B2C Solution Architect, the latest addition to the growing list of Salesforce certification you can achieve. Exam which is demanding, it will take probably a long time before you can really use it on some project, not many people will probably reach it but it gives you a lot of food for thoughts.
Salesforce Ben wrote about it a while ago, but I would say he didn’t really say all about it.
First of all, it has some prerequisites:
- Platform App Builder
- Marketing Cloud Email Specialist
- Integration Architecture Designer
Frankly, I’m not sure why Email Specialist is on the list as I would say it won’t bring you any knowledge you need to have. Marketing Cloud Consultant is more appropriate I would say. But besides these you also need to know about Heroku, Shield, Social Studio, Audience Builder or
Community Experience Cloud. It even tests your knowledge about Order Management System, which will be GA in February 2020.
How to learn is the second important question. Trailhead has a lot of B2C modules, just a minimum of them will be of any use. The exam has a dedicated trail, which is way more useful. But the real gold is in the Partner Academy, where only partners have access. That course will bring you even more details in some areas and is short in others, but overall really worth to spend those roughly 40 hours it requires. (they open it on Trailhead and this trail)
What are my main takeaways?
- in cross-cloud implementations the unique identifier should come from Service Cloud and be used across clouds;
- leads mean complications for Marketing Cloud, as the ID will change;
- Customer 360 Data Manager to the rescue, I mean get to know your ultimate „human“ behind multiple different contacts, but don’t be surprised with limitation;
- probably the first exam, where „that would be nice“ approach doesn’t work and they are not afraid about their limits – no API integration with Customer 360 (it would be super cool in a lot of scenarios), no native integration of Marketing Cloud and Customer 360, max 50 million unique source records in Customer 360, Customer 360 Data Manager is good for linking human based on „traditional“ identifier (phone, email), if you want to link Twitter/Facebook and other digital identities use DMP or Social Studio, B2C Service Cloud Connector is not supported by support, not production ready and only supports person accounts, the list goes on.
Leads in Sales Cloud and Service Cloud help with contact record data quality, but they can damage the data quality in cross-cloud implementations.
With multi-clouds there is also a question of system of record and sync of data, the recommendation here is to sync as little as possible and make real time call-outs to get the latest data/update them.
I just loved the following picture, which you will see hundred times during the course and which I try to explain to every customer. It is always super hard, because they feel they should want the best possible and don’t want to admit they are not ready for it.
For every use-cases in the training they will describe those 4 phases and how can you improve step by step, some of them looks like something super simple, but obviously there are clients for which even the most simple scenario will be hard. So ordering on behalf of customer should start with anonymous shopper, continue with authenticated, then you can include assisted shopping and other things.
Or another great example – BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store). Sounds easy at the beginning, right? But are you sure your inventory is up-to-date? What about flash sale, will the store be able to deduct the numbers quickly enough? Have you thought about allowing customers to book their pick-up time? Will it have impact for you, because one customer bought quickly but will pick-up later, after another delivery, so you could sell more. What about curb pick-up, when you will deliver the goods directly to the trunk of parked car – do you have enough shop assistant to do that? Can you cooperate with the parking to maybe enter the order number when entering and guiding customer to specific parking place? All in all – you can make it super complex, but the customer might not be ready for that.
The final step is to give Lorene „superpowers,“ which will enable her to not only fully service her customers, but to also deliver relevant recommendations, apply discounts, and so on. The scenario above is not easy to implement. What’s happening behind the scenes is complex. It takes a deep understanding of the two products involved — B2C Commerce and Service Cloud — and how to integrate those products.
“What do we want to show each person?” vs “What does each person want to see?”
The training is surprisingly practical, I still remember my Service Cloud certification and how I struggled with the best practices, here you have it all. Including parts which you might consider as project management, but that’s part of the architect life as well.
Einstein everywhere. You know that, I know that, still surprise me how powerful it can be. And also how much you need to think about how to utilise it and which one.
