Oracle Retail is widely regarded as the best ERP suite for the retail sector, but why is that and what solutions do they offer? You'll find Oracle consistently ranked very highly across their retail offerings, and the best in a number.
And there is good reasoning as to why.
At elfware we specialise in Oracle Retail, and particularly in resolving related implementation, delivery and maintenance challenges through low code and automation. Having had such exposure to Oracle Retail, we thought it would be helpful to put together a basic summary of what Oracle Retail is.
As the largest business software vendor globally, Oracle offers a huge library of products, including database services, platforms, software, hardware and more.
Oracle Retail is a division of Oracle focused on providing specialised retail application capabilities. You may have also heard the arm referred to as the RGBU - or Retail Global Business Unit. At the time of writing Oracle Retail claim over 5,000 retail clients.
One of the major reasons that people get confused as to what exactly Oracle Retail does is because of the sheer number of offerings that come under its umbrella. These products are split up into a series of categories, each fulfilling a different purpose - merchandising, insights and science, omni-channel, planning and optimisation, supply chain and hardware.
They boast software application modules to support pretty much any process that retail organisations require to run their company effectively. Predominantly, the software is used to enhance the company’s capacity to manage stock, reduce waste, improve customer experience and, importantly; to increase revenue and profit.
As has just been discussed, the fact that Oracle Retail has such a large offering of fully integrated products is a big drawcard.
They cover just about everything retail-related there, and they have a whole suite of integrated products that more generally cater to enterprise wide process support. This links into the next benefit…
Retailers don’t have to worry about cross-party integration, given that one suite of products can cater to just about every aspect of the business.
All aspects of the business’ retail function are therefore inextricably linked, allowing for a more agile and streamlined operation. This can lead to reduced costs and, more importantly…
Oracle Retail has focused heavily on improving the capacity for retailers to cater to an omnichannel, connected, and highly personalised customer experience. They use data and automation to ensure that customers feel valued by the business and have an experience that fits their archetype, resulting in incremental revenue and profit increases.
An Oracle employee explains that they’ve, “seen more than a $75 million increase in revenue at a medium-sized retailer turning over between 500 million and a billion dollars, just by optimising targeted offers at the point of pickup,” merely one aspect of the targeted customer experience.
According to a recent article by SuperOffice (https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/), 86% of customers will pay more for a better experience, and keeping an existing customer happy is 14 times more profitable than landing a new customer.
A lot of the benefits of Oracle Retail spur from its data-driven approach. Recommendations from the Oracle Retail software are based off millions of data points used to gradually optimise and improve a business’ operations.
“Retailers all know they need advanced analytics and retail science to drive their business forward, but they don’t all have the luxury of hiring on a data science team,” said Marc Koehler, solution director, Oracle Retail, “We continue to enhance Oracle Retail Insights and Science Suite to provide retailers with packaged insights and science applications”.
Oracle has made it very clear in recent years that they want to lead the innovation front, and have done so with regard to AI and Machine Learning in retail solutions. Their AI solutions can be used in conjunction with Oracle Retail to improve processes.
However, Oracle emphasises AI and Machine Learning are not a completely effective solution alone, and require concerted focus and cultural change; “most machine learning projects fall short on delivering tangible business benefits. Not because the innovation is misaligned with a business objective but because it is difficult to operationalise innovation,” said Jeff Warren, vice president, Oracle Retail,“the Retail Science Platform delivers the standardisation and controls that enterprises need to accelerate their new offerings and swiftly integrate them into their business workflows. With the addition of notebook-based tools, our solution is a force to be reckoned with in predictive analytics and machine learning for the retail industry.”
So we’ve established that there are numerous benefits to Oracle Retail, but it’s important to be pragmatic about potential challenges as well, challenges it shares with other organisations. Here are some comments which have been made:
Now, this point is very dependent on how you’re using Oracle Retail.
