Service Request and Service Contract Management are key functionalities of the e-service area of Web Channel Experience Management. Therefore it is important to understand the basics of the provided functionality and how it can be used to enable self-service for your Web Shop customers.
Service Request provides powerful functionality to request a service for a product you own. Usually the steps needed to create a Service Request are related to choosing the product, entering some details describing the problem and picking an address. In Web Channel Experience Management the process of creating a request requires the web shop customer to go through a process flow of 5 steps:
1. Choose the product

2. Fill in problem description

3. Consult some knowledge articles proposed automatically by the system based on the problem subject

4. Choose an address
5. Confirm the creation

 

Schedule Service Request


However many web shop customers require to get service on site. In order to automate the process Service Request functionality provides an additional step in the process flow to schedule an appointment. The scheduling of Service Request can be done in to different ways:
1. During creation of Service Request – available in “Service and Support” menu as “Schedule Service”
2. After creation of Service Request – available in Service Request overview page triggered by the “Schedule” button
The scheduling of an appointment is quite useful functionality and I would like to further dive into the details.
Service Request scheduling functionality leverages the Resource Planner and Service Request functionality in SAP CRM system.

 

Schedule Service Request.jpg
Illustration 1: Schedule Service Request


With Service Resource Planning in SAP CRM you can maintain your internal and external resources that you can schedule for a job.
In order to get the available appointments the web shop customer should first pick an address. This step is preceding the schedule service step and requires the customer to pick the address he wants to get the service at. At the schedule service step the system will automatically find the available time slots and populate the appointment table with data.  The customer can choose a slot which fits best to his own availability. The available time slots are determined based on the resource availability as maintained in CRM Resource Planner. Usually the timeslots are just fixed in time and define when the technician will be at the chosen address. The scheduling is not confirmed instantly though. For this reason the customer see a pending status of the scheduled time slot in the confirmation page of the newly created Service Request. The schedule appointment status can be checked easily in the Service Request overview page.

 

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Illustration 2: Scheduled time slot in Service Request overview page

 


I would like to mention that free appointments are not always available. As I describe above the allocation of the time slots is based on the resource availability. This means for example the web shop customer may not get any free slots in case the service address picked during creation is not part of the resource allocation.
The web shop customer can also schedule an appointment for a particular Service Request after it has been created. The functionality works in the same way as in scheduling process except the fact that the customer cannot change the address for an existing Service Request.

 

Assign Service Contract to Service Request

 

One of the essential aspects of Service Request process is the integration of Service Contracts. The web shop customer can check and assign a Service Contract during creation of a Service Request. This process can reduce the interaction costs and increase customer satisfaction.  Many customers have Service Contracts for their purchased products. The costs of the Service Request for a product might be covered by a related Service Contract. In case the product chosen for the service is part of a Service Contract item the customer can easily assign the Service Contract to the Service Request. In case there is only one Service Contract item found it will be automatically assigned to the Service Request. The web shop customer will not be able to remove or change the assignment. In case there are more than one Service Sontract item found the system will determine and list them in a screen overlay. This brings high value for web shop customers as they can easily find and assign the desired Service Contract to the Service Request.

 

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Illustration 3: Manual Service Contract selection in Service Request

 

The Service Contract determination process is executed in SAP CRM backend according to the customizing. The functionality can be easily enabled in Web Channel Builder settings of Service Request module. The web shop customer can easily change the assigned Service Contract during the process of creating Service Request. However after the Service Request is created the assigned Service Contract cannot be removed for the Service Request. The customer though can easily see the attached Service Contract in the Service Request overview page. He can also navigate to the Service Contract details via a link only in case the Service Contract module is part of the web shop configuration.

 

Service Request can be used and leveraged in different scenarios. If you want to enhance or simplify the process based on your own business requirements you can use the Web Channel extensibility concept. If you need for example a simple Service Request scheduling process you can easily remove most of the steps and keep only the schedule and submit page. For this scenario you need to enhance the Service Request module by creating your own and add it to the shop configuration.

 

For more WCEM blogs, please click here

E-Service: Complaints and Returns

 

Interactions with customers do not always go as expected and problems can arise from time to time.  If you have ordered items to have them shipped, accidents can happen during transit, and you may end up receiving damaged goods. 

 

Using WCEM with the CRM 7.0 backend, complaints and returns provide the means for customers to resolve their own issues with easy to follow steps, as well as offering the option for a business to be able to define automated actions triggered at the end of the process.

 

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Illustration 1: Complaint Process

 

Depending on your business needs, you can give different starting points to initiate a complaint or a return.  These options can be enabled directly from the web channel builder. 

 

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Illustration 2: WCB Settings

 

Once an item has been chosen, it is time to give some details about the nature of the issue and what kind of resolution you expect.  To do so, you can enter a description, use categorization values, and even attach a document or a picture showing the damage to the item.  Optionally, service contracts can be used in the complaint process if, for example, specific response times are expected to the problem resolution.  This can be useful if you have a special program where a customer can pay to receive extra attention.

 

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Illustration 3: Specify details for a complaint

 

After you’ve entered all the data required, you will be directed to a page where various solutions are offered by the system.  The knowledge base will offer articles contextualized to the information given on the details page and to the problematic item itself.  By removing the knowledge management module in the web channel builder, the “check solutions” step would disappear.

