Master digital transformation with B2B Commerce built on Salesforce

Image from Salesforce.com

When most people think of Salesforce and Commerce, they probably picture their B2C Commerce Cloud solution, which was named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce back in 2018. But it might be a lesser known fact that since then, Salesforce has also created a B2B Commerce Cloud solution, which is perfect for businesses also need those great, modern and personalised online shopping experiences of B2C, but with larger, more complex business purchases. 

This is because businesses need more specific functionality that’s different from what consumers need when they’re shopping online.  For example, a wholesaler might need to bulk-buy to stock multiple shops for an entire season, or a factory might need to buy replacement parts for a very specific type of machine. But why shouldn’t they be able to browse and purchase as easily as consumers shop today? 

Now more than ever, it’s vital for businesses to embrace the shift to digital commerce. In fact, Frost & Sullivan predicted that the global B2B eCommerce sales are to reach over $6.6 trillion by 2020, surpassing business-to-consumer (B2C) valued at $3.2 trillion by 2020.  

Here are some of the features you can expect as a given from B2B Commerce Cloud: 

  • Authenticated sites including logins for each visitor 
  • Shopping carts that can accommodate hundreds or thousands of SKUs per order 
  • 2-click reorders to make large, frequent orders fast and easy 
  • Custom storefront themes for a unique look and feel for each account 
  • Custom product catalogs by account for exclusive items or a selected subset of products 
  • Negotiated/contract pricing by account and/or by customer segment 
  • Complex shipping functionality allowing for multiple delivery dates and locations 
  • Multiple payment types like credit card, purchase order, and ACH. 

And because it’s built natively on the world’s number one CRM system, you can have everything in one place, giving you a 360-degree view of your business — as well as an impressive digital experience for your customers that not only matches B2C commerce functionality, but expands on it for B2B-specific needs.  

With it, you can boost online revenue by making it simple for buyers to self-serve, engage more customers by staying connected across each touchpoint, and grow your business by adapting to changing markets and customer needs faster.  

Our Salesforce Developer team of self-confessed geeks are currently nerding out about all the cool things we can do with B2B Commerce Cloud. Building the stunning user interfaces we do and having all the experience of creating Lightning Communities with B2B Commerce functionality using Salesforce, we’re so excited to squeeze the most we possibly can out of this solution, too.  

Want to learn more about Salesforce B2B Commerce Cloud? Take a look at our Salesforce partner services page. Or, Salesforce themselves have a Commerce Cloud newsletter where you can sign up for all the news, trends and analysis happening in retail right now.  

*Please note that this blog post’s relevant feature image was sourced from Salesforce.com and isn’t an oe:gen project.

Salesforce partners with Enterprise Nation to offer grants to UK Small Businesses

We’ve always been proud to be partners of the creators of the world’s number one CRM system. Time and time again, Salesforce has consistently supported causes like environmental sustainability, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and charities all over the world. But it’s during these especially challenging times that we’re becoming even more proud to work with them, especially when they do amazing things like give small businesses a helping hand through the COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of their commitment to small businesses and giving back to the community, Salesforce has partnered with Enterprise Nation to offer eligible small businesses the opportunity to receive a £5,000 grant to help them through this tough period. This is really going to help small businesses adapt their business to new ways of working and get back to doing what they love.

So how does it work? Well, the funding will be administered by Enterprise Nation through a selection process. So after you apply, if you’re shortlisted, you’ll be asked to send in a video to introduce them to your business, detailing things like how you’ve been affected by the pandemic, and how securing the grant will help you.

If you’re a small business of 2-50 employees and want to check if you’re eligible for this scheme, we want to point you in the right direction. So here’s the page you need to visit to check and apply.

Be aware that applications will open in six regional phases based on location. For example, if you’re in Northern Ireland, you can apply right now, and England, Wales, and Scotland will shortly follow. So keep an eye out or sign-up for notifications on when you can apply. When your region is open for entries, head to the page and login or sign-up for a free Enterprise Nation account to start your application.

