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Dear community members,

SAP Web Channel Experience Management (WCEM) is an Multi Channel E-Commerce olution by SAP successing Internet Sales/SAP E-Commerce/Web Channel Enablement. The E-Business processes are well integrated in SAP ERP and SAP CRM and are configurable.

 

In August 2013, after the acquisition of hybris, the hybris OmniCommerce solution is SAP’s new flagship Omni Channel solution with a large footprint in the B2C E-Commerce domain.

   

Implementing a powerful E-Business solution or switching from an existing one should be well thought and analysed before a decision is made.

Therefore in this blog I would like to provide you a journey through the evolution of SAP’s E-Commerce solutions, from the SAP Online Store back in the 90’s via the Internet Sales/SAP E-Commerce/Web Channel Enablement solutions to the new SAP Web Channel Experience Management.

 

I have seen all these solutions and their product catalogs behind it and implemented some of them for customers as a consulting expert and later as a project manager. None of them impressed or convinced me in a way the new WCEM solution does, and I mean it from a customer benefit and end user perspective, not an SAP licensing point of view…

Without doubt the former web shop solutions all have their strengths and key areas where they truly excel in their time. Web technology evolves fast, and so does E-Business.

More than ever before user demands a great user experience across all sales and information channels.

Latest web technologies, an appealing pixel perfect UI, deep integration with backend systems and last but not least the extensibility with 3rd party solutions like a Web Content Management solution, Web Analytics, carrier tracking, knowledge bases etc., not only in B2C businesses, but also in B2B.

 

In the light of the recent hybris acquisition, the hybris OmniCommerce solution is a new option for SAP and non-SAP customers as a key market leader in B2C OmniCommerce.

In this blog I compile first hand knowledge and expertise about the evolution of SAP’s E-Commerce solutions, outlining the purpose, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of each solution, with a special view on SAP Web Channel Experience Management.

Online Store (~1996 to 2003 or so)

Back in the good old times of SAP R/3, the Online Store was SAP’s first E-Commerce solution and offered just one shopping (B2C) scenario. With an early login it could be used for B2B as well.

Starting with R/3 3.0F the Online Store was a SAPgui based transaction (WW20), which was translated into HTML by the so called Internet Transaction Server (ITS) using templates. This made it very easy for SAP developers to debug and to extend functionality. But it used a proprietary SAP UI and interface technology, which made it hard for web design companies to change the look and feel without having SAP ABAP coding knowledge. Another backside of the Online Store was the direct access from the internet users to the ERP system causing an unpredictable load from the webshop users to the productive enterprise system. Well, don’t smile about it, it was 1996 and Amazon was still a startup.

The Online Store used the R/3 Product Catalog (transaction wwm1/wwm2) as a catalog basis with its (static) hierarchy and reliable but poor functionality. In these days the consulting solution CatMan was born and has been continuously improved ever since. Today the CatMan Suite is a comprehensive extension of the R/3 Product Catalog and a MUST for all companies who use the R/3 ERP product catalog.

While the Online Store functionality was simple but OK for these early days, the solution had the big SAP advantage to show realtime information, especially customer specific prices – a killer criteria in B2B businesses. It even supported the Retail Generic Article (showing selectable attributes like color, size), a feature that was missing in the upcoming Internet Sales times and that was recently re-introduced in the new SAP Web Channel Experience Management.

I loved the Online Store and the Product Catalog when I was a young consultant. Especially retailers have been very open-minded in trying out new channels and markets. Streamline.com in Boston/MA was selling food, even fresh and frozen food, combined with a weekly delivery to business members (see Fig.1) by unsing the Online Store – in my opinion the most beautiful and functional Online Store implementation ever.

Woolworths PLC in the UK was feeding a Digital Interactive TV shopping platform with data from the R/3 product catalog – great for elder people to buy books and stuff at a time when using the Internet wasn’t as easy as it is today (see Fig.2).

I was also part of a team who implemented the Online Store for a famous Champions League soccer club selling fan articles worldwide, where SAP’s multi language support was key. Vobis computers sold IT equipment with it.

A great time, which moved forward very fast.

