Oracle’s claims. The estimates may even be low for what is possible. For the retailer who is willing to embrace the architecture and whose merchants are willing to learn and trust the system, the ROI is certainly achievable, particularly because of existing inefficiencies” that may be in place.
Significant uplift in sales possible
Buzek goes as far as predicting significant improvements in same store sales for certain retailers. “Those retailers who embrace the tools and improve their execution will benefit the most, improving same store sales by as much as 7.1 percent.” In addition, he says that the fashion and hard lines industries are most likely to see the best results because they are suffering the most inefficiencies to date.