Salesforce Commerce Cloud Review

Offers a customizable checkout experience, customizable homepage - everything can be customized

What is our primary use case?

Our clients use Salesforce Commerce Cloud to sell their goods retail online. This solution has been mostly used by American retailers.

How has it helped my organization?

The whole point is that SFCC concentrates on not re-inventing the wheel. For example, Wish-list functionality. These are the basic functionalities that should be in e-commerce, like Apple Pay or the social media authentication login. These kinds of functionalities were provided out of the box. So the customer's sign-in and sign-out and the whole check-out experiences are provided by Salesforce Commerce Cloud, which can be enhanced on the basis of need. The customization is done by the service providers on the basis of customers' needs. These kinds of basic solutions are there and the role of the SFCC service provider is to customize all of it. It is very extensive and the documentation is very strong. 

The community is not very large, around 4,000 - 5,000 good developers in the community who have actually been helping each other. This is not something available in other solutions because their solution is outsourced. People working in SFCC can only help other SFCC developers. This is a drawback in Salesforce which is not an open-source solution. Although it is closed source, at the same time it provides a high-quality service. The development is very easy, with continuous integration. Also, their continuous code development is easy.

Their methodology is such that all these can be easily implemented into Salesforce Commerce Cloud. So the software development life cycle becomes very practical in this way.

What is most valuable?

There are a lot of solutions in the Salesforce Commerce Cloud itself. For example, a company may offer to our clients their Order Management system, but sometimes clients don't want to buy all the services from one service provider. If I'm a developer of SFCC, then some of my clients would like to hire me for only the SFCC stuff. But my video order management system is in some other technology like AIX or you can see their backend system is in a botnet for the autonomy system, so sometimes they would like to involve me in those specs. I worked with one company that actually sold three services to one client. That is one SFCC spot where around 30 people were working in that specific team for the SFCC specific task, while around 20 people were working in a botnet to connect SFCC with AIX database and AIX was their order management system. Actually, SFCC doesn't have that database capacity so they recommend that the service providers and the clients use a third-party service as a database. Okay.

This how the SFCC works and how the services are being provided to the client.

What needs improvement?

There are some areas which should be improved. For example, the community is very closed source. What if Salesforce provided some depositories? Now a big percent of the hubs are only for people who actually paid a membership, and then they allow you to start working from the cloud. But there should be some sort of trial or learning opportunity for other people to learn what Salesforce Commerce Cloud is. Because if you don't buy it, you won't be able to learn it. That's a drawback. I'm not saying make it open source because this is a private company. I'm just saying that it should provide some opportunities for the public to learn it. To provide more opportunities with it because the e-commerce platform is expanding all over the world, even in third world countries. They should provide some way to learn it. Yes, they provide us the documentation, they provide us the community, but they don't provide us the coding environment. It should be there for some trial period because it is very costly. People want to work in SFCC, but it is not very affordable. For example, I am in Pakistan and I remember back 2-3 years ago, many clients or customers wanted to use Salesforce Commerce Cloud but they didn't offer any services in Pakistan.

That was their concern. And the billing was very, very high at that time. Because competitors were not there 2, 3, 4 years ago. But now the competitors are here and Salesforce Commerce Cloud is reducing its costs. But they are still not providing any free, development environment for the developers to explore SFCC.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been a Salesforce Commerce Cloud developer for last five years and my overall experience with it is around seven years. 

I am actively working in it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very, very high. SFCC is a leader in the world. They have released multiple volumes in the last three years.

The mobile version is completed and now they are releasing their headless architecture, where the front-end and the back-end will be different. Two different teams can work in it. So that will be a giant step in the E-commerce market by Salesforce. So yes, the product is very stable. Nothing crashes. 

But from the development perspective there are some limitations like debugging. If there are things to debug, it should be done very slowly because this debugging is in the code and not on local machines. We are directly connected with the cloud and if there is any internet glitch then the instance or the cloud instance can be halted, which is a real migraine for a developer. So these kinds of limitations are there, but if the product is running on the production instance, it's live and does not crash.

But there are some steps that we have to do like old replication and the content replication, which are actually replicated from a lower to higher environment, meaning from staging to production. Production means a real website so the content and the code are actually set up by a developer or the deployment manager. These are the steps which actually take some time. It's not something that we can do in five or 10 minutes. It can take around two or three hours and our successful release can be done by the SFCC team. The deployment is handled by the service providers.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Salesforce Commerce Cloud is very scalable. They provide built-in extra functionalities. They recently introduced a technique in which they provide us a basic website. From there, we have to extend an E-commerce site and we can add multiple functionalities based on customer needs, like Apple Pay or Magento integration. These kinds of things are very interesting to extend and add at runtime, or anytime. This makes the solution very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

In terms of technical support, sometimes it takes time, at least six to 12 hours, which is not very good at the critical moment. But at least they come back to you, as opposed to WooCommerce which is an open source community. You post some question on an open source thread on any website and it's your luck if you get some answer. It might take months or it might take days, or it might take one minute. You're not sure. WooCommerce is not that helpful because it is an open source platform while the Salesforce will get back to you in at least five, six hours.

