Reflexions: Real-Time Retail and the Digital Retail Associate

by | Sep 24, 2015

“Simpler and Faster Customer Alignment” was the theme of Reflexions 2015, the Reflexis User Group Conference.  Held at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas from September 15 to 17, 2015, the conference’s content centered on retail trends, customer case studies and product innovations that help retailers better align their workforce to their customer demand.

Carmine Gallo, former television anchor and author, kicked off the conference by answering the question “why do Apple’s retail stores earn more money per square foot than any other retailer?” According to Gallo, Apple’s success isn’t about luck or about great product (although great product helps).  It is based on great people that are motivated, empowered and informed to deliver a great customer experience.

Adam Silverman

Forrester’s Adam Silverman explains that customers expect an integrated retail experience.

The impact retail associates have on the customer experience and store operations was underscored by Forrester Principal Analyst Adam Silverman who was the keynote speaker on the second day of the conference.  While his session was titled “The Future of Retail is the Digital Store”, his research shows today’s connected consumer expects more from associates, especially those equipped with mobile devices.  Customers want to interact with associates when they are in a store but they expect associates to be able to streamline their experience.

Reflexis introduced several innovations to their products that are designed to do support these big ideas.  At the highest level, Reflexis announced that it was introducing a new user experience for its applications.  However, simply focusing on the redesign understates what Reflexis is really delivering.

Yes, the new UX is pretty and incorporates responsive design to work on a multitude of devices; however, the real innovation is new functionality that improves the productivity of managers and associates by making information easier to consume.  The centerpiece of this information is a new home page called MyWork.

On MyWork, users are presented with a feed of information and activity from various systems within the store and even sources outside of the store that require attention or action.  For example, an item in the feed may be that a forecast is ready to review, a shipment has been scheduled to arrive, or an order needs to be picked. Clicking on an item, expands it and provides more information about what the item means.  More importantly, it recommends actions that the user should take to resolve or address the item. This improves both visibility and decision making.

Beyond the user experience, Reflexis highlighted its Advanced Analytics module.  Using IBM Cognos as its engine, Advanced Analytics allows customers to build reports and dashboards and incorporate them into Reflexis and customers are doing some very interesting things with this capability.  For example, Belk used Advanced Analytics understand how busy each cash wrap was in their stores to determine which ones were underutilized so that they could be removed to reclaim space on the sales floor.  The coolest part about that story is that Belk did that analysis themselves without any help from Reflexis.

Speaking of Belk, the department store retailer was one of sixteen customers that presented at the conference.  Belk has deployed Reflexis Workforce Manager, Task Manager, Time and Attendance and Advanced Analytics.  According to Scott Delmar, Director of Workforce Management, Belk saw an 80 basis point uptick in sales and saved $1.7M in payroll as a result of their WFM initiative.

Sara Lauer

Vera Bradley’s Sara Lauer discusses the benefits of Reflexis WFM and Task Manager in her retail stores.

Vera Bradley’s retail stores also saw a tremendous return on investment with Reflexis.  According to Sara Lauer, Director of Multi-Channel Sales Operations, Vera Bradley achieved a 160 percent ROI.  With Task Manager, Vera Bradley increased the rate with which tasks were completed in the stores to 95 percent while significantly reducing the amount of email stores receive.  Managers also saved 5 to 10 hours per week writing schedules while seeing a 25 to 50 percent improvement in scheduling effectiveness with Workforce Manager.

One of the more forward-thinking presentations was given by Giant Eagle’s Chris Kelly, Senior Director of Operations Planning and Engineering.  The Pittsburgh-based grocer has begun deploying Reflexis Task Manager, Store Walk, Store Pulse and Advanced Analytics to achieve operational excellence. What I loved about this presentation is Giant Eagle’s vision for using Store Pulse, Reflexis’ real-time execution management engine.

Giant Eagle recognizes that a store manager’s job is hard.  He or she must make complex decisions in real time.  Kelly says that the grocer plans to use Store Pulse as the “brain” for consistent execution.  Giant Eagle will use Store Pulse’s real-time feed to provide the right information and suggested action to the right person at the right time.

Overall, Reflexions 2015 was a good checkpoint for Reflexis.  It demonstrated the company’s continued progress to gain market share and innovate, particularly, in the area of real-time execution management.

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