What’s New in Sitecore Commerce 8.1

A few weeks back we quietly shipped Sitecore® Commerce 8.1, which is now available for download from https://dev.sitecore.net/en/Downloads/Sitecore_Commerce.aspx.

This is an all-up release featuring our entire portfolio of Commerce products, including:
• Commerce Server 11.3 for those continuing with the standalone product
• Sitecore Commerce powered by Commerce Server 8.1
• SItecore Commerce powered by Microsoft Dynamics 8.1
• Sitecore Commerce Connect 8.1

With this post, we wanted to highlight some of the major new capabilities.


Significant Usability Enhancements for Merchandising Manager

We have substantially enhanced the experience for business users for those using SCpbCS 8.1 or CS 11.3. First and foremost is the Bulk Editing capabilities, which allow:
• Selection of multiple products or categories through all supported means
• Editing of attributes or relationships in bulk through a consolidated editing surface
• Comprehensive application of changes with inline validation

With this change, Merchandisers can now work much more efficiently at scale and we are pleased to deliver on an outstanding request for many customers over the years.

Also in v8.1 of Merchandising Manager is the ability to have two-way relationships at the time of relationship creation. So, for example when associating a battery to a product, you can also associate that product with the battery to maximize cross- and up-selling scenarios.


Experience Profile is now Commerce-enabled

For customers using SCpbCS 8.1 or SCpbMD 8.1, we have now fully enabled the Sitecore@ Experience Profile™ to showcase commerce specific metrics. You can now see such things as:
• Cart removals
• Lists of orders placed
• List of abandoned carts
• Metrics for the current visitor view (e.g. total order sum, average order value, etc.)
• Most popular products by customer
• Individual order and cart details
• And more!


PuP is dead! And a big welcome to PowerShell…

PowerShell is indeed the new black. We have introduced a series of PowerShell scripts and NuGet packages to streamline the deployment of SCpbCS 8.1, CS 11.3, and SCpbMD 8.1. You can now perform such tasks as:
• Individually configuring subsystems instead of everything
• Managing Sites and Web Services
• Having configuration removed from the Web.config to simplify environment management

This, coupled with updated deployment documentation, should make the installation, configuration, and deployment experience far simpler than it was in any previous release.


Other Deployment Enhancements

Deploying via Azure PaaS through the Sitecore Azure 8.1 module is now supported for SCpbCS 8.1, which can be deployed in the Azure Module’s Web Roles and by provisioning the additional Sitecore Commerce databases to SQL Azure V12.

We also have made the dependency upon Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MSDTC) optional to enable high availability deployments when working with SQL Azure or SQL Server in IaaS, etc.


Additional Enhancements for SItecore Commerce powered by Microsoft Dynamics

We have added several key capabilities to the SCpbMD 8.1 release specifically, including:
• Profile Provider, which will allow the personalization in Sitecore upon attributes stored in the user profiles within Microsoft Dynamics AX itself
• Support for multiple AX Retail Channels within the Transaction Service, which will allow multiple channels to be supported within the same Sitecore Commerce deployment versus requiring multiple deployments as was the case in 8.0.
• Support for AX2012 R3 CU9 as the out-of-box default version; support for CU10 will be coming in a subsequent KB article along with any other CUs released prior to Sitecore Commerce 8.2.