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SAP Upscale Commerce gets reboot

SAP relaunches its Upscale Commerce, first released three years ago to little fanfare, to a broader midmarket base to compete with Shopify's top-end offerings.

SAP has bet that a makeover of Upscale Commerce, its 3-year-old SaaS package that competes with Shopify, will attract more online brand startups and midmarket users.

Upscale Commerce, a part of SAP Commerce Cloud, competes with Shopify Plus, which gives enterprise merchant users more support, flexibility and access to more of the underlying code than its small-business offering. Upscale Commerce does not refer to luxury items being sold online, but rather that the package is supposed to enable businesses to "scale up."

SAP Upscale Commerce features include one-click translation of websites into iOS or Android mobile apps, AI tools to personalize and orchestrate customer journeys, order management and payments processing.

After SAP did a study of the global e-commerce market landscape last year, it concluded that no single product -- such as SAP Commerce Cloud -- can fit all business sizes and geographies, said Nuno Pedro, global head of commerce solutions at SAP. That led to the relaunch of Upscale Commerce with more midmarket-friendly updates to make it more attractive to companies with revenue that ranges from $1 million to $5 billion.

They're going after established brands that have a business model, maybe [a mix of] in-store and online, or companies thinking of going direct-to-consumer. Not entrepreneurs.
Jordan Jewell Analyst, IDC

IDC analyst Jordan Jewell said Upscale Commerce fell on hard times the last few years because it requires a focus on small business that is difficult for SAP, a technology company that also caters to the largest enterprises. Going after the midmarket could be a right-sized ambition for SAP Commerce Cloud and the Upscale Commerce SaaS package, Jewell said. Its success will depend on how SAP educates its sales team and resellers on how to sell a product that costs a tenth of what SAP Commerce Cloud typically costs.

"SAP does much better with enterprise companies -- not companies that are one or two people," Jewell said. "They're going after established brands that have a business model, maybe [a mix of] in-store and online, or companies thinking of going direct-to-consumer. Not entrepreneurs."

Joy launches on Upscale Commerce

Upscale Commerce customer and Swedish women's fashion brand Joy relaunched as a web-only retailer last month. While the brand has been around for nearly 50 years, it had changed ownership and declared bankruptcy prior to the pandemic. Its new owners bought the brand, the web domain and a list of 300,000 loyal customers and launched an e-commerce storefront.

While the pandemic devastated the clothing and shoes retail sector last year, Joy predicts the return of in-person work and social events will release pent-up customer demand for its fashions. For now, Joy will remain online-only, but the company plans to experiment with some event-based sales and possibly a pop-up store later this year.

During its relaunch, Joy narrowed down its vendor choice to Shopify and SAP. It ultimately picked SAP Upscale Commerce for several reasons, said CEO and co-founder Anna Ullman Sersé: It enabled her and her colleagues to edit content without the need for developers. It's a tool perfect for the company's present size, but it also has room to grow -- and, ultimately when growth comes as Joy's leadership hopes it will, the company can scale up more easily.

"We wanted speed-to-market -- something that was fast to set up -- and we didn't want a huge IT project to set up in order to launch this," Ullman Sersé said.

She added that Upscale Commerce also offered a better architecture for shoppers who browse more than they use search to buy things.

SAP Commerce Cloud's Upscale Commerce relaunch is part of this month's SAP Sapphire Now 2021 virtual conference.

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