 

A nice feature offered is the automatic resolution of problems using BRF+.  For example, if a user is returning an item, you can setup conditions to take action immediately such as issuing a credit memo.  If needed, custom actions can be defined quite easily.

 

In release 2.0, we have enabled the “Contact person” scenario for eService.  This now allows multiple representative of an account to act on the account's behalf to do business.  A complaint or a return initiated by one of the representative can be accessed by another person of interest, as long as they are linked to the same account.

 

For more WCEM blogs, please click here.

E-Marketing:  Reach your audience

Your business has a wide assortment of products and there is a great deal of interest in what you have to offer.  Sales are excellent and there is some buzz about your company.  But don’t think you can relax now!  The market moves fast and you want to be able to reach your customers and keep them interested.

 

WCEM offers many ways to do just that.

 

In this blog I will describe several ways to reach your customers and keep them wanting more.  Let’s begin with discounts.  Everyone loves a good bargain!

 

Campaigns

 

Keep your discounts fresh by updating them often.  You can create campaigns and offer a discount either on a single product, a category of products or even on every item you have in the store.  All you need to do is go to the discounts section of the campaign and assign the right discount conditions.  In the example illustrated below, we’re offering 30% off the price assigned to products of a specific category, such as televisions, and it is a personalized offer targeted to a specific market segment due to having a target group assigned in the campaign determination condition.  In addition, those customers would have to pay no shipping fees.

 

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     Illustration 1: Campaign discounts.

 

You’d rather have your customers hunt for bargains?  All you need to do is create a public campaign, assign it a coupon code and let an affiliate marketing firm distribute it to a larger network of customers via various social networking sites.

 

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     Illustration 2: Assigning a coupon code to a campaign.

 

 

These coupons can be entered in multiple places in the web shop and provide the rewarding feeling of seeing a price get slashed, only to reveal a lower one right below.  You can customize the shop to accept multiple promotions or restrict them to one per customer.

 

One caveat is that the web shop must be setup with dynamic or mixed pricing to work with campaigns.  You can learn more about these options in the “Pricing Engines” blog.  This is applicable only to the catalog and the java basket.  In the case of the backend cart and checkout, the campaigns will work automatically.

 

Newsletters and Customer profiles

Email marketing is a complex topic; there is a whole science behind it.  How do you ensure that your mail is not just skipped over and how do you keep the customer interested in what you have to say?  WCEM offers some features to help your business to be heard.  Customers can subscribe to newsletters from the web shop directly and to ensure that they do not start receiving emails by mistake we offer three types of subscription methods:

  • Simple Opt-In
  • Confirmed Opt-In
  • Double Opt-In

 

Simple Opt-In is the most straightforward method.  As soon as the customer subscribes, newsletters will start being sent to the email address specified in the user information.  However, if your business wishes to send a confirmation email about the subscription, the confirmed opt-in option can be chosen.  If you absolutely want no customer complaints about spam, double opt-in is the best choice.  In this case, once the customer subscribes, an email is sent out to which a reply is expected for a second confirmation before the newsletters start being sent. 

 

But how do you ensure that the right information is sent to the right people?  For this, customer profiles can be used, allowing you to define a set of marketing attributes that will help you know your customers.  You wouldn’t want to send offers about meat products to a vegetarian customer.  An attribute set can be assigned to a web shop and the values chosen by the user will be saved in the business partner’s marketing attributes.

 

Target groups can then be created from these attributes which in turn can be assigned to campaigns and many other marketing objects.

 

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     Illustration 3: Segmenting BPs based on their interest.

 

Now you’ll be able to send offers and general information to the market segments of your choice.

 

Loyalty

 

For the customers who aren’t bargain seekers, but still like to get some extra value for their purchase, WCEM offers loyalty management.  Customers can enroll in a loyalty program, manage their accounts and use their rewards to receive discounts when shopping online.  The settings to enable loyalty within your shop are quite simple.  There are only two mandatory settings: the loyalty ID and the point type you wish to use.

 

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     Illustration 4: Loyalty management settings in WCB.

 

The first step for a customer to enjoy all the benefits associated with your loyalty program is to become a member.  A good approach is offering some incentive such as setting up a campaign giving out bonus points upon registration, which of course can be sent to select customers only.  The same result can be achieved by setting up a BRF+ rule which gets triggered upon registration.

 

The WCEM catalog has the ability to display bonus points on products which can be earned on purchase, and this information is displayed to all customers visiting the site.  You can use this type of promotion strategy to shift focus to higher margin products or assist with inventory control.  To assign bonus points to products, you have to assign a loyalty settype and maintain the “EARN” scenario.

 

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     Illustration 5: Maintaining bonus points for products

 

Finally we come to redemption, or the way customers can use the points they have accumulated.  Points can be used as currency during the checkout step by entering the amount desired in the payment section.  Mixed payment is supported where the customer can enter points in conjunction with a monetary sum. If you require tighter control over the breakage point, you can set up rules to generate point consuming vouchers when a certain amount of points has been accrued.  This strategy along with an expiration policy can help you predict your velocity of earning more precisely.

