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Taking a Deep Dive into Adobe Experience Manager’s Commerce Integration Framework

This post is the first in a series that will take a deep dive into the Commerce Integration Framework (CIF) — a powerful Adobe Experience Manager extension for building integrated and seamless content and e-commerce experiences for customers at every stage of their journey with your brand.

Digital transformation of content and e-commerce customers

Digital transformation is a continuous process with the goal of becoming an ever more agile company capable of delivering personalized customer experiences seamlessly across all the channels in the customer journey.

Most companies begin this journey with separate brand and e-commerce experiences. Merchants own the e-commerce functions, and marketers build the brand’s online presence with brand pages and marketing content. At this stage, the first priorities for merchants are to create a frictionless shopping experience — providing accurate product data and product recommendations and making order management and fulfillment smooth and easy.

Once online shopping is successfully established, companies start pivoting their priorities towards customer experiences. Marketing wants ownership of the customer experience and marketing content, while IT will define (mostly hard coded) content areas that marketers can manage using a typical page editor or content management system (CMS).

Typical content use-cases might be enhancements of product experiences with rich media or management of marketing content on the landing page. While this content-enrichment adds marketing content to the e-commerce experience, the content itself is usually not aware of the e-commerce context and vice versa, meaning that neither can respond to new information about a customer’s content preferences or shopping behavior. As a result, the opportunity to personalize and optimize content is untapped. This separation usually exists because both solutions run in silos with content authors working in each of them separately, often at the same time with both solutions open in separate browser tabs.

It isn’t until a company is able to break down the wall between their content and e-commerce that it can achieve the “Zen” state of providing a seamless customer journey across all channels. This is a state in which every moment and experience is personalized and shoppable for the customer. In the backend, marketers have full control of the customer experience and are able to work efficiently with access to commerce-relevant data when needed. And, through more streamlined processes, IT teams are no longer required for everyday tasks related to marketing and e-commerce and are instead able to focus more on innovation.

Content and e-commerce with Adobe Experience Manager

The technology requirements for reaching this Zen state depend on your specific use cases and where you are in your digital transformation. These requirements will also change as your company becomes more digitally mature making it critical to have a technology stack that supports both your digital transformation and the vision you have for the kinds of customer experiences you want to deliver.

The risk with adopting short-term solutions is that, as the company becomes more digitally mature, it “outgrows” the solution, requiring it to be replaced when its limitations become too painful. Not only is this expensive, it also carries a significant cost in terms of reduced innovation as IT teams are repeatedly required to retool when a new solution is adopted.

Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service is a leading content management system (CMS) that provides optimal support for every phase in your digital transformation. It is, by design, built for transformation and is able to grow with your company’s digital maturity. Emerging channels and business opportunities are supported with a rich set of capabilities and agile continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) concepts. For content and e-commerce, Adobe Experience Manager’s Cloud Service provides a foundation for accelerated growth that allows you to:

  • Scale and innovate faster — Leverage out-of-the-box connector to any number of existing commerce engines to bring shoppable experiences to every step of the customer’s journey using the latest features available.
  • Offer personalized experiences at scale — Collect and track user behavior with an out-of-the-box pre-integrated data hydration layer available in the Commerce Integration Framework (CIF) extension to create personalized promotions and recommendations.
  • Create and deliver optimized reusable content — Create reusable content and promotions for use across any channel or device including traditional channels and emerging channels.
  • Create differentiated customer experiences — With unified content and ecommerce author, you can create dynamic media that makes your e-commerce experiences stand out.

Adobe Experience Manager’s Commerce Integration Framework unifies content creation and e-commerce

Adobe Experience Manager increases your ROI by enabling differentiated experiences through a pre-built commerce connector/flexible integration layer that combines immersive, omnichannel and personalized experiences you build within Adobe Experience Manager with e-commerce solutions to drive conversions anywhere and at scale.

To create a typical content and e-commerce experience, you would integrate Adobe Experience Manager with your e-commerce solution of choice. Adobe Experience Manager is responsible for content creation and delivery. Content creation is in many cases delivery agnostic — content may be delivered through a single platform (headful) or multiple platforms (headless (PWA) deployment).

