Sitecore key
Sitecore officials claim they've unlocked the disconnect between content and commerce. PHOTO: Frank Daugaard

Digital experience provider Sitecore today released a new version of the ecommerce platform it acquired more than three years ago from commerceserver.net. 

It includes updates in order management capabilities, support for digital products and goods and a developer experience based on Microsoft's ASP.NET core framework.

'Milestone' Release

The release of Sitecore Commerce 8.2 also marks a "milestone" for the Copenhagen, Denmark-based provider, according to Nate Barad, director of product strategy. Sitecore has dropped the commerceserver.net branding for "Sitecore Commerce," a cloud-based ecommerce platform that's integrated within the Sitecore Experience Platform.

Sitecore acquired the platform from SMITH (formerly Ascentium), at the time a partner in the Sitecore Strategic Commerce Alliance. 

Nate Barad
Nate Barad

This is the differentiator for the company, Barad said, because it natively marries content experience management with ecommerce within one platform rather than having to connect disparate systems.

"We've rebuilt it for the modern marketer and the modern experience in commerce," Barad said in an interview with CMSWire. 

His company debuts the new ecommerce version this week at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Conference (NRF) in New York City.

"It's earned its badge," Barad said. "We acquired the technology and their customer base but most importantly and critically we infused our customer service DNA with commerce. These people built commerce solutions for Best Buy, Volvo and B2B companies. They had 15 years plus in digital commerce and had the experience to build this."

Microsoft Roots

Sitecore has released about a handful of versions from the time it acquired commerceserver.net in November 2013. That acquisition marked the first time a .NET customer experience platform hooked up with an ecommerce engine.

Previously known as Microsoft Commerce Server, then Ascentium Commerce Server, commerceserver.net enabled enterprises to create multi-channel commerce applications and extend business securely over the Internet, or intranets.

When Sitecore bought it, it had more than 3,000 customers in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) across retail, manufacturing and government in both B2C and B2B commerce.

Content, Commerce Disconnect

Ryan Donovan served as president and chief technology officer for commerceserver.net at the time of the acquisition and is now senior vice president of product management for Sitecore, which intended to keep commerceserver.net developers and engineers on board.

Sitecore Commerce

“Brands are expected to deliver personalized customer experiences in context across any channel, but are often challenged with separate systems like commerce, web content management and marketing automation systems,” Donovan said. “This creates a fragmented customer journey, inhibiting the ability to gain insights that drive better business results.”

Barad said too often sites do not connect content with commerce and are left with only "shop now" links as their commerce engine's main feature. Further, companies rely on promotions to gauge customer preferences rather than using analytics to craft the ultimate experience for each online shopper.

He called this approach "old methods on new tech." 

"There is a huge opportunity for brands to build out content and experiences for people," Barad said. "It should be about how digital helps me find my jersey or my team."

Order Management, Digital Support

Some of the new features in the Sitecore Commerce platform include:

  • Full lifecycle order management capabilities, supporting edits, holds and additions to a customer order
  • Entitlement support for digital products and goods 
  • Pricing calculations in real time with availability to increase average order revenue with pricing structures 
  • Permissions and rules to grant use of a promotion in order to serve up the right promotion at the right time to a specific customer
  • A modernized developer experience with opt-in-complexity based on Microsoft’s ASP.NET core framework

Sitecore officially rolled out its ecommerce capabilities post-acquisition in July 2014 and is used by customers such as Homefashion Group and Pet Supplies Plus. Sitecore Commerce is designed natively for Microsoft Azure Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS,) with availability in the Azure Marketplace expected this spring.