Salesforce.com Adds Buy Buttons to the Community Cloud

Salesforce today added buy button capabilities to its Community Cloud, enabling organizations to embed transactional functions directly into their social Web pages. With such functionality, "communities become not just a place for collaboration, but a new channel [where companies can sell] products," says Mike Stone, senior vice president of marketing at Salesforce Community Cloud.

The Community Cloud is designed to help companies facilitate and manage their online discussion hubs. Leveraging its tools, organizations can create secure environments in which customers, partners, or employees might exchange ideas and information regarding specific subjects of interest. The solution sits on top of Salesforce1 and links to Salesforce's CRM system and a variety of third-party systems and data sources via its Connect API.

With the addition of Lightning Components for e-commerce, firms can now incorporate purchase processes directly into their community environments by using drag-and-drop tools. As the function works in conjunction with Community Cloud, managers are free to draw on its existing tool set to determine what specific items they ought to be linking to on their pages. Stone says the function allows "great flexibility to different business models [working] within the context of the community," as it allows users or partners to sell goods to other members, for example. It can be particularly useful for collaborating on the creation of media content, Stone suggests. For instance, if a musician who regularly engages in online discussions is looking for a bass line for her new track, she can, with these additions, buy it directly from a producer within the community.  

Today’s addition is just one of a series of updates Salesforce has introduced to the Community Cloud to help companies build navigable hubs for brand-related activity. Since Salesforce launched the Community Cloud almost one year ago, it has been steadily introducing improvements to its functionality. "A major driver of our development…has been allowing users to set up communities without expertise," Stone says.

Many companies have faced a challenge in placing commerce directly into their community interface, and typically firms that have implemented buy options have had to write additional code or undergo other complicated processes just to get it running, Stone says. It just hasn't been a realistic possibility, as it was for a company like TripAdvisor, for example, which has "click to buy" options in its communities. Within that platform, customers easily can book flights, car rentals, and hotels. Many Salesforce customers have been requesting similar seamless integration of e-commerce capabilities to allow customers to complete transactions within a trusted environment without being relocated to a separate and unfamiliar page.

For an additional fee, end users can choose from a number of Salesforce partners, including e-commerce solution providers such as CloudCraze, Demandware, and Bigcommerce. Pricing has not yet been announced but will be determined by partners, Stone says.

Stone envisions that Lightning Components and partner ecosystems will allow companies to turn to the AppExchange for various other add-ons and functions to enrich their communities. "The ability to draw components for e-commerce is fantastic," Stone says, "but it also means we can do the same thing to include best-in-class technology for taking surveys, or putting video into the feed, or adding video conferencing. It really opens up…[the]ability to develop innovation and deliver it very quickly to our customers." 

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