Salesforce gets back to you and solves the issues. This is the beauty of a closed source environment. If you're working with Microsoft Dynamics 365, their new solution, which is a very fine competitor of Salesforce Commerce Cloud, even they already are full, but they are evolving in the market and this is the beauty of closed source and private companies -they get back to you with answers.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Yes. I worked in WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a PSP. I also worked with WordPress E-commerce and Shopify. And obviously Salesforce as well.

WooCommerce is not a very customizable solution and not a good solution for the large clients who are trafficking pages with more than thousands of testimonies. If the sales are in the millions and the processes are very strong, then a WooCommerce site will not be able to bear the traffic load.

But Salesforce Commerce Cloud will never die because of traffic. At the same time there are a lot of options to import things into Salesforce Commerce Cloud. The customizations are there and any user can customize their website look and feel. The best thing about Salesforce is the role it plays for merchandisers allowing them to customize their sites at run time with the help of the first available data, and how it changes their website look and feel immediately by turning on/off some flags. The merchandising feature is very easy to use in Salesforce Commerce Cloud while in other platforms, like in WooCommerce, this is not always easy to use. The solution is not perfect for every market.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup process is very strong. Whenever we have to set up a website, which they provide and is known as SFRA or site genesis, there are multiple versions of Salesforce Commerce Cloud. There are around 4 multiple versions that are released by Salesforce on the SFCC. Each version has its data set. This process is easy. You can see the cloud instance in the business manager. It takes around a day, around eight to 10 hours are needed for setting up one version.

This is a very basic step. It's a baby step. It's the very first baby step to set up the PC version on any cloud instance. After that, the customization comes and the SFCC starts developing.

It all depends upon the customers' needs. It's not a hard and fast deadline or timeline. I have been in some situations that took us three to four months and others that took around nine to 10 months. So it's a bracket from three to 10 months. But if the team is cooperative and competent, on average a very big solution can be delivered in 6 or 7 months after the development is released. This includes everything - the documentation, as well as the code and the leads and everything

Planning time is very negligible, it gets changed client to client because there are a lot of ethical issues and I'm trying to decode it in front of you.

From a review perspective it also changes client to client. If a client is technical and he has some knowledge then they might have another plan and if they hire me as a freelancer, then they are the manager and I could be included in the technical discussions. From the solution perspective, I can give them suggestions but ultimately the direction will be decided by the client. This includes extra content and the images and how they should be processed to the production environment. The processes are different from client to client.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Price was a huge issue three to four years ago but now they're introducing their On-Demand Sandboxes concept. This is very practical as well. The thing is, whenever you use any cloud instance on the Salesforce Commerce Cloud, you are paying something to Salesforce Commerce Cloud even if you're not using it for each second, each minute. But now they have provided a new solution which is very helpful for the customers where if you buy their On-Demand Sandboxes plan, whenever you need some cloud instance for development, just create it, use it, delete it and that's it. You will pay whenever you're using it. That's the practical approach from Salesforce. But three to four years ago when before this concept existed there were a lot of charges by Salesforce but now they are reducing it because there are lot of competitors. Fees for developers are a little expensive compared to other developers because it's a very closed sourced community and not everyone is a domain expert in SFCC. Whoever invested time, whoever took the risk of working in this very closed source environment, should be paid a little higher.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is that, yes, they should work with SFCC because it provides a lot of features to extend and link with third parties, API's are available from third parties, and they can easily be integrated into Salesforce Commerce Cloud. It has a customizable checkout experience, customizable homepage, everything can be customized. Their A/B testing is very, very strong. The New York traffic can see one thing on their homepage, while the Boston market can see another. So you can base the experience on different customer groups. Not everyone in America has to see the same thing on the site. The experience is very customizable for cloud and scalability is very easy. If you are a very small company and you can't afford a million dollar bill, then the Salesforce Commerce Cloud is not for you.

On a scale of one to ten I would love to give it a 10+.

The best things with Salesforce Commerce Cloud are that they encourage people to update from time to time, which is very positive coming from a private platform, that the certification path is very strong, and their certification is very reliable. If you are a certified developer they can easily deliver the value. The the first path is the developer path and then citizen architect. Multiple clouds are there. I'm a certified developer and heading toward the solution architect certification as well and I've been working with Salesforce Commerce Cloud for five years. This is the time to attempt SFCC architecture because I know the ins and outs of the whole solution. I have 10 people in my team who are managing it and we work together. Two Salesforce Commerce Cloud architects and eight certified developers. That is how we are working. Half of the team members are in America, but others are working from here and soon we will be there as well.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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1 Comment

author avatarSyed Hasan Badshah
Top 5LeaderboardReal User

salesforce commerce cloud is the best leading ecommerce solution till today. It provides merchants to seemlessly manage catalogs, price books, inventories and OMS.