Rewriting the rules: active commerce

Everyone uses the 80%/20% – activity/outcome – ratio to identify the most profitable customers, invest in skills and isolate productivity gaps.

However, the message from Eddie Capel, CEO of Manhattan Associates, at the annual Manhattan Exchange conference this morning was clear: ‘these models are changing’. As demand trends shift more frequently, due to greater customer expectation, industries must adapt and innovate at an increasingly rapid pace.

Looking at the Commerce industry, although this point applies to all, traditional ‘planning and managing doesn’t work like it used to,’ explained Capel. It doesn’t support the new age across multiple channels.

It is necessary ‘to re-write old rules’ with innovations and insights based on the need of the customer and growing competition to evolve and change.

>See also: Appealing to digital migrants and digital natives in the Omnichannel age

Today’s commercial enterprises are struggling to keep up with rapidly-changing consumer behaviours, supply networks, fulfilment approaches and business processes. At the heart of this challenge is the need to adapt and evolve more dynamically.

As business models advance, companies need to adopt new technologies more frequently and more rapidly; they need to execute system implementations and upgrades faster and in a more streamlined way; departments must get in sync to deliver a better customer experience and to improve operational efficiency; and they need to continually experiment and innovate to stay one step ahead.

In response to this need to innovate, Manhattan Associates, the event organisers, have produced its biggest ever roll out of solutions.

This age of disruption has served as the inspiration behind the Manhattan Active Solution innovations that were showcased this morning at Manhattan EMEA Exchange 2017.

Four hundred delegates from retail, logistics services, wholesale and manufacturing heard how the Manhattan Active Solutions give clients faster access to Manhattan’s latest innovations through an integrated suite of platform-based products that span the commercial continuum, and provide them with the power to transform their entire business models, their distribution infrastructures, and the service experience they provide to their customers.

>See also: Traditional approaches to customer experience need to evolve

Henri Seroux, Senior Vice President EMEA at Manhattan Associates, commented, “After years of focused investment in research and innovation, this is the largest set of innovations we have ever made in the ongoing evolution of our Supply Chain, Inventory, and Omni-Channel solutions. These solutions provide clients with a more cohesive experience for their users, and a more engaging experience for their customers.”


During his keynote speech this morning, Capel stated it is necessary to turn ‘active conversations into action’, in order to create ‘the active enterprise’.

This can be achieved, Capel suggested, through the already mentioned Manhattan Active Solutions, which provide the current, latest product innovations through frequent software updates and interconnected throughout platforms. The adaptive solutions learn in real-time from enterprise and customers.

One of the stand out solutions Capel mentioned was the first of its kind omni-channel-as-a-service, necessary to keep up the increasing pace of the commerce industry: ‘speed is forcing innovation,’ Capel stated.

This platform, explained Capel, is ‘cloud native, a fully extensible application, which expands and contracts automatically based on demand and is versionless.’

It’s fully extensible nature has not just rewritten the rules, but it has ‘blown the rules up’, acting as a single application.

>See also: To improve your customer experience, free your data

Working from a single source of the truth – one view of the customer, inventory across the enterprise and transactions in a single solution – is necessary to keep up with increasing demands of pace posed by enterprise customers.

The micro-services architecture behind the platform means that there is no downtime when deploying extensions, because the extensions are built into containers on the base code. It can be ‘deployed without disruption’.

The ‘new architecture automatically scales processing power to demand instantly, with no disruption when you scale either way’.

Extension of the digital

The retail sector is undergoing its biggest change since the very first shops appeared. Physical retailers are now just an extension of the digital experience. As such the ‘retail experience has to mirror the experience of the digital channel – always on, always convenient’, explained Capel.

The transformation of this sector starts at the point-of-sale, which – Capel argued – is dead. ‘There is no point anywhere anymore because of omni-channel.’

It doesn’t matter where people are now when they want to buy something. But, this frictionless shopping mean consumers are more demanding. Hence the need for innovative solutions that improve the consumer experience.

This extends to shop assistants within retailers. Arguably, the current crop do not reflect the whole, digital-first business: ‘they need to be taught the new rules’.

>See also: Inside River Island’s transition to digital retail

Omni-channel solutions can help achieve this new clarity. To make employees ‘active’ they need to be engaged with real-time data and feedback on their performance. This requires managers to facilitate that conversation. However, Manhattan’s Labour Management Tool gives employees details of their performance daily and instantly on their smartphone, which will ‘inspire better performance’ and help better align employees with the digital brand of the retailer. This, in turn, will have a direct impact on generating that experience for the customers, and will enable better innovation for improved customer experience.

Pack leader

In a press briefing following Capel’s keynote speech, he explained that Manhattan is in a very strong position with no debts, which allow enterprise software provider to invest heavily in R&D; committing $60 million and 700 employees in pursuit of driving innovation in 2016.

When questioned about the threats facing Manhattan, he said that attracting and retaining talent was a real concern. But, above that, despite the company’s impressive pace of innovation driving into the market, Capel suggested that the fear is always there that they are not innovating fast enough.

>See also: The 3 types of analytics set to transform customer experience

Competition, catalysed by technology, is fierce. However, Capel did conclude that with Manhattan’s 27 years of experience, its domain expertise and it’s strong customer base, the company was well placed to help supply chain customers embrace the innovative omni-channel model and all the necessary benefits that come with it.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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