 

 

Advanced Product Recommendations

 

In WCEM 2.0, we’ve enhanced the capabilities of our recommendation engine to take into account the wisdom of the crowd.  You can now mine data from BW to predict which recommendation will be more effective when displayed as cross-selling or Top N proposals.

 

Flexible analysis models from BW can build the recommendations and export them to CRM as cross-selling rules which can be personalized by the assignment of a target group.  

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     Illustration 6: Steps to send mined recommendation to CRM.

 

Of course, these steps can be scheduled as jobs to run every so often to keep the information current.  By displaying more relevant and dynamically updated products to the customer you can expect to see an increase in sales.

 

For more WCEM blogs, please click here.

This is again one of the WCEM Blogs, which claims to talk about “one of the most important decisions during implementation and configuration of WCEM”. Well, choosing the right pricing engine for your shop actually is an important decision. Basically the challenge for you will be to balance business requirements for flexibility in price calculation against performance and load considerations.
The good thing is, that you can adjust your decision later if your requirements change or you feel that another setup fits better to the needs of your users and your company. This would not impact your users. Most probably they wouldn’t even recognize it, unless they may see e.g. personalized prices.
Below I will try to bring some light into the different options, their strengths and gaps.
So let’s start then. The areas, which are affected by the Pricing Engine decision, are:
  • Price display in Catalog
  • Price display in Cart (to be differentiated between Java Cart and Backend Cart)
  • Price display in Checkout
For each of these areas different options can be chosen.


Price display in Catalog

For the Catalog you may choose between “List Prices” and “Dynamic Pricing”:
WCB_Catalog_Pricing_Method.png
Let’s postpone the third option for a moment.


List prices

“List Price” option is simply, what is says. The prices shown in the catalog are determined by a simple table lookup like:
ProductPrice
Computer Intel® Core™ i3-2350M499,- €
Computer Intel® Core™ i5-2450M599,- €
This way of determining the price is pretty straight forward, simple and fast. Just the Java WebServer and the catalog engine are involved in the determination. Technically it is based on a condition table, which is replicated to the catalog engine (e.g. A304 for the famous PR00 condition type in ERP).
“List Price” fits always, where you want to show standard or default prices in the catalog and where the determination depends on one (the product) or two criteria only. On the other hand it is not very flexible. If you want to show prices,
  • Which are personalized to your user
  • Which involve discounts (strike through prices)
  • Which involve Promotions and campaigns
the “List Price” option is not the first choice. In this case the other option “Dynamic Pricing” can position its strengths.


Dynamic pricing

Using “Dynamic Pricing” the prices shown in the catalog are determined or better calculated by a dedicated pricing engine. All pricing engines, which are used in WCEM, are based on SAP’s Condition Technique. Condition Technique is quite comprehensive and powerful (yes I am a fan), but requires unfortunately a certain level of knowledge to be able to turn its capabilities into value. For those, who are interested to become a fan, I can only recommend Preisfindung und Konditionstechnik in SAP ERP (unfortunately in German only). In the catalog it is technically based on SAP’s “Internet Pricing and Configurator” engine (IPC). Hence the Java WebServer, the Catalog Engine and the backend WebAS (the Virtual Machine Container part) are involved in the determination.
Dynamic Pricing fits always, where you want to show prices
  • Which are personalized to your user
  • Which involve discounts or surcharges
  • Which involve Promotions and Campaigns
  • Which depend on multiple criteria in different combinations
  • Which at least potentially match the prices determined in Checkout
On the other hand, Dynamic pricing requires much more system resources compared to List prices. In addition to the fact, that Dynamic Pricing is actually a price calculation, keep in mind that for every price determination the backend WebAS is called (even if these calls are of course optimized).


Mixed

The mixed pricing method is, as its name says, a combination of list price and dynamic price. This mode was designed to bring more marketing into list price configured shops. The idea behind is simple: by default all prices displayed in the catalog are list prices retrieved from the catalog engine and for certain products targeted by a campaign, the price is retrieved by IPC.
At runtime, we can determine if some of the products about to be displayed on a catalog listing page are part of a campaign. The user could also manually enter a coupon number and would expect to see right away the special prices.
In short, a mixed pricing mode catalog is in list price mode by default, except if some campaigns are active. In this case, IPC kicks in and displays campaign prices only for the relevant products part of the campaign.


Price display in Java Cart

In the Java Cart you don’t have a completely free choice of the pricing method. Actually it is pretty much influenced by the pricing method chosen for the catalog.If you did choose “Dynamic Pricing” in the catalog for the reasons mentioned above, the Java Cart uses in any case “Dynamic Prices” as well in order to stay on the comprehensive level defined in the catalog.If you did choose “List Prices” in the catalog, you may again choose between staying with “List Prices” and switching to “Dynamic Pricing”. This is driven by the following setting in the WCB:
WCB_Salestransaction_Enforce_IPC.png
Staying with “List Prices” is preferable when you technically want to make sure, that the prices in the catalog and in the cart match and when your focus is to keep resource consumption at the lowest level possible. It is also an option, if you are running against an ERP-Backend and want to avoid using the IPC.
You would switch to “Dynamic Pricing” if you want at least in the cart show prices
  • Which are personalized to your user
  • Which Involve discounts or surcharges (Strikethrough Prices)
  • Which involve Promotions and Campaigns
  • Which depend on multiple criteria in different combinations
  • Which at least potentially match the prices determined in Checkout
Please be also aware, that
  • Scales
  • Taxes
  • Shipping Costs
  • Free Goods
can be taken into consideration and shown respectively only, if “Dynamic Pricing” is chosen for the Java Cart.
In the Java Cart “Dynamic Pricing” is technically based on the IPC. Hence the Java WebServer, the Catalog Engine and the backend WebAS (the Virtual Machine Container part) are involved in the determination.
My personal favorites are using “List prices” in the Catalog and “Dynamic Pricing” the Java Cart, when low resource consumption is key. Otherwise I prefer “Dynamic Pricing” because of the flexibility it offers and because of the chance to keep pricing consistent through the complete process.


