Michael Affronti of Salesforce on how commerce is accelerating to the cloud

Salesforce is the global CRM leader that empowers companies of every size and industry to digitally transform. Headquartered in San Francisco, and with offices around the world, Salesforce supports more than 150,000 businesses – including Mercedes-Benz, IBM, and AT&T – by providing them with the tools to create a 360-degree view of their customers.

We spoke with Michael Affronti, senior vice president of payments, about Salesforce’s mission, their recently launched Salesforce Payments, and their collaboration with Stripe to build new types of financial products.

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    Connect
    Partner Ecosystem
Global
Enterprise

How important are payments for your Salesforce customers?

Salesforce Payments can make it easier for customers to grow their businesses. For example, companies can now accept cross-border payments successfully, allowing them to open international shopfronts. It is also simplifying the finance process. We have customers who are able to streamline transaction statements to simplify their operations, allowing employees to focus on higher-scale functions like fraud management and performance optimisation.

How do you see your recently launched Salesforce Payments helping your customers in the checkout process?

Let me start with an example. One of our merchants, a marketplace for US high-end luxury goods, informed us that their average order size is higher than a traditional e-commerce retailer, and their customers have been clamouring for flexible payment options. With Salesforce Payments, the merchant can now provide more flexible options for individuals to buy their products.

Another example: Our customer, Palermo’s Pizza, wanted to be as flexible as possible given their broad reach of US and global customers. As they go direct-to-consumer they wanted a solution with alternative payment options like Apple Pay, giving consumers the options they want most in a trusted manner.

What are your goals for customer sales in terms of payment innovation for the next year?

Our customers are looking to do more with less right now – spending less but continuing to grow their business and help their respective customers. We’re focusing on making it easier for companies to run their business, make sales, and accept payments, which includes expanding to new geographies by opening a digital shopfront.

Traditionally, this expansion would require new technology, partnerships, and contracts to set up a new payments processor. Salesforce makes this easier by using a new commerce cloud shopfront to help our customers continue to thrive despite current uncertainty and volatility.

What differentiates Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud from the competition?

We have many Salesforce expert users around the world who are leading digital transformation by using the Salesforce platform. These “trailblazers,” as we call them, are embedded in the largest organisations we work, as well as in local shopfronts. Salesforce Commerce Cloud helps these users do everything differently – from discovery to delivery – to create the best digital experience for selling products or offerings. Combined with our management and payment solutions, we’re seeing our customers thrive with Commerce Cloud to transform the way they get their value to their customers.

Has Salesforce observed customers turn to omnichannel solutions in the past few years?

In nearly every customer type, we’ve seen them move to omnichannel solutions. Brick-and-mortar Salesforce customers are going online for the first time, while B2B customers – like a manufacturing company that primarily sells to car manufacturers – are now offering a direct-to-consumer aspect to their business. Businesses are using new channels and leaning on the latest technologies to build additional revenue streams to service their customers more efficiently.

What are some of the key differences in the way you work with larger businesses compared to smaller merchants?

It starts with trust and scale. These organisations are often operating across geographies and regions that have a complicated set of regulatory requirements for accepting payments, storing user data, and communicating with buyers. We want to ensure businesses remain compliant and fit into these regulations at a desirable scale.

What are the top things Salesforce wants to accomplish over the next five years?

We are increasing our focus on sustainability. We’ve taken a pledge to support the conservation, restoration, and growth of over 50 million trees, with the goal to get 100 million trees planted. As a founding member of this effort, Salesforce can help deforested parts of our planet. We also have our Pledge 1% Movement. More than 15,000 companies from over 100 countries have joined us in giving 1% of their time, 1% of their equity, and 1% of their product to non-profits.

Where do you think Salesforce and Stripe’s values are uniquely aligned?

It's been a privilege to work with Stripe as a strategic partner for Salesforce Payments. We partner with Stripe because it is the trusted payments provider for the new economy, being a digital-first innovator with a flexible platform. Stripe’s infrastructure allows us to be innovative. The collaboration between our teams at the product, marketing, and business levels has allowed us to bring products to our customers quickly and nimbly.

Looking to the future, what can Stripe and Salesforce do to continue partnering effectively to solve pain points for our users?

Many customers are at the beginning of their digital transformation in payments, learning the breadth of what payments can do for them. It can be difficult to understand the total impact this has on their business, from costs to conversion to checkout. To help customers in the Salesforce ecosystem, we are working with Stripe to build new types of financial products and deliver innovation.

When it comes to our partnership with Stripe, I’m excited to continue to educate our customers on these topics to empower them to build better business cases and drive change.

Salesforce is a technology partner in the Stripe Partner Ecosystem. Learn more at https://stripe.com/customers/salesforce.

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