CloudCraze + Action Links: Let Your Customers Add to Cart Directly from Salesforce Chatter within the Community Cloud

Salesforce’s Community Cloud is a hot topic right now. Virtually everyone with an online presence is interested in engaging customers, partners, or employees in a more robust, meaningful way and the Community Cloud is enabling them to make this happen in less time and for less money. However, “less money” can still be too much money at budget time and coming up with justification for Communities Licenses can be a challenge. I would speculate that many proposals focus on reduced cost via self-service channels, and that is completely sensible and expected. Provide the content, let the Community members help each other, and, by doing so, reduce the burden on the need for internal support for that particular group.

But cost reduction is not the only means for providing a solid business case for a Community Cloud implementation. There is…wait for it…a little thing called revenue generation, as well. For some of you, hearing “revenue” mentioned along with Communities just snapped you out of that endless dream where business justification seems to hang on a stick just out of your reach. For others, you can’t see how “revenue” would potentially relate to your future or existing community. Even if you can’t fathom a use case that relates directly to you, you will find this new feature intriguing and you may start to see the “Community Cloud” in a different way.

And what is this feature, exactly? It’s a customized implementation of Action Links within a Salesforce Customer Community within the context of a CloudCraze-enabled eCommerce customer.

Action Links + Community Cloud + CloudCraze = Thumbs Up
It’s not terribly complicated…’s Chatter Action Links went GA (general availability) in the Salesforce Spring ’15 release, which rolled out to Production orgs in February 2015. Salesforce describes the feature as described below:

Action links are buttons on posts that, when clicked, can call a Salesforce or third-party API, download a file, or open a Web page. Developers create action links that integrate Salesforce and third-party services into the feed so that users can take action to drive productivity and accelerate innovation. Developers can create action links in their organization and distribute them in packages.

To get right to the point, Action Links allow to provide significantly more interaction with a Chatter post. Whereas in the past, Chatter posts were basically always static, Chatter posts with Action Links come alive and can drive a significant amount of activity within your Community. Specifically in CloudCraze’s Action Links feature, they can help bring your customers right to the (virtual) checkout line.

The case study to best showcase this feature is what was recently implemented for PonoMusic in the Community Cloud and CloudCraze-powered “Pono Community.” The goal with Action Links was to better bring together the commerce and social elements and to reduce or eliminate any remaining sense of isolation within pockets of the store. Previously, we had implemented ground-breaking features such as Community-enabled product conversations (i.e., Chatter Feeds) associated with every product sold within the store, a custom gamification and ranking framework, and advanced use of Salesforce Topics to drive conversation reach through the Community.

Still, customers needed to navigate to a Product page to actually start the purchasing process. Not a huge burden or out of line with typical eCommerce experiences, but an extra step, nonetheless. And many of you can relate to trying to remove these “extra steps” in the consumer’s purchasing process.

So, we at CloudCraze came up with a customized feature to allow the socializing customers to add a product to their cart…directly from a Chatter Feed. Let’s take a look.

The functionality starts with customer-provided feedback. In our case, we created a formalized means to submit a review of the product (in Pono’s case, a digital music album, as heard on the PonoPlayer). This is not the same as a post, which can get easily lost in the shuffle in the Community. To do this, we created a custom Publisher action called “Review”:

A custom Publisher action called “Review”

The Review action loads a custom Visualforce page that brings up the related Visualforce page. In this page, we provide a customized, formatted input form to submit a review of the album, as heard on a PonoPlayer. Here’s a side-by-side view of the form before and after population:

Populated Review
The “Review” publisher action loads a Visualforce page showing a customized input form.

If you thought that was the cool part, just wait…let’s take a look at what gets posted:

Chatter Post with Action Links
The resulting Chatter Post, Action Links and all.

Let’s break down some of the components of the post and then dive into the keystone “Add to Cart” Action Link that you can see.

  1. We’ve formatted the Chatter post text to be clear, concise, and legible. At this time, rich text is not available in Chatter, so we’ve worked around that to provide a slick-looking post that is consistently formatted.
  2. We’ve made this a “File” type post, allowing the display of a colorful product image with the post. Simply put, this makes the post look better.
  3. I could write a separate blog post about Topics, but I’ll keep these short. I believe the Topic Management framework to be undervalued and underutilized. It can absolutely help to bring Community members together with their interests. In our case, we built in some dynamic Topics to ensure that A) everyone interested in this product would see the post and B) that anyone could access all related posts in one place. Very creative and very useful.

Chatter Post Features
A look a the non-Action Link features in the Chatter post.

Okay, now for the good stuff: Action Links. Let’s say you are a Community member and you see this post. First off, if you see it, then you’re interested in it in some way. Maybe you like the album or the artist. Who knows, maybe you’re following the user who submitted the review. Either way, you’ll probably take a look. Since you can relate, it’s very possible that your reaction will be one of the following three responses:

  1. Interesting. I want to see more reviews of this album. (Show)
  2. Great. Now, I want to provide my own feedback. (Post a Review)
  3. Awesome. I’m convinced. Let me go ahead and get this album. (Add to Cart)

We’ve capture each scenario with our custom Action Links for Pono:

Our custom Action Links for the Pono Community

So, what exactly does each Action Link do? Let’s check it out.

“Show” allows you to see all reviews for the selected album from all Community members.

CloudCraze "Show" Action Link
The CloudCraze “Show” Action Link

“Post Review” is for members who want to provide their own review after seeing the initial post.

CloudCraze "Post Review" Action Link
The CloudCraze “Post A Review” Action Link

“Add to Cart” is for those who are “sold” on the album and want to purchase it.

CloudCraze "Add to Cart" Action Link
The CloudCraze “Add to Cart” Action Link

We are excited to be pioneers in this space and help to take Chatter and Community Cloud to the next level. What you’ll see will only get better. Contact us if you’re interested in an eCommerce + Community Cloud experience of your own…