Salesforce on Thursday outlined plans to integrate commerce into its Communities platform in a bid to make buying a product through a forum as easy as drag and dropping a component on a template.
The move is behind an effort called commerce in context. Salesforce is essentially emulating what sites like Trip Advisor and Etsy are doing in a business context. What's also worth noting about the Salesforce effort is that it is partnering with three key e-commerce providers to provide native integration over application programming interfaces.
Those partners---Demandware, CloudCraze and Bigcommerce---cover a good chunk of Salesforce's customer base of enterprises of all sizes. "Customers were asking for ways to cut e-commerce friction," explained Mike Stone, senior vice president of marketing for Salesforce's Community Cloud. "APIs are awesome, but our customers wanted speed."
Commerce will be a pillar of the talking points at Salesforce's Dreamforce powwow in San Francisco September 15 to 18.
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For the commerce components to be integrated easily into communities easily, a Salesforce customer would also have to be a customer of Demandware, CloudCraze and Bigcommerce. Salesforce expects the partner components to be integrated toward the end of 2015 or early 2016. This integration is part of Salesforce's Lightning Components, which allow non-coders to build applications.
In a nutshell, Salesforce and its partners have broken down the e-commerce process into digestible chunks so customers can continually tweak pages to gauge the intersection of community and commerce. Avid and Pono Music were two demo customers.
The win for Salesforce will be to tie its customer base to sales that can be easily measured. Communities have typically had a mushy return on investment metric, but if forums have a direct line to sales those stats will be sturdier. Salesforce's commerce in context effort is aimed at business-to-consumer as well as business-to-business enterprises.
Here's a look at how the commerce-meets-community effort plays out.