Salesforce Commerce Cloud supports online retailers in marketing, merchandising, shopping experience, fulfillment, customer service, and beyond. Salesforce B2B Commerce is focused on ‘Business-to-Business’ transactions natively on the Salesforce platform (following the core multi-tenant architecture).
If you’re familiar with Salesforce B2B Commerce, you may already know a few of the tricks of the system. In this article, I’ll reveal my top ten B2B Commerce tips that I’ve gathered over the years…
What Is Salesforce B2B Commerce?
Salesforce B2B Commerce is a relatively new system that enables companies to transform traditionally heavy phone/manual sales into a digital medium. Unlike B2C Commerce, B2B Commerce is built on top of the traditional Salesforce stack and utilizes the core data model and Experience Cloud as the presentation layer.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some of the considerations necessary for getting the most out of B2B Commerce.
1. Data, Data, Data
Let’s start with the most important tip: data. Data is so important in Commerce Cloud as everything that shows to the customer is founded on data, from products to prices, as well as what an individual person can see.
Where I see most people struggle as they begin to use Commerce Cloud is not having a strategy for their data. Here are some questions you should have the answer to:
- How will you manage your product catalog after the initial setup?
- Where does the data come from? Is this manual or automated from another system?
- Who should have access to see what products and with what prices?
- After an order is placed, what happens and where does it go?
If you’re curious, here is a shortlist of the top data elements you need to have a plan for: Products, Pricing, Images, Entitlements, Account, Buyer Accounts, Contacts, Users, Orders, and Order Items.
With a better understanding of the data required in Commerce Cloud, this next consideration should make a lot of sense. We know we have data requirements, but how is all this data going to flow between your systems smoothly?
For most companies, the most important integration with a commerce system is the ERP since that’s where the original copy of products are sourced from and final orders need to go.
As you consider what integrations are needed, ask yourself these questions:
- Where will new products be added and what is the source of truth?
- Where do orders need to go after being placed?
- What information needs to be real time? (Such as taxes, inventory at checkout, etc.)
- What integrations can be run on a nightly batch?
3. Hosting Your Product Images
Determining where to store your product images can be a big decision – in some cases you may have tens of thousands of images across your product library. Some large companies have a PIM (Product Information Management) and DAM (Digital Asset Manager) that manage everything about their product catalog, but generally this is reserved for B2C organizations as it’s a bigger undertaking (and it is costly).
In the B2B world, most companies are looking for an integrated solution with their commerce selection. Luckily, with Commerce Cloud we gain access to Salesforce CMS. Everyone who owns a Sales or Service license can get access to a limited version of Salesforce CMS, but that only lets you upload 1000 images before requiring an upgrade.
However, when you purchase B2B Commerce, any images that are used as part of your product catalog and are associated with a product do not count towards that limit. So, in essence, you gain access to uploading as many product images as necessary.
4. Choose a Checkout Flow/Experience
Choosing the right type of checkout experience is an important step towards getting a functioning storefront experience. With B2B Commerce you have several different options to choose from. Most of the below options utilize a traditional screen flow to manage the front end experience a customer sees, along with any callouts or other updates that are needed.
When you first get into an instance with B2B Commerce enabled and you look at the flows available, you’ll see a “Checkout Flow Template”. This is what Salesforce is now calling “Legacy Checkout”, although it comes with B2B Commerce, it’s no longer the recommendation of Salesforce to utilize these flows.
This flow is now one of two of the recommended approaches (along with “Re-entrant Checkout”). It has an updated structure and doesn’t utilize the cart session structure anymore.
This flow is similar to “Main Checkout”, however, it enables a customer to come back into the checkout experience and have their place saved from the last time they were there.
One Page Checkout
This checkout experience is currently only available for the B2B2C store template, but is expected to be enabled in the new B2B store template in the coming releases.
All in all, there are a lot of options with checkout and it’s important to consider as you decide how your customers want to engage with you. You’ll also need to consider how many steps in the checkout process will be needed for your requirements, and what customization is necessary.
5. Setting Up Users
When thinking about how to manage your users long term, there are a few options you have at your disposal. Choosing the right approach will really depend on how many users you anticipate to have, and how frequently new users will come in.
Utilizing the out-of-the-box “Enable Custom User” action that is provided is the simplest option, but can only be done by an admin as it requires access to the setup screen.
Develop a screen flow or a fully automated flow that sets up users based on criteria matching or a user filling out information on a screen.
This provides the ability for an end user with extra permissions to create new users for the storefront.
6. Refine the Filter Results in the Storefront
In order to make the customer search experience better, you can add facets, or what Salesforce calls “filters” into the product list page.
Adding these filters helps the user narrow the list of products in a particular category down to a smaller list that is more relevant. This can be helpful when you have a large number of products in each category, especially when those products may be close in attributes to each other.
In order to add a field to the list, all you need is to have the field in a standard picklist.
7. Manage Users Product Access & Pricing
Product access is another area that should be considered upfront when you set up your storefront. Entitlements (what Salesforce calls their control over product visibility) give you the ability to show some products to certain customers, and to show a specific price to a specific customer or group of customers.
As you’d expect with Salesforce, you have the ability to determine your path forward with some customization. The following article from Salesforce breaks down the most common ways to set up product access.
If you’re interested in an in-depth walkthrough of how to set this up in B2B Commerce, you can check out this short step-by-step explanation:
8. Brand Your Storefront
As I come to the end of my list, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a tip about branding your storefront. Your storefront could have the best data in the world, but if your customers don’t recognize it as your company, you’ve missed the mark!
Within Experience Cloud, it’s suggested to start your branding efforts with updating the “Branding Sets” – the global control over colors across all pages.
After you have the global branding narrowed in, you’ll be able to refine the look and feel at a component level. Each component you utilize has a set of attributes that can be used to make tweaks on that component alone.
9. When in Doubt, Refresh Your Search Index!
In order to have a quick searching experience, all products are loaded into a “Search Index”. This is used across every component and experience you have to return the product’s information quicker than if the page were to make a direct call through traditional means into your Salesforce instance.
At present, this “Search Index” needs to be manually refreshed and you also need to specify what fields should be indexable for search results. It’s pretty common to make changes to your products, and immediately go into your storefront and wonder: “why aren’t my changes showing?” The tip here is to make sure you refresh your search index when needed!
In production, it’s not recommended to do this too frequently as it takes anywhere between five minutes and four hours to finish (depending on the size of your product catalog).
10. Deploy Your Storefront
Taking your storefront from concept to production can be quite an effort – sometimes more than anticipated! One of the most challenging aspects of this can be promoting your configuration and data from a sandbox into production.
In order to make this step easier on production deployment day, my suggestion is to go into some type of “UAT” or “Full Sandbox” instance and write down every single step you do.
Currently, the setup process in each instance for B2B Commerce requires quite a few manual steps, even starting at the beginning and flipping on the master B2B Commerce feature. Taking an in-between step and writing down everything in full prepares you for production day.
Salesforce B2B Commerce enables companies to transform traditionally heavy phone/manual sales into a digital medium, all on top of the traditional Salesforce stack. Hopefully you will now know how to get the most out of the platform.
If you have any other tips, let me know in the comments…