LINK Cartridges: The best practice for SFCC feature augmentation

Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) is an extremely powerful ecommerce platform. It serves as the only platform an organization needs to serve up a best-in-class ecommerce storefront. SFCC provides an intuitive administrative interface for business users to manage all of their site's static content, much like WordPress or a similar CMS. On top of that, SFCC comes chock-full of ecommerce-specific features, like catalog merchandising, cart, checkout, and inventory management.

Scott Boreing
Solution Architect Manager, at Astound Commerce

These features make SFCC a great platform for business users who largely prefer to manage this data in a friendly user interface.

While SFCC may seem like a superhero sent to save ecommerce, it is much like Batman in that they are both very good at their core functionalities but have some natural limitations. SFCC is very good at what it does, which is hosting and managing ecommerce storefronts. But, just as Batman doesn't have superpowers, SFCC doesn't do everything. It doesn’t natively communicate with any third parties, which means it does not include the ability to process credit cards or any other payments. Nor does it manage order fulfillment, which means that it must be notified as orders flow through the order management processes. To maximize SFCC’s potential, it must have a utility belt. Whereas Batman's consists of batarangs, grappling hooks, and shark-repellent bat spray, SFCC's consists of integrations with third parties, like payment processors, product information systems, and tax calculation services.

Integrating with a third party is extremely valuable, because it means that SFCC does not need to be extended to include all desired functionality; instead it gets augmented. Developing an integration with a third party is not a menial task. It requires a profound understanding of the SFCC architecture and close collaboration with the third party. Many merchants don't have the resources in-house to implement such technical solutions, and most service providers don't have the capacity to support each client's custom implementation. SFCC accounts for this technical and resourcing gap through the use of LINK cartridges.

A LINK cartridge is a collection of the code, configurations, and documentation necessary to implement a given third-party integration, and is certified by Salesforce. Salesforce has a rigid set of standards for these cartridges, which cover everything from code structure, syntax, architecture, documentation contents, and even requiring a certified Salesforce B2C Commerce developer to be involved in the project. Third-party service providers typically collaborate with teams of SFCC specialists to develop these cartridges, so they are developed with experts on all relevant topics. Anyone can develop an after-market cartridge, but a LINK cartridge is one that has been certified to meet stringent requirements, so it can be trusted and implemented with confidence.

As an ecommerce service provider, another major benefit to having a certified LINK cartridge is that Salesforce lists it on the LINK Marketplace. The LINK Marketplace is the official comprehensive catalog of all certified LINK cartridges. SFCC documentation and best practices define the LINK Marketplace as the primary resource for finding third-party integrations. As such, it is a common bookmark in the browsers of developers and merchants alike.

The LINK Marketplace serves a valuable role within the SFCC ecosystem. It provides merchants and developers with a one-stop shop for finding high-quality and trustworthy integrations. It is also a platform for third-party service providers to reach new potential customers, and improve their integration experiences.

If you are a merchant looking to augment your SFCC storefront's functionality, you should check out the LINK Marketplace for potential solutions. If you are a developer tasked with integrating a new third-party service into an SFCC site, you should see if a LINK cartridge is available to make your work much simpler. If you are a third-party service provider looking to reach more future clients, and provide them with a simpler implementation process, Astound Commerce can help you build a LINK cartridge of your own.


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