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Salesforce’s Bransten: A Shopper Will Touch A Digital Device Three Times Before A Store Visit

But for digital strategies to work, retailers need an omnichannel coordinator to end the competition between marketing disciplines.

Salesforce's Shelley Bransten
Salesforce’s Shelley Bransten

Online-to-offline attribution is becoming the top priority for physical businesses trying to measure the success of all their various efforts to connect with their digital, always-connected consumers.

Two weeks ago, we looked at that question from the perspective of upscale furniture retailer Room & Board, which held a demo with Salesforce, ahead of the software marketing company’s Connections conference and update of its Marketing Cloud that’s being revamped to better reflect the omnichannel connections between consumers and brands.

Shelley Bransten, SVP for Retail & Consumer Products Industry Solutions at Salesforce, says that she’s seen vast improvements in how retailers have shown that they take omnichannel more seriously. And she has some advice for the path retailers need to take when it comes to dismantling the internal competition among marketing disciplines in order to realize overall growth from all of a brand’s channels.

GeoMarketing: How has mobile influenced the trend around online-to-offline marketing for retailers?

Shelley Bransten: I think retailers have actually made their mobile experience much better. They’ve made it responsive, and we’re certainly seeing that with our retailers at Salesforce. We’re seeing that a customer will touch a digital device three times before they’ll ever come into a physical store.

They’re searching, they’re browsing, they’re looking for a location…

You got it. Some of it’s the more advanced retailers, who will offer “reserve in store” services, where a consumer can make an online appointment or do something like “click and collect.”

It’s largely about discovery and research. What we’re really working on with our customers is this idea of “the journey,” where we identify that customer at the beginning. By the time they get to the store, they’re not starting over again, which was a perennial problem for retailers.

Another theme that all major marketing companies are trying to address is the issue of breaking down media and platform silos. There’s just one shopper — not a single “mobile consumer” or “social shopper.”How are the retailers you work with embracing the idea that different areas need to synthesize their efforts, as opposed to having mobile compete with social or display compete with customer relationship management?

For our retailers, the executives we work with are on the “innovation side,” which means that there is someone or a group that oversee all those various disciplines. If you did a LinkedIn search, you would start to see the emergence of the “Chief Omnichannel Officer” and the “Chief Digital Officer” that controls the store’s marketing efforts. We’re seeing organizational charts and titles indicate that kind of forward-looking role and approach. This is what’s important.

What has driven the change? Is it the wider use of data? The increasing importance of social and mobile?

This is not a technology problem. This is a people and process challenge. We are seeing change there because it’s their livelihood. There is no choice about ending the competition between internal marketing channels.

As digital and physical marketing disciplines converge, does the physical store become even more essential as a branding tool?

Absolutely. If you look at what happened with Target and CVS, people are reimagining their physical stores. Those are conversations we’re definitely having.

What’s interesting to me, and the way we approach it, is it really starts for us at the shopper level, because if the store is going to be a fulfillment place for one customer one day, it also could be a place where you want to get inspiration the next day.

It depends on that shopper and their particular journey. What I love about our technology and when I look at our roadmap, we’re really starting with, “Who’s that customer?” and “What do they want?” Then, really talking to our retailers about the store, the physical experience, changes as a result of that.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.