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After spending last week in Orlando attending SAPPHIRENOW I decided the perfect way to unwind over the weekend would be to tackle all of those long overdue lawn and garden projects I had on my to-do list.  And, after having been gone all week my lawn was in desperate need of mowing.

Call me old school, but I use a rotary push mower rather than a gas-powered mower.  It does a great job, but I need an electric trimmer to tackle the spots where the grass is particularly long, otherwise the rotary blade won’t cut the grass to length.  So, I grabbed my electric trimmer to cut the long grass along the perimeter of my lawn and started trimming away but within 10 seconds the line on the spool runs out!  With no more line in the trimmer, I was stuck.

So, what did I do?   I ran to my neighborhood Home Depot only to find that they no longer carry that brand of trimmer or that brand of replacement line.  Needless to say this was frustrating.  But, I went to the Home Depot website and found that they do continue to carry replacement spools online.  Success?  Nope, the item was sold out. I then went to a competing store’s website and found the item in stock at a comparable price at a store "near me" about 25 miles away.  Finally, I went to Amazon.  Not only did Amazon have the replacement line I needed, they offered me a 6-pack for only $4.00 more than a 2-pack would have cost at the big box stores, along with free 2-day shipping.  I ordered it. My lawn will remain uncut until mid-week, but at least I got what I wanted at a great price and I won’t have to shop for it again for a while.

What does this have to do with Consumer Products and SAPPHIRENOW?  For me, it’s a perfect example of the new consumer products reality, where consumers like me have more tools and information available than ever before and, as a result, are empowered to make better, faster, more informed decisions about what to buy, when to buy it, who to buy it from and what price to pay.

In my case I was looking for a brand only because I needed a replacement part for something I already owned.  I was loyal to the retailer, but mainly because I assumed convenience – that if I bought the item from that retailer I would find replacement parts available in the store.  Finding the product unavailable on the shelf and out of stock online was both inconvenient and discouraging, as was finding the product available in a store that would have required at least an hour of driving there and back to buy.  I finally made the decision to buy because Amazon had exactly what I wanted, at by far the best price / value combination along with a service that couldn’t be beat, free 2-day shipping.

This experience illustrates the new reality for consumer products companies – developing a high degree of consumer intimacy while simultaneously building the operational resiliency to respond in real-time to reach, engage and serve consumers and, ultimately, organize to meet consumer demand wherever and whenever that demand occurs.  E.J. Kenney, SVP and Global Head of Consumer Industries with SAP summed up the challenges and opportunities for consumer products companies in a video recorded on the show floor at SAPPHIRENOW called Driving Profitable Growth Through Innovation in Consumer Products.

To illustrate E.J.’s points, we heard many examples at SAPPHIRENOW of how consumer products companies are tackling the challenges and opportunities associated with this new reality, including Colgate and its pursuit of real-time supply networks, Beiersdorf’s use of the SAP Demand Signal Management Solution powered by SAP HANA for sales performance and market share reporting, Unilever’s use of the SAP HANA Platform to enable real-time demand
and supply planning with SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization, demonstrations of SAP Trade Promotion Optimization , the SAP Retail Execution Mobile
application, and much, much more.

If you were unable to join us at SAPPHIRE last week and you’re interested in learning more about how consumer products companies are starting to reach, engage and serve consumers in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, be sure to check out the session replays now available at the SAPPHIRENOW and
ASUG Annual Conference website
.  In the meantime, I’ll get back to mowing the lawn as soon as the replacement spool arrives!