3 Strategies to Build Shopper Experiences that Meet Evolving Expectations

This guest post was written by Terence Tirella, Sr. Product Manager at Salesforce. 

At Salesforce, we began 2020 thinking about how to deliver on the promise of the customer revolution that was re-shaping all of the experiences we have with brands of all sizes. In mid-February, I had the opportunity to join Mobify and several other commerce leaders from across North America to discuss commerce trends at an event in Montreal. As we mixed and mingled and talked about the importance of analytics practice, mobile optimization, and API-lead integrations, we certainly didn’t have in mind the incredible changes that would be shaping additional shopper behavior in just a few weeks time.

For many attendees, it would be the last business travel we’d be doing this year. Now looking back at the discussions we had in February, it is clear that we were right about the importance of the customer revolution, but we had no idea how quickly shopping experiences would be changing – nor how dramatically.

With commerce rapidly changing this year, it has underscored the need to have platforms and partnerships in place that enable business of all sizes to meet these evolving shopper needs. Three key strategies that have been brought to the forefront in enabling business to lead through change include:

  • Ensuring a relentless focus on shopper needs and meeting them where they are today and tomorrow
  • Choosing platforms that support cohesive and personalized experiences at global scale
  • Embracing meaningful partnerships to build best of breed experiences

Ensuring a relentless focus on shopper needs

Building effective shopper experiences can’t happen from the inside out, it has to be from the outside in. It is critical to understand what problems shoppers are seeking to solve, and how they want to engage with brands to solve those problems. 

It has been clear for some time that shoppers prefer browsing on mobile devices instead of desktops and laptops, this past holiday season Salesforce saw that shoppers were also making the majority of their purchases on mobile devices. Peak days like Christmas saw up to 80 percent of digital traffic and 65 percent of digital orders come through a mobile device (source). Embracing technologies like progressive web applications (PWA) can provide shoppers with a high-performing shopping experience that lets shoppers find products easily and convert quickly. A PWA that offers personalized experiences, like those provided by Salesforce Einstein, can deliver an even more shopper-centric experience.  Mobify provides world-class PWA storefronts across mobile, tablet, and desktop to help brands deliver the shopping experiences customers are expecting.

However, simply delivering a mobile-friendly experience and moving on doesn’t mean that shopper expectations have been met.  It is necessary to have the tools for merchants and developers to quickly evolve the experience to meet evolving expectations.  Salesforce Commerce Cloud provides merchants with the tools to fine tune their product catalog, promotions, and merchandising messages.  Salesforce has created an incredible community of developers and provided tools like forums, open source SDKs, and reference and sample applications for developers to accelerate the development of experiences. Salesforce partners like Mobify offer even greater expansion of this toolset with API-first solutions  that help developers and analysts iterate quickly on new shopper-focused experiences.  

Creating cohesive and personalized experiences at global scale

Another critical aspect of creating engaging shopper experiences is providing a cohesive experience.  Making shoppers feel like they’re dealing with an entirely different company as they jump between shopping channels (e.g. inconsistent pricing and messaging between physical, native mobile, and mobile web storefronts) or different parts of the shopping lifecycle (e.g. inconsistent experience between retail and service channels or between telephone service and digital service) is an easy way to lose the trust and engagement of shoppers.  

Salesforce believes in supporting the full shopper lifecycle and provides a Customer 360 platform to help business engage with shoppers consistently at every part of the shopper lifecycle.  In commerce specifically, it is necessary to provide programmatic access to merchant configured data and messaging so that individual shopping experiences can be built independently but present a cohesive experience to shoppers.  Mobify enables brands to create personalized experiences by pairing the Salesforce commerce platform with the Mobify storefront for headless commerce.  

Building these disparate experiences is best accomplished with an API-led approach, sometimes referred to as a “headless commerce” approach.  With API-based integrations, a brand can provide shoppers with a lightning-fast PWA on the Mobify storefront, while also sharing the same underlying content through other shopping channels like virtual assistants (e.g. Amazon Alexa, Google Home).  Likewise, the API-led approach allows cohesion with service channels, like those built with Salesforce Service Cloud.  Shoppers experience the same compelling brand experience from browsing and buying on a beautiful Mobify PWA storefront through to their post-purchase engagements, all connected with the APIs that Salesforce Commerce Cloud provides.  And because brands can leverage the same underlying capabilities from the commerce platform across channels, they can improve ROI and reduce the underlying IT complexities that occur when not taking an API-focused approach.

Of course, building these experiences also means making them available at scale.  Traditionally digital commerce experts spend much of the year gearing up for the holiday peak season. Calculating how much bandwidth, CPU time, database queries, etc. is needed to serve the demand from holiday shoppers can occupy an entire team at some large merchants. Now with the migration of virtually all commerce activity moving from physical to digital, peak holiday level load is being experienced daily.  In fact, on the Salesforce Commerce platform we’re seeing demand even eclipse what was experienced in the 2019 holiday season (source).

It has never been more important to be able to handle this demand.  Salesforce Commerce Cloud has been the leader in providing a trusted scalable platform for years.  As a software-as-a-service leader, Salesforce allows merchants to focus on crafting  their storefront experience, instead of running a data center. Mobify’s storefront builds on this stability by handling storefront scalability to ensure the front-end is never a performance bottleneck. Pairing the two solutions allows merchants to focus on their shoppers during this unprecedented time, without needing to worry about whether their commerce platform or storefront can handle the load. 

Embracing meaningful partnerships for best of breed experiences

No technology platform can be successful without a meaningful and broad partner ecosystem.  That is certainly true for the world of commerce.  Through Salesforce’s AppExchange partner ecosystem, the platform is extended to cover even more use cases.  Partners help merchants integrate with payment providers, expand into new channels and markets, and create even more meaningful and customized shopper experiences.  At Salesforce Commerce Cloud, we focus on providing our customers and partners with the tools they need to create these experiences and work together to evolve the platform. 

This year working with partners like Mobify, we have introduced a new set of APIs and tools to build API-led integrations and experiences. As a LINK and now AppExchange partner, Mobify works with Salesforce to provide a modern, decoupled PWA storefront across mobile, tablet, and desktop.   

These APIs and capabilities are documented on the new Commerce Cloud Developer Center where developers can explore the APIs, download dev tools, and connect with other developers in community forums.  Engaging with commerce leaders like Mobify allows Salesforce to capture early feedback and incorporate it into our platform.  As a result brands building on the Salesforce and Mobify platform have even more powerful tools to continue to meet ever-changing shopper expectations.

Wrap-up

It is clear that shopper expectations are rapidly changing this year more than ever.  It should be also clear that the rate of change is unlikely to slow, even as we all adjust to the “new normal.”  Meeting these evolving expectations will be critical for all digital commerce businesses now and tomorrow.  Salesforce is here to help business lead through this change.  Salesforce Commerce Cloud provides the trusted platform on which meaningful experiences can be built in a cohesive, API-led way with partners like Mobify who specialize in a modern storefront for headless commerce. 

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