What is Sitecore?

Learn everything you need to know about the Sitecore CMS — what the platform is, who should use it, how much it costs, and why you need it.

Video: What is Sitecore?

An Introduction to Sitecore

Sitecore powers websites for the world’s leading organizations. Their origins began with a .NET content management system (CMS) platform that has evolved into a powerful, scalable, and flexible solution that provides a range of features that are unmatched. They’re now a fully integrated, end-to-end composable digital experience platform (DXP) that drives rich customer experiences, from content to commerce. With Sitecore, brands drive differentiation, growth, and loyalty.

Sitecore is reinventing the digital experience landscape with the first SaaS-enabled, composable DXP. Stay tuned as we explore what Sitecore is and why it’s the future CMS for businesses. This blog will attempt to define all aspects of Sitecore and its capabilities as a platform. We’re going to cover all the basics — what the platform is, who’s should use it, why you need it, and how much Sitecore costs.

Here’s everything we’ve included in our comprehensive overview of Sitecore:

A Brief Sitecore History

Sitecore’s Vision

Sitecore’s Platform DXP

Sitecore’s Composable DXP

Why Choose Sitecore’s CMS?

Who Uses Sitecore?

How Much Does Sitecore Cost?

Is Sitecore the Right Fit?

Why Work With a Sitecore Solution Partner?

A Brief Sitecore History

The Sitecore Corporation was founded in Denmark in 2001 and they quickly began taking the CMS market by storm. As their technology expanded, so did their global presence, with offices across North America, Europe, and Asia, powering thousands of websites for the world’s leading brands. They got their start as a .NET-based CMS solution that enabled organizations to manage and deliver web content quickly and more efficiently. Over time, their solutions have evolved to include more features and capabilities, such as personalization, marketing automation, and commerce.

Today, Sitecore is leading the digital experience industry in innovation, having received several awards, market-leadership recognition from top analyst firms, and client recommendations that span industries, business models, and locations. They are a major player in supporting world-class digital experiences and have been recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management for over a decade running.

Sitecore’s Vision

When Sitecore was first founded in 2001, delivering digital experiences was much simpler. Websites mainly served an informational purpose since transactions were traditionally made in person. At this time, customer needs and expectations were much lower.

Fast forward 20+ years and the rate of change has accelerated, causing the digital landscape to change drastically. Sitecore’s CMS evolved from only managing content to including Businesses that needed more robust, scalable, and reliable technologies that support better engagement and experiences at every step of the customer journey, including:

  • Higher customer demands
  • Personalization is a requirement, not an option
  • A shift from primarily physical to almost entirely digital
  • The value of customer data

Sitecore used these changes as an opportunity to improve their solutions and offer customers powerful options. These options include more diverse products and give organizations options on how to deploy them. While they remain committed to their on-premise suite of products, Sitecore has used their $1.2 billion euro investment to embark on the move to SaaS and bring their solutions to the cloud. They used this investment to acquire four companies with different strengths ranging from content to commerce, integration, and the ability to scale in the future.

The core themes for Sitecore’s new SaaS-focused, composable portfolio expansion includes:

  • Modern code
  • API-first
  • Cloud-native
  • Headless

Sitecore’s Platform DXP

Sitecore’s all-in-one platform DXP offers world-class content management by combing personalization, customer data, marketing automation and deep analytics. It gives organizations architectural control over their CMS and a full suite of technology solutions hosted on a single platform. Let’s dive deeper into the two CMS options that started Sitecore’s success.

Sitecore Experience Manager (XM)

Sitecore XM is a powerful and intuitive CMS that makes managing content simple. It enables businesses to create, manage, and publish multisite and multilingual content at scale on any channel or device. XM includes an easy-to-use visual editing tool and out-of-the-box templates, components, and layouts for an accelerated time to market. Deliver basic session and device personalization and drive conversion and engagement with a drag-and-drop form builder. Organizations can integrate with third-party applications, systems, and data to build out their tech stack.

Sitecore Experience Platform (XP)

If you require more robust omnichannel marketing features built-in to your platform DXP, consider Sitecore XP. It includes the same CMS functionality, visual editor, reusable content, and drag-and-drop form builder. In addition to simplified content management, XP includes built-in omnichannel personalization by aggregating customer data, marketing automation, and deep analytics all in one platform. It allows you to deliver personalized experiences across multiple sites, locations, and languages across every channel, device and touchpoint.

