SAP Commerce released version 2005 of Commerce cloud, a version number that refers to May 2020. There are plenty of new, interesting features that offer benefits for your business. In this blog post, I highlight the most impactful features of this latest release.
SAP announces new release schedule
As you have probably noticed, SAP Commerce has moved from version 1905 to 2005. SAP is changing their release schedule, switching from a quarterly to an annual release for SAP Commerce Cloud. Release schedules for other solutions are as follows:
SAP has also announced that it will continue to support previous versions of Commerce, from release 1808 onward, until 29 August 2021.
From accelerator to headless
More and more companies are opting for content- and experience-led strategies instead of commerce-led strategies. ‘Headless’ commerce can help companies follow that strategy. This is why headless storefronts will replace the accelerators within the SAP Commerce landscape.
But what exactly is a headless storefront? This is when a business decouples its storefront from its backend system. In doing so, it’s possible to create multiple Commerce touchpoints, like desktop, mobile, apps, watches, smart devices and social media channels, that run on the same back-end system through API calls.
Sounds promising, right? APIs (application programming interfaces) allow software programs to interact with each other, exchange information and request online services. An example might make this clearer: a customer clicks the ‘add to cart’ button to put a product in their cart. The API tells the system to add a specific product to the cart. The system adds the product to the cart in the backend and updates the cart on the storefront. The customer then sees the product in their cart.
The biggest advantages of a headless storefront:
- almost no limitations – you can customize and personalize your website as much as you want;
- ultimate flexibility;
- shorter time to market when launching new sites in a different country or via a new channel;
- lower development costs;
- different sites/channels running on one backend system.
B2B Commerce organization API
Customers will be able to better control their own spending thanks to the approval mechanism that is triggered once an order surpasses defined purchasing thresholds. Managing an entire organization is possible in just a few clicks by creating units, users, spending limits, approvers, cost centers and budgets. All these settings will be saved on your account in the SAP Commerce Backoffice. This functionality was already possible on the B2B accelerator, but it has now been added as an API for use on a headless storefront.
Order and stock APIs
The system enables the creation of repeat orders by creating a new cart based on an existing order, replicating the products, quantities, payment and shipping information. Customers will also be able to schedule automatic reorders. The scheduled replenishment can vary by customer with the selection of a start date and frequency, leading to higher sales and customer satisfaction. This functionality was also already available via the accelerator, but is now enabled as an API.
There are also some additional changes to keep in mind concerning the following functions:
- Inventory display: Instead of an exact number of products that are in stock, you can decide to show, for example, “25+ products in stock”. The value can be specific to product category.
- Cancellations and returns: You will be able to offer self-service cancellations and returns to reduce support costs and increase customer satisfaction – a particularly useful feature in the context of the corona pandemic. More people are buying things online and are getting used to returning products that they don’t want.
Creating workflows is a breeze
Thanks to the workflow designer, it is simple to create and manage different workflows, ensuring data completeness and boosting employee productivity. This was also possible in previous versions of Commerce cloud, but technical knowledge was required to set it up. From this release moving forward, business personnel will be able to assemble workflows and use the preview feature to visualize tasks, actions and decisions. Once a workflow is saved, it can be used immediately. The intuitive preview feature makes it easy to drag and drop actions or decisions, to connect them with arrows and assign actions to users or user groups.
Product bundling is back!
The bundling perspective allows you to create and manage bundle templates by adding products and managing their specific prices within a bundle. The overview displays the defined packages and components in a tree structure. You can give a special discount on products that are in a bundle, disallow certain product combinations and create dependencies in complex product configurations.
The product bundling feature guides customers into selecting the exact products that they need, leading to increased satisfaction and a better experience. This functionality used to be only available via the Telco accelerator, but SAP decided to enable it for all industries in both B2B and B2C environments.
The 2005 release offers some small improvements to SmartEdit. From now on, it’s possible to create media containers for your simple responsive banner components and easily manage the responsiveness of your banners. It is possible to decide which image or banner you will show on a certain device. The image displayed via a mobile phone can, for example, be different from the one displayed on a laptop or tablet and this can be managed simply and easily to optimize customer experience.
From now on, it won’t be necessary to log into SmartEdit after working in SAP Commerce Backoffice, as SAP has introduced single sign-on for SmartEdit. They are also reintroducing the WCMS cockpit, which you can use to create, edit and manage your sites and their content using the previous user experience.
SAP may be reintroducing the WCMS cockpit to ensure that all customers move to the CCV2 (cloud) environment. Customers that are on older versions like the 6.6 and earlier were used to the WCMS and aren’t yet familiar with SmartEdit. By reactivating WCMS, they seek to make the barrier to upgrade smaller in order to convince customers using earlier versions.
