Friday, November 2, 2012

Openbravo for Retail Update

The Retail industry is undergoing a profound transformation, pushed by technologies like E-Commerce, mobile devices and social networks that are revolutionizing the way people shop. Many retailers, both traditional stores as well as E Commerce companies,  are trying to respond to this new world and struggling with their legacy Retail management systems (traditionally showing a high degree of customization), which are too rigid to support these new needs.  Retailers looking to escape from their legacy systems face significant challenges around cost, time-to-market, flexibility and/or  lack of a complete functionality, which are delaying their decision, resulting in a big risk for their future growth.

The new Openbravo for Retail solution was designed to meet these challenges, and three months after its launch, the inputs from the market are very positive, as we confirmed at retail events in Hong Kong, Paris and Mexico.  Openbravo for Retail provides the required agility and affordability, along with an improved shopping experience, a key element to develop consumer-centric strategies, a key strategic challenge for retailers today. Big retailers visited us in these shows and confirmed their interest, seeking a solution able to improve their store and headquarters operations.

Full web capabilities, usability thanks to the use of mobile devices and On Demand are the most highlighted features by retailers who have showed interest in the solution. New pricing (simpler and more flexible) has also been very well received.

Openbravo on Demand is becoming one of the most important adoption drivers for retail. By providing the best of the SaaS and traditional deployment worlds, and benefiting from its Cloud nature, On Demand shows clear affinities with the Retail business:
  • Highly distributed scenarios, e.g. multiple stores and mobile requirements
  • Easy to integrate Web POS with existing back office through a single, secure web services based integration point in the cloud
  • Seasonality aspects, along with the typical retail HR challenges (many part time employees or peak times require ability to cost-effectively scale up or down on demand)
  • Quick up-and-running for new store openings (traditional stores, pop-up stores), due to back office being implemented as a managed cloud service
  • IT staff reduction or time invested in higher value activities
  • Big Data influence, being able to access to more powerful servers offering higher analytics capabilities at a lower cost
The number of customers is growing rapidly, and we anticipate accelerated growth during the next months. Back Office named users at USD 49/month (or 39 EUR) and POS terminals per USD25/month (or 19 EUR) are unbeatable pricesRetail on Demand is a real trend that provides a big competitive advantage.

Openbravo for Retail helps also E-tailers. Many of them lack a proper back office system, which is required when they: 
  • grow in the number of served orders,
  • expand internationally,
  • initiate a multi-channel strategy, or
  • simply want to offer the best sales experience backed by quality and on-time information about stock, product characteristics, prices, etc.

E-tailers benefit directly from the Openbravo 3 advanced interoperability capabilities, which make it easy to integrate with existing commercial or custom made E-Commerce platforms, for example Magento, the world leader open source E-Commerce platform, for which an integration module already exists.

Additionally, we see traditional retailers increasingly recognizing the E-Commerce potential and initiating projects to implement a complete multichannel solution.  Many of these retailers are frustrated by the cost and complexity of their legacy systems, and are looking to modernize their operations--often starting at the store level. Deploying Openbravo for Retail's Web POS can be a natural first step, since it provides a single point of integration to an existing back office, with easy real-time integration through RESTful web services. 

From a product perspective, our Roadmap includes great new features that are improving the retail functionality in valuable ways and are helping to build our vision. Gift card support, Advanced Promotions and Discounts, and smart phones support are coming soon! 

Although not limited to Retail, the highly strategic Openbravo Mobile project will enable Openbravo 3 to be efficiently accessed from tablet and small-sized mobile touch devices. This will represent a huge improvement for Retail Managers (Store Managers, E-Commerce Managers, Franchise owners…) being able to access all back office information from everywhere with their smartphones. Updated information about  its possibilities and a technology overview are available.

From a training perspective, a new Openbravo for Retail functional training has been delivered, and is the first in a new series of Retail courses - a must for all of you who want to learn about the detailed functionality, or are selling and/or implementing Openbravo for Retail

Do you want to learn more about Openbravo for Retail ? :

If you are evaluating Openbravo for Retail for use in your company and have questions, please fill out our customer contact form or contact any of our official partners in your region.

