SAP first started to focus on customer experience when it announced the release of its SAP C/4HANA suite in 2018. But what does customer experience mean for your business? ASUG News interviewed the SAP C/4HANA Cloud leaders to learn more about each platform and how they work together to help you build stronger relationships with your customers.
Keep an eye out for future articles as we dig into what each cloud platform does. The first platform we explore is the SAP Commerce Cloud.
Commerce Reaches for the Clouds
Customers today have vast options and great expectations when it comes to their purchases, so businesses need to provide end-to-end digital experiences that meet those expectations. That’s likely why SAP made the strategic move to acquire Hybris, a Germany-based omnichannel commerce vendor, in 2013. It has since integrated the company into its SAP C/4HANA platform as the SAP Commerce Cloud.
Head of strategy and go-to-market of SAP enterprise commerce, Chris Hauca talked with ASUG News about how the platform fits within an organization’s intelligent enterprise strategy.
ASUG News: Could you walk us through how a business would use SAP Commerce Cloud?
Chris: SAP Commerce Cloud gives an organization the ability to not just sell things but provide a complete digital brand experience. This could be by allowing people to buy something online, but it also could allow customers and prospects to research, discover, and ultimately move all the way through a transaction and beyond.
What we’re providing is the software for that complete end-to-end digital experience brands want to provide for their customers.
ASUG News: How would this change if the organization wants to link the SAP Commerce Cloud with other existing systems, for example Adobe Experience Manager?
Chris: I’ve been doing commerce implementations for more than 18 years, and I have yet to do one where the commerce system was completely stand-alone. They just don’t exist in the world. Commerce systems need to be integrated with back-office or third-party systems to provide a much broader digital experience.
The SAP Commerce Cloud is a platform you can extend and tailor to your business. But you’re also able to create the linkages to other products that help build the digital experience that fulfills the commitments and promises you’re making.
ASUG News: In your opinion, what are some of the ways that commerce has been changing now, especially within the last year or two? How does SAP Commerce Cloud help organizations prepare for the customer expectations and demands that seem to be changing by the minute?
Chris: The space itself has never moved slowly. It’s always evolved. Today, we can provide a single view of inventory across an entire ecosystem and be able to show that to a business instantaneously. We couldn’t do that even a few years ago. But just because we can do something today that was hard yesterday doesn’t mean we need to stop.
Just because you have a commerce system that allows your customers to buy online and pick up their items in the store doesn’t mean you’re done. In many cases, you need to start providing much higher degrees of transparency about when a product is going to arrive, the options to find it somewhere else, etc. You need to do all those things in real time. You need to be able to allow a customer to use their mobile device and have the exact same experience that they would if they walked into a store.
The end goal here is that we’re allowing our customers to compete against the biggest players in the world in commerce.
ASUG News: Today, many online commerce experiences feel cookie-cutter. What can organizations do to create experiences that stand out and truly delight their customers?
Chris: Whether it’s in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer space, organizations are seeing an up-leveling in their customer base. Everyone is informed by personal interactions and what they see day-to-day, and that sets their expectations higher. As a buyer, if you have an experience that is not very usable or intelligent, and it makes your life difficult to place an order or find out the status of an invoice, then it’s perceived as a pain. People don’t like going back to things that bring them pain.
We need to make sure we create experiences that are adapted to customer needs and are intelligent, fit for purpose, and most importantly, engaging. The cookie-cutter approach can be great for organizations that don’t really care about the experience as much as they do the time to value and keeping costs low.
We find that to really grow and thrive, you need to be able to differentiate your business from the competition. SAP is doing that by evolving to a completely new generation of experience management, capabilities, and tools in the SAP Commerce Cloud and our customer experience (CX) platform, SAP C/4HANA.
The goal is to provide a standard platform and fast time to value with the ability to create a highly differentiated user experience. SAP customers are now able to hand the user interface to their design teams, hand the core platform and the business logic to a development team, and allow the two to innovate at their own rates.
ASUG News: How does SAP Commerce Cloud fit within SAP C/4HANA?
Chris: It’s part of our total strategy. Simply put, the SAP Commerce Cloud is one of the main parts of the platform and the only one where the customer is directly interacting with the platform.
When we look at the SAP C/4HANA platform, we see five pillars, but in reality, it’s more than that. Commerce doesn’t sit on an island by itself in any implementation. It interacts with each of the other pillars in a unique way.
It connects with the SAP Marketing Cloud by providing a 360-degree view of why your customer is interacting with your business, how they’re doing it, and most importantly what caught their attention in the first place. With SAP Customer Data Cloud, you have a single view of your customer and a single understanding of what they’ve consented to. When we look at SAP Sales Cloud, I believe sales and commerce have a much tighter coupling than any of the other cloud pillars. The two cloud platforms work together for collaboration between the buyer and seller.
The last bit, the SAP Service Cloud allows us to maintain that relationship with the buyer. It helps us make sure all the great experiences and interactions we’ve had aren’t lost after the purchase is complete and that we’re being as receptive, responsive, and proactive with customers as we can be.
ASUG News: How does the interaction between the different cloud platforms help an organization become intelligent?
Chris: When you look at what organizations face today, you know they need a solution for better engagement within their go-to-market functions. Sales teams need to change the way they engage. They need to become more agile, but they also need to understand how to interact with a customer digitally, not just face-to-face, via email, or by phone. That is the expectation today. Similarly, on the service and support side, those digital interaction capabilities need to exist natively within the digital platform the customer is using.
These are the core building blocks for every digital transformation strategy. SAP C/4HANA ties all these things together in a holistic way. And then when you add in our organizational intelligence and knowledge around the entire SAP S/4HANA platform, you have a truly integrated front-office and back-office strategy. It’s a one-stop shop for any organization that really wants to transform.
Learn more about what to expect from SAP C/4HANA and how SAP C/4HANA can connect your customer journey. ASUG Members can register for a road map webinar on SAP C/4HANA.