Inside SAP Anywhere

SAP’s new HANA-powered CRM solution for SMBs, which will hit general availability in both the U.S. and Canada in 2016, is drawing lots of interest. ChannelBuzz takes a look at why.

SAP Anywhere

An SAP Anywhere online store

Interest in SAP Anywhere from both potential customers and potential customers appears very strong. The SMB-focused front-office CRM suite, which manages sales, marketing, e-commerce and inventory, was originally supposed to be limited to the Chinese market for an indefinite period. However SAP has changed its original plans, and has begun pilots in the U.K. and the U.S., with a Canadian pilot scheduled for the first half of 2016. Strong interest globally from both partners and customers was cited as the reason, along with competitive pressures. In a market with no real shortage of good CRM solutions, what accounts for the interest in this one?

SAP says that SAP Anywhere differentiates itself by providing the advantages of HANA analytics in a very simple, easy to use format, which is aimed at B2B as well as B2C, and it’s that combination they say is unique to the market.

“SAP Anywhere is very easy to use compared to complex CRM offerings which have been available,” said EJ Jackson, SVP and GM, SAP Anywhere. “Many existing offerings in the market also require a low level of effort. We aren’t claiming that SAP Anywhere is easier to use. But the difference of sophistication between it and the other products is considerable.”

Jackson also stressed that this particular type of solution has typically been aimed only at the B2C market.

“Doing B2B as well as B2C is another way we differentiate with SAP Anywhere,” he said.

While SAP Anywhere leverages SAP HANA’s real-time analytics capabilities, the solution itself has been purpose-built from the ground up for the SMB market – and with the emphasis more on the small than the medium.

“The target market is for companies of 500 or fewer, but the real sweet spot is those between 20 and 100,” Jackson said.

SAP Anywhere’s simplicity begins with a fairly bare bones front page.


The SAP Anywhere home page

“There are not many selections to choose from on the home page, and we deliberately made it that way,” Jackson said.

Jackson said that for most users, the solution will take two to three minutes to set up.

“Almost everything is automated,” he said. “For example, payment methods don’t have to be set up, because they are defaulted.”

SAP Anywhere is designed to support sales through many different channels.

“Every channel – like specific retail stores, an online store, or an Amazon store – defines what product you want on each one, and you can have different pricing for each channel,” Jackson said.

Each store’s interface can be customized by template selection. The Pilot version has two templates –classic and modern – but that will be massively expanded, Jackson said.

“There will be hundreds of templates available by the time it goes live,” he stressed.

Jackson noted that product development is based in Shanghai, and the average developer is very young.

“SAP Anywhere’s DNA reflects the age of the development team, which is in their 20s,” he said. This means, for example, that while the product is suitable for desktops as well as mobile, it has been designed with mobile in mind.

“The UI is optimized to mobile, which means that it is designed to be finger-friendly,” Jackson indicated. “Having a mobile-first mentality also means that you will have fewer clicks than a product designed for desktop.”

M.R.K.T., a maker of fashion accessories which is based in L.A., but whose initial operations were 40 retail stores they established in China, is an early adopter SAP Anywhere customer.

“We found other solutions were burdensome, even though they were cloud solutions for SMEs, said Shaun Nath, M.R.K.T’s Executive Director.

M.R.K.T started with straight B2C, selling their products in 40 retail stores they owned in China.

“We then launched the brand in the U.S. last year, and are in 20 countries now, and will be adding another 20 next year,” Nath said. “Getting our brand out there is where SAP Anywhere is very helpful, because we want to simplify building something scalable.”

M.R.K.T. makes good use of SAP Anywhere’s multi-channel capabilities.

“In China, we are B2C, because you don’t have the nice retail stores you have here to sell to, so we created our own,” Nath said. “Here in the U.S., on the other hand, we are more wholesale and ecommerce.”

Nath said that it’s easy to log in from L.A. – or anywhere for that matter – and see what’s happening in all the stores.

“It really helps with inventory, because you need to be smart about purchasing, and need good reporting to show which colours and styles ae moving quickly. Stock-outs and dead stock are killers in this industry. Especially as we got into B2B with inventory, there’s a lot more risk, and you are gambling the future of your business. This helps us make the right decisions.”

Nath also commented on the solution’s simplicity.

“The clean user interface means that it doesn’t look like a database,” he said. “Navigation is really easy. The system is also flexible, so you can put in custom fields easily and get rid of them as well. In China, for example, you don’t need a field for fax numbers, because while many businesses here now don’t have faxes, none there do. They basically skipped the whole fax thing in China.”