Data was top of mind for almost everyone at NRF 2019. Responsibly gathering customer data is important, and using that data to create actionable insights to improve a customer’s in-store experience is where the industry needs to shift its focus.

I had the chance to speak with Vala Afshar, chief digital evangelist at Salesforce, about how data is informing customer experiences and reshaping the retail landscape.

“Salesforce recently looked at 500 million digital transactions during the holiday period. We found for the first time that the largest source of traffic and orders was through the smartphone,” Afshar said. “In fact, 67 percent of traffic during the holiday season came from a smartphone. That’s more than traffic from all devices only three years ago.”

While it’s clear that phones are quickly becoming the go-to device for online shoppers, the in-store experience is becoming more meaningful and better informed as a result. Afshar sees data as a big opportunity for retailers to reconnect with their customers both online and offline.

Retailers have an incredible amount of information from their shoppers from brand-specific apps and websites. How does that then connect with the experience they receive when they walk into a physical storefront? The future of retail will be about merging the two seamlessly.

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