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I am a Solutions Manager  at SAP and have the good fortune to work directly with our SAP Strategic Lighthouse Retail Customers and many other very important retail customers and prospects across the globe, just  like you.  Our team’s job is to help SAP bring to market retail solutions that solve your challenges within the Merchandise Lifecycle space.  We have heard from many retailer’s like you that one extremely strategic area and a major challenge is “Promotions”.

 

Promotion Grows “INSIDE” the Retailer

What is so different today, even compared to just a few years ago, is the visibility that promotional activity has throughout your entire retail organization.. There are very few departments inside your retail operation that are not touched or influenced by your promotional activity.

In the past, I’m sure you experienced  that promotions, and the systems and people that designed, created, executed and analyzed their effectiveness were, well let’s just describe it as “they worked independently from each other”.  The biggest change we’ve been hearing from retailers like you is that now Promotions is woven into the operational fabric of your organization.  It appears to have become a de facto business practice for customers like you in our North American, EMEA and Asia Pac regions..

As you know, the Promotions process reaches across Vendor communication and collaboration; to just about every department within your corporate environment; into your DCs, store operations and of course to your consumer. This operational fabric dictates that our applications must support a process where you can define your corporate financial and strategic goals; have these financial goals ingested into your planning, communication and execution processes where in great part today, your promotional activity plays a major role in your success or failure to achieve these corporate goals.

 

The Shopper Drove the Change

Customers like you, are driving us to provide forward looking analytics for product demand and integrate those into your Buyer’s decision making process as they choose which products to promote where and at what price to promote them. The solutions must arm your Buyer with this information to construct predictable and profitable agreements with your vendors; reduce or eliminate the tactical day-to-day administrative tasks which your Buyers are so burdened with as they inject the deals made with your vendors into compelling Promotional Offers to your shoppers or consumers.

Now, with the way that promotions has become woven into the fabric of retail, we are able to provide customers, like you – in near to real time – information surrounding  what products are being planned for promotion and how promotions being currently executed are performing. The granularity level of this information is designed or decided for each type of user within the process. Your Chief Merchandising Officer will want a solid summary across categories; your Divisional Managers require the same type of information but more granular which is pertinent for their categories and Locations.

 

Retail Information – FINALLY!

In retailing there has always been a challenge of having the right information at the right place at the right time.  Within the promotions area this gets more complex because there are many different types of information involved within each promotional program or offer.  Merchandising needs a more financial-centric view. Marketing requires a more visually based view of the Events that carry the Offers to the consumer; internal Advertising and the external Agencies need content elements organized into Promotional Offers for Print, In-Store, Web and Mobile. All of these departments and information demands have one common need – the information has to be up-to-date and consistent across all views. Within contemporary and forward thinking retailers, like you, spreadsheets, disparate e-mails, and paper do not have a role when multiple views of the same up-to-date promotional data are requested.

 

A Richer Fabric

I talk to many C-Level, senior and mid-level retail executives ,in companies like yours, as well as  operational and creative staff members and everyone demands and expects our “promotions fabric” to span negotiated Vendor fund integration, to operational planning and execution, to Supply Chain and Store operations and strategic analysis.  You could think of it as a tightly woven fabric rich in shopper, merchandising, promotional, and vendor information.

I’m sure you will agree that a Promotion is no longer born and nurtured within Merchandising or Marketing or Advertising and then pushed out to shoppers.  Within your business, a Promotional Offer immediately starts to live across or “blankets” your entire operational landscape with, at all levels, each of your promotion-centric user having their own view and collaborative influence throughout its life.

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Just a brief note: There are tentative plans to review certain parts of the Promotion Management for Retail 7.1 User Interface at the 2011 ASUG Usability Lab. During this time we can also discuss with you the SAP Promotional Fabric.

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  1. Colin Haig
    Bruce – great article. Trend I am seeing is more collaboration, across merchandise categories, across departments, and between the retailers and their vendors. Do you see the fabric stretching outside the retail organization to the suppliers, or will they sew bridges to it ?
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