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Bridge Solutions was excited to attend the National Retail Federation’s 101st Annual Convention & Expo in New York this past week.  The Retail’s Big Show annual conference brings together over 400 vendors and 22,000 participants to search, examine, and promote retail’s most effective tools, technologies, and solutions.

IBM was a major sponsor of the event, hosting a premier exhibit showcasing various products including their shopping experience solutions, point-of-sale offerings, merchandising solutions, and operations solutions. We were excited to meet with other IBMers and network with old and potentially new partners to discuss how IBM’s solutions fit into the various markets and industry spaces.

There were a few key takeaways from the overall event, and one of the most surprising was the overwhelming presence of the Brazilian community. More than 5,000 Brazilians were in attendance, highlighting the strength of their markets and the inherent need for reputable solutions and services.  Although we already believed that Brazil and South America are one of the hot burgeoning markets, the speed and vigor with which they are growing are both refreshing and welcoming.

A less surprising, but still important thing we noticed was the proliferation of E-Commerce and Distributed Order Management (DOM) solutions by various technology providers.  It would appear that DOM technology is no longer as cutting-edge as it once was and that there is increasing acceptance that it is critical to have a clear front-to-back commerce strategy.  One cannot help but wonder whether this saturation will mark the beginning of a features/functions and price war between ISV’s like Oracle, IBM, Hybris, and others.  If I were a consumer, I would certainly be hoping that this will be the case!

IBM kicked off the weekly events with a super session Sunday on the “Critical Developments in Retail Marketing: Understanding Consumers, Building Brands.” Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jon Iwata led the afternoon with a discussion on how to transform your overflowing customer data into actionable insights. He stated that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years, yet it was a convoluted web of messy “unstructured” data. Iwata noted that listening to and understanding this information can be a huge success for retailers to find patterns and predict customer behavior.

He brought up on stage Billy May, the Vice President of e-Commerce and Cross-Channel Marketing for Abercrombie & Fitch, to highlight the importance of implementing solutions that enable clients to remove confusion and make their information much more useful. May reflected on IBM’s Smarter Commerce solution implementations across A&F’s entire portfolio of brands, which helped to bring their online business to $1 billion. He detailed the success of IBM’s order management and e-commerce solutions which help drive their international expansion and cross-channel commerce.

Leaving the supersession, we found ourselves discussing how well our mantra of quality, partnership, and value aligned with the factors for the success of Abercrombie & Fitch.   Our teams can help your organization leverage your IT investments in much the same way that Abercrombie and Fitch has.  By utilizing leading IBM technologies, in tandem with our best-of-breed implementation methodologies and solutions, companies can unlock the latent value in their supply chain.  By focusing on value, partnership, and quality, we ensure that you get the most robust solution possible.