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SAP green CX tech aids sustainable retail, B2B sales

SAP users can tackle sustainable e-commerce -- and be accountable to customers wary of 'greenwashing' -- with a bundle of Qualtrics, CDP, e-commerce and other tech tools.

SAP users can now take on and document sustainability in customer experience -- or "green CX" -- with a new, loosely bundled set of tools in their tech stacks.

These features measure their customers' sustainable retail and B2B sales expectations with Qualtrics; personalize marketing and offers to ecology-minded customers with Emarsys and its customer data platform (CDP); and attempt to remediate internal inefficiencies and reduce returns.

Users can also set up e-commerce resale marketplaces -- known as recommerce sites -- for customers to sell used items to each other. These can also be set up through, a company led by SAP employees and backed by SAP venture capital.

Feather sites can push information to customers, such as how much a used-item purchase reduces environmental impact versus purchasing new. It also recaptures revenue for the SAP user in the form of listing fees -- selling fees they don't get when their customers sell used items on other online marketplaces such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

SAP is building credibility because it employs 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 that their customers understand the importance of it."

SAP's sustainability push

The CX tools are part of SAP's company-wide initiative to reduce its own carbon footprint, as well as to enable SAP software users to hit sustainability goals. It also makes users accountable to customers and investors with a "green ledger" that tracks their actions.

"Customers are actually turning to us now more than ever to help them address their most pressing concerns, business model transformation and process automation, supply chain resilience and sustainable operations," said SAP CEO Christian Klein in Thursday's quarterly earnings call.

The tailwinds behind corporate sustainability are more than just it being the right thing to do. "European Green Deal" regulations, rolling out in a complex, years-long timeline, require companies to make sharp cuts in emissions by 2030. It will likely require most of European economy and society to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed a regulation that doesn't mandate carbon-neutral sustainability, but does require corporations 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 metrics." It would also require disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions.

Three P's of sustainability
This diagram is a representation of the three P's of sustainability.

These upcoming regulations have pushed 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. The customer experience features coupled with SAP tools such as the Sustainability Control Tower will help users find opportunities to reduce returns and point customers to more eco-friendly goods. Altogether, SAP aims to show concrete bottom-line results of sustainability efforts.

"Actually knowing the carbon footprint of your products -- the water, the waste, the materials, where they're going to go, the [greenhouse] emissions -- that trusted data... makes sure they do this without Greenwashing," Burke said.

Gen Z knows greenwashing

Millennials, and more so Gen Zers, want to know how a company's claims of environmental conservation match up to their actions. Companies won't be able to get away with greenwashing.

Millennials and Gen Z put much more emphasis on the kind of the 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 needs to be proven.

"Millennials and Gen Z put much more emphasis on the kind of the relationships they want with brands," Leary said. "They want to deal with brands that they feel are aligned with their interests and in the way that they view things."

Sustainability is an area those generations take much more seriously than previous generations did, Leary said.

"It [is] higher up on the priority list of purchase decision and it will get even higher, moving forward," he said.

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

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