Brand Experience in Focus: 78% of Retailers Plan to Implement a Unified Commerce Platform Within 5 Years, BRP Study Finds

Bulldog Reporter – Customers expect a personalized, seamless brand experience across digital and physical commerce touch points, and unified commerce is key to delivering this experience. This is the new mantra in retail—according to new research from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), 43% of the respondents indicated that a consistent brand experience across channels is one of their top commerce priorities. A customer’s journey is no longer a linear path to purchase—it’s now an exercise in connect-the-dots for retailers as they try to piece together customer information, browsing history, inventory visibility and much more to enhance the customer experience.

“Retailers realize that they can no longer operate from within silos, and the convergence of digital and physical commerce is now a retail imperative,” said Brian Brunk, principal at Boston Retail Partners, in a news release. “Unified commerce transcends channels and enables store associates to personalize the experience to a customer based on her digital footprint. It is encouraging to see that so many retailers have implemented or will implement a unified commerce platform within the next five years.”

Read Full Article: Brand Experience in Focus: 78% of Retailers Plan to Implement a Unified Commerce Platform Within 5 Years, BRP Study Finds

VIDEO: Retailers are Shifting to Cloud based Solutions

We are seeing a dramatic increase in retailers’ interest in cloud-based software applications.

Watch this video blog post to hear how many retailers are moving to complete systems on off-premise cloud servers.

Visit our BRP Videos page to watch videos on other topics.

For more information on virtual POS, check out this white paper:

Virtual POS Is Retail Ready – Are You Ready?

As always, I appreciate you thoughts on this topic. Please enter your thoughts and comments below.


VIDEO: Networks – The Enabler for Real-time Retail

Network technology has improved tremendously in the past few decades.

The banking industry leveraged the networks in the 80’s and 90’s to install ATMs and completely changed the consumer banking experience.

There is a huge opportunity for retailers to leverage the network and mobile devices to engage with consumers in a new way – it’s real-time retail!

Watch this video blog post to hear how networks changed the banking industry and they may change the retail industry.

Visit our BRP Videos page to watch videos on other topics.

For more information on real-time retail, check out this report:

BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Real-time Retail – The New Retail Imperative

As always, I appreciate you thoughts on this topic. Please enter your thoughts and comments below.


Unifying sales channels enhances consumer experience: Boston Retail Partners exec

Luxury Daily – While retail has evolved with additional sales channels, the black book of client information has remained largely unchanged, according to an executive from Boston Retail Partners at the Luxury Insights Summit 2015 April 29.

Providing a high-quality shopping experience requires knowledge of a consumer’s wants and needs, which can be aided and supported by technology. Centralizing consumer information and implementing systems that can recognize them across channels makes for a more consistent, agile purchase journey.

“Over the years, technology has significantly changed…,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Retail hasn’t woken up to that yet, but they are starting to wake up to that. We’re evovling and what we’re evolving to is this concept called real-time retail, cloud-based retail.

“The black book that supports everyone in this room that associates have kept hasn’t changed at all. It’s continually the black book. Who owns it is a constant battle and a constant process. “

Read full article: Unifying sales channels enhances consumer experience: Boston Retail Partners exec

VIDEO: Order Management is the New POS

We are seeing a trend where retailers will be moving away from traditional POS solutions to an order management based POS solution. Watch this video blog post to learn more.

Visit our BRP Videos page to watch videos on other topics.

As always, I appreciate you thoughts on this topic. Please enter your thoughts and comments below.


2015 Outlook: The Customer Experience is Key

RIS News – Byline article by Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners, focuses on retailers top IT priorities for 2015. As we look to 2015, rather than speculate what top retailers will focus on, we asked them about their priorities in a series of surveys over the past year.