See also: free access to out-of-the-box Salesforce tech for small businesses

Also, it’s worth mentioning that as part of their Salesforce Care initiative, Salesforce has said they want to make it easier for you to help and support your customers remotely, which is why they’re offering free Salesforce Essentials, an out-of-the-box customer relationship management (CRM) tool for small businesses, and Tableau, the tool to help organizations make data-driven decisions – all for absolutely nothing. Learn more about that right here!

Our picks from the Salesforce Summer ’20 Release

Salesforce’s Summer ’20 Release notes have arrived! Here are some of the best bits we’ve picked out this time around.

This release brings a massive number of improvements to Lightning Flow – too many to list here.  One of our favourites is the improved new Flow window and Start element.

Dynamic forms are almost ready for the big time and have entered a non-GA preview.  We think it’s a great new addition to the Admin toolset, adding the ability to configure record detail fields and sections inside the Lightning App builder.

If, like me, you’ve struggled in the past to work out why a particular quick action isn’t appearing on a page layout, struggle no more! For custom objects, you can now use the Lightning App builder instead of the page layout editor to choose which actions appear in the Highlights panel on the object’s record page, and control visibility for each action.

Split view used to be exclusive to console-based apps, but it’ll now be available in standard apps too.

Make org maintenance fun by letting a robot do it.  Alas, unfortunately the new Optimizer App wont actually resolve the problems it finds, but it will tell you about them in a nice new UI.

Walkthroughs have been added to In-App Guidance, and they look very cool. Create up to 10 connected prompts that provide a guided path for users to follow.

A welcome feature for the Salesforce CMS users of the world.  Create reusable media that can be used again and again in your CMS articles.

Einstein search is available at no additional cost and lets you search for records with natural language, amongst many other cool things.

We have several customers who will benefit from this feature. It should reduce the need for Apex-managed sharing in a Community!

And finally, some for our developer friends…

We’ve been waiting for this for a long time and can’t wait to get building.

Our front-end developer Twig will like this one – you can now share common CSS between multiple LWCs with this update!

Say you want to build a data table component that works with any collection of records – from accounts and contacts, to custom objects. Well, now you can.

This is quite a dry one, but it’ll be extremely useful for LWC developers who need to check whether a user has a certain permission and then act on it.

What are your favourite features from this shiny new release? Let us know!

WEBINAR: oe:gen and LIVES team up to provide mental health tips and resources during the pandemic | 13th May 2020, 4:30pm

Do our colleagues, friends, and family know we’re there to support them? Do we all feel comfortable talking about mental health? How can we help each other right now? And how can we look after ourselves?

During the current pandemic, sometimes a simple “how are you?” can become a heavy question to be presented with.⁣ Checking up on each other is so important right now, but it can definitely feel like an overwhelming conversation to have.

That’s why we’re spending next Wednesday chatting to Ian Tomlinson, a Mental Health First Aid Trainer from LIVES – the Lincolnshire charity that supports 700+ highly trained and dedicated volunteers who deliver vital care in those first critical moments.

Ian came to us a few months ago to deliver a mental health awareness half-day course to a handful of volunteers from the oe:gen team, and led such a positive, thoughtful, and engaging conversation about improving mental health in the workplace. We came away feeling like we’d gained more tools to work towards removing the stigma around mental health, promote more open conversations at work, and do our bit to create a society where everyone can thrive.

This Webinar will focus on having those conversations about mental health, spreading awareness, and providing tips and resources for looking after yourself and others during the pandemic – touching on balancing work and home life. 

With a live Q&A chatbox, you can ask Ian any questions you might have throughout the webinar, and he’ll try to answer as many as he can at the end. We’ll also end on providing a list of vital online resources from LIVES to help you during this time. 

You can sign up here. And it’s totally free to attend!

Joining the oe:gen team during a pandemic: my remote onboarding experience

Hi! I’m Mel. A few months ago, I accepted the role of Partner Alliances Manager here after moving from my job at Salesforce in London to oe:gen in Nottingham, and never in a million years could I have anticipated what was about to unfold. If you’d told me that we were about to embark on a worldwide pandemic and that I’d be starting my role, virtually, having met 5 members of the company, I’d have told you that you were mad.