WEC-0028.jpg

Fig.1: SAP’s Online Store for streamline.com, extended to meet the requirements for a fresh food E-Business with delivery service

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Fig.2: Woolworths PLC in UK, Digital Interactive TV platform “OPEN…”, fed by SAP R/3 product catalog data (screenshot taken from a TV)

SAP Internet Sales / SAP E-Commerce / SAP CRM Web Channel / Web Channel Enablement Management (~2002 to 2010)

SAP Internet Sales 2.0x

Around the millenium SAP’s first CRM solution was released and was designed to cover all interactions with customers. Some even believed it would replace SD. A CRM of course had to cover the ever growing demand for a web channel solution. Therefore SAP created the “Internet Sales” solution and version 2.0b was the first official release. Internet Sales 2.0x still used the ITS with it’s rendering technique and ran against the SAP CRM Sales Order and used the CRM product catalog. In CRM based Product Master records more product and marketing related information can be managed than in ERP. CRM Interaction Center could be used to process orders from the web.

The Internet Sales 2.0x offered a B2B and a B2C scenario, both deployed independently from each other. By using the CRM backend first E-Marketing features like Top N product recommendations, proposed cross/up/down selling products etc. were possible.

Another advantage of using the CRM system for customer interactions was the reduced load on the productive ERP system. The Internet Pricing Configurator (IPC) was introduced as a new component to perform the real time pricing and also the product configuration. The ITS was still used to translate the business logic into HTML, but as an evolution to the Online Store no SAPGui transactions were required anymore. Instead an ITS based “flowlogic” was introduced, a SAP proprietary set of commands to retrieve information form the CRM backend. This made it hard for web designers to change the UI and look& feel without the support of an SAP skilled flowlogic developer. Also SAP developers faced restrictions due to the limited programming freedom.

Nevertheless, some great web shop used Internet Sales 2.0x, like COOP in Switzerland, to run their first version of the food delivery web shop. I have seen some food webshops being stopped during implementation, or closing their business when the internet hype was over, but COOP successfully survived this time and is still running their current COOP web shop with a new version of SAP’s Internet Sales, offering a delivery service, in-store pickup, and much more including a mobile app for iOS and Android. A shining beacon for the Internet Sales success story and fresh food webshops – well done!

SAP Internet Sales 3.0

With time, SAP CRM quickly became a backend of almost equal importance than ERP for many businesses. Internet Sales 2.0x was causing direct and unpredictable load to the CRM. Therefore Internet Sales 3.0 brought a paradigm change as it was developed as an independent Java J2EE solution outside the SAP CRM system.

CRM and it’s product catalog were still used as backend, but most of the business logic was now running on the Java solution, even the shopping basket was held in Java and not as a CRM Sales Order anymore.

With the introduction of Java the UI technology changed from ITS based FlowLogic to Java Server Pages (JSP). At this time both ISA 3.0 B2C and B2B scenarios were based on frames.

SAP Internet Sales 4.0

Many customers, most of them B2B businesses, have not been willing to run a CRM just for a webshop, and those customers who had not been willing to implement and run a CRM for their entire customer channels asked for an alternative.

Therefore with Internet Sales 4.0 the SAP ERP system was again supported as backend as an alternative to SAP CRM. This webshop solution without CRM was called “SAP E-Commerce”. Of course CRM based features like E-Marketing, cross/up/down selling, product alternatives, product recommendations etc.  have not been supported with an ERP backend, but for many customers, most of them B2B businesses, this was not the highest priority. Key for them were the realtime customer specific prices (considering discounts, contracts etc.) and stock-availability.

With Internet Sales 4.0 the whole B2C scenario UI was redeveloped to get rid of the frames technology. B2B kept their frames until today, but was extended towards Partner Channel Management. In addition the E-Service solution has been released as a separate deployment.

So with 4.0 the three pillars E-Commerce, E-Marketing and E-Service had been available, but have been independent ever since from each other. Therefore they have to be deployed and managed separately. An interaction between these pillars or reuse of components in a mixed scenario had to be implemented on project basis. A true disadvantage, especially in today’s Multi Channel interaction times.

