Epicor Retail Strategic Plan Ramping Up in 2013

The Epicor Retail division of global business software solution provider Epicor Software Corporation provides solutions for retailers seeking to streamline processes, integrate channels, and leverage intelligence  in a variety of industries including apparel, footwear, discount, general merchandise, automotive aftermarket, lumber and building materials, nursery, and pharmacy. Epicor is the retail technology partner of choice for thousands of retailers—from Aeropostale, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, and Build-A-Bear Workshop, to General Nutrition Centers, True Value Company, and Under Armour ( more details here).

New Epicor Retail Strategy
Early in 2013, Epicor unveiled a multi-year strategic plan to grow its market share and expand its global footprint in the retail technology space. While Epicor is recognized as the No.1 provider of point of sale (POS) software among the top 250 largest specialty soft goods and hard goods retailers by IHL Group, the multi-year strategic plan was designed to enable Epicor to maintain and grow its leadership position. Initially, Epicor has been focused on the following four strategic priorities: global expansion, cross-channel execution, and continuing investments in both POS and enterprise cloud technology.

Global Presence
The key initiatives aligned with new and emerging requirements in the retail sector, starting with globalization. According to a survey of 326 major international retailers conducted by CBRE, the globalization of the retail sector continued to gain steam in 2012, with almost half (47 percent) of the retailers in the survey having a presence in the Americas, Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia Pacific (APAC). To this end, Epicor has established a new international business development, sales, services and support unit to support the globalization requirements of retailers doing business in APAC, Latin America, and EMEA. Epicor will also look to partner with local resources to support in-region sales, services, and support. The company is committed to supporting global market requirements in its core applications, and Epicor also will ready its end-to-end retail technology suite for global deployment.

Cross-Channel Enablement
Another Epicor initiative aligning with a key focus for retailers in 2013 and beyond is cross-channel execution. Underscoring its importance to retailers, Ebeltoft Group's 2012 Global Cross Channel Retailing report says, "For most market leading retailers and their challengers, cross channel will be an imperative, not an option."

Epicor has been a leader in cross-channel execution solutions for many years. Existing solutions include Epicor Retail Enterprise Selling and Multi-Channel Transaction Adapter (MCTA) solutions that enable a smooth cross-channel fulfillment capability. To take these solutions to the next level and further differentiate its cross-channel capabilities, Epicor plans to deliver a single, integrated order management and fulfillment solution across channels and offer e-commerce and mobile commerce integrations leveraging the Epicor Retail MCTA and Order Management Systems. Epicor also will focus on expanding e-commerce and cross channel sales and partner integration. Capturing the full benefits of omni-channel retailing involves a great deal of sharing product, converging processes, people and data, and overall system integration across channels.

Magento e-commerce Platform
Most recently, during the EPICOR INSIGHTS 2013 conference, Epicor announced its strategic partnership with Magento (owned by eBay), a leading e-commerce platform serving more than 150,000 businesses worldwide. As well, Epicor introduced its new Epicor Retail Cross-Commerce offering, an e-commerce platform that enables retailers to personalize the shopping experience across channels, to support increased revenue and customer loyalty.

While e-commerce has been utilized by retailers for many years, Epicor aims to offer a solution that bridges the gap between traditional e-commerce and other sales channels. Powered by the Magento e-Commerce platform, and integrated with Epicor Retail Merchandising and Enterprise Selling, Cross-Commerce communicates with physical stores (Store POS), mobile devices, call center, kiosk, and social media to improve engagement through personalized sales, targeted promotions, recommendation engines, contact centers, and more.

This unified commerce platform will allow retailers to enhance commerce experiences with capabilities like "shop online, pick-up in store" and "save the sale" to fulfill in-store customer needs from any inventory location, including e-commerce. Cross-Commerce gives retailers functionality along with flexibility and control to customize their online channels. Search engine optimization, catalog management, and marketing tools support the creation of websites providing a value added shopping experience for customers, and which can be tailored to meet retailers' business requirements. Integration with the Epicor Retail Suite enables retailers to drive more online traffic, transform store visitors into lucrative multi-channel shoppers, and convert browsers into buyers across all sales channels.

Other exclusive features include a merchandising suite, dynamic rule-based product relations, persistent shopping, private sales, gift registry, gifting options, rewards points, and merchandise credits. The solution is scalable to accommodate high traffic volume and large product catalogs. Additionally, it can support retailers' international expansion plans by supporting localization via support for native languages, multiple currencies, and tax rates. Retailers should also benefit from the ability to launch mobile-optimized storefronts via a mobile HTML5 interface that supports iPhone, Android, and Opera mobile browsers.

Retail in the Cloud
To support scalability Epicor will leverage cloud-based technologies across the Epicor Retail Enterprise product suite and will focus on leveraging cloud-based transaction logic for a unified single enterprise transaction platform to support centralized POS and cross-channel transactions. Last year, a study from IBM revealed 70 percent of mid-sized businesses plan to deploy cloud technology to improve IT systems and lower costs. Retail, with hundreds and sometimes thousands of physical locations, thousands of distributed associates, and often millions of consumers all needing access to up-to-date and integrated information and transaction systems, is the ideal environment to leverage a cloud infrastructure.

Together these strategic initiatives represent a significant multi-year commitment by the organization and are expected to enable Epicor Retail to maintain and expand its market leadership position in general and specialty retail markets on a global basis. To support these initiatives, the company has allocated significant new resources in the form of monetary investments and the addition of new personnel. For example, in fiscal 2013 alone, Epicor is expanding its retail development organization by more than 30 percent. The additional development resources will support Epicor commitments in cloud-based architecture development and the other initiatives outlined in the aforementioned multi-year strategic plan.
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