Request a call back

Key lessons of a retail solution upgrade project

array(5) { [0]=> object(WP_Post)#9963 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(4352) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2019-05-21 09:59:17" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-05-21 09:59:17" ["post_content"]=> string(2208) "
Retailers today must have the ability to execute marketing campaigns, communication and loyalty programs efficiently and effectively to engage with a hyper-connected, hyper-informed and very impatient customer. To execute customer engagement successfully, retailers need to centralize and analyze customer data and purchasing history at a mass scale and in a short time.
A good Customer Relationship Management tool will identify prospects and opportunities for driving additional value for the customer and also the retailer by processing and analyzing customer behaviour information and ultimately help retailers retain customers by recommending the most relevant offers. The main objective for the retailer is to better understand the customers, and to involve them in the relationship with the retailer at all stages of their interaction with one another by serving them better: with more relevant offers, timely information and help, but only when appropriate and useful.

You can read our article on Modern Day Customer Engagement here.

" ["post_title"]=> string(45) "Customer engagement – best practice example" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(43) "customer-engagement-a-best-practice-example" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2019-05-21 11:24:04" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-05-21 11:24:04" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(24) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [1]=> object(WP_Post)#9965 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(4254) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2019-04-24 11:52:23" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-04-24 11:52:23" ["post_content"]=> string(9160) "

In 2018, we conducted a survey of our customers and a global analysis of the retail market. Our experts have highlighted customer engagement as a key differentiating factor for success among retailers.

Retailers today must have the ability to execute marketing campaigns, communication and loyalty programs efficiently and effectively to engage with a hyper connected, hyper informed and very impatient customer. To execute customer engagement successfully, retailers need to centralize and analyze customer data and purchasing history at mass scale and in short time.

A good Customer Relationship Management tool will identify prospects and opportunities for driving additional value for the customer and also the retailer by processing and analyzing customer behavior information and ultimately help retailers retain customers by recommending the most relevant offers. The main objective for the retailer is to better understand the customers, and to involve them in the relationship with the retailer at all stages of their interaction with one another by serving them better: with more relevant offers, timely information and help, but only when appropriate and useful.

Remember that attracting a new customer costs ten times more effort than keeping an existing customer.

  1. Do we know the target customers accurately and efficiently?
  2. What are current trends?
  3. What are marketing campaigns that work?

These are all questions that need to be analyzed in detail to achieve good client engagement.

Engage social networks to work for retailers: What if satisfied customers talked about their experience to their friends? A retailer's job at this stage will be to provide maximum satisfaction in customer experiences by encouraging and enabling the concept of ambassadors:

  1. To identify and reward the engagement of customers on social networks
  2. To identify and engage the entourage of these customers

Customer Relationship
Means the recording of customer data and their interactions with the brand, for example through

  • their purchases,
  • their returns,
  • their interest in campaigns and promotions,
  • their calls and the resolution of their problems
  • their comments on social networks

All of this data must be recorded, sorted, and stored for analysis and insight.

The management of offers and promotions, personalized or not, the creation of coupons, or simply advertising; can now be targeted smartly, if CRM data is correctly used.
A great novelty is to bring marketing teams into symbiosis with customer relation teams, for example sales teams, customer service teams or digital teams; ideally this is accompanied by a specialized tool that allows a 360° vision of the customer.
The tasks are then simplified and made more reliable by following best practice patterns. The creation of customer segments, through analysis of customer behavior, make it possible to precisely target groups of people for specific messages and campaigns.

Customers must feel engaged. This is mainly done through loyalty programs, with or without a card or other identifying mechanism, which is usually accompanied by rewards of different kinds.
Loyalty options are the "visible and official" part of customer loyalty. Point calculations, loyalty levels, discounts or associated gifts are tracked and appreciated over time.
There are other factors of loyalty:
The customer can also associate with a brand, in the long-term or for a particular event; this is the case when a couple chooses a brand to build their list of wedding gifts.
The customer will also have a feeling of loyalty when their experience is fully omni-channel enabled, allowing them to keep their wish list or shopping basket created on the internet when they enter a brick & mortar store.
Customer loyalty can also be rewarded by social media posts as a brand ambassador.

For each of these functionalities, Data is at the heart of analysis and decision support; a good tool should be powerful and stable and the data should be organized efficiently and the user interface should be easy to navigate, so that teams can easily access the right information at a glance for all channels of engagement.

How can a retailer best select the right tool and easily integrate it into business processes and the existing application environment?

To answer this question one option is the Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Solution.