Price display in Backend Cart/ Price display in Checkout


Because of the nature of this cart type and of this process step respectively, you don’t have a choice here. “Dynamic Pricing” is used always. The price calculation is based on the integrated pricing functionality of the backend Sales Order. This means the same price calculation is running as if the order would be entered in the backend. All exits, data and determinations you might have introduced to the Sales Order functionality on the backend, apply.
When running against a CRM Backend, pricing is technically based on the IPC. Hence only the backend WebAS is involved in the determination.
When running against an ERP Backend, pricing is technically based on SD Pricing functionality. Hence only the backend WebAS is involved in the determination.


Further Information

 

More WCEM Blogs to check out

Please check SAP Web Channel Experience Management - Blog INDEX for further blogs.

If you open any web-shop you will at the beginning most probably only navigate through the product catalog. Later – after you have done the registration, if you have ordered a product or if you have something to complain about – other areas are interesting as well.
In Web Channel Experience Management we have two areas which are accessible as navigation on top of the screen – "MyAccount" and most of the cases also "Service and Support". This blog is about the navigation areas on the left side of "MyAccount” and “Service and Support". It’s not a very complex topic – not for using this in the shop, but also not from a configuration point of view.

 

myAccount.jpg
Illustration 1: My Account

 

"MyAccount" and "Service and Support" in the Web Shop

Via the "MyAccount" Area in the Web Shop you can e. g. navigate to Sales Transactions or to the area where you can maintain your own Account. For "MyAccount" the user must be logged on.
"Service and Support" contains navigation entries for Service Requests, Complaints or the registration of Products. Here it is not always required to be logged on already.  Both menus look very similar there are always two navigation-levels. The first level (Menu Heading) is just to group navigation targets and has no own content. It’s possible to expand and collapse all entries of the second level under the related Menu Heading.

 

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Illustration 2: Menu Headings and Menu Options

The second level (Menu Option) is the link to the related page. This could be an advanced search page, a page to create an object or anything else. We call this navigation "Area Navigation". The active Menu Option will always get highlighted so that the user also has some kind of context information from the left-menu.
I guess this is all a user should know about the left navigation menu and I'm sure this is more or less intuitive to use.

 

 

Configure "MyAccount" and "Service and Support" in the Web Channel Builder

The configuration of "MyAccount" and "Service and Support" is also quite easy. If you set up a new configuration you just have to add the modules "myaccounts" and "mysupport".
Please note the "mysupport" module is only available for configurations using CRM as Backend.
Now you have to first add Menu Headings and at least for one Menu Heading you have to add Menu Options. There has to be at least one Menu Option. If there is no Menu Option assigned an error message will get raised in the Web Channel Builder.

 

 

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Illustration 3: Configuration of "myaccounts" in the Web Channel Builder

 

Within the configuration of the "myaccounts" or "mysupport" module it is very easy to change the order of Menu Options within a Menu Heading but you can also change the position of a Menu Heading with all related Menu Options. It’s possible to remove a Menu Option or a Menu Heading with all related Menu Options.
It’s also possible to have a Menu Heading without any related Menu Option. However in this case even the Menu Heading will not get displayed in the Web Shop and in the Web Channel Builder this will get indicated with a warning message.
If you want to add Menu Headings and Menu Options there is only one thing you have to take care for. The available entries are dependent on the modules you have already assigned to your configuration.
If you add a module after the configuration of the "myaccounts" or "mysupport" module the navigation entries are not added automatically to the left menu. If you remove modules later on this can also have an impact on the left menu. As there are also some dependencies to the settings within other modules we like to recommend doing the configuration of "myaccounts" and "mysupport" after you have defined the other modules and setting.

Update existing MyAccount or MySupport configuration

If you change a menu heading and/or menu option inside your module's XML file after you have saved a configuration with the menu heading and/or menu option NO automatic update take place. You must do the following steps to update your configuration with the current state:

Step 1: Remove the changed menu heading and/or menu option from the configuration

Step 2: Add the changed menu heading and/or menu option to your configuration

 

 

Further Information

related to Web Channel Experience Management in general

 

related to User Management

Dear community members,

 

I guess almost every Internet user already has ordered products from a web-shop or has done a registration for such an application. So this topic is familiar for almost everybody but some aspects are really difficult and important if you run a Web Shop.