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Name changes of Internet Sales solutions

Around CRM 5.0 Internet Sales has been renamed into “SAP CRM Web Channel” or simply “Web Channel”. However, the term “Internet Sales” or just “ISA” is still used in many publications and SAP notes. The term “Web Channel Enablement Management” is also used sometimes. All these expressions a SAP CRM backend.

The Internet Sales solution that uses SAP ERP as backend has been renamed into “SAP E-Commerce” or simply “E-Commerce”.

SAP Internet Sales 5.0


SAP CRM Web Channel 5.0 brought a major extension in the E-Service scenario, complex complaints and spare parts business for parts dealers and carriers. Also campaign integration and newsletter subscription were introduced.

SAP CRM Web Channel 6.0/7.0

The release 6.0 focused mainly on the specific scenario for the Telecommunication industry. With this functionality selling of packed, complex products has been enabled in the solution.

SAP Internet Sales 7.0 brought Loyalty Management. Thus the catalog and order processes were extended for support of earning and redeeming “points” as typical form of customer retention.

 

Internet Sales Summary

SAP’s Internet Sales solution in all it’s names and scenarios is no doubt a very successful solution that is used by many hundreds, maybe even more than a thousand of companies, many in the B2B space. It provides realtime customer specific prices and stock availability information, a conditio sine qua non in B2B businesses. All the data shown in the webshop comes from a “single source of truth” for the entire enterprise system – no redundancies.

 

Internet Sales is reliable, mature, is used by companies of all sizes throughout the world and supports all possible languages. It can be used with a CRM and an ERP backend. A true SAP quality product, which latest release 7.0x is supported by 2020 by standard maintenance. However, no further release of Internet Sales will be released because of the successor solution (see below).

The B2B scenarios in Internet Sales are well perfected and provide advanced features for companies of all sizes. One example is the delegate admin, a superuser role for large enterprises, who is able to create webshop users on behalf of the webshop company for his colleagues. Contracts, configuration, complex complaints, customer specific prices – you name it: Internet Sales is optimized for B2B. The B2B scenario is still frame based, not nice, but acceptable.

The B2C side however was never a killer app. Retailers grumbled about the missing Generic Article (which was never an issue from a technical perspective…), but I believe the most important reasons were 

  • The basic CRM Product Catalog functionality with its static folder structure
  • Lack of a great search engine with facetted display of results showing the results structured by attribute like price $1-9, $10-29, $30-49, color a,b,c… in the left hand navigation bar, as we know it from amazon, eBay, yahoo, …
  • The inflexible technology base causing high efforts to mix components of different scenarios in a true multi channel scenario, e.g. a webshop with E-Marketing features plus E-Service for FAQ, complaints, service tickets and returns management.

After almost a decade it was time for a new Web Channel solution with up-to-date technology and features.

 

SAP Web Channel Experience Management (WCEM)

Whatever was complained in the Internet Sales solutions by B2C companies: the SAP Web Channel Experience Management has it:

  • A great user experience with a pixel perfect UI, with a UI technology based on the latest web standards like Web 2.0, AJAX, Java Server Faces etc. which allows non-SAP experienced web designers to pull out all the stops for a great customer styled web presentation. Of course no frames.
  • Scenarios are now simply configured by non-IT staff (e.g. Marketing department) with many many options with a web tool “Web Channel Builder”. All available modules from E-Sales, E-Marketing and E-Service can be used in a scenario without disruption. And you can have as many scenarios as you want to. Test new scenarios and UI variants upfront on your local PC, and schedule the release time of new scenarios.
  • A great search and navigation experience (when using the Multi Channel Catalog based on SAP MDM)
  • State-of-the-Art E-Commerce and E-Marketing features like advanced realtime product recommendations based on BI data, gift cards and wish lists, loyalty management (collect and redeem bonus points), …
  • Integrated E-Service features like a “My Support” Home Page, ticket based service management, installed base management, contract determination, contact users, Guided Flows, Community Management, Knowledge Management (with eGain)
  • Multi channel features like physical store integration with a graphical map-based Store Locator, In-Store Availability, In-Store Pickup and (new with release 3.0) In-Store Delivery for online orders.
  • Generic Article support for SAP Retail customers, structured article, sets, lots, etc.
  • Enhanced Payment Methods (e.g. PayPal), Quick Check Out (with WCEM 2.0) and others which can be easily implemented via the Payment module.
  • A powerful, well described and easy applicable extension concept (see WCEM WIKI section “Development and Extensions”) to build partner and/or customer extensions based on standard shop modules or to create your own modules. The modularization concept is designed to use ALL modules and their extensions in any scenario without additional project effort, just by configuration in a new web tool called “Web Channel Builder”.
  • Simple integration of 3rd party solutions like a Content Management system, knowledge management, web analytics, image server, PIM, Social Media platforms, … by leveraging the new extension concept.
  • The full set of features and a lot more can be found in the WCEM WIKI.

