Earlier this year, SAP announced that it was combining the SAP App Center with the SAP Store into a single marketplace. Previously, SAP customers shopped for partner and approved third-party solutions in the SAP App Center, while leveraging the SAP Store for new SAP solutions.

ASUG recently sat down with Sharon Ruddock, global VP of digital commerce at SAP, to talk about this unification, what it means for SAP customers and partners, and some of the store’s newest features.

ASUG: Tell us a little bit about your background and how it has prepared you for your current role.

Sharon: Having been with SAP for nearly 15 years, I’ve experienced many different roles that have shaped how I lead my team, including launching the SAP Academy and leading Sales Learning, launching SAP’s mobile business as chief operating officer, as well as driving the go-to-market and post-merger initiation for dozens of SAP’s acquisitions from SAP BusinessObjects to Sybase. Prior to SAP, I ran sales and marketing in several startups, and led software development teams for Accenture. On a more personal note, I also am the founder of a nonprofit school in Ghana, Africa, which was created with the hope of changing the cycle of poverty existing there and improve family preservation—it allows me to utilize everything I’ve learned from my professional background to help give back to those in need. My background is diverse, which has enabled me with the tools to be highly effective in scaling SAP Digital Commerce, while also providing customers and partners with a consistent, personalized, digital experience.

ASUG: Can you give us some details about the consolidation? What exactly is happening?

Sharon: We’ve officially merged SAP App Center and SAP Store into one marketplace via a new, unified homepage and consolidated search function. The goal here is to create a place where customers can discover, try, purchase, and renew the solutions that fit their business needs in the moment that they need them—whether that be an SAP-owned or partner solution. We wanted to create a marketplace where our customers could find everything we have to offer that can help them address the challenges their businesses face. The new marketplace is called SAP Store. The result is a simplified shopping experience for customers making their journeys to the “Intelligent Enterprise.”

ASUG: What are some of the newest features that you want to highlight?

Sharon: There are a variety of key new features for SAP Store. The updated category menu includes expanded categories to cover additional solution areas. Guided search allows customers to use the same natural sentence structure as they would when speaking to a live sales agent, reducing the need for repeat searches. The guided search feature is also vital to those seeking both SAP and partner solutions, and the clean design makes discovery quick and frictionless at a time where customers crave speed and agility. Additionally, the new favorites feature allows for product pages to be saved in a personalized favorites section, making it easier to compare and contrast with other offerings. Lastly, the tips for filtering feature creates suggestions for next-best steps and popular features with search results.

ASUG: How did this consolidation come about? What is the backstory?

Sharon: The consolidation to one marketplace was a natural move with our customers top of mind—in fact, the merging of SAP App Center and SAP Store is important to the success of the platform and for customers to be able to continue to strive toward the Intelligent Enterprise. We found that customers were having to go to separate digital storefronts to find partner solutions and SAP solutions, and the ability for them to see these solutions side by side—without having to go to different marketplaces—would be highly beneficial.

ASUG: SAP announced some enhancements to the SAP App Center just last year. Did you all know this merger would happen when those were announced?

Sharon: Last year we rolled out enhancements to the SAP App Center during our Global Partner Summit and SAPPHIRE NOW 2020 events. It has been SAP's long-term vision to bring the two marketplaces together to make it easier than ever for customers to find the solutions they need, side by side, be they from SAP or our partners. In fact, many of the new enhancements rolled out in 2020 are part of the underlying foundation of our merged world-class marketplace, SAP Store. IDC Research Director Frank Della Rossa highlighted how valuable it is for customers to be able to discover SAP and partner solutions in one place, and we are thrilled to roll out this offering to customers.

ASUG: How does this benefit SAP customers? How about partners?

Sharon: Over the last two years as the head of digital commerce at SAP, I’ve seen the true need to deliver a seamless, unified digital marketplace experience to our customers and partners along their digital transformation journeys. Today, it’s never been more critical for SAP to deliver this experience. Our new consolidated marketplace signifies that we are committed to continuing to create this environment for our customers online, whether they are choosing a solution from SAP or an offering from one of our validated partners. Now, with the capability to discover SAP and partner offerings in one marketplace with an integrated and flexible search functionality, customers can find and access what they need faster and more intelligently than ever before, regardless of whom the solution is from—a partner or SAP.

The value proposition for partners is real—by participating on SAP Store, they can get more value out of their partnership with SAP and reach more customers globally. In fact, many of our partners are doing business outside of the countries in which they are located. SAP Store provides partners a fully digital experience. With access to the self-service partner cockpit, they can manage all opportunities and deals and track web analytics.

ASUG: Partner solutions were a key part of the SAP App Center. How do SAP Endorsed Apps fit into the new SAP Store?

Sharon: Our new marketplace continues to showcase partner solutions certified by SAP and SAP Endorsed Apps prominently with visual identifiers. These features make it easier than ever to navigate through SAP and partner solutions, allowing customers to browse by industries, categories, SAP products, and lines of business. Additionally, SAP Store was designed with impartiality in mind, with the unified homepage and integrated search functionality helping customers find solutions that fit their needs regardless of who owns the offerings. Although SAP products are visually identifiable, the search functionality is fair and unbiased, presenting all products that fit the search. The same holds true for the content accompanying each search and offering—category landing pages show customer reviews of SAP and partner solutions, with authentic quotes and ratings. Our overall goal with the consolidated search is to provide a new experience tailored to how our customers want to shop, whether the customer is purchasing for personal use or for a large enterprise.

ASUG: How—if at all—will the SAP Store fit into RISE with SAP?

Sharon: RISE with SAP is a holistic “business transformation as a service” offering that allows customers to chart their course to the Intelligent Enterprise on their own timeline and terms. Together with our unified ecosystem, RISE bundles everything companies need to holistically transform their business with a fast time to value, regardless of their starting point. We include links to SAP and partner solutions that support RISE and are available on SAP Store, so customers looking to find those specific solutions that fit their business transformation needs can easily discover, try, and buy them.

ASUG: What is personally exciting you the most about the SAP Store?

Sharon: I’m most excited about the new capabilities and functionalities we’ve built into the marketplace—using SAP’s own technology, including SAP Commerce Cloud solutions, the open-source project “Spartacus,” the Kyma runtime for SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory, and the SAP Cloud Platform Integration service. These solutions bring our latest enhancements to life. And every time we introduce something new, we test it with real customers, gather their feedback, incorporate changes, and continuously improve our solutions and capabilities. It's all about customer experience—delivering what is best for our customers and what makes their businesses run more efficiently. Plus, the marketplace is truly taking off!

ASUG: What does the future hold? What should SAP customers expect from the SAP Store, moving forward?

Sharon: At SAP, we strive to continue our commitment going forward to expand our digital marketplace offerings as a means of best serving customer needs and furthering their experience. We know our customers’ wants and needs will continue to shift and change as the business landscape and the world shifts and changes. We will continue to fine-tune and expand our services and offerings—such as enhancements to our customer service platforms, extended payment options and models, and the way customers purchase and renew solutions—so customers can not only find and access what they need faster and more intelligently than ever before, but also move more seamlessly along their journey to the “Intelligent Enterprise.”

ASUG is continuing the supply chain conversation with its upcoming virtual event, ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Supply Chain. On May 11 and 12, hear from customers, experts, and thought leaders on how the past year has challenged and changed supply chains, and what technologies companies are using to bolster their supply chains.