It’s January. The holiday hustle and bustle has died down. For many of us, commerce is the last thing on our minds (Hello, holiday bills!). But if you’re in retail or supporting a retail vertical, it’s only just the beginning for you! Analysts everywhere are looking at the holiday actuals compared to their predictions and tightening their focus. Retailers are reviewing gaps in their performance during the holiday season to start game planning better for this new year, and IT leaders are looking at what they can do to optimize their customers’ results for the next rush.
With the current economic reality, many retailers are being deliberate with their business spending, pushing for initiatives that quickly demonstrate returns. For IT leaders, that means looking at more than new feature upgrades in customers’ current tech stack; it means understanding trends and the right tech that can get them the level of differentiation they need in their market. To better prepare both retailers and IT leader for the new year, CDW has identified three key areas to focus on in 2024.
- You guessed it… AI.
84% of salespeople using Generative AI say it increases sales by enhancing and accelerating customer interactions. [Salesforce, Generative AI Snapshot: Sales & Service, 2023] But while Generative AI may be all the buzz, very few businesses have implemented a solution yet. Most retailers are in the foundational stage of their AI roadmap, assessing their capabilities and learning new ways to incorporate the technology to get ROI.
To be successful at AI, retailers need to be able to process data very quickly. To reduce latency and increase speed, 2024 will continue to focus on things like edge computing. This includes bringing computing abilities and data storage closer to the source of information and the users. Just a few years ago, retailers were on the path to moving everything to the cloud. Now, retailers are adding computer power closer to the physical store locations because AI requires an instant response.
But let’s be very clear about one thing… It’s all about the DATA! AI can only work with clean, accurate data. An article in a 2018 Harvard Business Review, “If Your Data Is Bad, Your Machine Learning Tools Are Useless,” also regarded poor data quality as the number-one enemy of machine learning. This can be overwhelming to businesses with multiple systems and long tenures of data. Having the right consultants to ask key questions and evaluate the data accordingly will allow retailers to start experimenting with the power of AI.
- Unified Commerce
As operational efficiency allows retail companies to be successful in the current economic environment, retailers will be looking at ways to bring their commerce platforms together. This allows for better reporting, consistent experience for customers and employees, and lower maintenance costs. Customers are returning to stores looking for an immersive experience that is an extension of their online experience. Having one commerce platform allows for consistent experiences and information for both employees and customers! Imagine not having to maintain multiple sets of systems, but instead a system where customer, product, pricing, and promotional data is always in sync. With the latest commerce platforms out there – it is very achievable.
- Customer and Employee Experience with IoT Smart Retail
With so many opportunities to enhance the customer and employee’s experience, we expect connected devices to be very big in 2024. IoT opens up endless opportunities for the retailer to engage with the customer. Whether it’s camera vision used to understand customer actions, or displays that change based on contact with a specific product, this type of Smart Retail is a growing area in commerce.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud is positioned to effectively solve for each of these key areas.
- Salesforce Commerce Cloud leverages AI to analyze customer behavior and preferences. This data is then used to deliver personalized shopping experiences, including tailored product recommendations and content. Personalization enhances customer engagement, increases conversion rates, and fosters brand loyalty.
- To alleviate complexity, Salesforce Commerce Cloud provides a centralized platform that integrates seamlessly with other Salesforce products, creating a unified environment for sales, marketing, customer service, and commerce operations. This cohesion enables a holistic view of customer interactions and streamlines business processes.
- In the era of omnichannel retail, providing a consistent experience across various touchpoints is essential. Salesforce Commerce Cloud facilitates seamless integration across online and offline channels, including mobile, social media, physical stores, and more. This enables customers to engage with the brand through their preferred channels, leading to a cohesive and satisfying shopping journey.
As retailers and IT leaders embark on the new year, post-holiday reflections, and strategic planning, embracing AI is pivotal for enhanced customer interactions, operational efficiency, and elevated customer and employee experiences. CDW’s Salesforce Commerce Cloud services are poised to be the comprehensive solutions to help navigate and capitalize on these transformative shifts. January is the perfect time to start shaping the future of retail in 2024 and beyond.
Come see us at the 2024 NRF Big Show
CDW’s Strategic Industries Retail team and members of our Salesforce Professional Services team will be at the 2024 NRF Big Show in NYC on January 14-16. Our expanded booth (#4839) highlights four CDW technology solutions, including Salesforce Commerce Cloud, targeted to be relevant to modern retail organizations.
PLUS join us for the CDW Big Ideas Session with Andy Szanger, Jill Klein, and Gina Cox of CDW, and David Dobson of Intel on how advancements in AI, AR/VR, and IoT are powering new possibilities for the retail industry.
Tuesday, January 16 | 10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. EST
Level 3, Expo Stage 5
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
We’ll dig into the trends, share some of the most exciting use cases in retail today, and talk about what to do next, regardless of where you are in your journey.
Can’t make it? To talk to us more about the trends we see in retail or how Salesforce Commerce Cloud can help your business, contact us at [email protected].