RBTE 2016: Manhattan Associates feels the energy at RBTE

Retail technology companies that exhibited at RBTE 2015 have rushed to sign up to next year's event at a record rate, and Essential Retail is running a series of Q&As with the early re-bookers over the coming months.

Today it is the turn of Manhattan Associates. The company's senior marketing manager, Corinna Walker, explains why the business is returning to RBTE for 2016, and why replacing ageing legacy solutions is becoming increasingly critical for retailers.

What were your highlights from RBTE 2015?

One of the big highlights from 2015 was the conference agenda. The sessions were engaging with lots of experience being shared and ideas generated, which created a buzz for the event in general. We certainly felt the energy at our stand, where we were having conversations that related to topics within the sessions, for example questions around how can they make order fulfilment profitable for them but without impacting their customer demands around speed and convenience. 

What were the hot topics at RBTE 2015 compared to previous years and what's your overall view of how the show has developed?

The hot topics were around multichannel/omnichannel and how this was impacting and changing retail as customer expectations were increasing around how they interact with a brand.

There was a lot of talk about how retailers were having to evolve, for example who to award the sale to – eCommerce or store, the different skills/expectations on store staff right through to how to get a single view of inventory availability in real-time. In previous years, the focus was more on specific elements of the customer experience, for example looking at mobile in isolation. 

What were the top three reasons for re-booking a stand and confirming your appearance at RBTE 2016?

RBTE offers retailers the opportunity to come and hear from their peers around their experiences and key learnings. It also enables them to see the key suppliers within the retail industry, giving us the opportunity to connect with the retailers and discuss their plans and visions for the future. The show provides an environment that is focused on learning, sharing and idea generating, as well as finding solutions to their challenges such as making fulfilment profitable, joining bricks and mortar stores with their online counterparts and empowering the store associate to create a personalised customer experience.

What are the main areas of focus for your business in the year ahead?

Manhattan Associates's focus is around helping retailers to provide a seamless customer experience that is profitable for them as well as for their consumers. We do this by helping build commerce-ready enterprises by bringing all points of commerce together by converging front-end sales with back-end supply chain execution. As a result our solutions are designed to solve the complex problems of integrating channels by allowing retailers to create a coherent selling, service and fulfilment experience across all purchase nodes. Ultimately, allowing retailers to match customers to the ideal units of inventory across the network. 

Which technologies in particular do you predict will shake up retail in 2015/16?

There are several technologies that will shake up retail over the next few years as retailers look to enhance their customer journeys. 

One of the big areas I think we will see a lot of innovation is in the store and in-store technology. For example clienteling; a customer walks into a store and asks for recommendations to accessorise a previous purchase. However, instead of the customer having to explain what it was that they brought, the store associate has this information at their fingertips and can then offer a personalised experience as a result of having a holistic view of the customer's purchases, returns and online wish-list. 

It's also going to be technologies such as order management and in-store inventory and fulfilment solutions that allow a real-time, single view of available inventory across the entire retail network. This will help retailers sell and give them the ability to fulfil eCommerce orders profitably, whether that is from a DC or direct from a supplier. Fulfilment continues to be a battleground for customer loyalty.

What is currently the greatest challenge to (a) your business and (b) the wider retailer industry?

One of the biggest challenges for retail is the constant evolution of consumer's expectations and with the digital savvy consumer adopting technology faster and faster.  This is going to becoming increasingly challenging for retailers to stay one step ahead.  Therefore, replacing ageing and legacy solutions is becoming more critical for retailers as they prepare their businesses for the retail world tomorrow and beyond.

The next RBTE takes place at London's Olympia between 9-10 March 2016.

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