Intro to Merchello: A New E-Commerce System from Umbraco
Merchello is a new, open source e-commerce system for Umbraco that was recently announced at uWestFest. It was created by Rusty Swayne of Mindfly and Jason Prothero of ProWorks. Being new, it may not be as mature and feature-rich as other systems such as Magento or uCommerce, but it has promising potential and fills a niche by providing a free, open source e-commerce solution for Umbraco web sites.
There are a number of reasons that make Merchello a compelling choice for building e-commerce websites. For one, it is licensed under the Open Source Initiative-approved MIT license. This means that it is free to use and modify. And that means you can customize it to meet your specific needs. In fact the architecture of the system is designed to make the entire storefront experience customizable.
Merchello embraces the philosophy and design principles of Umbraco. Many content management systems have a lot of plugins and modules that provide extra functionality but you are often stuck with their user experience design and it takes a lot of effort to customize that experience. Umbraco embraces simplicity and gives developers an API to build a custom user experience. Likewise, Merchello allows developers to build a custom online retail experience by providing an API for adding store functionality to the front end of their Umbraco website. The API follows the patterns and practices of the Umbraco core API, so it is easy for an experienced Umbraco developer to learn and use. The Merchello creators have provided a great sample site (pictured below) to show how to use the API to build store functionality such as product display, a shopping cart and the checkout process which you can use as a starting point. And, of course, since it is built on Umbraco, a Merchello storefront can leverage all the features and APIs that come with Umbraco to provide a great web experience.
Merchello’s back office embraces the new, elegant design of Umbraco 7. With Umbraco 7, the back office interface was completely redesigned and implemented using Angular.js so that it is more responsive and easy to use. The Merchello back office integrates with Umbraco in a way that is consistent with it’s user experience and extends it to provide catalog and order management. It also follows Umbraco 7’s plugin architecture for providing support for adding additional payment, shipping and taxation providers to process payment and calculate shipping and taxation.
While the current release of Merchello (version 1.1) is missing some basic features, it is quickly evolving and new features are being added regularly with frequent releases.
The current version has:
- Catalog/product management with full-text search
- Variant pricing
- Inventory tracking
- Shipping methods based on providers (with flat rate and UPS providers available)
- Payment methods based on providers (with cash and Authorize.net providers available)
- Order management with credit card payment capture and shipping tracking
Upcoming versions will have:
- Order notifications
- Persisted customers integrated with the Umbraco member system
- A PayPal payment processing provider
- Support for multiple warehouses
- Back office Localization
The creators of Merchello are also looking for input on what functionality to include and prioritize and, as an open source project, are of course open to accepting contributions. You can find more information about Merchello from the links in this Bitly bundle: http://bit.ly/Merchello.