The mindset of retailers needs to shift from B2C to Me-2-B says Salesforce’s Shelley Bransten, head of its retail/consumer products in the US.
And Bransten says stores require reinvention and retailers need to adjust to the idea that the shopping journey has become “deconstructed”.
According to Bransten – who joined Salesforce from youth fashion brand The Gap 18 months ago -Salesforce’s customers are revealing some key priorities for retailers.
Speaking at the recent Salesforce Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Bransten said that retail is going to change more in the next three years than it has in the last 50!
“Retail is not monolithic and this feedback comes from speaking to everyone from the big box department stores, the boutiques and the group we call the disrupters,” she said.
Three things stood out for Bransten: “The first is mobile. This is the most disruptive and transformation part of shopping. It is not just the mobile app and not just ecommerce check out. It is also the connectivity that needs to be provided along the shopping journey.”
Social was the second big issue but, Bransten says, it’s as much about the employees than it is the customer. She argues a lot of retail employees are Millennials “who wake up and they’re immediately on their devices and their own their social networks. And yet when they arrive at the store its back to the 1950s with clip boards. So the conversation is really about using social technologies to get the employees to collaborate better.”
Finally, the age old problem of delivering a 360-degree view of the customer remains more of an aspiration than a reality for many retailers.
“It’s been out there for a long time but at least now we’re starting to see our customers making progress against that goal,” she says.
Hail the shopkeeper
The store is striking back, according to Bransten. “We read for so long that stores were going away and software was going to eat retail. What’s happening is that our customers are using technology to reinvent the stores.”
There are three use cases for stores, Bransten says.
“The first is the idea of the experience centres. Look at Nike – they have yoga classes in their stores along with health and wellness gurus, and shoe fit centres. They are reimagining what the space is going to get used for and in the places where they are doing that they are selling a lot more gear.”
The next is the idea of the store as a fulfillment centre. “That really requires the sales associate to be enabled. They have to be able to do more things. They are picking and packing so there is pressure on retailers in terms of the reinvention of the associate in the store whose tasked with ten things to 30.
“And finally we are seeing the ecommerce guys coming in at the last mile. Whether its Amazon or (online glasses retailer) Warby Parker they’re putting in physical stores because they recognise, for instance, that people want to try things on.”
This article originally appeared on B&T’s sister site www.which-50.com