LiveArea Insight: Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s Storefront Reference Architecture (SFRA)
Driving Enhanced Commerce Experiences and Business Outcomes
Author: Ryan Means – LiveArea Salesforce Practice Lead
May 25, 2021
A little over two years ago, Salesforce released the latest version of their reference application, commonly referred to as SFRA, or the Storefront Reference Architecture. Less than a year later, the world was thrust into the Covid lockdown and digital commerce become the dominant way for consumers to purchase. Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s direct-to-consumer solution recorded unprecedented gross merchandise value growth and SFRA was thrust into the spotlight as the fastest path to online commerce with Salesforce.
Fast forward to today and many leading brands have adopted a digital-first strategy – no surprise considering billions of online “converts” are shopping today. Roughly 77% of consumers surveyed by McKinsey & Company said they will continue to use digital channels post-pandemic. This sets the stage for predictions that 2022 will be the first trillion-dollar year in sales through digital commerce channels.
So why does the transition to SFRA make sense as the foundation for a digital-first strategy (the answer in part is the framework’s mobile-first architecture but keep reading)? What are the key reasons to transition from SiteGenesis if you are running on the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform? In a side-by-side comparison, why does SFRA stand out? These and other questions are answered in this blog. As an award-winning, 14+ year Salesforce Commerce Cloud partner, we can help you weigh this decision – one that can truly impact your sales and revenue potential.
What is the Storefront Reference Architecture (SFRA)?
At its core, SFRA is a framework or starting point for building a direct-to-consumer presence. Storefront Reference Architecture was engineered through a data-driven design analysis of more than 2,000 mobile storefronts to identify optimal UX approaches and customer-facing best practices. Its modern architecture lets merchandisers and developers build mobile experiences faster than ever.
With Storefront Reference Architecture, brands are empowered to:
- Improve shopping experiences on mobile web.
- Reduce storefront total cost of ownership and stay up to date easier.
- Innovate faster with industry-standard developer tools and best-of-breed third-party integrations.
Is SFRA an extension of SiteGenesis on Commerce Cloud?
No, it’s an evolution of the reference application with new code architecture that enables a new development and design approach. The Commerce Cloud SFRA combines best practices in site design, merchandising, and technical architecture to provide an out-of-the-box blueprint for merchants to build sites as unique as their brands.
If SFRA was designed with mobile shopping in mind, will it deliver improved conversion rates?
The goal of SFRA is to reduce friction across the mobile shopping journey — This is great news since mobile now accounts for more than 60% of shopping visits. In the past, mobile conversion rates were lower than desktop rates because retailers adopted mobile optimization technologies on top of existing desktop-oriented site designs. SFRA changes this dynamic with its true mobile-first design approach.
What customers should consider Storefront Reference Architecture?
SFRA is ideal for these categories of B2C and B2B sellers.
- New customers building new sites.
- Existing Salesforce customers exploring new sites.
- Existing Salesforce customers looking to launch a new brand or expand to regional sites.
- Existing Salesforce customers with sites to be redesigned, including those currently on SiteGenesis2 (or perhaps SiteGenesis).
Overall, it represents the best value for new implementations, site redesigns or catching up on the most recent releases.
What brands have adopted SFRA?
More than 100 brands are leveraging SFRA, and the list is growing. It includes Puma, Kind, Spalding, Michelin, and many more. At LiveArea we are seeing increasing momentum for this solution across our clients and prospects; we have implemented SFRA for more than 25 clients in the past two years.
What are the leading advantages of SFRA over SiteGenesis?
SFRA leverages mobile-first design best practices, which is a significant advantage. The product detail page, for instance, is optimized and features a persistent add-to-cart button that stays in view as the shopper scrolls. A persistent search bar is positioned for easy accessibility. A single-page accordion-style checkout with collapsible summaries smooths the checkout flow and eliminates distractions.
This mobile-optimized approach and architectural improvements in SFRA are designed to reduce the total cost of ownership compared. A lighter codebase emphasizes customer experience best practices across each viewport – instead of focusing on functional parity at a device level. Also, SFRA offers improved support for continuous integration and automated testing – including unit, integration, and functional tests.
Does SFRA leverage application programming interfaces (APIs)?
Yes, SFRA connects to the digital platform through an API layer, which allows brands to bring in new code, integrate with third-party providers, and progressively iterate design and development. SFRA keeps the same cartridge approach that has been a staple of the Commerce Cloud platform. In effect, third-party solutions “snap into” the environment with greater ease and speed than a completely custom approach.
It’s also worth noting that the Commerce Cloud digital platform releases innovations up to 10 times a year. These new functionalities, such as artificial intelligence, Apple Pay, and more, are integrated into the Storefront Reference Architecture through the API layer and immediately available, in many cases with a few tweaks to the storefront.
How long does the transition from SiteGenesis to SFRA take?
The move to SFRA is dependent on several variables, including customizations, design aspects, and any new integrations. The project time for implementation can range from six weeks to six months depending on the requirements and customizations. One important element is how ready your business team is to make the change. One advantage of using our experienced team of Salesforce experts is that we can help navigate the changes and best approach for your business and your success.
Can Salesforce Page Designer be used with SFRA?
At its default state, SFRA has multiple pages capable of using Page Designer’s enabled layouts and page components. Users can get started building pages on day one in a staging environment. Page Designer is a great example of taking advantage of the optimized designs and page component approach.
How do I know if SFRA makes sense for my business?
As an award-winning Salesforce partner with the experience and perspective of hundreds of Commerce Cloud implementations, LiveArea is well-positioned to help your brand review and ultimately decide to implement SFRA. Our expert team helps answer key business questions like, “Will it help accelerate my business? What does a tight implementation approach look like? What skill sets do I need to execute and support this initiative? What is the optimal timing for me to kick off this initiative and how do I manage delivery risk? Please drop us a line — we look forward to continuing the discussion and exploring how we might help guide your SFRA decision.
Area Vice President, LiveArea Salesforce practice