The war over dominance in the retail sector between Oracle Corp. and SAP AG continues in 2006, with Oracle making the first move by acquiring technology in recent weeks to bolster its industry specific suite.
Software vendors have targeted retail as a potential area for growth as retailers have been streamlining antiquated IT systems to better integrate and build customer facing functionality around core systems. License revenue in the retail industry grew 21% from 2004 to 2005, according to Boston-based AMR Research.
Retail executives are gathering this week at the National Retail Federation Conference in New York City. They are paying close attention to the major ERP vendors and a slew of best of breed vendors that offer specific functionality for niche retail operations.
Oracle and SAP went on a shopping spree in 2005 to build in needed retail functionality. It began with a bidding war for Minneapolis-based Retek which concluded with Oracle winning the battle, acquiring the company with a $670 million bid.
Oracle's first strike in 2006 included buying the intellectual property assets of Temposoft, a French-based workforce management software vendor.
"This product will complement Oracle's workforce management offering by providing customers a complete suite to manage time and labor, absences, and now scheduling to meet a forecasted workload demand," said DJ Chhabra, vice president of Oracle Human Capital Management in a letter to Temposoft customers.
Chhabra said a workforce scheduling product using Temposoft technology will be released later this year and eventually Temposoft features will be integrated with Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise, E-Business Suite, and Oracle Retail applications.
"[Oracle] will also extend functionality into other sectors such as retail branch banking, hospitality, call centers, healthcare, and others," he said.
Oracle also purchased 360Commerce, a retail management software vendor, according to AMR Research.
"360Commerce is expected to continue to operate as a mostly sovereign entity inside the Oracle Retail business unit," said Scott Langdoc, vice president of research at Boston-based AMR Research Inc. in an alert to AMR clients.
The acquisition is in response to a growing trend among retailers to invest in new point-of-sale systems to help build out functionality and integrate it with customer interaction data, he said.
Terms of both deals were not immediately released.
Langdoc said the Temposoft technology will bridge enterprise planning and forecasting with store execution. The technology helps integrate demand forecasts derived from Oracle Retail with specific needs for store labor from Temposoft, he said.
But the technology comes with no customers, and Oracle will have a challenge to quickly show retailers the software's benefits, he said.
Retailers should continue to look at best-of-breed workforce scheduling vendors, according to AMR. They still offer deeper functionality and extensive experience in the workforce management market, AMR said.
Best-of-breed companies that dominate workforce management, include Chelmsford, Mass.-based Kronos Inc., BlueCube Software, and Workbrain Inc., both based in Alpharetta, Ga. "[They are] vendors that won the most Web-based WFM deals in 2005—will continue to gain market share as retailers use the systems, test scalability," according to AMR.
SAP acquisitions in 2005 result in customer wins in 2006
SAP announced two customer wins at the NRF show. It said that Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. would implement SAP for Retail, SAP Apparel and Footwear (AFS) and SAP Triversity point-of-sale (POS) software as part of a move to replace disparate legacy systems.
Virgin Entertainment Group announced this week that it would install SAP Triversity point-of-sale (POS) software to automate and integrate the company's U.S.-based music and entertainment stores.
Last September, it acquired Toronto-based Triversity. The company's software manages traditional and enterprise point-of-sale, store inventory management, loss prevention, customer loyalty operations, stored value, store back-office, and in-store and multi-channel customer service.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Khimetrics Inc. was acquired by SAP in November. Khimetrics makes demand analysis software for retail, consumer-packaged goods and financial services firms. The firm has the most experience in pricing optimization for grocery stores and food markets, according to Noha Tohamy, principal analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.