Beyond the standard features offered by CRM tools, including visualization of customer records and purchase history; this solution draws our attention to key points:

The business features associated with:

  • Marketing functionalities: offers and promotions, campaigns, coupon management are accessible through targeting by smart lists of customer segments, whether dynamic or static.
  • Loyalty: via management of loyalty cards, gift cards, reward programs and management of wish lists
  • Omni-channel customer journey: the tool makes it possible to coordinate all customer data regardless of channel (store, e-commerce, mobile) and to identify the trends.
  • Analysis: of results by intelligent reporting tools that enable buyers to adapt their offer and further improve the company's turnover.

We also want to highlight the ability to manage franchise operations which enables and manages access to customer information for franchisees based on their store or group of stores.

Other features simplify daily operations such as currency management, duplicate entry management, order and status management, role and privilege management.

Social media features are available to identify customer profiles and gather insights on social networks.

Technical and integration features available on cloud-based solution, along with other features such as the Web service approach, ergonomic configuration, and pre-integrated Oracle Commerce cloud suite for easy combination of payment tools (X-store), e-commerce (OCC), order management (OMS), BI (Retail Insight), make the cloud an ideal technology to deploy quickly with minimal effort and high reliability both for the users and the technical integration into the existing solution landscape.I

If you are interested in seeing or learning more about how a modern customer engagement can improve your retail business results, contact us for a presentation and demonstration of our approach here.

" ["post_title"]=> string(49) "Modern customer engagement solution for retailers" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(63) "v16-customer-engagement-cloud-solution-a-good-crm-for-retailers" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2019-05-03 17:00:09" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-05-03 17:00:09" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(24) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [2]=> object(WP_Post)#9967 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(4206) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2019-04-11 15:59:26" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-04-11 15:59:26" ["post_content"]=> string(970) "
Avantages de l’implémentation du service cloud de planification financière des marchandises.

Cette vidéo décrit les défis et la meilleure approche solution pour construire des plans financiers précis et exploitables dans les meilleurs délais. La solution présentée est basée sur « Oracle retail Merchandise Financial Planning service Cloud », une solution SAAS reposant sur la technologie de la plateforme Oracle RPAS Cloud.
" ["post_title"]=> string(59) "Avantages de l’implémentation du service cloud de MFP-CS" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(49) "avantages-de-limplementation-du-service-cloud-mfp" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2019-04-16 12:51:16" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-04-16 12:51:16" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(24) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [3]=> object(WP_Post)#9968 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(3973) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2019-01-02 15:14:24" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-01-02 15:14:24" ["post_content"]=> string(5211) "Complexity of retail business has been growing in an accelerating fashion over time and is posing a growing challenge for retailers to manage. Consequently, solutions supporting increasingly complex capabilities and processes for retailers are in turn getting bigger, more complex, and more integrated than in the past. Although supporting technology and integration has matured significantly over years of evolution in IT solutions, maintaining such systems has also become more complex, requiring extensive training, expert knowledge and experience from individuals, teams and providers becoming specialized in offering such services. Retailers are implementing complex solutions to support capabilities their customers expect and take for granted. With the implementation and integration of such solutions comes not only the task of managing change, designing and building integration and converting data as needed but also the task of maintaining and supporting the implemented solution after go live. Such support, depending on specifics of the implementation itself, can be low or high effort activity, requiring little or high investment from the retailer. Important questions such as whether implemented solutions are to be supported internally or with the services of an external provider or both in a combination are all choices that must be made with a view on all aspects of the business in operation. The cost side of maintaining a solution can be calculated in both the case of an internal team or when using an external provider or both relatively easily. Sizing the services is a bigger challenge. Ideally, during the preparation for go live during the implementation project there are already visible and usable metrics on system stability, problem frequency and average complexity/severity which should help in gaining an insight into what will follow in production after go-live. This preparation phase incident count and characteristic can then be used as an estimate for post go-live support needs. During the natural life-cycle of support incident count, there is a decreasing effort of maintenance observed over time as the supported solution(s) stabilize and become mature in the organization from a user adoption maturity perspective. This means that effort for providing support decreases over time – an important factor to consider when sizing such services for the longer run. The benefit of a good support services can be measured and used for justification of cost in terms of the damage that occurs when support services are missing or are inadequate in coverage scope or quality. Measuring damage cost impact of a system outage is relatively straight-forward, in retail it is typically the direct loss of trading business revenue for a period of time as a worst-case scenario. Other more complex loss scenarios are calculated based on consequential effects of solution performance loss such as lawsuits from data leaks due to a security issue and consequential damages to the retailer’s brand and image. With both the cost and potential loss figures calculated, a well-supported and justified decision can be made on what services to secure and in what configuration and cost to secure business continuity security.

