Presenting services in the B2x environment is highly topical since new customer groups are to be precisely targeted and customers open to change bound more closely. This may be a technological challenge, but SAP Commerce and its agile implementation partner Swisscom can help achieve this in next to no time.
Text: Dr. Bernhard D. Valnion, Picture: Pexels,
E-commerce is primarily associated with the attractive presentation of products in a digital shop window. If it’s done really professionally, the whole thing is simultaneously integrated into an interactive customer journey that ensures prospective customers actually buy the chosen products. To ensure that glitter and glamour can reign supreme at the front end just like on the catwalk, sophisticated behind-the-scenes processes must prevent the necessary data streams from drying up.
The entire backend infrastructure of e-commerce, such as the SAP Commerce platform, can be used for presenting not only products, but also services. After all, buying a fancy bag is similar to buying an investment product or a mobile phone contract. Incidentally, the same commercial processes are also used for customer communication at an electricity utility: The e-commerce platform repeatedly renews the supply agreement, checks month by month whether customers have met their payment obligations, and surprises them with news via a push service – for example the news that 100% of the electricity sold by the utility is now generated from renewable sources. SAP Commerce combines a large number of contract handling processes, obtains the necessary data from a variety of sources and elegantly presents it to the end customer.
Presenting services in a B2C environment is highly topical when it comes to positioning yourself better on the market and remaining relevant to customers. Returning to the example of electricity utilities, back in the day when they were still called electricity boards, customers had practically no choice whatsoever. Since then, the markets have gradually been deregulated. Providers are being encouraged to increase their customers’ loyalty by mapping value-added services digitally. For example, a dashboard can be used to show consumers how much electricity they have already used and how much of it is “green”. It would also be conceivable to open a kind of karma account for them into which money is deposited if they are more disciplined in their consumption. Such gamification – tailor-made for the respective target group, of course – can be elegantly implemented using SAP Commerce.
Another exciting B2B2C scenario has been implemented for a Swisscom customer who mainly produces bakery products: Croissants and other delicacies are delivered to hospitals and nursing homes, where they are passed on to patients or residents for consumption. Orders are placed via an online bakery, which in turn provides additional data feeds, such as information on which ingredients are used. This is because certain allergens can cause undesirable side effects when combined with a cocktail of tablets.
“The great advantage of SAP Commerce is that product information can be controlled in a very targeted way using a wide range of management functions,” says Swisscom SAP Customer Experience Consultant Michael Lackner. “Information can easily be assigned to a specific product and displayed under certain conditions. This is an invaluable advantage when developing customer portals. Additional documents, such as test reports or certificates, can also be shared.”
In order to be able to offer this type of service to customers seamlessly, companies need to know a great deal about their customers’ habits as well as the offer to be made. SAP Commerce takes the relevant data to be distributed through the various communication channels and organises it consistently and efficiently. This also applies to the traces and data left by customers using an online shop. The customer entrusts the provider with the data. In return, the data must be handled carefully – not only in terms of data security, but also as a starting point for the expected added value. This is what SAP Commerce offers through its context-driven services, which enable the perfect customer experience. SAP Commerce has a flexible, modular system architecture that allows for extensions.
The large volumes of data that are collected and collated can be exploited through machine learning. This is particularly effective if patterns can be identified. So why not also in B2C processes? Pretrained SAP services enable relevant session content, promos and search options to be displayed depending on the surfing behaviour of the interested parties.
Another B2B area of application with great potential for additional value-added services for customers and thus for SAP Commerce is in distribution along commercial chains. No matter whether it is a distributor or a direct producer, both face the same challenge of managing their ordering systems properly. SAP Commerce enables the entire ordering process to be mapped digitally end to end, thus also potentially providing the basis for production control. As part of this, individual store operators can be granted access to only a specific part of the product range.
The B2B2C category includes the application scenario in which a store sends a distributor its customers’ orders, but the goods are delivered by the distributor: The goods are made available online. Once the order has been placed, they are delivered to the end customer directly from the central warehouse. As a well-functioning e-commerce system, SAP Commerce ensures the necessary reconciliation of order and stock data in the background.
Such virtualisation of the inventory is also conceivable for vehicle importers. If an end customer asks a dealer about an unusual type of wheel rim, an SAP Commerce application can be used to search the warehouses of all connected dealers throughout the dealer network to determine whether or where the desired object is available.
SAP wouldn’t be SAP if it hadn’t also dreamt up something special for SAP Commerce. This is what is known as the accelerator approach. Let’s say you don’t want to start an e-commerce project from scratch, but rather start with preconfigured systems in medias res. The Walldorf-based software giant offers numerous industry-specific accelerators: There is already a graphical user interface as well as a range of functions aimed specifically at B2C e-commerce providers, utilities, insurance companies, telcos and other corporate groups. It is essentially a ready-to-use system with which e-commerce projects can be started.
The same thing applies to both implementation and accelerators: a preconfigured, consistently designed system enables a project to be started as an operational system from day one and the project team to work towards the desired goal from there.
However, you shouldn’t kid yourself that the accelerators can get the job done in just a few mouse clicks. “It’s worth putting an SAP Commerce project in experienced hands so that migration can be planned and implemented within six months or less. Without previous experience, it is difficult to estimate the required effort and scope,” Michael Lackner warns. What’s more, Swisscom guarantees timely and on-budget implementation of the project.
Swisscom inspires with its ideas, such as answers to the question of how an electricity utility can inspire its customers. This initially takes place on a purely design-thinking brain-writing level without opening the SAP technology toolbox. For example, what influence smart meters could have on the customer journey of an electricity customer. Only in a second step is the project then implemented using SAP components. A great deal of know-how is required for integration into the backend systems and addressing the question of what data is actually needed for implementation. “We analyse the solution approaches at different levels: from the perspective of idea generation as well as from that of technical implementation, right down to the level of interface definition,” Michael Lackner explains. Swisscom also provides ongoing support. Its application management covers all data security aspects and GDPR requirements.
Through the SAP S/4HANA Transformation Factory and S/4HANA Lean Conversion, Swisscom offers all the necessary steps for easy migration, bundled into a uniform portfolio that is uncomplicated, secure and resource-saving.
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