Salesforce.com Inc., a provider of cloud-based CRM and related software, has firmed up its business-to-business technology offerings with the announcement yesterday it will acquire CloudCraze Inc.
CloudCraze launched in 2009 on Force.com, the Salesforce software-development platform, with the goal of connecting e-commerce and CRM data to enable B2B sellers, including manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers, to analyze data throughout the supply-to-sale process. Combined with its acquisition of B2C e-commerce platform Demandware in mid-2016, the CloudCraze buy potentially connects the data dots.
“The acquisition of CloudCraze simplifies and expands the commerce story for Salesforce. Now they can offer a continuum of direct solutions to customers and prospects, from a B2C option (the former Demandware) to a B2B option (CloudCraze),” says B2B e-commerce expert Andy Hoar, CEO of consulting firm Paradigm B2B. Salesforce did not say what it will pay for CloudCraze.
Some industry observers were surprised when Salesforce bought B2C e-commerce platform vendor Demandware in mid-2016 instead of CloudCraze. The move could have been driven by Salesforce’s desire to get into retail when the Demandware opportunity arose, some say. And because CloudCraze was built on the Salesforce platform there might not have been the same sense of urgency to buy CloudCraze.
The acquisition of Demandware, moreover, led industry observers to wonder whether Salesforce would expand Demandware, now Commerce Cloud, to include B2B features like contract pricing and authorized access for buyers. The acquisition of CloudCraze clears up the confusion. “Finally Salesforce can clear up all of the confusion they created with commerce and B2B clients,” says John Bruno, senior analyst covering B2B e-commerce at Forrester Research Inc. “There is no longer any ambiguity as to what B2B e-commerce platform to use with Salesforce; the answer is unequivocally CloudCraze, and I expect Salesforce to go full throttle on the benefits of B2B eCommerce on the same customer success platform as sales and service.”
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has said that one of his long-range goals was to have an integrated technology system that would include data from the top of the supply chain down to the end customer, whether the end customer is a business or a consumer. That way, Salesforce could provide its clients with complete end-to-end supplier and end-to-end customer data to fully understand supply and demand.
The deal for CloudCraze moves Salesforce closer to its goal, says Penny Gillespie, research vice president, digital commerce, at technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. “It was a smart move for B2B. Unlike Demandware (now Commerce Cloud), CloudCraze is built on Force.com (now known as Lightning Platform) and therefore offers native integration to Sales Cloud and Service Cloud as a result. The acquisition further enhances the Salesforce B2B solution set, which already includes configure-price-quote and procure-to-pay (both previously known as SteelBrick) and Salesforce enablement solutions.” Commerce Cloud, Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are cloud-based suites of software applications that companies use to deploy e-commerce sites, sales management tools and customer service tools.
Those Salesforce applications, coupled with CloudCraze, “enable Salesforce to offer a full multichannel approach to B2B: procurement, B2B commerce, sales enablement and service,” Gillespie says. “However, I’m not sure that most B2B sellers even realize they have similar channel issues to those in retail and that B2B buyers will be seeking the same channel consistency as consumers.”
The acquisition potentially brings more cloud-based digital commerce to the B2B space, giving organizations that have fallen behind in selling online to businesses, government agencies and other large organizations a cloud-based way to move into the market, Gartner analysts say.
“B2B functionality was missing in Salesforce Commerce Cloud and the acquisition will allow Salesforce to leverage a proven solution instead of building functionality in-house,” says Jason Daigler, research director, CRM and digital commerce, at Gartner. “This will also allow Salesforce to be more competitive in deals where B2B commerce is a critical component and focus on evolving Commerce Cloud.”
In a statement on the acquisition, Salesforce Commerce Cloud CEO Jeff Barnett touted the company’s consumer expertise. “During the 2017 holiday shopping season, Salesforce Commerce Cloud powered the experiences of more than 540 million consumers across some of the world’s top brands,” he said. ”With the addition of CloudCraze, our customers will be able to create the same richly branded commerce experiences for business buyers that they do for consumers, all from a single platform.”
“What remains to be seen is how CloudCraze and Salesforce Commerce Cloud, the former Demandware solution, will integrate together and how they will integrate with the other Salesforce clouds,” Daigler says.
CloudCraze president Ray Grady commented in a statement that B2B e-commerce is expected to grow from $889 billion today to $1.2 trillion by 2021, and the agreement with Salesforce will enable companies to enter the digital game. “With the addition of CloudCraze to the Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Salesforce and its customers can now take advantage of this shift to digital commerce, enabling business buyers to browse and purchase online as easily as consumers shop today,” Grady said. “The increasing demand for B2B commerce solutions in the cloud has been a core contributor to our incredible growth since being founded in 2009.”
CloudCraze customers include The Coca-Cola Co. (No. 35 in the 2018 B2B E-Commerce 300), Cummins, Ecolab (No. 89), General Electric Co. (No. 5), Kellogg Co. (No. 81), Land O’ Lakes and WABCO.
Operating as part of Salesforce should spark CloudCraze’s growth, Bruno says. “CloudCraze already has a viable Salesforce installed base and Salesforce can turn around and sell this product immediately,” he says. “I expect CloudCraze to see the same meteoric growth that the Salesforce acquisition of SteelBrick did just two years ago.”
Last month Salesforce reported revenue climbed 24% to $2.85 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter. Analysts projected $2.81 billion for the period.
The company has been facing stiffer competition from Oracle Corp., which has been generating more revenue each year from its cloud-based products. Only 35% of Oracle’s cloud-application clients are existing customers making the switch from software sold under the traditional licensing system–suggesting its products have resonated outside of its base of large corporate customers. Oracle’s cloud technology includes NetSuite, which provides cloud-based e-commerce and enterprise resource planning software that primarily midsized companies use to manage inventory, customer activity and other business operations.
Salesforce dominates the market for CRM software. The company had 18% of the market in 2016, the last year for which full data is available, according to industry research firm IDC. Oracle was No. 2 with 9.4%, and SAP SE had 7.2%.
With CloudCraze under its wing, Salesforce has underscored its commitment to providing its CRM technology to manufacturers and distributors. “Customers should read in this acquisition that Salesforce is all-in on their vision of CRM being more than marketing, sales, and service, and that they are fully committed to B2B,” Bruno says.
Paradigm B2B’s Andy Hoar and Vertical Web Media LLC, the publisher of B2BecNews and Internet Retailer, are co-producing B2B Next conference. The three-day event, starting on Sept. 24 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago, will address the pressing concerns manufacturers and distributors face in selling online and provide an exhibit hall of vendors of B2B e-commerce technology and services.
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Bloomberg News contributed to this report.