Seven Facts In Retail That Demand Change

Mark de Bruijn

Customer loyalty is no longer the powerhouse that it once was. In the digital age, consumers expect top-notch customer service, and the ability to buy what they want, anywhere, and anytime, through various channels, offline and online. With brick-and-mortar stores seeing fewer and fewer purchases while online sales continue to enjoy meteoric rises, retailers must face the music, and it’s a whole new dance card.

Omnichannel, multi-channel, seamless integration, and outstanding, personalized customer experiences are critical to a retailer surviving today.

Here are seven facts in retail that must be addressed.

1. Retailers still do not provide a seamless omnichannel experience

Only 17 percent of retailers indicate that their current omnichannel selection provides seamless integration for an optimal customer experience. Of the retailers that do offer omnichannel, many noted that each channel still provides their own customer experience, primarily due to a lack of integration in the back office. The facts are clear: A seamless omnichannel experience is essential as today’s demanding customers expect a personalized customer journey, regardless of where they interact with the brand. Retailers can only meet those expectations by integrating all channels.

2. Retailers do not have a central customer profile

Only 8 percent of retailers have a single customer profile, though the importance of a central customer profile is endorsed by virtually all retailers. Organizational silos, which cannot be accessed by the marketing department, prohibit critical access to the data necessary to compile a clear customer profile from the various details that are already being collected. By analyzing customer data, retailers can better understand customer behavior and gain valuable insights regarding how, where, and why the customer chooses their product. Based on those insights, retailers can develop business strategies and marketing campaigns.

3. Retailers have difficulty securing all contact points

The customer journey consists of a multitude of touchpoints which can be approached in a random order. That is great for the customer experience, but more contact points mean more data access points need to be secured. The more data access points there are, the greater the chance of data leaks. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compels retailers to keep their data maintenance in order based on EU law.

4. Loyalty programs are not dead, they just need restructuring

Marketers talk amongst themselves about a shift from macro to micro customer segmentation. In these discussions, they challenge the importance of loyalty programs. Surveys show, however, that customers actually do value such programs. 66 percent of customers actively participate in one or more loyalty programs. Although such loyalty programs are popular, they are in need of restructuring. By focusing these programs on individual tastes and preferences, the customers receive the unique and personal attention they enjoy so much.

5. In retail, social media is increasingly acknowledged as a review platform

Over 50 percent of consumers use social media to submit complaints to companies, or post reviews and responses. Social media is a quick and easy way to announce customer dissatisfaction to the rest of the world. Due to the increased use of social media, the time-honored principle of word-of-mouth advertising has grown into an enormously influential factor in the world of retail. For retailers, it is important to find out what customers are sharing on social media about their brand, and to try and have a positive influence on it.

6. CEOs feel the need for new KPIs that are focused on customer-centricity

Over 60% of CEOs critically assess the way their company uses data for promotional events, primarily because each department only focuses on its own KPIs. This needs to change dramatically. Instead of using the perspective of isolated company silos, KPIs must be based on a clear focus on the customer. Only then will everyone pursue the same ultimate objective: Excellent customer experiences.

7. Only a handful have an effective road map in place for the digital age

These next twelve months, organizations will focus on increasing profits, building customer trust, and providing excellent customer experiences. However, they usually lack an effective road map to achieve these objectives. In order to retain and improve customer loyalty, it is essential that these objectives remain top priority. A plan for making that happen is the basis for effective action. Technology offers a supporting tool to execute this plan.

Putting the customer on a pedestal

If the retail world is a flat landscape, the customer is the one who rises above them all. Customers like to have personal attention, anywhere, and at any time. It is up to retailers to answer that call and adapt to the digital age.

Ready to address the changes that retailers must make? Download our 2017 retail study, “Customers Are Calling The Shots” for FREE here

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Social Selling Manners And Etiquette

Arif Johari

There’s an old adage: Treat others as you want to be treated. This still applies in the digital world we find ourselves in today. Are you aggressively pursuing customers and trying to get in their news feeds? Are you growing relationships and coming alongside as an advisor and partner in the buying process?

Let’s explore the do’s and don’ts of social selling, and how to behave in the digital world.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.“ – Damon Richards

Hunting vs. fishing

Fishing is broadcasting to a wide net. Hunting is actively listening to prospects and sharing personalized content to them—this is necessary to prove yourself a trusted advisor who’s in tune to prospects’ needs. Both of these approaches are needed because 11.4 pieces of content are consumed before making a purchase decision. By fishing, you’re elevating your company’s brand, and by hunting, you’re elevating your personal brand.

Engagement is king when it comes to relationships

Engaging people authentically is vital. The goal of making a social media post is to get engagement; therefore, you are giving prospects maximum value by doing this strategically and consistently. Engagement breeds engagement—treat others as you want to be treated.

The relationship between B2B buyer and seller have changed

Buyers expect salespeople to have expanded skill sets because 74% of buying decision is at least half-completed based on online research, before first touchpoint with a salesperson. So the information is already out there; what’s the value-add from a salesperson? Salespeople would have to position themselves as visible experts and are able to respond to questions, provide product pricing info, and provide testimonials in real-time. A salesperson’s role is to identify buying signals and help customers on all platforms, including social media.

Social selling is a long game

Building relationships depends on establishing trust and value over time. Building a good relationship means exposing yourself to buyers more than you might be used to. People do business with people they know and like!

