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Taking Ecommerce to the Next Level

Drive Innovation with Back-End Integration and Custom-Built Solutions

by Sebastian Kress | SAPinsider, Volume 17, Issue 1, Spotlight-Articles

January 1, 2016

With omnichannel options on the rise and a sophisticated ecommerce clientele demanding a seamless web-based purchasing experience, companies are under pressure to deliver a robust ecommerce platform that supports new and existing selling channels. This article takes an in-depth look at how companies can drive innovation by integrating their back-end systems with an ecommerce platform that includes custom-built solutions for a unique, customer-focused experience.

Customers who engage in ecommerce transactions rarely think about the cascading events that occur when they click the “buy” button. Their main concern is for a pleasant, intuitive shopping experience; how the product ends up on their doorstep — preferably in 48 hours or less — is for someone else to worry about. With omnichannel options on the rise and a sophisticated ecommerce clientele, companies using both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) models are under pressure to deliver more than a seamless web-based purchasing experience.

A plug-and-play, standalone ecommerce solution that offers a standardized web shopping experience isn’t sufficient in a digital economy in which customers can interact with vendors and suppliers in many different formats. Joining mobile and social, for example, is the Internet of Things (IoT), which hypothetically can include an endless array of new channels and customer-centric purchasing options, such as preventive automotive services or end-of-life and automatic part notifications for a smart oil derrick. 

Companies that are serious about ecommerce in the digital age need to think about a more robust omnichannel ecommerce platform. SAP Hybris provides these organizations an open platform that can support new and existing selling channels in mobile, social, IoT, and other avenues. For companies that run SAP systems, the value of an ecommerce platform increases significantly when there is seamless integration between a back-end infrastructure and a unique, customer-focused selling experience. And on the customer end, a connection to the back end and a focus on delivering functionality across any industry or business model ensures a consistent shopping experience through multiple channels, including a call center.

Integrate Processes with Ecommerce for Added Simplicity

For a sense of the importance of this integration, consider a simple web-based transaction and the added value from having all customer data available, in near real time, at point of sale. This could determine how to fulfill an order, how to ship an order, product availability, or post-sale offers on additional products. Pre-sale, it could determine what a customer sees the moment the interaction begins, such as size and color options tailored to previous transactions. Or it could determine discounts specific to an individual. Integration means that all the relevant information is immediately synchronized without manual intervention. By leveraging custom application development services from SAP, companies can tailor the selling experience in innumerable ways aligned to their unique business and customer needs with innovative applications that in turn boost the buying experience by providing acustomized, intuitive look and feel and all the right information in the right place.

This was the case with a large telecommunications company that had been using an SAP Hybris ecommerce storefront that wasn’t integrated with its SAP environment. As ecommerce sales increased, the company struggled to manually replicate transaction data through these three systems. The company solved this challenge by working with SAP to build a tailored solution to integrate its disparate landscape, allowing those three systems to essentially work as one. Not only does this reduce time spent and resources used by eliminating manual intervention, it reduces errors and provides an end-to-end view of customers and their transactions.

Tailored application development scenarios for driving ecommerce innovation are nearly endless in the digital age. Consider an athletic shoe retailer with an in-store wall display of various models. Every shopper knows the drill: A model catches your eye and as you examine the shoe, you discover it’s not within your desired price range. Or if it is within your price range, maybe it’s not available in your size or preferred color — or maybe it’s a running shoe and you were looking for tennis sneakers. Imagine instead that each product had a light next to it, and an in-store shopper could tell which product met his or her requirements by whether the light was on, determined by parameters set by the shopper using an in-store device with a user-friendly touchscreen. Now, while this could be a standalone system and still improve the customer experience, envision the efficiencies and opportunities made possible were this channel integrated in real time with SAP back-end systems for managing customers, inventory, and distribution channels.

Scenarios exist for custom-built ecommerce solutions across a range of industry verticals, including retail, manufacturing, telecommunications, banking, and financial services. Examples include complex fulfillment requirements with customer-specific substitution and allocation rules, entry and management of orders with hundreds or more items in a single order, and inventory management that enables advanced online selling and relationship building.

 

Innovation doesn’t end by simply enriching an ecommerce platform with custom code. Partnering with SAP ensures no opportunity to drive innovation will be missed.

Take Your Ecommerce Platform to the Next Level

To maximize their SAP Hybris investment, many customers are turning to custom application development services from SAP to build a unique and truly innovative omnichannel experience, because innovation doesn’t end by simply enriching an ecommerce platform with custom code. Partnering with SAP ensures no opportunity to drive innovation will be missed when integrating an ecommerce platform with SAP systems.

In addition, this provides direct access to SAP standard development teams, so that anything that can be built can be customized to a company’s SAP Hybris platform. Knowledge of the SAP roadmap also means that nothing will be built if an upcoming release will replace soon-to-be-outdated functionality. And with vast experience working with a range of industries to customize and enhance the SAP Hybris platform, SAP’s experts tasked with working on custom application development services can influence the roadmap by making recommendations based on real-world experiences, as well as deliver a projectthat meets all SAP product standards to easily integrate with future releases.

Develop a Sound Strategy for Enriching the SAP Hybris Platform

Because SAP knows that each customer’s needs are unique, our end-to-end custom application development services start with comprehensive design workshops as a key first step in developing a sound strategy for building a fully integrated ecommerce experience. In these workshops, industry-specific design architects gain a firm understanding of a customer’s ecommerce landscape as well as their unique requirements. From there, SAP engages a team of architects, business developers, and business consultants to build and implement a strategy for a forward-looking, seamlessly integrated ecommerce platform for any industry.

Ensuring a simplified, intuitive customer experience is a noble goal. By partnering with SAP and leveraging custom application development, companies can transform the buying and selling experience with customized, intuitive applications that integrate with back-end processes and deliver results for any business model in any industry. In an increasingly complex digital economy in which new ecommerce channels can crop up seemingly overnight, manual replication with a standalone ecommerce platform is as antiquated as a ringing cash register. For more information, visit www.sap.com/customdev.

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Sebastian Kress
Sebastian Kress

Sebastian Kress is the Global Head of Line-of-Business Solutions for SAP's custom application development services. He is responsible for the custom extension portfolio for all process-focused solutions with a strong focus on SAP Hybris. In his nine years at SAP, Sebastian has held roles in the in-memory space of SAP's software development organization.



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