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June 2014

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Q&A: How to Simplify Big Data in the Age of Omnichannel Retail

In the new reality of omnichannel retail, traditional competitive strategies are no longer adequate. To survive and thrive, retailers know they need to embrace the power of big data and retail science to gain a competitive advantage. But you can't just push a big-data button. Nor is there a single bolt-on solution that can make it happen.

As a result, many retailers have found the promise of big data and retail science elusive. We asked Mark Lawrence, Oracle Retail director of analytics product strategy, to make the case for big data—and to recommend a path that removes the complexities and takes full advantage of big data's profitable possibilities.

Q. Why have big data and retail science suddenly become such a pressing issue for retailers?
A. In this new omnichannel world where consumers have the upper hand, retailers can no longer simply invest in more real estate to grow their businesses. Nor can they rely on pricing and promotions alone to drive sales. Pure-play retailers can leverage data as a differentiator to serve up content to customers without the burden of brick-and-mortar infrastructure costs.

Q. How can big data and retail science change the equation and benefit retailers?
A. Retailers that have adopted successful big data and retail science initiatives are already reaping the rewards, from optimized inventory to more-profitable customer relationships.

Merchandising and customer experience is a big part of it—delivering the right offers to the right people at the right time. But so is optimized, multichannel inventory management. Now that products can be sourced and sold via a variety of channels, there is a new need—and opportunity—to optimize that inventory across all channels.

In short, in an omnichannel world, you can use big data and retail science to identify where demand is coming from, understand your most-profitable customers and channels, and serve the customer at the point of intent.

Q. Research shows retailers have been slow to adopt big data. What is the single biggest hurdle?
A. To tap into the value of big data, you need to have a single, centralized source of truth in an accessible repository. That is very hard to achieve for retailers with multiple retail and enterprise resource planning systems using heterogeneous data models.

Q. How has Oracle been able to take the lead in big data and retail science?
A. There are three key elements that make Oracle Retail stand out.

First, no one makes it as easy as Oracle does to build that single, comprehensive source of truth—which is an absolutely indispensible first step. Only Oracle offers a truly complete, open, and integrated solution across the entire retail tech stack, literally from storage to scorecard. And Oracle Retail analytics solutions support the full Commerce Anywhere experience by providing a consistent view of entities such as suppliers, customers, promotions, items, prices, orders, returns, and sales, as well as up-to-date inventory across all channels and locations.

Oracle also offers Oracle Retail Data Model, which serves as a more application-agnostic data warehouse framework for the non-Oracle Retail customer with a heterogeneous application footprint.

Second, Oracle embeds retail science directly into its retail applications, providing a kind of retail science engine that supports analytics across the retail platform, while also enabling rapid, profitable decision-making in the context of business processes.

Finally, Oracle Exadata Database Machine is unrivaled in its ability to provide the kind of extreme performance that can take full advantage of the promises of big data.

Want to learn more about Oracle Retail’s big data and retail science solutions? Register today for Oracle OpenWorld, taking place in San Francisco, California from September 28 to October 2, 2014. Check out the content catalog for Oracle Retail track sessions and watch for the schedule builder tool launching in August to create your personalized event itinerary. Early bird pricing for the conference ends July 18, 2014.

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