If you would like a comprehensive comparison between Sitecore XM and Sitecore XP features, check out our blog here.

Sitecore’s Composable DXP

Sitecore’s SaaS-based, composable DXP allows you to choose from a suite of best-of-breed modular software hosted on the cloud. These solutions cover everything from content, customer experience, and commerce, designed with maximum flexibility and agility. Sitecore handles upgrades and infrastructure, so organizations can trust that they will always have the latest and greatest features.

Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) Cloud

Sitecore XM Cloud is the successor to Sitecore XM and the first cloud-native, headless, and modern CMS. It’s the linchpin of their SaaS-based composable DXP. It combines the best of both worlds — agile content delivery with a visual authoring tool for marketers and flexible development for IT. This enables organizations to rapidly launch websites and deliver omnichannel personalized experiences with an intuitive visual authoring experience. Websites are language and framework-agnostic and Jamstack-ready so businesses benefit from the fast performance, more security, and easier scalability.

XM Cloud is made up of three main components:

Sitecore Explorer — Allows you to manage all your websites using one streamlined tool with an intuitive and visual interface.

Sitecore Pages — An intuitive, responsive, and drag-and-drop visual editing tool called Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA). Combine templates, static and dynamic content and media in a marketer-friendly component builder. Organizations can benefit from easy embedded personalization templates and built-in personalization rules.

Sitecore Components — Create the components you need for your website using this easy-to-use authoring suite, native to Sitecore Pages.

Sitecore Content Hub Digital Asset Management (DAM)

Sitecore Content Hub DAM enables organizations to centralize, store, and manage digital assets and easily deliver them to any customer touchpoint. Build flexible content models and configure your repository so assets are easy to find in one centralized place. Sitecore Content Hub DAM allows you to automate and deliver updated and approved digital assets to any channel, from billboards to mobile apps. It allows teams to stay on the same page and take your content marketing to the next level.

Sitecore Content Hub Operations

Sitecore Content Hub Operations enables marketers to boost the impact, speed, scale and production of their content marketing. Organizations can streamline their content strategy and sync their marketing efforts across an entire content workflow with this end-to-end content operations solution. Taking control of all aspects of their content landscape enables better collaboration, visibility, and resource management from a content strategy perspective.

Sitecore Content Hub ONE

Sitecore Content Hub ONE is an agile, lightweight, and easy-to-use CMS. Content Hub ONE is an approachable content marketing tool designed to manage the needs of content modellers, authors, and developers in one easy-to-use place. It can streamline your content operations with an intuitive UX to create, manage, and deliver omnichannel content. This headless CMS lets you define content types, store content and media based on those content types, and publish content. The published content and assets are accessed through Sitecore Experience Edge CDN endpoints and consumable through the web, mobile app, kiosk, social media, POS systems, and more. If you’re looking to learn more about Content Hub ONE, read our blog here.

Sitecore Customer Data Platform (CDP)

Sitecore CDP enables organizations to unify and leverage customer data to deliver personalized experiences. Marketing teams benefit from a 360-degree view of their customers by collecting data across all touchpoints and storing it in one centralized place. With deep analytics and insights, you can easily segment customers based on common behaviours, attributes, and purchasing decisions for one-to-one targeting and optimized user experiences. If you’re looking to learn more about Sitecore CDP, read our blog here.

Sitecore Personalize

Sitecore Personalize lets you activate the customer data collected from Sitecore CDP and deliver next-level customer experiences on any channel. Create relevant experiences and adapt campaigns based on real-time customer behaviour. Personalize allows marketers to implement a variety of targeting and triggered experiences with simple, user-friendly drag-and-drop interfaces. Ensure all of your experiences are fully optimized with constant omnichannel experimentation and testing.

Sitecore CDP and Personalize are standalone SaaS-enabled applications operating using the same interface. If you would like to learn more about how they work together, check out our blog here.

Sitecore Send

Sitecore Send engages your audiences with automated and personalized email marketing. Create pixel-perfect campaigns with a modern drag-and-drop visual editor and templates for faster time to market. Send uses AI to automatically identify prospective customers based on their website behaviour and product interests for advanced list segmentation and personalization. Integrations with commerce platforms, websites, and CRM systems are simple and require no developer support. Send optimizes every campaign optimization with powerful real-time data and advanced analytics to get the best return out of your email marketing.

