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PODCAST: Sandeep Walia, 2012 Reflections and NRF Expectations
As I reflect on the 2012 holiday season with an eye towards how 2013 will turn out, especially with a highly-anticipated NRF show kicking off this week in New York, I am impressed by how retailers with successful omni-channel strategies weathered the 2012 holiday better than retailers that still have not put strong programs into play. We’ve been talking about omni-channel integration via technology for a number of years, but we finally saw some fantastic successes this past holiday season.
What are some of the learning retailers should have had from the recently concluded holiday season? Well, it was a tough holiday season for many retailers for a couple of reasons. There was not as much growth across the board as was expected based on past holiday seasons. Omni-channel strategies became much more significant especially during the holiday. Target, for example, which I don’t think has a strong omni-channel strategy said they didn’t see growth, but Macy’s saw stronger growth, in part to the successful cross channel integration strategies, according to its CEO.
I have given some thought to what strategies or tactics in retail didn’t work in 2012 that retailers should cast aside for 2013. Many retailers tried to open new stores, however that didn’t work. Keeping stores open longer hours didn’t work. During the holiday season, retailers only saw an increase in sales during the last week of holiday season. Unfortunately, they started cutting prices pretty aggressively then, which deeply cut into margins.
While the industry reported 2.5% growth overall, remarkably e-commerce saw a 15% bump and it’s been reported that e-commerce accounted for 45% of the overall holiday retailer growth! This is the right sign that omni-channel strategies must be in place early in 2013 to be impactful in the next holiday season. They must also be done well.
Which ties in nicely to next week’s NRF. When I think about what retailers in attendance must shop for at NRF, I would put anything related to implementing a better e-commerce and omni-channel capability at the top of the list. Better e-commerce functionality must be at the top of the list, especially if the retailer is weak in omnichannel.
Mobility is the second thing I would shop for. The growth in using mobile devices, such as smart phones or tablets is through the roof. Mobility inside the store is huge. Customers are expecting store clerks to be able to help them by acting interactively.
I’m excited by what Microsoft will be showing at NRF. The Microsoft presence will be strong and I look forward to seeing some of the advancements in the R2 release of Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail 2012. New functionality includes support for mobility, expanding retailer hierarchy, power merchandising assortment and new E-commerce capabilities.
I also look forward to the Monday session at NRF “Become a Dynamic Retailer with Microsoft Dynamics & Deliver the Future of Retail Today.” Lynda Barr, Chief Financial Officer of Edwin Watts Golf (an Ignify and Microsoft Dynamics customer), will share her powerful insights and experiences on retail technology and Microsoft Dynamics.
Here’s the description for Lynda’s session: While technology and innovation continue to make the world seem smaller, the challenge facing retailers couldn’t be larger – how to take advantage of additional channels, optimize web experiences and capitalize on social and mobile commerce. For today’s consumer, on-line purchases, social networks, and mobile commerce are simply a way of life yet many retailers still struggle with technology built to solve the problems of the past. Join this session to learn how Microsoft Dynamics for Retail is helping retailers across the world deliver powerful, role-tailored, omni-channel scenarios seamlessly through a fully integrated retail solution that includes all new e-commerce capabilities as well as next generation POS and more.