Commerce Server is Microsoft's enterprise platform for delivering e-commerce sites. Its evolution started with Site Server Commerce Edition and has gone through several product versions, each time offering more capabilities to deliver rich internet e-commerce solutions.
This latest version can provide cross-channel solutions for B2C, B2B and B2X scenarios. It comes with a new service oriented architecture and an out-of-the-box shopping site that integrates with SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint Services.
New Features for Commerce Server 2009
Although there are a number of new features in Commerce Server 2009 that demonstrate how far it has come, the most interesting to us is its integration with SharePoint -- whether it's MOSS or WSS.
SharePoint Commerce Services
Commerce Server 2009 comes with an out-of-the-box default website that exists within SharePoint. It includes more than 30 web parts and controls such as:
- Marketing: Advertisements and discounts, Ratings and Reviews, Virtual Earth Store Locator
- Search: Search Box and Search Results
- Orders: Add to Cart, Shopping Cart, Order Details, Order History and more
- Catalog: Site Map, Product Query, Product Details and Images Viewer
- Profiles: Registration Wizard, My Profile, Credit Card, Address, OpenID and more
- Management: Inline Product Editing, Channel Configuration and more
In addition to the Web parts and controls, you can easily modify your website within SharePoint using SharePoint Designer, basic page editing and leverage the content deployment and publishing capabilities.
SharePoint Commerce Services can be used with SharePoint directly or ASP.NET enabled websites. What this means is that you don't have to have SharePoint to utilize the web parts. With some customization, the web parts can be used in a traditional ASP.NET website.
However, if you choose not to integrate SharePoint with Commerce Server 2009, you do loose some key functionality. Without SharePoint, you loose the following:
- Content Management
- Inline editing of product information or presentation
- Multi-site capabilities
It's also important to note that you also do not get all the functionality if you choose to use WSS instead of the full SharePoint 2007 platform. Multi-lingual capabilities, Content Staging and Publishing, Advanced Search and out-of-the-box workflow are all provided with SharePoint 2007 (MOSS).
Of course in the case of either WSS or MOSS, additional licensing is required, particularly for an external website.
Additional new features include:
- Service Oriented Architecture: There is now a complete separation of the presentation tier from the business tier. This will enable developers to easily extend the out-of-the-box business logic and integrate with other related business systems like CRM, ERP or SCM.
- Multi-Channel: Create your e-commerce solution for multiple channels, including the website and mobile device easily.
- Templating Options: A new template library offers you the ability to easily set up the look and feel for your website or a section of your website.
- WYSIWYG Editing: Enables business users to easily modify their site layout and site information.
A Joint Development Effort
Development on Commerce Server 2009 was a joint effort. In August of 2007, Microsoft signed a joint partnership agreement with Cactus Commerce, a Canadian-based provider of e-commerce solutions, to develop Commerce Server, including collaboration on product engineering, partner ecosystem development, marketing, pre-sales, services and support.
Microsoft states that Commerce Server will remain a separate product offering, but you should expect more integration with other products and services as necessary. The thing about this is, if you use Commerce Server as a standalone solution, without SharePoint, you really don't get the full functionality needed to easily get a full-featured e-commerce website up and running.
Learn more about Commerce Server 2009 and download the Microsoft Commerce Server 2009 Default SharePoint Site Performance Guide.
Available now for MSDN subscribers, Commerce Server 2009 becomes generally available on April 1.