Key learnings when acquiring a retail IT solution management service are:

  1. Have an in-house team: bring at least some of the know-how and service capabilities in house to avoid dependence on external vendors, secure the ability to evaluate and measure competence and quality of ongoing services of external providers and securing continuity in case providers are switched.
  2. Rely on automated tools to monitor and alert on solution health and availability. Such tools have a cost to implement but are low cost to upkeep and give a second line of systematic 24x7 defense against solution problems going undetected.
  3. Outsource part of the support and maintenance services and monitoring activity to a specialized provider to get best of breed expertise and services at a competitive cost:
    1. Because they share expertise with internal team and have competence and experience that is attained over multiple support engagements and over a longer period of time than internal team.
    2. Because external teams can be scaled up and down quickly and flexibly when solution stabilization occurs or when changes are made and a new stabilization period begins with an initial high count of issues.
  4. Regularly measure both in house team and service provider on pre-shared KPIs and share commitment with SLA schedule to tie both internal and external provider to ensuring high quality of services and consequently a high ROI for the cost of securing such services.
  5. Structure KPIs to measure both service continuity on the technical level and also business performance support.
  6. Share roadmap and plans with both internal and external providers to ensure all teams can prepare in advance of changes coming.
By Bassem KHALIL" ["post_title"]=> string(35) "Measuring ROI of Retail IT services" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(415) "This article focuses on how a retailer can measure the return of investment on retail IT solution maintenance services. The article explores in detail the history of IT solution evolution in terms of complexity, key factors affecting cost and potential cost of not having such services secured with a high quality and shares practical advice on how to secure the best benefit for cost ratio in it solution services." ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(55) "measuring-roi-of-retail-it-solution-management-services" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2019-05-27 12:14:46" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-05-27 12:14:46" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(24) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [4]=> object(WP_Post)#10170 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(3921) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-11-06 15:27:45" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-11-06 15:27:45" ["post_content"]=> string(6389) "Running a retail business today is one of the most challenging, unforgiving yet rewarding activities business managers are faced with. Competition is fierce, change in the industry is faster than ever and the power and influence of the consumer has grown to an unprecedented level. It is not surprising that more retail businesses have faced severe performance challenges in the last 5 years than during the preceding 50 years before that. What have we learned and what key differentiators have been observed for success in these fast times in retail? This article sheds some light on the answer to these important questions and aims to help retail organizations make decisions that have been shown to improve business performance in today’s business environment. Based on information we have gathered from our ecosystem and also from large scale research organizations such as RIS news, we have built a retail best practice study to identify what key differentiating factors are playing a role in better performance among retailers. We studied 2017-2018 retail business performance and its correlation with software solutions used by organizations that outperformed their peers. In overall retail business performance in 2017 and 2018 we observed that customers appear to value positive engagement experience over low prices. We also observed that retailers that address customer engagement challenges well tend to outperform peers that don’t. Interestingly retailers that compensate for a poor customer experience with low prices essentially accelerate their own decline since lower prices decrease margin and consequently the ability to innovate and invest in better customer engagement and related capabilities. This trend was observed to be true in a wide variety of retailer type and segment, including retailers traditionally viewed as discounters. Another interesting observation is that among poor performers there is a wide variety of retailers in terms of age and size, signaling that in today’s business environment, being successful is not helped necessarily by large size or long business history and conversely, being a large or old business provides no immunity whatsoever against the immediate need to adopt to a changing consumer demand. Large retail businesses need to act with the same degree of urgency as smaller peers to avoid a catastrophically degrading business performance scenario. In a nutshell two key differentiating abilities for strong business performance were identified:

1.      the ability to engage customers in a meaningful and unique way

2.      the ability to execute an omnichannel operation without significant issues like items not in stock, etc.

Omnichannel execution we have defined as a capability to execute operations in the retail supply chain with the necessary processes and solutions so that items are at the right cost, where and when they need to be. Customer engagement is a capability that is heavily analytics driven with segmentation and clustering of customers playing a key role in enabling marketing teams to execute customer engagement on time, at scale and with meaningful information for the customer that creates value both for the customer and the retailer. It is worthwhile noting that analytics plays an overall key role in supporting both omnichannel execution and customer engagement by optimizing merchandising and omnichannel operations alike. Having the right processes and advanced solutions that optimize those processes effectively is a universal differentiating factor that identified outperformers among retailers.

