With the introduction of JECIS, a new area in building commerce driven Experiences has begun.
JECIS is a full-fledged E-Commerce Framework that is added as an extension to JCR-based CMS solutions like Adobe AEM, Magnolia, Jahia, Peregrine, etc. The main purpose of such a commerce framework is to provide additional commerce functionality, but at the same time let the author retain all capabilities of the CMS to build such commerce experiences.
In this blog I will cover the many advantages of an E-Commerce framework compared to the traditional, but tidiuos CMS/E-Commerce integration process.
1. Some Background
Selling products over the Internet led to many vendors building and offering E-Commerce solutions. These solutions focus heavily on managing and maintaing products, clients, orders and more. They are all application-driven with services to read/write product data to and from an RDMBS. All these systems lack of meaningful capabilities to build commerce-centric Web sites. It requires a lot of engineering to not only build the sites, but especially to maintain them.
On the other hand we have CMS solutions. The purpose of a CMS is to provide a solution for authors and marketers to create a Web experience, fast. In many cases authors can create pages with templates and populate content directly onto the pages. The advantage is that time-to-market for content updates and new pages is very short and do not require IT involvement.
Today the market sells perfect CMS and perfect E-Commerce solutions. However, these diverse and historically grown concepts make it close to impossible to work together without any heavy lifting and many compromises on both side.
It is obvious that to overcome these obstacles one or the other system will need a major overhaul. But neither of both vendor-sides is willing to do that. This is where JECIS, the E-Commerce Framework, comes into play.
2. The Ideal Solution - Use a CMS to build Commerce Experiences
The objective of the JECIS initiative was to find a solution that allows managing products, clients, orders, etc. with an E-Commerce-like product, but at the same time be able to use the CMS capabilities to build commerce experiences.
The other important objective with JECIS is to follow the concept of a content-centric approach. The more a Web experience is based on content, the more control do marketers have. The future will be putting solutions like a CMS or analytics in the hand of authors/marketers.
Such content-centric CMS solutions are Adobe AEM, Magnolia, Jahia, Peregrine and more.
The big advantage of these CMS is that their content is managed by an API, the Content Repository API for Java Technology, aka JCR content repository.
The solution to all these requirements is to build JECIS as an E-Commerce framework for JCR-compliant CMS solutions.
3. What is an E-Commerce Framework?
A content-centric E-Commerce framework extends the underlaying APIs of a CMS with functionality/libraries by adding commerce related content and functionality. Developers can use these additional APIs to build templates/components. Authors will not notice the difference between "normal" and "commerce" content. Such a framework is usually encapsulated behind the content creation process, but at the same time provides all the necessary commerce functionality. Such a framework extends the CMS to be something like a "Commerce CMS". By adding an encapsulated E-Commerce framework to a CMS the result is the most modern solution to build commerce experiences.
JECIS is precisely such an E-Commerce framework. JECIS is installed into the CMS and immediately unleashes the power of E-Commerce to the CMS.
The JECIS E-Commerce framework consists of a powerful API, JECIS, and JIM, a browser-based Web site to manage commerce content.
Authors will use JIM to create the commerce content and at the same time developers will create templates, components and functionality using the JECIS API.
It becomes obvious that there are many advantages over the traditional CMS/E-Commerce integration approach. The capabilities of an E-Commerce framework like JECIS are so eminent that considering an integration with a traditional E-Commerce solution will not be an option anymore.
4. Advantages of an E-Commerce Framework vs. E-Commerce Integration
In the area before the introduction of JECIS, CMS developers had to build their own commerce code or, a more common practice, integrate with and connect to an existing E-Commerce solution. The idea behind such integrations is to have access to the functionality and data of full-fledged commerce solutions by means of connectors. These integrations however come at high costs. Integrating this functionality into a CMS driven experience is tidious, not really author friendly and very expensive in development and maintenance. Furthermore many of the CMS specific capabilities cannot be used.
An E-Commerce framework like JECIS will eliminate all the disadvantages of an integration and at the same time allow authors to rely on the strong capabilities of the CMS.
Following are some selected advantages of an E-Commerce framework like JECIS over traditional CMS integrations.
4.1 Content Centric
Engaging Web experiences rely on compelling content. Content-Centric CMS solutions are designed to delegate content responsibilities to authors and marketers. An E-Commerce framework like JECIS typically incorporates these principles, delegating all commerce content responsibilities to authors and marketers, within the boundaries of the CMS. In an application-centric concept engineers build the solution driven by functionality, not content, leaving little space for authors/marketers to control the flow of the Web experience.
