You may have heard about SAP’s plans to become the world leader in mobile enterprise apps. We mentioned it back in our report on the 2.0 version of the Sybase Unwired Platform, which was released in May. Following up on that one-two punch, a string of new mobile apps are now becoming available – some have already been released, some are still in development.
On the following pages we’ll walk you through SAP’s Mobile Retail Execution App, which was released on June 30. Stay tuned to SAP.info for an inside look at mobile apps developed by SAP partners in a program sponsored by Sybase and the SAP Co-Innovation Lab.
Retail execution – sounds ominous, doesn’t it?
In fact, retail execution is simply the process that any manufacturer of consumer goods follows, from planning how much of each product to stock in a particular store, to conducting merchandiser visits to make sure the products are correctly displayed and promoted in the store.
Traditionally, merchandisers had to take copious notes on their visits: the time when they entered and left each store, if the store was displaying the products correctly, if the store was advertising the right promotions on the right products, and sales data for each product.
These notes then had to be put into the SAP CRM system, which meant the data was no longer current and could include errors. Further, merchandisers didn’t have access to this data when they were in the store. This clunky process was fairly begging for a mobile application to make it accurate and efficient.
Enter the Mobile Retail Execution App
The Mobile Retail Execution is available for free on the iTunes App Store and is currently compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad running iOS 4.2 or newer. SAP also has a version for Windows Mobile devices. Later, we’ll go over SAP’s road map to support other platforms.
The app is primarily intended for merchandiser visits, but it can also be extended for delivery, order-taking, and auditing. For merchandising, the functions are organized into Visits, Customers, Products, Messages, Settings, Sync. The app, however, is highly configurable and users can personalize the detail fields and also add extra fields.
Merchandisers, who are often in the field conducting visits, can view and search all products, manage contacts and customer information, and see notes on previous customer interactions from their smartphone or tablet. They can also add notes or make changes in the app and, since the app is built on the Sybase Unwired Platform, the information will be synced automatically with the SAP CRM system as well as non-SAP systems.
Smartphone to the rescue
The app is especially useful for merchandising tasks in the store. Merchandisers can simply push a button on the user interface to record exactly when they enter the store and likewise when they leave.
What’s more, merchandisers can be sure they complete all necessary tasks with the help of specific surveys. A customizable survey can be created in the SAP CRM survey suite and designated for a specific task, such as an in-store planogram check. A planogram is simply the product display stipulated by the consumer product company.
Merchandisers are prompted with questions to identify the type of display and also pictures to verify that the display is correct. If it isn’t, merchandisers can take a picture of the incorrect display for company records.
The survey answers and notes are automatically updated in the CRM system. In this way, the app not only ensures that merchandisers perform all the required checks in a store, but it also allows for more accurate and timely data entry in the back-end.
Road map for Mobile Retail Execution App
This is the first version of the Mobile Retail Execution App, and SAP is planning to add further functionality in the next two versions. Here’s an overview:
- Version 2 will include support for Android devices and it will also include more functionality for pre-sales. This will allow users to make suggested orders based on demographic information and economic trends.
- Version 3 will bring more logistics functionality to the app like order delivery.
Together, the three versions of Mobile Retail Execution will enable users to make orders, do payments and billing, deliver orders, and manage stock and promotions. Companies can choose to either combine all these roles in one app or keep them separate.