Oracle Retail can be expensive, particularly for small to medium retailers. But, many large enterprises see extensive revenue and profitability benefits that by far outweigh the cost of Oracle Retail. It's also important to consider that this isn't an Oracle Retail specific issue; rather one that applies to all Enterprise Resource Planning products.
Whilst licensing and support costs must be considered as an input cost, the primary impacts to the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) are from the initial implementation - see this discussed below - and from the on-going run costs from teams who lack experience in managing high performance Oracle retail sites. At elfware we specialise in delivering and maintaining high performance Oracle Retail installations. We reduce Total Cost of Ownership through automation, making Oracle Retail a value buy for all retailers, irrespective of size.
Oracle Retail is far from simple and requires extensive technical expertise to use. This can result in extra costs or a lack of valuable input from Oracle Retail products.
Typically, retailers will look to bring on full-time Oracle Retail administrators, and external technical teams for more complex projects.
Moving between systems entails any number of issues.
A retailer may need to go through extensive retraining of staff that will result in short term productivity shortfalls, but typically the cost comes in the movement of data from legacy systems to Oracle Retail.
At elfware, a project we’re currently working on with a large UK Based retailer moving to Oracle Retail, involves integrating and validating existing, unstructured data into Oracle Retail to ensure the long term success of their new system.
I don’t want to go extensively into Oracle Retail case studies.
But, we’re an IT Automation company that specialises in Oracle Retail services and resolving the issues involved, so we just want you to understand how retailers have got around some of Oracle Retail’s challenges and what happened to the business as a result.
KOJ is certainly a success story for Oracle Retail.
A Dubai based retail conglomerate, KOJ operates more than 700 stores between 7 countries.
Oracle listed a few statistics in a success story profile of the company, citing that KOJ had seen 99.9% accuracy in real-time inventory data for stock online, and 98.5% for in-store.
Statistics like these have prompted numerous global retailers to utilise the Oracle Retail product suite, including Louis Vuitton, Walmart, Prada, Cape Union Mart and Myer.
Note that we have split up the product offerings into the categories listed by Oracle Retail. At the time of writing, each of the below categories have multiple product offerings under their umbrella.
Oracle Retail emphasises that in modern retail, great products aren't enough. Rather, retailers need to anticipate and adapt based on advanced analytics to optimise and personalise their offers.
Thus, Oracle's insights and science product suite focuses on using analytics to drive customer engagement and loyalty.
Arguably Oracle Retail's most significant offering is there Retail Merchandising System. Merchandising solutions like Oracle's provide an organisation with the means to accurately monitor, and thus control, the success of their retail business.
The system has the capacity to reduce the cost and time required for day-to-day activities - from the maintenance of stock ledgers, to new product introductions, to automated replenishment and much more.
Oracle Retail emphasises that the benefits of their merchandising system are; operational support, scalability, agility over numerous verticals, and data integrity.
Omnichannel services focus on orchestrating activities across a retailer to improve customer experience. It provides a customer with a unified experience across numerous channels and touch points.
Oracle Retail emphasises that data-led decision making using their platform can drive conversions and foster brand loyalty. The integration of their various products provides a retailer with the capacity to personalize the shopping experience.
Oracle's Retail platform combines advanced retail analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to plan, and gradually optimise a retailer's operations. This includes use of space, category optimisation, financial planning, pricing and more. Gradually, a retailer can optimise to increase revenue and reduce waste.
Oracle's modern system for Supply Chain Management is designed to reduce inventory requirements and waste while meeting supply requirements to maintain or improve revenue. Again they utilise embedded AI to assist in decision making and claim the capability to reduce inventory requirements by 30%.
In 2014, Oracle acquired MICROS systems and inherited their hardware products, an important factor in their omni-channel approach.
Their point of sale systems allow Oracle Retail to cover the complete customer experience. Oracle focuses on simplicity, flexibility and durability in their systems, that integrate with their other services to offer an end-to-end optimised customer experience.