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Case Study Update: Real-World Lessons from National Vision’s SAP Commerce and Marketing Implementation

by Sean Edwards, EVP, Research, Customer Experience Management, SAPinsider

March 12, 2019

In 2017, Hillary Bliss, Director of CRM & Marketing Analytics at National Vision, told SAPinsider audiences about her company’s experiences implementing SAP Hybris Commerce and SAP Hybris Marketing during the Customer Engagement & Commerce conference.

Bliss described challenges the company faced pre-implementation with its home-grown web platform shared between brands, such as difficulty integrating with third-party apps and minimal ability to control development cycles/priorities. In her presentation, she discussed some of the pros and cons of a combined implementation (among the pros – a holistic implementation plan better covers the full customer journey, as well as an opportunity for alignment of look/feel/experience shared between website and CRM touchpoints). She also discussed the early benefits the company was seeing, such as more agile marketing campaigns and seamless in-store/online purchase history.

Two years later, we caught up with Bliss to glean a few tips from her project experience, and find out how things are going now.


SAPinsider: Do you have any tips you can share from your implementation of SAP Hybris Marketing and SAP Hybris Commerce?

Bliss: There were a lot of lessons learned, but overall, I would say do not underestimate the scale of deployment of both tools and the ongoing support and development required past go-live and the other “pieces” required to actually stand them up.  On the Marketing side this includes image hosting, email deployment/feedback/opt out handling, analytics, etc.  All of these components we assumed would be part of the campaign automation platform and we had to source them separately as part of the implementation process.  Across both platforms, we needed to adjust our staffing to accommodate the new tools; we needed different skillsets and organizational structures to reflect the new business processes. 

From a less technical perspective, having the business owners very involved in the process and involved in the design decisions is very critical; implementation of these tools is costly and there are some design choices that are hard to walk back from.  Both Cloud tools required a lot more customization than anticipated and failing to anticipate needs up front could delay go live significantly.

Looking back, what is one thing that you know now, that you wish you knew prior to implementing?

Implementation partners and support are really critical to the long-term success of a cloud project.  I don’t think we had a full picture of the support requirements post-go live and how the choice of implementation partner affected the next 6-12 months. 

Since the implementation of SAP Hybris Commerce and SAP Hybris Marketing, what are some of the major benefits you have seen?

From a Marketing perspective, we’re able to test and control the design and development of email content in-house which gives us a lot more creative and delivery flexibility and reduces the time-to-market for emails.  We are able to test creative for the first time and really learn about the best messaging for our customers.

On the Commerce side, we’ve primarily realized benefit from freeing our sites from legacy platforms that were difficult to integrate with new tools and clunky to update.  We’re able to hone and optimize site performance to improve customer experience and conversion rates.

After the go-live, you were projecting a cost reduction in marketing campaign management and execution. Was that projection realized?

Yes, our campaign management costs were reduced by 25% and we were able to transfer that non-working dollar savings into working dollars and deploy more campaigns rather than spending it on labor and overhead.

What was the training period like, for employees? Do you have any tips for speeding user adoption?

Truthfully, we had some turnover on our teams; new tools shake up the status quo and really expose who is willing to adapt and who isn’t.  We had a few expert team members that defined the structure and translated “current” to “new” language and the rest of the team caught up pretty quickly.  Luckily, we’ve found Marketing Cloud pretty business-user friendly and the segmentation is pretty intuitive, so it is only the configuration and management tasks that required a lot of training.

Can you speak to the importance of data integration in your project?

Data is so critical to the success of every organization and we are no different; on the Marketing side, accuracy is key to ensuring that campaigns are deliverable and accurately personalized.  A huge portion of our effort was dedicated to ensuring the data loaded into the cloud platforms was accurate; further work was done to define and establish data transfer protocols to ensure that data in the cloud and source systems was kept clean; which application should overwrite the other when there is a disagreement, etc.  This took a lot of effort and many of these data disagreements were not anticipated and caused data clutter that had to be cleaned up later.  Master data management and data quality is a huge task in every organization and is only more complex when integrating cloud tools.

In the session, you said that implementing an SAP Hybris infrastructure was the first step to more customer-focused, agile e-commerce and marketing abilities.  Your SAP Hybris marketing and commerce systems went live in 2017. Have you implemented other SAP Hybris or SAP C/4HANA solutions since then, or added additional features from SAP Hybris Marketing or SAP Hybris Commerce, or do you plan to in the future? If so, which ones? 

Not at the moment; we had some major hiccups trying to implement OpenText to work with both platforms and now we’re really focused on optimizing both our Marketing and website performance more than adding features.  We still have a dream of someday integrating Marketing and Commerce and making Marketing the CRM for the Commerce site, but we don’t have a roadmap to that yet.

You mentioned you were developing new KPIs and goals to measure success. What are some of these KPIs/goals that you have developed?

On the Marketing side we’re looking at traditional engagement metrics like opens, clicks, and conversion and more importantly incremental conversion, as well as more complex performance metrics with cross-campaign and cross-channel influences and looking at cadence and timing and the impact on conversion.

On the Commerce side KPIs for our core site goals are tracked at each point in the funnel with details by source and device to quickly detect any deviations or faltering performance.  These site metrics go to the executive team daily and weekly. 

What do you see as some of the key trends in CRM and the customer experience?

CRM is interesting because I have a view of both the back-end technical side and the front-end creative side.

On the platform side, I see consolidation of tools through acquisition and merger; everyone is moving to cloud-based platforms and product development is cloud-first. This cloud paradigm I think is causing a lot of challenges for organizations that haven’t made the jump yet, and probably the longer they wait, the more costly the conversion will be. Cloud-based platforms somewhat force business users to adapt to their functionality rather than vice versa.  You can’t over-customize the way you might an on-premise tool.  Business users are consistently looking to consolidate tools; they want to run all their campaigns from a single platform and don’t want to train users or maintain multiple environments.  Users will continue to demand new features and participate in the product development process.

On the execution side, cross-channel integration is really the wave of the future; orchestrating touches across social, paid digital, email inbox, app content, and web content creates a surrounded experience that wraps a customer in the brand content.  Furthermore, this content needs to be highly personalized, so tools that help with creating, managing and serving dynamic, relevant content are trending.

Marketers want to design omnichannel campaigns and campaign content quickly and independently.  These self-service marketer-friendly tools allow for the agility and automation needed for modern marketing campaigns.

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