After months of work, my own multi channel store is now live on the best pieces of software available for running an e-commerce store. If you have ever been involved in upgrading an existing e-commerce solution from one software into another then you know that once the new site is launched, then this is actually the starting point for the real work to benefit from the new software.
First of all, a brief presentation of the software components used in running my e-commerce store. The software components are selected for growth and for how to be able to make the most of the store based on some of the basic requirements:
- SEO is and will be the cheapest possible traffic. The platform must fully support us to be really good at doing SEO.
- Content has been and will be one of the things that will attract the most visitors. We have not been able to convert those before, and by using a CXM as a front end, we will be able to do a lot in this area.
- Additional sales channels have been successful where our products are sold on marketplaces or affiliate sites. The solution must fully support the segmentation of feeds for the different additional sales channels and optimize the feeds per sales channel.
- Product Information Managment is the way to work with product information in a multi channel business. This business has an e-commerce store, physical store and B2B customers with a logistics organization to deliver products to local customers.
- The solution must support both the responsible approach for mobile devices as well as the adaptive way to make parts of the pages specific for the smaller devices.
The ERP system
We selected a totally web based ERP-system with an integrated POS-system. This system is also integrated with the PSPs and the logistics systems for TA so that all order management of what has been sold can be managed in one system. This system is also responsible for the process of what to purchase from the suppliers with a partially automated solution with a combination of local stock and suppliers stock.
The E-commerce engine and PIM system
Product Information Management is something that I’ve been working with for more than 15 years now and I know how important it is to have great support for how to take the product information to the next level. Having a multi channel business, the PIM system is the information hub for product information and the products sold are created in the PIM before the ERP system. Working with updating products in bulk and enriching from external content providers has been a very important requirement.
We were very happy to find out that there was one system that was both a really good e-commerce engine with a built in PIM system, the STORM solution used by some of the most successful e-commerce companies in Sweden.
It provides us with a flexible e-commerce backend solution as a true SAAS solution with integrated CDN for assets and a high performance API for customer specific prices, stock status etc. The solution has been proven to be really compatible with the Sitecore Commerce Connect API, which is what I’ve been implementing on top of the STORM e-commerce engine.
The Customer Experience platform Sitecore
Since I first discovered Sitecore for more than 10 years ago, I have always found it to be a great dynamic platform with unique features for how to bring any data model to the web. Since the release of the Commerce Connect API, it has been my preferred solution for building e-commerce solutions. Sitecore comes with an e-commerce engine of it’s own, the Sitecore Commerce Server, but for my case, I was more interested in seeing how a totally different e-commerce engine that is already integrated to the ERP-system could be used in my case, so I selected to go for the generic API instead.
Sitecore brings a lot to the e-commerce stores of the future. SEO will be even more important, and regardless of any personalization support, you still need to have lots and lots of great landing pages that converts the visitors into customers.
What we get with Sitecore is the unique platform to integrate the e-commerce solution of our choice in a standardized way where we can re-use a lot of our front end logic in other future projects even if that customer wish to have another e-commerce solution.
We have selected Nosto as our partner for providing product recommendations. We have selected to go only for Nosto on the product level, based on the way that our category structure works, and I will dive more into the details of this solution in future posts.
What we did here was to create a module on top of the Commerce Connect API to allow Nosto to provide us with product recommendations to extend the personalization features of Sitecore and the logic in STORM.
Customer support and chat
We have already been using Zendesk for our customer support since the previous e-commerce solution. We created an integration to Zendesk API from Sitecore.
Additional Sales Channels
The additional sales channels consume product information through feeds provided by our implementation on top of Sitecore Commerce Connect with a set of different technical solutions for feeds including CSV, JSON and XML.