SAP Jam brings community to commerce

“Good question.  You’re the first person who has asked that.” I’d just asked about moderating online forums, and I had to tell Filiberto Selvas, product manager for SAP Jam Communities, that he was talking to someone with past experience of that difficult task. Selvas has fought in that particular trench too. Likewise, he didn’t need to convince me that an online community can discuss the comparative merits of Cheerios and Cornflakes for page after page.

“The most boring things. People really like to interact with each other.” And they do so according to the time-tested 90-9-1 model: 90 percent view, 9 percent respond, and 1 percent create entirely new content.

That insight prompted the release of SAP Jam Communities as an outward facing customer journey solution for hybris commerce customers, built on the technology which has powered internal SAP Jam social collaboration since 2012. I met Selvas and Holly Simmons, SAP’s VP of marketing for social software, at Game Plan 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas to discuss the launch.

“It’s a first for hybris commerce,” said Simmons, tying together commerce, marketing, and customer service. “It increases the lifetime value of a customer, while you’re learning more about them.” Today’s customer journey typically begins on Google or on social media. Researching a purchase, a potential customer lands on a blog post powered by JAM Communities–“You meet the customers where they need to be met,” said Selvas–and that guides them to a community forum tightly integrated with product catalogs. This means encountering the customer at an early stage of the journey, and delivering peer-generated content (“Twelve times better received than brand content,” said Selvas).

Discussions which take place in the community, among customers or with brand reps, can create content which retains engagement beyond the purchase. The content also creates value through integration with the hybris marketing eco-system: customer reviews, for example, can readily be embedded in emails. The communities can live on dedicated websites, or can be instantiated in existing web properties. The interface is device responsive and mobile friendly.

Community owners can customize the information required from customers at registration–and indeed, 80 percent t use social log ins, like Facebook or Twitter, Selvas said. At this stage, it’s important to “lower the friction as much as possible.” But through the lifetime of participation, rich data on the customer’s needs and interests can be aggregated, improving the community owner’s ability to segment its audience and deliver relevant messages and offers, and to add data to nurturing campaigns. Community data is also integrated with browsing history within the hybris commerce network. The roadmap may lead to integrating the communities technology with other commerce solutions, but “it made sense to start with our own,” Selvas said. The B2C application is clearly strongest here, but there are B2B opportunities too.

It was around this point that I asked two questions to which I already knew the answer. Will people really be attracted to conversations about something which might be a one-time purchase? And isn’t moderating the communities a problem.  Yes, and yes, were the answers, although Selvas went on to show me the moderation dashboard which displays potential problem posts in context and has the tools to deal with them (delete post, delete user and user content, etc). Some community owners, he said, actually use outside partners to undertake moderation.

And for engagement?  Selvas has it right: Cheerios or Cornflakes. People love to talk.

SAP hybris covered The Hub’s travel and expenses to attend Game Plan 2015

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