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David Weiner, PODCAST, Strategies for Optimizing Retailer Business Solutions, Complete Text
Interview with David Weiner, CEO of Cole Systems, July 19, 2012. Click here for the actual podcast.
WNR: Good afternoon, and welcome to another podcast on whatsnextretail.com. What’s Next Retail is a site for thought leaders and subject matter experts on the retail industry, providing new ideas, identifying trends that are affecting retailers. My name is Fred Diamond. We’re here today with David Weiner. Dave is the CEO of Cole Systems, and an industry expert on retailer industry and trends facing retailers. David, how are you today?
DAVID WEINER: I’m excellent, Fred, yourself?
WNR: I’m doing really well. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation. I’ve been reading your blog entries for the last couple of months and I really like what you’ve been talking about as it relates to loyalty and business solutions that retailers, are using to optimize their system. So I look forward to getting deep into this topic with you.
DAVID WEINER: Well, thank you, Fred. I really appreciate the opportunity to contribute at What’s Next Retail.
WNR: Excellent. So let’s get started here. So we’re going to talk about business systems and how it can be best utilized for loyalty and mobility and other pressing challenges for retailers. David, do you think that retailers are making the best usage of their business systems to optimize customer loyalty?
DAVID WEINER: It’s a great question, Fred, and the answer very simply is no, I do not believe that the majority of retailers today are making the most effective use of their business systems for loyalty.
WNR: You say no, so then what could they be doing to make this happen?
DAVID WEINER: Sure. So retailers, Fred, need an integrated environment, at least one place where they can look that ties together multi-channel transactions such as on-line purchases to in-store purchases together with social media and in-store activity. Without all the information in one place, a retailer cannot effectively build loyalty in today’s retail world.
WNR: Well, you know, you’re an expert on business solutions for retailers. I know that you have worked with retailers not just in North America but all over the world, implementing business solutions for them. How are the business solutions today allowing retailers to maximize the ever-growing movement to user mobile usage?
DAVID WEINER: So, Fred, today business systems really are starting to become standardized with ways to incorporate social media and mobile information. By having the sales transaction such as e-commerce and in-store purchases tied together with social trends, such as music and movies and likes and dislikes and even consumers’ friends, retailers can start to really get to know their customer and better understand how to interact with them.
WNR: So the business solutions are having the capabilities, such as Dynamics AX for Retail from Microsoft, how about retailers themselves? Are retailers doing all that they can to ensure that they’re ready for this evolution?
DAVID WEINER: I think in general, Fred, the answer to that is no, they’re not. I know that we’re working with a few select retailers right now who are very geared up and ready for the evolution, but the majority is not, and I think those retailers are not because they see the barriers to entry as perceived as too high. And if they actually stop and talk to the right people about how to implement these systems and how to foster all of this data in the right place, they’ll see that the barriers to entry is actually quite low and the ROI is the only part that’s quite high.
WNR: .Well, that’s interesting. So I’m talking to David Weiner. David is the CEO of Cole Systems and he’s a retail industry expert on topics such as loyalty, business systems, and social media. Do retailers seem to be on top of the trends? You’re obviously an expert on the retail industry. When you’re out there dealing with the hundreds of retailers you deal with on a yearly basis, do they seem to be at least up on the trends they should be thinking about implementing?
DAVID WEINER: You know, Fred, I’d say again, there’s a few examples of companies that are doing this right, a few examples of companies where mobile check-ins promote in-store services and where consumer trends are analyzed beyond just what somebody bought last. But in general, I would say that the mass of retailers are still playing a wait-and-see game or still believe that the barrier of entry is too high.
WNR: So what advice are you giving today to these retailers who are looking to maximize the potential of their business solutions?
DAVID WEINER: It’s a good question, Fred, and it’s really a simple answer: find a good partner. If you’re a company that specializes in apparel, then keep doing what you do best: apparel. However, find someone or a team of people who can help you understand how to use today’s technology trends to grow your brand and loyalty base. It just comes down to working with the right people.
WNR: That’s interesting. So you’re basically saying, you’re the expert on retail, you’re the expert on apparel or fashion whatever it is you’re selling, focus on that business and work with people who truly understand how to optimize the technology to ensure that you’re getting the value out of what’s available to you today.
DAVID WEINER: That is 100% correct, Fred.
WNR: Well, let’s talk a little about the technology. You’re on the leading edge of what’s available to retailers today. So what are some of the new advances in technology that you see that makes loyalty or mobile usage achieve the optimization we’ve been talking about?
DAVID WEINER: You know, in the simplest terms, it’s being able to tie a physical person to their mobile ID. It’s being able to understand a consumer and understand that that consumer has to log into Facebook, and by understanding that Facebook login you can begin to really start to understand more about their consumer. Maybe where their location is, based on their GPS; who their friends are; what are their tastes in music and in food. On the surface, it’s very simple; it’s just understanding how to tie someone’s physical presence into their mobile and social presence. And then, of course, it gets more complex as you start needing to know how to analyze those trends. But of course that’s what we’re here to help with, and that’s the fun part of it.
WNR: We’re talking to Dave Weiner, Dave’s the CEO of Cole Systems, he’s one of the thought leaders on whatsnextretail.com, one of the leading Microsoft partners as Microsoft pursues the retailer marketplace with its Dynamics AX product for retail. Dave, why don’t you tell us a little about Cole and some of the things that you provide for retailers?
DAVID WEINER: Thanks Fred. So Cole Systems, we’ve been in business since 1987 and we’ve been partnered with Microsoft since 1989. Our core philosophy is around that a good project is a combination of great business strategy and good technology, but in that order. So we’re really trying to partner with our customers to understand where their business is today or where their brand is today, what are the factors that can help increase their business, lower costs and increase revenues, and work with them to develop business strategies to make their business more effective. And then we use technology to actually implement those strategies and certainly Microsoft being the key technology there.
WNR: Very good. So again, my name is Fred Diamond. I’m talking to David Weiner. David is the CEO of Cole Systems. He is a thought leader in the retail industry, you can find his blog entries on whatsnextretail.com. David, it’s once again been a pleasure talking to you, I always learn things from you and I always enjoy the conversations, as I’m sure our listeners and readers will as well.
DAVID WEINER: Again, I appreciate the opportunity to contribute. Thanks so much, Fred.