Retail is Dead, but Never More Alive

by | May 12, 2014 | Omnichannel, Retailers, Suppliers

SPS Commerce Omnichannel 2014 conference attendees gathered in droves on May 5 to hear keynote comments from NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson. The cloud, a disruptive technology, is driving retail transformation helping to keep pace with the innovation and change necessary to achieve omnichannel.

“Whenever someone tells you a market is dead, get ready for more change,” said Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite, in his afternoon keynote to Omnichannel attendees. “Cloud is the problem but it’s also the solution for how you will transform retail.”

Nelson said omnichannel is requiring the retail supply chain to do immediate fulfillment, scale for an endless-aisle product assortment and provide up-to-date product info. Oh, and process orders across multiple parties and channels.

Disruptive cloud

To the rescue comes cloud, the Next Big Thing that’s here to stay. Nelson said cloud solutions are already fueling the ongoing transformation retail requires to deliver the fast, consistent customer experiences of omnichannel. He described how the cloud burst onto the scene in 2000, following the heyday of the client/server era that reigned the 20 years prior.

Client/server – the “fake cloud” – web-enabled

  • single tenant
  • version locked
  • created pre-internet
  • Citrix-based solutions

Internet cloud – “the real cloud” – web-enabled

  • multi-tenant
  • versionless
  • designed for internet
  • browser-based solutions

Ushering in single-platform solutions that enable the omnichannel across multiple functions like customer data, orders, inventory, fulfillment and distribution is difficult given the pervasiveness of legacy systems, Nelson said. He cited research from Gartner’s RIS Technology Study 2014 that found retiring legacy systems is the number 2 challenge for the retail supply chain, after developing customer apps and followed by faster fulfillment.

Fortunately, integrated cloud-based solutions across the retail supply chain allow retail to thrive. One telling example is how William-Sonoma’s 4 brands that include its namesake brand, West Elm, Pottery Barn and PB Kids, easily rolled out in Australia and the U.K. in less than a 10-month period. Easy customization, scalability and support of multiple locations, channels, languages and currencies are just a few of the “real cloud” advantages.

The future has already called for retailers to become manufacturers (in-house brands and retail increasingly engages well-known designers and names) and manufacturers to become retailers (suppliers sell direct online), said Jim Weinberg, president and CMO of Canadian e-tailer Beyond the Rack (BTR). “We needed a grow-up system that could morph with the business,” he said of BTR’s adoption of NetSuite and SPS Commerce solutions.

Nelson’s address at Omnichannel 2014 was in conjunction with the news of deepened integration between NetSuite and SPS Commerce solutions to bring even more collaboration and possibilities to the retail supply chain. Long live retail!

SPS Commerce Blog Team

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