Apps Vendors Announce New Retail-Based Software at NRFBy Renee Boucher Ferguson | Print
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The bevy of new offerings could help businesses in the retail sector move forward with electronic initiatives.Big-name business applications vendorsMicrosoft, Oracle, Lawson and (on the business intelligence front) Cognos each made a splash with new software announcements at the National Retail Federation's Big Show event in New York on Jan. 16.
The bevy of new offerings could help businesses in the retail sector move forward with electronic initiatives.
Microsoft, for example, announced the 2.0 version of its Dynamics POS (Point of Sale) suite of software aimed at making it easier for retailers to extend their storefront online with such functionality as online invoicing and the ability to link to PayPal and eBay marketplace selling.
"Our vision of offering small and midsized retailers powerful and affordable technology innovation that drives strategic value is a reality," said Satya Nadella, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Group, in a statement.
Oracle announced three new retail applicationsOracle Retail Merchandising Standard Edition, Promotion Optimization and Returns Managementall focused on helping retailers improve their financial performance through automation.
The Retail Merchandising SE suiteessentially a scaled-down version of Oracle Retail Merchandising Systemis geared toward midmarket retailers that want to quickly (and relatively cheaply) implement a merchandising system; Oracle designed new tool sets and accelerators to help users standardize data conversions, business processes and configurations.
Oracle's Retail Promotion Planning and Optimization software, on the other hand, is an application geared toward helping retailers better understand what drives customer demandand the effectiveness of past promotionsand combines planning, forecasting and analytics to provide metrics on both fronts.
Finally, the Oracle Retail Returns Management application is designed to help retailers better process returns across stores and channels through functionality like real-time return authorization, or customer screening.
Lawson Software took a more segmented approach with the release of its namesake QuickStep Fashion, the company's second industry-specific, pre-configured ERP (enterprise resource planning) package.
The idea with QuickStep is to make key information visible across an organization, with the goal of eliminating islands of information.
The Fashion suite is designed for companies in the apparel, footwear, home textiles and accessories sectorsparticularly those that have a design, source and distribution model, or manufacturers with complex issues like managing wide product ranges with short lifecycles and high order volumes.
Finally, BI software provider Cognos announced the availability of its namesake Strategic Merchandising Planning Blueprint designed to help retail chains improve their planning for merchandise sales, margin and gross profit by division, channel, department or category through a performance management framework that includes metrics and reporting.
The promotions planning blueprint is the fourth such offering launched by Cognos in the past year. The others include blueprints for store operations planning, store development and promotions planning.
"Retailers have traditionally experienced difficulty in planning, managing and evaluating merchandise performance for a variety of reasonslimited modeling and forecasting abilities; functional and information silos; and poor plan synchronization between top-down and bottom-up processes," said Patricia Vekich Waldron, retail industry director at Cognos.
"Our new Blueprint delivers the kind of enhanced visibility retailers need to accurately and swiftly respond to inevitable fluctuations in merchandise supply and demand."
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