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Salesforce, DAVIDsTEA and DECIEM Show What’s in Store for Canadian Retailers

Salesforce, DAVIDsTEA and DECIEM Show What’s in Store for Canadian Retailers

Canadian retailers are expecting ecommerce growth, experience overtaking product, and a redesign of the ‘store’ concept. Read more about the future of retail.

At first, all Michelle Grant wanted was a new bed. Once she started taking a deeper look online, however, she behaved like most consumers during the pandemic, and wound up replacing most of her bedroom furniture.

“We’re all spending so much time at home,” Salesforce’s Senior Manager of Strategy and Insights pointed out during the Retail Council of Canada’s recent STORE conference. “This was a moment where digital was a lifeline, and the retail industry responded.”

In fact, according to the Salesforce Shopping Index, furniture was third among at-home verticals, trailing toys and learning and sporting goods. This makes sense, Grant pointed out. Parents have had to spend more time educating and entertaining their children, which spurred interest in buying supplies. The fact that many gyms were closed, meanwhile, led more people to explore outdoor activities in greater numbers.

Explosive E-Commerce Growth

Overall, Grant showed Canadian daily online GMV data from Salesforce Commerce Cloud that indicated 81% growth in digital same site sales in 2020. This included a record-breaking holiday season and 51% growth in sales for the first half of this year.

The jump in e-commerce shouldn’t make Canadian retailers complacent, however. Grant pointed out that some verticals, such as appliances and beauty products, actually saw sales decline as more people avoided going out or were no longer visiting their office for work.

Instead, retailers need to be proactive in recognizing the shift to digital also means consumers are looking at new channels for inspiration, such as social media, for everything from product discovery to purchasing and customer service.

Increased e-commerce is also affecting device usage. Grant showed data that traffic to tablets has grown 20% in Q3, for example, as older generations embrace new ways to engage with brands.

Experience Overtakes Product

Devices, however, only speak to one aspect of how customers engage. Grant said Salsforce data indicates 83% of shoppers now value experience more than the product they buy. That calls for a rethink on how loyalty is managed — something beyond simply offering a program to collect points.

“You need to know who your customer is to deliver the personalized experiences that keep them coming back,” she said.

Why DAVIDsTEA ‘Doubled Down On Digital’

Some Canadian retailers are already making big progress on this digital journey. Take DAVIDsTEA, which originally focused on in-person experiences at 240 stores.

According to Frank Zitella, DAVIDsTEA’s president and COO, the firm has since “doubled down on everything digital,” while reducing its store footprint to 18 locations.

“The technology we’re adding will put the customer first,” he said during the STORE session. “We expect to not only to deliver packages to front doors, but bring the store experience in-home.”

Examples of how this is being accomplished include DAVI, a chatbot that acts as a “virtual tea guide” to those who visit DAVIDsTEA online.

“Our brand was created in-store, through that incredible sensory experience,” he said. “DAVI is a way for us to continue listening and questioning the customer — are they new tea drinkers? Do they want their tea caffeinated or not?”

Instead of smelling new teas in store, meanwhile, DAVIDsTEA can now send samples to customer’s homes. It is also developing a digital community of customers to have online events.

Perhaps most critically, Zitella said DAVIDsTEA will be digitally transforming by adopting Salesforce, which was picked following what he described as a deep investigative analysis of technologies to manage sales, marketing and service.

“By far we chose the brand with the capability to bring us forward,” he said.

How DECIEM Developed An At-Home Experience

DECIEM, whose brands include The Abnormal Beauty Company, is taking a similar approach. It has deployed a virtual consultation tool, DECIEM at home, where retail ambassadors can interact with shoppers who have questions about makeup and related products.

“Skin care is such a personal shopping experience. You need to have someone to go on the journey with you,” said Jessica Freeman, DECIEM’s VP of finance. “We had to rethink what it meant to have that human connection.”

This also includes adopting retail technology from Salesforce to ensure it could affectively manage all the data it was now gathering from a growing number of touchpoints.

“We switched over to Salesforce because we knew one of our big strategies was to get ready for an extended omnichannel experience,” she said. “It wasn’t necessarily something we had at the forefront before.”

The Store Of The Future

Grant suggested these kinds of retailers have recognized that the concept of the “store” is also being redesigned. Salesforce data already shows that 16% of shopping transactions are now happening in emerging channels. That means brands not only need to have a presence in myriad digital channels but ensure they are unified with marketing, commerce and service operations.

Retailers might also need to consider separate store formats for contactless shopping and one for immersive product discovery. This could require brands to adopt a “check-in” mentality, she added, where associates can be untethered from a POS and use mobile devices to assist customers instead.

Sixty percent of retailers have also said they expect to increase partnerships within their ecosystem, such as sporting goods brand REI’s alliance with HipCamp to help customers find camping sites.

Finally, Grant advised Canadian retailers to take a hard look at how they handle product fulfillment. Salesforce data indicates 71% of consumers have already used curbside pickup. Keeping up with customer expectations will demand visibility into inventory levels, and whether their physical locations need to offer buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS), ship from store or even drive-thru options.

All this can mean a lot of change, obviously, which is why Zitella said it was essential that retailers pay close attention to the employee experience no matter what the future holds.

“Without people who are engaged and motivated and bought in, you don’t have a business,” he said.

Freeman said it’s equally important to be attentive to the voice of the customer, whether they are in a physical location, sending a direct message through social media or calling a contact centre.

“The beauty of omnichannel is that it’s a form of two-way communication,” she said. “And once you’re integrated, you’re able to ‘hear’ what your audience is feeling. You need to listen to that, and be ready to evolve.”

Want to learn more?

Click here to see how technology can help you provide a more personalized experience for your shoppers with 1-to-1 engagement through the right channel at the right time. Then, check out our eBook 4 Ways Retail Can Reimagine Business to gain insights on how to most effectively engage with today’s customers.

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