Salesforce announces new tools for retail marketers

Generative AI is at the heart of new solutions for retail marketers, merchandisers and shoppers.

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Salesforce is launching new data and AI-powered tools for retail marketers, retail merchandisers and shoppers. The announcement came on the first day of this year’s National Retail Federation show.

Innovations for retail marketers include predictive insights into future potential promotion revenues, segment creation based on generative AI prompts, and content creation tools (visual content, email subject lines and body copy).

We spoke with Jay Wilder, VP product marketing at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, about the significance of the new offerings.

Global Promotion Management and Referral Marketing. “Traditionally, promotions management and referral management have been handled by other types of toolsets, other types of vendors,” said Wilder, “but what we’ve heard from our customers is that those kinds of approaches wind up being integrated pretty poorly with technologies and processes. Customers feel like they’re dealing with different departments rather than having a holistic brand experience.”

Salesforce is building Global Promotion Management into Loyalty Management which, in turn, is built directly on the Salesforce CRM platform. “It’s natively integrated with Data Cloud,” he said. The possibility of segmenting loyalty and non-loyalty customers by preferences, purchase patterns, lifetime value, and so on, is directly integrated into the process.

For Referral Marketing also, Data Cloud is directly integrated into the workflow with AI tools to help identify highest propensity customers to be advocates and influencers for a brand.

Segment creation. Using natural language prompts for segment creation is simple, as Wilder put it, “communicating with software in the language we all know.” Traditionally, he explained, there has been a translation process, beginning with a business objective and then involving SQL queries to databases — “a continuing manual process.”

Data Cloud allowed this process to evolve into click-and-drag. “That was a big step in democratizing it,” said Wilder, “but now I can simply describe to Data Cloud the type of segment I’m trying to create. You type it in and then refine it. It’s using our Einstein Trust layer, so we’re making sure that it’s done in a safe way, and it’s keeping the marketer in the loop so that they know when they’re happy with that segment.”

Content creation for Marketing Cloud engagement. “This is all about bringing generative AI into the flow of work. If I’m a marketer, I don’t want to have to go out to some external tool, especially if I don’t know what the security and governance protocol is. I want to work within tools that I know.” An email marketer, for example, will be able to generate subject lines and body copy at scale within Marketing Cloud. Generative AI for visual content is offered through a partnership with the start-up Typeface.

“Think about data, AI and activation as one conversation. Don’t think about them separately, because they all need to work together. The last piece,” Wilder continued, “is can we make this all show up in the flow of work?”

Why we care. Salesforce, of course, is not alone in timing its solutions for retail announcement to coincide with NRF. Whether you’re a retail marketer or not, what you’re witnessing is the ongoing effort by Salesforce to embed generative AI in workflows across its suite of products. It’s competitors are doing the same thing.

Wilder also emphasized that, with the cost of customer acquisition steadily growing, keeping existing customers loyal and engaged is a critical mission for businesses. That’s what these tools are designed to do.

New for retail merchandisers and shoppers. In addition to the solutions aimed at retail marketers, Salesforce had news for retail merchandisers:

  • Page Designer will use natural language prompts to create and optimize ecommerce sites and campaign landing pages.
  • Return Insights in Order Management uses AI to analyze return patterns and make recommendations to minimize future returns, as well as sentiment analysis to surface consumer concerns about particular products.
  • Customer and Product Insights uses data to higlight most successful product bundles and most engaged customers.
  • Inventory Insights gives visibility into available inventory.

Finally, Einstein Copilot for Shoppers is a customer-facing genAI assistant that will allow shoppers to find and purchase products using natural language prompts on retailers’ channels.

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About the author

Kim Davis
Kim Davis is currently editor at large at MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for almost three decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Shortly thereafter he joined Third Door Media as Editorial Director at MarTech.

Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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