Tag Archives: mobile

Demandware making the cloud rain!

Earlier this month I was in sunny Florida at the Demandware XChange conference. A gathering of some of the biggest retail brand names – the likes of Cole Haan, Carter’s, vineyard vines, Party City to name a few, also spent time with me in Florida. With over 1400 attendees representing 600 customers, the event attracted a wide swath of brands and retailers.

The biggest message from the event was the dominance mobile has taken on in the retail world. This is something that has long been resonating in the space. When it comes to connecting with the consumer, the mobile phone is firmly entrenched as the de facto touch point. No surprise since many would rather lose their wallet rather than their iPhone. Therefore it is imperative for retailers to focus on the phone to be central to their consumer facing focus. The main takeaways from the event:

  • Mobile is the thread that ties in commerce: Mobile phones are always with us – they are the one constant within the commerce ecosystem. This is specific to mobile phones, as tablets are not regarded as “mobile” but more along the same lines as computers. Retailers need to focus on a mobile first strategy. Retailers need to keep in mind that mobile is not simply about reaching conversions via that form factor – rather that mobile plays a role with regards to influencing conversions regardless of where they take place. Conversations between the brand and consumers via mobile can drive conversions – regardless if they are happening on that phone or via a physical store and even through a non-mobile web site.
  • Don’t ignore important signals your customers are throwing off: There was a time when abandoned shopping carts were viewed with disdain. While retailers still want to see the highest percentages of shopping carts converted, there is some interesting information to be gathered from what products your consumers place in their shopping carts and why they don’t convert. Savvy retailers are looking at these actions by consumers and learning from them. There is also an opportunity to learn from you consumer’s social actions. Tying in buying functions with social sites such as Pinterest, allows retailers to take advantage of how their consumers’ are behaving and interacting. The lesson – find places where your consumer is sharing insights, ideas and potential demands and figure out how to take advantage of this data.
  • Don’t forget the store labor! A major theme we have seen with retail is the growing importance of labor within the commerce ecosystem. Brands such as Party City are leaning on in store technologies to empower their store associates. Not only for more frictionless interactions between store associate and consumer, but also how to better handle inventory. The labor also needs to lean on the mobile access to information and data. Retailers such as Party City lean on seasonal pop up stores to drive sales around such events such as Halloween. The need for a mobile and flexible in store solution is even more imperative to keep up with these changing retail delivery points.

Demandware and their customers are focused on some key topics facing retailers – all focused on the importance of mobile. The question remains how much can the fulfillment side of the retail supply chain weave into this mobile strategy? As consumers continue to influence the retail supply chain, retailers will also need to adopt a more flexible and responsive fulfillment strategy to integrate with their mobile strategy.

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Filed under Current Events, Retail

Happy New Year – some wishes for 2015

Once again the inevitable is happening, our journey around the sun has almost come full circle. 2014 was an interesting year – of course for us soccer fans it was extra exciting with a World Cup, but I digress. As we head towards 2015 here are some wishes I have for our supply chains far and wide:

 

2015 Puzzle Piece Shows New Year's Festivities And Celebrations

Happy 2015 to all!

 

  • Better and more actionable data: Raise your hand if you are sick of hearing about big data…okay you can all put your hands down. This is not about the continued deluge of data, we all know that we are flush with data and with new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) will only add to this wave of information. What we need to focus on, and achieve for our supply chains is more business data. Business data is the actionable information we can absorb, make a decision with and discard. Many of the CxOs I have spoken to this year, have pointed out that they know the information is out there, the
    Hey look...more "big data"

    Hey look…more “big data”

    issue they have is to identify and focus on the business data that their organizations can better leverage. This is no small task. It is easier to hoard mountains and mountains of data as opposed to be smart about which data to focus on and which pieces of information to lean on. Offerings from the likes of Cisco with their intercloud product provides a layer of intelligence to all that information flowing across our networks. Of course the need to do a better job of filtering and identifying that business information is vital…especially as “big data” only gets bigger. In 2015 let us hope that we become smarter about the types of data we lean on to be better with our supply chains – no easy task.

