Enhancing the Retail Customer Experience

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Consumers don’t know or care about channels. There’s no distinction in their minds about shopping in the store, online or with their mobile devices – but there’s a huge difference to the retailers. Many retailers keep their Web data separate from their brick-and-mortar data – some even segregate online and in-store inventories. The result is often a tangled mess or isolated enclaves.

Either way, these companies lack focus.

But they should have a focus, and it needs to be on the customer. So SAP launched an application to help retailers collect siloed customer, sales, and inventory data in one place, where they can better understand and act on consumer behavior – and offer consistent customer experiences across all channels.

SAP Customer Activity Repository

“Do you have available all of the customer insights you need to know about your customer across every single channel?” Lori Mitchell-Keller, Head of Global Retail Industry Business Solutions at SAP AG, asked a group of retailers at the SAP Retail Forum 2013. “That’s where SAP Customer Activity Repository starts to be really important.”

Next page: More than using customer and transactional information

This story is part of our special focus on retail. All the articles related to this topic can be found here.

SAP Customer Activity Repository is about more than using customer and transactional information across channels, Mitchell-Keller stated. It’s also about company information, such as inventory, accessing warehouse and in-store stock, and identifying inefficiency.

Using social media feedback from Twitter and Facebook

The solution combines this data with customer insights from social media feedback from Twitter, Facebook, and other sources. All of this information in one repository becomes a single source of truth to help retailers optimize branding, marketing, promotions, pricing, merchandising, inventory management processes, and more.

“Once they understand who their customers are – their customers’ preferences – they can start taking action,” SAP Solution Engineer Sandra ten Brink said in an SAP Business Trends video. This includes targeted one-on-one promotions and other marketing initiatives.



Next page: The road ahead


SAP Customer Activity Repository sits atop the SAP HANA in-memory platform, which will help retailers better understand customer demand. And real-time visibility into consumer sales data will enable retailers to more accurately predict their customers’ behavior by understanding what, when, and where they make purchases.

Improved analytics

The repository will be generally available in the first quarter of 2014. Further down the road, SAP plans to design better access to inventory levels, predictive models, and improved operational management analytics. But this won’t be a drive down easy street for retailers because they aren’t calling all of the shots in the industry anymore.

“You have to accept that it’s tough,” hybris CEO Ariel Luedi told the Retail Forum. “You are no longer in control of the customer.”

SAP Customer Activity Repository puts all of your information on a single dashboard, but the customer is the one who is driving.


This article is based on a blog posted by Derek Klobucher in SAP Business Trends on Oct 10, 2013.