The Complete Guide to Personalization with SAP Customer Experience

SAP Hybris became SAP C/4HANA and expanded its personalization capabilities to all the products, from marketing to service. Here’s a review of the suite’s major pros and cons.

In the digital world today, ecommerce software entails something more than just the ‘inventory-order-billing-shipment’ cycle. Customer-centricity sets the tone for digital transformation and drives the evolution of all platforms: ERPs, CRMs, DMPs, you name it.

SAP is the one to illustrate this evolution. The 47-year-old German software company couldn’t stand aside in this rapidly changing market but attempted to shake off its legacy-system status by embracing agility and looking in the direction of SaaS applications.

First, in 2015 SAP announced its next-generation ERP, S/4HANA, built on top of its in-memory HANA database, and moved it to the cloud. Then, in 2018 SAP reinvented its CRM software suite, and SAP Hybris got rebranded as SAP Customer Experience aka C/4HANA. It’s a collection of four cloud-based solutions for marketing, sales, customer service, and commerce with one shared data model and a centralized UI. All the clouds are underpinned by SAP’s AI Leonardo. Does the package ring a bell? Yes, this is a bold move against Salesforce, the established market leader in this domain.

Rivalry aside, customers come first. SAP admitted that they moved from 360-degree sales automation to 360-degree customer view with personalization at the core. It means that the entire supply chain in the SAP ecosystem now serves the only purpose of providing stellar customer experience.

SAP’s strategic acquisitions also point to its far-reaching personalization efforts. For example, SAP acquired SaaS company Qualtrics in pursuit of bringing together experience data and SAP’s historic operational data. This combo is deemed to become a perfect foundation for fail-proof personalization.

Why is customer experience personalization such a hot a topic right now? Well, when companies think that relationship with the customer ends once the order is completed, it can lead to miserable results. Statistics are telling:

personalization expectations and reality

With 77% of the world’s transactions involving a SAP product and a number of strong players in the field of ecommerce development, the platform should be able to provide the richest and fullest data sets on customers. Let’s see how SAP Customer Experience deals with personalization in reality.

With @SAP CX suite, customer experience truly becomes the cornerstone of the entire supply chain.

The Perks of SAP Customer Experience

As SAP follows its customer-centered direction, it makes each product ready-made for personalization.

A Single Ecosystem

The SAP C/4HANA products have a single data model and a shared extension framework called SAP Cloud Platform. SAP Cloud Platform is a full-fledged ecosystem where you can create rich customer profiles by consolidating data via pre-integrated apps as well as external sources using ETL, APIs, and webhooks.

With all your data in a single location, you get a powerful tool for segmenting your audience, orchestrating customer journeys, and delivering relevant customer experience. As for customers, a single platform makes their journeys frictionless due to self-service integration, single sign-ons, and delegated administration. On top of this, your activities on the platform will automatically comply with the GDPR and other regulations without the need to run huge data privacy initiatives.

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Robust Marketing Options

SAP Marketing Cloud is a secret weapon for limitless customer personalization. It offers a broad range of marketing solutions for tailoring shopping experiences:

SAP marketing cloud

Let’s review the most multi-functional features of the cloud.

Dynamic Customer Profiling

The feature allows you to set up and act on customer profiles on the go. The beauty of this solution is that it pulls data from different sources, including social media, geolocations, SAP databases, etc. Customer profiles are continuously enriched with additional information, which allows you to personalize marketing campaigns down to particular individuals. You can further plug this data to any SAP Cloud, making every move personalized whatever product you’re using.

What’s more, with the help of machine learning and AI, you can gain deeper insights into customer behavior. For example, you can select customers that had a negative sentiment toward your brand and create a follow-up campaign with an additional discount or another type of promotion—right there in Marketing Cloud. No need to download data from your database, then upload it to your email management software and execute a particular campaign.

Propensity modeling within this package predicts specific actions by specific users. From there, it’s easy to create a custom campaign. For example, when you see that your customers are close to completing an order but still lingering, the system can give them a gentle nudge toward a purchase.

Segmentation and Cross-Channel Campaign Management

This feature uses dynamic customer profiles to create segments for your marketing campaigns. The criteria for segmentation go beyond age and region. The system analyzes the channels that prospects come from, time the latter spend on page, pages they bounce from, etc. As a result, you can reach out to customers through the most relevant channels and at the right moment.

SAP customer segmentation

You can also create trigger-based campaigns depending on what customers do and don’t do on your site. For example, the system can automatically send emails to those registered users who abandoned their activities at a particular point. It’s possible to tweak campaigns as they run in order to adapt to audience’s real-time reactions.

Lead and Account-Based Marketing

The platform preaches a customer-centered approach and gives opportunities for team collaboration. For example, the system makes it easy to share essential information between marketing and sales teams. A marketing team can generate and nurture leads and then engage sales reps via the platform to convert these ‘warm’ leads. Additionally, high-quality leads can be automatically transferred to the sales team.

Marketing Analytics

SAP Marketing Cloud applies machine learning to gain deep insights into customer behavior and aim at high-level personalization. To support your decision-making, you can use data visualization tools. This Cloud also delivers reports, from budgets to customer sentiment, combining data from multiple campaigns and sources.

Omnichannel Commerce Experience

SAP Commerce Cloud delivers holistic and personalized ecommerce experience across all devices and go-to-market models, be it B2C, B2B2C, or B2B. It’s a single digital platform with components built natively off the same foundation. This way, you don’t need to create and maintain integrations between your commerce platforms, which reduces overall costs.