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Illustration 1: Logonview for the Web Shop Application

 

On the one hand side the shop operator is interested that every user does a registration. This is important for the customer retention. On the other hand site (even more important) he wants to avoid every obstacle the user hinders to buy.

This makes the whole decision about the registration to one of the most important decisions for the web-shop.

In many business applications the user is forced to register and to login. In most of the cases he even has no choice to use the application or not. For a B2C web-shop this is totally different. Here the user has a lot of freedom … also the freedom to leave the shop after 2 seconds.

Therefore it is important to let the user decide if and when he wants to register himself; if and when he wants to login.

For the shop operator it is important to decide which logon-type is the best for his customers.

 

Logon-Types

With Web Channel Experience Management different logon-types are possible

  • eMail
    For a B2C-Shop the logon-type “eMail” is the usual one. This means the logon is done with the entry of the eMail-address and a password. The advantage is that the user doesn't need to think about a good user-name.
  • User-Alias
    The logon-type “User-Alias” is also supported. This means the user has to use his name or an alias for the logon.
  • Technical ID
    A third option is the logon with technical ID. This is a BADI-implementation the customer can set-up within the project. Technical ID could be a phone-number, a license plate or any kind of number which is unique and sufficient to identify the user.

 

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Illustration 2: Configurationoption in Web Channel Builder (User Module)

 

Since Web Channel Experience Management Release 2.0 the “Contact Scenario” is also supported. This means the logon as B2B user is possible. Here the logon is pretty much the same as it is in the B2C scenario. Only in the case the user is assigned to multiple companies he has to select the right Sold-To Party directly after the logon.

However the direct registration in B2B is not yet possible. The shop operator has to do the registration and as to inform the customer about the login.

 

Registration Settings

For a B2C-Shop different options for the registration are possible. The shop operator has to decide which options he wants to enable for his shop.

  1. Single page registration versus registration via guided flow
    Single page registration means that the user has to enter all required data in one page. For the guided flow the registration is done in several steps and the user can navigate back and forth.
  2. Immediate User Activation
    Immediate activation means that the user is logged in directly after he has done the registration. There will be no eMail send out which includes an activation-key. Immediate User Activation or activation with activation with activation-key is again a trade-off decision between usability and security. The activation key can help to ensure the correctness of the eMail-Address the user has entered.

 

Late Logon and Guest User Scenario

In a B2C Scenario it is critical to show a logon directly. Many decisions are rather impulse buying decisions and the logon can have a negative impact on this buying decision.

In principle the user can use the Web-Shop without to logon. In this case not all areas are visible for the user but he can use the product catalog and even add articles to his shopping cart (this works only for the JAVA Basket). The user can now do the logon very late in the checkout-process. It is also possible to do the registration very late in the checkout-process. One prerequisite is the immediate user activation as setting for the Web Shop-Configuration. Otherwise there would be a process-break and this would be annoying for the user and he could lose the products he already has added to the shopping cart.

With release 2.0 it is also possible to do the checkout directly without a logon and registration. We call this “Guest User Scenario”. You could also call this “Onetime Customer Scenario” or “Express Checkout”.

The advantage for the user is that he doesn't need to register and think about a password and user name. The disadvantage is that he cant change the order afterwards easily and he can't benefit from the advantages the shop offers for recurring users (discounts, special offers).

 

Further Information

Related to Web Channel Experience Management in general

 

Related to User Management

The SAP Web Channel Experience Management (WCEM) is a new standalone JAVA based SAP eCommerce solution that can be connected to the backend solution CRM and ERP via so-called backend connectors. In addition one could develop own backend connectors to connect the WCEM to any backend system that is able to handle RFC requests.
 
 

High-level differences

Of course the functionality of the WCEM solution depends on the backend capabilities. In this blog I will expain the principal differences when using a SAP CRM vs. a SAP ERP system, and give you a full overview in Feature Lists.
WEC-0007.jpg
Independent from its backend system the WCEM uses the JAVA based Web Channel Platform with the Web Channel UI and the Web Channel Builder. With both backends a consistent eCommerce process with real time availability and price determination is offered:
WEC-0023.jpg
 
When using SAP ERP as a backend, the SAP Web Channel Experience Management provides a profound eCommerce solution with up-to-date functionality, but in general it lacks all eMarketing and eService features, which are leveraged by a SAP CRM backend.
 
 
When using SAP CRM as a backend, the SAP Web Channel Experience Management provides a consistent and comprehensive customer experience covering the eCommerce channel, Service and Knowledge Management, Marketing features like Campaign and Loyalty Management (collect and redeem points), and Community features. With a SAP CRM backend modern Retail features like in-store pickup, in-store availability check and a store locator are offered to attract customers for a drive by pickup of the goods they have bought during the day.
WCEM uses the dynamic search capabilities of the Web Channel Catalog based on SAP MDM allowing a (logical) category mode navigation and can display the search results with their attributes grouped in the left hand navigation bar (like price from 1 to 10, 11 to 50, colors, ...).
 
 
WEC-0015.jpg
WEC-0020.jpg
WEC-0018.jpg
WEC-0017.jpg
WEC-0022.jpg
WEC-0021.jpg
   

Search and Navigation

Search and Navigation is a key differentiator for webshops. When users don't find the desired products quickly and without obstacles, chances are bad to make a deal. With SAP WCEM the search and navigation options depend on the backend and the catalog management system.

