Building an E-Commerce Site with Sitecore, Part 3 Sitecore E-Commerce Tools

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 @ 01:25

By: Brent McLean, Lead Consultant

In this series, I’m going through your options in adding e-commerce into your Sitecore website and looking at the pros and cons of each. In my first two posts I discussed the advantages and disadvantages of building a custom solution and using a separate third party tool to meet your e-commerce needs. In this post I’ll discuss using a Sitecore e-commerce tool.

In this scenario, rather than use a separate e-commerce tool, you use an e-commerce solution that is completely integrated into Sitecore. Sitecore has an available e-commerce module called the Sitecore E-Commerce Services (SES) module, formally known as Sitecore E-Commerce Fundamental Edition (SESE). It’s free if you have licensed the Sitecore Common Engagement Platform (CEP). If you need an enterprise-level solution, you can license and install the Insite for Sitecore module. Both of these tools are installed within Sitecore and completely integrated into Sitecore and DMS.

In many ways, this solution is the best option for your e-commerce needs. It provides you a full e-commerce solution that you don’t have to spend developer time or dollars with a Sitecore partner to create. Since It is installed within your Sitecore, you only have a single website to manage and a single administrator interface to master. You won’t have the problem of a disjointed user interfaces and the user accounts can be easily used for e-commerce and general site needs. Since all of the e-commerce products and user information is within Sitecore, you can utilize it throughout the non-e-commerce portions of the site to do things like dynamically showing the products currently on sale or automatically include products related to the content on the current page. With all of the DMS capabilities available, you have a lot more opportunities to personalize the experience and work the tools to track and improve the numbers of people who are actually making purchases on your site. Thus you could display recommended products based on the user’s order history or show promotions that change based on the kinds of products they have viewed.

While a Sitecore e-commerce tool provides many benefits, it is not a perfect solution in every case. There are only a couple of e-commerce products available that integrate with Sitecore. That means that if the available tools don’t support the functionality you need, you are out of luck. You would have to look into an alternate approach like custom development. The good news is that since these tools are built on Sitecore, your Sitecore developers may be able to add the needed customizations on top of these Sitecore e-commerce tools and minimize this effort.

PCI compliance is a mixed bag with this approach. Insite is PCI compliant, but I haven’t seen whether SES is PCI compliant. Even if the module is PCI compliant, you have still need to handle all of the other aspects of a PCI compliance involving your network, security, procedures and access control, but at least the programming requirements would be handled for you.

Pros:

  • Less development and calendar time to implement than a custom developed solution.
  • Reduces work to be PCI compliant, particularly with the Insite solution
  • No additional licensing cost with SES solution
  • Potentially easier to extend with custom development than other third party solutions
  • Full integration with Sitecore and DMS provides great advantages in user experience, personalization, marketing, and tracking

Cons:

  • Fewer e-commerce options means less chance they will meet your needs exactly
  • More work for PCI compliance than a third-party hosted e-commerce solution

Best For:

  • Sites with e-commerce needs that match the features of available Sitecore e-commerce modules
  • Sites where you want to take full advantage of DMS, ECM, and the other marketing tools from Sitecore
  • Sites where e-commerce is at the heart of the your website experience