Welcome to community-powered Commerce

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The need for customer engagement is clear.

They buy more:

“Fully engaged customers represent an average 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth.” (Gallup)

They expect it:

“70-90% of the buyers journey is complete prior to engaging a vendor.” (Forrester Research)

And they need it:

“45% of buyers require person-to-person contact in the buying process.” (ITSMA / CFO)

But it’s striking to note that in the face of such irrefutable need, communities as we know them are on shaky ground. And community managers are having a harrowing time driving adoption and proving a hard return on investment.

When you dig further into these inexplicably contradicting facts, it’s not hard to see why:

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Customer journeys vary significantly. The market clearly needs a refreshed approach to how community and commerce comes together if we are to truly rally around every customers’ unique journey.

And with the coming explosion of software-defined goods, it’s only going to get more intense. Intel estimates that by 2020, over 200 billion Internet and software-enabled devices will be in the market. As a result, the need to assist buyers at every step of their journey is going to increase exponentially.

Given this heightened need to re-think contextual customer engagement and SAPs deep understanding of both Commerce and ERP, on behalf of SAP and our team, it’s my privilege to announce SAPs entry into the online communities category.

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Our first product is focused on commerce. This is a purpose-built solution that can be integrated with hybris Commerce. It is focused on doing one thing really really well: Helping e-commerce providers to improve customer engagement by offering the right blend of commerce and community that hand holds the customer at every step of the customer journey and, in CRM thought leader Paul Greenberg’s words, “on the customers term’s.”

Why Commerce Needs Community

Because customers want it

Mike Fauscette, GVP at IDC Research recently said,

“Companies need a way to connect with prospects and customers in a trusted environment. Adding frictionless purchase options inside the community adds value for buyer and seller. In our 2016 Social Business Futurescape, we predict that by 2020, 30% of all purchases will be made through an online community.”

And because their customer journeys vary significantly, both in transaction and emotion.

If the goal of one customer’s journey is to buy a simple product such as a phone charger, you need to provide him with the quickest form of validation such as user ratings, and get him to the shopping cart, pronto.

If the goal of the journey is to get support for a more complex product such as a washing machine, throwing her into ratings may add anxiety and purchase uncertainty. The right purchase is more important than a fast purchase. A well-written expert blog post or even a Q&A facility baked right into the product page might be better.

If the goal of the journey is to learn and share her experiences with other cancer patients or diabetics in a product community, she doesn’t want to be rushed into a purchase. She wants to stay for a while and learn and contribute. And if she has beaten the odds, she wants to pay it forward.

Respecting these varied journeys is the essence of meaningful and sustainable community.

To execute on this, we built a brand new micro-services based modern platform that enables you to mix and match community and commerce as needed, embed any functionality into a third party application such as a distributors website, derive new community insights for profitable merchandising and of course, be mobile-first. Please take a look at this product blog post to learn more.

Creating Sustainable Marketplaces

Carsten Thoma, President of SAPs Customer Engagement and Commerce business said it best:

“Every customers purchase experience is different. Today’s digitally connected customer expects that you serve them not only during a transaction but also through the entire customer journey, and on their terms. With the addition of communities available as a service on our YaaS platform, SAP hybris is now the only commerce provider that truly hand holds the customer, from awareness to consideration to purchase and advocacy.”

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As our team studied this topic we realized that the consumer and the commerce vendor’s motives are far more aligned than we, as a society, would like to believe. By rethinking the interplays between communities and commerce, we can truly begin to create sustainable marketplaces that respect how the consumer wants to engage and transact with us.

The product is available for purchase today. Take a look at this product blog post, and sap.com to learn more.

Welcome to community-powered commerce.

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More coverage:

CMS Wire: SAP Marries Community and Commerce for Seamless Shopping

On TechCrunch: New SAP Tool Aims To Fuse Content and Community With eCommerce

On CRM Magazine: SAP Releases Jam Communities for SAP Hybris Commerce

Forbes: Seamlessly Integrating Communities Into Online Sales Processes

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