Our regular series of previews ahead of this year’s InternetRetailing Expo (IRX 2016) today features a double-bill installment of interviews with speakers at the event, in our last but one newsletter before the event. Here, we hear from EJ Jackson, SVP and GM of SAP Anywhere.
Technology in retail
InternetRetailing: You’re speaking at IRX about how leading technology companies are helping retailers to create new breakthrough strategies and services. Tell us about an interesting or impressive new retail strategy or service that you’ve seen in action.
EJ Jackson, SVP and GM of SAP Anywhere: At SAP Anywhere, we’re focused on small and medium-sized businesses and we think SMEs are using technology to up their game and becoming real competitors to larger enterprises.
When ecommerce first emerged about a decade ago, large companies invested heavily to become successful internet retailers. At the time, SMEs couldn’t afford such an investment. The good news is that today SMEs are investing in solutions such as SAP Anywhere which allow them to benefit from the same capabilities as large enterprises at very affordable prices. As a result, a small local business can now market, sell and conduct business across all channels in both B2C and B2B scenarios, just like its bigger counterparts and even provide global distribution.
SMEs now have access to real-time inventory visibility, and are able to sell through traditional channels – such as the brick and mortar store – as well as through new channels including branded e-stores, market places such as Amazon and eBay or even custom channels like GQ.co.uk. Additionally, they can operate in a bimodal manner for both B2B and B2C, through one system. Historically, the lack of technology has stopped most internet retailers targeting both markets – but now, as indicated by our research this is changing with one in two internet retailers planning to or currently able to target both markets. Crucially, these SMEs can also use digital tools that enable them to operate their business from anywhere and from the palm of their hand. SMEs finally have the means to reap the real benefits of technology.
IR: Can you single out one major challenge of innovating and how technology companies can overcome that?
EJ: Cash flow and time management is an ongoing issue and major challenge for SMEs. Many of these companies barely have enough time to make their site mobile-friendly and come up with new products to sell and market, let alone create innovative digital solutions.
For example, we spoke with one particular online retailer with an eight figure annual revenue, and found that they are still unable to find the resource and time to enable mobile checkout. Solutions such as SAP Anywhere offer SMEs a simple platform that combines all key business operations including inventory management, customer engagement, marketing, analytics and e-commerce in one simple platform. As a result, SMEs can save precious time and money, allowing them to focus on meeting their customers’ needs, and stay ahead of the curve.
IR: Give us one good reason why retailers should be concerned about going above and beyond the everyday business of selling.
EJ: In a world where customers have access to a limitless choice of products and services, it is crucial for SMEs to have a significant digital presence and offer their customers a seamless, always-on shopping experience, in order to stand out from the crowd and be competitive. Customer-centric solutions are key to attracting customers and driving revenue.
Major retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, can be enablers and allies in commerce for SMEs, however, they are also major competitors because of their scale and reduced margin to the SME. Having scale allows these large retailers to offer customer-centric solutions like next day shipping – a capability that can be difficult for SMEs to offer without the right tools. SAP Anywhere provides a level playing field for SMEs, regardless of their size, offering the same capabilities without the reduced margin.
IR: Beyond your own presentation, what are you most looking forward to at IRX 2016?
EJ: Large events like this offer great networking opportunities and the ability to connect with inspirational entrepreneurs and businesses from around the globe. I am looking forward to meeting with SME internet retailers, partners and vendors to understand how they see the digital landscape evolving, and how they plan on being part of this evolution.
EJ Jackson, SVP and GM of SAP Anywhere is speaking in the keynote session of the Insight and Experience Conference on April 27 at IRX 2016. He is speaking alongside Pankaj Dujar of Google and Wayne St Amand of Brand Networks on the theme of Learn how leading brands – SAP, Google, Brand Networks – deliver winning customer experiences in the digital economy at 10.40am.