How SurfStitch transformed the customer shopping experience

Online retailer sees end-to-end customer change thanks to rolling out a new all-in-one commerce platform

Online surf and skate fashion retailer, SurfStitch, is eyeing artificial intelligence (AI) as it continues to ramp up the consumer shopping experience and take advantage of its newly adopted commerce cloud platform.

“AI for us is an exciting thing. We will start moving towards it in a rapid rate,” SurfStitch general manager, platform and technology, David Dennings, told the Salesforce 2018 World Tour crowd.

Nine months ago, the pure-play online retailer went live on the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform to transform the shopping experience. SurfStitch has been in business for 10 years and focuses on lifestyle and coastal culture.

“It was a real end-to-end customer experience change for us, which we couldn’t have done previously on our old platform,” Dennings said, explaining the company can now enable a more substantive marketing strategy on the customer experience front.

“We launched on commerce cloud which has been liberating for us because we had a bit of a Frankenstein system with lots of technology all connected together. It consolidated a huge amount of our tech - we had a separate mobile site to a desktop site. With all of the talk around mobile and where it's going, that was really empowering for us because we now had the one platform that we could work with.”

SurfStitch has seen an uplift in conversion rates thanks to the enhanced customer experience. For example, on mobile it's up 30 per cent year-on-year from a conversion perspective.

"We’ve also seen session rates move up - again mobile has doubled that of desktop. We are now in that realm where 55 per cent of our traffic is coming from mobile, up from 49 per cent last year,” Dennings continued.

Salesforce regional director customer success and retail practice, James Johnson, said in the age of the fourth industrial revolution, technologies like AI and mobility are changing the face of retail.

“Retailers can leverage artificial intelligence to both have smarter and more engaged consumer interactions, but also how they can improve efficiency for their merchandising and marketing teams at the back house as well,” Johnson said.  

“Some of the technological breakthroughs like AI, for example, have resulted in new products and capabilities that are disrupting every industry and every vertical. And there’s no vertical that's been as impacted as retail.”

Today’s customers are in complete control, and want the experience to be easy and frictionless. Salesforce studies show 59 per cent of Australian consumer traffic to e-commerce sites was coming from mobile devices.

As a result, many retailers are beefing up their commerce cloud efforts, and looking towards AI and mobility as a way to improve experiences, he noted.

Last calendar year, more than $21 billion of revenue was processed by Commerce Cloud customers on the commerce cloud platform, a rise of 30 per cent year-on-year. Customers are launching and running 3000 sites in 50 countries, and more than 50 per cent of transactions across the platform touched multiple touchpoints before a purchase was made.

For Johnson, this highlighted the fact the shopping journey is becoming more and more complex.

For SurfStich, the Commerce Cloud platform has also helped it launch internationally in New Zealand, with more global efforts on the cards.

“It is our first true regional expansion into New Zealand," Dennings said. "We are transacting in New Zealand dollars and we have the opportunity now to manage our brands that are being offered over there - as well as prices - and the overall customer experience. For example, seasonally it is colder, so we can merge product to the top, like hoodies and fleece.

“We can basically deliver a better customer experience that is more targeted to that region.”

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