Tag Archives: Matrix Commerce

Apply for a SuperNova Award – Recognizing leaders in digital business

Every year the Constellation SuperNova Awards recognize eight individuals for their leadership in digital business. Nominate yourself or someone you know by August 7, 2015.

The SuperNova Awards honor leaders that demonstrate excellence in the application and adoption of new and emerging technologies.
In its fifth year, the Constellation SuperNova Awards will recognize eight individuals who demonstrate true leadership in digital business through their application and adoption of new and emerging technologies. We’re searching for leaders and teams who have innovatively applied disruptive technolgies to their business models as a means of adapting to the rapidly-changing digital business environment. Special emphasis will be given to projects that seek to redefine how the enterprise uses technology on a large scale.

We’re searching for the boldest, most transformative technology projects out there. Apply for a SuperNova Award by filling out the application here:
https://www.constellationr.com/node/3137/apply

SuperNova Award Categories
• Consumerization of IT & The New C-Suite – The Enterprise embraces consumer tech, and perfects it.
•  Data to Decisions – Using data to make informed business decisions.
•  Digital Marketing Transformation – Put away that megaphone. Marketing in the digital age requires a new approach.
•  Future of Work – The processes and technologies addressing the rapidly shifting work paradigm.
•  Matrix Commerce – Commerce responds to changing realities from the supply chain to the storefront.
•  Next Generation Customer Experience – Customers in the digital age demand seamless service throughout all lifecycle stages and across all channels.
•  Safety and Privacy – Not ‘security’. Safety and Privacy is the art and science of the art and science of protecting information assets, including your most important assets: your people.
•  Technology Optimization & Innovation – Innovative methods to balance innovation and budget requirements.

5 reasons to apply for a SuperNova Award:

• Exposure to the SuperNova Award judges, comprised of the top influencers in enterprise technology
• Case study highlighting the achievements of the winners written by Constellation analysts
• Complimentary admission to the SuperNova Award Gala Dinner and Constellation’s Connected Enterprise for all finalists
(November 4-6, 2015) lodging and travel not included
• One year unlimited access to Constellation’s research library
• Winners featured on Constellation’s blog and weekly newsletter

Learn more about the SuperNova Awards.

What to expect when applying for a SuperNova Award. Tips and sample application.

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Filed under Current Events

Digital disruption on verge of taking out historic retailer

The 94 year old retailer, Radio Shack, is on the verge of no longer being in existence. Sad, but another example of digital disruption in the retail supply chain. Radio Shack was one of the leading retailers when it came to cutting edge electronics. I remember as a kid going there to get a new tape recorder (yup I played my first Van Halen cassette, 1984, on a tape recorder from Radio Shack) or when cordless phones came out, Radio Shack was the go to place to acquire such technological marvels. There is a picture circulating around social media about all the technologies you could have at Radio Shack in the 1990s…that are all now contained in that device we carry in our pockets – the smart phone (see below). Talk about digital disruption.

As the rise of Amazon took place in the 1990s, electronics being sold more widely and consumers becoming more digitally savvy, Radio Shack found itself in a difficult situation. The store’s footprint was too small to carry the wide array of SKUs that a Best Buy or Circuit City could (not that is necessarily a long term advantage as the latter is out of business and the former struggling) and it could not compete with the online force that Amazon had become nor the discounting that the likes of Target and WalMart offered. Not a great place to be for Radio Shack.

Everything on this page is now in your smart phone...talk about digital disruption

Everything on this page is now in your smart phone…talk about digital disruption

So now the stories are that Sprint may take on or co-brand some locations. Makes sense for the telecom giant as they look to increase their reach with their brick and mortar stores. Unlike Radio Shack, Sprint only needs to carry a very focused and smaller inventory – just mobile phones and tablets. Wireless providers like Sprint and AT&T benefit from having some brick and mortar for sales but also lean on them for service and customer support. The more intriguing option is the one where Amazon would swoop in and purchase some locations. Interesting.

