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Salesforce Commerce Cloud closes gap between online and in-store buying

Retailers know they need to do a better job of serving and retaining customers. And, increasingly, the key to superior customer service is better customer data -- data that leads to a better understanding of customers and more accurate predictions of future purchases.

Salesforce is one vendor that has long been on a mission to integrate customer data from various departments (sales, marketing and service), but the company is now determined to do so from digital and physical channels to promote a better consumer experience. Outlined at this year's Dreamforce conference, Salesforce Commerce Cloud is designed to help customers make purchases more easily and help companies learn more about their customers and prospects.

Gordon Evans, vice president of product marketing for Salesforce Commerce Cloud, talked with SearchSalesforce about how Commerce Cloud advances some initiatives that the company has been working on during the past two years. Commerce Cloud is an extension and a "natural accompaniment to the rest of the Salesforce Customer Success Platform," Evans said.

He noted that while pieces of Commerce Cloud have been in place with Marketing and Service Clouds, Commerce Cloud bridges the gap between digital customer experiences on e-commerce sites and physical customer experiences in stores.

"We like to talk about Commerce Cloud as the fastest path to digital commerce -- your e-commerce site, your emails a [seller] sends, your advertising with your physical commerce in your store, and empowering your store associates and managers to deliver that same great consumer experience, regardless of where the consumer is interacting with the brand," Evans said.

For example, a retailer like Salesforce customer Vineyard Vines LLC may use Commerce Cloud to send reminder email messages to a customer who has left products unpurchased in his online shopping cart and make that information available to store associates when a consumer arrives in the store. Or an associate for Vineyard Vines, based in Stamford, Conn., might identify that a customer physically at the store has certain items in his online cart and help him find those or similar items in the store.

To address the fact that 40% of shopping carts are abandoned on mobile devices, Evans said, Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers new purchasing options integrated into e-commerce sites such as Apple Pay, making it easier for consumers to make purchases online. Commerce Cloud also benefits heavily from the new Salesforce Einstein artificial intelligence offering, providing data to companies about consumers' browsing and social media activity to flesh out data on their preferences and buying potential.

Evans said that one of the differentiators with its competition, which includes Oracle and SAP, is the partner ecosystem. "As our clients build out commerce solutions, they are adding store locator apps, fraud prevention apps and user-generated content," Evans said. "So, there are a lot of similarities to the [Salesforce] AppExchange that made it a fit for Salesforce."

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