Retail Intelligence

A good retail leader, among many other things, works hard to ensure their team and their brand is successful. That includes everything from driving revenue to career development and employee empowerment. But it’s sometimes hard to be a good leader and a good employee when technology makes your life miserable instead of magical. At Salesforce, we are dedicated to building amazing cloud solutions that turn employees – manager or not – into superheroes.

We recently wrote about the basics of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Today, we take a deeper dive. With our investments in machine learning, we empower managers to boost both revenue and their teams, so that all merchandisers and marketers have a chance to wear their superman cape. Here’s how:

Give your merchandisers more freedom to innovate by automating manual tasks
For brands, it’s crucial that T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. But does it ever feel like attention to detail causes you to lose sight of or miss out on big opportunities? Imagine the insight you could gain, the creative campaigns you could launch if your merchandisers and marketers were freed from the tedium of labor-intensive tasks like manually merchandising categories or pairing complementary products that need updating every quarter, month or week. Let the machine learn about your customers and power product recommendations, sort product grid pages, increase revenue per send in email campaigns, and pick homepage content. Let the machine uncover usage patterns and recommend (or autonomously execute) specific actions with immediate benefit. Your merchandisers will be freed from manual merchandizing, giving them time to chase that next big opportunity. Plus, you’ll achieve more growth without having to hire a team of data scientists.

Drive Shopper Intent
Impel your customers to make that all important step from browsing to purchasing. You know they are interested in your products because, well, they’re shopping on your site or receiving your marketing emails. Machine learning can ensure they are shown precisely the products they want, before they may even be aware they want them. But there’s more. Once an item is added to the cart, we know specifically what they intend to purchase, and can therefore make very targeted (accurate) recommendations about other products the shopper is likely to buy. From there, the options are endless for continuing the conversation and, just as important, establishing a relationship with that customer. From kicking off abandoned cart campaigns to increasing brick and mortar store traffic, that one piece of data (carting a product) can drive an entire shopper’s journey across channels.

Circumvent the Bias Blind Spot
Wikipedia describes a bias blind spot  as “The cognitive bias of recognizing the impact of biases on the judgement of others, while failing to see the impact of biases on one’s own judgment.”  We’re all biased, and most of us know we are. But, it is difficult to understand how specifically these biases impact our judgement. Sometimes we want to project something that others aren’t ready or willing to receive. As retailers and brands, we want to be something, to mean something, to our customers, but our customers may want us to be something completely different. A machine’s only bias is data. It does what data tells it to so that the happy outcome has the best probability of happening. In this case, the happy outcome is an action:  a conversion, a click, an “add to cart,” etc…Machine learning is better at making decisions in situations where the amount of known data is so large or so time-sensitive that a human could not possibly act effectively. If we let automated intelligence do what it does well, then we can capitalize on opportunities that would have otherwise slipped away.

One example, Icebreaker, which uses automated Product Recommendations from Commerce Cloud. Icebreaker found that its shoppers clicked on Commerce Cloud recommendations 40% more often, leading to 28% more revenue from recommended products, and an 11% overall increase in average order value. Another Salesforce customer, who is piloting one of our new machine learning capabilities, said that predictive intelligence “eliminates the guessing. Being able to sort products and set it up automatically per customer is huge.”

Machine learning has the ability to accelerate your business in a deep and fundamental way. You just have to let it in. Whether you want to automate repetitive, time-intensive tasks or uncover insights, machine learning will help you achieve both. In fact, this technology already underpins apps you and your customers use in their daily lives.  For example, Netflix, Spotify, and Google Translate, early-adopters of ML and AI, will leap to the front of the pack experiencing the benefits and growth more quickly and profoundly than their competitors. So, when will you begin?