This year, in January, I attended to the NRF (NRF Retail Big Show 2014). It is possibly the largest Retail focused event in North America. Even though it is a technology agnostic event (it should be as it focuses on Retail Business), it was backed up by some of the big players in the IT industry, Oracle being one of the main sponsors. Microsoft was very present too.
As I am a big SAP Retail advocate, I looked forward to the SAP presence there and have to say I was a little disappointed. The showfloor coverage of SAP was a small fraction of the one of Microsoft (much less of Oracle’s). So of course that was frustrating. I know how solid SAP Core applications are (including for Retail). SAP Retail is most likely the strongest ERP offer out there, yet, SAP was low key there….
So, now, fastforward to October 2014 and SAP held the SAP Retail Forum this past week (Oct 7 and 8) in New York. I was able to attend through the Blogger/Press/Incluencer program. I was really excited to see how the product portfolio would be positioned and have hints of the overall SAP roadmap.
At NRF, a lot of focus was given to what was described as the two main challenges in the Retail business:
- The Amazon manace – The need of a streamlined and fast distribution model – Fast reaction to customer demand
- Customer Centric analytics – Getting to know your customer (accross channels) – The Customer 360 view
Here are my impressions on the event this week and provide a very brief summary of how these Retail Challenges are to be addressed.
CAR – Customer Activity Repository
Left Right and Center, CAR was everywhere. CAR (Customer Activity Repository) is a new offering from SAP, built on HANA to provide customer activity analytics. CAR in fact is now central to the SAP Retail roamap. It was created as an evolution of SAP POSDM, aggregating POS data, ERP back end inventory position and other input to provide a consolidated view. It is based on CAR that all the additional Retail offerings will be attached to, these being:
- Planning for Retail (P4R)
- Assortment Planning
- Allocation Planning
- Promotion Planning
SAP Retail and CAR now enable the following:
- Customer Centric Marketing and Merchandising
- Supply Chain – Optimize Inventory based on real-time predictive Customer insight
- Omni Commerce Customer Experience – Deliver personalized customer experince across channels
SAP Retail as the CORE of Customer operations
As described by Andrea France (sorry, had to reuse it as it was a great way of summarizing it), SAP Retail is the foundation, the core of customer applications. It provides very robust Finacials, logistics and other operational applications.
What is important to take away from this diagram?
- SAP Retail is the CORE foundation of the SAP Landscape. It provides very solid functionality that can support growth and allows you to take the most of your IT investment. Its Financials, Merchandise Distribution and other Operational related functionality is second to none in functionality depth and flexibility. It can be adapted and grow with your business.
- To be able to provide the most sophisticated and advanced solutions, your customer experience applications need to be built taking into consideration this application stack and integrated all the way to the core applications. Live POS data can benefit a much faster distribution strategy. Customer Apps (mobility) integrated all the way to the core can provide live inventory availability across channels, Promotions can be built to better target upsell instead of canabalize repeat business, etc etc.
- SAP HANA is the foundation for this application stack.
I think this is a simple representation of the SAP landscape but help put its offerings in perspective.
SAP Fashion Management (FMS)
SAP also positioned very clearly its new solution for Retail/Fashion industry. As a convergence of applications (AFS and SAP Retail) it better addresses customer requirements that often request production and store sales functionality. I wrote a dedicated BLOG about it, available here.
North American customers were quite well represented there. Here is a picture with some of the names of the companies that sent representatives to the event.
I believe the event was good and helped answer the questions I had in my head concerning product roadmap and overal solution positioning. It was a very short event though. Even though the event was planned for 2 days, activities existed to justify really only one. For the content delivered it was enough, but I am sure most participants would have liked to have more hands on experience and dedicated sessions showcasing the individual products and their functionalities.
I would defenitely return next year and hope that SAP has planned a large presence at NRF 2015, cause it deserves.