With changing customer aspirations forcing retailers to quickly adapt their value propositions; improve convenience; and deliver true omnichannel customer experiences; retailers are seeking technology partners that can help them digitise their entire business landscape.

For Massdiscounters, a division of Massmart, this meant engaging with the SAP Africa team in an ambitious process of digital transformation.

“Modern consumers simply expect more from retailers in terms of both the value proposition and the customer experience. To meet these needs, we realised we had to build true omnichannel capability and we needed a technology partner who could provide us with technology tools and deep industry knowledge. This initiated a process of reimagining our business models in partnership with SAP,” says Mark Huxtable, CIO at Massdiscounters.

Massdiscounters encompasses two well-known retail brands: Game, and DionWired. Game is a discount retailer with 141 stores offering General Merchandise and Food throughout South Africa and 14 cities in sub-Saharan Africa. DionWired is a speciality brand with 24 stores catering to a more discerning appliances and electronics consumer.

The company implemented SAP Hybris Commerce, Hybris Marketing, and Hybris Cloud Solution to enable an improved online store experience that could withstand the demands of hyperconnected modern consumers.

The implementation took place over a six-month period for the Game Online store with DionWired also going live four months later.

By March 2018, 4-million users conducted 8-million sessions on the Hybris platform accessing a 20 000 item catalogue with customers able to check local store stock availability. Of that 20 000, 2 000 items (including large appliances) are now available for online purchase and home delivery.

“Building a common omnichannel platform for Game and DionWired to leverage the technology, capabilities, and processes was a priority for Massdiscounters. The partnership between Massdiscounters’ internal teams, external vendors and SAP showed what real collaboration is about.

Building the Hybris commerce and marketing applications proved that we can start learning more about our customers and provide them with a great online experience. Our strategic decision to partner with SAP and Hybris is showing good results and bodes well for the future,” according to Jody Forrester, Omni Channel Director at Massdiscounters.

“We partnered directly with SAP for the implementation and made use of the SAP Max Attention service offering, to ensure we had all the technical expertise available to meet our project timeline. To minimise additional costs and speed up implementation, we kept customisation designs simple, which was facilitated through a series of design thinking and discovery workshops,” says Huxtable.

“We are in the early stages of adopting true cloud services with SAP. Our initial project achieved rapid time-to-value. The cloud model provides regular updates to hardware and software and allows us to scale capacity as required. We look forward to further benefits as we continue to build and enhance our solutions.”

From a business perspective, the project needed to deliver a transactional Game website with updated user experiences for the Game and DionWired brands. SAP was also called upon to support Huxtable and his team with integrating the Hybris solution with the incumbent logistics provider in very short timelines to unlock full track and trace home delivery capabilities.

To test the scalability of the new solution, Huxtable and his team took a minimum viable product live ahead of Black Friday, which takes place in November every year.

“This is where the power of SAP’s technology really came to the fore. While our legacy system could manage 4 000 online customers concurrently, we saw as many as 10 000 customers browsing and purchasing on the site during Black Friday at one time.

“And by leveraging the SAP team’s in-depth knowledge of global best practice, the customer experience has also been improved, which bodes well for our plans to scale the omnichannel functionality as we expand our footprint into Africa.”

According to Cathy Smith, MD of SAP Africa, Massdiscounters’ recent Gold win at the 2018 SAP Quality Awards is further testament to the success of this ambitious project. “What Mark, Jody and their teams have accomplished in partnership with the SAP team is nothing short of remarkable.

“As consumer demand for personalisation and improved customer experiences put pressure on retailers to reimagine their business processes and business models, the value of having a technology partner that understands the intricacies of the modern retail environment is invaluable.

“We look forward to supporting Massdiscounters as they embark on their expansion into other parts of Africa.”