Our recommendation for retailersAssess your current business performance

With these observations in mind we are suggesting the following: Perform an assessment study on your retail business and score how well you perform on critical retail process execution:

a. Can you deliver your customers what, when, where and how they want at the cost you need to achieve to secure your margin?

b. Are you engaging your customers in a positively meaningful, unique and memorable way?

c. Are you achieving points a. and b. above but could do it in a more efficient way?

Choosing an IT Roadmap that solves above-identified challenges In light of information from our research, there are certain recommendations for near term and long term opportunities every retailer can identify and action. What these specifically are depends on your individual circumstances and current maturity level in your retail processes. Some questions you can ask yourself as a business leader to help you chose the most appropriate next steps are:

a. What business processes/capabilities are missing/performing poorly and need to be created/improved in my retail business?

b. Are there IT solution changes/new solution(s) needed for supporting my new/improved business processes?

c. Based on available budget, what process change and/or IT solution change do I get implemented when and in what sequence?

d. What are further optimization opportunities in the business?

The above observations and recommendations are only a sub-set of the complex environmental and business factors affecting retail performance and are not intended to be a comprehensive guide." ["post_title"]=> string(47) "Choosing solutions that drive success in retail" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(72) "how-to-choose-software-solutions-that-drive-successful-retail-operations" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2019-01-09 14:10:25" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-01-09 14:10:25" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(24) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } }

solution upgrade 1Recently we have completed a merchandising solution upgrade project and have organized a meeting post completion to review lessons learned during the project. This is what our team has fed back on lessons learned. We are sharing our learnings for your benefit, reach out if you would like to get in touch and discuss in more detail these or additional specific points.

The scope and timeline of our project was the Merchandise Operations Management solution suite from Oracle Retail. The end to end project timeline was six months that included all activities from initial planning through full user testing and post-upgrade go-live stabilization.

The project outcome was a success both from timeline and budget perspective: we have completed the project on time, on budget and also on scope. We have also learned many valuable lessons on the way that have proven to be extremely useful in subsequent projects. This is what we have learned:


1.    Management Process Make sure an explicitly defined and agreed/accepted escalation process is defined and created from the very beginning between team members, PM and management on all parties in the project for streamlined communication and escalated issue management when escalation is needed and occurs.

2.    AB testing Make sure that in the project sufficient resources are assigned to manage tasks in an accelerated A/B testing method (two teams, team A and team B, do the iterations of the upgrade test runs in alternation, passing documentation to the passive team which then in turn does the next iteration.

3.    Estimation In estimating effort in duration and man days, make sure you include

a.     Sufficient time duration for all steps like documentation, iterative runs, etc.

b.     Sufficient resources/man days to do A B runs.

c.     Sufficient duration for communication delays depending on number of parties involved in the project. The more parties the longer the total aggregate delay duration in the project.

d.    Sufficient duration for at least 3-5 iterations on testing through all upgrade scripts, this effort turned out to be significantly higher than initially estimated, many many small (and some large) issues had to be ironed out before end to end run was stable for a PRD execution.

4.    Status sharing

a.    Make sure you systematically do daily team standup meeting for entire team so everyone knows who is doing what, who needs to do what (TODO), and what the open issues/TODOs are along with their statuses (make sure everyone in the project team is on the same page).

b.    Keep the meetings short and discuss issues in detail only with people involved, only keep the entire team in the standup as long as it takes to share status.

5.    Communication:

a.     Make sure all communication, internal and external, if done outside of the central issue tracking cloud solution (e.g. on Skype, emails, phone, etc.) get uploaded to WIKI/Issue Tracking Solution to the appropriate article/issue so it does not get lost. This includes everyone updating Tickets/WIKI with up to the end of each day status of what they have done on an issue, what they have tried, (SQLs, source code, results) so if someone takes over the issue, knows what has been done already!

b.    If the client does not use Tickets consistently, then Quickborn logs all issues that come in on non-Ticket channels (on emails, phone calls, SMS-es, etc).

c.    Make sure Oracle is kept in the loop at all times, some issues that come up may need to be escalated to Oracle, having them involved on a continuous basis will significantly decrease their reaction time and consequently project timeline will be protected.

CONCLUSIONsolution upgrade 2

In conclusion, many of the above points seem like a no brainer for an upgrade project but it is hard to see in advance which points will take the most time, be the most critical or failure-prone factor.

Based on our experience from one of these upgrade runs, the above points were top level feedback the team has shared.

The above list of points is not the complete list of learnings nor is the full list of actions taken and considered in an upgrade project.


Leave a Reply