Integrating Salesforce with External eCommerce Solutions

Maximize Business Potential while Keeping Costs Down

Want to provide your end-users with a personalized and individualized experience? Try integrating Salesforce with your existing eCommerce platform. It can deliver data into your eCommerce application in real-time. The integration also automates core processes and user interaction by intelligent pushing and pulling data from Salesforce to the platform, and vice versa.

A common challenge with this integration is that internal business users may not have adequate experience with it. They might not be aware of the optimal business logic, what areas to focus on, different user behaviors according to the industry, etc. So, they will not be able to optimize the user experience effectively. Once you have established and got to a point where you understand the requirements of your business, you can ensure the integrations are intelligent, scalable, and adaptive. Therefore, it is vital to determine the core business logic of your business and the entities and fields it may need to function correctly.

How to Determine What Makes Sense for Your Business?

Achieve a Unique Implementation through Smart Rules and Logic

To determine what makes sense for your business and end-users, you must complete a detailed analysis. You must conduct this discovery process during both the sales review and during the initial project kickoff.

During this discovery, you will conduct comprehensive mapping and planning around the business and the kind of experience it must deliver to the end-users. It is a significant step in helping companies make the right choices and prioritize the right integrations. So, then the only thing left for the business is to focus on those critical areas for end users.

Once you have established all of that, the next step is making sure the platform can cater to the business logic even within the integration tasks. You must be able to modify the workflow on a task level, so the scheduling and data transformations occur in line with the overall business logic.

For this, it is essential to know how to access the full extent of Salesforce and an external eCommerce- from core entities and fields to custom ones. Therefore, we recommend working with a partner who has extensive experience working with the Salesforce API and existing platform’s web API framework. For Salesforce, you have the Salesforce lightning platform API, rest APIs, and bulk APIs. So, there are a few different options such as APIs for real-time data transfer for things like streaming. These are some of the things we recommend ensuring best practices when integrating an existing eCommerce and Salesforce.

Off The Shelf Integrations

With Salesforce, you get base level or off the shelf integrations. These typically include:

  • Customers and accounts
  • Categories and products
  • Product attributes, related products and associations, and kits
  • Sales, orders, invoices, and quotes
  • Shipments and shipment status
  • Payments and transaction
  • Refunds or replacements
  • Users and location data
  • Omnichannel data
  • Custom entities and fields

Within each of these entities, for example, customers and accounts, there can be unidirectional or bi-directional sync between Salesforce and eCommerce platforms. It depends on the needs of your business and what makes sense. Therefore, when you are looking for an integration platform, you need to see if it offers this along with the ability to customize off the shelf capabilities.

Bi-Directional Sync for the Purchasing Process

The Clarity Connect platform, for example, will push order data from Salesforce into your eCommerce platform. It can even process payment even if the order did not originate inside of the platform itself. Now when a user does order something within your platform, the integration will direct data back into Salesforce. This data typically includes:

  • Sales order invoice
  • Line item detail
  • Tax code classes, and taxes for the overall order
  • Any shipping and fee data, customs and duties, discounts
  • Payment transaction data
  • Split payments or split shipping information
  • Any replacements or refunds information

Ultimately, this makes it easier to manage and update shipment and status information once the data gets pushed from an eCommerce solution into Salesforce. Now, the Salesforce will have updates on fulfillment, status, shipment status, any payment processing holds or approvals, etc. In case of a request for replacement or refund, there may be updates/notes you may want to send back to the existing platform as part of the customer service.

Catalog System

It is also common to have a catalog system where Salesforce serves as a source of record. For here, the information is pushed into the external platform. A product catalog system generally includes categories, products, attributes, associations, product relationships, meta information, descriptions, variants, any customer fields, etc.

However, you may need to extend or enhance all the product data that is coming from Salesforce. So, the end-user is presented with detailed and enriched data. It will also make it easier for them to find what they are looking for when they browse through your eCommerce platform. Therefore, preserving the additional data in an external system is vital. So whenever there are any updates, only the new information is pulled in dynamically and no overwriting occurs.

User Records

You may also want to sync user records between Salesforce and the existing eCommerce solution. So, whenever a new user enters the website, they can register or can be linked with an existing account in Salesforce. Existing users would then be able to access certain products only available to that particular account, reorder, order replacement parts for a specific product, etc.