Read our blog to learn more about how easy it is to set up automated email marketing campaigns in Sitecore Send.

Sitecore Connect

Sitecore Connect allows you to easily integrate Sitecore products with thousands of systems, applications, and software platforms. Compose your marketing stack with 1000+ out-of-the-box app connectors with a low code / no-code workbench fully integrated with Sitecore’s composable DXP.

Sitecore Discover

Sitecore Discover offers real-time recommendations for personalized shopping experiences to surprise and delight your customers. Drive sales with AI-powered e-commerce search, merchandising, and recommendations delivered in real time. Automatically identify the wants and needs of your customers based on their website behaviour and purchase intent and deliver relevant friction-free shopping experiences.

Power your website search box with intelligent, hyper-relevant content using AI-powered search. Anticipate the visitor journey and deliver unified, relevant content with fast and predictive results. It's easy to implement across a number of digital assets incorporating multiple languages to help your customers find what they need quickly.

Sitecore OrderCloud

Sitecore OrderCloud is an API-first headless e-commerce platform that is fully customizable and enterprise ready. OrderCloud is meant for large-scale, multifaceted, and highly-distributed businesses that want to supercharge and streamline their commerce operations. Easily scale your order management processes and marketplace solutions for B2B, B2C, and B2X with a flexible, cloud-native architecture to build an e-commerce business on your terms.

Why Choose Sitecore’s CMS?

As we dive deeper into Sitecore as a platform, the first question that might come to mind is — why Sitecore? Not only do they have a proven track record in powering some of the biggest websites around the world, but they began to imagine a better future where digital marketers could deliver unforgettable customer experiences without leaning on developers. They continue to empower marketers, content creators, and business users with tools that make their jobs easier, with simple, intuitive, easy-to-use visual editing tools.

Sitecore has always adopted a future-focused mindset. After an investment of over $1.2 billion euros and the acquisition of four companies with varying strengths, Sitecore was able to deliver a new category of composable DXP. Sitecore’s new composable DXP is designed to be scalable, flexible, and fully customizable. It allows organizations to tailor their digital experiences to their business needs and scale their tech stack up or down at any time.

Simplicity for Marketers

Sitecore provides a world-class CMS solution allowing businesses to create, manage, and publish content across all channels using simple and easy-to-use tools. Sitecore’s vision has always been to make it easier for marketers to deliver memorable experiences within low-code / no-code environments. These marketer-friendly tools accelerate your time to market and help transform digital strategies.

Sitecore XM and XP gave marketers a powerful yet intuitive CMS platform. Whether you need the streamlined version or a full suite of marketing features, both platforms offer a visual editing tool that empowers marketing teams. The content authoring process was simple: create reusable components and templates, drag and drop content, publish real-time updates, and repeat.

Sitecore XM Cloud combines the same simple and intuitive tools and moves them to the cloud. Within XM Cloud, Sitecore Pages enables users to easily drag-and-drop elements into a visual editor and publish content in a flash, making launching websites quick and easy. Sitecore Components allows marketers to create reusable content, implement website templates for faster authoring, and conveniently access everything in one centralized place using Sitecore Explorer.

Standout Software

Sitecore offers a global-first solution that can scale to meet worldwide traffic demands with content distributed across a global content delivery network. Edge delivery, headless APIs, and omnichannel capability means customers are greeted across all touch points with digital experiences that load fast and engage instantly. Sitecore adopts a fully API-first architecture that allows developers to build for any channel with their choice of frameworks, languages, and platforms. Build with agility by leveraging modern CI/CD pipelines that fit with your workflows. Here are some examples:

Available Sitecore languages, platforms, and frameworks.

Sitecore maintains several compliance programs and certifications in accordance to strict regulatory and industry standards globally. They also offer a supportive and growing community of over 18,000 .NET and JavaScript developers.

Exceptional Freedom

Not only does Sitecore support some of the world's largest implementations, but it also allows for complete flexibility with 1000+ connectors to integrate with an existing tech stack. Choose from a host of powerful, pre-built connectors and apps from Sitecore and their partners that make integrating with your business simple and fast.

