Introduction to Salesforce Commerce Cloud

By Jon Jessup

Salesforce research found that 76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. Brands must make it a priority to deliver personalized, connected experiences across all channels – or risk losing shoppers to a brand that better meets their expectations. 

With Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud, brands are better equipped to deliver great experiences throughout the purchase journey. In this blog, we’ll explore what Commerce Cloud is and why some of the world’s best brands are using it to build experiences that attract, convert, and retain customers. 

Why Are Brands Using Commerce Cloud to Build Winning Experiences? 

There are endless factors that determine the success of a brand, but there’s one thing many of the best brands have in common: they depend on Salesforce to run their business.

In fact, around 150,000 brands use Salesforce to power all points of the customer journey – including marketing, sales, and service. Among them are iconic brands including L’Oréal, Kelloggs, Unilever, Puma, and Room & Board – among many others. 

Today, consumers don’t just expect great products and services. They also demand excellent experiences. In fact, Salesforce research tells us that 88% of consumers say the experience a company provides is just as important as its products or services.

And whether they’re shopping online, in-store, or it’s some combination of the two, consumers demand seamless, connected experiences – wherever they are on the path to purchase. As per the same Salesforce report, 76% of consumers expect consistent interactions across departments. 

76% of consumers expect consistent interactions across departments. Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Fifth Edition

Salesforce empowers brands to meet (and exceed) those lofty expectations. Brands that use it have a single source of truth into their customers. This drives efficiency and time savings – and empowers brands to deliver the personalized, seamless experiences modern consumers demand.

Salesforce offers six clouds to help brands attract, convert, and retain customers. Essentially, each of the following clouds is a tool or solution that serves a specific function of the organization. Salesforce’s six clouds are: 

  1. Sales Cloud
  2. Service Cloud
  3. Marketing Cloud
  4. Commerce Cloud
  5. Experience Cloud
  6. Analytics Cloud

In this blog, we’ll zero in on one in particular: Commerce Cloud

The State of Retail Today

Before we take a deep dive into the details of Commerce Cloud, let’s first take a quick look at the state of online shopping today. Doing so will lay the foundation for why a solution like Commerce Cloud matters at all. 

eCommerce Continues to Grow 

For starters, eCommerce’s share of total retail is growing – a trend that really accelerated when the COVID-19 pandemic first touched down. According to Salesforce’s State of Commerce report, this growth is expected to continue across industries. Notably, in two years, digital is expected to account for 58% of consumer packaged goods sales and 54% of retail sales.

The growth of online shopping has led many brands that traditionally sold their products through retailers to start selling directly to consumers. 

The Role of Brick-and-Mortar is Evolving 

While brick-and-mortar stores aren’t a dying breed, their role is evolving. As per Salesforce, 60% of consumers have used curbside pickup, and 51% expect to use it more within the next three years. 

Consumers Are More Mindful of Their Spending 

The entire globe is facing economic uncertainty, and unsurprisingly, many consumers are tightening their belts. Research from McKinsey & Company tells us that nearly three-quarters of consumers have changed their shopping behavior to ‘trade down’. Top ways of trading down include reducing the quantity or size of items (i.e. buying a smaller bottle of laundry detergent) and delaying non essential purchases.

74% of consumers have changed their shopping behavior to ‘trade down’. McKinsey & Company

Big Opportunities for Customer-Centric Brands 

While there are some big challenges, there are also big opportunities, but brands must work hard (and smart) to gain a competitive edge. Even a single poor experience can scare away a customer for good. 

Brands that are new to D2C (Direct to Customer) must ensure they have a digital presence and a strong strategy in place to deliver great customer experiences before, during, and after the sale. On the other hand, brands that have sold direct for a while must take an honest look at how they’re doing and take action to optimize their digital experiences. 

What Is Commerce Cloud?

Let’s start with a bit of a history lesson. Back in 2016, Salesforce acquired Demandware, which was a cloud-based eCommerce platform. Salesforce leveraged Demandware technology to create Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Since then, Commerce Cloud has grown, evolved, and become a key component of Salesforce’s Digital 360

But what exactly is Commerce Cloud? 

