Connective DX

Technology Hands on with Sitecore & commerce

The Sitecore New England User Group welcomed Sitecore MVP Nick Wesselman Wednesday night for a presentation on Active Commerce’s capabilities. Being a developer-centric user group, this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill sales PowerPoint. Nick did a live demonstration (on Sitecore 8 no less) for standing up a basic Active Commerce storefront and digging into the code behind the product.

Active Commerce was born out of Hanson Dodge Creative, a Wisconsin-based agency focused on the active lifestyle space. Nick and team started building Active Commerce in 2011, launching it at Sitecore Symposium in 2012. Nick says it started out as an internal tool kit and has grown to support 20 customers at the end of 2014.

Sitecore MVP Nick Wesselman walks through a basic storefront setup in Sitecore 8.
Sitecore MVP Nick Wesselman walks through a basic storefront setup in Sitecore 8.

Commerce is a hot topic within the Sitecore community right now, as many organizations are looking for a solution that pairs well with the CMS. We have numerous enterprise clients currently evaluating commerce products. Active Commerce often shows up on initial short lists along with other .NET-based solutions like InsiteCommerce, uCommerce, and Sitecore’s own Commerce Server (which it acquired last year). Of course, it’s also possible (and common) to integrate Sitecore with other enterprise commerce platforms.

Active Commerce’s differentiator, according to Nick, is that it’s the only truly native option for Sitecore.

Basic ecommerce setup

In the meeting, Nick ran through a basic ecommerce setup to create a bookstore, showing how it could pull in external data and be easily skinned with different front end markup. He walked through what he said are “four easy steps” to get commerce up and running:

  1. Model product data
  2. Configure rules
  3. Skin site
  4. Integrate with external systems

I appreciated that he made it a point to say that this, of course, isn’t this easy, and there’s a lot of work it takes to get commerce right, with any platform.

There was a lively discussion about commerce and Sitecore with the 25+ people at the meetup. Folks in attendance included both agencies working to integrate commerce for their clients and end customers at organizations evaluating or maintaining platforms.

The only real tension of the evening came when Nick decided to flash Green Bay Packers colors as a template option and suggested that our hometown Patriots got lucky by not facing the Packers in the SuperBowl. That’s a dangerous talking point to trot out in Beantown.

I couldn’t stick around for the drinks after the talk, but I’m sure the conversation over beers continued to discuss the inner workings of commerce APIs, Sitecore frameworks, and code libraries. This user group doesn’t mess around on getting into the details.

The Sitecore New England User Group has 460+ members and typically meets monthly. Stay up to date on future meetings at the group’s meetup page.

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