If you are an IT company interested in becoming a partner or affiliate of Openbravo and develop a new business opportunity in the Retail industry, please fill out our partner form. We are looking for partners in several regions!

Stay all tuned and follow us in Planet, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedId!

Happy Retailing!

Kind Regards,

Xavier Places Cano
Retail Industry Champion

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Asian retail opportunity for Openbravo

Last 12th and 14th June in Hong Kong, I had the opportunity to attend the Retail Asia Expo 2012, together with our local partners System In Motion and Ewota

From left to right: Jojo Wang and Dinglong Chen from Ewota, Sunando Banarjee and myself from Openbravo, Catherine Lam Pesnel and Stephane Monsallier from System In Motion

You can read here a brief article of our solution in the Retail in Asia web page (it requires to register).
After the 3 expo days, I had also the opportunity to go shopping in the Hong Kong streets. What an incredible experience!. Fully recommended. Stores and more stores, commercial centers… The shopper paradise. Here some photos, that I took with my new camera, bought obviously there, in Times Square.

Times Square
Near the Causeway Bay Station
The conclusions of the event have been very positive. First in terms of visitors to our booth, but second and more important, with the confirmation that the Asian market represents a great opportunity for Openbravo. Among the more than 300 visitors during the 3 days, some internationally renowned retailers expressed interest in the Openbravo solution, to improve their retail operations, web and multi-channel, and support the use of mobile devices.

With China and India leading the Asian market growth in the coming years, several aspects appear as key elements to understand the Asian opportunity:
  • Growing middle class with higher incomes, particularly in China and India
  • Growing market of young people, particulary interested in western fashion styles
  • Increased access to technology, such as mobile or internet (China with 420 million internet users)
  • E-Commerce progressive growth, although not as high as in other areas (due to transactions security and credit card fees)
  • In the case of India, a progressive market liberalization, and new policies that will help to improve the existing restrictions on foreign investment
  • In terms of sub-sectors:
    • Food & Beverage, led by strong growth in hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores, thanks for example to ongoing infrastructures improvement (roads)
    • Fashion, thanks especially to the young population increasingly interested in Western fashion. Fast fashion (like Zara, from Spanish group Inditex) has a great opportunity . Hong Kong remains as an important market for international brands to showcase their products to Chinese consumers
    • Fast Moving Consuming Goods (FMCG), with an increasing demand of toiletries (personal care), cosmetics and cleaning products.
    • Luxury, with China as the second largest world market. Groups like LVMH, the world's largest group in this subsector, showing a significant growth in revenue, thanks especially to the Asian and U.S markets.
The  growing presence of international brands seeking growth outside their saturated home markets, such as GAP, H&M, Inditex, Tesco, Carrefour and others, confirm this opportunity. Those established brands, are also moving from large tier-1 cities out to smaller ones, a clear sign of expansion and growth.  You can read a lot of news showing the expansion of some of these brands:
  • Sporting goods retailer Oxylane opens flagship Decathlon store in Taiwan, here
  • Swedish retailer IKEA to invest $1.9 billion in India to open 25 stores, here
  • Fast retailing to open 49 Uniqlo stores in greater Manila area, here
  • Radio Shack continues expansion in Asia, here
  • Subway to have 1000 outlets in Indiain next 5 years, here
  • Starbucks US to open 1500 stores in China by 2015, here
In this situation, Asian retailers are facing new challenges, never faced before. Technology plays a key role, with systems that must provide the required agility and flexibility. And because of the IT budget constraints, retailers are also interested to adopt affordable solutions, providing multichannel capabilities, and helping to improve the shopping experience.

Openbravo's solution for Retail fits this scenario perfectly, first from a cost perspective with a subscription based model that reduces the initial investment and the risk over time, an open-source core application platform, and a 100% web architecture that minimizes the IT costs. It is also a multichannel solution with the capacity to use mobile devices. And thanks to a comprehensive out-of-the-box functionality, and unlimited customization capabilities as well, it lets retailer to grow as expected. It can be installed on premise, hosted or in the cloud, resulting in a perfect solution for any IT department requirements. Openbravo POS can be deployed as a local application or as a web applicaton, which can be used with tablets, like iPad or Android devices, providing maximum flexibility and helping to improve the shopping experience.

