Online shopping is among the top activities for internet users worldwide, and its popularity is drastically growing due to the impact of some factors. This online shopping trend has resulted in the growth and extension of the global retail eCommerce market. Consequently, the demand for powerful tools and solutions that can be used to develop and support the electronic commerce marketplace is growing. Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC) 9 is one of the leading products in the space of digital commerce management that leverages the power of personalization to streamline your sales and marketing activities.
About Sitecore in Brief
Sitecore is the leading provider of customer experience management software that empowers companies to deliver personalized information to their clients. It has created a great combination of tools for content management, commerce and customer insights on one platform, all of which build user loyalty and drive revenue growth.
Why do more and more organizations choose Sitecore for eCommerce development? Personalization is the answer. The provider has successfully created an integrated solution, the Sitecore Experience Cloud, offering brands to build their digital strategy on the basis of both personalized content and personalized shopping experience. This is twice more efficient than using separate commerce and marketing solutions.
The Experience Cloud comprises the Experience Platform (XP), the Experience Manager (XM) and the Experience Commerce (XC).
The platform is able to:
- Collect real-time data from various channels
- Integrate with complementary third-party solutions and analyze their data (Sitecore Experience Database)
- Generate relevant content for users utilizing machine learning (Sitecore Cortex)
- Easily create various marketing scenarios (Marketing Automation tool)
As of January 2020, Sitecore is positioned among the top five leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms. More than five thousand brands have chosen Sitecore as a reliable CMS partner, proving the company’s ability to understand end users and meet their requirements.
Sitecore Experience Commerce Overview
Sitecore has provided commerce services since 2014, but they were far from perfect until 2018 when the commerce functionality was fully integrated into Sitecore CMS with the release of Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC) 9. Being the truly integrated commerce and content platform, Sitecore XC uses customer data from the Experience Platform and content from the Experience Manager.
With Sitecore XC, you get a chance to seamlessly connect two crucial elements of a customer shopping journey — content and commerce. This means the elimination of siloed data between enterprise departments and the establishment of effective communication with existing and new customers.
Since the platform is customizable, Sitecore commerce cost varies for each organization and should be discussed individually. Product licensing depends on the set of services you choose for your business and some other factors, such as:
- Number of domains powered with Sitecore
- Territory coverage for your operations
- Number of languages
- Integration with additional modules and third-party solutions
- Number of website visitors
- Number of simultaneous users (developers, designers, editors)
- Custom development to meet your unique requirements
Sitecore XC Features
Sitecore XC has already become a serious contender in the electronic trading market due to the combination of content management tools with commerce and digital marketing capabilities. We would like to highlight a range of advantageous features that can persuade you to choose Sitecore eCommerce services for your online business.
1. Microservices Architecture
The legacy commerce platform was built on COM+ technology and couldn’t provide developers with the required flexibility. XC 9 is built on .NET Core stack, unleashing the full potential of a microservices architecture.
The essence of a microservices structure is in the absence of strong connections between elements. Each element of the system is set in a separate plugin and can function on its own. If you don’t need some elements, you don’t have to include them in your solution, nor do you depend on additional plugins. As a result, having less code in the system adds agility, speed and reliability, simplifying the development process.
In addition, the platform is able to fully integrate with other systems, such as CMS, POS, ERP, and Sitecore modules, such as Experience Accelerator, allowing for unlimited effective combinations for an improved shopping experience.
Read also: Sitecore 10: New Features Overview
2. Catalog Management
The product catalog within XC 9 has been improved by leveraging the global product list approach. It enables marketers to put items in multiple catalogs and categories, and sell not only physical items but also services and warranties. To simplify catalog creation, a default scheme that contains generalized properties is implemented. It also helps search engines find your products.
3. Inventory Management
Implementing Sitecore Commerce 9, you get new inventory capabilities:
- Support at both product and variant levels
- Online-to-offline commerce via allocations
- Multi-store, multi-warehouse and multi-site inventory management (especially useful for large businesses)
- Shipment tracking
- Reservation per inventory bin
- Notifications of expiring or sufficient inventory thresholds
- Multi-currency support
4. Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) Storefront
This accelerator is integrated with XC 9 in the form of 40+ commerce-specific reusable components and layouts. They don’t require programming skills: marketers can quickly design pages and implement storefronts using the drag-and-drop functionality.
Moreover, the headless architecture allows for the frontend and backend development to happen simultaneously, greatly reducing time to market. With the support of such architecture, marketers get a chance to focus on capturing information and personalizing experiences, rather than on development.
5. Experience Cloud Integration
The main Sitecore eCommerce feature that distinguishes XC from other platforms is that it is cloud-enabled and fully native for an industry-leading CMS. This means that commerce, content and data are unified in one place and can provide real-time data analysis and end-to-end shopping experience personalization.
