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SAP customers looking for applications and services to extend their systems now have a one-stop shopping destination, the SAP Store.
It is a revamped digital commerce marketplace that merges the original SAP Store, which launched in 2015 for in-house SAP applications, with the SAP App Center, which launched in 2017 and marketed applications and services from SAP partners that have been validated by SAP for technical and business quality.
The user experience, search capabilities and look of the SAP Store have been redesigned based on enhanced search capabilities that were introduced earlier this year to the SAP App Center, according to Sharon Ruddock, global vice president of digital commerce at SAP. This better enables customers to find the applications that best suit their needs, and improves the ability of partners to get their products out to the market.
Reducing confusion in the marketplace
Having two sites for applications, which included 1,700 partner applications and 145 SAP applications, was too confusing for customers, according to Ruddock.
"The feedback from both the customers and the partners was that it made more sense to have one store, one merged experience where customers can quickly find SAP solutions and partner solutions," she said.
Not only have the two marketplaces been merged, but SAP refined the store's search function to use complete sentences or natural language. The goal of the merged SAP Store and improved search capabilities was to make finding applications not only more efficient but more targeted to help customers find the specific application to meet their needs.
The enhanced search capabilities include an updated category menu that expands the available product areas. Customers can also save product pages as favorites to later compare and contrast with other potential products.
"We spent a lot of effort on search because, at the end of the day, it's got to be easy to find what you're looking for," Ruddock said. "Between SAP and the partners, we can solve any problem, so there's a broad portfolio of products, and the idea is how quickly you can find the solution to your problem."
Natural language search helps hone results
The revamped SAP Store is exactly what SAP partners need to help get their applications to market and grow business, according to Robbie Plourde, chief revenue officer at DataXstream, an SAP partner in Williamsburg, Va.
DataXstream has a product called OMS+ that allows users to create or improve front-end user experiences for B2B and B2C commerce sites.
The company was an early adopter of the SAP App Center to market OMS+, and the new SAP Store should make it easier for potential customers to cut through the substantial noise in the SAP landscape and find it, Plourde said.
"The updates and enhancements that have been made over the past year have really helped us to continue our growth and expansion," he said. "We like the updated category menus, which allow customers to search a little bit easier. This has alleviated some of the confusion and allows for a better customer experience."
Having separate SAP and partner marketplaces was confusing, Plourde said, and the search function was not refined enough to always return results specific enough to meet customers' needs. Searching for a point-of-sale application extension, for example, could produce results that included applications for small retail interactions as well as OMS+, which is designed for enterprise-scale order management.
"There is a lot of confusion in the market for products, and this new interface gives customers the ability to say, 'I'm in wholesale distribution, I use this SAP product, where can I find something that will help improve my sales and distribution front-end point-of-sale solution?'" he said. "It's almost as if you are speaking to somebody asking the question, and the search has the ability to say, 'Have a look at these three products.'"
A growing option for enterprise buying
The merging of the two stores into one makes sense as more enterprise customers turn to digital commerce sites to find applications, according to Frank Della Rosa, research director for SaaS and cloud software at IDC.
Frank Della RosaResearch director for SaaS and cloud software, IDC
"What SAP is doing with the SAP Store makes a great deal of sense," Della Rosa said. "Now there's this dominance of cloud in everything and SaaS is becoming the deployment model of choice when it comes to applications, so it just makes a great deal of sense from both a seller and a buyer experience."
The enhanced search capability is important because it has removed friction in the buying experience, he said.
"It's about creating an exceptional buying experience and exposing buyers to a very broad portfolio of offerings and services," Della Rosa explained. "That requires more intelligent search and different classifications, and the fact that SAP is certifying any offering that's sold within the SAP Store is going to convey that confidence to the buyer."
The main challenge the SAP Store continues to face is whether a digital marketplace will be an accepted channel to distribute enterprise applications. The indications are that behavior is trending toward more enterprise digital commerce, but it still represents a small percentage of revenue compared to traditional channels, Della Rosa said.
"The move now is to look at getting line-of-business executives engaged with the marketplace, which is another reason to bring these two stores together into one experience," he said. "Technical buyers are well aware of the self-service capabilities of a marketplace, but it's typically not been the traditional experience for procurement. But as procurement departments change and transform, they're going to have to look at that accelerated time to value and having controls in place so that they know their users are only buying secure, compliant offerings, and this is easier to do on a single platform."