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SAP demos a reimagined online-offline shopping experience

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SAP demos a reimagined online-offline shopping experience

SAP CX industry-focused accelerator retail

When vendors ask their customers to join them on stage at their annual conference, it’s usually to ask them about their key business challenges and how they used the vendor’s products. When Aaron Bradley stepped forward during the customer experience session at Sapphire 2023 last week, however, the first question was a little unusual.

“Do you like my hair?” Ritu Bhargava, president and chief product officer of SAP CX wondered during the Orlando-based event, which was broadcast online.

Bradley was nonplussed because he knew Bhargava was clearly using loads of products from Wella Company, the provider of brands such as Clairol and OPI, where he works as vice-president of technology and go-to-market innovation.

While Bhargava might be a customer of many different Wella brands, however, the company’s ability to deliver a cohesive customer experience has been hampered by the fact it operates a wide variety of disconnected digital experiences. That will change with the launch of Wella One, Bradley said, which will offer 24/7 access to all its myriad channels through a single account.

“It provides this central location for us to really understand you as an individual and help your business grow,” he said, referring to the salons and other business-to-business (B2B) entities that make up a portion of its customer base.

Bradley did not to into detail about which SAP products Wella One is based upon, but his appearance likely speaks to solutions such as the tech giant’s customer data platform (CDP), which launched in 2020 as a solution to help enterprises meet customers in the moment. However Bhargava stressed that SAP’s CX strengths lie in the diversity of its portfolio and its ability to recognize the needs of specific verticals.

“We have CDP, Sales Cloud, Service and Commerce Cloud,” she said. “It’s connecting their different experiences and powering experiences at every touch point.”

SAP is building on that tech stack with what it called “industry-focused accelerators,” which include vertically-oriented data models and integrations that can be used to enhance CX. The CX keynote at Sapphire provided an early look at how industry-focused accelerators could transform retail as an example.

How SAP’s industry-focused accelerators work

In a demo, SAP director of product management Aria Niazi showed the journey of a representative fictional customer, Jada, who needed to buy a new dress in preparation to attend a gala. Like many consumers, Jada’s search didn’t begin at a store or a mall but on Instagram, where she came across a picture of a friend wearing a cobalt blue dress she liked.

Niazi showed how a customer like Jada could take a screen capture of the dress on Instagram and upload it to the search function of a retail web site. The retailer could then offer suggestions from its inventory of dresses in a similar color and style.

Based on its knowledge of her preferences, Niazi said, the retailer could also offer a sustainability footprint score for each dress, calculated using real supply chain data from SAP. It could also show results based on nearby stores, since Jada had shown a habit of making purchases in person. Before then, however, Jada could model her options using a virtual avatar, and artificial intelligence (AI) could make further recommendations, according to Niazi.

“All she has to do is complete the checkout experience by adding it to her cart, then she’s done and ready to go,” Niazi said. “But because this is such a big night for Jada, she’s also going to use the scheduling feature to book an in-store fitting with one of the personal shoppers. What we just showed you is the start of that connected customer experience.”

There is just as much happening on the other side of that experience, however. Niazi showed how the personal shopper would receive a notification telling him he needs to get ready for Jada’s visit, which would include her shopping history, loyalty program information and recent items she viewed online. The back end system would also show a customer value score, which is not only calculated by how much she typically spends but how often she returns items, so that the personal shopper can strive to minimize the chances of an item coming back.

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“We take all of that data that you work so hard to consolidate, and we summarize it so that the rep can focus on relationships, not analyzing data,” he said. “He even has time to send her a WhatsApp message to get her feedback before the meeting. When Jada gets to the store, they pick up exactly where they left off.”

Driving better marketing, growth and loyalty

Brands don’t only need to think about individual customer interactions, however, but how to use CX to boost results for the overall business. This is where retailers could use SAP’s industry-focused accelerators to drive better marketing.

A new product called SAP Digital Assistant for CX, for example, can allow marketing managers to measure campaign performance quickly and ask questions such as “How do I increase conversion rates for my loyalty customers?” to receive recommended actions.

The marketing manager could take segments including customers like Jada and create personalized e-mail blasts that include a non-fungible token (NFT) invite for a meet and greet with some of the  retail brand’s designers. The NFT is powered by an integration between SAP Emarsys and SAP NFT Management.

While the technologies to drive better experiences are becoming more readily available, Wella’s Bradley said change management remains the most difficult part of any CX strategy.

“You need to get all of your stakeholders aligned and making sure that they understand – and that you articulate correctly – the benefits they will gain from the changes,” he said. “We’re talking about time. We’re giving the frontline sales team time – time to spend with their customers, time to build relationships and removing the mundane or administrative tasks which are holding them back.”

Other industry-focused accelerators from SAP include offerings for automotive brands, utilities and consumer products companies.

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