Is Brick The New Black?

And why is Sting involved?

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On August 11, 1994 a shopper purchased a CD from the musician Sting entitled “Ten Summoner's Tales".  Considering the album went triple platinum, 3,000,000 units sold, a single transaction hardly seems noteworthy.  However, this transaction is noteworthy because it is alleged to be the very first secured and encrypted e-commerce transaction.  Whether this was the very first e-commerce transaction can be debated, but what is not up for debate is the first e-commerce transaction has long been thought of as the first step toward the decline of the traditional retail brick-and-mortar store. 

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Fast forward 20+ years, and you will still hear rumblings of the decline of the brick-and-mortar store, however many in the industry have turned that thinking on its head.  Including Baljit Dail, Chairman and CEO, JDA Software who delivered a keynote address at the 104th Annual National Retail Federation Show on January 11, 2015 entitled ‘Brick is the New Black’.  His premise is, “the rapid rise of omni-channel retail has elevated the importance of the store in anchoring and enhancing the omni-channel shopping experience for today's connected consumer, capturing or influencing 95% of all retail sales. That's why ‘Brick is the New Black’.” 

It is also why long time e-commerce giants like Amazon have moved into the brick-and-mortar retail business at Purdue University in the United States, and the Amazon-owned Zappos.com opened a freestanding pop-up store in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Effectively the brick-and-mortar store is now a fundamental part of the supply chain, operating as both a hub and spoke in the supply chain, along with the traditional role of primary sales channel within a retailer.  While the changing role of the brick-and-mortar store naturally creates more moving parts in the store and in the supply chain, there are also opportunities to optimize the business as a whole with flexible business intelligence.  Below are three of the top capabilities that can be delivered to take advantage of the data created by the changing role of the retail store:

  1. Provide Supply Chain Visibility – With inventory and fulfillment responsibilities driven into the stores, supply chain visibility becomes a greater concern to operate an efficient business. 
  2. Improve Customer Service – Customers want to know about availability in the store, their options for purchasing specific items if they are not currently in stock, and they do not want to wait in line.  Give them what they want.
  3. Empower Sales Management –Store Managers, District Managers, and Regional Managers require mobile access to sales data to drive store performance in the stores they manage.  What if they could also correlate sales performance to inventory availability with the tap of a mobile device? 

So who does this well?  A great example is the UK-based retailer Lush Cosmetics.  Using Qlik, Lush was able to build a dashboard delivering a central point for live data analysis, contributing to savings of over £1 million in stock loss within two years. For more on their story you can hear it directly from Lush’s Head of Reporting and Data Services (and 2015 Qlik Luminary) Scott Silverthorn in this interactive PDF.

Photo credit: rdenubila / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: David Hilowitz / Foter / CC BY

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