Retail today is an extraordinary example of the influence of a customer-driven supply network. We are all consumers, and we increasingly have complete control over our entire shopping and buying process. This produces not only opportunities for retailers, but challenges for them in managing their customers’ expectations and experience. It is the organizations powered by SAP, however, that are best equipped to strategically address and effectively manage those challenges. A couple trends worth following closely include:
Physical location is irrelevant to shopping
Shoppers may be present in a brick-and-mortar store, but more and more they seek pricing and product information on their mobile devices. Regardless of their physical location or available internet-enabled device, they want a consistent shopping experience with access to the same information, prices and incentives. Most retailers need to learn how to better manage these facets of the customer experience by understanding that the desired mobile channel has transformed omni-channel selling, the integration of physical and online shopping. Organizations need an omni- channel strategy to drive that experience from the same set of applications.
Shoppers today typically register for loyalty programs with their favorite stores and, in return for selecting to receive emails and/or text messages, receive discounts or other special offers when they shop online. When a customer physically walks into a store today, business managers have the ability to recognize them by the IP address associated with their phone or device. The store can send individualized content or offers in real-time, directly to their mobile device as they enter the store or a specified area such as electronics or shoes. The days of pushing out general ads, promotions and coupons are quickly waning. People now receive relevant offers based on their past and present behavior.
With the overabundance of customer information, there needs to be a central infrastructure and source of data to provide a consistent experience for customers. SAP, and particularly SAP HANA, drives tremendous value here by being able to mine through the massive amount of analytics and design predictive analytics to touch customers in the most relevant and seamless way.