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Salesforce unveils retail shopping and marketing AI tools

The CRM vendor brings generative AI to analytics and management tools for businesses' marketing teams and Copilot for Shoppers for swifter product discovery and purchase.

Salesforce unveiled new generative AI tools to improve retail operations for consumers, merchandisers and marketers alike.

The new tools are built into Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud, supported by the Einstein 1 platform. Einstein 1 connects to retail or shopper data, integrating with large language models (LLMs) to provide context in real-time, brand voice consistency, data governance and security, the company said.

The tools include Einstein Copilot for Shoppers, a generative AI assistant built for more personalized exchanges with consumers that lead to swifter product discovery and purchasing.

For retail merchandisers, there's Page Designer to create e-commerce websites using natural language prompts and Return Insights in Order Management to assess behavior in returns transactions and suggest alterations for product display details to decrease returns.

For marketers, Salesforce debuted Global Promotion Management to synthesize marketing data with predictive insights to better approximate future pricing and craft more successful rewards programs. Salesforce also unveiled Referral Marketing, which provides prebuilt templates and an AI-supported "likely to refer" tool for brands' referral programs.

Salesforce unveiled the new tools during the National Retail Federation's NRF 2024, an annual global conference for tech innovations in retail.

Shopping with AI

The new retail tools fit in accordingly with Salesforce's AI portfolio, showing how the CRM vendor is building on its mission to ingrain generative AI for better customer experience and business outcomes, according to Opus Research analyst Dan Miller.

"I expect to see lots more, proving that GenAI and LLMs are not static things but constantly evolving resources," Miller said.

Einstein Copilot for Shoppers is an appropriate addition that shows how enterprises are becoming more comfortable using generative AI to interact with customers. He said a related voice assistant would be a good idea.

"It shows that retailers and other enterprises are less concerned about LLMs going off the rails and providing bad information or hallucinations in response to customer queries," Miller said.

Screenshot of a text message exchange between a customer who needs new wires for an air conditioning system and Einstein Copilot for Shoppers recommending wires to buy.
Einstein Copilot for Shoppers can make product recommendations through text message with written and image responses as well as an empathetic tone.

Studying consumer tastes for better automation

Einstein Copilot for Shoppers also brings more convenience to the consumer. It can connect both remote digital and in-store digital experiences to collect customer preferences, acting as a "high touch concierge" that can be trained on "tastes, styles and trends," according to Constellation Research analyst Liz Miller. In this way, Einstein Copilot will be able to guide shoppers to high-match items they didn't notice before.

"This is where we have been daydreaming about AI," Liz Miller said.

With this technology, brands can eventually turn customer behavior anticipation into automation, using AI models to analyze the exchanges between consumers and Einstein Copilot as well as create triggered actions. These automated "next best brand experience actions should be taken across marketing, sales and even proactive service opportunities," Liz Miller said.

"This Copilot for Shoppers is generating a new mountain of data that needs to be ingested, analyzed and turned into action," she added.

Managing the inventory

The Page Designer and Return Insights in Order Management tools are also good examples of how generative AI can create and present data insights in a manner that is more intuitive for humans, according to Opus Research's Dan Miller.

"The offers for merchandisers also showcase the power of a conversational user interface for enterprise search to replace traditional reports," he added, saying that Return Insights and Order Management are a good addition for the post-holiday rush.

This is where we have been daydreaming about AI.
Liz MillerAnalyst, Constellation Research

Having organized, up-to-date inventory reporting will help inform retailers' product display and promotion decisions, helping to avoid erroneously pushing products that are sold out or mislabeling descriptions. In this way, Salesforce is "bringing a clear view of inventory into the data corpus to empower teams and retailers to react and respond to the realities of inventory and the business," Miller said.

"Salesforce is doing a good job of identifying use cases where data, analytics and AI can be applied quickly to turn around documentable results," she said.

There's still much more to come as retailers deploy new tools using AI.

"These use cases are just a few of many, many discoveries that will propagate quickly," Dan Miller said.

Einstein Copilot for Shoppers is in pilot and will be generally available in summer 2024. Page Designer is currently in pilot. Return Insights in Order Management is generally available. Global Promotion Management is in pilot and will be generally available in spring 2024. Referral Marketing is generally available.

Mary Reines is a news writer covering customer experience and unified communications for TechTarget Editorial. Before TechTarget, Reines was arts editor at the Marblehead Reporter.

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