Read the complete article to see what retailers are focused on for 2015:

2015 Outlook: The Customer Experience is Key


Seeking Retailers’ Opinions – 16th Annual POS and Customer Engagement Survey

Customers want a personalized seamless shopping experience – we all know that – but what does that mean for retailers? What are retailers doing to offer their customer the shopping experience she wants, when and where she wants it? These are some of the areas that BRP’s POS/ Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey addresses this year.

This is our 16th year for this industry-leading survey and it is interesting how the survey has changed through the years.  When we first started the survey, we asked questions about “cash registers” and whether retailers were looking at expanding to the Internet. Now we are asking retailers about offering customers the ability to use her own mobile phone to purchase items in the store! And with pervasive data breaches impacting all retail segments, payment and data security has become a retail imperative.

In addition to the core questions on traditional point-of-sale hardware and software, the survey has continued to expand into the key topics that are top priorities for retailers, including:

  • Customer experience and personalizationSuvey Checkboxes with Computer Mouse 01
  • Mobile POS
  • Virtual POS
  • Payment security
  • Order management
  • Unified commerce

Please share your opinions

Our POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey is open now so please take a few minutes and give us your thoughts today:  TAKE SURVEY HERE.  The results of the survey will be compiled and analyzed and we will release the final report at NRF’s BIG Show on January 11th, 2015.  If you are planning to attend NRF please plan on stopping by Booth #1230 to say hello to all of us and find out what retailers are doing now and in the next few years to engage the customer and personalize the shopping experience.

We appreciate your input and look forward to seeing you at NRF.

Why Move to Virtual POS?

The opportunities available to retailers through the virtual POS model are exciting and the benefits are significant. By eliminating the need to install and run the POS application on a server at each store, a significant burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation, and support is alleviated. Here are a few of the benefits of switching to a virtual POS system:Hand-coins

  • Reduced initial hardware costs: With virtual POS, retailers can utilize existing equipment and/or less-expensive equipment in the store because less processing power is needed at each location. In addition, hardware updates or refresh programs avoid the need for a mass replacement of de-centralized equipment in order to keep up with processing requirements.
  • Reduced deployment time:The ability to utilize existing hardware and deploy new software from a centralized location can significantly reduce the time needed to deploy a new POS environment.
  • Simplified hardware maintenance: With less hardware at the store and more of the processing performed at the data center it becomes far simpler and less expensive to maintain hardware.
  • Labor savings: Fewer POS IT and infrastructure support staff are needed to maintain and support applications, resulting in significant reduction in annual IT and store support costs. Studies have shown that every company that used on-premises server-based software applications has to hire one on-site IT support person for every 50 employees. With Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, almost all of these customer-incurred support costs are eliminated. This can also be translated to a lean or thin client POS deployment
  • Simplified software upgrades: Upgrades can be completed at the data center and may not need to be pushed to the store.
  • Simplified PCI and PII (Personally Identifiable Information) compliance: Under PCI, credit card data is immediately encrypted and removed from the store over the secured credit authorization network. By segmenting it from normal transaction data and with special handling, compliance can be maintained. Similarly, by moving PII up to the data center, a more rigorous data security plan can be put in place to afford the protection this data requires. It is much easier to secure data at one location (centralized) than at 500 or thousands of locations.
  • Better business agility and flexibility: Retailers have the opportunity to deliver critical applications in a much more flexible manner than with the traditional in-house, server-based systems. Flexibility becomes increasingly important to larger retailers who can become more nimble as they can add new applications more quickly because they no longer have to deal with individual store server-based constraints.Virtualized POS WP Cover Page
  • Reduced telephone costs: The ability to utilize VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) as a telephone option can reduce the costs at the store-level for the individual lines.
  • Increased customer service: The ability to implement Customer Wi-Fi hotspots as a customer service can enable
    social networking within the store at faster speeds, simplify communication to your customer, and enhance customer loyalty.
  • Reduced training costs: The ability to use video training helps reduce training materials, which are often outdated, at the store locations. Also, changes completed at Corporate or at the data center can be available for the stores to view immediately.

