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At the 2015 SAP Retail Forum, Marty Mrugal, chief innovation officer at SAP, delivered an interesting keynote on The Intelligent Retail Enterprise – Reimagining Business Processes.

Mrugal said the intelligent retail enterprise focuses not only on having a single view of its customers, but also on providing customers a single view of its brand. In other words, customers should have a consistent view of products, services, and experiences, regardless of how they are interacting with the company. But achieving this level of transparency and uniformity is not easy, especially for large, complex enterprises.

Mrugal laid out several challenges retailers face when trying meet the demands of today’s consumer. Everything from mobile-first shopping and personalization, to digitization of the store, and faster everything has retailers overwhelmed. He said brands need to simplify and extend business processes beyond the four walls of the company. They need to plug into the digital economy and connect with customers on their terms.

Mrugal highlighted a few companies that are successfully tackling digital transformation and finding new ways to bond with customers. One of the companies was Under Armour. Under Armour isn’t merely focused on selling athletic apparel, it’s focused on improving athletic performance – and that is a big difference.  It’s fusing advanced technology with its products to give athletes an edge. Mrugal also called out Discount Tire. He said Discount Tire isn’t just selling tires, it’s selling safety and care. The company is redefining its business processes and modernizing its IT landscape to enable omnichannel commerce and extend a long history of exceptional customer service.

Rick Imber from SAP joined Mrugal on stage to demo an intelligent retail enterprise in action. Imber’s live demo showed how retailers can combine mobility, Big Data and analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver a more personalized and contextual customer experience in stores.

The demo, which utilized various SAP software technologies from hybris to SAP HANA, showcased Lola, a VIP shopper, as she entered and moved around the store. As Lola browsed the isles, beacons conveniently pushed relevant offers and discounts to the app on her phone. When she picked up items located on smart shelves or hangers, product data was instantly analyzed by the system and compared to her preferences. Offers for additional matching items, some available only online, were sent to her phone with bundle discounts and free shipping for any items ordered online.

As Lola placed items into her cart, inventory and on-shelf availability is updated in real time. That gives the retailer visibility into what is happening in the store at any moment. If replenishment is required or product placement needs to be changed it can be recognized quickly. And because customer data is unified and integrated across all channels, the retailer can deliver highly relevant and contextual offers using on-line and in-store shopping history and behavior.

Retailers are faced with many challenges but this keynote showed that the intelligent retail enterprise has to be both customer and data-centric. Retailers need to ensure business processes are designed to give customers a single view of the brand and implement IT solutions that can support and deliver highly personalized and contextual offers to customers at any time via any sales channel.

Related content:

SAP Retail Forum 2015 (#SAPRF15): Opening Keynote Highlights

Under Armour: Enhancing Your Performance the Right Way with SAP HANA

A Ten Second Lesson in Customer Service from Discount Tire

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