 

You can find more information about SAP Web Channel Experience Management in the (public!) WCEM WIKI and the Expert Blog Index. The evaluation and consulting study by De Villiers Walton, which gives a good comparision of WCEM with Internet Sales and ICSS, is also well recommended.

SAP Web Channel Experience Management is designed as a multi channel platform and optimized for modularization and easy extensibility.wec platform.png

 

The modules inside are separate entities decoupled from other modules, and can be extended on top of SAP standard. The good thing is: the extensions are modification free and survive the update of the particular module.

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Within an individual module the UI part, business logic and backend implementation are separated from each other:

WEC-0008.jpg

These parts can be changed and extended in different namespaces, which allows and update of the individual namespaces separately from each other. So whenever a WCEM patch overwrites a module it only overwrites the namespace part of SAP, and not the others. Your extensions and changes are safe. This allows partners and customers to develop their own module extensions and even own modules without changing the SAP standard. And all this of course without modifications. 

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WCEM Release 1.0

While the predecessor solution Internet Sales was focussed on B2B, the first release of SAP Web CHannel Experience Management was focussed on consumer businesses (B2C). Therefore a complete new framework was required. 

The UI of WCEM 1.0 is based on Java Server Faces 1.2 and allows a pixel perfect UI, that can be created by non-SAP skilled web designers to pull out all the stops for a great customer styled web presentation.

The Web Channel UI is rendered on server side in order to allow search engines like Google, Bing etc. to index the webshop pages. For important demos we applied the look&feel of corporate UI’s or major customers, some in graphical simplicity, some vibrant. While this was done with limited effort, the result looked AWSOME, like real.

In the new releases great enhancements – bothfunction wise and technology wise – have been made. This blog describes how to upgrade from WCEM 1.0 to 2.0/3.0.

 

   

WCEM Release 2.0 (globally available)

WCEM 2.0 was clearly the to-go release over 1.0, no matter what. There are so many killer features in 2.0 that using the 1.0 version would only make sense for B2C customers have a running 1.0 solution and are happy with it. This is also the result of the evaluation and consulting study by De Villiers Walton.

Watch the WCEM webinar recordings.

   

  WEC-0000.jpg

And a very nice UI example for Sapphire realized in just 4 days (thanks to using web themes for the whole shop, not just the entry page here):

/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/wcem20_sapphire_175941.jpg

Important features have been added to 2.0, to enhance both the user experience and the functional scope of the solution. See the WCEM 2.0 feature list for details.

 

In addition to the features a Rapid Deployment Solution is available for WCEM 2.0 to speed up implementation of a B2B scenario in an ERP/TREX environment significantly at a fixed price.

 

WCEM 2.0 leverages the advanced features of Java Server Faces 2.1 plus template extensions, see the corresponding blog.

 

You can find out details about what’s new in WCEM 2.0 in the special chapter of the application help.

 

WCEM Release 3.0

 

While the First Release of SAP Web Channel Experience Management was focused purely on B2C businesses, Release 2.0 introduced native B2B capabilities in addition to many B2C enhancements. 

