Along the Evolving Consumer Journey, Shoppers Want to Be Seen

SAP is making a number of Industries and Customer Experience (CX) announcements this week at the SAP Sapphire 2023 event. SAP Recommerce from SAP Commerce Cloud helps customers fuel business and improve sustainability, SAP CX industry accelerators boost customer experiences and offer personalized customer engagement with an SAP Digital Assistant.

The way Robin Barrett Wilson, Industry executive advisor of fashion at SAP, is thinking about everything right now, she told WWD, is all focused on the consumer. Brands are consumer-focused, considering how much behavior has changed in the wake of a pandemic and how to meet expectations.

More from WWD

Consumers, she said, want to be seen. “They are looking for a trusted brand to work with, they want to be sure where their products are being made is responsibly sourced, that products are being made by people who are paid a fair wage.” But they also want convenience, and stores have to be sure they have a product available when a customer wants it.

While supply chain challenges are still very much an issue for companies, consumer behaviors have altered to adapt. And it all leads to, Wilson said, a personal experience being very personalized. According to SAP’s research, 76 percent of customers expect consistent interactions across all parts of a brand.

Consumers want everything to be efficient and personalized. “When fashion brands are thinking about that, they’re thinking about putting the customer at the center of everything they do,” said Wilson. While marketing and buying teams in the past would collaborate to tailor to find the customer, things have shifted. “It’s really the other way around. We know what the customers want, we know how they want to be treated and so now how do we tailor what we do for them?”

Importantly, part of creating a personalized experience today is considering AI and machine learning. SAP’s latest offering, SAP’s Digital Assistant, currently in alpha stage, integrated with SAP Start, uses generative AI to give sellers and support teams holistic insights, create recommendations, and automatically generate content to personalize customer experiences.

AI is certainly the hot topic of conversation today and while Wilson said it’s important to discuss, brands need to understand how to put some guardrails around it and monitor it from using chat for customer service to using future predicting capabilities.

“You don’t want to run off and do its own thing,” said Wilson. “We know this with ChatGPT. We don’t want to be serving up content to our customer that’s either not relevant or not true. [And that] goes back to trust and personalization. If our fashion customers are going to use AI, brands need to put guardrails in place and be sure that the data that’s coming out and being generated is relevant and true not only to the brands but also the customer, so they feel that the brand is trustworthy.”

While not quite table stakes yet, AI does hold an exciting possibility for brands who are technology advanced and, importantly, it all comes back to the consumer experience. The data is there, and now as the industry enters the new generation with AI and machine learning underneath it, it’s embedded into the solutions, said Wilson, and brands who have that will better refine interactions with customers for success.

Notably, SAP’s CX industry accelerators within retail, announced this week from SAP Customer Experience and available in the fourth quarter of 2023, are the first step in SAP’s recently announced industry-focused strategy for CX and will serve as a core part of future solution functionality. The industry-focused accelerators promise to deliver powerful analytics and intelligence that help businesses build consistent, meaningful customer experiences.

Best of WWD

Click here to read the full article.