New Salesforce Report Shows How Retail Marketers ‘Future Proof’ Themselves

A wake-up call for anyone in the industry

54% of marketers think the customer journey is the right place to improve the customer experience.
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With the rapid change in consumer behavior—from expecting buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) options to experimenting with voice—marketers are taking note and attempting to quickly adjust their teams.

A new Salesforce report brings to light just how quickly and which technologies they’re using to meet new consumer expectations. The survey of 900 marketers in retail and consumer goods worldwide was conducted between Aug. 13 and Sept. 23, 2018. Key takeaways from the report include using more AI to power better customer experiences and coordinating across different channels to deliver the right messages to consumers.

“Engagement is the new currency for customer relevance,” said John Strain, svp, industries, retail and consumer goods at Salesforce, at a breakfast during Shoptalk, a retail conference in Las Vegas. “If you are relevant to your customers, they will engage. And if they engage, then you can build a relationship. If you build a relationship, then all good things come from that.”

Improving the customer experience means taking a deeper look at the customer journey, according to 54 percent of marketers. Over half are looking at that journey across the company—which includes common goals and metrics across teams. Sixty-two percent of marketers said they “share common goals” with the advertising team, 53 percent with the service team and 51 percent with the commerce team. It’s a promising start to see more than half of marketers sharing goals across teams, considering a different Salesforce report found only 13 percent of consumers do well with omnichannel experiences.

Working across teams isn’t the only pain point marketers are facing; they’re also figuring out how to better use all sorts of channels from mobile apps to email marketing. Thirty-three percent of marketers said their “channel coordination” is “dynamic,” a 28 percent increase from 2017. The number of channels is going up as well, with the average marketer using eight now with that number rising to 13 “within a year.” This makes sense with new channels like virtual reality and customer communities coming into play, with 19 percent using VR and 41 percent thinking of implementing it in the next 12 months—a 218 percent increase. But not every channel is mixing with others; 27 percent of marketers believe the process is still siloed, particularly in email marketing and paid search.

Data is also increasingly becoming more complicated, with marketers using an average of 16 sources, compared with 12 in 2018 and 10 in 2017. Because of that, 35 percent are expecting to use a data-management platform, or DMP, in the next two years, and 55 percent are currently using one. Finding that signal in the noise takes resources, and brands are outsourcing much of that to DMPs. Marketers use DMPs for a variety of reasons, such as the 76 percent who use them for analytics and ad measurement, 63 percent for media buying and 56 percent to test creative.

While personalization is a big buzzword, marketers are making moves to actually implement technologies to make that happen. Twenty-five percent currently use AI, with 45 percent planning to use it within the next two years. That represents a 176 percent projected growth rate. Twenty-nine percent currently use voice, with 37 percent planning to use it in the next two years. And since personalization is predicated on using vast amounts of customer data, 80 percent so far are making privacy a priority, but only 28 percent are “satisfied” that the priority is balanced.

“Data is definitely the currency,” said Mike Micucci, CEO of Commerce Cloud, Salesforce, at the breakfast. “It is the currency that is making all this personalization happen and our customers recognize that.”