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Why Agility Matters at the Edge of Shopping
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Commerce

Why Agility Matters at the Edge of Shopping

Today retail is about pushing brands to the places consumers spend the most time — on apps, messaging platforms, social media, smart speakers, and marketplaces. Here are our tips on what it takes to extend consumer engagement at the “edge of shopping.”

The days of merely pulling consumers within the four walls of a brand’s physical and digital properties are over. Retail today is as much about pushing brands to consumers in the places where they spend the most time — on apps, messaging platforms, social media, smart speakers, and marketplaces.

Brands are now rethinking their historic business, operating, and technology models in favor of an architectural solution that enables the agility required to reach consumers wherever they are.

Chances are you’ve heard the emerging term “headless commerce,” which we define as an extension of a brand’s unique experience beyond their owned properties with the agility to extend data and functionality to engage shoppers across platforms and intermediaries. That’s one solution, but it’s not for everyone — brands need to understand the what, why, and how to best reach consumers.

We had the chance to shed light on this and further define headless commerce with our partner, Amplience, at the “Headless in New York” event on April 4. If you didn’t catch us there, check out the top tips I shared on what it takes to extend consumer engagement at the “edge of shopping.”

 

Data should syndicate across touchpoints

Data attributes, content, and processes must be effectively syndicated to embed your brand into every digital experience — both on and off a brand’s property. However, brands on average have 39 disparate systems for data — and that’s just on the front end between brand and consumer. This doesn’t account for ERP systems, supply chain, or resourcing. If you don’t have your data house in order with a single view of your shopper, you can’t deliver seamless, relevant, and personalized engagement across a growing number of touch points.

 

Commerce should embed into intuitive experiences

It’s not about cluttering an Instagram feed with personalized ads. It’s reaching shoppers with deliberate, natural experiences through an agile system that manages consumer engagement in the context of their daily lives.

Here’s how: brands like Adidas are using the newly launched Instagram Shopping as a way for inspiration and transaction to happen in one place, without ever pushing shoppers off-platform. And, consumers are using voice devices like Alexa to prompt brands like Perry Ellis for outfit recommendations — creating a natural conversation between brand and consumer. (In fact, voice technology is the next user interface — half of U.S. households already own a smart speaker.)

This agility also gives way to innovative collaborations for brands like MAC and PUMA, who have teamed up to match lipstick color with sneakers. Brands can now co-market, co-brand, and collaborate seamlessly with groundbreaking partnerships that were previously difficult to execute digitally in mass.

 

Brands should be agile, open, and intelligent

According to Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer of Amplience, brands need to think about how to make sure they are set up for success long-term, as nascent channels continue to mature and evolve. There are three principles brands must embrace to succeed:

  • Agility: Brands want to think and act like software companies to make business move quickly and efficiently. Just like what was done in vertically integrated manufacturing — when manufacturers determined that not owning the entire supply chain meant they could go to market faster — retailers don’t need to own all parts of the digital supply chain when channel meets consumer.
  • Openness: Gone are the days of monolithic ERPs. Brands need to open their platforms and make them available where consumers are, and partner with technology and other business platforms to engage consumers in a more meaningful way.
  • Intelligence: The right visibility into data means brands can propagate intelligence of their own properties. According to findings from the Shopping Index, when consumers clicked on an AI-driven product recommendation during the 2018 holiday shopping season, they spent 14% more. It’s all about being smarter on how you get your content and your product to the masses to drive personalization, automation, and convenience.

 

It’s important to remember that brands can become agile with or without a headless commerce solution. As Mark Grannan, a senior analyst at Forrester, pointed out, headless commerce is not a quick software fix or a linear journey. It’s a major organizational and cultural shift that requires business and technology teams to link arms.

Consumers are everywhere. Your brand must be everywhere. That’s why it’s critical to think outside your box to deliver branded experiences across platforms with agility, openness, and intelligence. Find out what commerce solution is right for you.

 

Rob Garf is vice president of Industry Strategy and Insights and the chair of the Client Advisory Board for Retail at Salesforce. With 25 years of global retail experience as a practitioner (Lids, Marshalls, Hit or Miss), an industry analyst (AMR Research), a strategy consultant (IBM), and a software leader (Salesforce), he is no stranger to the industry and the challenges retailers face. His team currently develops industry research and advises senior executives globally on unified engagement strategies. Rob is also a frequent industry speaker and a member of NRF’s Digital Council.

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