We just wrapped up an amazing Dreamforce last week. Across the keynotes, campground, breakouts and theater sessions I noticed an important trend – that a broad range of industries; healthcare, insurance, travel, transportation, finance and telecom and more, are looking to retailers for inspiration as they go direct-to-consumer. Many attendees to retail sessions, for example, were Trailblazers from non-retail industries, looking to apply DTC best practices to their own businesses.

This shouldn’t come as a complete shock as retailers are in the business of knowing and connecting with their consumers. With the continuous change in consumer technology, social media and payments, retailers have set the pace for change and other industries are taking note especially in the areas of connecting commerce and service, creating effective mobile experiences and going direct-to-consumer

Connecting Commerce and Service

We’ve all been there; abandoning an online shopping cart because we couldn’t get a question answered. Retailers have spent a lot of time and focus trying to reduce abandoned carts and execute better customer service, and Trailblazers like GoPro have done just that by connecting commerce and service. In the session GoPro Beyond the Sale: Turn Shoppers into Advocates with Commerce & Service, we learned how shoppers on GoPro.com can access support at any time via the persistent ‘Support’ option on the navigation bar. This means shoppers can get answers to questions at any time during their shopping process (they’re not restricted to weekday business hours) from research to purchase and beyond. GoPro makes getting support even easier for shoppers with options to search for topics or contact a service agent by phone or via a chat directly from their online site.

Businesses that operate in the telecom and travel industries can certainly appreciate how connecting online and service experiences would benefit their consumers as well.  Imagine purchasing a vacation package but wanting to know more about a certain hotel or wanting to know which mobile data package is best suited for your needs. How would that interaction be better if consumers have constant access to expert support?

Effective Mobile Experiences

The key to creating better mobile experiences is understanding how users interact or want to interact with the mobile site. At the Mobile Best Practice Theater in the Dreamforce Campground, we discovered how Trailblazer UGG creates engaging and enjoyable mobile experiences through an applied set of best practices which include:

  •       Making search a visual priority
  •       Creating navigation that is simple and easy to use
  •       Optimizing the product detail page
  •       Keeping the checkout experience minimal and frictionless

The same best practices that UGG has in place for its mobile site extend well beyond the retail industry. Let’s explore finance and banking as an example:

  • When on a banking website do you want to easily be able to find the search bar? Yes, bankers want the option to search for specific topics or items of interest, just like someone shopping for the latest fashions.
  • Do you want the site navigation to be simple? Yes, users want to easily find their accounts, bill pay options or find information on new services.
  • Is finding the right information on a page important? Yes, whether retail or finance and banking, mobile real estate is the same and users want access to the most important information without having to scroll.
  • When making a purchase do you want the process to be frictionless? Of course, users want checkout to be easy and we see non-traditional retailers starting to move more and more into the commerce space, such as Financial institutions offering new pay for services like credit monitoring.

Going Direct-to-Consumer

Going direct-to-consumer has long been on the mind of branded manufacturers and during the session Time to be Direct: Seizing Opportunity Online By Going ‘Direct-To-Consumer’ Trailblazer Melissa & Doug shared how they navigated going direct-to-consumer while still maintaining their B2B relationships. The session focused on five key questions to consider when moving direct-to-consumer and included:

  •       What are your direct-to-consumer goals?
  •       Is your organization set up for success?
  •       How well do you know and understand the end consumer?
  •       How can you breed new business without cannibalizing existing channels?
  •       Are you prepared to build and maintain content?

These questions of course speak to branded manufacturers and retailers in general but they also apply to any company looking to establish a relationship directly with their end customer. One such industry showing great interest in this topic is insurance. You can imagine the similarities insurance companies share with and can learn from branded manufacturers when going direct-to-consumer.  Considerations include how to balance maintaining their existing channels through insurance agents with a direct channel, creating content that speaks to the broader consumer and gaining better insight into their end user.

Dreamforce ’17 highlighted Trailblazers, like the above, across industries and geographies, whose stories inspired and educated not only those in retail but across the entire business spectrum. Retailers, once hesitant to embrace innovation, are truly blazing new trails, and helping to pave the way for others. One example is artificial intelligence. Check out our recent guide to implementing AI-powered commerce with Salesforce Einstein.