SAP Hybris eyes shopping experience of the future
SAP Hybris eyes 'Minority Report' shopping experience
(Credit: SAP)

SAP Hybris eyes shopping experience of the future

Software giant SAP has extended its SAP Hybris Marketing Cloud technologies with a view to greater relevance for the IoT and a possible ‘shopping future’ that could one day make Hollywood-style ‘Minority Report’ consumerism a reality.

Today’s shoppers are demanding. Almost nine out of 10 of them (89 percent) expect an answer to a query from a company within 24 hours, according to the 2017 SAP Hybris Consumer Insights Report of 20,000 shoppers worldwide.

In short, the easiest way to keep them happy is to be responsive. And the fastest way to lose them, it seems, is to share their data without their knowledge.

With that in mind, SAP’s recent Hybris platform updates introduce new technologies including facial recognition, machine learning and IoT-connected tools to create targeted marketing campaigns and help consumers optimize their shopping experience.

The idealized future here, perhaps, points to making a still-fanciful future world become a reality, where products come alive through some kind of digital user lens as depicted in the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report.

New moves in retail

But first, a bit of history. In its former life, before it was acquired by SAP in 2013, Hybris existed as a company that sold enterprise multichannel e-commerce and product content management software.

Given SAP’s foundations and heritage in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and financially-focused software designed to run the commercial heart of organizations, it has logically built out its wider (now largely cloud-based) portfolio to include related tools in customer engagement, commerce and (of course) data analytics.

Hybris is an important part of that product set. “The SAP Hybris Marketing Cloud solution now encompasses an array of solutions to help companies ensure they use the right messages to target customers who matter the most and ensure customers’ data and privacy are protected,” said the company, in a press statement.

Read more: SAP: Linking people, processes and things in IoT projects

An IoT shopping toolset

SAP points to newly augmented Hybris tools which it thinks could help create precisely that shopping experience of the future. The SAP Digital Boardroom is a marketing executive dashboard that offers reports gauging the success of campaigns and transparency to detect impending problems. Not exactly Tom Cruise material perhaps, but (arguably) of some use in terms of helping the total marketing mix.

The SAP Leonardo brand of software products, meanwhile, is now being used to power facial recognition technology within SAP Hybris Marketing Cloud.

Using facial analysis, the software connects shoppers’ genders and ages to a company or store’s available inventory and stock, enabling personalized product recommendations presented on large displays. SAP has not detailed whether it plans to cope for gender-neutrality within the scope of its plans for this product.

The SAP Hybris Customer Attribution solution (formerly Abakus) provides marketing executives with measurements of their campaigns and activities that lead to a customer purchase. Data is collected across all touch points of the customer journey, giving what is hoped to be insight into what is driving customer conversions and where to reallocate activities and budget in real time.

They can also tap IoT devices to personalize offers. For example, brands can send a relevant marketing message when a consumer hits a new milestone on their fitness tracker – an invitation, perhaps, to reward themselves with a purchase for reaching a particular fitness goal.

Read more: SAP expands Vehicles Network with new fuel and payment options

Machine learning co-innovation program

As part of this news we also learn that ten customers are joining SAP Hybris to embed machine learning capabilities into the SAP Hybris Sales Cloud and SAP Hybris Service Cloud portfolios.

Several use cases are available covering marketing, sales, service and commerce. They include advanced personalization, contextual merchandising, a shopping assistant bot, affinity scoring, sentiment analysis, service ticket text analysis and a customer service bot.

This is not quite Minority Report in its full-blown sense, perhaps, but could this be a necessary step on the road to fully immersive digital shopping experiences with personalized contextual message and holographic video messages reverberating around your head? Yes, it’s progress, and SAP has the right kind of heritage in commercial software to give it a foundation in this space.

Read more: SAP: Banks must prepare for open banking age