How Can Clarity Help

SalesForce to external eCommerce Integration Specialists

Ultimately, setting up robust core integrations between an existing eCommerce solution and Salesforce will allow you to scale over time as your business grows. So, you can continue to improve your offering to end-users, reduce costs, and increase your profitability as a business.

If you have any more questions related to this topic, we encourage you to reach out to our experienced team. The Clarity team has an amiable and knowledgeable sales and business development staff. They can provide a complimentary analysis. We certainly look forward to answering your questions and talking with you about your upcoming Salesforce integration project.

We also encourage you to go through the resources below. They have helpful information that covers other topics related to Salesforces integration, some of which can be helpful for your project. If there are topics that you do not see below, you are welcome to click on the ask the expert link. Our team will be happy to provide a technical response to any questions that you may have regarding those topics.

FTP + Salesforce Integration

Clarity Connect is a middleware platform that facilitates the integration of FTP to Salesforce , including the automation of business processes and the sharing of data. Why would you do this? Every company, as well as every need to integrate is different. The most common is to marry the front-office web property with a back-office application, such as an online storefront connected to and ERP to pass orders automatically when the order is placed online.

There are many considerations when designing the connection between FTP and Salesforce . There can be security and performance criteria, as well as the physical access available to the applications. The two common connection types of applications that are typically connected are SaaS and On Premises.

Pricing
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Connecting with Clarity Connect:

  • FTP

    FTP

  • Salesforce

    Salesforce

Clarity Connect is a middleware platform that facilitates the integration of FTP to Salesforce , including the automation of business processes and the sharing of data. Why would you do this? Every company, as well as every need to integrate is different. The most common is to marry the front-office web property with a back-office application, such as an online storefront connected to and ERP to pass orders automatically when the order is placed online.

There are many considerations when designing the connection between FTP and Salesforce . There can be security and performance criteria, as well as the physical access available to the applications. The two common connection types of applications that are typically connected are SaaS and On Premises.

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Be Nimble, Be Quick

SaaS or In-the-Cloud Applications

SaaS-based integrations are very common. These are exclusively online and used to integrate applications like Salesforce, Office365, USPS, UPS, 3PL, Avalara (Clarity is a certified Sage, Microsoft and Avalara partner) and any other application that is served up in the cloud.

In any of these scenarios, the eCommerce storefront is hosted on a cloud-based server (usually at a provider like Amazon, Azure, Rack Space, Liquid Web, Managed.com, etc.), and Clarity Connect is installed on the same server, with the connector or adapter communicating to the other online application across a secured Internet connection.

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Working from Within

On-Premises Applications

Another common implementation is when a client has their ERP or CRM installed on premises, behind their corporate firewall. In this scenario, Clarity Connect is then installed on a server on premises, along with the connector at the client’s facility and configured to communicate securely within their network to the back-office application(s).

Then an IP exception, with specific port and public / private key combo is used so that Connect can securely communicate with the other application’s connector / adapter in the cloud, improving security and ensuring that the client’s ERP / CRM are not exposed outside of their network.

FTP
Innovative & Robust

How Middleware Integration Works for B2B Platforms

Integrated FTP & Salesforce applications can foster greater customer loyalty with business process automation that delivers consistently outstanding customer service. Order processing speeds up, customers can access a range of information about their accounts such as order history and shipping options, so that it’s easy to place complex orders. Examples of how integrating ERP software works in practical terms include the following automated processes:

  • Customers and prospects visit an eCommerce website.
  • A record of the visit is generated and converted into a format that works in FTP & Salesforce software (Contact record -> Activity log).
  • If a sale is made, a Customer Record and Sales Order are automatically generated.
  • Visitor behavior is tracked and recorded to build user profiles for custom displays, marketing messages, recommendations and content curation.
  • Sales Orders and Quotes are sent to the appropriate staff for review, fulfillment and shipping.
  • Shipping details are converted into readable formats and forwarded to the eCommerce store.
  • Inventory figures update in real-time.
Salesforce
A Better Experience

Customer Service Takes its Place at the Top of the Queue with ERP Integration

The usefulness of both CRM and ERP software depends on how efficiently business process automation works, and that depends on how fully the software is integrated into operations. If customers must contact sales or customer service staff frequently to troubleshoot problems with orders, get answers to simple questions or manage other issues with their accounts, the hidden and labor costs can be tremendous.