More about content-centric solutions: Build Content-Centric Solutions
4.2 An E-Commerce Framework is primarily an API
A framework consists of an API system to provide the additional functionality. Because a JCR-compliant CMS already consists of an API to manage content, the JECIS API is a fantastic extension to provide full-fledged E-Commerce capabilities. By adding the JECIS API to the class library of the CMS developers have immediate access to a full-fledged set of E-Commerce capabilities.
4.3 Manage Commerce Content with the CMS, not an external Tool
An E-Comerce framework usually consists of just the API to manage commerce content. JECIS installs with JIM, a comprehensive, browser-based Web site to create and manage all commerce content. JIM is built with the templates, components and dialogs of the CMS. JIM is content-centric and therefore can be extended and updated easily.
4.4 Content is separated from Layout and Functionality
Separation of content from layout and functionality is a powerful feature of any JCR-based CMS. Even though authors create content on a Web page, such content is stored independently of layout and functionality. An E-Commerce framework uses the CMS to create and manage content and hence all commerce content is stored independently of layout and functionality as well. This concept allows to share and distribute content among multiple layers and channels. Such concepts are known as "headless".
Another important feature is that content managed by the JCR API does not get lost should the framework ever be removed from the CMS.
4.5 Hierarchical Content Structure
The JCR Content Repository organizes all content in a hierarchical structure. This content model has many advantages over traditional RDBMS solutions:
- Direct access to all content elements and fast navigation through individual branches.
- True scalibility - add content nodes and properties dynamically, on demand.
- Full-text search, versioning and other services out-of-the-box.
- Headless content model, distribute content among channels using REST architecture.
These advantages count of course for commerce content as well.
4.6 No difference between "General" and "Commerce" Content
Everything is content! Authors create content on pages or by using JIM, the browser-based commerce management site. From an author/marketer perspective there is no difference between general and commerce content. A huge advantage for marketers that do storyscaping and then want to control the transformation of user stories to a compelling and successful digital experience.
4.7 Based on Standards
An E-Commerce framework extends the CMS capabilities. JECIS is based on the same standards (JCR API, scripting languages, Java) as the CMS. This makes it easier for clients to find qualified developers.
4.8 Low Cost Licensing
It is a significant difference if you acquire a costly E-Commerce license or if you acquire a framework license. The CMS providers sell multiple frameworks, often at a fraction of the CMS costs.
JECIS is subscription based containing SLA-0 support. This model allows clients to invest in a compelling, successful solution rather than expensive licenses.
4.9 No New Product to Learn or Maintain
Frameworks typically extend the underlaying CMS. The advantage is obvious: no new products need to be learned and no additional maintenance and support for a 3rd party solution need to be acquired.
In addition, an E-Commerce framework like JECIS takes full advantage of all CMS capabilities.
4.10 No Additional Infrastructure Required
An E-Commerce framework runs as an extension within the CMS software stack. The advantage is that no additional infrastructure is required. There is also no new installation/configuration/support needed, like with a 3rd party E-Commerce product.
4.11 No New Development Practices Required
JECIS API is relying on the Jackrabbit or CRX content repository API. No new coding languages needed, all templates/components/dialogs are created with the usual CMS concepts.
No specialized developers/architects needed. Create the commerce experience with the same team and same skill level as for any common Web experience.
4.12 No Integration
It's common to try to avoid any integration with 3rd party solutions. Integrations typically add considerable complexity to a project, but they also have an impact on the capabilities of both solutions. By going with an E-Commerce framework these integration hassles are completely eliminated.
4.13 Hybrid Page Creation
Modern CMS solutions populate content directly on a Web page. E-Commerce solutions on the other side follow a Single Page Application approach. An E-Commerce framework enables a CMS to use both page concepts and mingle general and commerce content. Creating commerce content using components is done directly on the page, product details are loaded to a single page following SPA concepts.
4.14 Significantly reduced Development Time
One of the main advantages of an E-Commerce framework is that there is no need to hassle with integration configurations or writing tons of micro services to retrieve commerce data and functionality. After installing JECIS authors can use JIM to immediately start creating their commerce content and developers can create templates and components using the JECIS API. This will reduce development time significantly on many levels. We compared two projects and noticed a development time reduction of 40% to 50%.
4.15 Significantly Lower Costs
Considerably lower development time, no third party E-Commerce solution needed, no additional specialized resources needed - there are many factors responsible to lower initial and perpetual costs significantly. This is valid for JECIS as well. In fact, the subscription based licensing concept of JECIS will reduce initial and perpetual costs even more, compared to acquiring and integrating a third party E-Commerce solution.
5. See It! Feel It! Try It!
The best way to evaluate the content of this blog is to evaluate JECIS. Request a trial version of JECIS or better yet, request a demo and let us show you how you can leverage your commerce experience project with JECIS.