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Retail Tech Roundup: Foot Locker, Columbia Tap Adyen, SAP Acquires Emarsys

The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.

Customer engagement

SAP/Emarsys

Enterprise software giant SAP has acquired customer engagement platform provider Emarsys for an undisclosed sum in an effort to bolster its customer experience capabilities.

The Emarsys cloud-based marketing platform is designed to personalize customer experiences across various channels, including the e-commerce, email, mobile, social and SMS.

With Emarsys technology, SAP’s suite of Customer Experience solutions will enable users to link commerce signals with the back office and activate the customer’s preferred channel with a relevant and consistently personalized message, allowing customers the freedom to choose their own engagement.

SAP’s Customer Experience unit is anchored by the Qualtrics platform, which SAP acquired for $8 billion in 2018. But SAP is already looking to spin off Qualtrics into its own initial public offering.

SAP will integrate Emarsys platform with its SAP S/4Hana and Experience Management technology platform from Qualtrics. SAP S/4Hana is a part of its ERP suite. In the second quarter of 2020, S/4Hana adoption grew 22 percent year over year to approximately 14,600 customers. In the quarter, net new customers comprised 37 percent of additional S/4Hana customers.

Established in 2000 in Vienna, Austria, Emarsys operates as a cloud-based omnichannel marketing platform designed to make customer interactions more effective and ramps up results for enterprises. Emarsys has more than 1,500 customers globally and more than 5 billion customers in its database, and says it fosters over 10 billion personalized interactions monthly.

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ERP

Oracle NetSuite

Oracle NetSuite has launched major updates to the NetSuite platform that are designed to help organizations streamline and enhance financial, supply chain and operational management, while also improving the employee and customer experience.

Supply chain and operations professionals are gaining automated fulfillment capabilities that help them allocate inventory to optimize profit by automatically filling orders based on user-defined criteria such as lead time, shipping cost or fill rate.

Customers align supply and demand by providing new planning features for material requirements planning and a dedicated repository that enables planners to monitor, release and review orders.

And with new intelligent predicted risk, users can gain greater insight into the potential risks of goods not shipping on time. For example, machine learning algorithms are designed to identify purchase, sales, or transfer orders that are at risk and provide alternative recommendations.

For sales and marketing professionals, the NetSuite update includes e-commerce site management capabilities designed to help organizations foster more direct relationships with customers and ultimately improve end-user experiences, monitor performance and deliver deeper analytics.

Finance and accounting professionals gain new cash management capabilities, alongside accounts payable automation, transactions and invoice automation and an improved budgeting process.

Administrators and developers gain access to the new NetSuite Analytics Warehouse, which is designed to help improve decision making by aggregating multiple sources of data, leveraging interactive visualizations, predictive analytics and more. This new capability extends SuiteAnalytics through an integration with Oracle Analytics Cloud and Autonomous Data Warehouse.

Additional SuiteAnalytics Enhancements enable users to build reports and analysis across the business by supporting multiple datasets in the SuiteAnalytics Workbook, and taking advantage of new pivot tables and advanced visualization capabilities to view sales performance, project status and product stock and fulfillment.

Application performance manager dashboards help users spot issues and find resolutions by providing a real-time view of account status. Administrators can view overall performance, flag system bottlenecks and avoid disruptions for day-to-day end-users.

In addition to the latest product updates, NetSuite has also introduced Business Now, a resource guide designed to help businesses navigate the unknown and plan for what’s next. It includes practical guidance, industry insights and inspirational stories from businesses around the world.

Product development

3Pillar Global

3Pillar Global, a product development software, has partnered with Backcountry to help support the outdoor gear and apparel retailer’s operations and continued e-commerce growth.

Specifically, 3Pillar’s team will help Backcountry capitalize on surging customer demand by deploying their engineering skills to support and expand a variety of Backcountry’s digital services and product teams.

3Pillar’s digital solutions are designed to deliver specialized product strategy and management, user experience design, as well as software and data engineering expertise across mobile, cloud and disruptive technologies.

Returns

Happy Returns/Ingram Micro Commerce

Happy Returns, a provider of end-to-end return solutions for retailers and their customers, has partnered with Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services to bring its services to the third-party logistics providers retailers.