Nonetheless, that’s exactly what happened. The day before BoJo officially put us all on “lockdown”, I picked up my laptop from an empty office (at an acceptable social distance from Pete & Katie) and prepared myself mentally for an extremely different onboarding to what I am used to – a virtual one.

My friends and family couldn’t get their heads around how this would be possible. I, however, accepted the challenge and prepared myself mentally for what it could be like. I’m fairly used to working with people over video calls having covered EMEA in my last role, so wasn’t worried about motivating myself. The biggest test would be doing shift work, trying to balance a new role and looking after my 14-month old, combined with not being able to meet my new team properly in order to build meaningful relationships.

If I’m honest, the first week was pretty exhausting. Having just finished maternity leave, using my brain for something other than singing nursery rhymes and nappy changes was challenging in itself! That coupled with trying to find a childcare routine with my husband that worked for both of us made a busy first week! But I’m delighted to say that 4 weeks in, I’ve accepted my new norm and I’m really enjoying my role at oe:gen.

It’s surprising how quickly humans can adapt to all kinds of situations thrust upon them, and what helps is that the oe:gen team have been so friendly and actually concerned that I would find it tough. The welcome they’ve given me has confirmed what a great company I’ve joined. They’re clearly a close-knit team who have great banter across various “Teams” groups and a get together for virtual drinks on a Friday afternoon.

I actually feel very privileged. In such turbulent times, I’m safe at home with my family and technology allowing me to start a fabulous new job remotely with an even more fabulous team. A big thanks to oe:gen for making me feel welcome – I can’t wait to meet you all in person 😊 

#stayhomesavelives

5 quick ways to improve your Salesforce self-service customer Community right now

A couple of weeks before the UK lockdown, I was booked to be spending a relaxing week in Rome with my partner. Obviously, we decided not to take our holiday in the end, and our flights were cancelled shortly after. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find any information about my flight (other than it being cancelled, of course). No refund notification, no information about how to request one, and I could probably learn to pilot my own damn plane before I get through to a customer service agent, right now.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been searching for help in navigating the uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic wherever I can, and FAQ pages and customer self-service centres have been a huge part of that.

It’s more important than ever to put all your efforts into making your customers feel supported and cared for, and self-service channels like Salesforce Communities and portals are powerful tools for this.

Online communities not only help you build deeper connections between your business and customers, but they also help your customer service agents by reducing the number of cases you might be experiencing right now.

To make sure your self-service channels are helping your customers during this time of crisis, here are a few quick things you can do:

1. Update your FAQs and Knowledge Articles

Identify and add more of your new frequently asked questions to your FAQ page and Knowledge Articles. There’s bound to be loads more than usual!

You could host daily 10-minute meetings with your service agents so they can help each other. Or, you could create a collaboration document so your teams can regularly and easily update frequent customer queries related to the crisis.

This is a shared document where your team can record and share how they’ve helped customers. We use Quip for this, which makes it super easy to keep everyone on the same page (literally) on the fly, no matter where we are.

2. Update your messaging

To show you’re sensitive to what your customers are going through, your messaging might need an edit. If you’re not sure where to start, see this blog for some marketing tips during the crisis.

The main thing to remember is to let your customers set the tone; they want to be helped right now, so do so in a compassionate way and put the relevant customer support info at the forefront of everything; don’t leave them in the dark.

3. Ask for customer feedback

A great user experience (UX) is as vital as ever – you need to not only make using the Community a breeze for your customers, but to also make sure your service agents aren’t spending their time helping users navigate it.

Instead of receiving hundreds of messages about their difficulties using your Community, create a quick user experience feedback form. This will help you eliminate repetitive tasks and quickly make more informed decisions on where to improve the user interface of your Community, while also letting your customers know you’re already thinking about ways to improve things for them.