WCEM supports different navigation modes, which are dependent from the catalog tool and the backend.

WEC-0009.jpg
Area Mode Direct Navigation (from WCEM 1.0 with ERP+CRM with MDM catalog)
In this mode, it is only possible to display the products directly assigned to the area selected by the user. The catalog structure at runtime is entirely derived by the catalog structure defined in the MDM Data Manager or ERP Product Catalog. Products can be assigned to all nodes of the catalog tree, including nodes which contains sub-nodes.
 
Area Mode Hierarchical Navigation (from WCEM 2.0 with ERP+CRM with MDM catalog and ERP/TREX catalog)
With the Area Mode Hierarchical Navigation the user can see the products directly assigned to one area, but also see all the products assigned to the subareas underneath. Clicking a subarea is then more comparable to filtering, because the products assigned to parent and sibling areas are hidden
 
Category Mode Navigation (from WCEM 2.0 with ERP+CRM with MDM catalog)
This mode enables the creation of web shop catalogs in which the catalog tree structure is derived from the product hierarchies defined in the CRM or ERP backend systems. So here it is not necessary to physically maintain a catalog strcuture in the catalog tool, as the catalog tree is derived automatically.
 
Combined Mode Navigation (from WCEM 2.0 with ERP+CRM with MDM catalog)
This mode enables the creation of web shop catalogs in which the catalog tree structure is derived from both Catalog Areas and product hierarchies as defined in the CRM or ERP backend. So it’s actually a combination of the Area Mode (developed in the WCEM 1.0 release) and Category Mode (developed in
the WCEM 2.0 release)..
   
Read also the Application Help about the navigation modes.
 

Language and Currencies support depending on Multi Channel MDM vs. TREX catalog

The WCEM shop solution of course supports almost all languages and currencies, as all SAP solutions do. The webshop displays product texts and prices which are maintained in the catalog tool resp. the backend.
 
Depending on the catalog solution there are functional restrictions:
 
a) Multi Channel Catalog based on SAP MDM (for CRM or ERP backends)

The MDM catalog provides all up-to-date product and navigation features a catalog should have, like the dynamic sorting of search results in the left hand navigation bar (price from … to, brand, colors, …).

 

With the MDM catalog you don’t need a physical catalog structure (from 2.0) because the catalog structure is generated logically by defined hierarchy data. There are a ton more features compared to the ECC catalog with TREX.

 

WCEM is optimized to manage a high volume of product data and is therefore dependent that the product catalogue data is provided in a very fast manner. MDM is an in-memory database that can do this much faster than any traditional database. However, TREX has similar in-memory capabilities.

 

When using the Multi Channel Catalog based on MDM the webshop provides a multiple language support within the very same webshop.

 

Unlike the ECC Catalog with TREX, MDM is both catalog management tool and runtime in one solution. This means the changes you make in the MDM catalog become immediately visible in the webshop, without the need of publishing the content to a separate index server.

 

    
b) TREX catalog with ERP backend
  • When using the ERP based product catalog application (ERP transaction WWM1) in combination with a TREX index, only one "product catalog variant" is supported per webshop. The ERP catalog variant here defines the 1:1 language-currency combination of a webshop. You can maintain multiple variants, but each of the variant has to have its own webshop. So when you have one webshop for the US in English in Dollar and another (independent) webshop in Spanish and Dollar with the same product catalog data behind it, you are fine. But when you would like to have a single webshop that serves multiple languages at once, then the Multi Channel Catalog based on MDM is the to-go catalog solution for your business.
  •  

  • Another backside of using the ERP with TREX scenario combination is the restriction, that only one TREX machine for a dedicated webshop is supported. There can be multiple TREX indexes running on the machine though, and multiple webshops can use these (n:1 relationship of webshop:catalog).
  • But a load balancing with multiple TREX machines (servers) is not supported.Only with certain CRM versions a so called "TREX Distributed Landscape" is supported.
  • Please read the expert blog Product Catalog & Backend Combinations for more information.
  •  
  • Features - CRM. vs. ERP

     
    Store Locator, In-Store availability, In-Store PickUp
    These multi channel store features are only available with a CRM backend. A development on project basis with the ERP backend is considered to be a high effort.
       
    eService, eMarketing, Loyalty Management
    All these features are only available when using a CRM backend.
     
    SAP Retail specific "Generic Articles"
    SAP Retail specific "Generic Articles" are only supported when using a CRM backend and an MDM catalog. The scenario of an ERP backend and MDM catalog does not supported "Generic Articles".
     

     

     

    More information

     
    This is just to give you a high level overview about the principal differences. There are a lot more when looking into details.
     
    Many topics of interest are also explained in detail in corresponding blogs - see the SAP Expert Blog INDEX for details.
     
    Please visit our WCEM WIKI as well, which is the central info hub for SAP Web Channel Experience Management.
     
