Integrating e-commerce with Salesforce can improve customer experiences if you’re currently using Salesforce as your CRM. When your commerce platform is connected to your CRM and database, it’s much easier to implement relevant marketing campaigns and provide personalized shopping experiences.
There are two common ways to integrate Salesforce with e-commerce: 1) using third-party plugins to connect Salesforce CRM to a separate e-commerce platform such as Magento or Shopify, and 2) using Salesforce Commerce Cloud. There is also a third, more scalable way that we will discuss below.
Which Salesforce e-commerce integration is better for your business? The “right” answer depends on your needs, existing processes, and systems, as well as your roadmap and growth plans for the future.
If you have an existing e-commerce platform (and you’re happy with it), consider connecting it with Salesforce using third-party integrations.
Some examples of these connectors include:
It’s important to note, though, that third-party integrations can be quite limited when it comes to syncing data between two platforms. Some solutions, for example, don’t offer two-way synchronization. Meanwhile, other plugins can only sync with certain Salesforce products. For example, they can connect to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, but not with Salesforce Analytics Cloud, which becomes an issue as you try to scale.
So, if you’re using multiple Salesforce products and require a deep integration with your e-commerce platform, you can either develop a custom plugin (in-house or with a system integrator), use Salesforce Commerce Cloud, or move to a more flexible and connected solution with microservices.
Commerce Cloud is the e-commerce platform provided by Salesforce that has B2C and B2B capabilities, as well as an order management feature that enables merchants to sell and fulfill orders on multiple channels.
Commerce Cloud easily connects with Salesforce’s CRM and other products, giving you a single, unified view of all your customer data. Using Commerce Cloud in conjunction with other Salesforce products may streamline your sales, marketing, and customer support efforts.
For instance, connecting Commerce Cloud with Sales Cloud lets you equip your sales and support teams with rich and detailed customer data, including purchasing behavior, open service issues, and more. This enables them to get to know your customers better and provide tailored services.
The downside of using Commerce Cloud is the rigidity of the platform. While Salesforce CRM is a powerful sales tool, Commerce Cloud is a “monolithic” commerce platform that Salesforce acquired from Demandware in 2016. It functions well but has severe limitations related to scalability and often leads to technical debt.
Integrating Salesforce CRM via an e-commerce plugin or using Commerce Cloud is not your only e-commerce integration option. There is also the ability to build or license e-commerce services such as PIM, OMS, and pricing, then integrate them with Salesforce with APIs. This requires more work upfront but allows you to quickly adapt to new shopping expectations, trends, and behaviors without glue code and questionable integrations from Salesforce AppExchange.
A major limitation of Salesforce Commerce Cloud and most e-commerce solutions like Magento is they function as monolithic e-commerce platforms. This means that commerce services and functionalities like your catalog, order management, and CRM live in the same code base. Monolithic architectures may offer simplicity and ease of use initially but become slow and difficult to manage as you scale.
A better alternative is to create or adopt the specific e-commerce services you need and connect them to Salesforce through the Lightning Platform REST API. By leveraging these APIs, using e-commerce APIs, and creating an API gateway, you’re able to send only the most relevant data to Salesforce CRM without reliance on questionable apps.
See how this works in the illustration below: Salesforce essentially becomes a third-party channel (on the right) that independently connects to the API gateway.
Because the different microservices can function independently, it’s easier to scale and make changes more quickly. Adding e-commerce features or making changes can be done without you worrying that it’ll affect the entire platform. For instance, if you want to switch between different services, you can simply reroute the necessary API calls.
Overall, a microservices architecture gives the speed and flexibility to build a commerce platform and shopping experience specific to your needs. You aren’t tied down to a vendor or platform. Instead, you can choose to use multiple providers and services through APIs. This ultimately helps with integrating e-commerce with Salesforce in a scalable way.