Salesforce Connections: 4 Key Customer Data Insights

“Commerce, marketing, sales, service, acquisition, loyalty, growth. Salesforce Connections was an energy-infused forum focused on the interconnected strategies and solutions that drive our economic growth,” says Astound Commerce Global CEO Michael Kahn. “A true tour de force!"

Here are key insights from the Astound Commerce crew who were onsite at the event.

It seems there are more tools than ever to help guide businesses to a “single view of the customer,” which is a bit ironic. The more systems we add to our ecosystem, the harder it can feel to achieve that “single” view. 

“Salesforce has been continuously expanding their platform for both broad and vertical capabilities,” says Mark Foulkrod, Astound Global Vice President, Salesforce Practice. “In addition to growing the platform organically, Salesforce has eclipsed 100 investments in acquisitions, companies, and technologies.” 

Salesforce’s Customer 360 platform offers data cleansing and synchronization that helps merchants achieve that single view, merging data across systems. But that’s just one step of the personalization journey. Once a business has the data, they need to act on it. That’s where tools such as Marketing Cloud Customer Data Platform (CDP) come into play, seamlessly converting customer data into customer insights into customer actions.

The loop between data, analytics, insights, actions, and measurement can lead to tremendous results using Customer 360 and Marketing Cloud CDP, while Salesforce will innovate to meet the market with solutions such as NFT Cloud.

1. Salesforce partners with TikTok to elevate social selling

As people continue to spend more time on TikTok, brands are discovering new ways to engage consumers with relevant ads and experiences. Salesforce can now help with this. The company announced new TikTok integration between Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud CDP at Connections—see our recent article by Dan Malachowski, Astound Vice President, Demand Practice, on what this means for your brand. 

2. Slack, Tableau, NFT Cloud, and more innovations

Your company might be a remote-first workplace, but is it a Slack-first workspace? Imagine being able to run the tools of your business—including Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud—all from integrations in Slack? Imagine reaching data-driven, visual insights using Tableau.

Salesforce showed Connections attendees how Slack API and Tableau SDK could be used to integrate to Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud to give operations team members even more power within more platforms. Additionally, new clouds were announced.

“Most recently, Salesforce announced NFT Cloud as their no-code solution to enable users to mint, manage, and sell NFTs,” says Foulkrod. “While NFTs have some level of inherent controversy, Salesforce continues to expand the platform quickly to address specific market needs to drive relevant customer experiences.”

3. Salesforce Enables Social Commerce for the China Market

As many of us know, running ecommerce operations and engaging with consumers in China is . . . well . . . a bit different from other global markets. Navigating the restrictions of doing business behind the Great Firewall is about to get much easier with an elegant solution being developed by Salesforce in partnership with Alibaba Cloud.

The solution consists of a hosted application on Alibaba Cloud that has been designed to mirror the Lightning user interface Salesforce customers are already accustomed to that will manage customer, order, product, and other key data feeds to and from your current Salesforce environments. It then leverages pre-built integrations to Chinese social media platforms and websites to enable shopping experiences that meet consumers’ expectations without a heavy lift from your technical teams. With standard support of local payment systems such as Alipay, we believe the solution will be an amazing opportunity for retailers to take their first dip into potentially huge new revenue opportunities.

Commerce Trailblazers get their first Golden Hoodie

Finally, a bit of fun: Since the Demandware acquisition back in 2016, Salesforce B2C Commerce has had an awkward place in the Salesforce Trailblazer ecosystem. It’s a different technology platform, so a lot of the Trailhead and Trailblazer content out there just hasn’t applied to us. 

A big step toward full B2C Trailblazer ecosystem acceptance took place during the Connections Keynote, as the first B2C Commerce professional received the fabled Golden Hoodie! Congratulations to Thomas Theunen, an acquaintance of mine and fellow admin in the Unofficial Salesforce B2C Commerce Community Slack group

Salesforce Connections’ in-person return was a marketing and commerce success. It is always tremendously valuable to understand the state of Salesforce’s current offerings and its upcoming roadmap and, of course, to connect.

How Custom Ecommerce Solutions Can Super-Charge Your Brand

In October 2020, online transactions in the US had increased by 26.7 percent since January last year. Retail websites, in particular, generated nearly 22 billion visits in June (versus 16.07 billion in January), a spike that even exceeded typical holiday season peaks.

