This article is an introduction to SFCC, right from “why” it exists, “what” it is & “how” it works. It’s aimed at anyone aspiring to be an SFCC developer. This is the first in a series of articles that explore SFCC from a technical perspective.
WHY SFCC Exists:
In the good ol’ days, when a business wanted to sell its products online, the obvious way to go, was to set up a website & showcase all products. Maintaining this website entailed a lot of challenges:
- Refreshing the product catalog periodically, as the business adds or removes products
- Maintaining product pricing in a way that allows for easy updates in response to market forces (This gets especially tricky if the website deals in multiple currencies.)
- Keeping the product inventory up-to-date, especially for fast moving stock
- Offering discounts on products or to specific customers
- Running site-wide sales, seasonal promotions or other marketing campaigns
- Integration with payment gateways
- Managing customer data & ongoing compliance with regional user data protection policies
- Order management & order processing, including payment modes, EMIs, order export to warehouses, etc.
- Integration with social networks for marketing campaigns
- Support for user ratings & reviews
- Providing customer service
- Integration with brick-and-mortar stores – buy online & pick-up from store.
Clearly, these activities are far from trivial & require an army of developers, testers, analysts, marketers, etc., to keep the site up & running. As the e-commerce industry matured, numerous toolkits & frameworks emerged to facilitate these tasks. SFCC is one of them. But SFCC took this to the next step by not only providing a comprehensive e-commerce solution, but even taking the entire infra to the cloud, hence the name “commerce cloud”.
WHAT is SFCC:
SFCC is an e-commerce solution. What that means is that SFCC provides tools, framework & infra that you can leverage, to build an e-commerce website from the ground up. Not just that, since SFCC is a cloud hosted solution, it’ll even host your website for you, so you don’t have to pay for & maintain expensive hardware onsite.
HOW SFCC Works:
Once you have an SFCC account, you get access to several resources on the SFCC cloud. One of these resources is a collection of “instances”. Think of an instance as a cloud hosted VM that hosts your site.
Instances are of four types:
- The production instance hosts your production site. This is the live site that’s accessed by your customers from all over the world.
- The staging instance is where merchandisers create & manage site data: products, pricing, inventory, campaigns, etc.
- The development instance is where QAs test a new feature or a defect fix, before it’s deployed on production.
- Sandboxes are where developers write code & test it, before being sent for QA. Each developer gets a sandbox.
Each instance gets a copy of the website. This website in SFCC terminology is called a “storefront”. There is only one instance of types Production, Staging & Development each. However, there can be many instances of the Sandbox type.
All in all, SFCC is a pretty neat solution for your e-commerce needs. Their shared revenue model makes it especially attractive to many small businesses. In many ways, it has earned its well-deserved title of being the world’s #1 enterprise cloud commerce platform.
“Harish KM is a consultant at Systems Plus. The content of this blog is personal & for information purposes only, and is subject to change. Reader discretion is advised”