Never heard about Microsoft's Commerce Server and want a quick overview? This post is for you.
Commerce Server (previously known as Merchant Server and Site Server) is Microsoft's product for building e-commerce systems. The latest version is Commerce Server 2009.
Microsoft Commerce Server 2009 provides a comprehensive solution for many business scenarios, including:
· Business-to-consumer (B2C) sales of tangible or digital goods or online service delivery.
· Business-to-business (B2B) scenarios, such as e-procurement and trading communities.
· B2X scenarios, combining Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B).
· Self service portals using catalogs, profiles, or content targeting for personalized information delivery.
So what does it all mean?
The following diagram explains the Microsoft's Commerce Server 2009 world:
There are four core components in Commerce Server :
Orders & Inventory
The Orders & Inventory system is responsible for tracking orders made by customers. The server can link with external systems that track inventory for a business so that inventory information is kept up-to-date and communicate with the appropriate parties when inventory runs low to indicate that it's time for new stock to be ordered. Business users are able to determine what "low" is through a management tool which lets them set inventory thresholds and get reports on product sales according to whatever metrics are desired, using Microsoft SQL Server Analytics.
A company's products are intended to be described in the Catalog system. The products, the categories they belong to ,and relationships with other products are tracked by Commerce Server . A configurable metadata system enable the server to address any kind of merchant scenario.
Managing promotions on a website can become a task unto itself, but the server addresses this web-trend by distilling the index operations associated with online advertising into a finite collection of functions. These let the business user manage ads and set rules that determine the conditions under which specific ads appear.
Almost every commercial website today makes an effort to personalize the content for an individual shopper. Its Profile system can do everything from tracking a shopper's product preferences, to tailoring the website presentation for the individual user.
A Commerce Server's logical architecture would look something like that :
Multi-Channel Commerce Foundation
The MCF is the programming model for developing Commerce Server applications. It's a new feature in Commerce 2009 that simplifies all development to the core components.
MCF introduces a new object model that encapsulate all the commerce entities, so basically developing with catalog, profile or orders shouldn't make a difference to the developer.
For example a query for retrieving any commerce entity should look something like this :
var query = new CommerceQuery<CommerceEntity>("UserProfile");
query.SearchCriteria.Model.Properties["Email"] = "email@example.com";
CommerceResponse response = OperationService.ProcessRequest(base.GetCurrentRequestContext(), query.ToRequest());
<CommerceEntity> can be a product , customer's profile, customer's basket or an order form.
All commerce entities implement the commerce entity interface, here's the main object model:
Pipelines and Operation sequences components
Pipelines and operation sequences components describe each of the entities' workflows and can be extended easily via
Business User Applications
Commerce server comes with out-of-the-box desktop application that can be extended if needed.
Those applications are for content managers and system administrators. Those application includes the catalog manager, Catalog and inventory schema manager,
Marketing manager and the customer and orders manger.
Everything about Commerce server content can be managed for these applications. Here's a screen shot of the catalog manager:
Commerce Server and SharePoint 2010
Now that's Microsoft product integration at its best. Commerce server 2009 includes the "SharePoint Commerce Services" for MOSS and SharePoint 2010.
This include a full out-of-the-box SharePoint site template and 30 different web parts, so you can build a rich content e-commerce application.
if you're a medium-large organization thinking about creating a e-commerce application, you should consider Commerce Server 2009. The MCF is a great framework for developers, the user business application gives the content manager full control on everything from managing the catalog to setting marketing campaigns and promotions and you can all that SharePoint has to offer.