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SAP plans hybris acquisition to "raise stakes in CRM"

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5th Jun 2013
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SAP has revealed plans to acquire ecommerce technology provider hybris in a move that the German software giant says will "raise the stakes" in CRM and "redefine" customer experience

In a blog post, SAP said that the acquisition would allow it to deliver a "next-generation ecommerce platform", either on-premise or in the Cloud, thereby catering for the growing enterprise need to optimise customer experience across an ever-growing number of channels, touchpoints and devices. 

"The combination of industry-leading enterprise solutions from SAP with the agile omnichannel commerce solutions of hybris will provide enterprises with the enhanced data and tools necessary to optimise margins and customer loyalty," the statement notes.

By combining the hybris platform with its in-memory platform SAP HANA analytical and Cloud applications, as well as its SAP Jam social software platform, the German vendor suggests that it has a "significant edge" in delivering insight and engagement acxross all channels, helping enterprises to manage the full spectrum of customer engagement — across sales, service, marketing and commerce — while maintaining "understanding and intimacy".

“hybris puts SAP on the leading edge of the consumer economy,” said Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, co-CEOs, SAP AG. “With hybris, SAP has made a decisive move to raise the stakes in customer relationship management and define the next generation customer experience.”

Ariel Luedi, CEO of hybris elaborated on the significance of the deal in a conference call to the media. 

"Customer experience, for many vendors, is being addressed in very limited fashion. They're talking about pretty pictures online or a search experience or navigation experience on the web. But that's not what a customer experience is all about. Customer experience is a huge process. You have to have a solution end-to-end, crossing all the channels and all the stages of a customer lifecycle when they are researching for a product during the transaction, during the delivery of the product and servicing the customer once they purchase something. If the things work, then they have a good customer experience and not because of the pretty pictures on the website. That's exactly what we provide. That's why we extended back our solution and added order management and product information management and supported all these different touchpoints."

And Luedi added that the collaboration of SAP and hybris would extend these customer experience capabilities to provide an omnichannel experience. "When you're interacting with a brand, you are expecting three things. One is you would like to get the same information, whatever channel you touch. So if you go on the mobile or in a tablet or ask somebody in a store or call up the call centre or go on the web, you should always get the same information about product and product functionality, the pricing, the availability, order status and so on. If you don't get the same answer, customers get confused and they don't purchase. This is a very simple request but hard to do behind the scenes - yet easy to do with hybris and SAP.

"The second part is if you start a dialogue with a brand in one channel ... you would like to continue this dialogue [on another channel] without having to restart all the time and explaining every time again who you are and what you want. And the last part is something also very reasonable for many consumer is the interactions of these different channels. People purchase channel independence. They don't care about that they ordered something online, they would like to return it in the store maybe, or go to the store and order it for home shipping. And so all these interactions about delivery as well between these channels is a very simple request, but behind the scenes, you need a lot of technology to do this. And that's exactly what hybris can offer, together with SAP, offering this full stack end-to-end across the whole customer lifecycle."

Even ignoring all references to CRM, customer experience and omnichannel (let alone SAP's favourite word of the moment - 'Cloud'), the attraction of hybris from a purely ecommerce technology perspective seems apparent, with ecommerce growing at double the rate of the retail sector and the ecommerce tech market expanding rapidly and presently valued at a huge $37bn. 

The deal is expected to be concluded in Q3, with hybris continuing to operate as an independent business unit. 

"hybris is a recognized leader in commerce platform technology, and the combination with SAP will enable us to deliver complete omnichannel business solutions and continue our strong growth trajectory," said Luedi and Carsten Thoma, president and co-founder, hybris. "Joining with SAP will significantly expand the scope, scale and power of hybris' commerce platform, and allow us to deliver the next generation of customer engagement innovation across all channels."

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