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COVID-19 has caused disruption across the global economy, forcing companies to alter tried-and-true business processes and meet customers where they are.
With in-person interactions no longer the default option, companies are investing in digital commerce sites for business and consumer transactions.
SAP Commerce Cloud is aiming to make it easier for businesses to open these digital storefronts and customer engagement platforms to support B2B, B2C and direct-to-consumer sites all on a single platform, said Paula Hansen, senior vice president and chief revenue officer for SAP Customer Experience.
"That has proven to be especially relevant during the pandemic," Hansen said. "Because we've had a lot of customers in the retail industry, in the consumer products industry, in the wholesale distribution industry suddenly find that their normal paths to market are evolving and they want to increase their ability to go direct to their consumers."
Having a single SAP Commerce Cloud platform enables companies to provide a consistent customer experience in a unified way across all channels, she said.
"Companies want the experiences for all those models to be the same; they want to be able to manage their product and services catalog consistently; they want to be able to manage their inventory consistently, their pricing strategies consistently across all those models," Hansen said. "So having a singular platform for that has been really significant."
Adding 3D to digital commerce sites
SAP Commerce Cloud is also integrating with applications that can enhance the shopping experience.
One of these applications is Vntana, a content management platform for introducing 3D images and augmented reality (AR) to digital commerce sites. Sites that convert traditional 2D images to 3D and AR-enhanced images can increase conversion rates by up to 40%, said Ashley Crowder, co-founder and CEO of Vntana, which is based in Los Angeles.
Adding 3D images and AR features has proven helpful as the pandemic has pushed retailers to invest much more heavily in digital commerce, she said.
"Once people are comfortable making a purchase from home, studies have shown that they're not really going to go back to the store because of that convenience," Crowder said. "So having a 3D version is much better, because they almost get to try before they buy. They can actually see that whole product in their home. We've grown an average of 15% month-over-month since COVID started, because every retailer is trying to improve their digital channel."
Vntana users can upload their existing product files from scanned images or 3D design programs such as Browzwear or CLO for apparel and KeyShot or Modo for footwear to be embedded in digital commerce sites, according to Crowder. These massive files contain all of the product details needed by manufacturers but are not intended to be used in digital commerce sites.
"With the integration of Vntana, you can add 3D to your Commerce Cloud site. [It's] as easy as adding a photo via drag and drop," Crowder said. "Onboarding is really quick and the integration with SAP Commerce Cloud has made it even faster to get live on an e-commerce site."
SAP Commerce Cloud not for everyone
SAP Commerce Cloud is a strong e-commerce platform with a well-established customer base, but it's not for everyone, said Jordan Jewell, IDC research manager for digital commerce.
SAP Commerce Cloud is well suited for large enterprises and B2B digital commerce sites that have complex processes and vast amounts of data, Jewell said.
"If a merchant is looking for functionality in a digital commerce platform and they look to check boxes like if it has granular pricing, workflows and good catalog management, they're not going to run into problems with SAP Commerce Cloud," he said. "That's never really been their challenge, and it's one of their strong suits."
However, SAP Commerce Cloud may not be the best platform for smaller retailers that need to put up digital commerce sites quickly and as cheaply as possible, Jewell said. These users are, instead, choosing SaaS digital commerce platforms like Shopify.
"With Shopify, you can set it up and get a store running in 30 minutes if you really want to, or maybe a day, but you can't do that with SAP Commerce Cloud," he explained. "It's great once you get up and running usually, but it's that initial process. Then each time you want to upgrade, because their customers tend to be large enterprises, it's a several-months-long project."