4. Check out Salesforce Care

What is Salesforce Care? It’s how Salesforce is helping companies of all sizes navigate COVID-19, involving a suite of super helpful and quick-to-implement products like Einstein Bots, Salesforce Maps, and Marketing Cloud Social Studio that are free for 90 days. Check out this lovely video for more info:

5. Talk to us!

We’d love to have a chat with you to identify some bespoke quick wins for your Community. Beam a message directly to David, Mark and Paul via our ‘fancy a chat?’ form and they’ll set up a call to help you out.

Salesforce as a “Digital Experience Platform” (DXP)

Salesforce Community, Sales Cloud and Pardot

Come again? I hear you say… a what?

I’ve only just got used to Salesforce as my CRM as a great tool for my salespeople – and now it’s become something else?

Well, the thing is, lots of businesses are gradually seeing the benefits of connecting sales, marketing and service onto one system. So, Salesforce is joining other software solutions out there and describing how it can be used as a “Digital Experience Platform”.

What is a DXP?

If you search Google, this is what it comes back with:

Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is an emerging category of enterprise software seeking to meet the needs of companies undergoing a digital transformation, with the ultimate goal of providing better customer experiences. DXPs can be a single product, but are often a suite of products that work together.

So, for any human beings reading this, let’s try and unpack that a bit. Because what we all know with any type of business change is that you always need to focus on the people – not the technology!

If you’re serious about any kind of “user experience” (UX), then it’s time to roll out that old chestnut from Steve Krug – “Don’t Make Me Think!”

The more the algorithms and data can push the correct information in my direction, the easier it is for me to find relevant stuff and make informed decisions.

Part of this kind of transformation is the ability to deliver a more engaging experience across every communication platform. So, when I ring a call centre, it’s great if the agent I speak to has a real handle on who I am and can help me sort out with whatever my issue is, as quickly as possible.

By combining the telephony system, CRM, data (and a certain level of AI), the person I speak to can actually establish a human connection. Not just by reading off a script – but with my whole story in front of them!

Whether it’s on your website, mobile App or service portal, this is about the ability to have one focussed message in all of your customer communications – and a lot of it can be done automatically.

DXP solutions out there have evolved into two separate camps:

  • Companies that offer a versatile centralized platform
  • And companies that have developed a core DXP experience that then requires additional tools and components.

DXP and Salesforce

At the heart of Salesforce’s solution is Community Cloud, which delivers the core CRM data seamlessly to help build those deeper relationships and increase brand loyalty. This data helps with consistency, so you’re always delivering that relevant personalisation and messaging.

That’s one of the reasons Salesforce was named a leader in both the Forrester Wave for “Digital Experience Platforms 2019” and in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.*

The amazing UX possible using native Salesforce data, when combined with streamlined business processes delivers the 360 degree, omni-channel world – that connected customers expect nowadays.

With every one of their three software releases through the year (Winter, Spring, Summer) Salesforce move things closer and closer to a full DXP experience by combining:

Salesforce and partners like us are helping companies create beautiful, visual content – transforming customer interactions into the best possible digital experiences. Remember, “It’s all about me (the customer)– not you (the business)!”

If you’d like to find out more about beautiful Salesforce user experiences,  please get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

———————————————————————————————-

Sources:

What’s Changed: 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms

How Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) Help Brands Create Memorable Experiences (Through Multiple Customer Channels)

What Is A Digital Experience Platform? DXP vs CMS Explained

What users are saying about Salesforce Service Cloud

* Gartner predicts that “through 2021, 85% of effort and cost in a DXP program will be spent on integrations with internal and external systems, including the DXP’s own, built-in capabilities. By 2021, 90% of global organizations will rely on system integrators (SIs), agencies and channel partners to design, build and implement their digital experience strategies.