READ MORE: The Key to Site Stability and Growth

To say businesses were ill prepared for the unprecedented swings in sales is an understatement. Many retailers' online stores lacked the speed, processes, and functionality to meet the needs of their consumers—and for some, inefficiencies in their online customer journeys were magnified. Brands both large and small experienced a number of pain points including:

One thing has become abundantly clear: Ecommerce platforms are complex and dynamic, and cookie-cutter tactics no longer work for businesses wanting to evolve and implement innovative solutions to their problems. By adopting custom solutions, however, companies can address their immediate and chronic pain points head on.

The Top 2 Must-Do’s to Improve Your Ecommerce Business

Astound Commerce recommends implementation of the following strategies. By embracing them as a core part of your business, you can address many existing problems and continue to grow successfully in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Adopt a creative omnichannel approach. To recover from the past many months of social distancing and forced closures and re-engage consumers, businesses must take a creative omnichannel approach, shifting quickly to online channels to engage with consumers. Many have already done so: close to 90% of sales have moved to a phone, web, or video conferencing model, and B2B companies now view digital interactions as two to three times more useful than traditional sales interactions.  

A creative omnichannel approach engages an entire digital ecosystem. Businesses can connect with consumers personally, offering them the right messages at the correct times on ideal platforms. Providing value and ensuring people that your business truly has their best interests in mind will help you connect on a deeper level that creates a lasting connection.

READ MORE: Why solution support is the foundation for ecommerce success

  1. Find the right solution support partner. Ecommerce platforms must be monitored, updated, and maintained on an ongoing basis, and emergency troubleshooting is of course essential as well. That’s where a reliable solution support team comes in.

Instead of waiting until a crisis occurs, a quality and reliable solution support team will address present and chronic pain points before they create snags in your business. Your solution support partner will ensure your website is fully optimized to track and measure sales, smoothly lead customers through the buyer’s journey, monitor behaviors, add new products, and integrate subsystems.

Solution support is also fundamental for growth and stability. A top-notch support team will continually develop your site, adding new apps, and integrating algorithms to keep everything fresh and exciting, so your business can maximize traffic and revenue.

Solution support should address the customer and ensure their shopping journey is easy and beneficial from start to finish. Your business should aim to not only build a loyal customer base by meeting expectations but also create a life-enhancing experience of priceless value. 86% of buyers, after all, will pay more if they have an excellent customer experience.

Solution support capabilities include:

Astound understands that businesses must be ultra-connected in today’s world and have a 360-degree view of the customer. If you’re ready to solve your customers’ unique problems—both now and in the future—Astound’s custom solutions can help.

Why Use Salesforce Commerce Cloud? Gain These 11 Top Benefits

SFCC offers ecommerce businesses all the necessary tools to plan, launch, market, and track their online stores. Content management, customer service management, inventory, order fulfillment, and personalized shopping are only a few of the top-of-the-line features this solution offers.

What Does Salesforce Commerce Cloud Do?

Commerce Cloud helps businesses connect with customers or potential customers at every stage of the buyer's journey and across every channel—social, web, store, and mobile. It equips businesses to effectively launch one or more brands from one location, nurture leads, drive conversions, and inspire loyal brand evangelists.

Commerce Cloud will help B2B and B2C businesses reach their ideal customers quickly and efficiently. Its cloud-based technology enables enterprises to create personalized experiences for potential buyers. By combining innovative design with artificial intelligence (AI) and seamless multichannel integrations, the Commerce Cloud ecosystem facilitates the entire buying process.

As the buying process becomes more complex—with prospects engaging with brands across multiple channels—businesses must adapt. A successful brand can no longer remain on the cutting edge through simple marketing methods. Brands must incorporate intelligent systems that track users to analyze buying patterns and complex customer behavior.

SFCC makes this possible through its predictive intelligence and omnichannel commerce capabilities. Businesses can now gather data, gain insights, and create innovative opportunities for customers across all marketing channels.

Is Salesforce Commerce Cloud B2B or B2C?

