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Comment: Manhattan Momentum 2016 overview

In a week that included at least six vendor events and one "hot" new retail conference, 1,200 people from 271 unique companies made their way to Orlando for Manhattan's annual user conference, Momentum.

The thing that most jumped out at me was how much the company is focusing on retail, and in particular, the store.

On the surface, this may seem like an odd direction for a legacy supply chain software vendor to take. After all, it's a long way from warehouse and transportation management to PoS, clientelling and store fulfilment. But when we think about where the industry has gone, it makes all the sense in the world. The store used to be an end-point on the supply chain. Product moved from source to shelf, and that was the end of the story. Consumers shopped in stores, online or via catalogue/call centre. Omnichannel retailing has changed all that. That "or" has become an "and", and the combination of unpredictable paths to purchase, heightened consumer expectations on product availability and a highly competitive market has made the store a far more active node in that same supply chain.

Consider this statement quoted by Forrester in the keynote: 16% of consumers use click & collect (or BOPIS) all the time. Another 26% use it "sometimes". Couple that with companies using distributed order management (DOM) to fill orders from other stores or channels with product in stores and you've got a whole new picture.

Manhattan built a store fulfilment application several years ago, as the end point of its order management system. But it didn't stop there. With the purchase of Global Bay, the company now has a mobile PoS, with plans to grow it into a full-featured PoS that will become generally available in 2017. That means the system can manage open cash drawers and perform traditional PoS functions like till management.

Along with PoS, Manhattan also acquired a clientelling system as part of the Global Bay purchase. And it is going to leverage it. It became clear as we went through the sessions that Manhattan wants to focus on three areas when it comes to the store: sales, customer service and fulfilment. Examples of a store associate "knowing" the customer in a store were fully evident in the keynotes.

In the company's press conference, CEO Eddie Capel reported that Manhattan classifies its business in three parts: Core (WMS, TMS), Emerging Core (Order Management and Store Fulfilment) and Emerging (Mobile and customer service).

The company is making an opportunistic grab at a seemingly under-served area: Customer Data Management. Capel reported (and our studies also show) that just as they don't have a single view of their inventory, many retailers don't have a single view of their customers. The data is still residing in a variety of systems. Even those who do have a consolidated "front-end" view may not have that visibility post-transaction, or information about what happens when things go wrong. This has led the company to contemplate clienteling and customer service as two parts of the same whole. He has decided to step Manhattan into this breach.

It's an interesting decision, and one that's somewhat counter-intuitive. It tells a story of a company jumping into an innovative new space (customer management), while inserting itself into an old space sorely in need of a refresh (PoS). Manhattan certainly isn't the only company headed in that direction, but given the somewhat stunning success it has had with its Distributed Order Management solution, it's definitely worth a shot. We certainly will be watching closely.

This article originally appeared as 'Manhattan Gains 'Momentum' In Store' on The RSR Research website. It is reproduced with the organisation's permission. 

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