Put Your Customers At The Heart Of Your Innovation To Drive Brand Loyalty

Michele Hackshall

When you think of ASICS, most likely the first thing that comes to mind are running shoes. The company, however, recognizes that customers are after much more – and arguably, it has done so since it first started trading.

“Our brand writes its story by itself. The story is amazing. The backbone is strong: how can we make people excited and enjoy life,” says Thomas Wasser, global CRM lead for ASICS. Perception is critical for brands. “As a brand you have a perception of what you’re delivering. We think we are providing the best products, but the consumer experience isn’t matching what we’re thinking.”

ASICS is striving to chip away at that gap to make it smaller. It is focusing more and more on the customer experience through programs that encourage engagement rather than product sales. This marks a shift for the company and demonstrates not only its understanding of a disrupted marketplace, but its acknowledgement of the disruptive economy.

“It’s not really about digital transformation. It’s a consumer-centric transformation,” Wasser says. Consumers switch brands more easily now and their expectations are constantly moving higher. As a result, the biggest threat isn’t coming from competitors, but from disruptors like Uber and AirBNB. These are the companies that set the benchmark for customers by highlighting  the benefits of a great online experience.

The challenge, therefore, is for ASICS to get conversations started and build connections with consumers. Wasser refers to this as not storytelling, but story doing. “We need to live the story and ensure it cascades.”

For example, they asked marathon runners what products they buy. Nearly half answered ASICS – good result, right? Further digging revealed that the purchase wasn’t driven by a love of the product, but because it was considered the best. There was nothing wrong with it, but the problem was simply that customers didn’t feel a connection to the brand. “If a competitor comes along with a parity perception that doesn’t even have the same quality, then the customer is gone,” Wasser explained.

ASICS is now working not just to stay in the consideration mindset of consumers but to build that bond. Achieving this starts with self reflection by the brand to be authentic and honest. Instead of asking, “What’s best for the company?”, they ask “What’s best for the customer?”.

Building connections starts with engagement. The idea is to identify a customer’s individual goals and then help them achieve these goals. By engaging customers and helping them find new goals, such as trying a new sport or achieving a faster marathon finish time, ASICS is helping customers, not just selling to them. This is accomplished through the creation of programs such as Pace Club, starting running crews and clinics, and the recent acquisition of Runkeeper.

To make this transformation successful, key strategies have been undertaken around the globe.

ASICS is providing training in very region to make sure everyone understands the intelligence the brand gathers and what it can provide. To do this successfully, they’ve acknowledged that a global approach can’t ignore the need for localization. This means that alignment across regions and clearly delineating the objectives and deliverables is critical.

“Sharing best practice sharing is much easier now,” says Wasser. “We can really start working together as regions, instead of competing.”

For more strategies that create brand advocates, see Bridging The Gap: Turning Potential Customers Into Brand Advocates.


Michele Hackshall

About Michele Hackshall

Michele Hackshall is a writer who helps global brands hone their marketing communications. Over the past two decades she’s managed product launches, strategized campaigns and written everything from scripts and adverts through to annual reports and press releases. Since becoming a freelancer in 2013, she’s focused on project managing the case studies program for Twitter’s emerging markets, through digital marketing agency Wings4U.

Casting The Jewelry Industry’s Future

Harin Nanayakkaara

No industry has been immune to the seismic shifts caused by the growth of the digital landscape. Driven by digital disruption, the fashion industry has been subject to heavy transformation in the recent years. In comparison, the jewelry sector has remained relatively traditional. However, given the intensifying competitive landscape and the battle for customer loyalty across all retail sectors, there are opportunities that jewelry brands can no longer afford to ignore.

The following point of view details some of the most significant trends and opportunities in the jewelry industry and illustrates how brands can equip themselves to successfully navigate in the digital economy.

1. Digital will spur demand for fast fashion in the jewelry industry

It’s no secret that fast fashion has revolutionized the fashion industry. Even though its roots are in the affordable clothing segment, the fashion-jewelry market has not been immune to its effects.

Beeline, a German-based brand jewelry company, adds hundreds of new items to its collection every month—an unusual practice in the industry where two collections per year are considered standard. Similarly, there’s BaubleBar, an e-commerce site, known for its “fast fashion” take on women’s jewelry. The company delivers products with a faster turnaround than its traditional competitors with a compressed supply chain process that accelerates their design-to-sale process in as little as four weeks.

The modern fashion industry is built on this kind of instant gratification. Rapidly shifting trends mean consumers regularly buy new items, regardless of the season. As the jewelry market grows and new, savvier players emerge, jewelry retailers will need to take the necessary steps to be more agile and flexible to rapidly adopt to changing market trends and consumer demand.

