FORT WORTH, Texas—SAP took another step in building out its hybris cloud application ecosystem with the introduction of SAP Jam Communities for SAP hybris Commerce to help e-commerce Websites drive sales by providing real-time product information to customers.
SAP Jam Communities runs with SAP hybris Commerce, SAP's cloud platform for building online business services of any kind for virtually any industry. SAP Jam Communities enables Web marketers to develop online forums that combine customer reviews and product information to allow potential buyers to quickly get answers to their questions.
SAP introduced the community-building tool during its Game Plan 2015 conference here Oct. 19-22. The conference's purpose was to bring together business-to-business marketing and IT professionals to show them how hybris and related products can help them transform their companies into digital businesses.
The purpose of SAP Jam Communities is "to really help our customers and our e-commerce vendors rethink the e-commerce experience, said Sameer Patel, senior vice president and general manager of Collaboration and Communities with SAP.
The problem is that even with all the available Web sales channels and sites selling every conceivable product and service, the process that enables potential buyers "to get information about a product and then purchase a product is really disconnected," Patel said.
This situation is only going to get worse, Patel said, with the coming "explosion of complex and software-defined products in our lives" that will only increase Web marketers' need for highly detailed information that enables people to find the right products and make informed purchasing decisions.
"The thermostat on our walls for the last 100 years has now become a very smart thermostat, and every product that we use is getting smarter," Patel observed. Buyers need more information than ever to make buying decisions for these smart products from the time they start researching products and comparing features to the moment they hit buy button, he explained.
As a result, "we believe there is a big opportunity" to improve the efficiency of the sales process, "with hybris and SAP fulfilling the transaction [by] helping the customer through the entire journey—from awareness to consideration to purchase."
SAP developed Jam Communities so that companies could build sales and marketing applications that combine search-engine-optimized community pages to attract customers, detailed product data along with user forums that include Q&A features, blogs, reviews and discussions that all help shoppers make buying decisions.
SAP Jam Communities was designed based on comments from customers who said they didn't have access to a tool that could handle the full sales cycle from research to delivery, said Stephen Hamrick, Jam Communities product manager.
Some customers were saying, "Look, I'm doing well from a sales perspective, but if I can do 2 to 4 percent better and help close more sales decisions and drive people to the right products to buy, then this solution will pay for itself in a short time," Hamrick said.
Community participants can enhance their brand experience by using self-service features and reading reviews, product ratings and Q&A's that produce more informed, engaged, confident buyers, according to SAP officials. Commerce sites can further improve engagement by rewarding advocates who proactively contribute content and comments.
SAP contends that Jam Communities can lower the costs of acquiring new customers by building long-term relationships. Even after the sales interaction is completed, the data collected provides instant insight into customers' behaviors and buying patterns.
Patel says it's important for commerce sites to be able to see whether their sales and marketing content is cost-effective in terms of producing sales. It's difficult to make a "direct correlation between what I am spending on educational content and how much of it is converting" to real sales, he said.
"We believe that by integrating commerce more closely to these content investments, we can start to make much more informed decisions" about how to optimize content to get positive results, Patel said. "I have a better sense of how much I am going to have to invest in content for the customer to make an informed decision," he said.
The hybris platform represents a major new cloud product strategy for SAP, and the company has been gearing up its marketing effort for the product line this summer and fall. The platform includes SAP hybris as a Service running on the SAP HANA cloud platform. SAP Hybris as a Service is an application development platform that is open to independent software vendors, enterprise IT organizations and systems providers to build their own cloud services and market them to customers or other application developers.
Hybris was originally founded in Switzerland in 1997 to develop and sell multichannel e-commerce software. SAP acquired Hybris in 2013.
Editor's Note: This story was updated with SAP's preferred rendering of the product name, SAP Jam Communities for SAP hybris Commerce.