Implementing Demandware, Notes from the Front Lines
October 27, 2015
Implementing Demandware, Notes from the Front Lines
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Demandware
I work for an agency and technology firm who designs unique eCommerce storefronts for top name brands and implements them on the Demandware platform. Our core business involves taking the core Demandware offering and customizing it for our clients to meet their business needs, and according to industry best practices. Our parent company is full service eCommerce logistics provider and works extensively with Demandware and a few other major platforms.
- Demandware is a SaaS solution so it not only provides software but a solid infrastructure. As a client-focused software engineer trying to meet challenging needs quickly, it's good to know that I can focus on the business logic without worrying about the "plumbing." The platform is very scalable and tuned for high performance, as long as you follow common sense architecture.
- Demandware has been in development for many years and has a surprisingly large amount of features. Just one example is the rich Campaigns and Promotions feature, which supports a complex number of configurable conditions and business rules. Clients can easily get many kinds of targeted deals and content up and running, with little development effort on my part, and manage the settings themselves via the Business Manager interface. With additional customization, the options are almost limitless.
- I'm impressed with the speed and consistency that Demandware releases new features and updates. Every month there's new functionality that can be leveraged to provide better solutions faster.
- The #1 pain with Demandware as a developer has been Pipelines. Originally development on this platform was designed as a visual drag, drop, and configure model. You would create these logic flows (pipelines) in the visual editor, made up of nodes (pipelets) and connectors. These quickly got out of hand and turned into a spiderweb. Worse they were not like anything that most developers are used to. Pipelines save to XML but the markup was not clean and difficult to merge or diff, to say the least. I guess they were aiming for a more simple model but quickly realized that was not sufficient for real-world applications. To their credit, Demandware recognized this and has been steadily moving toward a clean, pure-code model.
- The benefits of SaaS and the quick release cycle can be a mixed blessing. Features and API's can and do change from time to time. When you're using a platform like this you cannot build it and forget about it. It's not obvious to everyone but you're signing up for some amount of maintenance over time to keep things up to date.
- The platform has a flaw that still hasn't been resolved. Each Demandware customer "realm" has many instances for development, staging, production, etc. All of the instances have their own user accounts and passwords, and you have to log in to each instance separately. It's very frustrating as an admin or developer, though less so to business users who will only need to access one instance. Demandware could really use a Single Sign On!
- Demandware has a marketplace for third-party extensions to add pre-build integrations with other systems. While there is a reasonably broad selection of third-party vendors, I have to point out that the quality of many of these components has been sub-par. There are a few gems but many are clunky and quickly cobbled together, and surely require further investment of time. Demandware needs to do a better job of quality assurance with third-party vendors.
- Demandware provides a strong application platform foundation allowing us to successfully roll out highly tailored solutions with a relatively small technology crew.
- Our clients, in turn, can better serve their customers with modern, responsive storefronts that boost sales.
Demandware is a powerful and feature rich platform but there is also a learning curve. You have to invest time in getting to know the Demandware way and then you can be very successful. So is it worth it? I think it boils down to scale. If you're a larger organization with a complex customer base, one that has the resources to hire or train the right people then it's a great choice. For small companies maybe not so much. Do you really need the rich feature set that Demandware offers or do you just want to get a simple storefront up and running? The overhead may not be worth it for you.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud Feature Ratings
They are very responsive and a support technician will be assigned quickly. Even if there is further clarification needed for the ticket, or a solution is not immediately available, you feel that someone is there and staying on top of the issue. Most common issues are resolved quickly and satisfactorily.
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
Yes - I found a Severity zero--major data loss--bug when using one of the brand new features! It actually took some in-depth discussion because they wouldn't believe me at first, they thought I just wasn't using it correctly. After I explained and proved my case they took me seriously and assigned an engineer to investigate. It took a few weeks but they were able to pinpoint the issue and resolve the problem. They did keep me up to date on the status throughout.