Salesforce calls Commerce Cloud "the world's leading B2C and B2B commerce solution." With two core products—B2B Commerce and B2C Commerce—SFCC offers various types and sizes of companies effective and innovative ecommerce solutions.

What Are the Top Benefits of Salesforce Commerce Cloud?

Commerce Cloud offers users a plethora of unique advantages to help retailers optimize the customer journey. Innovative, intelligent, and interactive are three terms often used to describe this popular ecommerce platform. Here are 11 of the top benefits businesses can gain from implementing SFCC.

1. Predictive Intelligence

Einstein AI is Commerce Cloud's predictive intelligence platform. Modern shoppers expect a more personalized online experience now than they ever have in the past. With Einstein, retailers can automate processes, show more individualized results, and facilitate unique buyers’ journeys to close more sales and build customer loyalty.

With Einstein, ecommerce businesses can

2. Personalized Customer Experiences

A business can customize every aspect of its ecommerce site to give shoppers a unique experience with Commerce Cloud. SFCC makes it easy to create a distinct and personalized experience for customers, leading to an optimal online experience.

Brands can personalize the buying experience with

3. Enhanced Scalability

Today, many large brands require the capacity to handle high traffic, sudden traffic spikes, high transaction volumes, and mass amounts of inventory. As businesses expand and demand change, ecommerce platforms need to scale accordingly.

Businesses can use SFCC to

4. Powerful Growth Strategies

Digital commerce is proliferating at a rate of 17 percent year over year (as of Q3 CY2018). Modern ecommerce is driving business for the world's leading brands. Developing companies must have powerful growth strategies in place to continue expanding profitably.

SFCC can help businesses

5. A Unified Shopping Experience

Commerce Cloud can connect all digital and physical channels to create a cohesive customer journey. In other words, it follows customers on their unique journeys and connects all touchpoints to give retailers a comprehensive picture.

Commerce Cloud's Endless Aisle functionality empowers associates to exceed customer expectations by

6. Mobile-First Capabilities

73 percent of online traffic comes from mobile devices, and 55 percent of all orders are placed on mobile devices. Having a responsive website that prioritizes mobile users is no longer optional. Commerce Cloud offers users a rich mobile experience, so shopping and making purchases are quick and cohesive for buyers.

SFCC's mobile commerce features include

7. Robust Marketing Tools

Commerce Cloud's marketing toolkit enables customers to quickly and efficiently find the right products to increase conversions and sales. It also allows businesses to create, manage, and share engaging, optimized content in all the right places to help individuals make educated buying decisions.

Here are a few of SFCC's marketing tool capabilities.

8. Management for Multiple Stores

With Salesforce Commerce Cloud, organizations can manage multiple storefronts or brands from a single platform. Even for businesses with brands spanning across different time zones, countries, currencies, and languages, SFCC offers the perfect solution.

Commerce Cloud's multistore management opportunities comprise

9. Continuous, Comprehensive Support

If there's ever a hiccup, such as a coding error or purchase concern, SFCC's support team and resource library are available to help promptly, at any time—day or night.

10. Multitenant Cloud Platform

SFCC is a multitenant cloud platform, meaning all users share the same software infrastructure and can access the same services, benefits, updates, and website maintenance. SFCC also provides a core set of services to all customers and automatically upgrades them three times a year, avoiding the need to install updates manually.

Multitenant architecture allows businesses to grow, change, and scale. Here are a few other advantages that accompany this feature.

11. Speed

Shoppers have short attention spans, which means online shopping experiences need to be flawless, convenient, and flexible. Websites need to give customers what they're looking for fast. A small delay in page loading can result in lost sales.
Besides quickly connecting customers with inventory and product catalog data, MuleSoft Accelerator for Commerce Cloud produces

What Is Demandware?

Salesforce acquired Demandware in 2016 and turned it into what it is today: Salesforce B2C Commerce. A couple of years later, in 2018, Salesforce acquired CloudCraze, which evolved into Salesforce B2B Commerce. Salesforce now offers both B2B and B2C businesses the software needed to sell products and services successfully online.

How Much Does Salesforce Commerce Cloud Cost?

Commerce Cloud pricing can vary based on a business's individual needs. If you're interested in implementing SFCC on your business website, you can speak with a sales representative directly to discuss your overarching goals for Commerce Cloud. The SFCC team will then create a unique package that fits your needs and budget.

