On February 15th SAP launched its first consumer app, Recalls Plus. The app lets you know in real-time what product recalls are taking place. You can customize it for product category - eg food, toys and even for the age of your child. While Recalls seems an unusual choice for a first app, for concerned consumers - eg parents of children - it is a hot button topic. The app also allows social sharing of these alerts, so get prepared to get a lot more information on which baked treat had to be withdrawn for forgetting to label the peanuts.
But why this is an epoch-making app is because it allows manufacturers to share valuable product information directly with consumers. They can now bypass the distribution channels like retailers and dealers. They also do not need mass media or advertising to reach their subscribers. And through the social sharing options, the news will spread.
Sure, today, it’s only recalls of a specific type. But the same format would work well for frequent use-high-engagement products such as medications, babycare, airlines, food, cosmetics. If you can customize the kind of information you consume from the makers of these products many would be quite happy to receive it directly from them.
Ah, and what about trust, you say? Well, companies can’t legally tell lies so the communication would be as honest as their ads and more pithy. At the same time, since the success of this model requires the customer to opt-in, the more engaged, trusted brands would have an advantage. And social sharing would bring in feedback.
If a number of producers came together on a platform and also enabled purchases through that platform, it could change the consumption landscape. Imagine reading that your favorite cookie was now available in a low-cal variant, being able to add that at a click to your monthly e-shopping list and having that reach your home. Or that Apple had just launched iPort a timetravel device, and being able to get that without queuing for a light year.
Wonderful for the customer, and, when hooked to the supply chain system, great for just-in-time production. And when 3D Printers become a reality, that’s when we’re really going digital.
In the meantime, if SAP succeeds in customer sign-ups for its app, it could provide a valuable and differentiated media asset as an added carrot to its customers