Retailing is getting both a storefront and backroom facelift. The combined effects of the empowered mobile consumer, online shopping, and the consumerization of enterprise technologies have forever changed the retail business and its go-to-market strategy.

Where we used to say the customer is always right, it’s now the connected e-tail customer that’s right.

What You Want, We’ve Got It

Today’s customer may not be able to stipulate price, though they can comparison shop the world and dictate the prices they’re willing to pay. The connected customer can also control how they want to browse before they shop, what level of interaction they want with the business offering the product (or service), and what personalized features they want for any purchase.

One example of this is the adidas Group, which was featured in the day three keynote at the 2018 SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference. Pronounced “ahhh-dee-dasss” (for all who were wondering), this German-born company that’s now the second largest sportswear manufacturer in the world has implemented the SAP Fashion Management application running on SAP HANA. The company has also engineered predictive analytics into its operations.

Photo: SAP

Online Shopping That’s On-Demand and On-Trend

The mi adidas tool allows consumers to customize shoes and apparel with the colors and features of their choice. Knowing what styles and colors consumers are buying, as well as what they are creating on their own, gives adidas real-time insight into what styles are trending and what will move off the shelves.

Kai Bienmueller, IT director for wholesale ERP solutions at adidas Group, has said that consumers expect brands and retailers to offer “a seamless shopping and buying experience” in-store, online, and on mobile devices.

The Buyer’s Journey as a Two-Way Street

SAP digital transformation writer and blogger Susan Galer reported on a similar innovation that was showcased as part of the 2018 SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference. This time it wasn’t athletic shoes, but haute couture gowns and dresses.

Highlighting what retailers now call a “buyer’s journey,” Galer described a scenario depicted by Hansen Lieu, a solution marketing director from SAP Customer Experience.

“Customers might see a dress they love at a fashion show or on social media, but don’t know what to do next. Our software makes it easy for consumers to find the specific outfit they’re looking for, and gives retailers and designers a more efficient and personalized way of reaching them.”

Today’s retail is moving from a one-way highway where vendors pushed products down the road to consumers, to a busier two-way street where the buyer can start to offer the producer a set of personal buying factors. With the power of technology, retailers can present a variety of choices at a variety of price points to match each customer’s behaviors and preferences.

Comparison Shopping the World

Some consumers will offer no insight into personal preferences. Those consumers who choose not to share their personal buying preferences can still maximize the number of options the market will offer, shopping around the world for the best bargains. On the other hand, other customers will specify the exact shape, size, color, fit, form, and function of every product they are looking to purchase so that they can receive perfectly tailored purchases.

Lieu added more context to the haut couture gowns story by explaining that the SAP Marketing Cloud helps separate out casual browsers from serious buyers. It then allows retailers to reach those buyers with more effective marketing promotions.

Perfectly Personalized Purchases

When you add in social media sentiment, geolocation capabilities, and customer profiling data based on age, gender, previous purchase history, and level of customer engagement, that’s when it gets really interesting. Retailers can start to refine a powerful marketing mix that outstrips any previous marketer’s ability to communicate with potential customers on their own terms.

They say that when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Now it’s a case of when the going gets tough, the tough update their personal purchasing preferences. We won’t see you at the mall. Instead we’ll see you on your mobile on the subway, at the music festival, on the street, on your sofa…just about anywhere, really.

If you’re looking for innovative ways to delight your customers, you can join us at our Customer Experience Innovation Forum, our newest event for retailers, consumer products companies, and wholesalers.