Pureplay online retailer SurfStitch has used artificial intelligence (AI) to transform its shopping experience, resulting in encouraging mobile conversion rates.

There was no mention of the surf and skate retailer’s financial woes when SurfStitch’s platform and technology general manager David Dennings took to the stage at an event in Sydney on Tuesday. Instead, Dennings explained how SurfStitch was improving its shopping experience by taking advantage of new technologies.

Historically, Dennings said, SurfStitch had operated a ‘Frankenstein’ system with lots of different technology, including separate mobile and desktop sites. Ten months ago it consolidated this by launching on the Salesforce Commerce Cloud, which means it can now offer an end-to-end customer experience across all channels.

Since implementing the system SurfStitch has seen a seven per cent increase in traffic coming from mobile (from 48 to 55 per cent) and an uplift in mobile conversion rates of 30 per cent.

Black Friday was a great test for the revamped system, and Dennings said the team worked together to create a true site takeover for the first time. This included creating content, providing specific messaging and offers to VIPs, and working with the merchandising team to serve relevant products.

The results were strong, with session time up 20 per cent, conversion up by 40 per cent and an impressive 60 per cent increase in transactions on mobile.

Commerce Cloud uses Salesforce’s artificial intelligence platform, Einstein, to help retailers provide intelligent shopping experiences like product recommendations, personalised sorting and data-driven merchandising insights.

Dennings described product recommendations as “a new toy with lots of new features to play with” and said recommendations were “definitely driving an uplift in conversion”.

“AI for us is an exciting thing that we’ll be moving towards at a rapid rate—it’s definitely where we have to focus,” he said.

James Johnson, Salesforce regional director, customer success and retail practice, said new technologies like AI are disrupting every industry and that no vertical has been as impacted by this as retail.

“E-commerce used to be basically having a cart, adding products to it and taking payments online. Now we have chatbots, connected products… We are in the early stages of disruption and consumer expectations are only going to grow,” he said.

In the last calendar year, 50 per cent of transactions across the Commerce Cloud platform went through multiple touchpoints, which Johnson said shows the shopping journey is becoming more complex.

He said retailers can adapt to this by using AI improve customer interactions and back-end processes.

“Frictionless, easy interactions are the ones consumers enjoy. The question is as retailers, ‘How do we execute this?’

“Retailers can leverage AI to both have smarter and more engaged consumer interactions, and also to improve efficiency for their merchandising and marketing teams at the back of house as well.”


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