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E-Commerce with a Personalized Touch

E-Commerce with a Personalized Touch


March 3, 2021

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By Bill Rojas, SAP Digital Commerce
Have you been shopping online more or less over the past 12 months since COVID impacted life? If you answered “more,” you are like most consumers, who have been avoiding physical stores in this age of social distancing. And have you noticed that your browsing experience is becoming more personalized? If so, you could very well have Bloomreach Experience for SAP Commerce (brX) to thank for that.
The app, now available on SAP Store, enables both business-to-business and retail companies to blend content and commerce across the entire buyer’s journey, and to provide one-to-one personalization for every visitor and customer. The app enables content such as blogs, landing pages, and product detail pages to be combined, matching products to user intent. For my part, I’ve seen it in action and often wondered what exactly is behind those capabilities.
“It looks easy, but it’s actually quite difficult to do,” said Brian Walker, chief strategy officer at Bloomreach. “The secret is in data and AI.” Bloomreach has all the right ingredients, he noted: As a strong complement to SAP Commerce Cloud, the brX solution brings in a data platform purpose-built to leverage artificial intelligence.
Brian should know. He joined Bloomreach about 18 months ago after a long career with leading companies including American Express, Forrester, Accenture, and SAP before deciding to get back to a growth-stage company. “I’m interested in the long-term thesis: what’s required in taking advantage of rich customer and product data to deliver an exceptional customer experience.”
Supporting the Swift Pivot to Digital-First, Touchless Business Models
His timing was right. In 2020, the role of e-commerce rose radically, and companies had to make a fast pivot from an omnichannel to a digital-first strategy. Many retailers and food purveyors swiftly began to offer curbside pickup, many incorporating QR codes, “surprising themselves at how quickly they made the shift.” That includes many types of merchants you might not expect. For example, do-it-yourself home improvement has skyrocketed, and people are picking up building supplies at curbside and getting construction material delivered to their doorsteps. It’s safer and maybe even more convenient than before, Brian commented.
None of this will slow down anytime soon, he predicted, even as people who enjoy the retail experience get back to in-store shopping. That’s because people tend to do their product discovery online first – and another reason why personalization is so important. Today’s consumers, especially the younger set, are becoming more discriminating in their purchase choices. They’re increasingly seeking out brands that demonstrate environmental and social responsibility, supporting small and minority-owned businesses, and, to cut down on waste, buying items for reuse.
Providing Personal Service Even as Business Surged
I asked Brian if the vision of Bloomreach changed as a result of customers’ suddenly reengineered business models. “Our capabilities have evolved significantly over the years, expanding to cover a broader set of channels, data sets, and assets to optimize the brand experience,” he replied. “We’ve done that to support our current customers who are expanding how the work with us, as well as the many new companies signing on.” He added that Bloomreach was fortunate to have built a solid, mature customer base (a whopping 25% of enterprise business in the U.S. and U.K. among them). The company was well prepared for the surge in business and committed early on to providing top-notch service to all of them, even as new customers jumped on board. That was possible, Brian explained, thanks to a multitenant cloud platform engineered for high performance, and to a global team fully capable of providing advisory services as customers required.
Integrating with SAP Commerce Cloud as a Natural Fit
Meanwhile, I can report that SAP Commerce Cloud also experienced enormous growth in 2020. SAP Commerce Cloud and Bloomreach Experience for SAP Commerce are a natural fit. Brian noted that SAP Store is an important part of the story, since SAP has invested in making it easy for customers to do business. It’s also easy for SAP sales reps to recommend brX, he added, and most of the opportunities come through those referrals.
In fact, because SAP has committed to planting a tree for every sale on SAP Store, I predict that there will soon be whole groves planted in U.S. National Forests thanks to brX.