Fueling a Seamless Commerce Experience Through Connected Devices, Systems, and Data

May 20, 2019 Halie Vining

Women seamlessly shopping for shoes on a laptop top while sitting on a couch

Today's customers are engaging with brands in more ways than ever before. And they want every in-store, online, and mobile interaction to be easy, relevant, and consistent. Over the past ten years, we’ve seen consumer brands address this demand through ad personalization, ad retargeting, abandoned cart emails, and dynamic product recommendations.  

These solutions have helped customers shop more efficiently, but as brands continue to scale these tactics, engagement isn’t increasing. Statista reports that, as of 2019, 26.4% of people block digital ads, and that number is only projected to rise. And while email unsubscribe rates have fallen, engagement isn’t increasing as the average consumer now receives 117.7 emails per day (up 6% from last year!).  

As consumers grow tired of incessant ads and emails and wary of privacy violations, retailers must find new ways to engage customers. Luckily, shoppers still want to consume content. In fact, they want it on demand. But they also want to be in control of their journeys rather than be inundated with outbound communications.  

To provide consumers with the content and experiences they seek, retailers will have to look past marketing automation platforms, ABM tools, and DSPs. They will need to construct their own end-to-end commerce platforms that streamline the retail experience and engage users on demand.  

Essentially, brands that want to thrive in the age of unified commerce must integrate and innovate their retail systems fast — or risk falling behind. And while marketing-led technology budgets have existed for several years, they’ve focused mostly on SaaS with IT lightly supporting integration and implementation. To survive in retail today, marketing and IT must come together to drive business strategy and design application networks that support seamless customer experiences, more personalized promotions, and new ways of shopping. 

Sounds simple, right? Maybe not so much. But luckily our Marketing Automation, Commerce, CRM, and Integration experts have been knocking down silos to help retailers jumpstart their transformation journeys.  

Our experts set out to identify the most pervasive retail challenges. From enhancing in-store experiences to integrating shopping interfaces, our team examined the end-to-end commerce tech stack and from this research, Seamless Commerce was born.  

Fueled by MuleSoft’s reusable APIs, Seamless Commerce is a framework that connects Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, Sales Cloud, in-store, and IoT data to create a 360 view of customers. The flexible solution focuses on centralizing data, so consumers – and brands – have seamless experiences on every device, app, and channel.  

Let’s explore how Seamless Commerce is helping retailers innovate faster no matter where they are in their transformation journey. 

Streamlining today’s standard shopping experiences 

Before any brand can begin crafting new customer experiences, they need to be at today’s status quo, which includes connected mobile, desktop and in-store shopping, and customer service. No matter where shoppers are buying, returning or seeking logistical information, they expect it to be easy and consistent. For modern retailers, this should be a simple cost of doing business. And Seamless Commerce helps brands reach the status quo by integrating marketing, commerce, sales and service systems, and creating a consistent UX across all the interfaces where customers engage with the brand and these business processes. 

Innovating new ways to shop 

The best part about retail innovation is that you get to create completely new ways of engaging customers. With AI, IoT, and middleware, the possibilities are almost endless. And while a blank slate can be exciting, it can also be overwhelming... where to start? How to home in on the right ideas? With Seamless Commerce, brands have a launch pad for innovation: 

Magic Mirror: This connected device allows customers to access their shopping history, check out right on the mirror, and even search to see if the store has a certain size or color in an item they’re seeking. The magic mirror lets customers engage how they want: 

  • Don’t want to sift through racks to find what you’re looking for? Great, do a quick search on the Magic Mirror to see if it’s in stock. 
  • Want to see if that cute sweater you had in your online cart is in the store? Login in and check! 
  • Want to check out without waiting in line? Magic Mirror has you covered! If you already have an account, you can even quick pay with saved credit card info. 

Digital Sales Assistant: With Seamless Commerce, in-store Sales Associates are armed with the right data to provide better customer experiences. Shoppers can request additional sizes to their dressing rooms. Digital Sales Assistance identifies a free Sales Associate and helps locate the correct item to get it to the customer ASAP. And when customers have questions about online promotions or online items, Sales Associates can quickly see information relevant to the customer, apply discounts and place orders to be delivered to the customer’s address. 

With Seamless Commerce, retailers don’t need to innovate from scratch. Leveraging assets from integration frameworks to application accelerators, retailers can provide new ways to shop and engage faster. 

Providing better content when and where customers want to engage 

While customers are blocking ads, they don’t dislike promotions. 60% of consumers still report that they like receiving digital coupons. And many consumers still turn to their favorite brands for advice. Check out top retailer Madewell, and you’ll find “Inspo” in the top-level navigation. You know who owns the market on DIY home improvement SERPs? Home Depot. And even niche retailers are turning to content marketing to attract and convert customers. Take a look at Lo & Sons's unique videos and sizing guide to see how. These leaders aren’t turning to content for fun. They’re fulfilling a consumer demand.  

As we see buyer behavior shift with new devices, retailers need to be ready to serve content and promotions in new and easy-to-engage ways. Check out how Seamless Commerce is helping brands get started: 

  • Dynamic Window Displays: Using mobile-device geo-tracking, this solution serves customized content on shop window displays to provide better experiences to shoppers passing by physical storefronts. This solution mimics dynamic content on websites and mobile apps to create a unified experience no matter where a consumer interacts with a brand. 
  • SMS Messages: Marketers can set up geofences around brick-and-mortar stores to create custom SMS campaigns. Seamless Commerce can send coupon code reminders, cart abandonment reminders, and even let a buyer know if the store has a product they’ve expressed interest in to deliver a frictionless shopping experience.  

As buyer behaviors continue to evolve, as privacy concerns increase, and as IoT and AI become more pervasive, the retail industry will likely feel the brunt of these changes first. With so many disparate customer touchpoints, retailers have a great opportunity to win shoppers with innovative buying methods and promotions. But they also face great challenges with large tech stacks and a high need for integration.  

Seamless Commerce helps retailers tackle these challenges with proven frameworks and jumpstarts. At Appirio, we believe every business has unique needs. But we also believe many business processes have fundamental similarities. This combination of strategy and reusable technical assets has helped keep our customers at the forefront of CRM and marketing automation. And with Seamless Commerce, our retail partners are now leading the charge in defining the next phase of customer experience. 

Want to learn more about how Seamless Commerce is accelerating retail transformation? Go behind the scenes of a multichannel retail experience in this Seamless Commerce webinar

About the Author

Halie Vining

Halie leads the Go-to-Market strategy for Salesforce Services at Appirio. She began her career in Consulting, focusing first on enterprise-level SEO and content strategy and later on UX and product management. She's worked with brands like Rackspace, HP, Intel, and Airstream to use UX strategy to drive marketing and sales success. When she's not geeking out on digital strategy, you'll find her cozied up with a book, a beer, and her two labradors, Watson and Wyeth.

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