New SAP Tool Aims To Fuse Content and Community With eCommerce

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It’s often said that content is king, but in a typical marketing department you have a hodgepodge of content. That could include carefully-crafted web copy, blog entries and FAQs along with user-generated ratings and reviews. For many companies, at least some of this content is spread out across the site without any real connection between the product pages and the content that supports it.

SAP has a theory that spreading all of this content asunder makes it rather difficult for consumers to make informed decisions about their purchases — and this goes for any type of sale, whether a consumer device like a camera or something more complex like an enterprise technology purchase.

That’s why the company came out with a new product today at the Hyybris customer conference, called SAP Jam Communities, Edition for SAP Hybris Commerce. The lack of poetry in the name notwithstanding, this product is designed to help companies create a more coherent link between all of the content related to the product and the product itself.

Just to parse that title for you for those who aren’t familiar with SAP, Jam is the company’s community product, created several years ago to facilitate employee communication. Hybris is an ecommerce product SAP bought in 2013. Bringing the two technologies together, SAP is hoping to create sites and apps that help consumers when they need it most with an appropriate level of content, whether from the company or community.

To achieve that, the company says the tool was built with what it called “an API-first” approach. In practice this means, that every component of the service is containerized, delivered as a micro-service and pluggable into any web page or app. This should allow customers to build a customized ecommerce experience that can adjust the appropriate amount of content, depending on the product’s complexity.

For example, if the product involves a fairly easy buying decision like a $10 external battery for your cell phone, then simple ratings and reviews will probably suffice, but as the buying decision gets more complex, it requires a more detailed content from various sources to walk the buyer through the purchase process — like say a car or a wind turbine

The eventual goal of any ecommerce tool is to get the visitor to buy something without leaving, and to that end, each page includes whatever content the system designers might deem necessary for a particular product, and a Buy button. In the case of a more complex product, buyers might see a button for contacting a sales person, distributor or dealer, who can provide more information and begin to push the sale further along.

SAP is hoping that this approach has advantages over traditional content marketing and ecommerce strategies where it has been difficult to measure the ROI of the content part of the process. That’s because the content has sometimes lacked a coherent connection to the buying experience itself, often left on a disconnected landing page.

By including more of the content within the sales process instead of in a separate place, the company believes it should make it easier to measure the effectiveness of your content against actual sales, giving companies easier access to data that had previously been much more difficult to tease out.

SAP officials hinted that this could be the first of a series of enterprise-community products. eCommerce was a natural fit, especially since the company owns Hybris, but building the product using micro services was an intentional strategy to make the product transfer more easily to other scenarios in the future.

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