We’re not sure whether you’re aware of this. But much of our rolling coverage of Salesforce Commerce Cloud digs deep into the processes, functionalities and features of the ecommerce platform. So we’ve decided to come up for air. Take a deep breath. And get back to basics by demonstrating the absolute fundamentals. Welcome to Salesforce Commerce Cloud 101.
Any ecommerce platform that is worth analyzing must offer a comprehensive collection of basics, which include:
- Allowing your store to upload products and set prices
- Allowing customers to buy your products
- Access to reporting tools and being able to analyze data
- Online marketing functions like promotion and special offer tools
- Capacity for growth with scalability
With this healthy supply of basic ingredients, you have a quality recipe for a world-class website. Out there in the eWorld there are a number of great ecommerce platforms that are excellent for building and managing your business website. These include the popular Shopify, whose primary market is low-to-mid level businesses. Then there is Magento, a free platform — which is great for beginners — and has a lot of functions, yet lacks much of the sophisticated software and functionalities that serious players require.
Then there is Salesforce Commerce Cloud, an excellent upmarket ecommerce platform that is home to an arsenal of functionalities that are user friendly. They have all the basics covered. But that’s not all. They fortify them, strengthen them, and make them powerful features that are fundamental to its success.
So let’s go through that collection of basics inside of Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Upload and manage products
Fundamental to any ecommerce site: show your products! You’ve taken some slick photos of what you have in store and want to put them up on the site. Of course, SFCC let’s you upload your stock. (How could any ecommerce platform fail to perform that function!) However, the way this is done can be quite cumbersome. Your typical photo will be saved in a JPEG file. To upload the product data sheets, some platforms use cumbersome web interfaces, CSV files (these are used for spreadsheets, think Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets) while others use XML files (which is for text). SFCC is fond of XML files. Converting these files can be draining, time-consuming, mind-numbingly boring… [insert your favorite excessive adjective here]. We know this all too well here at United Virtualities. That’s why UV developed Nagual: the product-collecting, catalog-moving, format-integrating feature that takes all of your products and integrates them to SFCC — without hassle and with ease. It’s estimated to save 92% of the time it takes to import products on the platform. Then with your products uploaded and hung out on display, simply tag on the prices.
Get customers buying
Making your journey through the products of a site, you stumble across the perfect present for Valentine’s Day. (You really plan ahead of time! We like that.) So you want to add it to your shopping cart — or basket. (Interestingly, the American giant of Walmart gives you a cart, the giant British supermarket Tesco offers you a basket. I wonder if that means Brits pick up less products online? Even more interesting, Apple’s website gives you a bag. Have you ever noticed that? I just did!)
The key point here is that you can create a place where customers can drop and accumulate their desired items. You can then set up a payment process that customers go through to, and add all relevant payment and shipping methods. Perhaps you will only accept debit or credit cards. If you’re more tech-savvy, maybe you want to accept cryptocurrency! It is also here that you can set the currencies and shipping costs. All under your control.
Reports and analysis
So, now your storefront is set. Your products are on display and there are channels for payment. You watch customers drift in and out of your site, some buying, some not, and some fill up their cart and suddenly leave. How can you make sense of all these random behaviors? Well, the analytics section of SFCC holds key reports on: purchases (what people have bought), catalogs (the top products that have been ordered by quantity and quality), searches (what people are searching for and how they are spelling items), and the customers themselves (data on first-time buyers, new customers, total registered customers).
It’s a rich data mine that can be complimented by external software such as Google Analytics to widen the net of useful data available for insight and analysis. Additional data includes how users locate your website, and can provide visual analysis on customer data, such as what people click on.
The marketing lab
After collecting a good chunk of data that you’ve chewed on for a while, you can decide to do something about it — or send it to your marketing team. Sales are down but your site traffic is steady. What do you do? Get creative and start experimenting! Make a seasonal campaign and bundle it with a load of promotions, discounts and coupons. (You don’t have to quite act like the Wacky Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman, but all these creative marketing tools are available on SFCC.)
What makes Salesforce Commerce Cloud stand higher above the competition — in our eyes — is that you’re able to really see the effectiveness of these changes via A/B testing. Say you want to roll out a discount on a particular product, but are not sure how effective it will be. A/B testing allows you to apply the discount to a certain percentage of your customers. Test whether it meets your desired outcome, and decide whether to roll out the discount for everyone, or discard it.
Success! Your tests in the marketing lab were very effective. Those campaigns and promos really struck a sweet spot with your customers, and you’re feeling a growth spurt. It’s time to think about expanding your site. Small platforms can’t provide you even wiggle room for growing into. So if growing is within sight, you need a platform that provides room for expansion.
Because Salesforce Commerce Cloud is (ahem) hosted on the cloud, it protects against major issues related to site speed. Which means that — in theory — you can have one million visitors from one day to the next and your site won’t slow down. The best advantage of this is that you don’t need to install any expensive hardware to deal with greater demand.While most of our coverage of Salesforce Commerce Cloud digs deep, it’s refreshing to come up for fresh air, and view the sweeping landscape of the platform’s basics. Hopefully this SFCC 101 has sustained your intrigue and widened your knowledge of, what we believe to be, the leading ecommerce platform.