Supercharge Your Efforts with Commerce Cloud

If you need help determining exactly how Commerce Cloud can help your business best, Astound Commerce can help. Astound has more than 15 years of experience using Salesforce Commerce Cloud and will help you choose the right package for your budget and business needs.

Partner with Astound to implement and configure SFCC to supercharge your ecommerce efforts. Astound is a leading implementation partner for Salesforce, with more than 200 certified architects and engineers and 400 launched SFCC sites on record.

Contact us today to set up a consultation.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Salesforce Commerce Cloud Implementation

SFCC gives online businesses of all sizes the tools to create a unique buyer's journey for every customer. It meets people where they are and empowers them to make successful purchases effortlessly. The program combines sales, marketing, order fulfillment, advertising, and customer service under a single platform for a 360-degree look at every customer and business operation.

This guide is designed to answer the most common questions surrounding Commerce Cloud, giving potential users a comprehensive overview of what it is, what it can do, and how to begin implementing it immediately. Learning about the product's core features, advantages, and potential disadvantages should give you a clear idea of whether implementing the platform could serve you well and take your business to the next level.

Click on any of the following questions to jump to the answers throughout this guide:

Salesforce Commerce Cloud Defined

Commerce Cloud is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for B2C and B2B online retailers. The cloud-based platform with artificial intelligence (AI)-powered features and omnichannel capabilities allows consumers to seamlessly engage with brands across any platform (web, shop, social, and mobile) while enjoying a personalized shopping experience.

Commerce Cloud is programmed to engage customers at every stage of the buyer's journey, meeting them where they are and empowering them to make informed purchase decisions. The software also equips businesses with the necessary tools to plan, launch, market, and promote a successful online store. It's marketing, sales, content management, data, automation, reporting, analytics, and predictive intelligence all in one.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud Users

Hundreds of B2B and B2C brands worldwide use Commerce Cloud, including Brooks, PUMA, PacSun, Cargill, PetSmart, YETI, Columbia, and American Red Cross. Its primary users are C-level executives and those responsible for finding a digital commerce solution to grow their business. Individuals tasked with improving store and customer experiences may also benefit from implementing Commerce Cloud.

Commerce Cloud for B2B and B2C

Commerce Cloud has two core products: B2B Commerce and B2C Commerce.

The B2B platform helps businesses of all sizes grow and scale fast to keep up with ever-growing customer demands. It also allows companies to see into buyer behavior by combining CRM data with the commerce experience. B2B Commerce enables businesses to generate more revenue by giving buyers a one-of-a-kind experience.

Salesforce B2C Commerce takes a mobile-first approach and allows for easy customization and smart personalization to enhance customer experiences. Its rich feature suite includes content management, promotions, merchandising, marketing, fulfillment, customer service, and predictive intelligence.

Why Two Separate Products Are Required

B2C and B2B shoppers use ecommerce websites differently, which is why Commerce Cloud offers two separate products.

Websites designed to sell to other businesses often have fewer customers who purchase more products more frequently. Therefore, B2B commerce sites need to have the functionality to handle large orders and inventory.

Conversely, businesses that sell to consumers need to market to a broader audience. B2C commerce websites often have larger numbers of customers that order smaller amounts of product. Large numbers of guests (who haven’t shopped with the company before) are also more common in B2C retail. On B2B websites, customers often know what they want and are merely reordering what they've ordered in the past.

B2C websites require more customization and personalization for each customer, in hopes of leading guests and returning customers to buy new products that are relevant to them. B2C websites also experience large surges around the holidays and during sales, so they need to have the scalability to handle mass amounts of sudden traffic.

How to Learn Commerce Cloud

Salesforce Commerce Cloud is backed by an around-the-clock support team and various resources. Individuals and teams can access the Trailblazer Community or Help Portal for 24/7 support. For developers, GitHub is a helpful website that allows development teams to work together and collaborate on projects.

Trailblazer is a community where users can collaborate with other like-minded individuals. Help Portal contains helpful documentation, walkthroughs, and videos to help users learn and implement Commerce Cloud correctly and efficiently. The B2C Commerce document, for example, covers information for merchants, developers, designers, and administrators. Release Notes help users stay up to date on the latest Commerce Cloud features.