This comes on the heels of Amazon opening their first brick and mortar store, something I wrote about a while back, click here for post. Does this make sense for Amazon? Some are pointing out that Amazon could use these stores to showcase products. Not sure I agree with that. Amazon already has that…it is called Barnes and Nobles, Target, Best Buy, REI, Toys R Us, Dicks Sporting Goods, Home Depot etc…why would they add a cost layer to get something they already have? They could use the locations for pick up and returns. Hmmm, that I might see as a more viable option. Radio Shack stores have an average of 2,426 square feet, a little bigger but similar footprint to UPS stores. UPS stores range from 800 to 1800 square feet. The Amazon/Radio Shack stores could provide similar services: receiving and holding orders or processing returns. With this level of service, Amazon would not have to worry about carrying SKUs at these locations nor having a large staff to manage need to manage the retail aspect. Could they also act as smaller distribution centers (DCs)? Why not. As Amazon is also looking to expand their own transportation fleet – in such deliveries as grocery – these smaller outlets could also be staging areas for some inventory. They may even have their own drone delivery assets at each physical location. Don’t laugh too loud, this might be closer then we think!

One topic we are covering in 2015 is the transformation of the consumers’ home into an extension of the retailer. Amazon moving into Radio Shack locations would allow the online giant to move in this direction. It could give users of such services as Zappos who are used to getting multiple sizes and colors delivered to their home to try on and then return, an alternative channel from which they can return their items. This move might allow Amazon to get a little bit closer to their consumers.

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Filed under Current Events, Drones, eCommerce, Retail, Supply Chain

The State of Retail in 2015 – trends and technologies affecting retail

Constellation recently published our “State of Enterprise Technology” series of research reports. These reports assess the state of enterprise technologies Constellation identified as essential to digital transformation. These reports also describe the future usage and evolution of these technologies. Constellation will continue to publish reports in our State of Enterprise Technology series throughout Q1.

My contributions to “State of Enterprise Technology” series focus on Matrix Commerce (retail and commerce technologies). In my report, The State of Retail in 2015 and Beyond  I identified seven trends impacting retail. This report is designed to help you set benchmarks and prepare for your retail future.

Here’s an excerpt from the report:
The Customer–Retailer Relationship Becomes More Cooperative

From conversations with clients, prospective buyers, systems integrators, partners, and vendors, Constellation sees a number of retail themes. These trends all revolve around the continuing amplification of the consumer voice in the retail supply chain. As consumers gain more influence within the retail supply chain, retailers will continue to focus on areas that allow for greater cooperation among all entities. Savvy retailers realize they can no longer expect to dominate the relationship but instead should allow for an atmosphere of cooperation.

State of retail graphic[1]

About Matrix Commerce

Matrix Commerce Addresses the Buyer in Digital Transformation

The theme of Matrix CommerceTM analyzes the disruptive pressures influencing the commerce paradigm. Commerce faces rapidly changing business models and new payment options that are often misunderstood and poorly integrated.

Matrix Commerce means the fusing of demand signals and supply chains in an increasingly complex world of buyers seeking frictionless buying experiences. Friction in this new world originates from new regulatory requirements such as sustainability, taxation, and privacy.

As the world revolves around the buyer, channels, demand signals, supply chains, payment options, enablers, and Big Data will converge to create what Constellation coined in 2011 as Matrix Commerce. Matrix Commerce spans across disciplines as people, process, and technologies continue to transform today’s commerce models.

Download the report snapshot and table of contents on the Constellation website.

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Filed under Retail, Supply Chain

For retailers and CPG, it is all about the edges.

A common thread I heard last week at the NRF Big Show, was the importance of the edges of the network. I wrote in my #NRF15 recap about the importance of pushing data, insights and decision making to the edges of the network, click here for post. There is another aspect of the network edge that wasn’t prevalent last week in New York, but probably isn’t ready for prime time yet, and that is an enhanced ability to execute at the networks edge. When it comes to that extended level of execution, think 3d printing, better usage of hardware and software to better service customers…at the edges of the retail network.

The one advantage brick and mortar retailers have over the likes of Amazon and Alibaba is also what has been seen as their weakness – their physical stores. Stores offer a host of issues that are well documented – inventory carrying cost, limited SKUs due to the physical constraints of a store, overhead associated with labor as well as having real estate. However this disadvantage may have a silver lining – face to face interaction. The challenge for retailers is how to make that face to face more attractive to consumers than their laptops or mobile devices to transact. That is where being able to offer greater personalized and flexible solutions is paramount for retailers. How can retailers address this?

