SAP acquires Emarsys to build out CX offering

Latest acquisition pitched as way to further improve SAP's omnichannel engagement and personalisation capabilities

SAP has acquired retail marketing automation and personalisation platform, Emarsys, for an undisclosed sum, a deal designed to build out its customer experience offering.

Emarsys provides a cloud-based omnichannel customer engagement platform with functionality for personalising customer interactions across email, mobile, social, SMS and the Web at scale. Founded in 2000, the group has raised more than US$55 million over the years, including $22.3 million four years in a capital raising round led by Vector Capital.

Headquartered in Austria, Emarsys has more than 1500 customers worldwide and 800 employees with Australian clients including Cue Clothing, Showpo, National Tiles, GlamCorner and Total Tools.

Under the deal, Emarsys’ operations will become part of the SAP Customer Experience business unit. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approval. Purchase price and other transaction details have not been disclosed.

In a statement, SAP said enhancing its customer experience management portfolio with Emarsys will help it support brands striving to deliver hyperpersonalised, omnichannel engagements in real time.

“Adding the Emarsys customer engagement platform to our leading SAP S/4HANA and Experience Management technology from SAP and Qualtrics opens up new possibilities for our customers that are unique in the market,” said SAP CEO, Christian Klein.

“The success of brands worldwide depends today on their ability to offer a compelling customer journey and to cater to the individual expectations of customers. To meet these expectations, front-office data must be integrated with back-office capabilities and with individual customer feedback.

“Once the transaction closes, SAP will enable brands to connect every part of their business to the customer, including experience data. We will deliver a portfolio for a ‘commerce anywhere’ strategy allowing for hyperpersonalised digital commerce experiences across all channels at any time.” 

SAP president of Customer Experience Solutions, Bob Stutz, said combined capabilities will include linking commerce signals with the back office and activating the preferred channel of the customer with a relevant and consistently personalised message, “allowing customers the freedom to choose their own engagement”.

Emarsys CEO, Ohad Hecht, said joining forces with SAP was a big step forward in the group’s evolution within the digital marketing and customer engagement ecosystem.

“We’re confident that, once we have regulatory approval, our customers and partners will quickly benefit from synergies between the Emarsys platform and the SAP Customer Experience portfolio,” he said.

The latest SAP acquisition comes after an 18-month gap in what has been a string of purchases that appeared to extend the vendor’s customer experience reach and offering. One of the most notable in the last two years was the US$8 billion purchase of Qualtrics in November 2018, a customer and employee feedback management platform.  Other related acquisitions include customer identity management player, Gigya, in 2017; and cross-channel marketing measurement firm, Abakus, in 2016.   

However, a decision to spin Qualtrics out as a separate public company in July surprised analysts and raised questions about whether SAP was going to continue to aggressively pursue the CX tech path.  SAP had said it would remain a majority shareholder, but with growth of 40 per cent, the decision to spin out was about giving Qualtrics more scope grow in the category, Klein said at the time.  

Emarsys’ position in the digital commerce space ties in well with SAP’s own commerce platform, based on its acquisition of Hybris in 2013.

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