Today, we are announcing the launch of Sitecore Experience Commerce “The New Year ringing in changes” is an often-used expression, but it’s one we can use with some justification in this instance, because the changes are indeed substantial. In today’s post, I’d like to walk you through those modifications and what they mean for the product.
Completing the transition away from Commerce Server
The old Microsoft Commerce Server is gone—entirely, every last line of code. Today marks the culmination of a long journey for the commerce team and the realization of a vision that started when we joined Sitecore back in 2013. We wanted to write a brand new part of the Sitecore platform, designed for the future, the cloud, and using the very latest Microsoft framework. And that’s exactly what my team has delivered.
The new microservices-based plugin architecture is far removed from the monolithic applications of the past, and positions us at the start of an amazing journey of innovation in the years ahead—innovation that will make upgrades easy for customers. It also means that our valued commerce partners will be able to more easily tailor functionality to individual customers’ needs.
ASP.NET Core 2.0 microservices are designed and engineered with the cloud in mind, so this will be our first commerce release that can run on either PaaS or IaaS, whichever meets your company’s needs. Expect to see Experience Commerce alongside the platform on the Azure Marketplace soon after launch.
This also means that we will be in a position to soon offer commerce as a managed cloud offering—truly providing our customers with a range of deployment options. That, of course, still includes hosting the software yourself on premises.
Rapidly built storefronts
Sitecore® Experience Accelerator (SXA) gave us the chance to rethink our storefront story, and we have a brand new SXA Storefront with this release. We’ve added around 40 new SXA components focused on commerce to enable storefronts to be rapidly built, altered, and skinned. This separation of design and content will certainly shorten the time to market for any given solution, and now it’s a full part of the product. No longer just a reference architecture, SXA Storefront is of course fully supported.
Business users first
People running commerce sites spend a large part of their days working on all aspects of business—product listings, pricing, promotions, etc., so they need their tools to be reliable, responsive, and, well, fun to use, if possible. We think they’re going to like what comes with XC 9. A brand new single-page application for business tools, with everything they need, is just a click away—right on the Sitecore dashboard. Under the hood, it’s been created with Angular 4, and the contents are entirely driven from within the commerce engine plugins, so changes are easy for developers to make. This new commerce dashboard entirely replaces the existing three tools (Merchandising Manager, Pricing and Promotions Manager, and Customer and Order Manager) and consolidates all business user functionality in one place:
By far the biggest change to the commerce engine has been moving the product catalog from old Commerce Server to new architecture. That has again given us the chance to rethink things, and we have now given more importance to Sellable Items (aka products). The word “product” kind of implied physical goods, but the new Sellable Item can also be digital goods as well as entitlements, or the permission to use something for a finite length of time. Although Sellable Items can still be arranged in catalogs if you wish, they no longer need to be—they’re first-class citizens in their own right.
We also wanted a more industry-standard way to define the schema for Sellable Items, too, so we have adopted the schema.org definition. This will definitely provide some value-added benefits when it comes to finding products in search engines. Now, of course, you are still perfectly free to use any definition you wish, but we feel this is a solid starting place.
And yes, if you’re migrating from Commerce Server, we have a tool to help map old catalogs and customer profiles to new for importing.
And how many you have to sell!
Hand-in-hand with Sellable Items is inventory. This, too, has seen a substantial upgrade in functionality with the notion of multiple locations where you can store items and allocate items within those places, e.g., 40 units in store A, 60 in store B, for instance. The inventory functionality also allows “ship-to-store” scenarios.
Sitecore Experience Commerce allows mid-market to enterprise customers to create personalized shopping experiences by integrating web content, commerce functionality, and contextual marketing capabilities that depend on collection of real-time customer interaction data.
This is one unified product with the Sitecore® Experience Platform™ , so all the great stuff that I posted about in my last blog post applies to Experience Commerce, too, and that will continue to be the case as we move forward.
We are truly excited to be finally shipping the fruition of our early vision, and we cannot wait to see what great commerce solutions our partners will be building in 2018 and beyond.
Ryan Donovan is EVP of Product Management at Sitecore. Find him on LinkedIn.