Is your organization thinking about the new release of Sitecore Commerce announced at the National Retail Federation show earlier this year? It doesn’t matter if you are in the world of B2B or B2C, online commerce platforms are significant in myriad ways to businesses and that is why Sitecore has invested so heavily in the platform. As one of the 19 Global Sitecore Commerce MVP’s, I’d like to take a moment to answer some of the top-level questions that people often have about the platform.
What is Sitecore Commerce?
Is it just a Commerce Server?
Sitecore Commerce is made up of three parts, Sitecore Commerce Connect, Commerce Server and the Sitecore Commerce Engine. Over the next few major releases we’ll see an expansion of the Sitecore Commerce Engine which leverages the new .NET Core framework. The Commerce Engine currently provides the cart, order, pricing and promotion functionalities, and replaces the order and marketing desktop tools previous supplied with Commerce Server.
Sitecore Commerce provides developers with a framework for integrating commerce applications called Sitecore Commerce Connect. This means you can integrate a commerce solution in Microsoft Dynamics, Insite, uCommerce or another platform, and provides a level of abstraction, simplifying the process of upgrades and application migrations. Commerce Server and the Sitecore Commerce Engine also leverage the Sitecore Commerce Connect Framework to provide a unified interface for interacting with the Commerce Engine and Commerce Server.
Sitecore Commerce is changing,
should we wait for future releases to get on board?
If you're always waiting for the next release,
you'll always be following.
Let’s face it, technology is always changing and if you’re always waiting for the next release, you’ll always be following. It’s no longer enough to just have a website, or having the ability to purchase products and services online, now is the time to push the boundaries and provide your customers with a leading-edge experience. The biggest concern with this approach is application stability and maintenance as product updates are released, especially with the future roadmap of the Sitecore Commerce product. Development methodology and approach will have a big impact on mitigating this, and programing to the Commerce Connect interface and isolating any platform specific extensions can also help reduce the impact of changes to the core platform.
How do we integrate Sitecore Commerce with our existing systems?
Sitecore Commerce uses the same pipeline model as the Sitecore Experience Platform for extensibility whilst the new Sitecore Engine also exposes a plugin interface to extend the capabilities of the promotions, pricing and orders sub systems. There is always a way to get data into Sitecore Commerce and to push it into external systems whether that be through a Web API, FTP server, database or even a CSV file so you can connect your ERP, CRM, logistics systems to your ecommerce application.
We sell direct to businesses rather than consumers,
can we use Sitecore Commerce?
Sitecore Commerce isn’t inherently a B2C application and the extensibility provided through the pipeline and plug module mean the system, processes and purchasing pipeline can be extensively customized to meet just about any set of business rules and logic.
How does the Sitecore Experience Platform integrate with Sitecore Commerce?
Can we use Sitecore xDB within our commerce applications?
The largest benefit of utilizing Sitecore Commerce for your ecommerce applications is the ability to leverage the Sitecore Platform to deliver a personalized and targeted ecommerce experience for users. Not only do you have access to basic event and goal information, but you can use the functionality provided by engagement plans, send emails to customers with the Email Experience Manager and get a single overview of your customer using the Experience Profile. Predictive and rule based personalization can also be applied to commerce pages and items in the same fashion as regular Sitecore items.