Sitecore enables organizations to enjoy their choice of developer tools, frameworks, and integrations with their new. Businesses can use open REST and Graph APIs for maximum integration to connect a number of business systems and tools. Sitecore is designed with composability in mind, which allows for maximum flexibility and scalability.

Support for modern Jamstack front-ends and powerful dev-ops tools. Choice of tools, integrations, and Cloud deployment models.

Accelerated Time to Market

Using Sitecore’s best-of-breed technology can speed up your time to market. This benefits everyone — developers and marketers, and as a result, their end users.

Marketers benefit from being able to build agile digital experiences quickly and easily using marketing-friendly, intuitive tools that scale. They can create content once and deliver it to multiple locations, channels, and devices, all from one centralized platform—whether that's a platform DXP or a composable one. By using reusable content, marketing teams can significantly reduce the time it takes to deploy new customer experiences and campaigns.

With the release of XM Cloud, developers are no longer restricted by programming languages where they lack expertise. Instead, they can focus on tools they know and like (e.g. JavaScript libraries and frameworks), and deliver content anywhere using the latest APIs. Not to mention, with XM Cloud, development teams can say goodbye to Sitecore upgrades and focus their resources on optimizing customer experiences instead.

By accelerating your time to market, teams spend less time on administration and redundancies, and more time can be spent on building memorable customer experiences. Moving to XM Cloud makes the user experience feel fast, consistent, and responsive.

Who Uses Sitecore?

Sitecore is used by thousands of organizations worldwide to power their websites and digital experiences. Their SaaS-enabled, composable DXP empowers brands like Porsche, L’Oréal, Microsoft, United Airlines, and PUMA to deliver unforgettable interactions across every touchpoint. Sitecore provides cutting-edge tools brands need to build stronger connections with customers.

Airlines Automotive Technology Hospitality & Travel Retail & CPG Energy
Emirates Ferrari Microsoft Kerzner P&G Enbridge
United Airlines Aston Martin Fujitsu Airbnb Chanel Cenovus
Aer Lingus Porsche Lenovo Vail Resorts L’Oréal ExxonMobil
easyJet Mercedes Benz Sony B-Europe General Mills Suncor
Volvo GoDaddy Atlantis The Palm Johnson-Johnson Direct Energy
Honda Sky Betting & Gaming PUMA

Here’s a handful of world-class clients the Fishtank has had the pleasure of helping with their Sitecore implementation:

  • Carnegie Hall
  • Bayer
  • YVR International Airport
  • NuScale
  • Legrand
  • WSP
  • Canada Council for the Arts
  • Government of Canada
  • American Dental Association
  • Milliman
  • Seattle Foundation

If you want to learn more about our previous Sitecore implementations, click here.

How Much Does Sitecore Cost?

Sitecore provides custom pricing for their CMS and DXP solutions. There are two main considerations that can influence Sitecore’s pricing — licensing and implementation costs.

The licensing costs are generally based on consumption; the more unique monthly visitors to your site, the higher the cost. This scalable approach to pricing makes Sitecore’s CMS and a full suite of marketing tools. The cost of Sitecore’s platform is comparable to other enterprise CMS / DXP tools. Because the price isn’t based on features, Sitecore can provide more value with their best-of-breed technologies making it the favourable option.

The implementation costs include the fees associated with any development, maintenance, and support a customer would need and can vary on the following:

  • Custom development requirements
  • Integration requirements with other applications and systems
  • Support and maintenance requirements
  • Total number of sites and domains

If you’re curious about how much Sitecore would cost your organization exactly, reach out to a Sitecore representative or one of the friendly folks on the Fishtank team.

Is Sitecore the Right Fit?

If you’re considering Sitecore as an end-to-end composable DXP for business, there are several things to consider. Sitecore may be a great fit for your business if you’re looking for a powerful, flexible, and scalable solution to improve digital experiences, engage with your customers, and drive revenue.

If you have a complex digital presence…

Sitecore is a powerful platform that can provide performance, security, and multisite support for businesses with a large global digital presence. Deliver sophisticated omnichannel experiences across multiple channels, devices, and touchpoints. If your business has a complex digital presence and needs a platform that can support your needs, Sitecore may be a good fit.

If you need to deliver personalized customer experiences…

Sitecore’s personalization capabilities allow organizations to deliver memorable experiences that are tailored to customers based on their behaviour and preferences. Sitecore Personalize is a SaaS-based solution that combines experimentation and decisioning to deliver rich omnichannel customer experiences. This functionality, combined with Sitecore’s Customer Data Platform (CDP), can further allow companies to capture, merge, and trigger omnichannel customer data.

