Retail Commerce and Salesforce

Retail Commerce and Salesforce

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This week’s episode of The Retail Tea Break podcast was sponsored by Salesforce who bring companies and customers together. I was joined by a guest who thrives in a high-growth, fast-paced environment and is focused on creating strong strategic relationships with customers. Scott Kennedy is the Regional Vice President for Salesforce Commerce Cloud across the UK and Ireland. 

Commerce Cloud within Salesforce provides customers with an e-commerce platform to enable retailers to create those seamless experiences for their customers through digital channels. “We are fortunate to be in a position that we power over 7,000 sites globally, but specifically within the UK and Ireland we work with the likes of Currys and Sweaty Betty in the UK and then locally here in Ireland we work with the likes of Lifestyle Sports and Brown Thomas Ireland.” Listen on Spotify

The Flip Flop Strategy

Scott talked about the turbulent times that retail has been through. “I think we’ve come out the other side where maybe over the past two years, if you like pre-peak this year we’ve been through a period where digital revenue saw unprecedented growth and it was all about digital revenue growth.” 

He described his concerns that digital growth is starting to taper off but stressed that we’re working from a much bigger baseline because it grew so much in 2020, 2021 and for the first half of 2022. “It’s almost a flip flop in strategy in that some months in store is doing really, really well. So everyone is starting to really hone in on the strategy for in store and then in other months it’s going back to digital. So I guess it’s a little bit unpredictable at the moment.”

Company priorities

Scott posed some interesting questions:

  1. How do we drive efficient revenue growth? How do we grow our revenues while our cost of acquisition and our cost to serve is as optimized as possible, which will ultimately lead to increased profit margins within the business?
  1. In the case of technology systems, can we remove a lot of the manual processes that we have within a lot of retailers today? 
  1. Loyalty and retention has been impacted by the cost of acquisition increases over the past few years, “retailers I think, are really starting to focus on the great existing customer base that they have today.” 
  1. Focus on this omnichannel strategy and connecting all customer touchpoints to optimize the experience across the two channels and also track our customers. 
  1. Leveraging AI: “I think there’s lots of discussion points around AI at the moment, especially with ChatGPT. But I think really when we talk about personalization, it’s how can– we’re collecting all this great data around our customers, how can we actually action this data to really give personalized recommendations at each touch point of the journey both in store and across our digital channels.”

Omnichannel, in its simplest form 

Scott explains that retailers have brick and mortar stores and e-commerce platforms, as well as the channels around that (Instagram, TikTok etc). “I think really when we define the omnichannel journey for customers; there are just so many different touch points which ultimately makes it harder for retailers to embed the key message and key personal product recommendations at every touch throughout this. So I think it’s really how can we engage our customers with just leveraging the data that we have to ensure that they’re just not shopping elsewhere, which will also lead to driving up loyalty for the customer base as well.”

Scott describes how he ordered a shirt for same day delivery/ next day online from a certain brand. Having realised he’d forgotten cufflinks, he popped into physical store (of the same brand). To join the two customer journeys together and give a true omni-channel experience, the brand used e-receipts. Having used his email address to shop online, in the retailers’ eyes Scott had created a data rich profile. Now, having used the same email address instore, the brand had a rounded view of Scott’s purchases and behaviours across both channels. This should enable the retailer to make smarter recommendations to Scott, driving future sales and loyalty.

Acquiring Customers

During the podcast, Scott explained that good retailers who have a loyal customer base need to discount less, which means they are driving higher margins. However, he agreed that it has got harder to acquire customers over the last few months, because it is becoming more expensive. So he sees retailers focusing on engagement strategy to start driving up the lifetime value of each customer. 

The companies that get it right ultimately have to get this single view of a customer. I think that that’s where a lot of retailers struggle, especially omnichannel retailers. Because we might have lots of rich data in terms of our point of sale data. We might have our e-commerce data, we might have our marketing data, we’ve got all this really, really good stuff. But when it lives in these different silos and different tools, it gets very hard to really personalize that experience across these channels. 

So I think retailers that are getting it right are focusing on how can we amalgamate all of this data into one solution. Once we amalgamate it all in, we can have one true profile on each customer, which will then allow us to do things like the correct customer segments to do the right personalization of products and then across each disparate channel today. Because I think that that’s probably a key thing is for a lot of retailers, they are very disparate today. Meaning that you or I as a consumer are probably going to be getting comms through different channels that might not be relevant to us or when we land on a certain website, we may see products that of no interest to us. I think at each of those touch points, if that happens, you run the risk as a retailer of increasing the abandonment rate and the likelihood that someone will actually transact with you.”

You build loyalty with a brand if your expectations are met every single time. Scott explains that you’ll pay a higher price if you know the experience is good, the products are going to arrive if and when they say they arrive. If I’ve got the ability to return that item through different channels, (buy online, return it in store for a different size etc). These are the experiences that ultimately build brand loyalty. 

Acting on the Data

All retailers collect data, but the ones who are truly differentiating themselves in the market are the ones who actually act on that data. You can drive insight from it and understand the different shopping behaviours, but how can we actually act on this data and leverage some of the tools that we probably have already? Salesforce can enable you to do that and automate a lot of these processes both for the internal teams and deliver real time automation for the customer.

“I think the benefit with Salesforce and how Salesforce has evolved is we’ve been fortunate enough to acquire different solutions as the company has grown, like the likes of e-commerce platform, marketing platform and the service capabilities as well. So I think one is around technology, but the other side is more the success and aligning the expert resources that we have internally to help customers and new customers leverage the technology in a right way. And ultimately innovating then on the technology that we have in place to address what the market is actually demanding within the space of a few months versus waiting with the risk of potentially losing your customers.”

If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, please like and share it and remember that you can also listen back to past Retail Tea Break episodes on your favourite podcast platform or even on YouTube.

Listen back to Scott’s episode

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