Using previous versions of SAP Commerce, the system often slowed down when running multiple, frequent cronjobs. SAP solved this problem in version 2005 by allowing users to apply a retention rule that deletes CronJobHistory entries from the database. SAP also tightened the security of the platform by disabling all default users and their preconfigured passwords.
Simplified classification attributes
Classifications allow you to add data attributes without bringing developers to the table. You can create a classification system or tree next to a product category tree and assign the correct classification to the correct category. API users can now dynamically assign classification attributes to products without exposing the complex classification systems themselves. Thanks to a user-friendly configuration option, it is now possible to add classification features to products during runtime.
Why OData is the content type of the future
There are two kinds of middleware used to integrate SAP Commerce Cloud with other SAP products: Data Hub and SAP Cloud Platform Integration (also called CPI or SCPI). Using SCPI is recommended, and here is why. Both middleware are using HTTP as communication protocol and IDocs to transfer messages from the middleware to other SAP Products. They are also both using HTTP as communication from the middleware to SAP Commerce Cloud. The difference is that Data Hub is using ImpEx as content type for the communication, while SCPI is using OData. delaware already did some investigation on this. So if you need some extra information/clarification or if you want a demo, feel free to contact me.
A few of the advantages of using OData:
- OData is an open protocol launched by Microsoft and based on REST services, making it possible to retrieve data with a URL;
- It supports different protocols, like http(s), Atom Pub, JSON and XML;
- It supports any type of data source, including the use of custom methods;
- It is lightweight, enabling Interaction between server and clients will be much faster compared to web services and other technologies;
- It supports basic functions: GET, POST, PUT, DELETE.
The built-in integration objects will kick-start your project and lower integration costs. These integrations are created to automate more business processes and to achieve a seamless customer experience for lead-to-cash scenarios.
Expanded integrations with other SAP products
There are two major improvements concerning the integration with SAP S/4HANA and SAP ERP. The first is asynchronous order management, including configurable products from SAP Variant Configuration and Pricing. There is also an integration with the service management functionality to manage and fulfill the service requirements of SAP Commerce Cloud customers.
Regarding improvements to SAP CPQ, SAP ensured that bundles of configure, price, and quotes products, variant configuration products and accessories with SAP CPQ rules fit together. There is also an improvement in advanced quotation management that includes subscription products for the quotation process.
SAP Marketing Cloud integration with SAP Commerce Cloud has some new features as well. You will be able to replicate coupon promotions and personalization to SAP Marketing Cloud. Product reviews, consents, saved carts and return requests can also be replicated.
Highly personalized storefronts with SAP Context-Driven Services
Personalized storefronts offer customers the ability to find the products they want – leading them to complete purchases. SAP Context-Driven Services uses real-time contextual data to enable a high level of personalization.
Next to the personalization of content banners and search results, it is possible to also optimize features like product carousels. User behavior can define the best product carousel mix to improve the click through ratio. In other words, the product carousel adapt to the customer behavior. You can boost product visibility and improve inventory navigation by using machine learning-powered product recommendations, and algorithms are regularly retrained to offer the best possible recommendations.
A/B testing allows users to test different merchandising mixes against one another. By looking at detailed reports, marketing personnel can gain a clearer understanding of current merchandising mixes, and iterate them if necessary. It’s important to note that SAP Context-Driven Services has a separate licensing cost.
Recap of the most important changes
The fact that SAP Commerce is changing to a headless/API first approach not only enables businesses to easily make use of different touchpoints; they will also be able to create different ‘storefronts’. SAP does offer Spartacus, but it is possible to use other alternatives depending on your business needs, which significantly increases flexibility.
In addition, it now requires less development to maintain Commerce Cloud. Product bundles can be created and maintained in SAP Commerce Backoffice, classification management is simplified, the workflow design tool enables easy creation and management and flows by dragging and dropping actions and decisions and to link them to each other, customers can now manage their own organizations, and more. All of these aspects give employees more time to focus and to improve processes based on their own expertise.
Lastly, SAP has taken user experience to a new level, a fact that’s demonstrated by the effort they have poured into Context-Driven Services, which enables businesses to personalize their web shops. With these features, businesses are empowered to truly differentiate themselves from their competitors to gain more market share.
Would you like more details about how to use the new functionalities included in SAP Commerce 2005? Feel free to get in touch with delaware.
- SAP Commerce Cloud
- SAP release notes
- SAP Cloud Platform Integration
- SAP Context Driven Services
- Headless storefront
Image credits: SAP SE