There is Einstein Recommendation in B2C Cloud, which makes sense for the product details and search, as people really appreciate if the search „knows“ them and provide relevant products. And I’ve been surprised how many strategies for product recommendation there is:
- Customer recently viewed items
- Customers who bought also bought
- Customers who viewed also viewed
- Customers who viewed ultimately bought
- Product Affinity Algorithm
- Real-Time Personalized Recommendations
- Recent Most-Viewed Products
- Recent Top-Selling Products
But there is also Einstein Recommendation in Marketing Cloud which you should use when sending emails, but not on product pages. It is totally ok if the recommendations are different, as long as they recommend similar types of products.
Be sure to add suppression when implementing behavioral triggers. For instance, if a shopper has purchased a product in the past „X“ days, they’ll be categorized as ineligible. This ensures the user isn’t overwhelmed with marketing material.
Abandoned basket is process you probably heard about, nothing hard, right? But even that things can be complex and I would say is implemented in surprising way – B2C has MC collect.js on the page, which reports all the products you see/add to your basket and MC behavioral triggers will decided when and what to send. Surprisingly the process should not stop with the email, but when the user click on the link in the email, the shop should pre-populated the basket with all the things which were there and report back, when customer bought it, so you have correct KPIs.
Show me any shop which does it, I mean almost no-one is using this technique (abandoned cart), even less have it than complex.
Books and links
A lot of additional great resources mentioned along the course, which are worth getting deeper:
- Customer 360 Guides
- Salesforce Architecture Diagrams & kits
- Integration patterns
- Transform the Consumer Experience Guide is probably the best one
Should you take it?
Well, it depends, see what other think:
- B2C solution architect to me reads like the pre-sales Solution Architect at consulting firms, high level knowledge of basic things, absolutely useless when you get into the weeds;
- I was just like nope, I can and have designed and built fully integrated and operational b2c solutions for my clients that do not involve Marketing Cloud and Mulesoft. They do not come into any decision making;
- Cross cloud is the direction everything is moving in. This is to the solution engineer point. Being able to paint that vision of filling in top of the funnel with leads, push MQL to salesforce to be qualified by sales. It’s understanding the whole life cycle and how everything is connected;
- Solution architecture is not product specific but is a mindset in building a scalable solution per customer requirements and does not do the certification justice if this is the route they want to go;
- It would help to grow an area that Salesforce wants to, and is a mess while making visible other architect career paths. I don’t see it as a logical path to CTA at this time, but another option;
- There is definitely a weak spot when it comes to the multi-cloud/platform implementation side of things. With each of these acquisitions needing their own unique resources and time tables to get right.
It took me a while, but I made it. And must say that this certification feels like a really fun, I learnt a lot, probably the most from all certifications I got.
Congrats on your achievement. I said that before: I think the prerequisite of Email specialist is a mistake and an oversight. You are not required to get the Email specialist certification to get the Marketing Cloud certification anymore. You need the admin first.
So I think this needs to be corrected and aligned with that. Nice blog. Thanks
plus the Email Specialist doesn’t bring any value when attempting the exam. Will see where it will go, I understand there aren’t many people who have Marketing Cloud exams and architect exams at the same time
Thank you for sharing, it is extremely usefull information!
Thanks for the insights. Having the experience of both Solution and Technical Architect across many Salesforce implementations, I felt this one is bit useless. Solution Architects are generalists, rarely delve into technical details beyond the high level, and often more of a technical business analyst, so I don’t really get the point of this cert!! Worst, the Integration Architecture and Platform App Builder exams on the CTA path are now changed as of WI21 to serve the B2C Solution Architect AND the mainstream CTA paths which is also needless in my opinion.
Congrats, and thank you again for sharing your experience!
Well, what I really liked about this exam is all the business insights and I feel it is a step in the right direction – similar to what Service Cloud certification does and Sales Cloud just a bit. You should be able to predict customer’s needs, drive them in the right direction, understand why they want what they want. Technical Architect will „just“ connect some technologies together but don’t provide the business reasoning, Solution Architect should do that. Speaking about CTA it „just“ ask you to connect all those boxes and keep in mind all limits, but quite often the right step in CTA board should be „why you want to achieve this and maybe there is better way“ question but there is no space for that.
Service Cloud certification asks (or asked a while ago) a lot about KPIs, what the supervisor should do in different situations and such thing. Sales Cloud didn’t have many of such questions but I would say they are super important. And if the implementation should be successful you need to understand why you do what you do