  • Greater personalization…kind of like your online experience! We all know that the power of transaction online, other than being able to do so in your pajamas, is how customized the experience is tailored for us.  One reason Amazon is so entrenched in our consumer life is that they know what we want…sometimes before we are even aware of it! The power of Google is that they will place those banner ads based on what they know we have been looking at and interested in. Online experiences with the likes of Nordstrom or Banana Republic are littered with suggestions on what else we need. Looking for a a new Peacoat? May we suggest these styles and brands. Oh and if you like that item…you might like this other item that compliments it. Of course this is possible because in the eCommerce world our digital finger prints are everywhere and can be captured with much more ease than in the physical world. This is starting to change. Slowly. As more service providers are focused on helping retailers capture, analyze and provide insights on all the consumer related data sources, physical retail stores will have the potential to be “smarter” in their customer interactions. Companies like Oracle look to offer their retail customers the ability to empower the edges of their network, with the data and consumer persona necessary to transform the in-store experience more on par with the online world. Oracle, like other service providers, realizes for retailers to protect their brand must understand how customers want to research – interact – transact. This can only be achieved with a more complete view of the customer. There is also the need to perform greater levels of analytics at the edge of the network – brick and mortar retailers cannot afford the potential latency associated with having to push data back to a centralized location. For example, Cisco is working on providing the communication hardware, platform and necessary analytics at the edge of the network. Don’t move the data unless you have to. That ensures that the data, and the analytics, are done as close to the customer and execution point as possible. Again, when we transact online there is not much latency when it comes to our profiles and what is being suggested. Retailers are striving to bring some online shopping experience to the store front. But what about getting your product?
  • Fulfillment moved out of the traditional channels and pushed to the edges of the network. Having greater understanding of your customer and more insights at the edges of the network is 3d Key Shows Three Dimensional Printer Or Fontwonderful, but if you cannot offer the inventory diversity or fulfill at that node, what have you gained? If retailers cannot fulfill better their stores not only become showrooms, but your store associates also become pitchmen. Not what you want in the brick and mortar world! I expect retailers to continue to focus on more flexible and intelligent manners to fulfill their customers’ demand. The first step for better fulfillment is being more savvy about your inventory. I was speaking with a former P&G executive while I was at NRF and the one issue he stated is still a headache is understanding inventory positions within a store – what is on the shelf, what is in the stock room and what item is about to have a stock out? All classic issues CPG and retailers struggle with. But to fulfill better, these need to be solved, and they cannot be solved by just looking at inventory data from your POS or warehouse system. Retailers must have greater and more reliable view of their inventory. That means being more digital with the in store management of the inventory. Service providers like Panasonic are bring such shelf level visibility to the market, something I wrote about in my last post. But it is not just about greater visibility of what is available to your customer – what about greater flexibility on delivering the customized product your customer wants? The story of how Coca Cola has rolled out their Freestyle machines, that puts a tremendous amount of control at the edge of the network, with the consumer. Other CPG companies like Maille mustard and vinegar has stores that allow you to come in and fulfill your mustard and vinegar condiments in the store. These are examples of more flexible inventory and product mix being provided at the edge. There is also the infusion of digital technologies such as 3d printing. Confectionery companies like Hersheys are rolling out 3d printing – need a special chocolate for your kid’s birthday party, have it printed in the store. Luxury retailers, such as jewelry stores, can offer on site 3d printed pieces – for customized jewelery. American Pearl is offering consumers the ability to have customized pieces created via their 3d printers. Granted they are doing this via their online channel, but brick and mortar channels could offer consumers the ability to have a design rapidly prototyped in the store and then produced. That would certainly make events like purchasing a wedding ring less stressful…well maybe not.

Whether it is better visibility and greater analytics or being more savvy in product delivery at the edges, retailers must focus here to maintain relevance for their physical stores. Simple truth – at the edges is where you find the customer. Retailers must make sure that they meet customers needs: eliminate the friction between demand, relationship, fulfillment and after sales.

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Filed under Consumer Product Goods, Retail, Supply Chain

Christmas is around the corner – what Santa Claus can teach us about supply chain

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town

Yup, the big guy dressed in red is getting ready to make his annual appearance. Bringing all the girls and boys, as well as some lucky moms and dads, presents and gifts for their Christmas trees. And all he expects in return is maybe some milk & cookies or even a carrot for his reindeer. But did we ever expect Santa Claus to provide us with some simple lessons that are applicable to our supply chains?

He has the global fulfillment thing down...

