Today, a new digital business born entirely online can reach global scale in a matter of weeks.  Software and technology can put businesses closer to their customers, giving them deeper insight about why their customers choose them and why they become loyal advocates of a particular brand. Consumers want and need to transact business online, from the convenience of their mobile device, at whatever time of the day they choose.  They want to personalize their purchases, feel confident that they’ve acquired the right products, and they want to make their own determinations about what is best for them and their needs.


These trends driving the imperative for businesses to become more “digital” were the same trends that inspired us to build and launch SAP Jam three years ago, the first enterprise social network purpose-built for enhancing business processes that affect every employee inside an organization.  The challenges our customers shared with us three years ago is what led us to build a market-leading enterprise social network, with successful reference customers, leader rankings across a number of software analyst firms, and over 21.8 million subscribers and growing.  We focused on building collaborative capabilities that were inherently designed to solve targeted business problems, helping even our largest customers become more agile to adapt to the changing speed of digital business.  Our success with SAP Jam for employee collaboration is exactly why our customers turned to us to help them develop a new way of building online communities to help solve customer-centric processes.


Introducing SAP Jam Communities, edition for SAP hybris Commerce



The first customer-centric process we focused on was the decision process and buying journey that an online consumer typically traverses when considering a purchase from an online storefront powered by SAP hybris Commerce. 


We worked with our SAP co-innovation customers to explore how we could ensure that their consumers had all the right access to key collaborative capabilities, from awareness through to advocacy.


Our customers shared with us their frustration that traditional online communities are separate from a customer’s buying journey.  They are often set aside as “yet another destination,” missing out on huge opportunities and failing to provide material improvements to customer satisfaction and loyalty.  This leads to two major categories of problems: missed opportunities to provide a consumer with a solution, and providing too little collaborative capabilities too late into the buying journey.


Through our co-innovation and design process for this new solution, our customers asked us four key questions:



Question 1: How can community content drive organic web traffic?


Most of us can relate to this kind of buying experience: before you buy, you do some searching online, probably on a mobile phone.  The first results that pop-up are usually things that rank well with search engines, and community pages — including message boards and blog posts — often show up well in various searches.  But most of those pages end up being dead ends.  There’s no call to action, no opportunity to capitalize on that customer’s interest and show them an offer for a product that might fit their needs, leading to a missed opportunity and a lower return on paid blogging content.  So we brought key information from the product catalog in SAP hybris Commerce into the community.  We made it easy for people to make mention of specific products available in the catalog, such that anyone writing a blog or asking a question can include a mini-card view of a product available for sale in the store.  And this works for all types of content, whether it’s professionally paid blog posts, customer-shared blog posts, questions and answers, or general discussions.



Question 2: How can I utilize my community content to successfully drive conversions?


Our customers shared with us that both the paid and managed content in communities was usually locked into place, not available to syndicate easily in their online customer experiences.  We solved this by building the SAP Jam Communities product on a new, modern, micro-services based technology architecture that allows our customers to syndicate key community content to any of their online customer experiences.  We also developed a reference implementation of bringing community content into the product catalog experience, allowing customers who need to see key information — reviews, questions and answers, discussions, and blogs — directly associated to the products they’re considering to purchase.



Question 3: How can communities help drive sales of complex goods?


A topic that came up often during the co-innovation process was the concept of selling complex goods.  With smart devices and other software-driven products, many previously “simple” devices have become much more complex for the end consumer.  Even something as seemingly “simple” as buying a pair of shoes can become complicated when considering the different customizations and personalizations that can be made.  We made sure that we developed the right kinds of collaborative capabilities that supported consumers evaluating a product for purchase, such as questions and answers, and also provided key moderator and extension capabilities such that a question that is unanswered for a period of time can be automatically escalated to a call center representative.



Question 4: What insights can a community solution built for commerce provide?


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our customers told us there is a huge missed opportunity around providing deeper insights about their consumers.  Our customers wanted to know much more about their end consumers’ buying journey, including: what questions were asked before a decision was made?  How many conversations and interactions did it take to make a final purchase decision?  Which social content — blogs, reviews, questions — helped to influence a purchase?  Which pieces of paid content actually drove sales?


By being connected with the actual commerce catalog, and knowing exactly which questions relate to which products, SAP Jam Communities is able to provide deeper, more meaningful engagement metrics around what drives successful conversions.  This in turn will enable our customers to repeat successful transactions, and create happy and loyal customers.


And we’re just getting started…


On top of solving all of the problems our customers shared with us, we also ensured that there was a smooth and seamless path for a consumer, such that interactions beginning on a public community powered by SAP Jam Communities could easily be transitioned into a private space powered by our employee collaboration solution.  This opens the possibility to further reducing the barriers between customers and employees, allowing companies to build stronger and more successful relationships with their customers.


Just as we’ve found success with SAP Jam for internal employee collaboration by listening to our customers and identifying and solving real-world, everyday business challenges, we intend to continue to do the same with SAP Jam Communities.  The future evolution of the product will be a direct result of how well we listen to input from our customers, and how successful we are in executing against a plan to take online communities into the future.  Game on!


Additional Resources


Press release:  SAP Jam Communities, Edition for SAP hybris Commerce, Contextualizes the Customer Journey

Infographic:  How Communities Drive Commerce

SAP.com:  SAP Jam Communities

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