“Business as (un)usual”

So, like many other businesses out there, we’re now all working from home while under the Government lockdown. The transitions from a logistical and technical perspective went relatively smoothly. At oe:gen, we’d made the decision to run our complete operation cloud-based a couple of years ago. Being a Salesforce partner influenced part of the decision, but also not having to employ people to maintain an internal infrastructure was the bigger driving force. A couple of weeks prior to any Government restrictions being announced, we “stress-tested” the company and had everyone work from home for a day. This was in part informed by our Disaster Recovery process, to ensure normal business could be continued if we couldn’t use our offices. Three weeks later, we’re all working from home. But what about the most important bit of this – the human part? As a business we’ve always been open to flexible working and allow our team to choose when they’re in the office and when they work from home. There are times when you need those few days working from home to get some tasks done without any interruptions. In a normal world, this all works fine. But in the current climate, there are added issues to deal with. There’s the fact you’re working from home every day. You could be on your own and not getting contact with other people as you would in an office. You could be sharing your home office with your partner. There could be children to look after too. And that’s on top of dealing with the Covid-19 lockdown situation. Everyone at oe:gen has had some sort of challenge to overcome during the first 2-weeks of remote working and the impact of Covid-19 becoming more real. But in spite of all of this, we’ve maintained a great team spirit and kept delivering projects. I’ve seen and heard a lot of people say “business as usual”, but things are far from usual. We’re adapting to new world order and finding our way through it – this is what human beings are great at, adapting to change in challenging circumstances. I must say I’ve been amazed by the response of our team to the current situation. Not that I ever doubted their ability, but how they’ve come together even more as a team to support each other and help the business through these tough times. I feel very humbled to be leading a team of people like the ones at oe:gen – I never imagined in my life I would be surrounded by such a talented, dedicated, caring, honest and nice bunch of people as we have here. Not all success can be measured by money, I feel massively successful already because of the culture and team ethic we have all created here at oe:gen. Stay safe and look after each other. Pete oe:gen’s Managing Director

Tips to help ease anxiety

Bombarded with news bulletins and social media round the clock, it’s no surprise that misinformation, myths and mass hysteria are prevalent among us whilst we hunker down in our homes during the current Coronavirus pandemic.  

So, how can we help the anxiety – whether you’re isolating alone or with others? If you’re working from home, how can you and your team ease your worries?

1. Create a Worry Window  

Although it’s said that ‘information is power’, too much information or incorrect information can make your anxiety worse and lead to catastrophising. 

Accessing the right information is important, so seek out more reliable sources and try not to ‘Doctor Google’ everything. If you are having symptoms – head to NHS.co.uk or call 111.  

Also, bear in mind that symptoms of anxiety can be similar to those of Covid-19 including shortness of breath and tightness in the chest, this happens when our cortisol levels are raised.  

Limit your exposure to any information, set aside an hour or half an hour to listen to or read the news and peruse social media at the beginning and end of each day – this will also help with dealing with uncertainty as we’re constantly learning more and moving forward. Remember, this will end.  

2. Distract yourself  

Do this guilt-free!  

Boxsets, Netflix, film marathons and gaming consoles mean that we have an almost unlimited source of distraction – use this time to enjoy these things, when are you ever going to be in such a unique situation as this again? 


via GIPHY

Spring clean, clear out those cupboards, rearrange your furniture – turn a distraction into something that you find yourself totally absorbed in. 

Isolation doesn’t mean loneliness

3. Talk

If you are worried about your health, your work or just need to have a bit of a rant about how frustrated you are, do it.  Call or FaceTime family, friends or colleagues. Have meetings over video link so that you feel more connected. 

4. Routine, routine, routine  

This is even more important now that we find ourselves confined to our homes, especially if you already suffer from anxiety.  

  • Get up at a reasonable time, get dressed and ready for the day – there are only so many times you can dodge a video meeting due to you still being in your underpants or dressing gown! 
  • Plan out your day, break for exercise, get some fresh air or to read a book. 
  • *Cue inevitable groan* – don’t drink too much, especially if you suffer from anxiety as it won’t help. Although, if you are a parent, perhaps allow yourself an extra glass or two…


via GIPHY

  • GO TO BED – there is a temptation to stay up later than usual, try and follow your normal bedtime routine so you feel refreshed in the morning. 

5. Sadness is inevitable

This is an unprecedented time, it is tough, it is unique, but it won’t last forever.  Reach out – offer to do something for someone else, a friend, neighbour or colleague – helping someone else is a great way to alleviate your anxiety and help yourself. 

We are all in this together! 