What’s needed to make this happen? Real-time analytical capabilities.

Consumer insight is key to enable brands to deliver designs that resonate with their shoppers as and when they’re trending. With the right technology in place, brands can view and evaluate the real-time insights required to guide the design, merchandise, and inventory allocation process.

2. Physical and digital channels will be integrated to drive omnichannel growth

Physical monobrand stores and e-commerce will continue growing in importance. However, integration of these channels will be key in providing a seamless experience to the customer.

Fashion brands, such as attune client The Rockport Group, have already started integrating their retail stores and e-commerce systems to facilitate omnichannel functionalities such as click and collect, and buy online and return at any store.

Studies show that the majority of the jewelry industry has not yet this model. According to L2 Digital Intelligence, only 54% of watch and jewelry brands have a buy online feature, with 15% offering in-store pickups and 9% integrating live inventory availability on their sites. However, some jewelry brands, like leading Hong Kong-based retailer Chow Sang Sang, have already moved towards an omnichannel offering. They launched an online store where customers can reserve items online and view them in-store before making a purchase as well as purchase online and pick up in-store, or have it delivered to a designated address. Jared, the Galleria of Jewelers, and Kay Jewelers have embraced similar strategies, which have resulted in a staggering 49% increase in online sales.

Jewelry brands can no longer afford using a single channel. To keep up with growth plans such as geographic expansions, the creation of a new brand or the addition of a new business channel, an integrated system is crucial for a centralized real-time view of customers, orders, sales, and inventory.

What’s needed to make this happen? A single, vertically integrated platform.

Managing each channel separately results in siloed data—leading to data replication and redundancy, siloed analytics, and siloed information among departments of the same organization. Operating as a forward-thinking brand in today’s market relies on synchronizing data and processes across all channels to improve customer experience, deliver faster inventory turn, and enable future growth.

3. More retailers will look at personalization to enhance the shopping experience

While brand loyalty is fleeting in the new consumer-centric economy, superior service and personalization will differentiate the winners from the rest of the pack.

Research shows that personalized content can increase the average order size by more than 20%—yet few companies do personalization right. The challenge lies in building an omnichannel landscape where data from different touchpoints can be collected and used for analytics.

Consider the case of jewelry retailer Alex and Ani, which has experienced 5,200% growth in revenue in three years. Much of the company’s success lies in its ability to personalize throughout the customer journey and beyond its e-commerce site by gathering data on an ongoing basis and sharing these insights with wholesale partners that sell the brand’s jewelry. Another great example is Swoonery, a luxury e-commerce platform that uses an algorithm to recommend items based on an analysis of customers’ individual preferences.

Looking ahead, jewelry brands need to preempt the expected doubling of online sales—from 4-5% to 10% by 2020—and implement a suitable platform that can collect and evaluate data from various devices. Be it desktops, smartphones, tablets, or point-of-sale systems, retailers will need to utilize all the data they can in order to offer a competitive and more seamless customer experience across all channels.

However, knowing individual interests and preference alone is not enough. The future of personalization relies heavily on context. This way, brands can deliver the right offer at the right time, increase the likelihood of a successful cross-sell, and use the same data to personalize in-store experiences using mobile technology.

What’s needed to make this happen? A single view of the customer.

With a unified view of the customer, brands can leverage buying patterns, behavioral data and contextual insights for a truly personalized offering.

A digital core for the jewelry industry

In order to adapt to the ongoing digital shift, jewelry brands need to radically rethink their core system so they can identify and respond to changing consumer demand in real-time, synchronize sales channels, and deliver a personalized service. A digital core comprised of the latest innovative retail technologies will help deliver a consistent, relevant, and exceptional shopping experience across all touchpoints.

Attune’s digital core solution is designed to create a powerful foundation that gives you a single view of your customers, inventory, and products to power various omnichannel functionalities. In short: everything you need to run your jewelry business in the omnichannel.

If you’re a retailer and want to learn more about how we can help you address the above issues, visit our website or the attune booths at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, Florida or the SAP Retail Forum in Mainz, Germany.



Harin Nanayakkaara

About Harin Nanayakkaara

Harin Nanayakkaara is part of attune’s leadership team and heads the global marketing, branding and communication efforts. He is passionate about technology and its role in shaping the fashion landscape, and has worked closely on delivering business value to clients such as Crocs and Brooks Brothers.

5 Ways Field Service Supports Top-Notch Customer Service

Lisa James

Sales organizations are often well-oiled machines, delivering the right product at the right time to customers. Keeping customers happy after the sale, by providing customer care that positively reflects the promises made during sales and by the larger brand, can be more challenging. Field service either delivers on these promises or undermines these efforts and brings down customer satisfaction.

