B2B Commerce on Salesforce: A UX Designer’s Perspective
Written by Steve Christians | Jul 27, 2017
A few months ago, I was contacted by a recruiter I’ve known for quite some time to join her software company, CloudCraze. “We are a B2B eCommerce solution built on Salesforce,” she said. The opportunity was intriguing to me – although, at the time, I only had a sliver of an idea of what this phrase actually meant.
“A B2B eCommerce solution built on Salesforce”
Catchy phrase, but when these components are put together it becomes an intellectual test unlike any other. As a UX designer, learning and supporting the B2B commerce industry has been a more dynamic and complex process than I could have ever imagined. So let’s breakdown the items of this phrase:
B2B: If you aren’t familiar with the business-to-business market, it takes time to truly understand the customer interaction models that exist within this space. One business can have a multitude of different types of business buyers, who want to make purchases on different devices, at different times, and so on.
Take a company that sells sticker adhesive rolls to other companies so that they can create packaged goods. On one end, they are selling the adhesive rolls to distributors, while a separate business unit at the same company sells the adhesive directly to retailers. While both are examples of B2B selling, the customer needs differ dramatically from use case to use case. Companies like this need a commerce solution that supports both types of interactions while having the ability to adapt their storefront to their customer’s varying business goals.
So, how do you create a product that fits the needs of multiple types of buyers? Can you? The user scenario isn’t just: “A customer sitting at home on their phone wants shoes, that person buys a pair of shoes, and then sends them to their home.” Instead, the scenario might be something more along the lines of: “A franchise territory store owner is running low on his supply of shoes. Store A needs 40 boxes in red and white, and Store B needs 30 boxes in blue and 10 in green with varying sizes. They are paying with two separate PO numbers, and have separate billing and shipping addresses.” Understanding and designing for these complexities is an ongoing, iterative process – one that constantly challenges and excites me.
eCommerce: When exploring a design, it’s not as easy as going to a known website and doing a competitive analysis of their storefront’s design elements. B2C websites do not require as many features and they don’t need to support as many capabilities as B2B storefronts. So deciding when and where to copy as an artist, and when to challenge the status quo of the typical eCommerce user experience, is a constant challenge. This has been the toughest part as a designer. We are in a digital world and have all bought or know what to expect from an online store. Trying to realize the differences in crafting a B2B eCommerce product is a very blurry line that has taken time to learn – and that doesn’t even include learning the technology…
Built on Salesforce: Since CloudCraze is a native solution on Salesforce, developing your Salesforce expertise is instrumental. CloudCraze encourages you to take the time to educate yourself and get up to speed quickly on Salesforce. They encourage you to get your certifications – and that’s along with sending you to a separate CloudCraze training. The extra time needed to learn Salesforce may seem like a lot when you want to hit the floor running at a company. But, understanding the Salesforce technology has helped me appreciate the nuances developers face when working to enhance the product and its features.
When the recruiter called me months ago, I had no idea what this new venture into B2B commerce would entail. But one thing is for sure, this is one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. I’m loving the complexities that exist within the B2B space and I’m excited to continue to push my design expertise here at CloudCraze. I look forward to evolving with our solution and continuing my education on what it means to be “a B2B eCommerce solution built on Salesforce.”
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