  • Continued harmonization of execution systems: The need to integrate WMS and TMS seems like a no-brainer, yet remains surprising that in many instances the systems have themselves remained in silos. It is telling that a supply chain vendor such as JDA only acquired a robust WMS solution when they merged with Red Prairie. But as more companies that are in the execution space look to not only add functionality but ensure full integration – even mega vendors like Oracle are working to add functionality such as yard management to their execution suite – one can hope that 2015 sees more of these strategic moves. The value for the end users is to have a faster and deeper visibility into the end to end execution process. For this reason, let us also hope that focused manufacturing service providers such as QAD and Plex also push out from within the factory four walls to include greater services in transportation and warehousing. Being able to monitor my entire execution process is the only way to start to eliminate the blind spots that constantly haunt our supply chains.
  • Smarter evolution of SMAC within all aspects of supply chain: What is SMAC? It isn’t what you talk on the basketball court. SMAC – Social Mobile Analytics Cloud. I look for a greater focus on the first two letters of SMAC for 2015. When it comes to analytics, supply chains have been working on ensuring we add greater layers of analytics and intelligence to our processes. This will only continue to be vital as we add…more data. As for the cloud, it continues to be an area of much debate for supply chains. By some studies, there remains a lot of skepticism when it comes to the cloud. And I understand why. It isn’t because the cloud is not a viable delivery mechanism for the tools and solutions we need to manage our supply chains, rather the business value has not been properly expressed. I am looking at you marketing and sales departments. Too often we lead with the lower total cost of ownership (TCO) or the ability to
    Decision making at the edge - at your finger tips.

    Decision making at the edge – at your finger tips.

    have access to the latest version of the software, rather than discuss why these features of the cloud open up new business models for supply chains. Smart vendors in 2015 will hone in on the business models the cloud empowers – not just lower TCO. But where 2015 holds more promise is with the social and mobile aspects of supply chain. Almost half of supply chain executives agree that social will play a vital role in their business, however less than 20% have any active strategy with social. I expect to see more partnerships such as the one between IBM and Twitter – to bring to the market solutions that these supply chain CxOs can lean on to take advantage of the nuggets that are in social. Finally 2015 will continue to see the importance of mobile in the supply chain. We already have witnessed how tablets and handhelds have impacted the factory floor, logistics, warehousing and within the store. But this is only the beginning. Smarter and more powerful devices will allow us to push decision making and control to the edges of the network. How solution providers tackle this new found power will be integral to how supply chains evolve in 2015.

I don’t think these are too much to ask of our supply chain users and vendors. Next year is an exciting one for new solutions and the continued evolution of existing technologies. But don’t we say that every year??

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. See you on the other side!

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Filed under Current Events, IoT, Social media, Supply Chain, Technology

Blackberry thinks what??? Tablets aren’t worth it?

Wow. In a recent interview, Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins, claims that there is a limited future for the tablet. Really? He makes this statement as Apple generates more revenue from their tablets than Blackberry did from their entire business ($8.7b v $2.7b). This smells like a statement made in light of a

We hardly knew ya!

We hardly knew ya!

failed foray into the tablet market. This is just reflective of Blackberry’s demise – being a dollar late and a day late. Blackberry, like many of us, were caught off guard by the rise of the iPhone. Yes I will admit that I was a loyal Blackberry user and now I have no idea what I was thinking (I am on my second iPhone). However this is no excuse for Blackberry. Lots of companies were caught off guard, and many have been able to react and get back into the game – Samsung being a perfect example. Yet Blackberry appears to have their collective heads in the sand for example:

  • Secure email was no longer the #1 selling reason for a smartphone – apps were. But for the business world having secure communications remains important. Double down on the corporate play, rather than trying to half appeal to developers to create apps for phones that aren’t designed well for apps (late to touch screen).
  • Speaking of touch screens – stop trying to appeal to those who still wanted a tactile keyboard…with a phone that offered both tactile and touch. I will admit, again, that I resisted the notion of a touch screen keyboard. But I also was not going to try and use a device that had both. The Blackberry 10 finally has gone all in with the full touch screen…only a few years late.
  • We need a tablet…oh wait there is no future. Blackberry did come out with a, from an engineering stand point, was a good device the Playbook. Yet once again it was late and marketed as an iPad competitor. Maybe it should have been targeted to the corporate world as a laptop replacement. Get ahead of the BYOD wave. Get these into the hands of IT departments and offer them as an alternative to laptops. Blackberry remains one of the most secure systems…lean on that advantage.

I guess the latest from Blackberry is another example of “if I say it…it will be true.” Unfortunately Blackberry is giving us a wonderful example of a great brand and product that has been caught behind the curve. Rather than recognizing this they are trying to convince themselves this is June 28, 2007 and the term iPhone has yet to enter our lexicon.

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Filed under Current Events, Mobility, Smart Phone