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Oracle Industry Connect speakers focus on enabling growth

BY Dan Berthiaume

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Speakers at Oracle Industry Connect, being held March 25-March 26, in Boston, discussed how retailers can use advanced technology to enable growth and understand inventory levels across all channels (and share that knowledge with their customers).

Paul McFadden, CIO of specialty chain C. Wonder, discussed how a “vanilla” hosted implementation of Oracle’s ERP platform enabled the specialty retailer to achieve rapid corporate growth.

“We implemented a fully managed, hosted environment,” said McFadden. “We didn’t want to invest in an entire infrastructure.”

Avoiding customization, which McFadden said typically delivers only 1% of the total value of an implementation, whenever possible, C. Wonder rolled out Oracle enterprise solutions including financials, e-commerce and merchandising between October 2012 and March 2014. (The retailer will go live with Oracle POS in its first store on March 31.) During the same time frame, C. Wonder grew from 10 to 30 stores, including its first international store in Dubai, thanks in part to its ability to quickly scale technology with vastly reduced time, effort and expense.

“We changed the IT department from an enabler of technology to an enabler of business,” said McFadden. “We got out of the traditional role of IT as an enabler of infrastructure.”

In another session, Karen Katz, president and CEO of Neiman Marcus, discussed how Neiman Marcus is leveraging Oracle Retail solutions to deliver a seamless customer experience that lets shoppers of the luxury giant purchase the items they want, whenever and however they want. One step Neiman Marcus has made is replacing the “black books” of written notes on customers associates used to carry with iPhones.

“Associates can also use the iPhones to communicate with customers through text, email or call,” said Katz. “We’re developing a strategy for associates to use mobile phones to communicate with customers.”

With Oracle performing “some tweaking” to Neiman Marcus’ merchandising system, Katz said the retailer can show customers exactly the merchandise they want online and then be sure they can go pick up the same items in the store. Neiman Marcus also extends its product assortment to include furniture and bedding online that it cannot stock in stores.

And later in the afternoon, Julia Zhen, senior VP of online prescription eyewear retailer Zenni Optical, said she and her husband started Zenni in their garage in 2002 after realizing that the huge markup between costs of manufacture and retail price of prescription eyeglasses left substantial room to offer consumers a better deal.

Using technology including the Oracle ATG Web Commerce platform and a homegrown application that lets customers upload a photo of their face and have precisely fitted glasses displayed, Zenni now sells millions of glasses in 80 countries, Zhen added.

Zenni orders glasses to customer specifications in a vertically integrated factory in China and generally delivers them in two weeks. Controlling manufacture of inventory allows Zenni to pass substantial savings to customers and also ensure that the tens of thousands of variables that go into a unique pair of prescription glasses are properly managed.

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Papa John’s touts online ordering in TV ad

BY Marianne Wilson

Louisville, Ky. — Papa John’s is launching a television commercial starring iconic sportscaster Jim Nantz, and Papa John’s founder, chairman and CEO, John Schnatter, touting the company’s online ordering platform. The commercial also reminds consumers that Papa John’s was the first national pizza company with online ordering at all of its U.S. delivery restaurants in 2001.

“This commercial does a great job reminding consumers that Papa John’s has been, and continues to be at the forefront of technological advances that meet the rapidly evolving demands of tech savvy consumers,” said Bob Kraut, Papa John’s chief marketing officer. “As a visionary, our founder recognized very early on that customer ordering habits were likely going to change with the rapid growth of the internet. As a result, we were not only the first with online ordering, but a slew of other technological advances that continue to help drive the category.”

Some of those other technological firsts include the first national pizza company to offer SMS text ordering in 2007; the first to launch a nationwide digital rewards program in 2010, Papa Rewards, which remains the only program of its kind in the category; and earlier this year the first national pizza company to offer mobile-optimized gift cards. All of these technological advances have helped the company generate more than 45% of its orders through its digital channels, a higher percentage than any other national pizza company.

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Sleepy’s taps Demandware cloud commerce platform

BY Marianne Wilson

Burlington, Mass. — Sleepy’s, one of the nation’s leading mattress retailers, has deployed a cloud commerce platform as the backbone of its digital operations. The company has launched new web and mobile commerce sites new web and mobile commerce sites on the Demandware platform. Sleepy’s switched from an on-premise platform to Demandware’s cloud solution as part of a strategic move to advance its omni-channel initiatives and provide consumers with consistent experiences across all channels, including web, mobile and the physical store.

Sleepy’s abandoned its legacy on-premise platform because the cost of ownership had become a barrier to innovation. The retailer needed to continually upgrade hardware to keep up with its growth; software upgrades were laborious and cost-prohibitive; and in-house control was lacking.

“We made the decision to move to a cloud platform because we needed a more agile solution for our growing business,” said Christopher Cucuzza, VP of technology for Sleepy’s, which has more than 1,000 locations. “Although we are a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer, we recognize that consumers are increasingly connected and that we need to evolve to meet the needs of our customers. With our on-premise platform, we just couldn’t move fast enough. Demandware is a much more flexible solution that gives us full merchandising control along with smarter economics.”

Sleepy’s turned to Demandware’s cloud solution because it provides a better model to support the company’s growth strategy and enables the speed, agility and innovation necessary to keep pace with continually evolving consumer demands. With the solution, Sleepy’s now has a flexible and scalable platform to support its holiday intensive business, without the burden and cost of infrastructure management.

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