He has the global fulfillment thing down…

  • He makes and list and checks it twice. Sage advice about how to handle all the data and information that extended supply chains produce and leverage on a weekly and daily basis. Many of the conversations I have had with supply chain practitioners and service providers comes back to getting a cleaner and more complete view of all the data that their supply chain produces on a weekly and daily basis. Look at what Santa is able to do – put all those wish lists in one aggregate list. He does check it twice to ensure consistency and correct for errors. Also good advice. Since we all know what garbage in gets us…companies like Avaya have worked with solution provider Kinaxis to create a more clear and single view of their distributor network and the data that is the connecting glue. One clean and unified view! Make sure to clear out that garbage before it gets into the system – or on Santa’s list.
  • Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Yup Santa also looks at his data to segment his customers. Granted he has two simple categories. Our supply chains’ customers and suppliers are also segmented and they do not fall into simple “naughty” or “nice.” But maybe the simplicity of how Santa does his segmentation should drive our own. The key is identify what key variables matter to our businesses and supply chains. Determine which variables you need to identify and focus on to create the most effective segmentation. Santa might not explicitly state it, but his segmentation like our supply chains leverages a greater number of predictive analytics to drive better clarity. For example service providers such as Infosys work with a large office products manufacturer to better understand customer segments to establish service level engagements. Santa and our supply chains need to lean on tools and service providers that can help identify the variables to effectively and efficiently segment our target audience.
  • He sees you when you’re sleeping …He knows when you’re awake. Maybe Santa has a secret deal with the NSA to eves drop on our calls…okay I joke…I think…but Santa makes sure he is aware of his consumers’ characteristics and where they are in the gift receiving pipeline. If we are awake he wouldn’t deliver our presents! Your supply chain needs to be sensitive to customers and where they are in the buying cycle. Think of how companies such as Steelwedge and Salesforce have worked together to help their customers better with the S&OP process by tying in the data coming from the Salesforce CRM to get a clearer view of where customers are with regards to the transactional pipeline. It is not simply about identifying our sleeping patterns, but understanding where we stand in terms of the buying cycle what our demand is and might be – are we in a position to have our gifts delivered by Santa?
  • Santa’s a busy man he has no time to play…He’s got millions of stockings to fill on Christmas day. Wow, talk about solving the delivery to the home enigma. Santa and his reindeer are able to criss cross the global, in one night, and accurately deliver a vast number of packages, of different shapes and sizes, to millions of locations! Unbelievable. Santa is also ahead of the curve as he has been able to provide home delivery since day 1. Now I am not saying we can all find a Rudolfo with his nose so bright to guide our fulfillment and logistics departments, but there is something to say about how integrated Santa’s workshop is with his distribution center and his logistics. He cannot be expected to demonstrate this level of efficiency is he stocks the wrong goods, doesn’t properly load them to his sleigh and then takes poor routes to his delivery locations. Clearly the value for supply chains to integrate the warehousing and transportation is what Santa’s efficiencies demonstrate.  Vendors like Oracle with their integrated WMS/TMS and now yard management (that is like what Santa does with regards to managing the elves and ensuring their are efficient) or JDA with their TMS integrated with the WMS acquired in the RedPrairie merger, are prime examples of solutions that even Santa would appreciate to ensure seamless optimization between the workshop and the big red sleigh – ensure the inventory that he has to haul around the world on the night of December 24th is properly slotted and routed.

The one aspect Santa does not seem to have worry too much about, is with returns. He does not seem to have a good reverse logistics or after sales service department. But since he has gotten so much of the upfront part right he does have to worry about delivering the wrong items! Alas our supply chains do not have that luxury, and our supply chains do need to take into account reverse logistics, returns, maintenance and other after sales issues. But thanks to Santa Claus we have something to aspire to with regards to our supply chains.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.07.03 PM

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Filed under Current Events, Supply Chain

The Ruble reminds us – our supply chains do not operate in a vacuum

This week has not been a good for the Russian currency, as it has dropped close to 20% versus the US Dollar. Some analyst fear that the Putin and Russia will default on their debt and this might throw the global economy into a tail spin. The impact could have graver consequences in places such as Ukraine – where Russia has already acted belligerently this year – in Eastern Europe or the Baltics. It is not simply the Russian ruble that should enter our thinking process for our supply chains – look at what is happening this week in Belgium as well. As union workers have gone on strike, halting ports, airports and highways it has brought much of Belgium to a halt.