Are you ready for virtual POS?

For more details on virtual POS, check out this white paper:

Virtual POS is Retail Ready – Are you Ready?


MICROS Acquisition Makes Oracle #1 in Retail POS – How will SAP Respond?

Retail is a focus industry for both Oracle and SAP – Share your opinions on the impact of the Oracle acquisition and what you think will happen next.

Store Front Sale_CroppedWith the pending acquisition of MICROS, Oracle will become the new leader in retail POS software according to our 2014 POS/Customer Engagement Survey results. Oracle’s largest acquisition since it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010 demonstrates the attractiveness of industries it considers to be ripe for technology transformation and growth.

This move sparks several questions that are worthy of debate:

  • What changes in technology make retail/QSR/hospitality attractive enough for Oracle to invest $5.3 billion?
  • How will the combination of Oracle and MICROS truly benefit retailers?
  • How will SAP respond to this move? Will they make a similar acquisition, and if so, what company would be a good fit?

We would like your opinions on these questions or other feedback you have on this topic. Please respond in the comments section below.

Here are some thoughts from Boston Retail Partners’ executives:

“The retail industry is on the verge of a significant transformation from a customer engagement and technology perspective, which makes it a compelling investment opportunity for companies like Oracle,” said Walter Deacon, Principal, Boston Retail Partners. “Consumers will expect real-time retail capabilities that deliver a seamless shopping experience wherever, and whenever, they shop. Oracle’s addition of MICROS store applications, combined with its existing enterprise, analytics, eCommerce and cloud capabilities, hold the promise to offer a complete solution making ‘real-time retail’ a reality! A key determinator of success, will be the integration of the two companies’ commerce technologies.”

“Oracle has extensive capabilities and experience in enterprise retail software and the addition of MICROS expands its portfolio to become the de facto leader in retail POS software,” said Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners. “With the advancements made in network reliability, virtual POS applications are prime for adoption in the retail space. Networks are ready to change retail as we know it – just like they transformed the banking industry with ATMs. With Oracle’s robust enterprise cloud infrastructure, it is well positioned to extend its cloud capabilities to retail store applications like POS.”

“Oracle and SAP have been fierce software competitors in many industries and retail is a key battleground,” said Ken Claflin, Executive Vice President, Boston Retail Partners. “It will be interesting to see if SAP responds with a similar acquisition or adds new capabilities that differentiate them from Oracle in this competitive market.”

Please add your opinions and comments below…

Virtual POS is the new POS Paradigm

We aCloud Computingre at a strategic inflection point where the network is taking center stage by enabling a mobile world where consumers drive self-checkout on their smartphone, interact with their friends in real-time on purchase decisions, and receive discounts and personalized pricing as they are shopping.

The traditional store architecture will not support the agility and flexibility that the store environment requires to evolve. A new leaner architecture will become the new normal and virtualization the new buzzword.

In the past, Virtual POS would not have been an option due to the perceived risk of WAN failure. Today, due to massive investments in infrastructure, we now have robust network infrastructures available that are far more reliable and resilient than anything we have seen in the past. The reliability of today’s networks provides 99.999% up time.

Virtualized POS WP Cover PageThe network changes everything! Virtual POS enables the retailer to have a more agile environment to be able to offer the customer a richer shopping experience while reducing expenses – isn’t this what every retailer is working towards? And best of all, retailers can lower the total cost of ownership for POS by embracing this model.

Why are most retailers reluctant to make the move to virtual POS? Is it fear? Or are we locked into our pre-conceived notions, our bias of what POS should be or what the network should be. Is it that it isn’t perceived as broken so why fix it? Except that it is broken and every day we wait we are missing the next wave. We are only limited by our imaginations to invent the new POS experience.

Are you ready for virtual POS?

For more details on virtual POS, check out this white paper:

Virtual POS is Retail Ready – Are you Ready?