What we’re doing at oe:gen 

  • Teams chats – we have our ‘kitchen table’ lunchtime video chats for anyone to join, a Friday drinks virtual catch up, and video meetings to stay connected. 
  • Encourage flexibility at such an uncertain time – allowing people to set their own hours in order to help with looking after children whilst working and getting enough ‘downtime’. 
  • Tips – we’re all talking every day and finding ways to help each other out. 

**My Top Tip – Put the radio on a low/med volume in the background whilst working to feel more connected to the outside world** 

Here are some useful links:  

NHS.co.uk  

Mind.org.uk 

Sane.org.uk 

Calm.com 

Marketing feels really weird right now. Here are some tips.

I’m sure, like me, you’ve seen some odd marketing messaging going around. My ever-growing inbox is reminiscent of that time we all freaked out over GDPR. And I get it, I really do – it’s tricky to navigate our marketing efforts currently, and we’re all going through a bit of a wobble, myself included.

But what’s particularly odd about the few bad attempts I’ve seen is the tone. I mean, listen, Modibodi, I love you, I support you, and I get that your products are particularly helpful during this crisis, but I really don’t want to see your ‘#nopanicperiod’ hashtag right now. C’mon.

Luckily, marketers are usually fairly adaptable by nature (you’ve gotta be in this gig!) and we’ve got a great community pulling together to share ideas and talk about our concerns. Here’s what we’ve learnt this week…

1. Don’t stop your communications

So, first up, it’s clear that communication has never been more important. And only 8% of consumers think brands should stop advertising due to the coronavirus outbreak. So it’s not a case of stopping your advertising altogether until this passes. What’s key is the way we’re communicating. People just want to be helped, right now, just as they always have. And I think what we’re currently experiencing is really highlighting that.

2. Be human

With the above in mind, your communications should be reassuring, transparent, positive, and empathetic. Now is not the time for hard-selling, but instead being helpful, guiding others, and building and strengthening relationships. Check-in with your community, ask them how they’re doing.

It’s also a time for some positive and light-hearted relief from the outside world, so try not to bang on about the devastating stuff we’re all going through right now, the news is covering enough of that for us.

3. Yes, everyone is online right now, but…

That doesn’t mean you’ve got to totally spam your socials. For one, you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself in this hard time, and you’re probably overwhelming your audience too. Once or twice a day is probably enough.

What should you post? Well, you could share knowledge and tips that will help ease your audience’s worries – which can be any number of things like homeschooling the kids, family wellbeing, mental wellbeing, and job security. It’s also a good time to post something fun, light and carefree for a bit of relief from it all.

4. Bear in mind how you want your business to be viewed in the future

Another great point that was made by a fellow marketer was that after all this, people will be looking for new opportunities away from jobs where they’ve now realised the employers haven’t treated them well. This is going to highlight what people want and need from their jobs. And the same goes for brands they’d like to associate with and buy from. Susan Hallam recently posted a lovely quote from Fred Rogers, which I thought was perfect:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Why wouldn’t you want to be remembered as one of the helpers?

5. Be as personal as you can

Without face-to-face meetings, personalising your messages to people is pretty damn tricky. I know that despite all our Salesforce work being done remotely, the oe:gen team love getting to know our customers onsite whenever they get a chance to, so this is something we’re truly missing right now.

But videos and webinars will help with this, and I’m already seeing lots of helpful video-based stuff being posted around, which is really lovely.

6. Plan, plan, plan

From listening to other marketers on one of those helpful webinars I spoke of above (thanks, Business Marketing Club!), there seems to be a lot of emphasis on planning for the future. It’s going to be a crowded marketplace when this is all over as events and things get pushed back, which is also something to be mindful of. 

To sum up…

It seems planning and listening to the wider community, the markets, and internally has never been more important. Things are going to be changing constantly, so we need to be flexible, adjust our tone, and make sure we’re supporting our teams and our community.

I think we just need to remember that we’re all in this together, we’re all human beings pacing around our living rooms carrying a mixed bag of weighty feelings (and quarantine snacks), and we all need a little help right now. So let’s help each other.