Openbravo web POS
Retail Backoffice (Workspace with some widgets)
Compared with the rigidity of other solutions, Openbravo´s solution for Retail, offers a high level of flexibility and adaptability, key elements to develop an adapted local strategy. In these cases, even for large international brands willing to maintain the existing head office system (for example based on SAP), the Openbravo’s solution offers unique features that make it a great candidate to support operations in these countries, fully adapted to retailer needs:
  1. As a complete system for supporting the country operations (stores and headquarters), easily integrated with the head office system thanks to its web service based interoperability capacities
  2. As a store operations system, integrated with the head office system as well
The future can´t be more promising. Asia represents a huge opportunity, and we are sure we can help Asian retailers to their existing and future challenges. Retailers like Decathlon in India,  Feiyue or Platane in China, or Escapade in Hong Kong, are already relying on Openbravo to run their businesses.  But we think it is just the beginning.

Are you ready to change?

Happy Retailing!

Xavier Places

Retail Industry Champion at Openbravo
Phone : +34 607.676.568

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Multichannel Shopping and Privacy

Probably most of you remember Minority Report (2002) with Tom Cruise. What about that touchless screen? Cool, isn´t it? Today it is a reality. Look for example SIMIOZ, a touchless technology applicable to different industries. Or Insteo providing also digital signage solutions, some of them powered by Kinect technology. Certainly, most of you know for sure about Kinect in the gaming world, but it is a technology applicable for business purposes as well. See here a cool Kinet grocery cart prototype.

I won't discover anything new if I say that an improved shopping experience is now at the center of any retailer strategy. This combined with Multichannel, means that this shopping experience must be the same across all channels, which makes us talk about the Omnichannel concept.

Again, nothing new if I say that e/m/s-commerce are growing faster than of brick-and-mortar, and some people say that this will mean the end of the traditional physical store model. I don't think so. I'm more of the opinion that traditional stores must change, or better evolve, and this is already happening. The role of the physical stores is changing, and this is something retailers have noticed. I liked very much this interview with  Ron Johnson, creator of the Apple Store and now CEO of J.C. Penney. I highly recommeded reading it. And more recently this from Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren, talking about how stores are borrowing ideas from the online world.

Assuming this and thinking that conversion rates in the physical world are much higher than in the e-world, it makes sense that location based shopping technologies are getting more and more important. Goal: increase your foot traffic.

And I was precisely reading about location based shopping when this scene of Minority Report came to mind. An example is ShopKlick, which, I recognize, I only recently came to know. I find their model very interesting and I recommend watching some YouTube videos with the company's CEO like this. A shopper gets rewarded simply by crossing the store doors, and this virtual currency can be cashed in other brands, or even totally different products. For example you can get Kicks in an apparel store and use them for buying a theatre ticket. They have now more that 3 million active users.

Other vendors are providing location based shopping technologies. An example is Retailigence but there are others.

Marketing departments love these technologies, but if they evolve as rapidly as we've seen with other technologies, the Minority Report example could become reality in short, if we think in a mass commercial use. In fact, retina and iris recognition technologies have existed for a long time ago; so far they are used in specific sectors, but this could change. See here.

At this point, I rise a question : will all these technologies really improve our shopping experience? Or will they become more and more intrusive, thus threatening our privacy more and more, just for marketing and sales purposes?. It's true that nowadays, you can decide if you adopt them or not, but Minority Report shows a future where I think this is not a choice. I think on RFID, a technology which has been discussed for long time, that has not definetely exploded, first because of the tags cost, but also because of privacy concerns.

Retailers wants to know more and more about potential shoppers, and at the end, this will rise inevitably privacy issues, and also will require a different way on thinking about our privacy. This is not a new topic, but something we should start thinking more seriously. If we move to the e-world, this is a clear reality, and for example in Europe, a new law will require retailers to get permission from shoppers before placing a cookie on their computers. Imagine their reaction...

In fact, most of you are probably publishing your personal photos, experiences... in Facebook, Pintarest, FourSquare.... So maybe this mindset change is already on-going. Are you conscious about it? Lets see what marketeers have prepared for us in the future. For sure they will impress us!

Enjoy and happy shopping!