It’s no secret that we are big fans of inriver for their innovations in product information management (PIM). In fact, we are an inriver Platinum Partner and were recognized as North American Partner of the Year in 2020. We have many clients who use the inriver PIM system with fantastic results.
Salesforce is one of the most widely known ecommerce platforms in the business. Their success was largely built on expertise in the B2B cloud software market but, over the years, Salesforce has continued to innovate. In 2016, Salesforce acquired Demandware to expand its commerce offering.
In this article, we’ll cover what we’ve learned through building connectors between inriver and Salesforce—and what you should know before you tackle an integration.
Why integrate inriver with Salesforce?
Integrations allow product data to move seamlessly between platforms, reducing the amount of error that can occur through manual imports. Integration automates these processes, ensuring information travels to and from sources as intended. Not only does this save time and improve accuracy, but it also allows you to get products to market faster. It also gives your team more granular control over product releases or changes—which equates to better predictability in timing of product launches and a more consistent customer experience.
When should I integrate inriver with Salesforce?
We recommend implementing one system, then adding and integrating the second. Trying to implement both inriver and Salesforce at the same time will always be a challenge. You can expect a constant back-and-forth as attributes are added and the data model—which both systems have to be aware of—is adjusted. It’s a lot simpler and faster to do the integration if the ecommerce side is already figured out. (Note: that doesn’t mean it has to be complete and live.) This way, at least you’re not in a constant state of flux with both systems. Taking this approach reduces the amount of time it will take to integrate by reducing the amount of rework.
Navigating an inriver/Salesforce integration
When it comes to product data and how it flows to and from an ecommerce system, there are many nuances. We call it “defining your product readiness workflow.” Both inriver and Salesforce have lots of flexible options, so it doesn’t always have to be set up the same way. Here are some features you’ll need to consider in your Salesforce setup that will influence how data flows from one system to another and, therefore, how your integrations are created.
A feature of Salesforce, variation groups allow clients to clearly set up their product lines by identifying master products, variants, and variation groups. For example:
- Master product: “I sell this shirt.”
- Variant: “I sell this shirt in this color and in this size.”
- Variation group: “I sell this shirt in this color. It’s available in all these sizes.”
Using variation groups can reduce information duplication, which also reduces file size and speeds up data transmission time. This results in a data structure that is easier to navigate in the administrative side of Salesforce. While there is an initial time investment in setting up variation groups, it more than makes up for itself by streamlining processes down the road.
Attributes are essentially product descriptors. There may be unique information about your product that you want to highlight for your customers. Examples could be fabric type, where a product is made, or if it is a limited edition. inriver allows both standard, out-of-the-box attributes and customized attributes. Regardless of attribute type, the configuration in Salesforce should be done in a logical manner that is easy to understand (and well documented) so the attributes get assigned to the right products.
In general, large images don’t play well on websites. You may be storing higher-definition images in your PIM, but your ecommerce website needs lower resolution images because they are smaller and load faster. Image configuration allows us to say, “don’t take the original image, send the website a smaller version instead.” This can be especially impactful if your business has many different images for each product. It is critical to website load time and overall performance to determine which image sizes you need upfront, then set up inriver and Salesforce to transfer those images at the right size.
There are many additional settings and decisions to make at the field level. Which attributes are a part of faceted search, and which are not? Which attributes should be used as filters on what pages? For example, will customers want to view all your red items at once? Or will they only filter by size or shape?
Deleting data in inriver and Salesforce
Some companies never want to delete any product data; others want to choose when and what they delete. There are ways to automate data deletion in both Salesforce and inriver, and you’ll need to map your process ahead of time to avoid duplication of work.
Who should be involved in the process?
Beyond your product data expert, we recommend establishing internal champions for both inriver and Salesforce—as well as an overarching project lead. Between all the parties, you’ll need to establish a common vernacular. They should also share an understanding of the intricacies of your business. Together, they’ll formulate the exchange of data that will be used on the website and what information will be consumed by the end user who wants to buy your product.
And as with any complex integration, we recommend hiring an integration partner. Specifically, a partner who has experience connecting inriver with Salesforce can help you avoid potential pitfalls and achieve the best outcome for your business.
Prepping for an inriver/Salesforce integration
As much as you can, we recommend having your product data standardized and enriched before moving ahead with either inriver or Salesforce. This will reduce rework (and frustration) throughout the integration process.
Also, form a data governance team of people who know your products inside and out. This team should establish best practices for your current product process and how product content is generated today and into the future.
If your business needs to integrate inriver and Salesforce, let us know. Someone on our team will reach out to schedule a call.