Chapter 1: Have you Outgrown your Current Platform?
Your existing eCommerce platform may have checked the boxes initially for your business needs, but as customer expectations increase you may be experiencing growing pains. Rigid system architectures, found in legacy platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, impede the control and flexibility needed to fully customize backend logic – and that means you’re slow to satisfy more complex business requirements and rising customer expectations. The last thing your business needs is a leisurely go-to-market pace.
This guide will help you determine if it’s time to migrate off Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) to a faster, more flexible solution to meet your business needs. We’ll also provide an overview of various steps that need to be taken if it is indeed time to migrate from Salesforce Commerce Cloud. In doing so, we’ll also cover a migration package that was designed in collaboration with SFCC customers like you to make the switch to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud easier and faster.
If you’d like to learn more about replatforming in general, read the Elastic Path Replatforming Guide.
A New Day for eCommerce, the Headless Way
A traditional monolith simply can’t keep up. With functionality tightly bound in an all-or-nothing package, you risk slower speed across the board: slow to launch, slow to iterate, and the gut punch to user experience, slow site speed. API-first, headless architecture is the foundation for unique customer experiences in less time; launch new products, channels, create touchpoints, and expand your brand in weeks versus months.
You now have an alternative to clunky tools of the past. It’s the ideal time to replatform now that Commerce has officially lost its head.
Chapter 2: How Do You Know it’s Time to Migrate from Salesforce Commerce Cloud?
You may have been an SFCC customer for a long time and made significant investment in the platform, however have you noticed more pain points than wins? Do these struggles sound familiar?
- An increasingly high cost of ownership – bottom line, the value you get out of the platform is no longer worth the price tag. SFCC has the highest TCO on the market today.
- You end up paying redundant fees – why pay for best-of-breed technology when you’ve already paid for mediocre at best, out-of-the-box functionality?
- Development experts come at a cost – Salesforce requires specialized architects and developers to iterate and scale the platform as your needs change. The market is competitive. Experienced staff are costly to recruit, onboard, and retain
- Poor site speed – the albatross of eCommerce. Slow site speed affects conversion rates. Related to that, you may want to think about the limitations of an all-in-one, black box solution like Salesforce and it’s tightly coupled architecture; when problems arise (and they always do), it’s harder to pinpoint where the issue lies. A rigid legacy reference architecture, like SiteGenesis, translates into downtime and lost revenue from slow site speed
- No guarantees when it comes to performance – the SFCC service-level-agreement is 99.95%, that does NOT include planned downtime for 8-10 releases per year that all require downtime
- The out-of-the-box platform is a thing of the past - back in the first wave of the eCommerce revolution businesses ventured online with out-of-the-box functionality that meant minimal control over outcomes. Today’s complex digital commerce strategies no longer fit the one-size-fits-all model from one vendor
Chapter 3: Let’s Talk Composable Commerce
The expectations for digital commerce experiences from your customers today are far more demanding than when you first implemented Salesforce. With more touchpoints, a saturated market, and the pressure to differentiate, businesses can no longer rely on outdated legacy platforms that can’t keep up. Out of this demand for innovation in the eCommerce space comes the Composable Commerce approach.
Composable Commerce refers to a modular digital commerce approach utilizing composable architecture. This approach allows eCommerce teams to rapidly launch and optimize multiple, best-of-breed commerce vendors into a single solution that meets their specific needs.
How Your Business Holistically Benefits from the Composable Commerce Approach
- Embrace an API-first headless architecture without the complexity and risk of being locked-in to a specific vendor, allowing for components to be added in and out when they are needed
- Respond quickly to changing business requirements
- Increase efficiency and reduce costs associated with system management and staffing by leveraging the latest technology
- Stop settling for mediocre customer experiences powered by cookie-cutter technology and instead leverage best-of-breed vendors to power the experiences that drive conversions and loyalty
- Accelerate time-to-market by rapidly launching any commerce experiences across touchpoints, brands, geos, and beyond
Change is Daunting
We get it. You’ve been with Salesforce, built relationships, and invested significant time and resources. It’s your reputation (and job) on the line if you make the wrong move, plus the buy-in you’ve worked hard to earn from the C-suite and other stakeholders.