   

Now, the new Release 3.0 offers advanced B2B and B2C features like

 

  • Product comparison
    • Customer specific product views / catalog views
    • Enhanced sorting and filtering
  • E-Commerce
    • Shopping templates
    • Quotations
    • Order download and item upload
    • Product configuration
    • In-store delivery
  • User Management
    • Self-registration in the contact scenario
    • Delegated administrator
    • Enhanced authorization concept

See

WCEM Release 3.0 Support Package 01 (Globally available since Oct 21, 2013)

On Oct 21, 2013, WCEM 3.0 SP01 was released, providing new functionality and improvements:

  • Standard Web services and Web service functions that are based on Open Data Protocol (OData) allowing to create applications, for example, mobile applications
  • Plug-Ins in SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio (NWDS)
    • Module Wizard
    • Web Service Wizard
    • Web Services functions wizard
  • The user interface now uses JavaServer Faces™ 2 (JSF), version 2.1.10 (see SAP Note 1859344)
  • Business event capturing captures actions of Web shop customers by means of predefined business events, such as logon, view product, add to cart, and place order
  • Enhancements with Product Variants
  • Improved response time of the catalog by caching prices and asynchronous pricing
  • Display of invoices in PDF format from the Order Details
  • Extended User Interface (optional)
    • Displaying price columns “unit price” and “total price”
    • Price Analysis at item level
    • Improved display about product availability and product delivery
    • Web shop customers can change product units
    • Quick order entry – Web shop customers can enter product IDs directly for each item (line item or row)

 

You find all related information and documentation about WCEM 3.0 SP01 here:
 
  • Application Help (also known as SAP Library Documentation or KW Documentation) on SAP Help Portal:
            Single point of entry for all assets: http://help.sap.com/wec > SAP Web Channel Experience Management 3.0 SP01 or http://help.sap.com/wec301

Many topics of interest are also explained in detail in WCEM expert blogs – see the WCEM blog INDEX for an overview.

Please also visit our WCEM WIKITHE key info source for WCEM.

 

In case of questions the FAQ blog might already provide an answer.

 

 

Best regards,

 

Dr. Ingo Woesner

Product Manager – Multi Channel

Suite Development Application Innovation

SAP AG

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15 Comments

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  1. Stephen Johannes

    Actually you are wrong.  The online store did support configurable products in 4.6C, if I remember correctly.  If you were a clever developer then configurable products could also be done in the online store with some magic on lower releases 😉 . 

    Man those streamline.com screenshots is like a blast from the past for me.  Almost makes me want to find an old IDES system and make a copy of WW20 and start cranking away(just joking).  Never thought I see an online store flashback article on SCN.

    Appreciate the blog, especially being an old-school online store developer who had the pleasure of working on several customer projects before Internet Sales was launched.

    Take care,

    Stephen

    (0) 
    1. Ingo Woesner Post author

      Hi Stephen,

      thank you very much for your feedback. I couldhave sworn the Online Store didn’t support configurable products, but good to learn it could. I will change the text immediately. Stay tuned for updates of the article. I will add infos about the internet sales and Web Channel Experience Management today and during the week.

      My blog is part of a big launch initiative for the new eCommecre Solution SAP Web Channel Experience Management 2.0, which is in rampup from today.

      Please check the blog INDEX if you like.

      http://scn.sap.com/community/crm/web-channel/blog/2012/04/23/sap-web-channel-experience-management–blog-index

      All the best,

      Ingo

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  2. Jie Zhao

    Hi,

    We are currently looking at a potential WCEM 1.0 implementation. We have a couple of questions

    1. It is stated the real time ATP check is a new feature in 2.0 in your blog. According to 1.0 feature list

    – ATP check in 1.0 is using
    standard backend ATP check during the check out process so we had assumed that
    this is real time. If this isn’t the case, can you please clarify what exactly do we get from ATP check in 1.0 and what’s new in 2.0.

    2. Product catalogue search – we would like to use the same search engine for both website content and catalogue search. Can you please point me to the documentation on how this can be achieved?

    3. Anything in 2.0 specific on mobile channel – how to configure mobile friendly webshop? Or is is a purely UI development/configuration exercise through NetWeaver developer Studio mobile themes development.

    4. Is there a standard services repository which lists all the web services avaliable from the WECM?

    Thanks

    Jie

    (0) 
    1. Ingo Woesner Post author

      Hi Jie,

      thank you for your questions:

      ad 1) We have to distinguish several thnings:

      In 1.0 the real time ATP check is only done in the checkout (Java Basket) or in the shooping basked + checkout (backend basket)

      In 2.0 the real time ATP check is available even in the product catalog details (if configured), in the basket and checkout

      ad 2) The search framework orchestrates the different solutions Product catalog and content management, witch have own search engines.

