A configurable UI for configurable products
Product Configuration engines have been typically focused on the strength of the engine itself – its ability to handle a variety of complex rules, to provide for BOM explosion, support multi-level hierarchies, and to be able to perform and scale. Ensuring that the resulting configuration was valid and accurate was of utmost importance.
In the last 5 years, a lot of progress has been made on these product configuration engines and they are widely used. Configuration engines have strong version control, can be used in multiple channels (including e-commerce) and can support many different types of products.
The ability to deploy a product configuration engine across multiple channels, however, has increased the need for a configurable user interface. For example, a salesperson who will most commonly be talking through different product options on the phone with a customer would want a simple UI with the product characteristics arranged on a single screen. Alternatively, a customer using a web shop will probably want a more guided or interactive product configuration UI. They’ll want additional help links and images to help with the selection process.
SAP CRM 7.0 makes this easy by allowing a product administrator to setup different UIs for different user roles for a single configurable product. Characteristics and characteristic groups can be moved around on a page and new pages can be created to support a wizard UI. In addition, characteristics can be displayed on multiple pages. This is especially useful on the web where customers want to select their options and see a summary of their selections on the final page. In addition the UIs can be setup in an easy and straightforward way via the CRM Web Client. There are buttons to move characteristics or groups up and down and no need for customizing. In the same place, help text can be added and images uploaded. Finally, new UIs can be created for products that were initially defined in CRM or in ERP.
Please let me know if you find this information on the new functionality useful. We think of it as the first step in making the UI for configurable products as flexible as the engine itself.