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Why implement cloud solutions?

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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.

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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.

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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" } }

Cloud solutions have been around for quite some time, yet I still hear a lot of debate about which one is to be preferred: cloud-based or on premise solution? Let me shed some light onto this subject with specific relevance to retail business domain. 



Cloud solutions are software programs that run on a hosted environment, typically without the option of running them locally, or on premise.

The pros: These solutions are easy and quick to deploy because they do not require acquisition of hardware, installation of operating systems, servers software, IT teams to manage them, etc on the customer side. They are running in a central server park, accessible over the internet (with the appropriate level of connection security in place). Usually their licensing is simpler than on premise solutions because cloud based solutions are typically licensed like a rental, a periodic (for example monthly or annual) service fee is charged for their use. These solutions are usually easier to maintain since upgrades are typically rolled on by the vendor automatically as part of the service (on time frames agreed with the customer and leaving plenty of time for customer to test changes and manage business process change adoption)

The cons: On the other hand they are not easily customized, especially if they are multi-tenant (multiple customers use the same servers and programs for their software solution, with a clear separation of their data of course to avoid one customer being able to see the data of another customer). Also if the customer stops paying the cloud service fee, access to the solution may be closed by the solution vendor, placing risk on the customer’s business continuity.

On premise solutions: When a solution runs on premise, it is locally installed and run on the customer’s own hardware.

The pros: The advantage is that customization is easier to build, and in case the customer stops paying for maintenance, they still retain the solution and the business can continue to run on the solution, even though no future updates are accessible to be added.’

The cons: On premise solutions require the customer to take care of purchasing the hardware for the server, installing all necessary software components such as the operating system, database server, application server, and configuring and maintaining all this technology (a.k.a. the platform) to work properly to run the business application. The disadvantage of this approach is that the customer is in charge of running the platform along with all the extra effort, expertise, license cost and complexity associated with doing so. The customer is also in charge of scheduling, installing, regression testing (if customization is done, then also retro-fitting) solution upgrades released by the solution vendor in addition to managing adoption of new solution functionality.



Based on the above, it seems on premise option has advantages but requires additional effort from the customer: acquire and size hardware, install, configure, administer, license and maintain software like operating system, database, application server, additional server utilities like integration platforms separately. Also because of these additional steps, on premise solutions take longer to implement and deploy, because the platform needs to be built first. Maintaining and upgrading them is also a task solely landing on the customer as a to do. On the other hand all business software solution is in house and under total control of the customer, can be customized, etc.

Cloud on the other hand is much faster the deploy, it is commissioned, not built, which takes less time and requires no or little IT skills from the customer. Licensing structure is simpler and instead of an investment cost it is an operational ongoing cost (service fee). Upgrades are also rolled on automatically as part of the service. On the other hand there is less direct control of the platform by the customer including control for customization.



A very important business aspect to consider when choosing between a cloud or an on premise solution is long term maintenance cost of upgrading the solutions. Cloud solutions are typically updated with new features and platform versions by the solution provider as part of the standard service. This means cloud solutions evolve over time and customers automatically get the benefits of this continuous evolution. With on premise solutions, evolution is a manual step where solution version updates need to be downloaded from the solution provider and installed into the on premise server, performing retrofitting and regression testing in case when customization have been made to the on premise solution. This is, over time a significant effort, causing additional costs incurred directly when performing the upgrade.

Costs are incurred indirectly when the upgrade is delayed and the customer is running on an outdated system, missing the latest key business features that could differentiate the business against competitors (for example by allowing the customer to provide better customer service to its own customers, the consumers, then its competitors). In an age where consumers want to be served in an ever increasing number of channels and with greater flexibility in transgressing these channels (for example buy online, return in store) every day, not having a solution in place that can seamlessly support those latest consumer behavior and preference trends with the right capabilities is catastrophic in an increasingly competitive and disruptive business environment.



In a nutshell, if you can and it’s available, choose the cloud option. It gives you the flexibility of being able to always run with the latest set of business process support on your cloud solution.

If you would like to discuss this subject matter in more details, have comments, feedback or additional thoughts, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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