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The way we shop has been changing for years, but the pace of change has never been so fast. During COVID-19 crisis, it was not uncommon to see a surge of +50% to 150% of worldwide online retail revenue. We are seeing digital commerce at a scale we never imagined and it's been awesome to work with our customers to meet their growing demand. Rapid ecommerce growth has also accentuated the need for more connected and convenient shopping experiences, and its critical to have the platform and capabilities in place to keep up with this pace of change.

In our recent platform updates we continue to focus on helping retailers and brands accelerate their transformation and gain from new opportunities as the market continues to evolve so quickly. Following are some of the highlights from our recent platform releases.

Orckestra Commerce Cloud 4.3

Omnichannel fulfillment and global shipping carrier integration

Having visibility of all our inventory and being able to fulfill orders from anywhere continues to be a high priority for omnichannel retail. We are helping global retailers more easily leverage all their stores to fulfill online orders, no matter what ecommerce platform they use. In our most recent releases, we make it easier for employees using our Fulfillment App to handle the shipping carrier booking and related documentation as part of the standard pick/pack/ship workflow. This includes:

  • Streamlined process for carrier integration: The booking flow was optimized for booking a parcel pickup, and all documentation (packing slip and shipping labels) can now be printed in one step.
  • Integration for broad shipping carrier support in Europe: We have completed our integration with Transsmart in Europe. This enables us to connect to all European shipping carriers they directly through our platform. Retailers operating in different countries can now have access to all the carriers they need via our platform. 

Improved store time slot reservation for order fulfillment

Certain retailers, like grocers for example, allow customers to select the store that they want to shop from and the date and time for their orders to be delivered or picked up in store. Since grocery stores can only fulfill a certain number of orders within X hours, fulfillment time slots need to be managed in an optimal way. In this release, we have improved the platform's time slot management capabilities and made it easier to integrate time slot management into the online shopping experience.

In the context of online grocery, time-slot management allows you to:

  • Define available time slots for customers to reserve
  • Set and manage limits on the number of orders that can be fulfilled for each store per time slot
  • Manage customers’ time slots reservations for both pick-up and home delivery orders
Timeslot Reservation for Delivery and Pickup

New Reference Storefront (aka RefApp) Features

While our platform is often used as a headless platform, we are actually ‘head-optional’, providing our customers the option of using our Digital Commerce Experience Management (DCXM) to build their commerce front-end.  

Customers using our DCXM typically leverage our ‘Better Retail’ reference storefront (aka RefApp) as a starting point for building their ecommerce web apps.  We have made some significant improvements to the RefApp and front-end developer experience.

  • Open sourced RefApp: Our ‘Better Retail’ RefApp has now been open sourced based on an MIT license to make it more accessible to partners and customers developing commerce solutions with our DCXM. You can access it on GitHub at: https://github.com/Orckestra/BetterRetail. All future RefApp enhancements and contributions will be made available here. 
  • New Single-page Checkout Experience: The RefApp now includes a new single-page checkout component that provides a great starting point for building a smooth ecommerce checkout process for your customers.
  • New BOPIS Experience for the RefApp: Omnichannel order fulfillment, including offering the ability for ‘Buy online and pick-up in-store’ (BOPIS) orders is essential for retailers to stay competitive in the current environment. Orckestra’s platform already provided comprehensive omnichannel fulfillment capabilities, and in our latest release we also added a pre-built BOPIS option as part of the RefApp.  This makes it even easier for retailers to build the user experience for their BOPIS programs. When this option is enabled, shoppers can simply select to pick-up the order at their nearest store instead of having it shipped to their home.
  • Separate front-end deployments: The Experience Management/RefApp part of your commerce solution is now an individual project which can be deployed by itself outside of the core platform deployment process. This improves front-end developer agility by not being bound to the same deployment pipeline as the core platform development. 
  • Experience Management Donut caching: Developers using Orckestra’s DCXM for their front-end can now exclude Razor Functions from being cached when full page caching has been enabled. This enhances the ability to cache more of your content on the front-end thereby improving overall performance. 

Single Page Checkout

New online documentation portal (docs.orckestra.com)

Improving the experience for business users and developers working with our platform is a always a priority, and documentation is a critical part of that experience.  Recently we released the initial version of our updated documentation portal. Have a look at docs.orckestra.com. We’re continuing to add content with every release and based on feedback we get from customers and partners.

Core Platform and Process Improvements

We continue to evolve the platform from a cloud management and development perspective to ensure our customers can scale their platform and build their solutions faster.

  • Cosmos DB and Search Index Integration: Orckestra Commerce Cloud now indexes products directly from the Cosmos DB product data store. This makes indexing time much faster and scales even better on large product data sets.
  • Commerce Model Exporter: The platform’s ‘commerce model’ consists of all the key platform configuration data for a specific solution.  The types of data in the commerce model include the product information, product and order schemas, fulfillment locations, and more. With the Commerce Model Exporter, you can now easily export your configuration from one environment and move it to another. This makes it easier to keep configurations consistent across platform instances for a given project.  
  • Easier deployment of individual platform components: Orckestra's cloud management platform tools (CMP) can now deploy platform components individually by using the value in the components to deploy field found in the Deploy OCC task. This reduces the deployment time when a single component needs to be updated.