Successful field service delivers the right people to the right jobs and is backed by the right parts and knowledge to get the job done. Ultimately, customers should consistently get the results they need, regardless of whether service is over the phone, in the field, or via chat, online messaging, social media, or email.

To build a successful field service model that provides excellent customer service throughout the customer lifecycle, put these five top field service considerations on your agenda.

1. Proactive service

A proactive field service model offers more to the customer, reducing the time between insight and action, while providing greater product knowledge for maintenance and repair. From knowing what service level agreements are needed to having remote sensors tip off field service techs when a repair or maintenance action is required, proactive field service stays ahead of the customer. This intelligence relieves the customer of work and increases satisfaction with service.

Field service technicians encounter unpredictable situations – stalled equipment, overheating equipment, malfunctioning systems, and insufficient safety protection. Even when unpredictable problems arise, having customer insight and data accessible to field service more ably addresses any issues and prevents further equipment damage.

2. Transparency

Scheduling field service is often the first hurdle customers and managers have to overcome. Nothing creates customer dissatisfaction faster than repair delays, which cause operational outages and lost revenue. In oil and gas, for example, idle equipment can cost millions. The right systems create transparency between customers, technicians, managers, and other key parties, so there are no mysteries about why a tech is running late or a part isn’t yet delivered. A tool that gives customers, technicians, and managers insight into scheduling goes a long way to smoothing out scheduling problems, both in terms of technician workload and reducing customer wait times.

By offering your customers the ability to schedule appointments based on their availability, then syncing that appointment to the technicians’ and managers’ calendars, removes a significant roadblock to customer satisfaction.

3. On-site and off-site collaboration

Providing links between off-site field service technicians and in-office expertise and data is critical. At a customer site, field technician calls plagued by limited access to customer service history, parts, and repairs knowledge and predictive maintenance data are more costly for the customer. The faster and more effective field service can deliver customer service, the happier the customer.

Create systems to streamline and automate collaboration between mobile technicians, managers, and in-office experts. Give technicians access to service history, equipment knowledge, and all the tools they need to make the repairs and move on to the next customer. Get control of field service by leveraging technology to create bridges between knowledge silos within an organization.

4. Flexibility

The onsite technician is the first point of in-person contact with the customer. The ability to access service data, check stock, take surveys, generate billing, get relevant signatures, access knowledge, and communicate directly with the right people at the right time requires access to the right tools. Having the flexibility to respond across channels to real-time issues is invaluable.

Field service technicians who can access needed data only when online, but who are outside the reach of wireless connections, deep within the bowels of an HVAC system, are stuck. A technician armed with the mobile tools they need, regardless of the ability to access online resources, is better prepared to meet whatever contingency arises.

5. Actionable performance improvements

Excellent customer service that’s constantly improving and responding to changing circumstances in the wider industry and within a customer’s organization can identify, address, and fix logjams in short order. Identifying KPIs and measuring them consistently is one thing. Turning them into actionable performance improvements is the more difficult task.

Measuring service delivery (time onsite, customer satisfaction, predictive and preventive maintenance outcomes, cost of repairs over time, field service safety, etc.) against targets highlights problematic areas, people, and products and helps organizations identify solutions more quickly.

Resolving field service technician performance problems, critical equipment supply issues, ongoing safety concerns, and systemic service delivery revenue shortfalls are only a few of the issues field service organizations face. Creating the right KPIs with the right feedback loops increases efficiency and ultimately increases customer satisfaction.

Getting control of field service management isn’t easy. Taking actions on these considerations lays the groundwork for operational improvements and increased customer loyalty and happiness.

Artificial intelligence is a key element in customer experience delivery. To use it successfully, try these 5 Steps to Your Customer’s Heart with Emotionally Aware Computing.


The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage

Justin Somaini and Dan Wellers


The cost of data breaches will reach US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019—nearly four times the cost in 2015.

Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion in net global economic benefits by 2030 if cybersecurity doesn’t keep pace with growing threat levels.

Cyber insurance premiums could increase tenfold to $20 billion annually by 2025.

Cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern for the next decade.

Companies are collaborating with a wider network of partners, embracing distributed systems, and meeting new demands for 24/7 operations.

But the bad guys are sharing intelligence, harnessing emerging technologies, and working round the clock as well—and companies are giving them plenty of weaknesses to exploit.

  • 33% of companies today are prepared to prevent a worst-case attack.
  • 25% treat cyber risk as a significant corporate risk.
  • 80% fail to assess their customers and suppliers for cyber risk.

The ROI of Zero Trust

Perimeter security will not be enough. As interconnectivity increases so will the adoption of zero-trust networks, which place controls around data assets and increases visibility into how they are used across the digital ecosystem.

