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SAP Panel: Retailers must keep up with customers


Orlando, Fla. – Customer needs and expectations are rapidly changing, and woe to the retailer who does not keep up. This was the key message delivered by participants in a panel discussion, “Engage Customers Through Omnichannel Opportunities,” at SAP’s annual Sapphire conference.

Steve Fournier, executive VP and chief customer officer of Discount Tire Co., said his company realizes it cannot afford to lag behind customer demand.

“Customers want more information right now,” stated Fournier. “Buying tires is not a fun thing to do. We must change or die.”

According to Fournier, 85% of Direct Tire customers go online before visiting a store, and 50% of those customers use a smartphone.

“One hundred percent of our customers will go online first in a few years,” said Fournier. “There’s a lot of things to connect. Also there’s complexity. There’s a lot of junk in the system we’ve got to clean up. It’s our largest chore.”

Jason Porter, enterprise architecture leader of Hallmark Cards Inc., said Hallmark needs to maintain relevance as traditional paper greeting cards become less important to many consumers.

“Hallmark has struggled to connect with Millennials in the omnichannel era,” said Porter. “There is demand for new, innovative products. Our mission is not just selling greeting cards, but helping customers emotionally connect.”

To that end, Porter said Hallmark is trying to meet customer demand for high degrees of personalization in formats beyond printed greeting cards.

“The ability to send a ‘Happy Birthday’ message on Facebook cannibalizes a huge percentage of our sales in the U.S.,” said Porter.

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