Dreamforce 2017 - Adidas hits the ground running with AI e-commerce app

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan November 7, 2017
The vexed question of Marc Benioff's footwear for Dreamforce was solved this year by a major commitment to Salesforce tech by Adidas.

This year's model

In the run up to Dreamforce, there are lots of questions that spring to mind for those of us who are regular attendees. Who will be keynoting? What rock star band is playing the main conference party? Who will be the inspirational speaker?

Then there’s the really burning question - what shoes will CEO Marc Benioff be wearing?

No, seriously - Benioff’s footwear has been one of the talking points of several Dreamforces. Typically they’re very expensive, customised top-end sneakers, often adorned with clouds.

Blasts from the past

But this year at Dreamforce, there’s only one footwear provider of choice and that’s Adidas, feted as a perfect example of the kind of Trailblazer corporate exemplar around which this year’s gig has been built.

So, no surprise then that Benioff’s size 14 feet were encased in a pair of retro Adidas sneakers, replete with the iconic three white flashes. (He even matched them with an Adidas tracksuit during a costume change at the main keynote.)

Away from kitting the CEO, Adidas used Dreamforce to launch a new AI-enabled shopping app designed to offer a personalized experience for consumers, based on their individual style and buying patterns. To pay for items, customers can tap-to-buy, using a credit card or digitally via Apple Pay or Android Pay.

Once a purchase has been made, the customer can track their order, and chat with customer services regarding it. Such chats will intially be with a human being, but within a few months, Adidas will introduce chat bots to handle simple queries, with human intervention only when things get more complicated to deal with.

From Adidas perspective, the important thing is that the app’s AI capabilities will learn as it goes. From interaction with a consumer, the app will pick up more and more data about what he or she likes and doesn’t like and start to make recommendations, encouraging upsell opportunities.

Salesforce commitment

The app is currently available to download through both the App Store and Play Store in the US and the UK, with plans to roll out to more countries in the first half of 2018.

It’s built on Salesforce, of course - Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud and Service Cloud - and represents the first time that the German company has offered in-app purchasing capabilities. It’s also indicative of the importance that Adidas now places on e-commerce. Its online store grew 60% year-on-year last year, with 1.2 million pairs of shoes being sold over the internet each day.

And that’s only the start. By 2020 Adidas expects to see €4 billion in revenues coming from e-commerce, up from €1 billion in 2016. As Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted explained:

The most important store we have in the world is now dot com…Our primary interface now is through digital media, there is no TV advertising,

The company is currently executing against a strategy called "Creating the New," which centers on better understanding, catering to and engaging with consumers' needs through a bolstered digital presence. That includes investing in new tech, such as 3D printing which had been used to produce the shows that Rorsted was wearing:

This is what we see is going to be the future. We think by cannibalizing our industry, we can completely change this industry. And that’s why having software capability in our organization is fundamental beyond the capability to design the coolest products.

We believe through data that we create the best products. We sell 1.2 million pairs of shoes per day. The more we customize, the more money we can make and the happier the consumers. By using technology, we can understand who consumers are and the more we know about them, the better we serve them.

Adidas is also using the Krux DMP (Data Management Platform) - which was acquired by Salesforce last year, - to capture online and Web behaviours. That data is then merged with CRM data to deliver campaigns that can be served across all types of devices. Meanwhile the firm’s e-commerce platform is built on the Commerce Cloud as a global system to cover multiple languages and currencies.

Stephanie Buscemi, EVP, Product Marketing at Salesforce, demoed the app, noting:

Adidas is operating in a diverse world, and that ability to build it once and deploy it globally means that for every language and every currency, they can replicate that site. That means they’re relevant in the markets they serve. They’re relevant to those individuals. And when those individuals come onto the site and have it in the language they prefer, in the currency they prefer, they also get served up only the things that they’re going to like.

Buscemi also highlighted the role of Einstein AI tech in the app:

With the power of the Service Platform and Einstein built in, when you talk to those agents, they’re smarter and more productive than ever before. Einstein bots are transforming the world of service. They are the ultimate helper. Using Salesforce Einstein bots to power their service interactions, Adidas is able to do everything. It is able to handle all those repetitive tasks, those actions, whether you want to make a return, or you want to exchange something.

It's a major commitment to the Salesforce platform and certainly elevates Adidas to Trailblazer status. Rorsted concluded:

By using [Salesforce technology], we can understand who the consumers are. When we sell 1.2 million pairs of shoes a day — last year it was a million a day — we are completely driving or killing all process we have in the organization. The more we know about the consumer, the better we can serve the consumer, and that is why Salesforce has been so fundamental for us.


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