SAP green CX technology helps sustainable retail and B2B sales

SAP users can now support and document sustainability in customer experience – or “green CX” – with a new set of tools loosely bundled into their technology stacks.

These features measure their customers’ expectations for sustainable retail and B2B sales with Qualtrics; personalize marketing and offers to eco-conscious customers with Emarsys and its Customer Data Platform (CDP); and attempt to address internal inefficiencies and reduce returns.

Users can also create e-commerce resale marketplaces – called recommerce sites – for customers to sell second-hand items to each other. These can also be set up through Feather.io, a company run by SAP employees and backed by SAP venture capital.

Feather sites can pass on information to customers, such as how buying a used item reduces environmental impact compared to buying new. It also collects revenue from the SAP user in the form of listing fees – selling fees that it does not collect when its customers sell used items on other online marketplaces such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

SAP builds credibility because it uses sustainability practices itself, said Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials.

“They literally put it at the center of their own business,” Leary said. “I think their customers understand the importance of that.”

SAP’s sustainability push

CX tools are part of SAP’s enterprise-wide initiative to reduce its own carbon footprint, as well as enable SAP software users to achieve their sustainability goals. It also makes users accountable to customers and investors with a “green book” that tracks their actions.

“Customers are looking to us more than ever to help them address their most pressing concerns, business model transformation and process automation, supply chain resilience and sustainable operations” , SAP CEO Christian Klein said during Thursday’s quarterly earnings call.

The tailwinds behind corporate sustainability aren’t just about being the right thing to do. The “European Green Deal” regulations, which unfold in a complex multi-year timetable, force companies to drastically reduce their emissions by 2030. It will probably take the majority of the European economy and society to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed regulations that do not mandate carbon-neutral sustainability, but require companies to disclose in their audited financial statements “climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on their business, results of operations or financial condition, and certain climate-related financial statement measures. This would also require disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions.

This diagram is a representation of the three Ps of sustainability.

These upcoming regulations have prompted many SAP customers to begin the process of understanding and measuring their consumption across their operations, said Toni Burke, global vice president of Green CX at SAP. Customer experience features combined with SAP tools such as the Sustainability Watchtower will help users find opportunities to reduce returns and steer customers towards more environmentally friendly products. Overall, SAP aims to show the tangible results of sustainability efforts.

“Basically, knowing the carbon footprint of your products — the water, the waste, the materials, where they’re going, the [greenhouse] emissions – this hard data…ensure they’re doing it without greenwashing,” Burke said.

Generation Z knows about greenwashing

Millennials, and more so Gen Z, want to know how a company’s environmental claims match up with its actions. Companies will not be able to get away with greenwashing.

Millennials and Gen Z place a lot more emphasis on the type of relationships they want with brands.

Brent LearyCo-founder, CRM Essentials

Pricing alone, Leary said, isn’t enough to attract consumer and B2B spending from these buyers. Sustainable retail must be proven.

“Millennials and Gen Z are much more focused on what kind of relationships they want with brands,” Leary said. “They want to do business with brands that they believe match their interests and their way of seeing things.”

Sustainability is an area that these generations take much more seriously than previous generations, Leary said.

“This [is] higher on the purchase decision priority list and it will get even higher in the future,” he said.

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service, and enabling technologies for TechTarget.

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