Salesforce.com Inc. is moving closer to its goal of providing an integrated suite of cloud software applications designed to help companies better understand and sell to other businesses as well as individual consumers.
The company announced yesterday Salesforce B2B Commerce, its cloud-based software that features the business-to-business e-commerce software it absorbed through its recent acquisition of CloudCraze, whose e-commerce software was developed on the Salesforce technology platform and is used by such companies as industrial products manufacturer Ecolab, chemical distributor Univar and consumer brand manufacturer L’Oreal. Salesforce announced its B2B Commerce software at its Connections conference in Chicago.
“This covers a big gap in functionality for Salesforce when it comes to digital commerce,” says Penny Gillespie, a research vice president and analyst covering digital commerce at technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. “It also completes the B2B channel for Salesforce, complementing its existing applications including sales enablement, procure-to-pay and order-entry portals.”
With Salesforce B2B Commerce operating as an integrated part of Commerce Cloud, which also includes retail e-commerce software, Salesforce says it can now offer its clients the ability to offer “branded e-commerce experiences for business buyers” as well as for consumers.
Salesforce says that means its B2B clients can deploy websites with such retail-like features as rich product images, site search and checkout designed to ease business buying. But it notes that B2B Commerce also provides the B2B-focused features business buyers also demand, including:
- Customer account hierarchies, which allow buyers and sellers to manage authorized purchasing activity by individual buyers or departments;
- Complex pricing and product configurations, customized product catalogs, and multiple payment and shipping options;
- Managing multiple commerce models, including selling through subscriptions, multiple distributors and marketplaces;
- Combining B2B commerce transaction data with CRM data, providing a single view of customer activity across self-service e-commerce, interactions with sales reps, and contact center communications;
Gillespie says the ability to combine such data serves a growing need among companies involved in B2B commerce. “The ability to tie all of the required data—customer accounts, order transactions, etc.—across all of these channels will be powerful,” she says. Many B2B companies, she adds, “do not realize that they have just as many channel management issues as retailers do.”
Salesforce is also running pilot projects that integrate customer data from Commerce Cloud with information in its marketing, service and sales cloud suites to provide companies with a coordinated view of customer activity across self-service e-commerce, marketing campaigns, customer service and interactions with sales reps. Customers of Salesforce have the option to deploy individual applications, such as e-commerce or marketing, without subscribing to the full suite of cloud products, the company says.
By integrating B2B Commerce with other Salesforce software, the company is out to provide what Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff describes as the “B2B2C” capabilities Salesforce client companies are demanding for selling to both businesses and consumers.
Consumer brand manufacturers, for example, will “use behavior they see in consumer shopping” to better plan inventory and sales to retailers and wholesalers, says Gordon Evans, vice president of product marketing for Commerce Cloud and other Salesforce software. He adds, however, that Salesforce is still working to completely integrate data flows from the former Demandware software platform Salesforce acquired for the retail e-commerce software in Commerce Cloud.
Going forward, he says, Salesforce will also focus more on building out order management capabilities to help companies efficiently route customer orders to the most appropriate fulfillment center while managing shipments to both business customers and consumers.
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