XC 9 is fully integrated with the Sitecore Cloud Platform that offers endless possibilities for creating a customer-centric shopping experience. This powerful personalization engine with native tools for digital commerce and marketing generates insights on the basis of machine learning and delivers omnichannel shopping experiences. What’s more, cloud infrastructure ensures security and scalability.
6. Promotion Management
The Promotions business tool is designed to help marketers create and manage efficient promotions. Marketers use a dashboard with a prebuilt set of rules that they can apply to the shopping cart or specific sellable goods. Multiple qualifications can be applied to one promotion.
7. Licensing Options
Three options are available for the Experience Commerce 9 deployment: Azure PaaS, IaaS, and on-premises. There are also payment options: you can either purchase a perpetual license or a subscription for a certain time period.
8. Sitecore Commerce Marketplace
For those who need a wide choice of Sitecore modules or want to join the community and contribute to technology development, Sitecore Marketplace is an appropriate destination. This is the gateway to more than 800 modules from which you can choose the most fitting ones for your website. You can also share your own modules with peers.
Members of the Sitecore Commerce marketplace get opportunities to socialize with each other, discuss issues, comment on modules, and review, rate and recommend the best solutions. For their activities, marketplace members are awarded points that can be used to unlock various Sitecore features.
Sitecore XC Pros and Cons
Based on the practical experience of developers and users, we can judge on the advantages and disadvantages of the Sitecore Experience Commerce.
Among the best features of the platform are:
- Scalability — the system can grow with your business thanks to the scalable and extensible architecture
- User-friendliness — once the system is set up, marketers can create and edit content, analyze data and deliver personalization without special technical development knowledge
- Integration capabilities — you can integrate multiple commerce channels and sites and seamlessly manage them from a single platform
- Customization — you can easily customize the platform to your business needs
- Rich functionality — the vendor provides a wide set of tools for automating various activities concerning marketing, sales and data management
- Analytics — the integration with Experience Platform provides fantastic capabilities for analyzing user behavior prior to purchase, which opens the door for new business opportunities
In spite of all benefits, you may face some challenges while implementing the Sitecore XC:
- Steep learning curve — the system is rather difficult to learn for new users, so you will require experienced developers or some time to train new specialists
- Installation — the process is time-consuming and requires much of the specialists’ effort to set up
- Cost — out-of-the-box capabilities are limited, so adding more functions will result in additional expenses
SaM Solutions’ Experience with Sitecore
We create eCommerce solutions for our customers, taking care of the technical part and allowing them to focus on their business. SaM Solutions’ Sitecore implementation team has more than ten years of experience and has successfully completed dozens of projects.
A Website for an Insurance Company
Within this project, the challenge was to build a website for a Dutch insurance company. The client wanted to provide access to different content and services for registered and unregistered users.
Our specialists developed a website with dynamic pages and content blocks on the basis of Sitecore CMS. They also used AJAX technology for instant data actualization and implemented the use of third-party services.
A Website for an Educational Organization
Another organization in the Netherlands required an educational website to help students learn more efficiently and to help teachers manage the learning process.
The SaM Solutions team built a powerful site with separate interfaces for students and teachers. A wide range of training materials encourages students to learn on their own, while the teachers’ tool allows them to control student profiles and check their reports and assignments.
SaM Solutions’ Sitecore Accelerator
Our team has elaborated its own Sitecore CMS development framework that facilitates and hastens related projects — the Sitecore accelerator. The accelerator integrates a batch set of ready-made components and features, a start-up development project in Visual Studio and an eCommerce module. The deployment of this off-the-shelf project framework can substitute the opening stages of Sitecore CMS creation, which can reduce development time by approximately two months.
The potential users of this solution are companies that require cost- and time-efficient development of a Sitecore-based CMS.
SaM Solutions has recently entered into a partnership agreement with Coveo — a company that provides cloud-based AI-powered search and recommendations. This partnership brings numerous benefits, including a special product — Coveo for Sitecore — that is actively used in our current projects.
The creators of Sitecore Version 9 indicate that they have analyzed the feedback of digital marketers who worked with previous versions and that they have learned many lessons. In Version 9, they introduced a fresh approach to meet the requirements of marketers and to create the next-generation user experience.
XC 9 offers a range of advantages for companies of all sizes:
- Reduced time-to-market
- More choices to end-users
- Value-driven shopping decisions
- Improved management
Businesses look to Sitecore eCommerce solutions to better understand the needs of their clients and provide them with the most relevant information, turning visitors into loyal customers.
SaM Solutions is a reliable and experienced provider of Sitecore services. If you are looking for an eCommerce software vendor, please write to us to discuss your project.