A Layered Approach

Companies that embrace trust as a competitive advantage will build robust security on three core tenets:

  • Prevention: Evolving defensive strategies from security policies and educational approaches to access controls
  • Detection: Deploying effective systems for the timely detection and notification of intrusions
  • Reaction: Implementing incident response plans similar to those for other disaster recovery scenarios

They’ll build security into their digital ecosystems at three levels:

  1. Secure products. Security in all applications to protect data and transactions
  2. Secure operations. Hardened systems, patch management, security monitoring, end-to-end incident handling, and a comprehensive cloud-operations security framework
  3. Secure companies. A security-aware workforce, end-to-end physical security, and a thorough business continuity framework

Against Digital Armageddon

Experts warn that the worst-case scenario is a state of perpetual cybercrime and cyber warfare, vulnerable critical infrastructure, and trillions of dollars in losses. A collaborative approach will be critical to combatting this persistent global threat with implications not just for corporate and personal data but also strategy, supply chains, products, and physical operations.

Download the executive brief The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.



How Digital Transformation Is Rewriting Business Models

Ginger Shimp

Everybody knows someone who has a stack of 3½-inch floppies in a desk drawer “just in case we may need them someday.” While that might be amusing, the truth is that relatively few people are confident that they’re making satisfactory progress on their digital journey. The boundaries between the digital and physical worlds continue to blur — with profound implications for the way we do business. Virtually every industry and every enterprise feels the effects of this ongoing digital transformation, whether from its own initiative or due to pressure from competitors.

What is digital transformation? It’s the wholesale reimagining and reinvention of how businesses operate, enabled by today’s advanced technology. Businesses have always changed with the times, but the confluence of technologies such as mobile, cloud, social, and Big Data analytics has accelerated the pace at which today’s businesses are evolving — and the degree to which they transform the way they innovate, operate, and serve customers.

The process of digital transformation began decades ago. Think back to how word processing fundamentally changed the way we write, or how email transformed the way we communicate. However, the scale of transformation currently underway is drastically more significant, with dramatically higher stakes. For some businesses, digital transformation is a disruptive force that leaves them playing catch-up. For others, it opens to door to unparalleled opportunities.

Upending traditional business models

To understand how the businesses that embrace digital transformation can ultimately benefit, it helps to look at the changes in business models currently in process.

Some of the more prominent examples include:

  • A focus on outcome-based models — Open the door to business value to customers as determined by the outcome or impact on the customer’s business.
  • Expansion into new industries and markets — Extend the business’ reach virtually anywhere — beyond strictly defined customer demographics, physical locations, and traditional market segments.
  • Pervasive digitization of products and services — Accelerate the way products and services are conceived, designed, and delivered with no barriers between customers and the businesses that serve them.
  • Ecosystem competition — Create a more compelling value proposition in new markets through connections with other companies to enhance the value available to the customer.
  • Access a shared economy — Realize more value from underutilized sources by extending access to other business entities and customers — with the ability to access the resources of others.
  • Realize value from digital platforms — Monetize the inherent, previously untapped value of customer relationships to improve customer experiences, collaborate more effectively with partners, and drive ongoing innovation in products and services,

In other words, the time-tested assumptions about how to identify customers, develop and market products and services, and manage organizations may no longer apply. Every aspect of business operations — from forecasting demand to sourcing materials to recruiting and training staff to balancing the books — is subject to this wave of reinvention.

The question is not if, but when

These new models aren’t predictions of what could happen. They’re already realities for innovative, fast-moving companies across the globe. In this environment, playing the role of late adopter can put a business at a serious disadvantage. Ready or not, digital transformation is coming — and it’s coming fast.

Is your company ready for this sea of change in business models? At SAP, we’ve helped thousands of organizations embrace digital transformation — and turn the threat of disruption into new opportunities for innovation and growth. We’d relish the opportunity to do the same for you. Our Digital Readiness Assessment can help you see where you are in the journey and map out the next steps you’ll need to take.

Up next I’ll discuss the impact of digital transformation on processes and work. Until then, you can read more on how digital transformation is impacting your industry.


Ginger Shimp

About Ginger Shimp

With more than 20 years’ experience in marketing, Ginger Shimp has been with SAP since 2004. She has won numerous awards and honors at SAP, including being designated “Top Talent” for two consecutive years. Not only is she a Professional Certified Marketer with the American Marketing Association, but she's also earned her Connoisseur's Certificate in California Reds from the Chicago Wine School. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA in marketing and managerial economics from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Personally, Ginger is the proud mother of a precocious son and happy wife of one of YouTube's 10 EDU Gurus, Ed Shimp.