Less than four months after Salesforce acquired Demandware for $2.8 billion, the San Francisco-based CRM giant today relaunched the e-commerce software as the Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

The Commerce Cloud falls under the broader umbrella of Salesforce's Customer Success Platform, which includes sales, service, marketing, community, analytics and apps.

It announced the news at the time of the acquisition but made things official with today's rollout — a rollout that some analysts say may experience a few bumps due to some missing pieces in the Salesforce software puzzle.

Unified CX

Company officials said the incorporated Demandware capabilities will allow companies to deliver unified customer experiences that go beyond commerce to include marketing, customer service and artificial intelligence (AI) through its newly launched Einstein

Einstein will marry data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing and deep data discovery with Salesforce's flagship CRM platform.  

Jeff Barnett, CEO of Salesforce Commerce Cloud, called the Demandware technology the leader in enterprise cloud commerce. By combining the platform with the world’s number one CRM, he added, "we’re empowering brands to deliver personalized and unified customer experiences.”

Salesforce officials argued that legacy e-commerce systems do not support the entire customer journey and lack the flexibility required to connect the variety of channels consumers use for shopping. 

Today's rollout included a few new additions to the existing Demandware capabilities, including:

  • One-touch checkout with Apple Pay: Supports Apple Pay for mobile web
  • Commerce Cloud Einstein: Puts intelligence into commerce and includes product recommendations to personalize product recommendations to shoppers. Includes predictive sort, which adds personalized sort and search results based on likelihood to engage. Includes commerce insights, aimed to help retailers understand product purchase correlations.

Lack of WCM OK?

One thing Salesforce doesn't have is a web content management system (WCM) to complement its new e-commerce capabilities. 

Could that hurt them in the short term? Maybe, according to analysts. 

WCM and e-commerce technologies naturally play well together in a customer experience software ecosystem, where targeted content marries digital buying and selling.

"SFDC will need a WCM or DAM in the future, but one step at a time," R Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research told CMSWire in response to today's news. "The WCM and DAM will help them improve campaigns in the Marketing Cloud as well."

Wang also said in a statement provided by Salesforce: “Commerce Cloud expands the natural definition of CRM and expands the relevance of Salesforce to its customers. Commerce Cloud customers gain an end-to-end commerce play with Salesforce. Conversely, Commerce Cloud provides Salesforce customers with a rich and compelling story to deliver on campaign to commerce.”

Gartner Research, in its March 2016 Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce platforms, cited WCM capabilities of some of the e-commerce vendors it reviewed. This includes leader SAP Hybris

Learning Opportunities

Gartner authors Chris Fletcher, Penny Gillespie, Jason Daigler, Sandy Shen, Yanna Dharmasthira and Gene Alvarezfound the SAP WCM  "not competitive with best-of-breed WCM products." 

Complex Integrations Ahead?

Jill Finger Gibson covers e-commerce closely as principal analyst for New York City's Digital Clarity Group. She told CMSWire Salesforce faces challenges competing with fellow Gartner Digital Commerce Magic Quadrant leaders SAP Hybris, Oracle and IBM

In order for Salesforce to compete with other big players in e-commerce, it will "need to integrate with complex multiple legacy applications on the customer side beyond CRM," Finger Gibson said. 

"This means," she added, "that their external implementation partners and internal professional services teams will need to be able to demonstrate the deep technical, project management, and customer service skills required to work through these integrations."  

Senior executives have reported dissatisfaction with vendors who lacked the ability to manage complex integrations, and to fix — or even acknowledge — the inevitable roadblocks that arise in these integrations, Finger Gibson said. 

"Does Salesforce have the internal chops and the right partners to do this with Commerce Cloud?" she asked. "We shall see."

Gartner praised Demandware for its "reliability and SLA: the ability to deploy subsites quickly and with minimal disruption to the business." Its partner network of more than 275 unique partners in 41 application areas is a plus, too. 

It cautioned Demandware was too narrowly-focused on B2C retail.

Digital Commerce Heats Up

Market research firm eMarketer projects online purchases will more than double to $3.551 trillion by 2019, or 12.4 percent of total retail sales of $28.550 trillion. 

According to Gartner, worldwide spending on digital commerce platforms is expected to grow at more than 14 percent annually, reaching $8.544 billion by 2020.