Under the agreement, merchants that leverage Ingram Micro’s e-commerce order fulfillment solution can offer their online shoppers a branded returns portal powered by Happy Returns. Online shoppers can use the portal to initiate returns, and then have the option to drop off the items box-free and label-free at one of Happy Returns’ more than 500 Return Bars, which are physical drop sites located in retail stores across the country.

The in-person drop-off process eliminates the hassle and wait typically associated with packing up returns and sending them via the mail. It also provides a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution for e-commerce returns, since returned inventory is shipped back to Ingram Micro warehouses in bulk within reusable containers, rather than in individual packages.

Once returns are received at the warehouse, Ingram Micro initiates the reverse logistics process in accordance with a merchant’s contract. Returns management may include inspection, value added services, repairs, refurbishment or disposal.

As e-commerce growth continued amid the pandemic, returns increased accordingly, placing importance on the need for innovation in return management solutions and reverse logistics services. Happy Returns says online apparel and related merchandise purchases are three to five times more likely to be returned versus other items.

Live chat/virtual assistant

Nuance

H&M has revealed that consumers can now engage with the retailer’s virtual assistant and live chat agents directly from services like Google Maps or Google Search. The new integration of Nuance’s virtual assistant and live chat deployment helps H&M leverage prior investments in AI-powered Intelligent Engagement to give customers more choice and flexibility when shopping online.

H&M implemented the Nuance Intelligent Engagement Platform for virtual and live chat in 2018 to manage increasing contact volumes, improve customer experience and automate self-service options 24 hours a day across 13 major online countries including the U.S., U.K., Sweden and Germany.

The solution assists H&M customers through their shopping experience and provides real-time answers to inquiries such as item availability, online order tracking status, and store locations and hours.

Nuance’s latest integration with Google’s Business Messages enables H&M to take advantage of new messaging channels while leveraging the same AI-engine core to its virtual assistant and live chat deployment. With the integration, the retailer wants to enable more cross-channel customer experiences, reduce contact center call volumes and increase digital interactions. Online shoppers can engage with H&M through Google’s Business Messages initially in the U.S. market.

The Nuance Intelligent Engagement platform combines the best of virtual assistants and human-assisted customer service engagements into one platform that can be extended to any voice or digital channel. By leveraging Nuance’s Conversational AI engine at the platform’s core, organizations can ensure investments and data gathered are best used to give consumers choice in how they engage while providing a unified, cohesive experience across channels.

Payments

Adyen

Foot Locker has selected Adyen to power payments in various new markets and sales channels globally. Foot Locker and Adyen have been working together since 2018, but now the partnership will extend throughout the company’s 3,100 stores across all 27 markets.

“Adyen’s single platform and global reach allow Foot Locker to provide an exemplary payment experience that’s tailored to the needs of our customers in various markets across North America, Europe and APAC,” said John Wompey, vice president of customer connectivity at Foot Locker. “Adyen’s ability to accelerate and simplify the implementation process has been critical to our continued success in these markets.”

Columbia Sportswear Company (CSC) also has selected Adyen as its primary payments provider. Adyen is live with CSC brands and will continue its roll out across the U.S., Canada and Europe with all major CSC brands, including Columbia, Sorel, Mountain Hardwear and Prana.

“Adyen was the clear choice for us as we build our unified commerce capabilities to create an even better consumer experience both online and in-store,” said Mike Hirt, chief information officer for Columbia Sportswear Company. “We’re feeling good that we had the foresight to begin work with Adyen before the COVID-19 crisis hit and consumers began to prefer online shopping and contactless payments.”

Recommendations

ShopStyle

ShopStyle, a price comparison fashion and lifestyle shopping platform offering personalized recommendations and sale alerts, added new features. The platform, which enables shoppers to earn Cash Back on their online shopping, is home to more than 5,000 new brands including Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Wayfair, Jonathan Adler and One Kings Lane.

New features include refine brand and product recommendations based on the shopper’s unique personal style, as well as enhanced search and discovery and the ability to view a Cash Back balance more easily through the new Rakuten Cash Back Center dashboard.

In the coming months, ShopStyle will also release a “Deals” tab in its mobile app that will show members all the latest sales from their favorite brands in one place. Discerning shoppers can take advantage of two new “recommerce” programs on ShopStyle: Pre-Owned and Rental. Vivrelle, Rebag and The Luxury Closet have all partnered with ShopStyle so shoppers can compare prices and products in new, rental and pre-owned options all in one place.