By : Adam Blair
June 25, 2015 02:19 PM
The launch of NCR Retail ONE, the standards-based commerce hub uniting retail applications, data, and omnichannel software, represents a new set of strategic opportunities for NCR. It’s also right in line with some of today’s strongest consumer and retailing trends, from burgeoning roles for the Internet of Things (IoT) to retailers’ desire to keep their IT options as open as possible in a fast-moving environment. Flexibility is an inherent part of NCR Retail ONE’s design. Implementations can be done via cloud, on-premise, or with a hybrid setup. Retailers can also mix and match innovative applications from NCR and its partners, as well as third-party or homegrown applications. The ecosystem’s open nature allows retailers to differentiate themselves using their existing assets, while also adding new touchpoints and capabilities on an as-needed basis, at their own pace of change.
“Retailers are seeking platforms that will provide them with omnichannel readiness, but one of their biggest ‘pain points’ is that while they may know today which two or three new channels or touchpoints they want to add, they don’t know what the next two additions will be down the road,” said Michael Bayer, President of NCR Retail Solutions. “So they’re seeking future readiness to add capabilities at the point when they think it’s necessary for them, and to do that cost-effectively. These are some of the key reasons we’ve designed NCR Retail ONE as an SOA omnicommerce hub rather than a full-scale omnichannel platform.” Strategically, the Retail ONE launch gives NCR an offering designed for both large and mid-market retailers, a departure from many omnichannel offerings in the marketplace. “We have a very strong share in the world’s top 300 retailers, and the strongest position in Tier One of food, drug, and mass merchandisers,” said Bayer. “We’re seeking to continue defending that position while addressing the mid-market. We have been underrepresented there in part because we haven’t had a strong software platform to lead with.” A Multiplicity of Interaction Types The agility offered by NCR Retail ONE is already a business necessity in retail, particularly as the ways retailers interact with customers continue to multiply and change. “The concept of a ‘traditional’ point-of-sale is becoming very blurry,” noted NCR Retail Solutions CTO Eli Rosner. “A customer might purchase jeans on a retailer’s website and then come into the store to pick them up. Beacon technology in use at the store means they are alerted when the customer is coming in, so that the ordered products are waiting in the dressing room along with T-shirts that are frequently purchased with this brand. “The customer stands in front of a digital mirror to check the fit and color, and if she doesn’t like it, with the click of a button she can see how a variation on the product would look on her,” Rosner added. “She can share the image on a social network and get feedback from her friends, and once the purchase is complete, hit a ‘pay’ button to complete the transaction. She never goes to a traditional cash wrap station. This represents a completely new way to interact with consumers, and it’s not science fiction. “The number of different permutations and use cases is practically infinite,” Rosner added. “Retailers need a system that’s very flexible, open, and not locked into a single solution set, while also being standards-based to adapt to these many different scenarios.” Designed for Retailers’ Pace of Change In addition to the future-proofing aspects of NCR Retail ONE, the commerce hub can help retailers deal with specific short-term needs. “A retail customer might be fine with most aspects of their online offering, but see the need to get price and data consistency between their online and store channels,” said Bayer. “Their biggest challenge is operationalizing the fact that a customer saw a $10 discount on a product online, but when they go to the store the next day that discount isn’t applicable. NCR Retail ONE provides a platform to make these different channels communicate with each other.” At launch, NCR Retail ONE includes four possible applications, for digital coupons, digital receipts, e-commerce integration, and the Pulse tool that provides store managers with real-time metrics and KPI data delivered to their mobile devices. Strong Enterprise Focus NCR executives also stress that Retail ONE is not focused solely on customer-facing interactions. “Our product roadmap is to expand out of store technology to the enterprise, into areas including inventory management, back office operations, replenishment and merchandising,” said Bayer. “Retailers realize they need to have their internal house in order to make all the customer touchpoints work the way they should,” said Todd Michaud, Global Vice President and General Manager of NCR’s Retail Solutions Division. Retail ONE can bridge disparate elements in the enterprise and supply chain areas, including third-party applications. “Retail ONE technologies can be synchronized with functions such as buying, business demand intelligence, warehousing, assortment, delivery, pricing and promotions,” he said. The internal focus also reflects the necessity for retailers to continually gather data and monitor the impact of product availability, price changes, and promotional activities. With the Internet of Things (IoT) adding new data-collecting touchpoints such as shelf sensors or environmental data, retailers can marshal such information into higher sales and greater profitability. “We not only want to administer the mobile shopping experience, for example, but also be involved in providing value to retailers so that they can better target different segments within their customer base,” said Michaud. “We want to help them leverage this data for actionable business insights: How will customers respond to a price change? What does the retailer need to have in-stock before beginning a big sale?” The NCR Retail ONE launch is of a piece with NCR’s more holistic approach to retail. “We want to establish NCR as the company retailers call if they want to talk to subject matter experts,” said Bayer. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to shift the definition of NCR Retail ONE from ‘omnichannel’ to ‘omnicommerce.’ It’s about a more consultative approach to enabling a retailer to have a true omnicommerce environment.”