A Unified Experience for Content and eCommerce

In today’s world, there are two things that drive the continued growth of the Internet: content and eCommerce. The phrase “content is king” has never been truer; after all, people find you online with great content that ranks well in the major search engines. But if content is king, then eCommerce sits by his side as the queen. However, the union between King Content and Queen eCommerce isn’t always rosy. For many websites, a big problem in the content-eCommerce relationship is that managing content and managing eCommerce is a vastly different experience.

Data This, Data That

Think about the data for content. Items such as titles, headlines, content bodies, section headers, authors, and revisions are just some of the common components. Contrast that with eCommerce data where products, catalogs, prices, SKUs, gift cards, promotions, payments, shipping, billing, orders, and taxes are at the forefront. With the data sets being so different between content and eCommerce, products built around managing that data do so from different points of view. Content management systems are all about writing large amounts of text, while eCommerce systems take a more spreadsheet-like approach (albeit a very complex spreadsheet). Because of this, rarely will you find a platform that handles both equally well, which is why there are separate market segments for content management systems and eCommerce systems.

Experience Is Everything

What this is really all about is the entire user experience. The nature of their data dictates that the experience for managing content is different from the experience for managing eCommerce. For many companies, this also means additional personnel and training. And that translates to more cost. But does it always have to be that way? Can the two be brought together in a seamless, unified experience?

Hard At Work

At Znode, that’s a question we’ve been working hard to answer for most of this year. We know that content and eCommerce go hand-in-hand, and with Sitecore being the clear leader in the .NET enterprise CMS space, we set out to provide a solution that makes people feel at home managing eCommerce data in the Sitecore environment. Native integration with an eCommerce platform is the one piece Sitecore has been missing – until now. The Znode Commerce Engine for Sitecore fills this gap with a completely integrated solution that unifies Sitecore’s Customer Engagement Platform with Znode’s Multifront eCommerce platform. The experience between managing content and managing eCommerce in Sitecore is now the same.

True Integration

We’re not throwing around the words “integration” and “unified” loosely, as we aren’t simply talking about embedded iframes within Sitecore. We’re talking about Sitecore users and developers feeling at home in the environment that they’re used to working in. As the Znode Commerce Engine for Sitecore was developed, keeping a consistent and expected Sitecore user experience was paramount to its overall design. If something felt too “non-Sitecore”, then it was reworked until it had that at-home feel. The result is a deep integration between the Sitecore CEP and Znode Multifront that gives users a seamless workflow for managing their content and eCommerce catalog.

The API Is Where It’s At

The key to this tight integration is the Znode API. The Znode API is an extremely robust RESTful set of services that allows you to integrate the Znode Multifront platform with nearly any application. The Znode API exposes all data and functionality required to build a highly scalable eCommerce solution, in this case, the Znode Commerce Engine for Sitecore.

Data Flow Made Easy

The component in the Znode Commerce Engine for Sitecore that utilizes the Znode API is the Znode Data Connector, which allows you to easily map and translate data between the Sitecore CEP and Znode Multifront. The connector can even be extended to map data from other back office systems, thus making overall integration even better.

Just the Beginning

And we’re just getting started. As good as the Znode Commerce Engine for Sitecore is now, there are big plans in the works to continue to raise the bar when it comes to managing content and eCommerce together. Like we said, the experience is everything, and we’re working closely with Sitecore to ensure users and developers continue to get the unified experience they deserve. For a brief demonstration on data importing and mapping for the Znode/Sitecore connector, watch the Multifront Sitecore Connector Overview video. To learn more about the Znode/Sitecore unified content and eCommerce experience, download the Enterprise eCommerce Integration for the Sitecore CEP Platform Infographic.

Photo by Sean MacEntee