Focusing on one side of a story is poor reporting. That’s why we mention the limitations and difficulties of Salesforce Commerce Cloud, as well as how great the ecommerce platform is. So in the name of intellectual honesty, and at the expense of seeming ultra balanced, we’ve decided to confront the challenges of Salesforce Commerce Cloud here in one place.
To set the general background behind many of these, it’s good to keep in mind that the ecommerce platform is extraordinarily powerful, and wields enormous power when it’s used correctly. But when it’s handled without care — like an imperial Faberge egg — the consequences could be pricey.
Some companies have hampered their development by not putting the platform to full and functional use. So let’s look at some of the potential challenges you may face when using SFCC.
In search of support
A commonality for Salesforce users is that it can be difficult to find the appropriate support for a specific problem that they have encountered. The reality is that the average Salesforce Commerce Cloud user will easily be able to navigate the basics of the platform, to discover the core tasks and tools. But when they run into serious issues, these same users won’t be able to solve them — unless they are a rare gem of a natural born SFCC wizard. Chances are the average user isn’t, and so they’d need to seek out the help of specialized developers with extensive training and experience with fixing bugs in the platform.
In order to combat this, Salesforce does come with a free support plan, which provides a 2-day response rate. The service is structured in a way as to guide users to the right area, rather than specifically fixing an issue itself. Another direction of support is the platform’s online training resources, which provides guided platform journeys, a video library, and a user community forum. Depending on the specificity of the problem, it may take an extra while to find the path to recovery. Of course, having your SFCC team pay particular attention to any changes that guard against tangling yourself in a web of errors.
Chop and change
The platform is built to cater for the needs of a large collection of different companies. For that reason it has incorporated features to reflect this. But there are challenges to customize the platform for the specific needs of a company.
SFCC knows this, and so it has developed a large arsenal of tools to do whatever customization you could think of (within reason). But because of its robustness, it can take a while to figure out exactly what is possible. It simply takes time to know what you can do with a complicated machine, and even longer to figure out the mechanics of bringing customization to life.
If you’re seeking to tailor the platform to your particular requirements, then the best path in front of you is to work hand in hand with a dev team that holds extensive experience and grade A+ knowledge, that can take on your creativity and craft it into the (virtual!) world.
Loose with the keys
Like all of the challenges on this list, they largely emanate from a lack of awareness about the full workings of the platform. This is certainly true regarding user permissions, with many companies assigning administrative access to users that ought not have that privilege. (Not that there are malicious undercover anarchists banging at the door requesting the keys to the palace). Put simply, it takes time to properly configure the correct users and their specific access to specific areas.
It’s worth a thought experiment: imagine you’re an admin worker logged onto some accounting software. Are you going to provide full access to anyone else other than your accounting team and top executives? That would be highly irresponsible. The top concerns are data protection and dysfunctional changes.
You want the right people to be working in the right area and be able to access their allotted part. But if you have a division of labor then creating a customized structure of user permission requires a level of complexity and effort. It’s an overlooked issue that many companies might just ignore, and make corrections spontaneously as they come across them. Yet they’re just kicking the problem down the road, too. Be conscious of who you’re giving the access keys to, and always keep in mind who needs them.
Clog of old data
Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a lively environment packed with moving parts and accumulated data. In lawless environments there are no rules to obey and chaos breaks loose. Likewise, if it isn’t managed appropriately, then the landscape becomes flush with outdated and inaccurate data — rendering it useless at best and reckless at worst.
There’s nothing worse than grabbing important data, spending your most productive hours analyzing it and coming up with creative solutions, only to realize that the data has been corrupted by a user by accidentally meddling with it. (That’s where those gray hairs came from!) Any slight change within the platform can also alter the screen display.
The best way to combat this is to ensure you have a strong protocol in place to protect data integrity, and ensure that only experts and relevant individuals have control over data management.
How many reports?
Filtering from the previous challenge is the effect on the reports and dashboards. If the data is corrupted, or irrelevant, then the reports that it filters into is also worthless. Imagine if anyone has the ability to generate data and compose reports, you can potentially have hundreds of reports piled up — some incomplete, others irrelevant. This can create all sorts of confusion and doubt around your reports.
Ideally, you would seek out a competent specialist to arrange and regulate dashboards and reporting structure, as well as regular updates and repair work of the tools that you’re using for reports. This is in addition to protecting these channels from users that shouldn’t have access.
This challenge is one that is shared by pretty much all major ecommerce platforms, and emphasizes the desire to keep dynamic and ahead of the competition. Which is why many companies using SFCC seek outside assistance in the running of the platform.
Cost of scale
All platforms have to decide how they make money. Some are free at the point of registration and offer premium packages; others require a hefty upfront sum. Salesforce Commerce Cloud is essentially a hybrid: there is an upfront sum (typically approximately $150,000) and then a percentage of your total sales (between 1-2%).
If you’re a company earning $1m in profit then you’re paying $20,000 at a rate of 2%. Yet if profits soar to $100m, the platform is cashing $200,000. So as your sales become greater, so does the actual cost of Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
However, this can also become incredibly useful in times of difficulty. Imagine if sales dip and revenue falls. So does the amount of money you pay to the platform. The cost of scale moves in both directions. So Salesforce Commerce Cloud only makes money if you do.
These challenges that face Salesforce Commerce Cloud emerge from the sheer size and power of the platform, and highlight the potential sticking points while attempting to navigate the vast environment of Salesforce Commerce Cloud. However, if you set up a team with experience and expertise, who have oft-traveled the broad and deep terrain of SFCC, then you can truly conquer new lands, and realize the whole potential of the platform.
PS: UV is one of the world’s leading Salesforce Commerce Cloud development & strategy teams. Contact us to see how we can work together.