The buy button is coming to B2B. Is the ecosystem ready to handle it? Chris Dalton, CEO of CloudCraze, says yes. In a recent discussion with PYMNTS, he explained the factors that have coalesced to make now the time for B2B to take on an aspect commonly associated with B2C — and how it’s poised to set off a tide change.
CloudCraze is one of Salesforce’s three chosen partners to roll out the buy button function, which will allow businesses to have the same capabilities that retailers offer consumers to purchase products at a fast pace. What was the primary driver that motivated Salesforce to partner with you?
CD: On the heels of a lot of interesting activity that’s taken place within the ecosystem of SAP, Oracle and IBM, it was apparent to both Salesforce and CloudCraze that Salesforce had an opportunity to become very relevant in the eCommerce space.
Working with Nasi Jazayeri — our executive sponsor within CloudCraze — and his team on the community side, we started talking about several clients that we had — namely Pono, which is Neil Young’s music site, and Avid, which is another company that produces audio and video technology — and looking at how we could shape commerce opportunities within community and online dialogues.
We’ve been working with those guys for some time and actually created a buy button concept out of some new technology that they’ve been working on called Lightning.
There’s no question that cloud computing allows companies to collect and analyze massive amounts of data that can be used to deliver a better customer experience. In your opinion, though, who owns that data, and who is responsible for making it safe?
CD: In the historical growth of Salesforce, there were probably several years in its early stages — maybe from 1999 through 2006 — where there was a lot of confusion about whether or not a client would want to actually put its customer data on a cloud environment. For an organization to eventually say, “We’re going to store all of our customer actions and data out on a cloud technology product,” that was a pretty monumental shift.
The fact that this organization has grown, from 2006 to 2015, to a more than $6 billion company with over 150-some-odd-thousand customers, with penetration in every market across the globe, speaks to how transformational the technology is.
Our eCommerce technology is imbedded into the Salesforce platform. A customer who is familiar with using Service Cloud, Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud — or any of the technologies that Salesforce offers — can now turn on commerce capabilities with CloudCraze and be able to serve and deliver to their customers under one platform.
When you spin that out into the concept of a B2B portal, where all interactions with your business partners are taking place in this technology, you’re actually able to build a dialogue with the customer in the middle of the transactive environment.
How do you expect the B2B online shopping format to evolve, and what role will you play in this evolution?
CD: I think it’s safe to assume that B2C led the revolution with regards to online shopping. B2B was a little bit laggard by comparison.
However, B2B companies are now extending themselves out into building Web interfaces that are very similar in functionality, as well as convenience, to those of their business partners. The volume of transactional data in the total addressable marketplace that goes on in B2B is somewhere in the neighborhood of three times the size of B2C. We’re talking about trillions of dollars worth of transaction value going through a B2B channel.
There are a couple of factors that are playing into B2B’s move into online shopping. One is that the familiarity that consumers have in the B2C experiences that they have in their personal interactions is driving demand for B2B customers to actually deliver more sophisticated and intuitive solutions online.
So while B2B might be much more laggard than B2C, over the last seven years, we’ve seen tremendous change wherein B2B companies are saying specifically in investor reports and quarterly reviews, “We’re going to move our online transactions from single-digit percentages to a sizable portion of our revenue — 30, 40, 50 percent.” It’s a far greater impact than you would ever see in the B2C space, and we’re excited about the momentum shift.
A second factor compelling online shopping in B2B is that those customers truly want something that’s fast to market and value-based. Given the economics within the channel, to introduce something that’s very costly in transactive value, it has to be highly efficient.
Finally, what are the biggest challenges that you face, and how do you believe you can overcome them?
CD: As CloudCraze alone, we stand as a small player against behemoth organizations such as SAP and Oracle. Together with Salesforce, though, that dynamic changes pretty significantly.
We’ve worked very, very hard over the last several months to make sure that we have a strategic relationship with Salesforce — and that eCommerce is on their road map. Together, we believe that our customers who are running Salesforce have a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of eCommerce by leveraging our technology platform, which is tightly integrated with their technology set.
Forrester Research has described the cloud-based technology as “Salesforce eCommerce on steroids.” It’s a game-changer in B2B commerce, because an entree of mercurial size (that being Salesforce) is stepping in against the behemoths of SAP, Oracle and IBM, and saying, “We also can play in this space."