Technology has dramatically changed the B2C relationship. The customer is in the driving seat. What do they want? Instant gratification. When do they want it? Well… instantly, of course. While brands can lay groundwork in awareness and brand recognition, ultimately the purchase decision comes down to a matter of minutes — or, usually, of mere seconds.
B2C businesses need to bring as much customer data to bear on the problem as they can. They need to know exactly when and how to present the nudge that turns an opportunity into a purchase. In short, we’ve got to find the “delight in every byte” of data.
For our latest Better Together: Customer Conversations series, we wanted to focus on the ways B2C businesses can use customer data to enchant new and returning customers alike. So, we tapped the expertise of Mustafa Mustafa, Senior Director of Analytics and Technical Shared Service, at Ferrara Candy. As Mustafa puts it, Ferrara is “in the ‘making people happy’ business.” Ferrara offers customers an experience that goes beyond mere sugar and flavoring — as any kid can tell you who has ever opened a candy cane on Christmas morning or hauled in the sweets on Halloween.
Our conversation with Mustafa includes a thought leadership podcast with Cyril Coste, a Digital Transformation Advisor, hosted by Tamara McCleary, as well as a LinkedIn session in which Mustafa and I will discuss the practical side of the equation. Here are a few highlights of the conversation:
Real-Time Insight is the Key
As consumers wants and needs change, businesses need to have the knowledge to make informed decisions, and the agility to evolve with their potential customers. “We need to know how to pivot by having visibility across our consumer, to understand their needs and map them as they change,” says Mustafa. “Technology is the enabler for that.”
Cyril emphasizes that it’s not just having the data in hand, it’s also being able to act on the data in as close to real time as possible with a creative and compelling message. “In B2C, you need to create the desire immediately,” he says. “You need to focus on the different triggers for actions, the touchpoints, and the creativity aspect.
One critical factor for achieving real-time decision making: Narrowing a fire hose of data to focus on the most relevant information. “It’s about being able to make decisions without noise. Noise tends to distract you from pivoting to the point where you need to make a change,” says Mustafa. “The goal is to provide the information in real time, but also supplement it by removing the noise.”
A unified technology platform is key to providing this type of relevant real-time access to data. For another example, read how French postal service La Poste S.A. improved their customer service on a unified platform.
Customer Data Supports Agility and Flexibility
The old days of putting out a product and creating demand for it are over. In the modern B2C environment, businesses need to create products based on consumer demand — and have the ability to shift production as demand changes.
Ferrara accomplishes this by tracking both customer activity and global consumer trends. “SAP 4/HANA allows us to capture information in real time to see the history of what consumers are purchasing,” says Mustafa. “And second, we use technology to gauge what are the trends in the market space, so that we are able to produce the right product that has the highest likelihood of meeting our needs for our consumers.”
Cyril adds that this kind of flexibility is possible with more accurate customer targeting. Rather than betting the whole company on a single large product launch, you can be more granular: “Today, you can launch at a much smaller scale, because as long as you know who you are targeting, it’s easier, it’s more responsive,” he says, adding that businesses should invest in developing “the agility to re-allocate your resources on the go.”
With relevant, up-to-date customer data as a guide, B2C businesses can achieve the agility they need to keep up with consumer demand. For a further example, check out the inspiring story of Delivery Hero, and how they built an intelligent enterprise to grow rapidly and innovate confidently.
Data Management for Achieving “Delight in Every Byte”
Ultimately, delighting customers comes down to data management on the business side. Mustafa recommends that businesses partner with knowledgeable vendors for data collection and business intelligence, in order to take advantage of the latest advances in technology.
One game-changer for Ferrara was exploring automation with SAP and partners. “It’s a huge paradigm shift. I would say 95% of my time was just managing the data, just trying to keep it loaded correctly and stable,” says Mustafa. “And now that has all been automated and simplified. Now we can focus on getting that data real time and being able to give that to our end users.”
In addition to automation, Ferrara has consolidated their data for reporting purposes. “Now we have a one-stop shop location for all of our reports to live,” says Mustafa. “People have a direct link to getting that information quickly.”
Join the Conversation
Ferrara’s sweet story of success should be inspiring to any B2C business leader, no matter what they’re selling — and these lessons are relevant for B2B businesses as well.
The Better Together: Customer Conversations series is dedicated to bringing you these stories and insights direct from SAP customers — no brand talking points, no editorializing, no nonsense.
Make sure to catch our next episode, Necessity Driving Innovation, to learn how Endress + Hauser transformed their business model through an innovative new approach to digital services. We’ll also touch on success stories from Ansaldo Energia and KAESER KOMPRESSOREN.
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