Retail Priorities: Getting Through the Transformation Zone

Oracle Retail Cross Talk 2019 Recap

Last week we spent a few days in Minneapolis with about 200 retailers attending the 2019 Oracle Retail Cross Talk conference. This year, Oracle went back to their roots and put the event’s focus purely on retail. This was a well-received change by the attendees, and we all had great interaction with colleagues, partners, current clients, and new acquaintances.

The event kicked off with a consistent theme presented by Geoffrey Moore centered around the crisis of prioritization and getting to and through the transformation zone. Prioritization is consistently something Parker Avery talks about with our clients, and it is one of the harder conversations to get alignment on, especially alignment at the leadership level, which is critical.

The retail sector changes constantly, and prioritizing what is next within the strategy can easily become the most argued point among leaders, especially with capital and resource constraints. Sometimes you have to make the decision to ensure your foundational processes and solutions are ready to support growth and, in other cases, retailers may be ready to try more innovation and test bigger change. Either way, prioritization is key and can make the difference between success and creating bigger challenges. Not all changes need to be transformational, they just have to be well thought out, in the right order, and have the right support.

Prioritization is key and can make the difference between success and creating bigger challenges

Much of the conference was also spent talking about evolving the way we think about basic processes and solutions: fit analytics vs. size profiling, markdown avoidance vs. markdown optimization, and of course going to the cloud. We explored and discussed such questions as:

People and roles and responsibilities were also a topic we heard retailers talking about. For example, buyers must now understand and think about not only the item, but how it will be managed, viewed, displayed, and ordered to fit all commerce needs. A merchant can no longer just consider brick-and-mortar when they buy, but rather must curate for all modes of commerce and consumer shopping habits:

  • How will the item or collection look online?
  • Can that translate to the store and vice versa?
  • How will it be seen on mobile or on a tablet?

These are all considerations in the fast-moving world of retail and force evolution and new rules of engagement. In our experience, this evolution in roles brings up large change leadership needs and a new approach to leading in retail. So now, not only do you have to consider a new software solution or new business process, you must consider the change impact and how your organization will navigate.

Oracle Retail, as with most solution providers today, is touting its strategy and emphasis on moving solutions and customers to the cloud. This has numerous advantages for retailers, and cloud solution adoption is increasing from just analytical and retail planning solutions to full core merchandising solutions. However, it’s worth ensuring your team understands and is prepared for the differences.