Every year the National Retail Federation (NRF) "Big Show" takes place in mid-January. The NRF has been around for a very long time and celebrates its 103rd Annual Convention and Expo this week. That adds up to over a century! NRF is an interesting event where a lot of old fashioned technology is still shown - point of sales systems from the likes of Honeywell and ruggedized "hand held computers" come directly to mind.
However, every year mobile capabilities grow larger, mobile apps take on more and more of the center stage and tablets in particular become ever more important to the overall mix of retail tools. Mobility is clearly retail's new frontier. Along with all those mobile apps comes a huge growth in consumer data gathering. This consumer data gathering is one of the key reasons "big data" has become so important, and it is consumer big data that ultimately drives the ability of retailers to be able to customize and effectively offer consumers mobile-based inducements to bot only shop, but to shop and buy at a given retailer's place of business.
SAP, especially through the abilities of its in-memory big data analysis engine HANA, rides at the forefront of these consumer-enabling efforts. To further these efforts today SAP announced that it is now seeking to advance the state of the art in consumer retail management through newly developed plans to collaborate with key customers to better meet the challenges faced by apparel, footwear and accessory companies.
Towards this goal, SAP will now be working closely with adidas, Luxottica and Tommy Hilfiger to bring a new tech fashion solution to the marketplace that will allow fashion brands to better manufacture their products and sell them to retailers and consumers using one single, vertical solution. By a vertical solution we mean one that works seamlessly across a company's entire supply chain operation.
Fashion companies that focus on being customer-centric through the use of best practices and big data in a cross-channel vertical environment, there are issues they need to tackle. Here are several of the more prevalent issues:
- Wholesalers and manufacturers that run retail stores and have direct-to-consumer (D2C) Web channels may keep inventories in disintegrated silos, leading to issues in stock and distribution decisions;
- The above scenario can lead new styles not being brought to market quickly enough;
- It can also mean that moving into new markets and channels will likely prove cumbersome and time-consuming.
The planned single Big Data-enabled solution is envisioned by SAP to provide fashion companies with a single unified view of inventory. And with the power of in-memory computing, large data volumes can be quickly analyzed for a fast and accurate overview of products.
No doubt this will easily save both time and money across operations for all three participating customers - as well as for numerous other potential customers. Retailers will be far better able to meet the challenges defined above and similar challenges by effectively managing their vertical, omni-channel business processes across one Big Data system landscape. Greater efficiency, quicker time to market and better inventory control will be the end result.
Lori Mitchell-Keller, global head, Industry Business Unit Retail at SAP adds, "With this development, we plan to help our fashion customers become truly vertical. As a result of this planned collaboration, we aim to bring the processes for vertical fashion wholesale, manufacturing and retail into one system using the power of our proven, Big Data-enabled business suite on SAP HANA."
We are glad to see SAP continue to build on what is now becoming an extensive suite of HANA applications and capabilities across numerous vertical markets. For the retail space HANA-driven solutions are clearly a major step forward into 21st century retailing.