Salesforce e-commerce gets B2B boost with CloudCraze purchase

To improve its e-commerce offerings, the CRM company bought B2B commerce product CloudCraze for an undisclosed amount. The purchase will add B2B functionality.

In 2016, Salesforce spent nearly $3 billion on Demandware, and turned it into its Commerce Cloud.

But now Commerce Cloud is primarily B2C-focused and Salesforce e-commerce was missing a B2B component. To fill this void, Salesforce recently acquired CloudCraze to provide customers with a Salesforce B2B e-commerce product.

"There's a familiarity between Salesforce and CloudCraze, and it's built natively on the Salesforce platform," said John Bruno, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. "It's the only B2B e-commerce tool built natively and on the same technology powering Sales Cloud, Service Cloud."

B2B and B2C are two different buyers

On the surface, a novice may believe that the same technology that helps with B2C e-commerce should be able to accommodate B2B sales, but several factors differentiate B2B and B2C commerce.

B2C and B2B markets are two different buyers.
R 'Ray' Wangprincipal analyst, Constellation Research

"B2C and B2B markets are two different buyers," said R "Ray" Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research. "When businesses sell to other businesses, you have things like contacts and service-level agreements that aren't typical with B2C."

Additionally, while B2C e-commerce is traditionally a one-to-one relationship between the buyer and seller, sales reps working within B2B e-commerce often have a roster of employees to whom they are selling.

"The brand has to know who the individuals are at the account they're selling to, and that complicates things," Bruno said. "You might have employees responsible for identifying products and services they need, but oftentimes a purchase requires governance or approval."

By adding B2B capabilities to the Salesforce e-commerce platform, the CRM company is looking to capitalize on a market that is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2021, according to a Forrester report.

"You need that B2B piece if you're going to set up a commerce network or a trading network where buyers and suppliers come together," Wang said.

Bruno added that aspects like contract building, requests for quotes or other back-and-forth objectives "aren't really supported by B2C commerce platforms. B2B is a superset of B2C."

Salesforce acquisitions moving forward

The CloudCraze acquisition marks the second purchase for Salesforce this year, following the relatively small acquisition of Attic Labs. That makes two more purchases than in all of 2017, when Salesforce took a buying hiatus after acquiring more than 12 companies and shelling out more than $5 billion in 2016. Both Wang and Bruno agree that there may be more acquisitions on the horizon for Salesforce but doubt it will reach 2016 amounts.

One of those 2016 acquisitions was of CPQ provider SteelBrick, which, like CloudCraze, was built natively on Salesforce's technology. Analogous to how Salesforce filled the CPQ gap within its platform, the CRM company is hoping to achieve the same within Salesforce e-commerce. Salesforce spent roughly $350 million on SteelBrick before turning it into Salesforce CPQ, and Bruno said he believes CloudCraze was purchased with a similar intent.

"CloudCraze affectively borrows platform functionality from Salesforce," Bruno said. "The closest thing I can equate this to is the acquisition of SteelBrick. Once this sale closes, Salesforce can start selling this product on day one."

Financial terms of the acquisition haven't been disclosed. Cost of the CloudCraze product for Salesforce customers is also unknown at this time.

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