5 benefits of upgrading to the new WebSphere Commerce starter store

October 06, 2014 Written by NetSphere Category: Websphere Commerce
5 benefits of upgrading to the new WebSphere Commerce starter store

In the past few weeks, some Apple users have been reluctant to upgrade their phones or iPads to the new iOS 8. Their reservations have varied, but many came from folks who were simply content with the previous operating system. On the other side of the coin, millions of others made the switch and are now enjoying new features that improve their overall experience.

No matter the technology upgrade in question, it’s the inherent idea of change that can keep some users complacent to keep their older, but familiar software running. When a certain level of comfort working with technology has been attained, it feels risky to upgrade. But, in most cases, the benefits of upgrading can outweigh the fear of change.   

Take IBM WebSphere Commerce’s new Aurora starter store as an example. Many businesses that have been relying on Madison, the previous starter store, have been slow to migrate to the new storefront. But like the iOS 8, the Aurora starter store comes with a bevy of benefits that will improve the user experience for both business users and online shoppers alike.

One of the primary reasons to move to the Aurora starter store is that it’s designed with the latest web development standards in mind. These new development standards help to ensure that a merchant’s website keeps pace with the latest best practices for design, layout and style sheets as well as support for the newest mobile devices. Not only does using the out-of-the-box features found in the Aurora storefront help merchants stay on the cutting edge, but it also reduces development and support costs since there is less need to customize features required to give the site the look, feel and functionality the merchant requires. 

Here are the top five reasons to migrate from the Madison to the Aurora starter store:

1. Responsive Web Design

Once a site is developed using Responsive Web Design or RWD design principals, when catalog and product pages are viewed on a desktop/laptop, tablet or smartphone device, RWD allows the page to automatically adjust to fit the screen resolution or device size. And any savvy business owner knows that providing a consistent user experience on any device is essential to stay competitive.

2. Development Support

Although business leaders might not be intimately familiar with the Dojo Toolkit, developers will be pleased to hear that the Aurora store supports this new Javascript library, which was designed to streamline web development and make it easier to write code. The WebSphere Commerce Madison store supports Dojo v1.5, whereas the Aurora starter store supports the Dojo code base of v1.8.  The benefits of using a newer Dojo version include new better functionality, faster development times and improved performance.

3. Content Delivery Network Support

Also of great interest to developers: It's much easier in the Aurora starter store to load the Dojo toolkit from a Content Delivery Network or CDN, unlike the older Dojo loader found in the Madison storefront. CDNs are a proven way for merchants to deliver faster load times, and this is incredibly true using the new and improved Dojo AMD loader, which no longer requires special considerations for the cross-domain loading of AMD modules, which are helpful in terms of improving site load times and performance. 

4. Streamlined Development 

For developers working in the Madison storefront, they've been required to execute separate deployments for each separate desktop/laptop, tablet and smartphone store. With the Aurora store, however, a single deployment covers every device. The single deployment results in less complexity as well as reduced development and test times when compared to individually developing device-specific sites for the Madison store.

5. Business User Support

The Commerce Composer, IBM’s page layout tool included in the Aurora starter store, lets business users create pages and build layouts for a merchant’s online storefront without the help of IT. The Commerce Composer features an intuitive interface that is easy to use. When business users can create, modify or delete web pages on their own, time to market is greatly reduced.   

Like any new technology, the bells and whistles often sound intriguing enough to be considered. However, it’s important that each business owner determine for his or herself whether an upgrade is worthwhile according to their unique business needs. Regarding the Aurora starter store, they must ask themselves: Will the use of this tool save on operating costs? Will it improve conversion rates and revenues?

To determine if the promises made by this tool are real, business owners will need to (a) talk to other firms that have used this tool and can provide first-hand experiences of the tool’s merits; (b) install Feature Pack 7 and use the out-of-the-box functionality of the tool to make their own analysis or (c) have a NetSphere Strategies developer formally evaluate the tool and provide the pros and cons of the tool’s usage for their specific business needs.  

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Abbe Miller is the marketing manager at NetSphere Strategies, located just outside Chicago. NetSphere Strategies is a boutique eCommerce company positioned to help businesses transform their online presence by providing a full complement of services that starts with our strategic consulting and creative design teams, then continues with building innovative solutions and providing ongoing post-project support.