Salespeople should treat social media like a cocktail party:

  1. Observe room
  2. Choose conversation to add value
  3. Politely add value with relevant insights

Using social listening to bolster offline relationship

Even if your prospects aren’t actively posting on social media, they still have profiles. LinkedIn users would get e-mail notification for messages sent on the platform, and users who are tagged in a status update would get a notification —so you can be noticed even when you’re not a connection! Before a call or meeting, review social media profiles for relationship-building cues (same experience, common connections, interests, etc.)—people like human connections, and personalized effort will put salespeople ahead of competitors.

Social selling has become such a hot topic that Coffee-Break with Game Changers is dedicating an entire series to exploring its various facets and promoting best practices for salespeople. To listen to other shows in this series, visit the SAP Radio area of the SAP News Center.

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Arif Johari

About Arif Johari

He is a Communications lead, Digital Marketing generalist, and Social Selling advocate. He trains marketing and sales employees to become experts in Social Selling so that they’d leverage social media as a leads-generation tool. He is responsible for executing innovative marketing strategies to increase engagement in social media, customer community, and landing pages through content, events, and A/B testing. He is passionate in making the work processes of the marketing and sales team more efficient, so that they can generate more revenue in a shorter time.

Food Delivery Apps Need To Pursue Customer Engagement

Erica Vialardi

Food delivery apps are becoming a very competitive battleground in the digital economy. Similar to participants on reality television cooking shows, online food delivery providers are going to great lengths to outdo their competition and become the favorites of the ultimate judges: Consumers.

For the next post in our “Tested for you” blog series, my colleague Martin and I donned our “secret tester” hats on and analyzed the top food delivery apps in five Western European countries to rate how they fare in customer engagement and retention. After digesting 4684 kcals and countless app downloads, results are sweet and sour, but despite market over-saturation, there are still untapped growth opportunities to seize out there.

Time to put personalization on the menu

It seems paradoxical that pure online players primarily focus on plastering European cities with traditional display ads sporting Foodora’s pink, Deliveroo’s turquoise, or JustEat’s red. It’s a sign that this is a market of incumbents, with their first objective being their brands staying top-of-mind.

Even social media strategies look very consistent across the different apps and countries: Most are sponsored ads, which would show up on our Facebook or Instagram feeds only after we placed our first order. The social media channels seem to be a customer-retention rather than a customer-acquisition tool. Additionally, the social ads contained an infinite list of restaurant proposals, and were almost never geo-targeted.

Customer profiling is apparently still not on the plate. An interesting exception: UberEats, which, instead of ads, was the only app to send one email per week with basic personalization (“Dear first name,” sent at 6 pm, on time to buy that food for dinner). What struck us most, though, was that not even one of the apps sent badge or SMS notifications to our phones. What could be more mouth-watering than getting a personal “Hungry for your favorite vegetable pasta?” message ding on your phone, perhaps after long morning meetings, when your stomach starts to grumble?

It looks like food app providers still have a long way to go before they get their contextualized and personalized marketing strategies right.

Food delivery apps should take a cue from molecular gastronomy

Once you’re out of a metro area, it’s much harder than you’d think it would be to get the fresh food of your choice. Despite using your location, you cannot filter restaurants using basic criteria like hours or type of cuisine, let alone more advanced filtering criteria like researching by ingredients or customer ratings, which are available only on UberEats and AlloResto in France.

The majority of apps do not provide customer ratings at all on the restaurants they serve. A suggested improvement would be to link the restaurants with ratings for their establishment on Tripadvisor or similar. Without the ability for customer feedback we both asked ourselves: What’s the added value then, compared to old-fashioned phone ordering at your trusted restaurant around the corner? And indeed, most people seem to still order food by phone.

Just as molecular gastronomy scientifically tracks the exact processes of taste from taste buds to nervous systems, food delivery companies should adopt a similar approach to mapping customer behavior and customer experience on their apps. Technology can provide explicit and implicit customer behavior tracking. Enabling fast and flexible addition of functionalities on the apps is the secret ingredient to customers coming back for more.

Don’t forget: Quality ingredients include outstanding customer service

Overall, the food quality was satisfying and we experienced delivery waiting times of around 30 minutes consistently across apps and countries. However, transparency about delivery status and service levels varied greatly. In Germany, Foodora offers a view of the delivery progress on the app, while JustEat, one of the biggest market participants there, delivers mostly good food quality, but a customer experience very close to traditional delivery service.

Service levels are also inconsistent. For example, one order forgot to include parts of the meal, so the local restaurant offered a free substitute and arrived later with the fresh dish. In another case, after 45 extra minutes of waiting time, the app provider only offered 5€ vouchers as a refund, but they expired in 3 days, so they were virtually useless. We also bumped into some funny discoveries: On pizza.de, you can hardly find good pizzas. There seemed to be an issue with delivering pizza in a box that didn’t turn crispy dough into a mushy something.

One point we agreed on: The best option to get fresh and high-quality food is to order Asian food. Then again, why not just phone your trusted restaurant around the corner—especially if you live in the countryside in France or Germany, where the choice of restaurants provided by the apps is extremely limited.

An abundance of growth opportunities

One interesting note: Between the time we created this post and the publication, we discovered several new hiring positions in digital marketing for the leading food delivery companies in Italy and Germany. We took it as a good sign, one that demonstrates companies consider this an area with much room for improvement, with investments toward more sophisticated techniques—an attempt at moving away from competing purely on price and delivery convenience. This may be additionally confirmed by the fact that food delivery apps are making more agreements with high-end restaurants.

Until companies master the customer experience, they’ll stay hungry as consumers shop for different food delivery options.

Want to learn more about the future of food? Join SAP Hybris for the customer engagement event of 2017. 

Martin Stocker is the co-author of this post.

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Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich

 

Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

Link to Sources


From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.


What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”


Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.


Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.

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Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.

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Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.