While you know that Composable Commerce will unlock innovation and speed-to-market, it still feels like a daunting change. How do you choose the best vendors for you? What is the process for integrating them all? Who will support your migration? And, with multiple vendors, who do you call when something goes wrong?
At Elastic Path, we are committed to reducing some of the risk associated with the transition to Composable Commerce. In the rest of this guide we’ll educate you on what to expect when moving from Salesforce to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud and the key migration steps for a successful replatforming project.
Chapter 4: What Can You Expect When Moving to a Composable Commerce (Microservices-Based) Solution from a Monolith like Salesforce?
Moving from a monolithic commerce platform, like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, (SFCC) to composable, microservices-based one represents not just a shift in terms of the underlying tech stack, it is truly a “lifestyle change”.
In a true composable, microservices environment, microservices operate independently of each other, meaning that they persist and process information independently. While using a microservices-based architecture alleviates several issues which plague the world of monoliths, for example the immense complexity and intricate dependencies, it does introduce a different set of considerations.
Even so, the big shift to this modular architectural style is happening for a reason — more enterprises are realizing the need for faster, easier, agile application development, and microservices enable this in ways monolithic platforms simply cannot.
Monoliths typically “like” to communicate in batches of data in aggregate form, while microservices-based solutions like to exchange events representing individual changes. This means simpler and timelier communication between services representing distinct business functions. To achieve this, brands must consider how to ensure sophisticated coordination between services.
Microservices tend to use APIs to communicate so interface control becomes mission critical. To mitigate the risk of interservice communication failures Elastic Path customers often use Pre-Composed Solutions™ or accelerators where tried and tested pre-integrated assets are used to connect the services and solutions in the commerce ecosystem. More on this later.
It’s important to remember the added considerations required for leveraging a composable architecture are balanced with many benefits.
A good example of the benefits of API-first, microservices-based architecture is replacement of traditional storefront apps with a modern, modular tech stack such as NEXT.js. In this scenario, a library of modular page components can be developed to construct the user experience layer. There’s no need for a dedicated storefront any more as these components can communicate directly with the corresponding services through APIs.
Once mastered, this approach enables rapid innovation on the frontend, reduced maintenance and development costs, and substantially improved frontend performance which is simply not possible with any dedicated storefront app used in a monolith.
Another significant side effect of the switch from a traditional storefront app to a modular front-end technology is a dramatic increase in the pace of innovation of the entire presentation layer. A behavior or a function which used to take months to change will now take days, if that. This change in the front-end technology also means that you won’t need a highly specialized skill set needed to maintain and evolve it anymore.
Chapter 5: Let’s Begin with an Overview of the Migration Plan
As shared above, there are many benefits to moving to a composable, microservices-based solution. But, there are also new considerations and challenges that need to be accounted for.
At Elastic Path we have developed a migration package specifically for brands replatforming from Salesforce Commerce Cloud to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud.
In the next section of this guide, we will walk you through the migration plan aspect of this package. This plan includes four key stages:
II. Data Map & Import
III. Build & Customize
IV. B Integrate the User Experience Layer
V. Test & Go Live
The first step in any migration from SFCC to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is the discovery stage. Within this stage there are several phases:
- Taking stock - any migration plan begins by taking stock of what your current platform offers you compared to what the future business plans and aspirations are. As opposed to a traditional gap-analysis, this exercise is focused not only on what your business is currently doing but also what it could be doing in the future
- Prioritization – next up, we can help prioritize the development process. The focus here is on business-critical items which will need to be migrated first and incrementally improved from there at a later stage. We usually focus first on the essential functions of your business as our goal is to get you selling as soon as possible. Once your business is live, we switch our focus to supporting functionality, incremental improvements, and performance optimization.