But this is not meant to be a post about geo-politics and world history, although those are the areas of my early formal training. What the issues in Russia and Belgium remind us, especially those of us in the supply chain space, is that we do not operate in a vacuum. I realize that I am stating the obvious, but at times I am surprised at how many turn a blind or an ignorant eye when it comes to global events. There have been and will continue to be articles and studies done on risk management. Something that is crucial for our supply chains. However

You need a complete view...otherwise the world remains blurry

You need a complete view…otherwise the world remains blurry

one aspect that remains missing from these conversations is how to account for these global events. Much thinking has been done around assessing risk for suppliers, customers, geography, transportation, raw material costs, weather and natural disruptions to name a few. Yet it remains difficult to quantify geo-political risk. In other disciplines this has been marginally tackled, but for supply chains it still takes a back seat.

When it comes to assessing our supply chain risks we need look to an index that looks at a number of geo-political aspects. A combination of credit rating, political stability, regional history, religious tension, border fluctuation, socioeconomic make up, relationship with neighboring nations to name a few, could make up a supply chain exposure and risk indices that would compliment the other data points we study.

Companies, such as General Electric, have chief economists on their executive committee, this is should be a role all businesses that are international and that have extended supply chains have – which means 99% of companies. But let us not limit ourselves to economists…as a political scientist at heart…I would argue corporations need to also look to have geo-politically focused assets at their disposal. Our supply chains touch all the four corners of the globe, if we do not have the assets in place to provide better insight into the impact history and politics have on the geographies, we risk exposing our supply chains to a greater array of disruptions.

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Filed under Current Events, Supply Chain

The holidays are approaching – does your supply chain need IoT to improve results?

As it seems to happen every year, the holiday season seems to sneak up on my faster and faster. I do not know if it has to do with my getting older. Maybe Pink Floyd had it right when they sang: “And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking…Racing around to come up behind you again.” Of course these lyrics come from their wonderful song Time which is something that all retailers and CPG companies have very little of when it comes to the holiday season. The time of the year that is loosely book-ended by Halloween and New Year’s Eve is when many of these companies make the majority of their fiscal revenues. These companies are always looking for whatever technological or process advantage they can leverage to improve their top line sales as well as gain margin. One of the most influential technologies is mobile.

We don’t need to rehash the growth of big-sale-shopping-cart-full-of-gift-boxes-vector_Mkgk8gDdsmartphones globally nor the amount of connectivity and functionality these smartphones put in our pockets. While as consumers we have become tethered to their mobile devices, retailers and CPG manufacturers are all working feverishly to crack the code as to how to maximize our relationships with our smart phones.

Whether pushing promotions and coupons directly to our phones, allowing for payment via our phones or even allowing cross channel sales between the application and brick & mortar store, the usage of mobility remains high on the functionality Christmas list for these firms. When we start speaking of mobility it begs the question – what about IoT (Internet of Things)? Their consumers are already connected via their smartphones, but can or better yet, should retail and CPG integrate IoT into their businesses? And how?

IoT is a hot topic – one that has opened the door to what appears to be vast potential for new business models. But as with many new technologies, not all supply chains’ adoption rate are at the same pace. When it comes to retailers and CPG companies, IoT can offer value – but not the same impact across the retail and CPG sub-segments. For example, in the footwear and apparel sub-segment does IoT mean putting sensors on every pair of sneakers or winter coats? Not necessarily. But making  the pallets smarter allows for better tracking of inventory, when does it ship, when is it received at a distribution center or within the retail channel? Better inventory tracking across the entire network would greatly improve these supply chains. However for those in the food and beverage space being able to do a more precise track and trace – via sensors – will mitigate the risk that arises when there is a food recall. Think of the recent problems faced by the likes of Mars Chocolate or Tesco, and one realizes what an impact better visibility and traceability would have for these firms and their supply chains. Rather than having to invoke massive recalls and spending valuable time to identify the root of the problem, leveraging more IoT would allow you to more quickly identify the root of the problem.

So next holiday season will we see a greater presence of sensors within our retail channels or attached to the side of Lego boxes? At early adopter firms I expect to see sensors and IoT being a greater presence, while I would expect a greater adoption of sensors for most of these firms through the back end of their supply chains. Both IoT and supply chain solution providers need to determine how they can assist and leverage this technology with their retail and CPG customers. As for CPG and Retail companies – determine how the usage of more sensors will impact your supply chain. Do not hesitate to work with your service providers to co-develop solutions. Look for more of our research in upcoming reports.

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Filed under Current Events, IOT, IoT, Retail, Supply Chain