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With Web Channel Experience Management, SAP’s eCommerce solution, SAP decided to provide a public integration interface, the Web Content Management Adapter (WCMA) rather than investing in development of content management capabilities. For customers this means two things: On the one side they are free to follow a best-of-breed approach and integrate any web experience and content management solution that suits their requirements. On the other side, increased effort and costs of integrating a 3rd party solution ensue. The question arises whether to pursue a custom solution or whether to choose a certified commercial solution that provides well-defined out-of-the box use cases.

Here are some guidelines to help you make the right decision for your company.

If you choose to follow a custom implementation, make sure to consider all the implications. As with all custom projects, the devil is in the details. With several years of experience developing and creating the WCMA specifications jointly with SAP as well as working with partners and delivering a number of customer projects we have extracted numerous key learnings. For one, many things you have to consider are not obvious and will only arise when you are well into deployment phase, sometimes even as late as QA. Consider the following key points and ensure that your system integrator has a strong grasp on how to address these:

  1. Upgrades and Deployment: This topic is seemingly obvious, but often underestimated. Both WCEM and the content management solution will have periodic new releases with new features that you may want to use. How will you guarantee that each upgrade will not require huge project effort and that the content management solution can utilize the new features provided by the new release of WCEM?
  2. Loadbalancing and Failover: SAP addresses these within WCEM but what about the integration with the content management solution? Do you need additional load balancers? How is failover of the integration between WCEM and the content management implemented? Do you need to route traffic to media content managed in the WCMS separately? This can have an impact on your hardware landscape and number of systems you have to operate.
  3. HTTP and HTTPS: Does your integration ensure that switching to HTTPS for transactions happens seamlessly and does not present warnings and errors to your customers, that could drive them away and would impact your revenue?
  4. Consistency of Design: With the WCMA both WCEM and the WCMS will generate markup that form the webpages so both sides require CSS, Javascript and images. How do you guarantee that these are consistent, managed in one place and the configuration capabilities remain intact in WCEM?
  5. Integration of the product catalog with marketing content: One of the main use cases we see across our customer base is putting products in context of marketing content and landing pages to promote a product on a landing page or to link from marketing text to related products. Does the WCMS provide an easy to use interface to look up products in the catalog so that they can be put in context of marketing content? Can the solution generate links to product pages that are not hardcoded? This might sound trivial, but believe me it is not, pricing can be determined dynamically in WCEM so how does your solution show prices on a marketing landing pages that are determined by WCEM? These prices must take into account discounts, campaigns etc. will your WCMS do that efficiently or at all?
  6. SEO: How does the solution address SEO. Can the solution control title, metadata, keywords and headlines depending on products and product categories? Can these be changed quickly and in a flexible way by marketeers? Can you create links between catalog and marketing content?
  7. Preview : As a marketer, when you create content in the WCMS you want to verify, can you preview your work in the right context, e.g. in your shop? Does your solution provide an integrated preview with WCEM so that you can easily verify your work?
  8. Multi-Language-Support: WCEM comes with powerful multi-language support. How does your solution support internationalization with WCEM?
  9. Multi-Tenancy: You can run multiple shops in one instance of WCEM. Does your solution support multi tenancy, with authorization, management of multiple styles, user and rights management?
  10. Content Use Cases : Which ones do you have? Will you need to implement them or are there already modules you can use out of the box?

CoreMedia LiveContext is the only SAP certified solution for WCEM. LiveContext provides an out-of-the-box solution and a portfolio of use cases that are relevant to eCommerce customers. Through continuous innovation and joint development with SAP, LiveContext integrates new WCEM versions and features to provide a future proof option.

In the end it comes down to a buy or build decision. Just make sure to be well informed before you make it. Late surprises can get expensive.

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