MarTech Series speaks to Ray Grady, newly appointed Chief Customer Officer and President at CloudCraze, the native e-commerce platform which recently raised $20 million in funding.
On the heels of a $20 million funding announcement to kick off 2017, Chicago-based CloudCraze has made their first major investment post-funding, adding four new faces in key leadership positions to its executive team. Funding from notable martech investors such as Salesforce Ventures and Insight Venture Partners indicates the confidence VCs have shown in CloudCraze’s native Salesforce platform model.
CloudCraze is focused on solving the complex needs of B2B companies including several iconic brands, such as Coca-Cola, Avid, AB InBev, Barry-Callebaut, Ecolab, GE, Land O’ Lakes, Kellogg’s, and WABCO. The growth of SaaS, and in particular Salesforce as a giant in the SaaS economy, is a key reason behind CloudCraze’s success, as they build off their strong foundation as one of the first players on the B2B scene and only native platform on Salesforce.
“It’s an exciting time to be part of this organization,” said Chris Dalton, CEO of CloudCraze. “Our recent funding round is a testament to the industry’s expectations for the transformative power of our platform and opportunity for continued growth of the business.”
We have rigorous plans to supercharge our market penetration over the next two years and this group of seasoned SaaS professionals adds to the already talented team of CloudCraze commerce experts who will lead the charge.
The new executive additions include —
- Ray Grady – President and Chief Customer Officer
- Jay Abraham – Chief Operating Officer
- Brian Wagner – Vice President of Sales
Former Executive Vice President, Ray Grady, will now serve CloudCraze as President and Chief Customer Officer (CCO). Since joining the company in 2015, Grady has successfully led the global expansion in the US and EMEA, playing an integral role in the company’s significant growth. As president and CCO, Grady will oversee customer engagement and success, business development, professional services, and continued European expansion.
MarTech Series spoke to Ray about the plans for growth and what we can expect to see from CloudCraze in the coming months. Here is the full interview —
MTS: Please tell us a little bit about the CloudCraze journey so far.
Ray: CloudCraze is an e-commerce platform native to Salesforce and the foundation of the platform is built from the customer view, which lets us think about e-commerce very differently. The CRM data model of Salesforce forms the spine of our overall data model for CloudCraze, and that’s our number one innovation because it’s this CRM DNA that makes CloudCraze the eCommerce platform that can power customer-specific functionality with the least amount of engineering. From a customer interaction perspective, all of the rich data that flows within a CRM system, whether it is through their Service Cloud, call center activities, direct sales or email campaigns, is tracked within one system and informs our commerce platform.
CloudCraze’s cloud-based, micro-services is a B2B-oriented platform providing enterprise companies an e-commerce solution that can be iterated based on customer feedback and implemented and deployed quickly. Legacy systems, on the other hand, are hampered by their monolithic stack architecture, which prevents them from providing the flexibility and scalability that modern B2B organizations require.
Our appeal to B2B enterprises can be seen by our global Fortune 500 customer base, many of which you mentioned earlier. We’ve seen significant success as the industry has transformed over the last few years; the business was recapitalised in mid-2015 and as you know, we closed a funding round before the end of 2016.
MTS: As Salesforce partners, how has the experience been? With Salesforce’s rollout of the Einstein AI platform, does CloudCraze see opportunities to innovate?
Ray: We picked Salesforce for a number of reasons. We didn’t want to be in the business of infrastructure, tuning, and set up when that could be handled by a partner. Salesforce also brings next-generation technology such as Einstein that we can apply to our platforms so not only do customers benefit from CloudCraze’s innovation, they also benefit from Salesforce innovation.
As an example, Salesforce has a product called Process Builder which allows customers to create complex workflows without any engineering. They roll these innovations out as a part of their core platform, and we get to apply them to commerce use cases. We have set up robust workflows for things like cart abandonment or buy-1-get-1 free workflows. Our customers get that innovation for free.
We are also in the process of integrating some solutions with Salesforce Einstein. If you are in e-commerce you can see that there are use cases with Einstein that can be very specific to an e-commerce buyer. For example, using big data to change pricing if certain data elements change, or to buy more products in stock during specific weather conditions.
