This article was written by Tushar Ranka, Chief Technology Officer at Theragun, a Salesforce customer.
Since the start of my career in 2007, I’ve worked at startups. From my early days as a software engineer developing SaaS platforms at AppFolio to my current role as CTO of Theragun, I’ve overseen the implementation of cloud-based, consumer-facing technologies designed to support the growth of several once-small companies. What I’ve come to appreciate is the importance of a customer journey connected in every way possible.
Theragun makes a unique handheld percussive therapy device to relieve tension, improve mobility, accelerate recovery, and enhance performance, and we’re on a steep growth curve. The company launched in 2016 and from the get-go has had ambitions in terms of ecommerce sales and global expansion. As the company started to grow rapidly, we realized our initial platform could not support our ambitions. It was not built to scale, required far too much customization, and could not support international growth.
When we began evaluating new platforms, we took that opportunity to rethink not only the customer experience (to consider customers not just in the context of buying a product) but also to democratize access to important customer data across our company. Why? Because it was, and still is, important for us to see ecommerce as one piece of a connected ecosystem that takes into account all the ways (or channels) our customers engage with us. And we knew that to create such an experience, we’d need a complete platform.
Relaunching the site
We relaunched our commerce site on Commerce Cloud in early 2019. From the get-go, we saw great value, with features like robust promotions and A/B testing built right into the platform. With our old platform, we’d hunt for plug-ins that may or may not have been right for the business. Our goal, in an effort to deliver a top-tier customer experience, was to integrate ecommerce with sales, service, and CRM.
Customer data needed to be accessible to not just our sales team, but to our customer experience team as well. And, the data needed to be consistent, complete, and available as the company grew.
We work with DemandPDX, a system integrator that specializes in Commerce Cloud development, for the website, and shortly after launch we implemented a Salesforce connector between Commerce Cloud and Service Cloud that unifies customer data between the two channels. This increases agent productivity and speeds resolution to issues. One example: our customer service agents can see all ecommerce orders, which not only enables agents to look up commerce activity easily and quickly but also relieves customers of the hassle of having to recount their ecommerce history with every service agent.
Our next step for the integration of service and commerce, to come in the next few months, is to empower our agents to place orders on behalf of customers. This will transform mundane service interactions into sales opportunities and will save customers the step of having to back out of a service engagement to place an order.
In another example of unifying activity across channels, the commerce/service connector also automatically creates service cases from self-service forms on our ecommerce site.
A multichannel approach
Theragun sells its products in more than 50 countries via multiple channels including our ecommerce site and mobile app, distributors, retail stores, and a network of gyms and wellness centers. This requires real-time transparency of inventory and sales and a “single version of truth” across channels.
The Salesforce platform simplifies what would otherwise be the daunting task of manually integrating data across channels and applications, adding functionality to existing apps. For example, we use Heroku to host the backend for our mobile app and kiosk app, this allows us to use ecommerce APIs to easily connect to Commerce Cloud. We can sync inventory data across channels, and we even have visibility into orders placed in pop-up kiosks we set up at gyms, hotels, spas, and other venues. This extends to our referral program, where wellness experts share a discount code link with customers in a simple and smooth process.
Based on the feedback we received at the recent Salesforce Connections conference (I was a guest speaker!), we are working to launch an option for customers to pick up their Theragun device at a convenient kiosk location.
It is easier to integrate systems when you’re small and essentially starting from scratch like we are. Still, I recommend that any company walking down this road take a use case approach that fits their specific business. At Theragun, we’ve identified five use cases that are critical for customer success:
- Abandoned cart
- Coupon redemption
- Order confirmation
- Accessory recommendations
- Order on behalf of
Each use case requires cross-functional connectivity across commerce, service, and more. And that’s the benefit of taking a platform approach versus piecemeal. I know from experience that there isn’t an upside in integrating and maintaining disparate systems. Even if you are successful in integrating, users are constantly forced to jump between multiple systems to find data that is likely not unified or up-to-date, a.k.a. “many versions of the truth.”
We are closer to viewing all customer activity as one entity where all stakeholders have access to the same information in one place versus separate accounts.
This approach to customer engagement has enabled us to expand into new markets faster and unify our customer engagement channels more effectively, which has led to happier customers.
It’s also given us greater flexibility and more opportunities to engage with our customers, prospects, and partners.
It’s no secret that digital commerce has evolved dramatically in just the last five years, in some very important ways.
First is that customers want to be recognized immediately regardless of how they engage with you. They expect every person at your company to know their purchase and service history, as well as their preferred mode of communication. They want service people to help them with sales issues and salespeople to help them with service problems. That’s impossible unless you have a single platform that seamlessly connects all the disparate components of customer engagement.
Second is how this holistic approach to customer engagement impacts the efficiency of internal ecommerce teams. Two examples:
- Ecommerce, sales, and service live within a common platform and use common tools, which means when an upgrade to one part of the platform is made, it’s reflected across the board. No extra heavy lifting.
- In contrast to custom solutions, the Salesforce platform empowers our ecommerce team to handle promotions, manage order flows, build new pages, and more on their own, this frees up business leaders to focus on supporting growth versus keeping the lights on.
It’s invigorating and exciting to work for a startup, especially a company that is dedicated to helping people lead healthier lives. Everything, including the products and services you’re bringing to market, is new and you generally get to start from scratch in terms of the technologies used to run and grow the business. I’ve built systems that supported the growth of companies from essentially zero to hundreds of millions in revenue. At Theragun, we think about technology — not just as a way to sell our products — but as a way to connect with and provide service to our customers in entirely new ways.
For more customer stories, see the highlights from Connections 2019, the customer engagement event of the year.