- Ideal solution outline - once priorities are understood, we can create a strategy and document the implementation roadmap which will take you from the initial MVP to the ultimate business end-goal
- Partner selection - by identifying the ideal solution outline, we can help you select the best implementation partner based on the scope and type of the implementation, tech stack, and technologies involved
- Identification of teams needed - lastly, based on all the previous steps of discovery, we can help identify the type and size of implementation teams needed to ensure successful implementation
II. Data Mapping & Import
The second stage in any migration from SFCC to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is centered around data. In this stage we work to understand what key data sits in Salesforce Commerce Cloud, pinpoint what needs to be imported to Elastic Path, and extend Elastic Path so that any other pertinent data continues to flow through your commerce platform.
Commerce-related data in Salesforce is rigidly defined. A large percentage of the Salesforce Commerce Cloud data model has very little to do with actual commerce transaction but is necessary to enable communication with the rest of the Salesforce suite (sales, service, marketing, etc.). The Salesforce Commerce Cloud data model is usually extended to include any custom commerce-related data you need to run your commerce operation. This comes at a price, though, as it often introduces complexity and redundancy into the data model.
In contrast to SFCC, the data model in Elastic Path Commerce Cloud comes with ultimate flexibility. You can create and shape your product model to suit your needs without any development intervention and any changes you make to the data model will be propagated to the APIs making them instantly accessible to frontend or any other service. This flexibility and openness of the Elastic Path Commerce Cloud data model makes mapping product and catalog data from Salesforce Commerce Cloud to Elastic Path relatively easy.
To help with the initial import of product and catalog data from SFCC to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud we have developed a data importer tool designed specifically for mapping and transforming Salesforce Commerce Cloud product and catalog data. Using this technology significantly reduces the initial data transfer efforts so that you can focus on other steps of replatforming.
As previously mentioned, microservices-based solutions tend to rely on exchange of event messages rather than consuming aggregate data from files. This means that a communication layer will have to be established between the commerce platform and the rest of the enterprise.
This might sound like a daunting task, but it really isn’t. Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is designed to easily be extended with any number of functions, including communication functions without affecting the upgrade path.
III. Build & Customize
The third stage in any migration from SFCC to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud, is all about building and customizing your unique commerce solution.
Once we have determined the requirements and the final composition of the solution, it needs to be implemented. In the world of composable solutions that means procuring and establishing accounts, profiles, and environments in all parts of the solution (e.g., search, CMS, OMS, etc.). Once the environments are established, we need to connect them so the information can be exchanged between these discrete parts of your solution. If an existing integration, or Accelerator, already exists in our Composable Commerce Hub, we will use that. If not, we will design and implement an asset.
In terms of customizing the commerce system itself, the domain extensions are a simple matter of configuration (zero code), and all functional customizations are done outside of the commerce system, using intermediary functions (predominantly lambda functions) so the upgrade path of the commerce system is never compromised.
IV. Integrate the User Experience Layer
The fourth stage of migration from SFCC to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud focuses on the user experience layer. The user experience layer is the layer in which shoppers interact with the commerce system, for example a website, app, kiosk, or in-car commerce experience. As we discussed above, API-first, microservices-based architecture replaces the traditional singular storefront app found in a monolith with a modern, modular tech stack, such as NEXT.js, to power the user experience layer.
Whereas a monolith requires the concept of a dedicated storefront, this is no longer necessary with a microservices-based approach, as any frontend components can communicate directly with the corresponding services through APIs. Instead of a dedicated website, or “store,” the interaction can take many shapes and forms.
Brands who are migrating from the singular storefront approach found in SFCC, to a modular frontend approach have several options for how they can power their user experience.
Brands can use a frontend platform like Vue Storefront or Builder.io, they can custom build their user experience using a framework like Next.js, React, or JAMstack, or they can leverage a reference architecture to get started (like the one found in our Pre-Composed Solution™). During this stage of migration, we work with brands to understand their preferred approach. If they are unsure, we can provide suggestions on what approach may be best for their business goals and team.
As shared above, we often recommend a Pre-Composed Solution™ as a starting point for migrations from Salesforce. The reference architecture in this solution is tailored to a typical eCommerce retailer and, as such, fits most retail cases, but, even when it fits, it does not mean that it fits entirely. There may be elements of the solution that are missing, or there may be vendors that should be swapped.
For example, your company may use a different payment provider or search engine from the one we are proposing. This is neither a problem or an obstacle as the solution is modular and pieces can be added or replaced at any time.