      3) it depends.

      Option 1: first of all if you want to create an mobile specific html UI this can be created with an own style sheet. However you typically also want to change the structure and process flow of the solution, which you can also achieve. 

      Option 2 is to use native apps for which you would need web services (see below).

      4) it is possible to generate web services needed with enterprise java beans. We don’t have web services yet, but it’s on the roadmap for a future release.

      Best regards,

      Ingo

      (0) 
      1. Jie Zhao

        Hi Ingo,

        Thanks for the reply. On ATP check for 1.0, i have been trying to locate config settings for the “staged” ATP check on the catalogue level, however, I can’t seem to locate this in help or web channel builder. Can you please shed some lights before I go down the OSS route?

        thanks

        Jie

        (0) 
        1. Ingo Woesner Post author

          Hi Jie,

          Please create an OSS ticket. I am not familiar in depth with the web channel builder, and with the OSS ticket you are directly connected with the person who knows the answer.

          Best regards,

          Ingo

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          1. Jie Zhao

            Hi Ingo,

            Another question on web analytics. Is there any predelivered business content in BI for this? if so what type of content? any example reports? If you can also point me to some documentation in this area, it would be much appreciated.

            Many thanks

            Jie

            (0) 
  3. Timothy Green

    I am currently looking into possible solutions for a client They really like the functionality of WCEM 2.0 for an internal B2B scenario and would like to do something fairly quickly.  The suggestion at the moment is to install on ECC (their CRM is only 5.0 and is not extensively used), ECC is currently at EHP4.

    Hence I am looking at suggesting we implement 1.0 then along with upgrading the back end we implement 2.0 when it is available on general release?

    Is the upgrade capability from 1.0 to 2.0 ok, we are assuming a fairly vanilla install, perhaps 1 enhancement to validate cost centre for posting costs since the orders will be internal. Then upgrade to 2.0 with any other addtional enhancements.

    (0) 
  4. Prashil Wasnik

    Hi Ingo,

    How easy will it be to transport our custom enhancements if we already have WC enablement running and if we decide to move the WCEM 3.0.

    We had developing lots of custom enhancment over past 2-3 year and WCEM seems to be written right from scratch.

    I agree on the Business Object and Backend Interaction Layer we could compromise some efforts but UI and presentation seems to be big challenge.

    How do you think the approach for it.

    regards

    Prashil

    (0) 
    1. Ingo Woesner Post author

      Hi Prashil,

      there is no dedicated migration path from Internet Sales/Web Channel Enablement to WCEM.

       

      However, I got these answers from a leading WCEM architect::

      1) Is it possible to incorporate existing JSP changes in ISA to new WCEM frontend UI (Java Server Faces, JSF)?

      You won’t be able to take over your changes only by copy & paste, but it’s still Java-based solution and the Facelet technology used by JSF brings a comfortable and modern way of UI programming.

      In general, WCEM provides at least the same flexibility of UI modification feasibilities as you know from Internet Sales.

      Read the UI Technology blog for technical details.

      2) Is it possible to incorporate the customized ISA logic of Action, BO, etc. in new implementation of WCEM?

      WCEM (& JSF) don’t use Struts Actions. In WCEM you’ll find “View Component Handler” which will be probably the right place to implement logic which you’ve currently in the Struts Actions.

      The Architecture of WCEM Business Objects layer is very similar to the one used in Internet Sales. 

      Maybe you won’t be able to take over your changes directly, but this part shouldn’t be a big deal.

       

      Read the UI Technology blog for technical details.

      In case you have questions please post it in the UI technology blog.

      Best regards,

      Ingo

      (0) 
  5. Heber Olivar Silva

    Hi Ingo Woesner, how are you?

    I’ve been looking for if WCEM is compatible with SAP AFS where customers can choose specific product’s characteristics such as color and size for clothes and foots. I already read that SAP Retail specific “Generic Articles” are only supported with CRM backend with MDM catalog, but it’s not clear for me if SAP AFS is covered by this scenario as well.

    Could you guide me with this doubt? I’d like to propose this solution for a big customer that already runs SAP AFS.

       

    Regards,

    Heber Olivar

    (0) 

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