[caption id="attachment_2153" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The old-fashioned cash register: officially outdated, at least as a source of useful customer data."] [/caption] Oracle has unveiled a Retail Customer Analytics platform that offers a variety of segment, demographic, product, and other information—a total of 100 performance indicators. Oracle’s adventures in retail analytics (which include other platforms such as Oracle Retail Merchandising Analytics) are an attempt to seize a portion of a growing submarket of business analytics; given the cutthroat competition and tough financials that govern many aspects of the retail industry, anything that can give a retailer an advantage—including an analytics suite capable of crunching massive amounts of store and product data—is a potentially welcome tool. IBM, SAP, and other companies in the space all offer their own versions of retail-analytics platforms, designed to deliver insights into everything from pricing optimization to customer feedback. Delivering said insights, of course, requires the crunching of enormous amounts of data—an undertaking of exponentially increasing difficulty for larger retailers, which frequently own lots of stores with lots of products serving lots of customers over lots of hours per day. Befitting its name, Oracle Retail Customer Analytics drills deep into customer data, surfacing metrics such as how promotions are performing, which customer segments translate into the most revenue, and how particular products sell across different demographic groups. “The key to improving the customer experience is to understand the customer,” Greg Girard, program director of Merchandise Strategies for IDC Retail Insights, wrote in a short June 27 research note tied to Oracle’s release. “Analytic solutions that help retailers gain insight into their customers’ buying patterns lay the foundation for a deeper understanding and make it possible to create a personalized shopping experience.” All of which boosts profitability, at least in theory. Oracle Retail Analytics applications can be run alone, or implemented in conjunction with other Oracle or third-party applications; the software is also optimized to run on Oracle Exadata Database Machine and Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud (giving a bit of private-cloud flexibility to the task of digesting all that data). However, it doesn’t seem an offering of Oracle’s newly announced public cloud, at least based on a widely circulated list of applications.   Image: gallofoto/Shutterstock.com