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The Decision Factor offers insightful comments and observations on analytics—from views on new technology approaches and market dynamics to the latest industry trends driving demand for faster, smarter information analysis. This blog contains personal views, thoughts, and opinions from SAP employees, mentors, and friends working in the area of analytics. It’s not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute an official communication of SAP.


Making Holiday Shopping Truly Merry with Mobility and Data Management

If you’re like me, you’ll spend many hours this holiday season shopping for gifts, as well as trying to snag bargains on a few items for yourself. The shopping period between Black Friday and the end of the year has traditionally been a boom time for retailers, and the impact of technology on the holiday shopping season is increasingly evident.

Every day, a myriad of advertisements fills my email inbox to inform me of each retailer’s deals. Multiple iPad applications were launched this year to help shoppers find the best bargains by aggregating holiday deals from multiple retailers. “Cyber Monday” was expanded to “Cyber Week” to capitalize on the growing trend of online shopping. And several big box stores now match prices found at online retailers.

Retailers Need to Improve How They Leverage Technology

You have to give retailers credit for adapting their marketing strategies to embrace consumers’ pervasive technology use. Yet so far, retailers have only scratched the surface of leveraging technology—problems abound that technology could solve. It takes me hours to sift through ads and compare prices, I feel uncertain when I discover an unexpected “deal” while shopping in a store, and I wonder if a sales associate’s opinions are backed by facts.

Let’s take a quick look at just three ways retailers can further embrace mobile technology and data management technology to court customers, increase sales, and drive an engaging consumer experience that will create loyal customers.

1. Create Targeted Advertising

  • Recent advancements in in-memory technology enable retailers to sift through huge volumes of data on individual’s past transactions, demographics, preferences, and recent searches customer.
  • By delivering a targeted advertisement, retailers can highlight the items that are of interest to a customer and provide an individualized coupon to reward high-value customers, cross-sell related products, or beat other competitors.
  • This would greatly reduce the time required for customers to review promotions and increase the probability that customers will see a deal of interest to them.

2. Prove their “Hot Deal” Is a Smart Deal

  • When customers are in the store and encounter an unexpected “hot deal”, they are unlikely to have done the research to know whether the deal is truly a good buy and may leave the store without making the purchase.
  • A smart retailer could allow the customers to scan a QR code at the display with their mobile device to sell them on the value of the “hot deal”. By scrubbing data from the web using Enterprise Integration Management capabilities like text processing and leveraging an in-memory data platform, the retailer could provide a list of the current prices for the item at other local and online retailers, reviews of the item from other consumers posted across the web, and comparisons to other brands/models.

3. Enable Sales Associates to Individualize Customer Service

  • Using mobile and data management technology, sales associates could create a more engaging experience for customers by proactively providing compatibility information with previous purchases (including pictures or videos that show how the products connect or coordinate).
  • The sales associate could show the customer fact-based comparisons between multiple products that are available.
  • The transaction could be finalized on the spot with a mobile device so the customer never has to stand in a check-out line.

These three examples are just some of the ways retailers can leverage mobility and data management technologies to court customers, increase sales, and drive an engaging consumer experience that creates loyal customers.

If you’re like me, you look forward to the day when retailers take these steps so that holiday shopping can be a faster, more pleasant experience. In the end, I’d be an avid, loyal customer of the retailer who did—and I’d purchase a lot more holiday presents from them.

Let me know what you think.