Salesforce Connections 2024: AI Boosts E-commerce

June 14, 2024

The e-commerce market has exploded in recent years, transforming the way we shop.

Salesforce plays a significant role in the e-commerce software market. Two solutions—Salesforce Commerce for B2B and Salesforce Commerce for B2C—are constantly present in G2's leader's quadrant for e-commerce platforms.

Unlike other e-commerce vendors, Salesforce offers marketing and customer service software that can also be used for e-commerce. Salesforce developed artificial intelligence (AI) solutions long before they were trendy. Finally, its analytics offering, Salesforce Data Cloud, streamlines analytics for the entire vendor's solutions portfolio.

Therefore, I was excited to attend Salesforce Connections in Chicago and learn about the latest advancements in e-commerce. This blog will examine the noteworthy announcements and why they matter to users.

AI at the heart of Salesforce Commerce Cloud

For those unfamiliar with Salesforce, the vendor launched its AI platform, Einstein, in 2016. Salesforce Einstein unifies data across multiple solutions, such as CRM, customer service, and e-commerce.

In 2023, Salesforce launched Einstein 1, which allowed users to create AI-powered apps and workflows. At the same time, the vendor released Einstein Copilot, a conversational AI assistant very similar to generative AI (GAI) tools like ChatGPT, along with Einstein Copilot Studio, which helped users build AI-powered apps for Einstein Copilot and configure it for multiple communication channels.

Finally, Einstein 1 and Copilot also help better integrate multiple solutions, either Salesforce products or other software solutions.

Note: Einstein Copilot has nothing to do with the GAI tool with the same name offered by Microsoft.

Considering Salesforce's experience with AI and the recent GAI craze, it made sense for the vendor to announce GAI enhancements. However, there was also other important news, which I'll describe below.

A different approach to generative AI for e-commerce

As mentioned above, Salesforce is one of the few vendors that provide AI and GAI, which gives it a competitive advantage over companies that need to partner with Open AI or Microsoft.

At Salesforce Connections 2024, the vendor announced enhancements to its Einstein Copilot product, which now comes in three versions for each e-commerce persona: merchants, buyers, and shoppers.

Merchants can use Salesforce Copilot to enhance the consumer and buyer experience. Copilot for Buyers helps companies better support and retain business-to-business (B2B) customers, while Copilot for Shoppers focuses on business-to-consumer (B2C) and direct-to-consumer (D2C) transactions.

While most GAI tools use public data, Einstein Copilot relies on Salesforce Data Cloud, which has also been improved with the release of Data Cloud for Commerce. The new solutions harmonize data across multiple retail or e-commerce business departments, such as sales, marketing, inventory management, and customer service.

Copilot and Data Cloud can be used at any consumer or buyer experience stage, from marketing to sales and customer service. These solutions are included for Salesforce Commerce Cloud buyers at no additional cost.

Finally, Einstein Personalization is a new offering, also powered by Salesforce Data Cloud, that helps with product recommendations, real-time interactions with buyers, and insights into the entire customer experience journey.

Other relevant news and announcements

AI isn't the answer to all the challenges commerce companies face. Other than GAI-related announcements, Salesforce also released other equally important enhancements for e-commerce:

  • Salesforce Checkout is a quick way to sell online without spending much time creating virtual stores and integrating them with sales or inventory management software. It can be used for B2C and B2B e-commerce sales as well as D2C.
  • Headless e-commerce for B2B is another significant announcement. B2B sellers need the flexibility to separate the e-commerce front end from the back end so they don't have to manage a monolithic platform that is hard to maintain and customize.
  • Composable e-commerce for B2C is critical for companies selling to consumers. These companies must adapt rapidly to market changes by choosing which e-commerce modules to use and in what combination.

Not all enhancements and new features mentioned in this blog are generally available, so I have an overview of when users can expect to see them live.

Since the event was in May, “now” refers to last month.

What to expect next from Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Keep in mind that this wasn't Salesforce's main user conference. I expect to see more significant announcements at Dreamforce in September. That being said, it's very likely that new enhancements will also be related to AI and GAI.

I hope Salesforce customers can take advantage of its GAI features for e-commerce when they use other GAI platforms like ChatGPT or Microsoft Copilot.

Another challenge that AI may solve is the need for manufacturing companies to create complex product configurations, including information about pricing and the ability to create quotes and sales orders. While Salesforce does have a CPQ product, it currently integrates with other tools like Threekit for advanced product configurations.

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Edited by Jigmee Bhutia

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Salesforce Connections 2024: AI Boosts E-commerce Summary of e-commerce announcements from Salesforce Connections: New AI-powered features and enhancements for B2B and B2C companies.
Gabriel Gheorghiu Gabriel’s background includes more than 15 years of experience in all aspects of business software selection and implementation. His research work has involved detailed functional analyses of software vendors from various areas such as ERP, CRM, and HCM. Gheorghiu holds a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest (Romania), and a master's degree in territorial project management from Université Paris XII Val de Marne (France).