Companies routinely lose orders, fail to upsell accounts and frustrate customers when self-service eCommerce applications don’t work seamlessly with back-office data, pricing and automation. The costs of staff intervention also raise human capital costs and prevent staff from pursuing revenue-generating tasks.

  • Generating customized email, marketing promotions and newsletter marketing.
  • Generating customized reports and 360-degree views of each customer’s profile and real-time actions.
  • Automating line of business applications to foster seamless connections with multiple databases and internal management systems.
  • Delivering customer-centric tools for order fulfillment, support requests and ticketing applications.
  • Triggering custom quotes, accelerated workflows and faster management decisions.
  • Triggering custom quotes, accelerated workflows and faster management decisions.
It's All About Endpoints

Business Logic & Endpoint Types

Business logic are workflows that are the real meat and potatoes of the integration. It's where all the business processing happens and is made up of events, triggers, rules, and more. It's what allows all of the real-time or batched communication and automation of the front-end website with data and logic from the back-office applications. This is what extracts and exposes all of the value of your website / marketplace project.

The workflows can be very simple, such as checking a product's in-stock inventory count, to something much more complex. The basic endpoint categories are:

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Contacts

Individual users, typically customers or individuals of partners

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Accounts

Customer accounts, partners, resellers, etc.

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Products

Products or services that your company provides or sells

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Inventory

Stock quantities of products or services

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Pricing Tables

Pricing set on your products or services

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Sales Orders

Orders placed on the web that are pushed to the back office for processing

There can be literally hundreds of endpoints an API can expose to a connector (Clarity's eCommerce API exposes over 10,000) and the list can be very different from the two sides you're integrating. This is important because you may want to push or pull information from an application that can't be easily accessed or loaded to an application that doesn't support that type of data (Accounts and Contacts may both be in your CRM and ERP, but products and inventory may only exist within the ERP).

Possible Complex Workflow Samples

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Login Authentication Workflow

When a user logs into your store, Connect can go to the integrated CRM, look up the user, see what account they belong to. Is the account status on hold? Does the user have permissions to purchase on account? What pricing table does the account get assigned? Which products should be made visible to the user, etc.?

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Viewing a Product Workflow

When a user clicks on a product category, go to ERP in real-time and check to validate their (the account's) pricing, inventory story quantity and whether the product can be back ordered.

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Displaying Multiple Stock Quantities

If you stock products in multiple warehouses, how do you let users know how many are at each location? Connect can pull that information from your ERP(s), and display that on the website, allowing users to order from the closest location that has the number they need in stock.

Workflows and Benefits Supported by FTP

FTP uses REST for its Connector-Adapter (API). This allows for the integration of data in the Product and Orders categories. Here's a brief list of some possible workflows:

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Login & Tiered Pricing

Automated login can validate users & account-based tiered pricing with Salesforce

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Lead Capture & Generation

Capture leads to support your marketing activities

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Automate Sales Orders

Automate push Sales Orders for processing into Salesforce

Workflows and Benefits Supported by Salesforce

Salesforce uses EDI File Exchange for its Connector-Adapter (API). This allows for the integration of data in the Pricing and Fulfillment categories. Here's a brief list of some possible workflows:

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Products & Services

Automatically pull products and services from Salesforce into the FTP storefront

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Inventory & Stock Quantites

Display accurate stock and inventory counts on your FTP store by pulling real stock quantities

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Invoicing & Payments

Pulling invoices from Salesforce into FTP allows customers to save, print and pay their invoices online

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Integration Cost & Timing

Since the endpoints expose what is accessible to each connector, those applications with robust, well-defined APIs allow you to integrate more quickly and at a much lower cost. Simple integrations (i.e. forwarding orders to the back-office, pulling stock and quantities to the front-office) can start around $15k (including the platform's one-time license fee), especially for those that we've already developed robust connectors for. The complex integrations or those with many workflows and dozens of endpoint calls, may run as much as $30k all the way up to $100k for multiple applications.

It all depends on the number of applications being integrated, the ability to easily integrate with the applications, and the numbers and complexity of the business workflows being built. Using Clarity Connect, typical integrations can take from a few weeks to a few months. Over more than a decade, Clarity has done over 3,000 integrations and although 40% of the integrations that come our way are new, we haven't met an integration that we haven't been able to develop. Give us a call today to discuss your integration project.

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