Web-only retailers, including Amazon, accounted for 42% of sales of all retailers ranked in the Read Now
It aims to make it easier for consumers to shop via mobile devices.
Micros Systems Inc. launched a new technology platform this week designed to support multichannel retailing by allowing e-commerce sites, mobile commerce apps and store point-of-sale systems to share data.
The Micros Commerce Platform maintains a retailer’s customer records and transaction data in central Internet-hosted databases, making that information available across all of a retailer’s selling channels, the company says. This enables retailers to conduct such operations as managing and fulfilling orders from multiple channels, including stores and distribution centers, and to manage marketing campaigns across retail channels based on how consumers shop in stores, online and via mobile devices.
The platform uses application programming interfaces, or APIs, that enable retailers to integrate new applications from outside developers as well as from Micros itself. APIs provide links between software applications. A retailer on the Micros Commerce Platform could deploy a mobile shopping app developed by a design firm, for example, that could pull information from a retailer’s customer and transaction data to recommend products in its nearby stores based on a customer’s shopping behavior.
“This is key to omnichannel enablement,” says Peter Sheldon, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “Retailers, hotel chains and restaurant chains are all investing heavily in new digital touchpoints for both the consumer and employees, be they kiosks, mobile point-of-sale or in-store touchscreens.”
Many retailers purchase those new digital technologies from agencies because they require so much custom development, Sheldon says. “The need for APIs is critical so that the digital agencies can easily integrate them into the back-office commerce platform to enable transactions and omnichannel features.”
For example, a retailer can deploy a new appointment-setting app from an outside developer and at once have it connect to all its databases, a Micros spokesman says. A customer could then make an appointment to try on a dress on a smartphone and, when she gets to the store, the retailer can pull up information about the item she’s interested in on the point-of-sale system. Or, a consumer at a baseball game could use his smartphone to order beverages through a retailer’s app to be delivered to his seat. Eventually, Micros will add analytics capabilities to the platform that will allow a retailer to figure out, perhaps, that after a customer has ordered three beers in the stadium, he’s likely to buy a jersey—then send him an offer for one, the spokesman says.
“Micros Commerce Platform is allowing consumers to get direct access to those on-premise systems through the API, primarily using their mobile devices,” he says.
The Micros Commerce Platform will be available at no extra charge to Micros clients that use the vendor’s technologies, which include its Simphony software-as-a-service point-of-sale technology and its Relate Retail customer relationship management system, he says. They’ll pay only for any new apps or technologies they add to work with the Micros platform.
Micros clients include Charlotte Russe Inc., No. 385 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide; Boden USA, No. 160; CHEFS Catalog, No. 317; and King Arthur Flour Co. Inc., No. 359.
Seventeen retailers in the 2013 Top 500 Guide and two in the 2012 Second 500 Guide list Micros as their e-commerce platform provider; the vendor ranks No. 7 in that category in Internet Retailer’s Leading Vendors to the Top 1000 E-Retailers guide. Micros acquired Fry Inc., a developer of a broad range of e-commerce technologies, in 2008.