These resources offer tips, expert knowledge, news, demos, online training, and more to help businesses learn to use SFCC, find answers to difficult problems, troubleshoot, and communicate with other users.

Unique Features of Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Commerce Cloud has impressive capabilities that set it apart from other cloud-based commerce platforms. Here are a few of its unique features.

Salesforce Order Management

Whenever someone makes an online purchase, they interact with an order management system. Order management involves everything that happens from the moment someone submits an order to the moment the order is received. A lot is happening behind the scenes throughout this process.

Here's what the traditional order lifecycle looks like.

Each business unit works independently to move through the various stages, communicating little with outside teams. This segmented approach can lead to problems and errors throughout the process.

Salesforce Order Management solves many potential order-fulfillment problems by creating a united, centralized system that brings systems and people together to streamline and automate the entire process.

Salesforce Order Management allows teams to

Salesforce Order Management gives users a 360-degree view of their customers, enabling them to create the best buying experiences possible.

Einstein AI

With Einstein AI, businesses no longer require data scientists to personalize the shopping and buying process for every customer. Einstein's predictive intelligence capabilities craft a unique experience for individual shoppers based on their search and purchase behavior.

Einstein's five core features include the following:

Endless Aisle

This brings more options to brick-and-mortar store customers by offering digital inventory in addition to what's available on the floor. Endless Aisle helps businesses avoid losing sales and allows brands to ship products to customers from any location, for faster and more cost-effective delivery.

The Pros and Cons of Implementing Commerce Cloud

While SFCC comes with a long line of benefits, no platform is faultless. Here's an overview of what businesses and users have to say about the popular cloud-based commerce solution.

Pros

Here’s a nonexhaustive list of benefits Commerce Cloud has to offer.

Cons

Here are some challenges users may face when implementing the platform.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud Pricing

Exact pricing depends on whether your business is B2C or B2B (or both) and which edition of the platform you choose (Starter, Growth, or Plus). Different options offer different features. Product catalog size and number of storefronts can impact pricing, and so can apps and additional products added to your purchase.

Since pricing can vary so much from customer to customer, Salesforce Commerce Cloud doesn't publish its pricing online. To find the best solution for your business needs, contact an advisor to get a quote.

Professional Salesforce Commerce Cloud Implementation

Implementing SFCC in a way that sets a business up for success requires specific knowledge and skill. To get the most out of the program and reach your full potential with your business, you need Salesforce-certified developers who understand SFCC's architecture and programming language. They can implement and customize the platform with the proper functionality for your unique needs. They can also provide ongoing site maintenance and support.

Astound Commerce is a Salesforce Platinum Partner with more than 15 years of Salesforce Commerce expertise. Astound is also a leading implementation partner for Salesforce. Astound will implement and configure SFCC for your business and offer continued support and training once your site is up and running, so you'll never be in the dark.

Salesforce Implementation Services | Astound Commerce

With a focus on customer success and robust, consistent processes, Astound leads its partners through complex projects with successful results.

Salesforce Implementation Experts

Astound can implement all the top Salesforce Cloud solutions with speed and expertise. Whether you’re looking to implement Salesforce for the very first time or you want to make your current system more robust, we can help.

The following Salesforce Cloud products will help you create more personalized experiences and build better relationships with your team and prospective customers.

Sales Cloud

Connect your sales team to service, commerce, and marketing data for a 360-degree view of your business operations and customer interactions. Sales Cloud will help you build stronger relationships with your customers and employees. It also gives users deeper insights with lead management, quoting tools, and forecasting tools—enabling your team to enhance sales processes and close deals faster.

Marketing Cloud

This incorporates intelligent automation to provide customers with relevant information at key moments. Marketing Cloud is built for both B2C and B2B brands to engage with customers at every stage of the relationship and create personalized digital experiences and interactions. Users can market from anywhere on desktop or mobile and analyze data or make spending decisions in real time.

