A Lightning Revolution for the Salesforce B2B Commerce Managed Package
7Summits Enables a Game-Changing Solution with Digital Storefront Bolt
Over the past year, 7Summits has been diligently working on a game-changer that can no longer be kept quiet. This innovative Accelerator will open up tremendous options and value for customers heavily invested in the Salesforce platform. Of course, you are probably curious if this impacts you.
If your organization (or client) currently uses the (original) Salesforce B2B offering, the ‘ccrz’-namespaced managed package that was last updated to v4.12 in Spring ‘20, the powerful commerce application that only generates Visualforce storefronts… you’re in luck. And, if I may speak on your behalf, you’re absolutely going to want to read this.
For anyone else whose interest has been piqued, let me provide a bit of context before I dive into our big announcement.
When Did Salesforce Enter the B2B Commerce Space?
In 2018, it was announced that Salesforce was set to acquire CloudCraze, a Chicago-based firm that saw its roots in the consulting firm, EDL Consulting (Note: EDL had already been acquired by Simplus in 2017). CloudCraze was a SaaS B2B Commerce application that was fully developed and maintained on the Salesforce platform. While Salesforce had bought into a CPQ offering through Steelbrick back in 2015 and had incorporated B2C Commerce into their offering set through the 2016 acquisition of Demandware, B2B commerce was not something that Salesforce could claim fell under their growing product umbrella before 2018. So, CloudCraze became Salesforce B2B Commerce, the B2B arm of Commerce Cloud.
Let me start by saying that CloudCraze was acquired for good reason. This commerce platform (more apt than just calling it an “application”) was built to handle intricate, complex, and highly voluminous scenarios with reliability, security, and performance. Disclaimer: I knew this to be true on a personal level, anyway, as I spent a while as one of two directors in the product management organization at CloudCraze before it was eventually pulled into Salesforce.
What Problems Existed with Salesforce B2B Commerce?
Why the background, you might ask? There’s one very important detail related to Salesforce’s managed package B2B commerce offering that must be reiterated: the product is 100% Visualforce. This is a big deal and anyone on the current product knows it all too well. For those new to Visualforce, it is basically custom markup that plays decently well with Apex. While Salesforce has created an administrative interface to allow admins to partially click their way through a storefront build, the reality is that Visualforce — as a platform element — does not provide relative flexibility. Virtually any modifications that are not pre-approved will require code changes…and we all know how costly those can be. For organizations without the internal resources to support regular and complex coding, Visualforce highly limits their ability to respond to changing customer expectations or desires to improve the customer experience.
How Can You Implement a Lightning-Based B2B Commerce Solution?
Salesforce’s own Lightning platform, on the other hand, offers a much more agile approach. And that’s where bringing Salesforce and 7Summits together truly creates a 1 + 1 = 3 type of situation.
With its launch of the “Digital Storefront for B2B Commerce” Lightning Bolt, 7Summits introduces the first offering listed on AppExchange to provide a Lightning front end for the Visualforce-based B2B Commerce managed package.
7Summits worked closely with Salesforce to identify key B2B Commerce use cases and, leveraging the available Global APIs, designed and developed the corresponding capabilities in a Lightning community template that enables the most critical storefront functions…in Lightning.
Well, let’s get right down to it. 7Summits has enabled the following via Lightning components for use in a Lightning community or Lightning Experience:
- Product catalog viewing & browsing
- Product filtering (by search string, category, and spec)
- Product detail viewing, including feed tracking
- Ability to add to cart from the catalog or detail page
- Ability to place a “quick order” based on SKU and quantity
- Product cart and summary components
- Ability to seamless navigate back to the Visualforce storefront for more advanced functions, such as checkout
The real value of this can’t be understood without focusing on Lightning in general. See a third-party Lightning app on AppExchange that would be a great addition to your storefront? Download, install, configure, and publish it in minutes. Want to quickly change your entire storefront’s look and feel with clicks instead of code? Select a new theme in Experience Builder or configure your existing theme. Want to rearrange or modify your product catalog and cart? Drag ‘n’ drop them where you’d like and change the property editor settings with a few clicks.
When I said this was a game-changer, I meant it!
Now, I imagine some questions are likely coming to mind while you are reading this and I’d love to answer those for you. Let’s dive right in:
Didn’t CloudCraze release a Lightning Bolt when bolts were first launched back in 2016?
Yes. However, that Lightning community template was retired in 2017.
Didn’t Salesforce release Lightning components with their 4.11 release?
Yes, they did. However, the “what” is very important here. Salesforce released a few components that were very small in scope, including a cart icon that serves as a hyperlink, a basic featured products view, and a couple others. While it was great to see the introduction of some components, these components really served more as a teaser than providing true means to consider bridging the Lightning gap that existed for customers on the managed package.
Didn’t Salesforce just launch “Lightning B2B Commerce” in Summer ‘20?
Once again, yes! And that launch is a major accomplishment. However, the Lightning B2B Commerce community template does not sit on top of the same commerce data model and engine that serves as the foundation of the original managed package offering. Simply put, Lightning B2B Commerce is an entirely different product than “standard” B2B Commerce; it’s not just a different front end. And, furthermore, there is no “easy migrate” button. We’re talking about a migration of data in more than 100 custom objects, not to mention related processes and customization.
Is the 7Summits offering a substitutionary or supplementary offering for B2B Commerce?
100% supplementary. For customers already using or starting to use the managed package from Salesforce, our Lightning front end easily sits on top as the new glass for your commerce experience. This is a combination of the engine and the Lightning front end. Our B2B offering works with Salesforce’s offering; it does not replace it.
Is the 7Summits offering managed?
It is not managed; it is delivered as an unmanaged package on top of the B2B Commerce managed package.
Is the 7Summits offering SaaS?
It is not SaaS; there is no ongoing, recurring payment after the initial solution cost.
Can you help me explain to my boss why this is such an easy win?
If you’re on the managed package, you’re probably not in love with the Visualforce aspect and would love to be able to manage a Lightning UI. At the same time, a massive migration is probably out of the question for quite some time. That’s where the Bolt comes in. By making a very reasonable investment, you address your Visualforce / experience concerns, open up the world of Lightning to significantly upgrade your storefront, and avoid being cornered into a costly, lengthy migration to the new data model.
We’re excited about what’s possible with this offering and how it will change the game for your B2B storefront. Check out the full AppExchange listing to start the process of adding the Digital Storefront for B2B Commerce to your solution.
Phil Weinmeister is the VP of Product Management at 7Summits. He is a Salesforce MVP with 20 certifications and has authored three books that guide readers through leveraging Salesforce in their digital solutions.