Art, Science and NRF 2013

As we gear up for 2013 and this year’s NRF Annual Convention & EXPO, JDA has entered a new and exciting phase in its history. The merger of JDA and RedPrairie comes at a time of rapid change in our industry, which makes for perfect timing. As customers, media and analysts work to assess what is taking place both in terms of our new retail business and the entire supply chain in 2013, now is a good time to weigh in on both. There is a lot to cover but at the core it is a simple story. The strength of the new JDA in approaching new challenges stems from its ability to combine art and science.

Back when I was in school studying merchandising and Wham! was topping the music charts, retail and supply chain study was all about science. From time to time, I still leaf through my dusty textbooks and what I find is a playbook from another age. Back then, supply chain management revolved around the infamous “3 Ps”: the right product in the right place at the right price. There was little to nothing about customer service or the shopper experience to be found.

There is nothing wrong with science. JDA has traditionally done a great job of bringing science, mathematics and sophisticated algorithms to the supply chain practice. At JDA, we have gone to the edge of mathematics and constructed predictive models that allow our customers to sense and shape their supply chain so that they can optimize their businesses for success.

Still, in the last few years, with the onslaught of mobility, social media and the ‘always-on’ customer, we have seen a new world emerge. In the new world, customers are empowered by technology and choice in ways that would have seemed like science fiction in the mindset of my college textbooks.

The merger of JDA and RedPrairie places the new JDA at the frontier of bringing the art and science together. Where JDA has addressed science, RedPrairie has brought the art to this relationship. With the merger, we can now think about the entire path to purchase along with social sentiment to further shape the supply chain. We can bring the added benefit of consumer behavior and consumer purchase habits as a tool to optimize the entire supply chain in a way that will enhance the capabilities of all the channels.

This dual capability allows us to deliver a more responsive supply chain and make modern retail a reality. When you bring together customer-facing data and feedback with strong predictability, distributed management and improved warehouse capability, you increase the ability to be more responsive. In the new world, being predictive and responsive helps deliver the main ingredient – speed. The faster a customer can move across the entire chain the better the inventory visibility, personalization, localization, and improved supply chain to be able to have retail anytime, anywhere, anyway, always-on.

As I get ready for NRF I will be thinking about art and science as well has some of the front line trends of 2013.

Trends for 2013:

  •  Empowering the Associate: Companies are working like never before to make store associates more effective. Being effective today means being adept and connecting with the customer. In 2013, companies will be asking if associates have what it takes to making this crucial contribution to the retail ecosystem. We have capabilities to capture store experiences and understand buying behaviors, but how can associates deliver memorable in-store engagement? To win in a multi-channel world, connecting with customers at the storefront and back-end will be crucial.
  •  Big Box Going Small: The big box store is fading and it looks like it is “back to the future” with a reinterpretation of the storefront. Strip centers and more localized experiences are reemerging. Despite these changes, the store will remain the pinnacle of the consumer experience and the intersection of commerce and social life for consumers.
  • Omni-Channel Enhancements: Look for retailers to bring enhancements to their operations in order to fulfill the mission to sell anything, to anybody, from anywhere.
  • Mobility on the Rise: Mobility will continue to grow. Companies are looking at how many stores will be POS, how many will offer WiFi and asking big questions about mobile apps and ways to create digital paths to purchase.
  • Geo-fencing: What are the implications of geo-fencing and near-field communications?
  •  Pure-Play on Line: Online companies will be looking to find ways to grow more traffic to their site and increase conversion rates.
  • Private Label: Look for continued growth of private labels.
  • Economic Globalization: Look for more globalization with consumer power shift and continued international mobility.
  • Ascendancy of Asia: Asia will continue to grow and influence the Western retail growth.

  4 Comments   Comment

  1. Hello Marissa,

    I really appreciate your comment and feedback. While mobility is on the rise, it’s crucial for retailers to understand how mobile technology fits into their overall business and customer engagement strategy. Retailers who attended NRF this year got a closer look at how mobility will change the way they do business and assess the types of technologies that will play a critical role. Thanks again for your comment and please feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions.



  2. Hi Scott,

    I was really happy to see your first prediction about the importance of the store associate. While so much of what we read about retailing focuses on the consumer shift to the internet, smart retailers know their customers are still humans, not robots. Consumers want information and convenience and a good associate can do that better than any website or mobile app.

  3. Sarah, thanks for you comment. I could not agree with you more. Many surveys form customers have shown that by and large the store continues to be the dominant channel to shop. I don”t think we ever reach a point of complete virtual retail. We are all at the core “social” creatures that need and demand human interaction. The big goal on all retailers task list is how to blend the virtual and physical world into a seamless experience that optimizes the overall interaction with the brand, not in a channel but across the enterprise.

    Thanks for reading my blog, i look forward to more posts from you.


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