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Salesforce Extends Reach into E-Commerce

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As long as their privacy can be maintained, most customers are generally enthused when they visit a website that seems to know and remember their preferences. The e-commerce challenge that most organizations face is that most of the information they have about a customer resides in a customer relationship management (CRM) application that is not integrated with their website.

This week, Salesforce took the wraps off Salesforce Commerce Cloud, an instance of an e-commerce application hosted by Salesforce that makes use of the same customer records stored in the Salesforce CRM application. It is based on technology Salesforce gained via the acquisition of Demandware earlier this year.

Dwight Moore, senior director of retail product marketing for Salesforce, says retailers of all types are now engaged in an IT arms race to provide customers with the most connected experience possible. Most of those efforts are focused at the moment on mobile computing devices that are increasingly being used to conduct transactions inside and out of retail stores, says Moore. Because of that requirement, Moore says Salesforce has already provided integration with payments systems such as Apple Pay to jumpstart their e-commerce efforts.

“Retailers need new tools and technologies to keep pace,” says Moore.

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Rather than trying to absorb the capital costs associated with providing that customer experience using applications deployed on-premises that retailers would then have to stitch together, Moore says it’s simpler for retailers that already have to cope with thin margins to invoke a cloud service.

In the not too distant future, Moore notes that Salesforce will also be layering in advanced artificial intelligence capabilities enabled by the Einstein platform Salesforce unfurled earlier this month. These are going to be well beyond the reach of what most retailers could afford to replicate on their own.

Most retailers at this point are already well into their holiday season planning. The ones that provide the best customer experience are undoubtedly going to gain more share of the customer wallet than those that rely on static websites. The issue is what they can implement between now and Thanksgiving that might make a material difference this holiday season.

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