Increase Marketplace Conversions with Salesforce Integration
Integrating the Front-end Site with the Back-end CRM is Key to Increased Conversions
Even when understanding the benefits and expanded sales that marketplace platforms can generate, marketing decision-makers still need to develop the right eCommerce strategy to transform marketplace applications into powerful sales tools by integrating technology, marketplace software and operating systems into their sales platforms. Sales and marketing teams need to be able to use marketplaces to their fullest potential, but questions arise about how to approach this process. Salesforce ranks as one of the most popular and effective types of CRM software, but how can a company use this resource in their marketplace applications to take orders, foster strong marketplace conversions, connect with customers in their own language and engage marketplace customers with the same user-friendly features that are available on the company’s website?
The Salesforce Advantage for Integrating Marketplace Channels
Salesforce offers retail and wholesale organizations the tools to sell more productively at proprietary websites, multichannel sales platforms and niche marketplaces. One of the top CRM systems in the world, Salesforce can accelerate sales, generate leads, build revenue and manage sales across multiple marketing channels from a single platform. Marketers can sell, service and build loyalty integrating their Salesforce eCommerce instance with their marketplace and back-office line of business applications. Collecting and pushing clean data to Salesforce is an essential first step to collecting the right data and deploying it strategically.
A recent Gartner study found that integrating applications remains the top IT goal of responding C-level executives.  Executives find difficulty integrating proprietary and legacy systems, which is why eCommerce companies should cultivate IT partnerships with respected developers in their fields. Using such a developer to build a robust system opens the doors to some astonishing eCommerce benefits such as providing great user experiences to visitors on marketplace platforms and gathering valuable data for leads and sales through Salesforce’s intuitive features.
Integrating Systems to Maximize Their Usefulness and Cross-Channel Availability
Integrating existing technologies, operating systems and marketplace platforms allows companies to deliver their best self-service options on all their outside marketing channels. Sales staff can improve their customer insight through integration of user activities from portals, marketplaces and storefronts. The benefits of a Salesforce integration and marketplace platforms into operating systems include:
- Enabling painless integration of new tech, features, platforms and marketplaces
- Ability to create mashups between applications
- Ensuring that data integration is free from duplication and transcription inaccuracies
- Fostering connections to all the most important enterprise applications, Web services and data warehouses
- Gaining access to thousands of prebuilt services
- Connecting multiple applications so that they can share data
- Building customized hybrid applications
- Automating the validation of incoming data
- Being able to close deals, collaborate, update inventory, track marketing and service customers from a single mobile app
Marketplace data--which technically belongs to the marketplace venue--won’t provide many benefits for vendors unless their platforms can access that data and deliver it where it’s most useful. That’s why full Salesforce integration is so critical for companies that want to use data on website behavior, viewing habits, login information and abandoned shopping carts. Integration ensures that all data get where they’re needed for converting sales, prequalifying leads and triggering marketing approaches that are likely to succeed based on user profiles. That data can be used to trigger alternative suggestions, sales leads, marketing messages, special incentives and other conversion tactics.
Dealing with Marketplace Challenges
Marketplace conversions are more difficult that proprietary website sales because site-specific customers are more motivated than casual buyers on a multiple-vendor platform. However, integrated CRM, eCommerce applications and marketplace software enable sales staff and customer service reps to connect across every channel on any device. eCommerce companies can reach prospects at any stage of the lifecycle, which includes at initial contact, during the browsing process or in real-time during the ordering process. Carefully selected recommendations--at the proper time in the buying cycle--can help to seal the deal as efficiently as if the customer were shopping on the company’s regular website.
Using Salesforce-generated data, sales managers can share data and leads across teams, guide customers from initial contact through completed sales and gain loyal customers customer who will advocate for the company and its products. Each customer interaction--regardless of the channel or platform--can reinforce the company’s brand and core mission if he or she loves their buying and browsing experience.
Launching a Marketplace Platform for B2B or Retail Sales
Forrester research shows that marketplace platforms are rapidly replacing single-platform websites for both retail and B2B sales.  Hundreds of European companies have created specialized marketplaces to sell third-party products based on the astonishing success of Amazon’s third-party eCommerce. Consumers cite the convenience of finding multiple brands from different sellers and the ability to target their searches more precisely. Consumers and B2B buyers can find products that they didn’t know about or couldn’t otherwise locate. Gartner Research predicts that spending on digital platform software will grow 15 percent or more each year until 2020 and that 40 percent of websites will be using complex algorithms to optimize price (which can be used to undercut competitors on marketplace platforms). 
The technical details of building a two-sided marketplace include enabling close collaboration with multiple business partners, so integration is vital. Users become vendors who create their own product listings, reviews, ratings, etc. It’s possible to build marketplace with an off-the-shelf product, but fully integrating and customizing it normally requires an eCommerce platform, like Clarity eCommerce. A fully integrated platform will enable marketplace functionality in an existing store where users can sell, share or exchange products through fully automated business processes.
Given the growth of in-app searches, specialty marketing and customized search tools, it’s relatively easy to create a marketplace where vendors can build their own stores and upload products, but the key to success is integrating everything with the advice and help of a trusted development partner. A revolution in eCommerce promises to marginalize born-in-the-Internet companies that fail to recognize the waning influence of legacy on-premises systems. Amazon, eBay, NewEgg and Etsy may have led the way in popularizing the multichannel eCommerce business model, but it’s the creative and agile companies that use these tools in new ways that will lead future advances.
Building out both sides of marketplace marketing at the same time, of course, will generate many challenges, but a robust API layer and full integration can simplify a multi-sided transactional model regardless of whether it’s marketing products on multiple channels and marketplace platforms or marketing products on a proprietary website while earning a commission on related products and services from other distributors, manufacturers and online sellers.
Transforming Marketplace Implementations into Lead- and Sales-Generating Juggernauts
Integrating your operating software--such as Salesforce CRM and back-of-the-office ERP--offer incredible business benefits that include automating payments, facilitating multiple shipping options for customers and opening a world of business-friendly apps for your customers and staff to use--apps such as Google Apps and those from the AppExchange, the proprietary apps that Salesforce software offers its customers. Apps can automate collaboration, simplify repetitive processes and foster customer loyalty even for first-time buyers who buy your products from marketplace sales venues. You could even use eCommerce and Salesforce integration to launch your own marketplace and collect a commission on other vendors’ sales while selling your own exclusive product line.
Interested in learning more? Visit our Salesforce eCommerce Integration Resource Center.
 Salesforce.com: Force.com Connect: Five Paths to Integration Success
 Forbes.com: Predicting The Future of B2B E-Commerce