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James Aschberger, chief marketing officer at bedding brand Hästens, spoke about customer experience in a Q&A at Salesforce Connections 2024.

For luxury bedding brand Hästens, “technology is fundamental,” said chief marketing officer James Aschberger. He spoke to Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce, in a Q&A at the software company’s May Connections 2024 conference in Chicago.

There, Salesforce announced AI, Data Cloud and Commerce Cloud features and updates for its clients — one of which is Hästens. The 172-year-old bedding brand sells in close to 50 markets around the world, and the United States is its largest, Aschberger said. The two spoke about customer experience, retention, and the Salesforce products Hästens uses.

In North America, 76 of the Top 2000 online retailers use Salesforce as their ecommerce platform, according to Digital Commerce 360 data. In 2022, those 76 online retailers combined for more than $116.97 billion in web sales.

How Hästens addresses customer experience

Customer experience (CX) starts with product discovery, Aschberger said.

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Because Hästens beds sell at higher price points than its competitors, Aschberger said, the brand has to make sure it gets customer experience right.

“If I say let’s go outside to the garage and let me show you my car, that’s fine,” Aschberger explained. “If I say come to my home — look at my bed. Experience my bed. It gets a bit weird.”

Garf said he often hears from retailers that personalization plays a key role in customer experience. Store-based retailers have the luxury of associates knowing their customers, Garf said. That differentiates the physical from the digital customer experience even though the retailer has access to purchase history in both scenarios.

Also because of the beds’ high price points, Aschberger said Hästens often closes a store for a couple hours to focus on the one client coming in for a potential sale. Hästens’ goal, he said, is to bring consumers to its stores so they can fully experience the beds and customize one based on a consumer’s preferences and needs. He compares that to other luxury product sales, including product drops that lead to long lines.

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“I wonder sometimes what the luxury experience is when you have to queue one hour in the rain outside to be allowed to buy a handbag for $10,000,” Aschberger said.

James Aschberger, chief marketing officer at bedding brand Hastens, spoke about customer experience at Salesforce Connections 2024.

Repeat buyers and customer retention

Hästens bridges the physical and digital experience gaps by using technology to speed up order configuration. A process that used to take a half hour now takes about 90 seconds, Aschberger said.

“When you say, ‘How do you bring this into a digital world?’ If it’s just a reorder, fine,” Aschberger said. “That’s easy — to do the technology, payment link. You can spend half a million with us in less than 90 seconds if you desire to do so, know exactly what you want and you have the configuration already ready.”

About 40% to 45% of Hästens customers are recurring buyers, he said. Often, these are individuals who bought a second or third home, he added. Because they already have a bed they’re happy with, they just order the same product again.

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He said although consumers “can just click” to buy a Hästens bed. But because the retailer’s goal is to drive customers to a store, it has to implement technology further to meet customers’ needs. As a result, Hästens is working to add photorealistic renderings of its designs.

“That is something that gets important in that price segment when you work with interior designers and architects and real estate developers,” he said. “When you have these high-end renderings, from an experience point of view, then having some lousy polygons that shouldn’t present the bed — they don’t cut it.”

What Salesforce technology does Hästens use?

Hästens uses Salesforce’s Commerce, Marketing, Service and Loyalty cloud offerings, Aschberger said. Everything comes together, he added. The data integration is meant to help those who sell Hästens products in physical stores, he said. Hastens uses Salesforce’s Data Cloud to enable that integration between different modules.

“We have a lot of independent resellers,” Aschberger said. “They need information, they need training. It needs to be easy for them to make transactions.”

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At the same time the store associates need to plug data into their systems. For Hästens, which has celebrities who buy from it and seek anonymity during their purchase, it’s key that Salesforce helps maintain customers’ data privacy. It comes down to making information available “at the right time, at the right confidentiality level,” he said.

That information requires safeguards. And because Hästens collects a slew of customer data — which can include details like body weight for its bed tests — information such as addresses must be kept confidential.

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