     
     
    Enjoy,
     
     
    Dr. Ingo Woesner
    Product Management
    SAP Web Channel Experience Management - Rollout
    SAP AG

    Dear customers, partners, colleagues and readers,

     

    SAP Web Channel Experience Management is a state-of-the-art web solution that was re-architechtured from scratch using the latest Web 2.0 and Java standards. It delivers end-to-end processes for E-Commerce, E-Marketing, E-Service, and Web Channel Analytics on a robust and easily extensible Web Channel platform, including 3rd party solutions.

     

    Key focus was also given to an enhanced flexibility with respect to modularization, easy setup and deployment. The extension concept allows partners and customers to build their business specifics on top of each other in a simple and modification free way while re-using the UI and features of any existing component.

     

    wec.jpgwec2.jpg

     

     

    This blog is the central INDEX for all SAP Expert Blogs covering the new SAP Web Channel Experience Management solution.

    We will keep this index up-to-date and will provide blogs about desired topics on request.

     

    Missing blogs will be added short term - stay tuned!

     

         1. SAP Web Channel Experience Management - Introduction and Overview

     

         2. Features and Functions

              2.1 Evolution of SAP's eCommerce solutions

              2.2.Pricing Engines

              2.3.E-Marketing - Reach your Audience

              2.4.Complaints and Returns

              2.5 Service Request Management

              2.6 Product Catalog & Backend Combinations

                   2.6.1 Manage Catalog in ERP with CatMan

              2.8 User Management - Overview

                   2.8.1 Delegated Admin and B2B Self Registration in WCEM 3.0

                   2.8.2 Early Login in WCEM 3.0

    NEW      2.8.3 Central User Login (to auto select webshop, language etc.)

    NEW      2.8.4 Setup of authorization roles in WCEM 3.0

    NEW      2.8.5 Controling Security Aspects for WCEM users

              2.9. Discover the left menu

              2.10 CRM vs. ERP - backend options and restrictions

              2.11 Order Item upload in WCEM 3.0

              2.12 Order download in WCEM 3.0

              2.13 Product Configuration in WCEM 3.0

     

         3. Architecture, Technology and Implementation

              3.1 Web Channel Experience Management platform - Technical Introduction

              3.2 UI Technology - Advantage of using Java Server Faces vs. former technologies

              3.3 Configuration Capabilities

              3.4 Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS) package for speed-implementation in 8-10 weeks at fixed price

              3.5 WCEM upgrade from 1.0 to a higher release - A Guide

    NEW 3.6 Facilitate error analysis with WCEM Session Logging

     

         4. Extensibility
              4.1 Extending WCEM 2.0

              4.2 Extending the Theme Module

              4.3 Reusing WCEM for SAPs extended Enterprise Learning Solution (xLSO)


         5. Integration of 3rd Party Solutions

              5.1 Extending WCEM with Webtrends: Web Analytics, Segmentation and Testing 

     

         6. More information

             6.1 How to self-educate about WCEM - A Guide

             6.2 WCEM - FAQ Blog

     

     

    More blogs will be added when available. You can request a blog for a desired topic, which will be published here.

    In case you would like to have your own blog included in this list please send me an email with the link.

     

    In addition to blogs, please use our Public WIKI as THE main info hub for resources, and the Web Channel Community to exchange information about SAP Web Channel Experience Management with other members.

     

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

     

     

     

       

    Stay tuned for updates!

     


    Best regards

    for the SAP Web Channel Experience Management team members

     

     

    Dr. Ingo Woesner

    Product Management
    SAP Web Channel Experience Management - Rollout

    SAP AG

    In this blog you get an overview about the configuration capabilities in Web Channel Experience Management environment. After this introduction you should understand how the configuration data is handled and how it can be administrated.

     

    Introduction

    The Web Channel Experience Management framework needs to support an extendible environment to fulfill the requirements for flexible setup of module based runtime and additionally to support multi-level extension capabilities. The Configuration Management is a technical service which is responsible to provide such environment with sufficient configuration flexibility on global and module level. Additionally it supports extensibility by overwriting or adding data upon standard configuration based on needs in a particular customer project. 

    Because of the largely adopted modularization capabilities, the Configuration Management is part of this area as well so that each module can provide its own configuration information. While a Web Channel web site is running, several customizing activities by non-technical users are required to adjust the relevant global and module-related configuration data. These tasks will be done in “Web Channel Builder” which is a central administrative tool that is used to configure Web Channel web sites, as well as customize them, and manage their look and feel.

     

    Configuration Management

    Configuration Management is a framework component that provides the functionality of creating, maintaining, reading, and persisting Web Channel-related settings. Logically this area is divided into

    • Configuration Data Management which focus on configuration data reading and maintenance at runtime
    • Configuration Files Management which supports handling of XML-based configuration files

     

    Configuration Data Management

    Configuration Data Management acts as a generic service for all kinds of configuration data that can be maintained through the administration tool Web Channel Builder. During runtime it is also accessed by the Web Site to get this modules and global configuration data.

     

    The following data entities are introduced which have hierarchical relationship to each other:

    • Application
      An application represents a long-term-focused frame with only a few global settings, such as back-end type (SAP CRM or SAP ERP) or user storage system. Each application has a stable ID, which is used when accessing the Web site to determine the current active configuration.

     

    • Configuration
      Each application contains one or more configurations. One of the most important pieces of information on configuration header level is the "valid on" date and time, where the starting point of productive availability is defined. Additionally, each configuration has its own settings such as UI themes, pages with layouts, and most importantly, the selected modules as a basis for the available business functionality.