The e-commerce solution is responsible for delivering an experience-relevant product catalog data, which is usually achieved with a product information management (PIM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system integrated with the e-commerce solution. The e-commerce solution must also support transactional use cases (e.g. shopping cart, wish list, and checkout) and related customer data (e.g. profile and account information).

CIF connects and unifies content creation in Adobe Experience Manager and e-commerce.

With Adobe’s Commerce Integration Framework (CIF) — an Adobe Experience Manager extension — content creators for every touchpoint have access to e-commerce data, allowing them to build integrated and seamless content and e-commerce experiences for customers at every stage of their journey with your brand. The CIF extension provides a rich set of tools and code for both front-end and back-end teams built to support experience-driven e-commerce.

CIF was built to standardize commerce integrations and enable experience-driven e-commerce with tools, code and patterns that follow e-commerce best practices. With Adobe Experience Manager and CIF, brands can now build a scalable, fast, and stable exchange-to-exchange (E2E) foundation to simultaneously achieve several benefits, including:

  • Unlocking the power of experience-driven e-commerce with seamless and personalized customer journey from awareness to post-purchase.
  • Continuous innovation — CIF is built to accelerate growth, digital maturity and innovation with monthly updates of new features and improvements.
  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and faster time to value (TTV) with a rich set of commerce features that provide production-ready code and efficient authoring tools for everyday tasks.
  • Scalability and performance with an architecture that provides a sustainable and scalable foundation to support growth with cloud agility. CIF is built for a complex and evolving ecosystem with a focus on flexibility and performance.

CIF Key Capabilities

Since its first release in 2013, CIF has been extended and improved many times to keep pace with constantly changing technologies and the challenges they create. In 2018, CIF was rewritten to become more customer centric with a focus on business and IT and to reflect modern software principles. Adobe continues to develop CIF, releasing monthly updates to provide new features, improvements, and bug fixes.

The capabilities CIF provides create multiple value streams for brands engaging in e-commerce.

Key value streams that CIF creates for brands.

Product experience management tools enable content creators working with Adobe Experience Manager to augment product data with rich content that has its own lifecycle and workflow support. Product data is also seamlessly embedded in the backend UI, allowing authors to quickly find and use relevant information without leaving their context.

The standardized integration layer integrates third-party e-commerce solutions in a flexible and microservice-like based architecture on Adobe I/O Runtime with the Adobe Experience Cloud. This separate layer encapsulates and centralizes the integration in one place, keeping other systems free and lean of implementation logic.

Production-ready code, patterns, and best practices for development accelerates projects by increasing code quality and reducing custom development. The Venia Storefront with its CIF Core Components reflects Adobe Experience Manager’s best practices to build a great experience foundation for your project.

Headless and omnichannel commerce experiences ensure that headless (e.g PWA) and other emerging channels can consume content and experiences created by Adobe Experience Managers.

Unlock the power of content and commerce experiences

No matter where you are in your digital transformation journey, Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service provides the right foundation for your long-term growth and can significantly accelerate your vision for the ideal customer experience you want to deliver.

With the CIF add-on for Adobe Experience Manager you can unlock the power of content and e-commerce experiences to build immersive experiences in an efficient way with less custom code and maintenance.

In our next blog, we will illustrate with a typical E2E architecture how easy it is to set up and configure CIF for Adobe Experience Manager Cloud Service for your local development environment.

Follow the Adobe Tech Blog for more developer stories and resources, and check out Adobe Developers on Twitter for the latest news and developer products.

Resources

  1. Adobe Experience Manager
  2. Adobe Experience Manager Cloud Service
  3. Introduction to Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service
  4. Adobe Experience Manager Content and Commerce
  5. AEM and Third Party Commerce Integration using Commerce Integration Framework
  6. Introducing Adobe Experience Manager’s New Headless Extension for Adobe Commerce PWA Studio
  7. Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service
  8. Adobe Experience Manager Web Content Management
  9. Headless Agility to Power Exceptional Experiences Everywhere
  10. Create Omnichannel Experiences that Connect the Shopping Dots
  11. Adobe I/O Runtime

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Markus Haack

Markus Haack

I'm a software engineer, passionate about Home Assistant and automating our house. In my professional life I’m working on commerce and content topics at Adobe.

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