If you manage a large amount of content…

Sitecore was originally designed to be a powerful .NET platform. It provides a flexible and extensible CMS solution that can support large, complex, and dynamic websites. Sitecore’s features are built with business users in mind. Sitecore may be a good fit if your organization is looking to empower your marketers, content creators, and authors to publish content easily across multiple channels.

If you need better customer engagement…

Sitecore’s advanced marketing automation tools include email marketing, lead nurturing, and personalization across the entire customer journey. With Sitecore, brands drive differentiation, growth, and loyalty through rich customer experiences. Sitecore helps organizations looking to consolidate and activate their customer data to deliver elevated customer experiences. Consider using Sitecore if improving customer engagement is an important business goal.

If you need to integrate with several business systems and tools…

Sitecore is designed to integrate with other business systems and tools. This helps businesses scale their tech stack with the necessary functionality they need and avoid investing in what they don’t. Sitecore streamlines efficiency and allows organizations to focus their resources on what matters most.

Why Work With a Sitecore Solution Partner?

Sitecore offers a full-featured, world-class experience management solution that helps transform customer experiences for thousands of companies. When it comes to developing a digital strategy and implementation, you can rely on the help of their Sitecore Solution Partners. Why do you need one? With a Sitecore Solution Partner, you’ll get a team of experts with all the experience and tools to leverage Sitecore fully. With the right implementation partner, you’ll get the results your business needs faster and more efficiently.

As a Sitecore Solution Partner, Fishtank unlocks the full value of Sitecore technology for their clients. We have a team of Sitecore developers, strategists, and MVPs — individuals recognized by Sitecore for their exemplary customer commitment and advancement of the brand and community. We’re recognized as a certified Gold Partner—awarded to Sitecore Partners with a significant number of successful implementations. Here are some of the ways the Fishtank team differentiates from other Sitecore Solution Partners.

We’re Sitecore Specialists

Our team has successfully delivered hundreds of websites and implementations using Sitecore. We’re proud to be owned and practice-led by a ten-time Sitecore MVP and have a two-time Sitecore Technology MVP on staff. Our experts are known among the Sitecore community for uncovering innovative solutions that help Sitecore users cut costs, solve complex development problems, and expose industry-changing strategies. Through blogging, article writing, and webinars, our team actively engages and supports tech professionals and clients by sharing valuable insight and expertise.

We’re Technology-First

Our solutions leverage the best technologies to provide our clients with high value and performance. We focus on implementing Sitecore to fit the needs of our clients so they get the most out of their investment. Our team was also one of the few Sitecore CDP-certified partners worldwide.

We’re Laser-Focused on Client Success

We take a customer-centric approach to our projects, putting our clients at the centre of all decision-making. Our biggest priorities are maintaining long-term relationships with our customers and driving their success. We ensure our clients get the best return from their Sitecore investment and leverage the tools and functionality of the platform to the fullest. We have numerous customer wins and successful projects with some of the world’s biggest brands, with projects including everything from new deployments to upgrades to audits.

Let’s Talk Sitecore

Sitecore is a leading end-to-end composable digital experience platform (DXP) provider. It’s their mission to empower leading brands to connect with their customers using a range of solutions that span across channels, devices, and platforms. They deliver powerful, flexible, and scalable solutions for end-to-end customer experiences. If you’re in the market for a new enterprise CMS that can help you create and manage your digital experiences, Sitecore might be the platform for you.

We hope this comprehensive guide to Sitecore gives you a better understanding of the company and the solutions they deliver. We hope we answered most of your Sitecore-related questions, but we're always here if you want to chat more about Sitecore. Reach out to our friendly team if you want help choosing the best products to implement in your tech stack.

Until next time, happy marketing!

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Meet Theresa Gutierrez

Sitecore Strategist | Sitecore Strategy MVP

⛳ 🌮👩🏻‍💻

Theresa, aka 'T', is a high-energy marketing creative with 8+ years of experience across various industries. She's passionate about delivering strategy and design, with a focus on Sitecore SaaS technologies. T is an avid golfer and loving dog momma, appeased only by delicious food and a bevy of something bubbly. Cheers!

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