On March 12, Salesforce announced its intent to acquire CloudCraze, a B2B eCommerce application. This savvy and long-anticipated move nicely rounds out its broad CRM portfolio and supports B2B customers through their engagement journey.

This eCommerce application is a fundamentally different one than Salesforce’s  B2C eCommerce acquisition of Demandware. This is because B2C engagement is a different beast than B2B engagement, where long-running, complex processes dominate and multiple stakeholders are involved in every part of the customer journey.

Salesforce had its genesis as a CRM company supporting B2B sales. It has since added B2B marketing capabilities in its Sales Cloud via the Pardot acquisition and customer service with the Service Cloud.  CloudCraze plugs the hole for B2B Commerce within Salesforce’s CRM portfolio to support buyers who B2B migrate freely between self-serve and full-service buying, online and offline. It also supports B2B brand manufacturers who sell directly from their own websites or indirectly via channel partners.

CloudCraze is a Strong Performer in the most recent Forrester Wave™ evaluation of B2B commerce suites. It has the added advantage of being built on the force.com platform – the same platform that underpins the Sales and Service Cloud. This means that CloudCraze, Sales Cloud, and Service Cloud share standard and custom objects, workflows, security and authentication, reporting, and more. It gives businesses visibility into customer data that is shared across sales, service, marketing, and commerce — which ultimately leads to better customer understanding and better experiences.

Other benefits of the CloudCraze acquisition include:

  • It’s a software category with a bright future. Global business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce sales are predicted to exceed $6.6 trillion by 2020, surpassing B2C, which will be valued at $3.2 trillion. This acquisition allows Salesforce to tap into this growing market.
  • Companies can now purchase the full CRM portfolio from a single vendor. This move increases Salesforce’s strategic role within companies that rely on technology vendors to help shape their vision and offerings for differentiated customer experiences.
  • Salesforce lets you get closer to your customers. By far, this is the most important point. Salesforce brands itself as a “customer company.” With CloudCraze, Salesforce’s customers can start tracking all interactions and transactions with their B2B  customers. This increases the knowledge of individual customer buying behaviors, which can be used for better targeting and much more effective long-term personal engagement. On-target personal interactions that add value to the customer ultimately translate to customer retention, increased lifetime value, and advocacy — which have an impact on top-line revenue.

Net-net, it’s a great move for Salesforce. Read more about what my fellow eCommerce analyst John Bruno says about this acquisition here.