IBM Management Center Enhancements for WebSphere Commerce V7

Business user tool enhancements include the marketing dialog builder for creating and managing marketing and merchandising dialog activities with shoppers over time. Other enhancements include support for dynamically managing customer segments; as well as managing content, e-marketing spots and sales catalog in an extended sites model. The Promotions user interface has also been enhanced; and promotions based on catalog attributes, payment method, choice of free gift and others have been added.

Business-to-business (B2B) Web 2.0 Starter Store – The Web 2.0 based B2B starter store provides a rich experience and streamlined checkout process to enable B2B businesses to deliver a B2C-like shopping experience.

Data Load Tools – New data load tools allow for efficient loading of catalog, pricing and inventory information into WebSphere Commerce database.

Web Analytics Integration Framework – A framework for consistent integration with third-party web analytics vendors such as Coremetrics and Omniture.

Foundation enhancements – The underlying software stack of IBM WebSphere Application Server and IBM DB2® are updated to leverage the latest versions.

Management Center Enhancements Highlights
  • Management Center vs. Accelerator
    • Only in Accelerator – Create content spot and schedule
    • Moving forward, no separate object for content spots, will be phased out
    • Content spot was originally created for performance reasons,
    • New caching of e-spots eliminates need for content spots
    • Now, changing from static (content spot) to dynamic (e-spot) content does not require change in code/jsp
  • Previous in Management Center – Campaign, Web Activity, Marketing Experiment, Email Activity, Promotion, Content
  • New in Management Center – Customer Segment, e-Spot, Dialog Activity
  • Extended Sites support
    • Sales Catalog is new in Mgmt Center
    • All marketing capabilities available to all store models (B2B, B2C)
  • No changes in catalog tool in Management Center
  • Workspaces – Only in Accelerator – synchronize workspaces
  • Assets
    • Fully supported by MC, including MC-only features not available to Accelerator
    • Contracts, Inventory, Vendors, Change flows – only in Accelerator
  • Usability improvements for v7
    • Change password during logon (previously not available)
    • Time zone support (set in preferences)
    • Text editing – Spell check & Display in html or rich text button in text editor field
    • Working with lists

1. Edit directly in the list
2. New context options:

Edit Column: Select rows you want to change, and make simultaneous change to same column in each selected row

3. Copy to Clipboard
4. Select All

  • Other improvements
    • Keyboard accessibility (key shortcuts)
    • Mobile store preview
    • Case insensitive search (across all tools in MC)
  • New capabilities for customization
    • New property to conditionally enable tabs
    • New service PostSaveService – Example: after saving customer segment, automatically activate it (save time for business user)
  • Catalog tool improvements
    • Sales catalog supported at asset store level
    • Do not have to save products before creating attributes for them
    • Offer price validation – warn about duplicate or overlapping offers
    • Product name and image in utility search
  • Sales Catalog limitations
    • Cannot reuse category across catalogs
    • Cannot link into inherited category (category from catalog asset store) – creates too many options

Enhanced Promotions Overview

  • Overview
    • Improved usability of Promotions tool
    • More flexibility in promotion options – Exposure of more capabilities in Promotion Engine
  • Tool improvements
    • Administrative name
      • Can be modified
      • Unique within the store
    • Support for inherited sales catalog
      • Promotions can target inherited catalog entries and categories
    • Unique promotion priority
      • Set in wc-component.xml
    • Accelerator does not show promotions managed by MC (since different tables are used)
    • Template picker customization
      • Single configuration file for adding custom promotion types
      • PromotionTypeTemplatePicker.lzx
  • New promotion types
    • Order level amount off shipping
    • Product level fixed shipping discount
    • Category level fixed shipping discount
    • Multiple items percent discount – eh, did not understand…  something about item in A group, and item in B group, get discount
  • New promotion features
    • Maximum discount amount – cap discount (20% off greeting card “up to $2”)
    • Payment type – 10% off when paid with store credit card
      • Not supported in starter store, requires some customization
    • Choice of free gift – allow shopper to choose, instead of predetermining
      • Popup in shopping cart
      • Shows list of free gifts to choose from
    • Attribute filter with operators: 10% off “red” shirt (can use descriptive or defining attribute)
      • Matching rule: value can be, or value CANNOT be (exclusion)
      • Attribute names and values must match casing and spacing wise
  • Best deal support
    • Traditional, qualifying promotions evaluated in sequence, [promotions with same sequence, arbitrarily applied]
    • New, promotions with all possible sequences evaluated, best discount is applied (performance hit, off by default)

WCSPromotionEngineConfig.xml

<EvaluationFlowControl>1</EvaluationFlowControl>

  • Performance consideration
    • Number of evaluation sequences is n! where n is the number of qualifying promotions
    • Use priority to differentiate promotions when possible
    • Threshold value limits max number of sequences evaluated

WCSPromotionEngineConfig.xml

<SequenceCombinationLimit>300</SequenceCombinationLimit>

  • Best deal customization
  • Default is price based comparison
  • Other comparisons possible
    • Free gift is not included in default evaluation
    • Extend compareResult() method of DefaultPromotionEngine class
  • Limitations
    • Payment type promotions not support in starter stores
    • No validation on attribute filters
    • Best deal does not consider free gifts or shipping changes
    • Deprecated promotions
      • Percent off volume discount
      • Amount off volume discount

Stay tuned for the next topic – WebSphere Commerce Build and Deploy (WCBD)

WebSphere Commerce Build and Deploy (WCBD) is the first tool aims to provide a standardized, ANTbased, build and deployment framework that is designed to satisfy most typical build and deployment needs, leaving only few configuration steps for a quick startup.