At the most basic level, Commerce Cloud is a cloud-based platform that provides brands with features and tools to help grow their online business. These tools and features support all stages of digital commerce – or as Salesforce puts it, everything “from discovery to delivery”. 

With Commerce Cloud, brands are better equipped to:

  • Build (and easily optimize) eCommerce sites that drive conversion. 
  • Unify the online and in-store experience.
  • Interact with customers in the places they already are – like social media channels.
  • Efficiently manage products and orders. 

Which Brands Use Commerce Cloud?

In short, Commerce Cloud empowers both B2C and B2B brands to save time and money – while enabling them to deliver the personalized, seamless experiences modern consumers demand. Commerce Cloud is a great option for a brand that’s new to the world of DTC – or one that’s no stranger to eCommerce, but looking for ways to streamline, optimize, and get a competitive edge. 

While there are any number of reasons a brand might opt for Commerce Cloud, there are a few that rise to the top.

Salesforce Is Trusted 

Salesforce is a trusted name. As mentioned earlier, many brands already depend on Salesforce to power other parts of their business, including marketing and service. If you’re already running your business on Salesforce, Commerce Cloud is the natural choice.

Commerce Cloud is Built to Meet the Ever-Evolving Expectations of Shoppers 

Commerce Cloud has a ton of great features. Plus, it’s really intuitive, so it’s easy to get up and running quickly.

However, shoppers’ habits and expectations are always in flux. The experiences you offer today might not meet shoppers’ needs in the future. For example, conversational commerce and buy online, pick up in-store are two relatively new trends – but ones that have quickly gained traction. 

Brands and retailers have to be ready for what’s next. Commerce Cloud offers brands the flexibility to pivot and optimize as needed. 

Commerce Cloud is Customizable to Meet the Needs of Your Brand

Commerce Cloud is a powerful out-of-the-box solution. But one of the beauties of all of Salesforce’s Clouds is that you’re able to customize them to fit the unique needs of your business. We’ll explore this in more detail in the next section. 

AI Capabilities Help Grow Sales

Commerce Cloud features rich artificial intelligence capabilities which you can harness to drive more sales. 

For example, brands can provide intelligent, data-driven recommendations based on a consumer’s shopping behavior. Getting relevant recommendations will increase conversion. In addition, intuitive selling can be leveraged to increase basket size. For example, a shopper purchasing shoes may get a recommendation of a pair of coordinating socks. The result? A boost to the bottom line. 

Commerce Cloud Is a Key Piece of the Customer 360 Puzzle

Of course, brands can use Commerce Cloud as a standalone solution. But the real magic happens when you leverage multiple Salesforce Clouds. Then you have a single source of truth for your customers’ information. 

This saves you time and increases efficiency. What’s more, having this additional layer of data in Salesforce allows you to create more personalized, integrated experiences for your customers. 

The Next Level With AppExchange Solutions

As we mentioned earlier, Commerce Cloud is great ‘out of the box’, but by customizing it to meet the needs of your brand, you’ll see an even greater impact.

In some cases, it makes sense to hire development resources to add functionality that’s necessary for your business. But often, all it takes is a visit to the AppExchange to find an existing solution that’s already been built to address your needs. In fact, 91% of Salesforce customers use the AppExchange.

A great place to start is to navigate to the AppExchange, and then browse by the Sales Cloud product collection. From here, you can browse solutions and even get input from your peers by reading reviews.

You’ll find solutions to address all kinds of pain points – from personalization to order management, and everything in between. For example, OMS Studio from 1440 is an app that’s built to help brands more effectively manage customers, orders, shipping, customer service, and returns – all within Salesforce.

Whatever your challenge, there’s likely an AppExchange solution for you. And by purchasing a pre-built solution, you’ll eliminate the need to hire development resources to create and maintain custom code. 

With modern consumers demanding personalized, seamless experiences across the purchase journey, you’ll need to deliver better and better shopping experiences. With Commerce Cloud, you’ll be well equipped to grow sales with amazing eCommerce experiences.

The Author

Jon Jessup

Jon is the founder and CEO of 1440, a Utah-based digital consumer and e-commerce company.

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