Cloudcraze and our customers absolutely benefit from these innovations. Our Salesforce nativity allows us to take those features and apply them to our roadmap, which we think is also a pretty unique benefit of partnering with Salesforce.
MTS: Any plans to use the funding for product developments?
Ray: I talked about the big data solutions that we are going to do with Einstein. We have a live customer using CloudCraze with IBM Watson in Kellogg’s, and we will continue to invest in machine learning technology. We are rolling out what we call attribute-driven commerce which is a predictive model on how you can deliver solutions to customers.
The functionalities that we look to add will be more machine-learning based in areas where we can optimize our commerce platform. Some areas we are exploring are optimizing the customer experience and product catalogs and price based on data and insights. That’s where we want to take our product in future.
MTS: In terms of geographies and verticals, what is the focus for CloudCraze?
Ray: We are laser focused on the United States and European markets. We are really excited about the opportunities we have in Europe. I’ve got a great team there and plan to add additional talent across our customer success, platform solutions, alliances and sales disciplines. You can expect to see CloudCraze growth coming from these markets and have recently brought our global head of sales to fuel that growth. Brian Wagner is a seasoned guy with a strong understanding of the Salesforce ecosystem, so we are excited about him joining the team.
Besides that, we will be opportunistic. If we see trends in a particular region like Asia or Latin America you may see us go there in the future.
In terms of verticals, we are the B2B answer for Salesforce, and they have very good penetration in industries where we can win. B2B is very strong in manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, consumer goods, software, chemicals, oil & gas, and that’s where our customers exist. We will continue to expand in those areas.
Ray: The B2B commerce market is growing rapidly. In fact, the B2B commerce market is estimated to be seven times bigger than the direct to consumer market. We are in relatively early innings for a lot of businesses getting into B2B commerce and in many areas, it’s still taking shape. We are speaking to customers who say they are leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table because their customers cannot order replacement parts or subscription-based services around the offerings online – they still have to contact a sales rep. We haven’t done anything in those areas yet and with B2B commerce, these are multi-billion dollar roll-on businesses.
So it’s still early for B2B commerce but the opportunity is big. What you will see is that those companies who get into it will afford themselves the chance to find new lucrative opportunities.
For example, industrial manufacturing companies may develop a subscription-based business model. Subscriptions could be based on the data that the combined machine and sales engine are generating. B2B companies will be able to take this data, package it, and modify it in a way that they can identify entirely new revenue schemes based on where the technology is going. And, we will be right there to help them enable such transactions.
MTS: Any opportunities are you looking at in terms of acquisition?
Ray: We are opportunistic and we feel as a part of Salesforce ecosystem and platform, we can accomplish a lot from a platform standpoint by just leveraging the power of Salesforce. For example, if we want to start a CPQ (configure, price, quote) business, as opposed to going out and buying a venture, we go ahead and partner with Salesforce CPQ. We will continue to invest in partnerships and if the right deal comes along in certain categories we could look to do something.
As it stands, we are quite comfortable with taking a greenfield approach. We feel we have a ton of opportunities in the areas where we can succeed and win.
MTS: Looking at the martech sector, what are your thoughts on how the marketing clouds will evolve?
Ray: The marketing cloud is certainly one of the fastest growing lines of business for Salesforce. The days of the point solutions are leaving us in my opinion, especially for mature categories like marketing. You will see more standardization from a platform standpoint. I expect you will start to see the likes of SAP and Microsoft try to figure out the way there, but I think we will continue to see Salesforce take share.
I think the front office wars will probably look very similar to the ERP wars of the 80 and 90s.
Business leaders and CIOs want to have fewer technologies in their environment, and if they can get everything done in a best in class way – native, on the cloud, and having all the systems interoperable – that is quite a compelling proposition to a lot of people and that is what Salesforce brings to the table.
And when is comes to B2B commerce, we feel like CloudCraze is the answer, so we think we are in pretty good position there.
MTS: Thank you, Ray, for speaking to us. We look forward to having you very soon again at MTS for more insights on MarTech.