Lori Mitchell-Keller, SAP global general manager, consumer industries, has described retail as an industry under tremendous pressure to fulfill consumer expectations. In late 2015 Mitchell-Kellershared insight and examples of companies which are supporting and driving innovation in a blog written for Retail Customer Experience.
So with 2016 underway RCE reached out to the SAP leader for an update on what's changing in the retail customer experience, trends taking root and what she expects to come into play this year. We also asked her about two notable customer case studies: The Brookshire Grocery Company, which implemented SAP Promotion Management for Retail to improve marketing and merchandising collaboration, and Brooks Brothers, which deployed SAP Fashion Management for vertical integration of manufacturing, wholesale and retail operations
Retail Customer Experience: Is 2016 destined to be "the year" of the mobile retail consumer?
Mitchell-Keller: It's certainly shaping up to look that way. 2015 was the year of the customer and now that customer is a mobile-first customer. So yes that will be a main theme for 2016. And here’s why. A recent report by The Economist Intelligence Unit found that while 69 percent of all polled consumers use smartphones and desktops for digital shopping, an astounding 81 percent of millennials say they only use smartphones for shopping.
By 2020, more than half the world's population will be part of the mobile Internet. As millennials transition into the dominant household shoppers within the next decade, more of our shopping population will be mobile-first. As a result of this shift, retailers need to work toward closing the gap in mobile shopping functionality. This includes improving the mobile experience, but also bringing more digital functionality to the in-store experience through journey mapping, mPOS, smart fitting rooms and more. By creating a digital core, retailers can more easily create a singular brand experience across all channels, focusing on driving the mobile-first shopper to relevant channels for unique experiences.
RCE: Are most retailers aware of how critical mobile devices are in the retail consumer experience and if not, what will it take to get them more aware and if they are very aware are they moving forward to capitalizing on it?
Mitchell-Keller: Yes, most retailers are cognizant of the fact that today's consumers are mobile-first consumers. This means much of the experience must revolve around the mobile and digital tools, even if the transaction happens in person or on a desktop. By providing a mobile experience across all aspects of the shopping journey, retailers can take advantage of both digital and physical touch points versus a single in-store transaction. The challenge is creating the back office infrastructure to support this mobile-first environment. So whether the consumer is interacting with the retail app, paying for a purchase in the store on a mobile payment system, or scanning a tag with their phone, the underlying data must drive a singular brand experience. This is something retailers are still implementing today.
RCE: The Brookshire case study illustrates the rewards of using innovative technology but what are the challenges retailers face in using such tools and what is a good first step before embarking on a new tech tool implementation?
Mitchell-Keller: Brookshire Grocery Company is an example of a grocer that listened to its customers and used technology to create a more personalized and engaging experience. But you're right — it's not easy.
BGC deployed SAP functionality in phases. First, was core finance, HR and payroll. Next, they focused on retail-specific solutions for procurement, inventory management, and forecasting and replenishment. After their manufacturing deployments, they implemented SAP Promotion Management for Retail to improve marketing and merchandising collaboration.
Like the BGC example, retailers need to break down the process into manageable phases. As they establish a digital core, they can integrate applications that both feed data into a common database and pull from it. This is the most effective way to create a dynamic digital core with up to the moment insights. The purpose of the digital core is to create a holistic view that enables retailers to keep pace with consumer demand.
RCE: With the Brooks Brothers case study, what were some challenges or a hurdle that had to be overcome and what should retailers know about before pulling in such innovative tools?
Mitchell-Keller: Before Brooks Brothers implemented SAP Fashion Management, the company did not have full visibility into its inventory and financials. With such a large customer base, the company was seeking a scalable system with end-to-end scenario integration. FMS gave them the foundation they needed to establish a digital core and build out the other functions needed.
To this end, Brooks Brothers is already implementing SAP Customer Relationship Management and SAP Customer Activity Repository. These solutions simplify customer experience through a master database that gives retailers access to customer purchase history, trends and more. Once a brand has access to this information, the brand has the ability to provide a unique experience to every customer — an opportunity that many more retailers can take advantage of today.
/ Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.