What’s more, you can consolidate all your sales channels, suppliers, partners, and product data at one location and then fuse your database with SAP Marketing Cloud to enable customer data aggregation. Voila—you get a great foundation for providing seamless interaction with customers and handling big streams of orders and users in real time.

The platform accompanies end-to-end commerce processes. For example, you can use plug-and-play integration to deliver a scalable shopping cart and checkout with payment services and tax management. At the same time, you can enable endless-aisle order fulfillment with capabilities to buy anywhere, with returns simplified by means of self-service.

When using Commerce Cloud, you also have access to built-in AI. It provides real-time insights for tailoring content (like offers or recommendations) or building remarketing tactics to minimize cart abandonment.

It’s important that the platform can be managed without developers’ help. You can create, edit, and personalize content or storefront design with a WYSIWYG editor using ready-made templates.

Sales Accelerating Tools

SAP Sales Cloud helps to collect, store, and get a comprehensive view of customer data all in one place. As a result, sales reps can have a barrier-free access to exhaustive data, from real-time lead scoring and deals to pipelines and revenue. 

As the software eliminates manual quotes and contracts with its automated and intelligent configuration, sales reps have more time to sell. What’s more, AI-based predictive analysis prescribes smart recommendations and safeguards them against guesswork.

The best thing is, Sales Cloud not only automates the process but also personalizes it. For example, quotes are tailored specific to customers, territories, or channels. You can use geo-fences (invisible boundaries set by GPS) and beacons (small wireless devices that communicate with beacon-enabled apps) to create regional limits of applying personalized promotions in a specific city or area.

Sales Cloud also provides tools for billing and revenue management in order to meet customers’ changing needs. Revenue management can only be streamlined when all the stages of the process are interconnected. With Sales Cloud, you can have all the following features under the same roof:

  • Quoting for complex products
  • Order and contract fulfillment automation across a multitude of connected environments
  • Management of a variety of billing scenarios, from one-time billing to subscriptions and usage-based models
  • Combining the workflow with any other Customer Experience Cloud solution, such as Commerce Cloud
  • Revenue recognition automation for compliance with IFRS 15 and ASC 606

Omnichannel Customer Service

SAP Service Cloud gives service reps an opportunity to help customers wherever those are by extending support to all channels. The service team gains a single view of the customer and their past interactions, which is an imperative for a consistent experience. The platform also gives service teams access to essential backend data, such as orders, warranties, and contracts. Service reps can use the data to instantly see what complementary or substitute products will suit customers or when is a perfect moment for a discount or a reward.

In its turn, AI helps to optimize ticket assignment and diagnose recurring issues, which minimizes response time. You can also leverage bots and natural language processing technologies that can transfer conversations further to live agents without losing the context.

The system also gives customers access to a number of self-service options for troubleshooting, tracking requests, and getting remote assistance.

Increased Data Security and Transparency

SAP takes data security seriously with user authentication options, account harvesting detection, and protection against account takeover and DDoS attacks. System entries can’t be changed inconspicuously unnoticeably. Every single change acquires its status and goes through validation that protects the system from malicious or accidental harm.

SAP is also no stranger to the data transparency concept. The company understands that customers share their personal information in exchange for relevant content and tailored experience. In order to give customers control over their personal data, the platform provides customizable workflows to capture customers’ consents and preferences at each touchpoint, storing these records for seven years.

When customers give their consent to data processing, it doesn’t mean it’s final. They can edit their preferences according to the GDPR or other regional regulations via self-service centers. 

The Pitfalls of SAP Customer Experience

Although the major challenges of the SAP C/4HANA suite are not directly associated with personalization, you still need to consider these prior to buying the license.


Like any sophisticated system, SAP C/4HANA is challenging to deploy and master., It involves multiple complex processes, such as integration with other platforms, data consolidation, and feature customization. The platform won’t be efficient unless its users are proficient in SAP tools.

As a result, companies have to resort to ongoing training of their employees, hire experienced SAP professionals, and seek consulting help. 

Opaque Pricing Policy

Historically, in order to get a quote for SAP’s specific product or suite, you had to reach out to the vendor directly, receive your quote, and then get bound by lengthy and rigid license agreements. However, once SAP started making steps toward SaaS applications, the company realized they needed to change their pricing policy and make it more transparent.

For some products, the pricing became more or less visible:

SAP pricing transparent

However, there’s still a lot of catching up to do compared to SaaS rivals like Salesforce or Workday:

SAP Cloud versus Salesforce Sales Cloud pricing
No more secret pricing in @SAP?

High License Costs

Though the ‘black box’ nature of the SAP pricing makes it hard to understand how much you need to pay without asking for a quote, using the scrapes of web intelligence it’s possible to estimate the budget you need to accommodate:

SAP Customer Experience project pricing

Paired with the suite’s overall complexity and the need for ongoing training and third-party consultations, the budget needed for managing SAP grows exponentially.

In spite of these facts, you need to remember, though: once the system is set up, it turns out to be… cost-effective.

Bottom Line

SAP’s decision to go to the cloud is a smart move and a brave attempt to outmaneuver the competitors. Though there are some questions to its integrity when it comes to pricing, the Customer Experience suite, or C/4HANA (where C stands for Customer), is the best response to customer-centered trends. The suite has a robust set of personalization features, powered by machine learning and offering a single, extremely versatile platform that’s able to deliver almost 1-on-1 customer experiences.

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