From a business and information technology perspective, the retail sector has its own challenges. Some of the characteristics of this sector are: – deals with large volumes of data in terms of masters and transactions – price sensitive – margins are low – deals with ‘you & me’, the consumer and the ‘experience’ – analytics of consumer buying patterns plays an important role – effective category management, forecasting requirements, replenishment and assortment planning are key areas for success – lots of interfaces to external systems like SAP to POS (Point of Sale) systems, POS to barcode scanners, weighing scales, payment gateways, RFID enabled systems, PDAs etc – the risk of pilferage and fraud is high due to the nature of merchandise which is ‘required by all’ In simple terms, a retailers business process flow, could be: – procure merchandise at the most optimal prices – receive merchandise at the warehouse or store – optimize logistics to ensure that merchandise is available at the store, based on consumer demand– ensure that the consumer has a varied assortment to choose from – provide the best price, quality and service– enhance the consumers buying experience through efficient and effective methods – enable sales at the store and send data to the back end system for analytics and financial accounting – analyse consumer buying patterns and cater to their needs – maintain customer loyalty It is the keywords in these processes, which have been indicated in bold, that have created the powerful functionalities in products like SAP for Retail, e.g.: – Category Management – Merchandise and Assortment Planning – Requirements Planning – Forecasting and Replenishment – Promotions – Allocation – Investment Buying – Open to Buy – Transportation – CRM – POS Data Management – Business Intelligence – POS integration through XI – etc. However, what is happening in reality is that the pressures of ‘going live’ are forcing implementations to configure only the basic structure thereby ignoring the high end functionalities, that are the real benefit to the organization. I do believe that discussions in this Retail space of BPX, will help community members optimize the utilization of these functionalities thereby facilitating direct benefits to organizations. The sheer volume of data in the retail sector makes it absolutely essential to use technology and tools to make business processes efficient and effective. We have no other choice.