Since cloud computing began to be embraced by the mainstream, SAP has been transitioning its SAP Commerce clients to the cloud. It is fairly obvious that at some point in time most SAP Commerce clients as a matter of necessity will need to move to the cloud. For many on-premises customers the prospects might seem quite daunting. These customers have spent a substantial amount of resources in building their digital infrastructure system and many do not want to go through the hassle of changing.
SAP Commerce Cloud was originally established in August 2018 and has been updated at least five times since then. It is perfectly plausible that further updates in the future will phase out some of its existing SAP Hybris customers. Perhaps, this will not be deliberate, but at some point these old systems will run into technical challenges if not updates.
Firstly, SAP gave users and prospective customers a hint of its future direction when the cloud version of SAP Commerce Cloud was started. Importantly, this version introduced a new way for businesses to integrate SAP Commerce. SAP introduced a new integration strategy based on public APIs which leverages SAP Cloud Platform integration. It uses this for master data synchronization and process integration. Also consequently on this version, SAP started including key enhancements based on data analytics and AI. It helped deliver contextual and real-time personalization that drives conversion, raises order value and increases customer satisfaction and loyalty. It also facilitated context-driven services integration, provides real-time personalization for SAP Commerce Cloud by capturing and analyzing contextual and behavioral data across each customer’s commerce journey.
Benefits to shop owners
The popularity of SAP Commerce Cloud means SAP has to consistently focused on enhancing their commerce offering. As a platform becomes popular it becomes susceptible to security breaches without regular upgrades. For Shop owners this is important for a variety of reasons including building trust with customers. SAP responded in the Cloud version with enhanced security features. SAP Commerce Cloud for one has a news default authentication and authorization modes for more robust control of the APIs. Administrators must go through an additional step of specifying the Authentication mode (BASIC or OAuth2). This is because integration objects are not automatically exposed as APIs by default. This is for external login and authentication systems such as SAP CRM, Keycloak (single sign-on with Identity and Access Management) etc.
Shop owners have cried out for more flexibility on the content management side. Perhaps since the popularity of eCommerce platforms. SAP Commerce Cloud provides its SmartEdit feature for SAP Experience Management. This adds content versioning capabilities that gives more power to the content managers to track changes made to pages and roll back to previous versions. After the latest updates in November 2020, SAP made further improvements. SmartEdit now provides Single Sign-On (SSO) which allows users to sign into their SmartEdit sessions using their company credentials. This eliminates the need to sign in when the user switches applications during a session. SSO also helps to reduce the administrative overhead of distributing multiple authentication tokens to a user.
Additionally, on the same update key enhancements are visible on bulk editing. Bulk editing allows you to modify large amounts of data to make the process of product management more efficient. When editing multiple items, you can now bulk edit the classification attributes that belong to categories assigned to selected products. Businesses can access bulk editing from the Collection Browser in the Backoffice Administration Cockpit, or in the Backoffice Product Content Management. They can also select different items and then bulk edit common classification attributes
In April 2020, SAP Commerce Cloud reintroduced the WCMS (web content management system) Cockpit. It allows shop owners to manage web pages using a user-friendly UI. They can use WCMS (web content management system) to create, edit and manage your sites and their contents. The WCMS Cockpit enables you to manage website data. Shop owners can also verify, change website page status and synchronize catalog versions of their website. They can search for website pages according to advanced criteria
Due to the desires of shop owners and customers, SAP has made innovations in its marketing capabilities in recent years through its promotion and rules engine. In November 2018, it was the CMC (Centralized Module Compilation). This increases performance and robustness in a clustered environment. Before CMC, the promotion mechanism was compiled and published on every node in a cluster separately. With CMC, rule and promotion modules are all on one node. This reduces load on the other servers and eliminates risk of errors on single nodes. SAP also made improvement in the layout of the rule builder screen and increased the usability for shop owners
Further key enhancements in promotion and rule engine were made in 2019. Shop owners were given the option to disable Order Entry Consumption. For Order Entry Consumption only one promotion applies to each product and this is set by default. In some industries, multiple discounts apply to the same product. Businesses now have the option to disable globally.
Additionally, promotions now include “Most Expensive” selection strategy to determine which products are in the promotion. If multiple products in the cart are eligible for the promotion. For instance multi-buy promotion offers three film rolls for $10. Let’s say the customer has five film rolls in the cart that could qualify for the promotion. In this new selection strategy “Most Expensive,” the most expensive three film rolls are in the bundle.
Customer experience capabilities were also noticeably better on SAP Commerce Cloud. This was with custom-tailored promotions capabilities on the platform. The change has the effect of increasing sales conversion rates and overall sales figures. More importantly for the marketing team it increases brand loyalty and customer retention. This feature is key for the long term viability of an eCommerce platform. DigiCommerce has noticed pre-built SAP Integrations to SAP S/4HANA and SAP Customer Experience solutions provide an integrated ecosystem to offer seamless customer experiences and lowers integration costs and automating business processes. Shop owners will have the ability to replicate coupon promotions to SAP Marketing Cloud. They can replicate product reviews, consents, saved carts and return requests.
Transition to headless
Just as AI and cloud computing were once the future of eCommerce, now that is headless eCommerce. Headless commerce in short is an eCommerce solution that houses, manages, and provides content without a front-end layer. SAP like other eCommerce platforms has been moving towards headless. Frankly, more businesses prefer a content and experience led eCommerce strategy. This makes headless attractive. Headless has less limitation than traditional eCommerce. The most important advantage is that it eases scalability and speeds up the launch of a website. The fact that it decouples and makes use of API makes headless extremely flexible and customization. It also has much lower development cost in comparison to traditional eCommerce.
SAP’s Spartacus Js Storefront enables shop owners to decouple API only. In 2020, SAP made enhancements to its API’s. This has had the effect of simplifying end-to-end integrations for enterprise-wide business processes. Interestingly the new SAP Commerce Cloud APIs for consent management, billing, and shipping improve the ability to decouple Commerce storefronts from the platform and improve user experience. SAP allows businesses to adopt new touchpoints quickly and launch new digital experiences with headless eCommerce capabilities.
In conclusion, the new goal for many eCommerce platforms is not to get customers to embrace headless. Practically, SAP’s headless capabilities extend businesses with interactions through progressive Web apps, chatbots and messengers, or smart machines and devices. Shop owners can also experiment with different touchpoints and screens without back-end constraints. It gives the marketing an eCommerce team the ability to produce new digital experiences that increase customer engagement and conversions. These benefits will soon be mainstream, thus it will eventually become uncompetitive for companies that refuse to embrace headless.
For those SAP customers yet to migrate to cloud, this brings an added challenge as it is harder for them to join the headless revolution. SAP Commerce Cloud is a complex platform often requiring complex and costly integration by experts. Not updating to the cloud will eventually compromise a business’s digital infrastructure and competitiveness. Their systems will simply not be as nimble to adapt to future business challenges.