Salesforce1 for Retail Launched to Address Industry-Specific Challenges

Salesforce.com has created mobile clienteling and communities designed specifically for retail clients. The announcement comes just under three months after Salesforce.com revealed it was developing six industry-specific solutions designed to address challenges in those areas, which include retail/consumer products, financial services/insurance, healthcare/life sciences, communications/media, government, and automotive/manufacturing.

"We've created this industry strategy, bringing in people like me who are deep in retail," says Shelley Bransten, a former vice president of CRM marketing for Gap, who now is senior vice president of retail for Salesforce.com. "The challenges, opportunities, and level of disruption in these industries require developing solutions specific to the challenges they're facing."

The mobile clienteling solution for Salesforce.com, called Salesforce1 for Retail, will be flexible in how it's deployed, but can feature both consumer-facing mobile apps and sales associate–targeted apps for tablets. For example, a customer who is browsing online can specify that she's looking for dresses in specific colors, and then see recommendations targeted to her. For the customer who prefers to go to the store to buy, she can schedule an appointment to try on the dress at a store where her size is in stock. "We know most people are using digital channels before they walk into the store," Bransten says, and this solution allows retailers to identify and serve these customers.

Once in the store, the sales associate also has access to the consumer's buying history, can suggest related products, and could look at any social media information to find more opportunities to connect with and sell to her. "What's amazing about this tool is you can...learn every step of the way, and improve the customer's actual purchase behavior," Bransten underscores.

Salesforce.com retail customers will also have access to three different Salesforce Communities for Retail: customer, partner, and employee communities. The customer communities will allow shoppers to connect with each other around a brand, receive personalized recommendations, and access promotions from their mobile devices. The partner community will bring together merchants, distributors, and suppliers, enabling them to check inventory, access a knowledge base, and collaborate with each other. The employee communities will allow employees to access training materials, marketing teams to share best practices with sales associates, and teams at different stores to collaborate.

Capgemini ClientAssist and PwC's Total Retail Clienteling will build solutions for their clients on the Salesforce1 for Retail platform. Bransten sees these retail-specific solutions as a selling point for retail clients looking for a new solution as well as an add-on for existing Salesforce.com customers.

While retailers in the past have been known for being slow to add on new technology and burdened with the hassle of legacy systems, Bransten says that mindset as changing. During Q4 of 2013, foot traffic was down 15 percent, while e-commerce providers like Amazon.com could not fulfill their deluge of orders, a wake-up call to retailers. "This is no longer an innovation strategy; this is actually how your customer is shopping," she emphasizes. "It's important as a retailer to be there during the micromoments when they decide they're going to engage with the retailer and brand."

In related news, it was announced Thursday that a Salesforce.com industry-specific solution for the healthcare industry will be launched through a partnership between Salesforce.com and Philips. The two companies have partnered to create an open, cloud-based platform that will provide a patient management system designed for the needs of healthcare providers and patients. The companies plan to create a platform using Salesforce1 that will bring together electronic health records, imaging results from Philips equipment, and wearables information. The program could be used for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as the treatment of chronic conditions. Two programs, Philips eCare Coordinator and Philips eCare Companion, will be launched on the platform later this summer.

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