While everyone knows that companies were moving at a rapid pace to enable commerce solutions in recent years, no one could have expected the dramatic impact the global pandemic has had on businesses in the last 18 months. Businesses were quickly forced to re-think priorities for online commerce and digital enablement and were required to pivot to new channels much faster than anticipated.
Manufacturers and distributors using traditional “face-to-face” sales channels had to quickly adjust their strategies and approaches for using commerce platforms in today’s business environment. Suddenly phrases like “virtual selling,” “Zoom pitch,” and “remote sales support” were quickly added to the daily lingo.
Help Stepped In
While there are many players in the B2B commerce platform space, one provider is often overlooked due to its history as a sales and service platform. Salesforce, with its acquisition of CloudCraze (a B2B application provider for Salesforce), is quickly gaining attention as a powerful B2B commerce platform.
CloudCraze initially used the Salesforce ecosystem to develop a B2B application that could be distributed as a managed application for the Salesforce platform. But with the CloudCraze acquisition by Salesforce, the application was formally integrated into the Salesforce platform with new features and subsequently rebranded as the Salesforce B2B Commerce product. Given Salesforce’s emphasis on “click, don’t code,” the recently updated product provides companies a robust platform to quickly get into the online commerce game. Whether it’s a B2B, B2C, or even a B2B2C business model, the Salesforce Commerce platform can support the growing complexities of doing business in these environments. Over the next few blogs, we’ll look at some of the features of the Salesforce B2B Commerce platform and identify some compelling reasons why it might be a great fit for a proposed commerce solution.
Click, Don’t Code
Companies may struggle with digital enablement for a variety of reasons. Multiple legacy systems often make it difficult to innovate and customize. Organizational capabilities, such as lack of technical expertise or business process gaps, could contribute to the struggle as well.
It’s often difficult for a company to quickly scale up in any of the people, process, or technology disciplines to take advantage of online commerce opportunities. Salesforce has historically attempted to help companies overcome these challenges by offering solutions with a high degree of functionality based on configuration rather than code. By focusing on the rich out-of-the-box functionality, companies can adopt a solution quickly without the need to scale internal expertise. The B2B Commerce Cloud offering is no different, and we’ll look at the rich feature sets in the coming weeks.
Not Your Mother’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
As mentioned earlier, Salesforce has been praised for its powerful Sales Cloud and Service Cloud offerings. These products form the primary sales and service infrastructure for many companies, going beyond traditional customer relationship management packages by offering a highly customizable platform based on component configuration and workflow automation rather than requiring specific code expertise.
B2B Commerce Cloud further extends these offerings by offering a purpose-built commerce tool that allows buyers to easily personalize it. Some out of the box features include:
- Ability to accommodate large B2B orders
- Authenticated login and guest browsing
- Complex pricing features, including negotiated pricing, volume pricing, and tiered pricing
- Support for Salesforce’s Einstein products, which include AI-driven search and recommendations
- Built-in CMS for user experience and branding
When B2B Commerce is coupled with a company’s service functions, a new revenue channel can quickly be brought online. Service agents have a single source of truth and can now provide cross-selling and up-selling capabilities. Buyers can also engage with self-guided service via chat or knowledge articles to lower the cost of service for companies. Both capabilities can help drive company loyalty by exceeding buyer expectations.
Many companies have already made an investment in the Salesforce CRM platform to support sales and service needs. Utilizing the features now available will provide an easy path for commerce enablement without the need for a large-scale, multi-platform technology implementation. For example, manufacturing companies with complex dealer networks currently managed with Salesforce are a great fit to take advantage of the new commerce features available to provide improved service levels and drive incremental revenue.
There’s An App (Exchange) For That
Customers using the Salesforce B2B Commerce platform also have access to over 2,500 applications via the AppExchange, an independent software vendor (ISV) marketplace for point solutions such as payment connectors, shipping solutions, product information management (PIM), and taxes.
These solutions offer an easy method of enabling complex solutions without the overhead of custom development. Integration points are then enabled via configuration steps rather than managing code. If you need full financial or enterprise resource planning (ERP) capabilities, solution providers offer managed packages that integrate fully into the Salesforce environment for end-to-end business capabilities.
Configure, Price, and Quote
Many customers using Sales Cloud already use the rich functionality of Salesforce CPQ (configure, price, quote) for the configuration, pricing, and generation of customer quotes. By connecting the Salesforce CPQ and Billing product with B2B Commerce Cloud, additional capabilities can easily be added including powerful configuration logic for product bundles, complex pricing books using discount tiers, and contract execution automation.
Master data can be unified via one-directional sync from CPQ to B2B Commerce. Customers can initiate a quote request from the shopping cart and sales can then complete the order. A cart can be converted to an order for an integrated cart-to-cash solution. Purchase data will become centralized, which makes it easier for customers to re-order and service agents to provide customer service.
Interested in More? Stay Tuned
Now that we’ve learned more about the Salesforce B2B Commerce platform’s benefits as a commerce solution, we’ll start diving deep into the B2B Commerce Cloud basics in the next couple of blogs. Learn more about our Salesforce partnership, and contact our experts for more questions.