Oracle Retail Suite—Almost Everything Global Retailers Might Need?

This report describes how Oracle's series of acquisitions since the mid-80s have enabled the software giant to offer an integrated suite of business applications, systems, and storage solutions that provide retailers with all the necessary tools to address nearly all their business needs in a “commerce anywhere” manner.
Although Oracle has been developing and deploying software solutions for retailers since 1986, the giant’s forays into the retail industry were spearheaded by a series of retail software acquisitions starting in mid-2000s. This report describes how those acquisitions have enabled Oracle to offer an integrated suite of business applications, systems, and storage solutions that provide retailers with all the necessary tools to address nearly all their business needs in a “commerce anywhere” manner.
In 2005, Oracle first acquired Retek, a leading provider of retail merchandising, planning, and supply chain solutions, and then ProfitLogic for its markdown price optimization and Temposoft workforce management (which came via PeopleSoft). The Oracle Retail solutions portfolio was enriched with the acquisitions of 360Commerce point-of-sales (POS) solution in 2006 and Advanced Visual Technology (AVT) for retail space planning in 2008.
More recent retail-related acquisitions were the renowned e-commerce provider Art Technology Group (ATG) in 2010 and the e-commerce and business intelligence (BI)/search-based data discovery provider Endeca in 2011. Surely, the call center and customer service software provider RightNow, acquired in 2011, FatWire Web content management, as well as a slew of marketing automation and social software acquisitions of late (e.g., Eloqua, Responsys, Involver, Vitrue, etc.) will likely have bearing on the evolving Oracle Retail suite. For example, Oracle’s social media strategy centers around helping businesses use social concepts to increase productivity including the use of enterprise social network (ESN) products such as Oracle WebCenter on premises (part of Oracle Fusion Middleware) and cloud-based Oracle Social Network (OSN).
The company’s social strategy also includes providing an integrated suite of social marketing products, as well as integrating social information throughout business applications. The Oracle Social Relationship Management suite consists of assets from acquired companies such as Collective Intellect, Involver, and Vitrue, as well as some internal development. These products can help retailers better connect with customers and manage social marketing campaigns. Oracle’s Social Relationship Management suite allows retailers to collect relevant social data that can be analyzed for sentiment, scored against competitors, and correlated to promotions. This data can be used for better targeting offers, detecting market trends, and engaging customers in conversations.

In-house Product Development

There has been of course a major research and development (R&D) work at Oracle after all these retail software acquisitions. It is perhaps too long a list, so here is a partial list of major new Oracle Retail products:
  • Regular Price Optimization
  • Replenishment Optimization—it was offered as a service at Retek, but productized within Oracle Retail
  • Size Profile Optimization
  • Retail Analytics—first two generally available modules are Merchandise Analytics and Customer Analytics
  • Mobile POS
Key areas of retail R&D in the last year or so have been in the following areas:
  • Planning & Supply Chain—usability, simplification, science-based forecast
  • Merchandising—user experience for allocation, support for Commerce Anywhere customer journeys, franchise enhancements, integration, upgrade toolkits
  • Stores—commerce/stores accelerators, mobile POS
  • Commerce—ATG/Endeca integration, mobile, business empowerment, customer targeting
  • Other—Oracle Retail Reference Library, a retail intellectual property about implementations that is available free to Oracle Retail customers (see video)
As a result of those acquisitions and Oracle’s commitment to the industry segment, nearly 1,500 Oracle employees are dedicated to solutions for retailers, including a dedicated retail science team of more than 50 members (according to our estimates). There are also dedicated retail development, consulting, strategy, and sales teams for more than 5,750 retail customers in 96 countries (again, these are our estimates). Oracle provides retailers with a nearly complete, integrated, yet open suite of business applications, servers, and storage solutions that are engineered to work together to optimize every aspect of their business.
Oracle indeed offers several so-called engineered systems for processing large data volumes. First, Oracle Exadata is a database machine that provides extremely fast performance, high availability, and cost-saving server consolidation. Second, Oracle Exalytics is a BI machine that uses an in-memory database to render analytics “at the speed of thought.” Third, Oracle Big Data Appliance provides the use of NoSQL technologies to process large volumes of structured and unstructured data. Each new Oracle Retail suite version is optimized for Oracle’s systems, servers, and storage to deliver faster performance, greater efficiency, higher availability, and scalability. Deploying Oracle Retail solutions on Oracle systems should enable large customers to lower total cost of ownership (TCO), mitigate risk, improve user productivity, and help streamline management, while benefiting from the value of a single point of accountability.

Oracle Retail: Meeting the Needs of Its Customers

Oracle Retail is particularly strong in tier one and mega tier one retail organizations across retail segments. Twenty of the top 20 retailers worldwide—including fashion, hardlines, grocery, and specialty retailers—use Oracle solutions to gain critical insights and grow across traditional, mobile, and commerce channels. While Oracle Retail stands out in the upper market, for both the deep retail capabilities and performance/scalability, it does have smaller retailers as customers, such as Gordmans, as well as large companies that have a smaller retail component, such as Warner’s. In other words, Oracle Retail can be used by smaller retailers, but if one looks at its customer base, the “big guys” stand out, with long-standing implementations at Tesco, GAP, Nordstrom, and others, as well as big transformation projects underway at the moment at Belk, JCPenney, American Eagle, Express, and Kohl’s.
Consumers are increasingly asking for a shopping experience that allows them to purchase where and when they want, using a mix of devices, Web sites, and stores (see figure 1 for current retail trends). Retailers must respond by erasing lines between channels, targeting offers, and making inventory readily available at the right time and place. The Commerce, Planning and Optimization, and Core Merchandising parts of Oracle Retail appear to be selling well of late. Some remaining white spaces (functional gaps filled by partner solutions) are store task management and execution, planogramming, product lifecycle management (PLM) for fast fashion, and fresh item management.

Figure 1

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