You have a long track-record of successfully working in and managing diverse commerce teams. How did you arrive at SAP and what attracted you to the commerce ecosystem?
I joined SAP in August 2018 as Head of Strategy and GTM for SAP Enterprise Commerce within the SAP Customer Experience business unit, but prior to joining SAP, I was the Managing Director and Partner in the Commerce practice at Accenture. It was during my four-year tenure that I built a commerce practice in Europe and managed the global relationship with SAP Hybris (which is now known as SAP Customer Experience).
What I find most appealing about commerce is that no matter what industry you’re in, commerce is a key to success. I get to have a hand in multiple industries, including Retail, CPG, discrete Manufacturing, and Chemicals, and I have to ability to deliver commerce insights and capabilities in B2B, B2C, and B2B2C business models. This diversity allows for several opportunities to help my clients realize the opportunities that digital commerce transformations can bring to their industry, brand and ultimately their bottom line.
How much has the E-commerce Tech industry evolved since you first started?
The space itself has always been fast-paced and evolved according to consumer preferences and demands. Today, we can provide a single view of inventory across an entire ecosystem and be able to show that to a business instantaneously. We couldn’t do that even a few years ago. The most notable evolution I’ve seen recently has been the prioritization of blended digital and in-store experiences. The Retail Renaissance, Retail Revolution, Retail Apocalypse, Retail Vortex – regardless of the name you give it, there is transformation occurring in how retailers and consumers are engaging. On one hand, the meteoric rise of e-commerce has retailers investing heavily in their online footprint. On the other hand, consumers are still flocking to more traditional brick and mortar locations, especially during the holidays and other seasonal events. These seemingly contradictory trends demonstrate the tight-wire act that retailers need to walk in order to create standout shopping experiences.
For eCommerce, these trends can be tricky to accommodate. The findings of our SAP Customer Experience U.S. Propensity Study gave us surprising insights into just how much emphasis shoppers placed on the cross-section of digital and in-person to define a positive shopping experience. While the convenience of online shopping draws them in, it’s the establishment of long-term relationships, and technology like Automation and AI that create a seamless integration of online and in-store, that will keep them loyal in today’s times.
Could you tell us about the unique features of SAP Commerce Cloud? How does it tie in customer data to a unified Data Analytics platform for Marketing teams?
Our Commerce Cloud works seamlessly with the other Clouds of C4/HANA to bring in both experiential and operational data for not a single point solution, but a view into the entire consumer lifecycle. For example, with SAP Customer Data Cloud, you have a single view of your customer and a single understanding of what they’ve consented to. Our SAP Commerce Cloud plugs into our SAP Customer Data Cloud and our other Clouds to provide seamless execution of the end-to-end customer journey. The end result is visibility across the entire revenue acquisition process.
Could you tell us about SAP Product Content Hub? Who are you targeting in the industry with this product?
Today’s businesses are under constant pressure to deliver new products and fresh content across different selling channels. Providing consistency and speed across all websites, while maintaining multiple attributes for a single product, is critical. Yet this is challenging for companies without a modern PIM or the help of the IT department. Our new SAP Product Content Hub is a cloud-based product information management solution that provides product data for customer-facing systems, including the SAP Commerce Cloud solution. It also allows for tight integration with the back office, giving business users an intuitive user interface to create and manage consistent, high-quality product data across more than Digital marketplaces, Marketing and Social channels including Amazon.com, eBay and Google.
How do you see Product Review platforms evolving into a more integrated Commerce Cloud stack for Marketing, Sales and Customer Analytics teams?
The feedback that comes through Product Review platforms can give businesses a 360-degree view of how the market is reacting to their experiences, at every level. Being able to see consumer sentiment through product reviews and purchase intent can impact all points of a Commerce Cloud stack – allowing for measurement of the experience that’s been created and showing where to enable course correction if needed. Turning qualitative feedback into quantifiable data that can be acted on will empower brands to deliver transformational experiences.
Google acquired Looker recently; while Salesforce acquired Tableau. What roadmap do you foresee for SAP in this race to win in the CX Economy?
There’s no doubt that data analytics are critical for success in the Experience Economy – it’s the only way to really see the backside data that’s needed to create a single yet comprehensive view for customers. Our S/4HANA platform is a sophisticated data platform on which our SAP C/4HANA suite connects. The combination of our customer experience solutions, SAP C/4HANA consists of five cloud solutions. After completing acquisitions of Hybris, Gigya, and CallidusCloud, C/4HANA ties together all of these solutions to support all front-office functions, including Deep Data Analytics, Marketing, Commerce, Sales and Customer Service. With this integrated portfolio of cloud solutions, designed to modernize the sales-only focus of legacy CRM products, SAP is well established as a leader in Experience Economy.
Any comments on Amazon’s $70 Billion Q3 Sales report – what do you have to say about the transformations around Connected Shopping experience?
We all know that Amazon is changing the game for commerce. They are doing a great job of defining what a seamless customer experience looks like. One of the ways they are doing this is by offering shoppers easy return options either online or in stores such as Kohl’s, where customers can return Amazon products without a box or label for free – all they have to do is give it to Kohl’s and the company will package and return to Amazon on behalf of the shopper.
Amazon also has enacted better recommendations for their shoppers, added reviews, convenient voice ordering options through Alexa, and have truly given their customers everything they need for an informed buying journey. Largely due to the expectations set by Amazon, the rest of the industry has had to step up their game to compete.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing leader?
Artificial Intelligence is more than just a buzzword and is now deeply embedded in our daily lives, whether we recognize it or not. In e-commerce, it can assist with the entire customer journey, from prospecting to organic growth and service after the sale. Preparing as a Marketing leader really comes down providing a healthy foundation with clean data to build upon, data is a foundational element in AI and critical for success.
It’s crucial to understand what still can be done better done by humans, versus machine, and think about how to harmonize human judgement and oversight with the benefits and scale that automation provides. And that is the important point that is often lost in the AI transformation buzz we see just about everywhere: After all the algorithms are deployed, it’s still the human that makes the difference—not the technology.
Chris Hauca is General Manager of SAP Commerce Cloud, and has overall responsibility for the commerce offering of SAP C/4HANA, the leading Cloud customer experience suite. He joined SAP in August 2018 as Head of Strategy and GTM for SAP Enterprise Commerce with in the SAP Customer Experience business unit.
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