Salesforce debuts personalized shopping tools

The company aims to provide services more associated with ecommerce across different retail channels.

Salesforce is launching new additions to its Commerce Cloud platform, aimed at capturing would-be customers with personalized experiences outside the ecom space.

Two of the new capabilities that are the most consumer-facing are powered by Einstein, the company’s AI platform. The first is a recommendation API (application programming interface) that will allow merchants to make personalized product recommendations outside of ecommerce environments, such as mobile apps, marketing and customer service channels or devices used by customer-service staff. The second is a visual search tool that will allow customers to search inventory with a camera and photo, a method that is becoming increasingly popular.

The recommendation API is in beta testing, while visual search is currently being piloted and is expected to be available in the second half of the year.

Salesforce is also launching a service to help merchants activate inventory, both in-store and at fulfillment centres, in real time. On top of allowing retailers to manage requests during high-volume periods – such as the holidays – it also allows them to offer programs like browsing by store or click-and-collect to customers. The service is expected to be available within the first half of 2019.

On the developer side, Salesforce has also released a number of retail-focused tools aimed specifically at getting physical and digital commerce experiences off the ground faster, such as an online learning resource, a tool that allows developers to search available APIs for the one they need and developer sandboxes that help organize teams and streamline their development and testing processes.

By offering all of these services through one platform, Salesforce wants to attract clients looking to both streamline their operations and capture customers in channels outside of an ecommerce site.

“Digital commerce no longer starts with just a shopping cart,” said Mike Micucci, CEO of commerce cloud at Salesforce, adding that the new tools will help brands meet customers “wherever they are.”

Citing research conducted with Deloitte last year, the company says the average retailer uses 39 different systems – across areas including point-of-sale, mobile, call center, email marketing and social media – to manage all the ways in which they engage with their customers. Besides being complicated, most systems eventually direct a customer to the ecommerce site, which Salesforce says creates the “risk of losing a consumer [a brand has] managed to engage on one channel because they’re asking them to transact on another.”