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Oracle study: Improving cross-channel experience is retailers’ biggest challenge

BY Marianne Wilson

Redwood Shores, Calif. — Improving the cross-channel customer experience and optimizing the supply chain ranked as retailers’ biggest challenges in a new study by Oracle. The report also found that mobile access is key: Forty percent of retailers said that providing store associates with mobile access to customer, product, inventory and other information is critical to their business, along with providing the entire organization with a more consistent and complete view of the customer (40%).

The report, “From Overload to Impact: An Industry Scorecard on Big Data Business Challenges,” surveyed 333 U.S. and Canadian C-level executives from retail and 10 other industries to determine how they are managing the deluge of data coming into their organizations and how they are using it to drive profit and growth. Of the retail executives surveyed, 90% said their organization is collecting and managing more business information today than two years ago, by an average of 98%, with the biggest data growth occurring in customer information (43%), operations (33%) and sales and marketing (30%).

Forty percent of retail executives said that the biggest challenge they face in regards to leveraging business information is their ability to improve the cross-channel customer experience. Another 30% said that optimizing the supply chain is among their top challenges, followed by creating personalized offers, tracking and optimizing inventory, streamlining merchandising and pricing and managing in-store operations (all 27%).

Retail executives say they are most frustrated with their ability to gather and distribute data in a timely manner. Specifically, 53% cannot give their business managers access to pertinent information, 50% said they do not have the right systems in place to gather the information they need and 33% feel they are using systems that are not designed to meet the unique needs of their industry.

In other findings, 30% of retail executives gave their organization a “D” or “F” in preparedness to manage the data deluge and 93% believe their organization is losing revenue opportunities – as much as 10% of revenue per year, and, on average, $50.5 million per year (figure based on the average revenue of organizations surveyed) – by not being able to fully leverage the information they collect. Only 3% of executives give their organization an “A” in preparedness.

“For retailers to deliver the cross-channel experience customers are demanding, they must not only manage the growing deluge of operational and customer data, but use it to gain actionable insight and equip employees to effectively use that insight immediately,” said Mike Webster, senior VP and general manager, Oracle Retail. “Oracle is helping retailers to turn their data into an asset that connects interactions and optimizes operations to drive profitability and support a truly personalized customer experience.”

To access the full report – which delves extensively into how prepared organizations within each industry are for the data deluge and the resources they need to enhance their ability to leverage incoming data – click here.

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Survey: Consumers to spend $300 on back-to-school

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — A survey released Tuesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman-Sachs found that 42% of U.S. consumers expect to spend more on back-to-school items this year than they did in 2011.

With the back-to-school shopping season already well underway as one-third of households reported that they have begun to shop, ICSC and Goldman-Sachs expect the average household expenditure on all types of back-to-school items will be about $300 this year.

Forty-four percent plan to spend the same amount as last year, while only 14% indicated they would spend less. Of the 42% of consumers that plan to increase spending, nearly half indicated that it was due to a need to replace wardrobes and school supplies.

“Despite the relatively soft economic conditions over the last quarter, consumers view back-to-school merchandise as essential, which is likely a key reason that so many consumers plan to increase spending this year,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC VP research and chief economist. “Even more encouraging for retailers is that nearly 20% of respondents plan to increase spending by more than 10% compared with the 2011 season. Looking ahead, the industry should continue to see increases in sales as the intensity in back-to-school season shopping heats up next month.”

The majority of expected spending will be done in August as 65% of households reported that is when they will commence back-to-school shopping.

The number one item that consumers need for the coming school year is school supplies (88%), followed by apparel (79%). They plan to buy that merchandise at discount stores (83%), office supply stores (46%), and traditional department stores (44%).

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Mercom says:
Jul-18-2012 07:37 pm

It sure is a busy time of year for retailers involved with any back-to-school sales or trading. We've used this article and the statistics in it for a blog post, where we highlight whether the stores and the personnel in charge of their POS and systems are on top of the technology, should any disruption dent their performance. We welcome all readers and any comments on the subject: http://www.mercomrepair.com/POS_technology_repair_blog/bid/148971/Are-you-schooled-in-the-art-of-effective-POS-hardware-repair Thanks again, Paul at Mercom

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Survey: Nearly one-third of DCs are entirely outsourced

BY Marianne Wilson

Raleigh, N.C. — Nearly one-third of distribution centers (DCs) are entirely outsourced, according to the Supply Chain Metrics Report by the Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium.

“Supply Chain Consortium data indicates that while many companies continue to have their own DCs staffed by their own employees, there is an upward trend in the percentage of DC buildings and labor being outsourced in the past two years,” said Bruce Tompkins, executive director of the Consortium and author of the report. “This increase signifies that more organizations are considering outsourced DCs over ones that are company-owned and operated.”

With responses from more than 100 companies across nine industries, the report reveals key metrics on annual logistics costs, DC operations, finished goods inventory turns, on-time delivery, transportation sourcing solutions and more.

Additional findings include:

  • Inbound transportation metrics average 4.7% as a percentage of cost of goods sold and 2.4% as a percentage of net sales;
  • Total annual logistics cost as a percentage of net sales ranges from 4.1% to 10.0%;
  • On-time delivery by mode ranges from 79% for ocean to 97% for parcel and air freight; and
  • Most companies have more than half of their total logistics resources in distribution, customer service and transportation.

For more information, download the Supply Chain Metrics Report at: Tompkinsinc.com/bbp-report/2012/supply-chain-metrics-data-for-you-to-compare-against

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