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Delighting shoppers is one of the top priorities for retailers. Achieving this is certainly not a once-off activity, but instead requires continuous process innovation and improvement. But how can retailers execute these innovation cycles with speed and efficiency? Or to be more specific, can BPM technology help retailers create dynamic processes? If so how and more importantly which processes are best suited to streamlining with a BPM approach?

Who better to have such a discussion with than the retail experts at SAP namely, Dieter Becker from the global Trade Hub and Dieter Scheerer from Trading industry Solution Management. They helped me and my colleague Matthias Weber from the SAP NetWeaver BPM Solution Marketing team to firstly better understand the issues of retailers and also help identify the types of processes where BPM can be applied. My key take-away is that Retail companies can specifically benefit from SAP NetWeaver BPM in processes that require close collaboration between the distributed locations of a retailer (e.g. headquarters and sales outlets) and suppliers, manufacturers, customers and logistics services providers. These collaborative processes are today often managed inefficiently, and are therefore hot candidates to be addressed with SAP NetWeaver BPM.

For example customer returns is often a nightmare for both customers and retailers. Although the interaction with the sales outlet is the first point of contact for the customer, there are further interactions with the manufacturer and possibly the logistics service provider that are not typically visible to the customer. In addition customer often do not have transparency on the current status. However, clear responsibilities and hand-offs between all players is essential to resolve customer returns quickly. The diagram below illustrates that customers are often dissatisfied with the inability of the different players to provide them details about the exact status of their claims.


We documented how this scenario Handling of claims by sales outlets & manufacturers can be enabled with SAP NetWeaver BPM and recorded an eBook titled "Taking a BPM approach to enable dynamic & collaborative business processes across the Retail supply chain". This eBook additionally features two further scenarios: Determining replenishment demands by retailers & sales outlets and Collaborative product master data maintenance by suppliers & retailers

Watch this BPM in Retail eBook to get inspiration for how Retail companies can use SAP NetWeaver BPM to extend best practices provided by SAP for Retail. And who knows, maybe you come up with a brilliant own idea how your organization can benefit from this powerful technology.