Global CIO: Oracle's Top 10 Retail Insights A Must-Read For All CIOs

The power of pervasive consumer technology is causing massive disruptions in not only retail but your business as well--are you clued in?
6) The Innovation Payoff: bigger share of wallet. "The model in retail before the recession was all about opening big-box stores: they just kept opening more and more stores to basically drive the economics of their business, and it was all based on scale and efficiency and standardized assortments and sort of a one-size-fits-all strategy. And what the recession changed is that model basically doesn't work any more. So retailers now are having to look at the productivity of their existing boxes: how do I get more share of wallet, how do I drive more customer traffic—I basically need to get more out of what I've got because I can no longer keep on opening new stores. Not only that, but in the face of the end of my traditional retailing business model, the consumers themselves have changed. Not just because of economic hardship and demographics but just fundamentally their expectations for what they want out of retail has changed. And it's being driven by pervasive consumer technology."

7) The New Consumer: power users via mobile and social. "Now you start thinking about brands like Pink, where it's teenage girls,and they're at the epicenter of the social-network phenomena. How do you start to bring almost next-generation clientelling where the shopping experience becomes social on an iPhone with an associate—if I get a coupon and it's Facebook-enabled and I can share one with my friends. Imagine something as simple as Groupon being available in a brick-and-mortar environment—I gave a prototype demo at our user conference two weeks ago where we basically mocked up RFID-tagged products, and when I walked in with my iPhone, it connected my loyalty card to my Facebook account. So when I walked into that store, it gave me the option of essentially checking into that store, and I said yes, I'll check in. So now that retailer knows who I am through my loyalty card, which is connected now to Facebook, so it knows who my friends are and it knows a lot more about me. As I walk around the store, I'm able to use my iPhone like an electronic shelf-edge label—why invest in electronic shelf-edge infrastructure when all my customers walk in with a display in their purse?"

8) Mobile: the fourth channel. "Mobile and social are having a huge impact in retail. You might be argumentative and say that in a lot of industries, it's the latest cool fad—but it isn't in retail. While Enterprise 2.0 and collaboration and all of that is interesting, it's actually the pure Web 2.0 that's having the most disruptive impact. In a way, social media is just another channel, just like e-commerce and call center was. And customers are carrying this mobile infrastructure into stores every day. Mobile is the fourth channel—it's the thing that's unifying online, e-commerce and social with brick and mortar, which has always been the missing link. How do you bring the e-commerce experience we have on the internet into the store with personalization, with search, with user-generated content, with ratings and reviews, with the social shopping experience—how do you make all of that richness of our online shopping experience available in brick and mortar? And mobile is the unifying channel for that because you carry it into the stores every day."

9) Personal Touch: leveraging the iTouch and iPhone phenomena. "If you're a retailer, you can only have a certain number of fixed registers—and if you get a heavy spike in sales like you would at Victoria's Secret before Valentine's day, now you have associates running around Victoria's Secret with the ability to take cash and tender and check people out right on an iTouch (point-of-sale system). So it's all a very personalized shopping experience."

10) The Power of Imagination: move at the pace of your customers. "Wet Seal does a phenomenal job. They gave a presentation at our user conference—they're all about teenagers and they're very active on Facebook, and on they created the ability for their customers—their teenage girls—to go on their and create virtual closets: 'I like this skirt with this blouse.' And once they got an outfit, they could publish it to a virtual runway and share it with their friends. I think the stats I heard were that those outfits they posed drove 500,000 units of sales—and then they made those virtual outfits available on the iPhone so that when girls go to the actual brick-and-mortar store, right on their iPhones they can see what were the most-popular outfits that were built with this skirt or that blouse. And it's smart because again you have to be aware of your inventory: don't recommend an outfit to me that the Facebook crowd liked if it's out of stock—you've got to tie it back into the enterprise systems as well."

Will every one of you be able to use every 10 of those insights? Probably not. But if you're not looking at six or seven or eight, then I think you are looking at tomorrow's opportunities through today's out-of-focus lenses. We all need to see the world for what it is becoming, not just what it currently is.


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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

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