With the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the entire world, there has been a significant change in the consumer patterns and behaviours, especially on the digital platform. Consequently, e-commerce platforms and other online businesses have gone through transformations to adapt to the shifting trends. SAP Commerce Cloud is a platform that has gained a lot of popularity, especially in the fashion and apparel industry in recent times.
What is the SAP Commerce Cloud?
Originally known as SAP Hybris, SAP Commerce Cloud is a cloud-native omni-channel commerce solution designed for B2B, B2C, as well as B2B2C companies. It is a comprehensive commerce solution that can support all kinds of tasks, ranging from back office order management to advanced end-user shopping experiences.
The rapid evolution of the eCommerce market essentially needed SAP, which helped it keep up the pace through cloud solutions for eCommerce and advanced digital customer experience solutions. This has an increased relevance and correlation with the fashion and apparel industry out of all.
How SAP Commerce Cloud Helps Tackle Challenges in the Fashion & Apparel Industry
After 2020, while most businesses had major changes in their plans, processes, and models to meet customer demands and adapt to the market trends, the term ‘customer experience’ has taken a completely new definition by the end of the year. It is agreed that customer expectations are ever evolving, especially when it comes to the fashion and apparel industry.
Consumers have now started to look for a relationship with brands and businesses they interact with or shop from, especially online. The relationship they are expecting goes beyond being simply transactional. Most users in the fashion and apparel industry search for a personalized experience across channels. Along with that, they also want quick and easy access not just to merchandize, but also to the content that actually influences and impacts their purchase decisions. This is where SAP Commerce Cloud comes into play.
Before we head on to that part, a recent study proved that in the last couple of years, the searches for ‘best products’’ have grown by almost 80 percent. This highlights the fact that consumers are now looking for quality, instead of prioritizing the price. Along with that, the desire for greater forms engagement is evident.
Some key expectations of modern-day consumers associated with the fashion and apparel industry are:
- Consumers look for facts and want to make learned decisions about the features of the products they explore.
- They want to be more familiar with brands.
- They want to utilize numerous purchasing options.
Leading brands and retailers across the globe have already started remodeling the dynamics of in-store purchasing. From lucrative options of ‘retail-tainment’, to immersive physical flagships, everything is being tried for better customer engagement and experience. This means, retailers are doing everything to introduce new customer experiences and services that will revive foot traffic, while simultaneously the brand’s online presence too.
As said by retail expert, Yves Marin to the Business of Fashion that retail chains will increasingly rely on some very emblematic or even delirious stores in the busiest shopping areas of big cities, whose halo effect will benefit the brand’s activities overall. They will keep their smaller formats for local interaction with customers as, for example, pick up or return of online orders.
Now, the question is, in all of these, where is SAP Commerce Cloud and how is it relevant?
Most large and prominent fashion and apparel brands are venturing the market with redefined ecommerce strategies in recent times. The need for more in-depth connection of brands and products with their customers has made businesses transform their ecommerce ecosystem. This is not just to keep up the changing customer demands and expectations but also to stay competitive and cater to the different needs of all kinds of customers all across the world.
Numerous businesses in the domain are using SAP Commerce Cloud to develop a unified customer experience. As a matter of fact, a recent survey observed that 18 of the top 20 global apparel and footwear companies make use of SAP solutions.
Most Common Problems Among Online Fashion Retailers & How SAP Commerce Cloud Helps
The following challenges in the fashion and apparel industry, and how SAP Commerce Cloud helps retailers tackle and overcome them, will give you a clearer picture of the entire scenario.
Delivering a Unique & Satisfactory Experience Across All Customer Touchpoints
The recent Gartner survey revealed that 54 percent of respondents businesses considered the expansion of their omni-channel initiatives as their top technology-driven strategy for the next 18 months.
Omni-channel is a versatile term with relative meanings based on the entity adopting the term.
How SAP Commerce Cloud helps
SAP Commerce Cloud helped simplify the approach and integrate all the selling channels of a business into one centralized platform. This helped businesses provide consistent user experiences through the coordination of all channels together. For instance, the integration of physical and digital shopping channels of a brand with SAP Commerce Cloud will help customers check live stock availability across all the channels.
If you look for a real-life experience, the Aldo Group, one of the major global footwear companies, recently switched to SAP Commerce Cloud. Post this shift, they have experienced a 4% increase in the number of visitors on their websites and an overall 12% increase in conversions. They also saw a whopping 20% growth in year-over-year sales.
International growth is a priority as well as a challenge in today’s modern global economy. McKinsey’s The State of Fashion 2018 report suggested that over $1 trillion would be spent by global consumers on cross-border ecommerce by the end of 2020.
Global transformation of a brand includes many challenges like:
Translation of the business platform and its channels into foreign languages
Currencies appropriated for new markets
Personalizing customer experience based on geographical locations
How SAP Commerce Cloud helps
SAP Commerce Cloud can successfully help in the globalization of any fashion brand. This exists from synchronizing multiple catalogs into various foreign languages, currencies, and brands to allowing region-specific payment services, fulfillment processes, address forms, and tax calculations based on local laws.
Amongst leading brands, Monsoon Accessorize made use of the SAP Commerce Cloud to streamline their global presence. With this, they also added tablet and mobile-optimized websites without needing any other additional implementation.
Delivering Relevant Content
There’s no content that is suitable for everyone. Optimizing the content based on individual buyer personas and delivering personalized and relevant content is the biggest of challenges faced by the fashion and apparel industry.
A recent research suggested that personalized content offering relevant information and offers to customers at the right time can add up to 20% to the average order. McKinsey’s The State of Fashion also called ‘personalization and curation’ as the #1 trend for the fashion industry in 2018. Also, Boston Consulting Group’s report proved that apparel retailers who made use of personalization strategies witnessed sales gains of over 10%.
How SAP Commerce Cloud helps
The platform helps retailers offer a seamless and highly-personalized experience that includes the pre-integrated SAP Marketing Cloud. With the help of machine learning businesses can predict the kind of content customers would most respond to and can help deliver a single content in different ways based on a range of variables.
On top of all that, personalized content can also assist in tackling the problem of high return rates, common to the fashion and apparel industry, closing to somewhere around 40%.
Key Features SAP Commerce Cloud
- Order management
- Order fulfillment functionality
- Organized and easy inventory access of both online and physical stores
- Definition, sourcing and allocation of stock, while defining sourcing and allocation rules
- SAP Commerce Cloud can handle huge data and traffic volumes
- Offers a range of easy-to-use tools that can help in the management and promotion of business products and
- Content for all the channels of a business
- Multiple language, currency and payment gateway support
- Region specific payment methods and tax calculations
- Customer experience optimized for local audiences
- Management of all content, merchandising, brands, catalogs, and business websites of different locations from
- A centralized platform
- Seamless and personalized experience through SAP Marketing Cloud
- Relevant and user-specific content development
Final Thoughts on How the Future of Fashion & Apparel Industry Looks Like
With the ever-evolving and emerging customer trends, the fashion and apparel industry has a lot of real opportunities but at the same time, need to tackle the overwhelming challenges. SAP Commerce Cloud stands to be an excellent solution for retailers and can make a major impact on how the industry develops in the near future. With the potential it has, we will have to wait and watch!