Commerce Cloud

This is an industry-leading ecommerce solution for B2B and B2C brands. It offers users everything they need to get their online store off the ground and running. Its predictive intelligence platform, Einstein AI, predicts buyer habits and behaviors to create personalized experiences for customers.
Commerce Cloud also enables businesses to grow and scale quickly and powerfully. Its unified shopping experience and mobile-first capabilities give an edge over the competition by making shopping and buying a convenient and seamless process.

Service Cloud

This will help your customer service teams work smarter and faster by using various productivity tools that offer a comprehensive view of customers and every interaction with them. Add artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots, connect customers with multiple solutions, and enable groups and communities to find answers to their questions with self-service portals. Your service teams can also automate manual tasks with built-in AI and support customers on any channel.

Community Cloud

With Community Cloud, businesses can launch business solutions intelligently and efficiently for customers, employees, and partners. Recruit, onboard, and manage partners using Community Cloud’s Partner Central template. Offer customers everything they need at each stage of the buyer’s journey to drive conversions and earn their loyalty. Generate revenue fast by creating a successful user experience for customers on any device. Community Cloud offers a wide range of solutions for your business needs.

CPQ

CPQ stands for “configure, price, quote.” Salesforce CPQ is designed to make the entire sales process faster and easier. CPQ automates the quoting process and approvals, helps sales representatives create the best product combinations for customers, and controls discounting. It also helps sales representatives to close deals faster, allows businesses to manage service and product visibility online, and helps companies launch new revenue models.

Salesforce B2C​

Salesforce B2C Commerce empowers retailers to connect with shoppers wherever they are, at any time, on any device. When shoppers have a better experience online, they’re more likely to stick around through checkout and come back in the future to shop again. B2C Commerce helps businesses create personalized experiences for customers to drive greater value. Implementing a seamless transaction process can help you increase conversions and build greater brand loyalty.

Salesforce B2B

B2B commerce needs to facilitate easy access to suppliers and large-volume purchases online. Salesforce B2B will give your business 1) powerful shopping carts that can handle massive amounts of items per order, 2) authenticated sites for visitors, 3) a fast and easy reordering process, 4) complex shipping functionality, and 5) order history for each buyer

Astound’s Salesforce Implementation Process​

Astound’s implementation process is straightforward and fast. Here’s a brief overview of what it takes to plan and launch your website with Salesforce.

1. Consultation

We’ll ask you about your goals and objectives and see what you’re currently using. From there, we can come up with a game plan—our solution to help you best achieve those goals. We’ll recommend any additional integrations or customizations to reach your requirements while staying within your requested budget.

2. Configuration

After the planning stage comes configuring Salesforce to get it up and running optimally for your business. We may modify specific default settings and customize it to suit your company’s needs.

3. Integration

Next is the integration stage, where we enable Salesforce to work with add-ons like ecommerce platforms or other third-party systems. We will ensure all systems work together seamlessly.

4. Migration

Next, we’ll transfer your data from your old CRM to Salesforce, ensuring accuracy and avoiding system downtime or data loss.

5. Launch
After meticulous testing to ensure your new Salesforce CRM is ready to go live, we’ll launch your new platform and make it available to the public.

6. Ongoing Support

Even after launch, Astound will be available to provide ongoing support and training for your team. We’ll keep a sharp eye on your new platform to ensure everything continues to run smoothly. If you need an upgrade, extra support, or guidance, we’re here for you.

How Long Does It Take to Implement Salesforce?​

We’ve partnered with Salesforce to offer our customers a quick-start solution. For the consumer and essential goods sectors, we can get your CRM up and fully running in just two weeks. Our experienced team of architects and engineers will design a custom ecosystem built upon the best platform available to your business.

Salesforce Implementation Services by Astound​

Implementing a robust system like Salesforce requires specialized expertise. To take advantage of all the benefits and features Salesforce offers, you need developers who have a deep understanding of the platform’s distinct programming language and architecture.

Astound is proud to be named a Salesforce Platinum Partner for its Salesforce-specific knowledge and training, sales history, quality service, and high customer satisfaction. When you work with Astound, you can rest assured you’ll be in good hands. We will implement and customize Salesforce to set your business up for success. We also offer ongoing support and website maintenance to ensure your new ecosystem runs smoothly over the long term.

Are you ready for your site to start running full force with Salesforce Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, Community Cloud, Commerce Cloud, or CPQ?