Version 11 - fondly referred to as #kenticostallion on twitter - will bring updates to e-commerce in November the likes of which I’ve seldom seen in the 10+ years I’ve been implementing digital solutions with Kentico. (And let's face it, somebody NEEDED to reference this classic Spinal Tap scene 😁.)
Not only have they fundamentally rewritten the Kentico e-commerce calculation engine, but also, for the very first time, they're offering customers the option of integrating with a third-party e-commerce platform: UCommerce.
Let’s start with that engine rewrite…
Bye-bye Provider Model, hello Dependency Injection
No two e-commerce projects are the same. Of course, there are implementation trends and user experience similarities. Pretty sure everyone by now has mastered browsing products, adding something to their cart, checking out and (tell me I’m not the only one doing this) making sure they get the order shipped to the office because someone at home thinks you order online faaaar too often.
The main differences with e-commerce projects are as follows:
- Managing product information. SKUs can come for all sorts of wonderful back office systems.
- Calculating order totals. This little equation usually opens up Pandora's box. How is pricing calculated for SKUs? Do different types of shopper get different prices? How is shipping estimated? What about tax? Any custom business logic?
- Sharing order info between systems. Sorry, you want me to connect with what ERP?
To handle these scenarios, you need to extend Kentico; e.g., build a bridge to another system for pricing rules, integrate with a new shipping handler, etc. You could always do this in Kentico using what they referred to as the customizable provider model. From a development perspective that model was getting a little dated and wasn’t the easiest thing to test. There were also parts of the e-commerce engine that your couldn’t extend very easily, which sometimes added a lot of cost to implementations.
It’s this model - how you extend Kentico e-commerce with custom calculation logic - that version 11 has now completely rewritten. The limited provider model is out, and a new, interface driven, dependency injection approach is in. With version 11, you can customize any aspect of the e-commerce engine your project requires. Cue the diagram to make developers go “ooooh” and “aaaah". Here you can see all the areas of the calculation engine that can be customized to fit your particular needs.
There are so many other great, new things coming to native Kentico 11 e-commerce. If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out #kenticostallion on twitter.
Kentico 😘 Ucommerce
The technology partnership program that Kentico introduced some years back has delivered many exciting third party extensions to the platform. Continuing with the theme of extending Kentico e-commerce, version 11 will go one step further and let you entirely replace Kentico e-commerce with another solution - Ucommerce.
Ucommerce is a global company with extensive e-commerce smarts. They have over 3,000 e-commerce solutions worldwide. The platform they develop is a leading .Net based e-commerce solution that integrates with other CMS systems e.g. SiteCore, Umbraco and - come November 2017 - Kentico EMS.
You'll hear the industry term “commerce-first”, which basically means that this is all they do is - that is, focus on building the best e-commerce platform they can. Given that Kentico, much like its competitors, juggles CMS, e-commerce and digital marketing development, it makes sense to open the platform to specialists like Ucommerce.
However, don’t think of this as an upgrade. You don’t upgrade your Kentico version 10 site to 11 and suddenly find your existing Kentico store switched over to Ucommerce. It’s a total replacement. You use Kentico e-commerce or Ucommerce. Not both.
The fun part for ecentricarts will be to deep dive on extensions such as UCommerce so that we can best advise when options such as these should be used over native Kentico features. We’re still doing our homework.
These go to 11
Whether it's with the new and improved native e-commerce engine, or the "commerce first" approach of Ucommerce, ecom gigs on Kentico look ready for the challenges of even the most complex online stores.
Now about those amps that go to 11...