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Social Collaboration in the Retail Industry: Connecting Employees, Customers, and Partners

by Carolyn Beal | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 2

April 1, 2014

With retail being an industry that experiences fierce competition, social collaboration can provide a competitive advantage that produces bottom-line improvements. Through social collaboration using solutions like SAP Jam, retailers can work together with strategic suppliers to jointly plan on future innovations, perform supplier performance reviews, and conduct ongoing business.

 

From the perspective of retailers, shoppers are more empowered than ever, with a buying journey that ranges across many touch points and networks. With greater shopping options available to customers through multiple channels, retailers are faced with decreased brand loyalty. In addition, these companies must connect and collaborate across a global supply chain.

According to Cisco, by the end of 2014, there will be more mobile devices than people on Earth.1 This mobile proliferation massively affects the way retailers interact with current and prospective customers. At the same time, retailers must reassess how to enable their employees to access key business applications anywhere, at any time.

In 2013, companies in the retail industry spent more than those in any other industry on advertising — roughly $16.3 billion, which accounted for more than 11% of total US advertising spend.2 Armed with large marketing budgets, it is essential that retailers execute their marketing strategies smoothly.

What can retailers do to address these pressing issues? Is social collaboration the secret ingredient that can provide that competitive edge?

How Social Collaboration Can Help

It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved bad experience.3 And $83 billion is thought to be lost by US businesses due to poor customer service.4 Through a concerted, collaborative approach to customer service, however, companies can take steps toward mitigating these effects. Using SAP Jam, a retailer can address customer service issues by taking a “SWAT-team” approach, in which a team of stakeholders quickly assembles to address an issue and provide a resolution (see Figure 1). Connecting the right people to help them find the right answers not only is powerful and effective, but also extinguishes customer service issues before they can damage the business.

Resolving service tickets in SAP Jam

Figure 1 — Resolving service tickets in SAP Jam

Through social collaboration, retailers can work with strategic suppliers to jointly plan future innovations, perform supplier performance reviews, and conduct ongoing business. This collaboration network provides retailers greater insight into supplier behavior and capabilities, cutting down supply chain risks such as product delays, private label recalls, and disruptions.

Within SAP Jam, retailers’ marketing teams can create a virtual private workspace for collaboration with internal and external team members, such as advertising agencies, public relations firms, and design teams. Communication channels and structured tools help team members prioritize, vote on, and take action on important campaign decisions.

In retail, employees from store associates to customer service representatives are the “face” of the company. They must be empowered, engaged, and set up to succeed. Through the collaborative features of SAP Jam, retailers can motivate employees with direct and continuous engagement and transform performance management by putting people at the center of their strategy. To help retailers manage the frequent hiring of new employees, SAP Jam assists with the onboarding process through informal training videos and collaborative groups focused on training that reduce the amount of time required to become productive (see Figure 2).

Employees can undertake informal learning via video training within SAP Jam

Figure 2 — Employees can become productive faster through informal video training within SAP Jam

In the retail industry, a large percentage of employees do not sit in front of computers while working. Being able to access information, collaborate, and communicate via mobile devices is essential. SAP Jam can be used on mobile devices to watch and record videos, view documents, add comments, access applications, and send direct messages (see Figure 3). SAP Jam’s mobile capabilities enable retailers and their employees to be more productive.

SAP Jam is accessible via mobile devices

Figure 3 — SAP Jam is accessible via mobile devices

A Retailer’s Success with SAP Jam

A major US brick-and-mortar retailer is leveraging SAP Jam across its organization. In addition to connecting employees to the right experts and information, the company is using SAP Jam functionality to help increase store revenue.

Using the informal social learning capabilities in SAP Jam, the retailer rapidly trains store associates on the latest promotions and offers. Through interactive discussions, employees collaborate on how to promote merchandise. Additionally, the retailer uses SAP Jam to ensure that store associates are brand compliant, merchandising displays and promotions are consistent, and that top-performing employees are highlighted to help increase store revenue.

The retailer also uses SAP Jam  to ensure that store and division managers can quickly communicate key updates to their associates regardless of shifts, locations, and schedules in a secure, confidential manner. It’s helping the retailer achieve its goal of a consistent brand experience across stores, regions, and divisions, both online and on the floor.

Get Connected: The Time Is Now

McKinsey reports that social technologies have the potential to unlock $1.3 trillion in annual value, double the value to be gained from better enterprise communication and collaboration, and to create a 40%-60% improvement in customer interactions.5 With retail being an industry that experiences fierce competition, social collaboration can provide a competitive advantage that produces bottom-line improvements.

1 Cisco, “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2013-2018” (February 2014; www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/white_paper_c11-520862.html). [back]

2 Marketing Charts, “Top Advertising Vertical in the US? Retail, Again” (March 2013; www.marketingcharts.com/wp/uncategorized/top-advertising-vertical-in-the-us-retail-again-27732). [back]

3 Ruby Newell-Legner, “Understanding Customers.” [back]

4 Genesys, “The Cost of Poor Customer Service: The Economic Impact of the Customer Experience and Engagement in 16 Key Economies” (2009). [back]

5 McKinsey & Company, “The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies” (July 2012; www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_social_economy). [back]

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Carolyn Beal
Carolyn Beal

Carolyn Beal (carolyn.beal@sap.com) is the Senior Director of Solution Marketing for SAP's Enterprise Social Solutions. She has over 15 years of experience marketing enterprise solutions to companies.



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