The reference architecture in our Pre-Composed Solution™ for D2C leverages a series of frontend technologies that make up the user experience layer. They include: NextJS, Layer0, and Storybook.
Let’s learn a bit more about why we chose these technologies to simplify an SFCC migration:
- A/B Testing & Live Previews
- Performance Monitoring
- GraphQL API Caching
NextJS is an open-source web development framework that enables React-based web applications functionalities like server-side rendering and generating static websites. It provides:
- Ability to rapidly accelerate feature development
- Reduced maintenance and development costs
- Substantially improves performance
Storybook is an open-source tool for building user interface components in isolation. It includes:
- Ability to manage states, evolve components, and rapidly increase iterations on user experience
- Faster reference experience development - for EP and our customers
- Streamlines UI development, performance, and testing
V. Test & Go Live
The final stage in any migration is focused on testing and going live. In this phase we focus on verification of business functionality through user acceptance testing and system performance.
We ensure that the system is performing to expectations, that it performs all required business functions with desired outcomes, and that it does this within the specified performance parameters. Once the system is launched and put through its paces, we turn our focus on optimisation and post-go-live support.
Chapter 6: Using a Pre-Composed Solution™ to Accelerate Your Build
At Elastic Path, our goal is to help you reduce any implementation risks, like extended timelines and overbudget projects. To do so, we sometimes recommend our customers use a Pre-Composed Solutions™, which are business-ready, pre-integrated solutions made up of Elastic Path Commerce Cloud, pre-integrated with a selection of third-party vendors like search, CMS, payments, tax, and more. These solutions reduce the time and effort spent composing multi-vendor solutions by pre-integrating best-of-breed providers with Elastic Path Commerce Cloud.
We have built a Pre-Composed Solution™ for D2C, in partnership with Salesforce customers who are actively migrating to Composable Commerce, that de-risks this transition by offering an integrating starting point for brands. It includes a reference architecture that satisfies a common set of “typical” high level commerce requirements and serves as a starting point for exploration for those who are used to Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
While this Pre-Composed Solution™ serves as a great starting point for many brands, we realize that no two businesses are the same. This solution was made flexible by design so that we could meet the unique needs of brands. If, for example, your business wants to use a different search engine from the one we are proposing in this Pre-Composed Solution™ we will help you connect it.
Sometimes this means repurposing an existing accelerator from our Composable Commerce Hub and sometimes it means developing a brand-new asset. In either case, changing existing or adding new components to the overall architecture will not in any way jeopardize your core commerce implementation or your upgrade path.
Chapter 7: Get Started Today with the Salesforce Commerce Cloud Migration Package
When migrating to a Composable Commerce solution there is risk and understandably trepidation. Through close partnership with Salesforce customers, we’ve designed a package that provides everything brands need to power fast, differentiated experiences that meet the needs of today’s digital-first customers.
We’ve watched brands struggle to meet customer expectations amid mounting competitive pressure. From that research and solutions expertise, we’ve launched the ONLY complete package for D2C brands to migrate off Salesforce Commerce Cloud and embrace a Composable Commerce solution.
What it Does
This package provides you with everything you need to confidently migrate to a Composable Commerce approach by de-risking the transition from all-in-one platform technology to a multi-vendor, best-of-breed solution.
Why it Matters
This matters for two reasons:
- Reduced risk associated with migrating to Composable Commerce; meaning that CIOs and CMOs can confidently advocate for this transition without compromising their company or personal well-being
- More importantly, this package empowers you with the control and speed to launch the unique, revenue-generating experiences that your customers expect but Salesforce has held you back from creating
Learn More Today
If you still aren’t sure about migrating from Salesforce Commerce Cloud, we get it. It’s a big decision that will likely impact your business and career for years to come. To give you a bit more info we’ve outlined the differences between Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Elastic Path Commerce Cloud. Take a deeper dive as you comparison shop and read about how Elastic Path Commerce Cloud offers flexibility, peace-of-mind, and a greater return on your investment.
And, as always, our commerce experts at Elastic Path are always here to discuss your brand’s digital evolution, Composable Commerce, or migrating from Salesforce Commerce Cloud.