      In general there are three groups of configurations:
      • Pending
        Either configurations in preparation which are not yet completely set up, or already completed configurations that are not yet approved or not yet active (relating to the "valid on" entry).
      • Active
        Completely set up configuration that is active (relating to the "valid on" entry). Only one configuration may be active at one time.
      • Expired
        Completely set up configurations that were displaced by another active configuration, and therefore expired.

     

    • Module Configuration
      Each configuration defines which modules are part of it. Each module can have again module-specific settings, which contain all the Customizing data for a specific customer scenario.

     

    The following picture illustrates the hierarchical CDM entities: application ("B2C Shop"), configuration ("Easter"), and module configuration ("Marketing", "Catalog", ...). Additionally, the three kinds of configurations are shown: pending, active, and expired:

     

    cdm_ov.png

     

    Configuration Files Management

    Configuration Files Management is a framework service responsible for configuration files storage with the target to provide flexible way for configuring the application behavior. This data will be stored in XML-based configuration files which are part of the modules introduced by the Module Management concept. You have the option to either register a new, independent configuration file, or add and define a file as an extension of an already existing one. Mainly the second option requires to model relations between several files and their data.

     

    Especially the following functionality supports dynamic aspects of data access and content merging:

    • XInclude mechanism
      Based on XPointer xmlns() Scheme standard (http://www.w3.org/TR/xptr-xmlns/) it's possible that an XML file can include other XML file or parts of an XML file (XML nodes).
    • Parameter support mechanism
      An XML file can reference parameter data from other modules or from global level. By using placeholders within the XML structure, this will be replaced at runtime with the current values.
    • IF mechanism
      A special tag "ifValue" allows to enclose areas in an XML file that will be available at runtime only if a given logical condition become valid.
    • Merging of configuration files
      The merge mechanism allows the combing of XML files from different sources. It is possible to merge files from different namespaces within the same module, as well as files from different modules. The result of this extension mechanism is a copy of the base XML node with extended or added XML elements.

     

    Web Channel Builder

    The Web Channel Builder is a central administrative tool that is used to configure Web Channel web sites. This tool allows a business user or an administrator to combine various modules and configure them in one application. Technically the already introduced entities Application, Configuration and Module Configuration allows here to make changes to the functions that are available in the Web Channel application and to change the appearance of the application by, for example, changing the theme or the page layout. Additionally, the business-related settings can be configured within the Module Configurations.

     

    The following screenshot shows a typical Web Channel Builder interface:

    wcb_application_area.png

     

    An extensive configuration guide of all module parameters of WCEM 2.0 can be downloaded here.

     

     

    After a setup of a Configuration was finalized and verified, it can become an Active Configuration which can be set online and thereby it's available within the Web Site to the end-users. At runtime the Web Site accesses the Configuration data and binds it to the deployed modules, which allows rendering of the available module functionality. A Web Site itself is a Java enterprise container that makes it possible to access all available online applications using HTTP protocol. 

    The following picture shows the relation between Web Channel Builder and Web Site:

    website_wcb.png

     

    Conclusion

    At runtime the Configuration Management environment ensures that the files structure will be accumulated, the current configuration data read and the data replacement and merging applied. Finally the modules with their business functionality, running in scope of a Web Site, are able to access this data in a consistent and easy way through well defined interfaces.

     

    For configuration purposes the tool "Web Channel Builder" is available which ease the needed setup tasks made by an administrator or a business user. Besides the core configuration functionality, Web Channel Builder offers additional features related to Configuration processes, like preconfigured templates or approval processes. These features together with a more detailed introduction into the Web Channel Builder area will be covered in one of the next blogs.

    This blog will give you an introduction about the architecture and the core concepts of the SAP Web Channel Experience Management platform. This knowledge should provide a valuable basis for implementing of the extension concepts, which allow our partners and customers to extend the solution to their needs.

     

    In general, the SAP Web Channel Experience Management platform is based on a typical 3-layer architecture:

    • UI and interaction layer
    • Business object layer
    • Back-end object layer

     

    The intention of the 3-layer architecture is the logical process separation of a Web-based application. All 3 layers communicate with each other through well-defined interfaces. This allows a high degree of extensibility and reusability. That means, for example, that a particular business object can be replaced or extended by a custom implementation,without adjusting the dependent UI and interaction layer or the back-end object layer.

    Besides this, flexible configuration data and module management are available to support extensibility and reuse of already implemented business processes. To enable business users and administrators to easily manage the deployed application with their modules, a Web-based application, called Web Channel Builder, is available. In addition, several common services such as search framework and user management are part of the framework, and can be used in each implemented module.

    The following picture shows the high-level overview of the SAP Web Channel system architecture, and outlines a simplified view of all involved components:

    architecture_ov.png

    Web Channel Core Framework

    The Web Channel framework is build on the Web Container of SAP NetWeaver AS Java. Web Container allows clients to execute request-/response-oriented programming code based on the servlet technology, so that a servlet receives a request in the form of an HTTPServletRequest and returns a response in the form of an HTTPServletResponse. This technology is the basis for Java Server Faces (JSF), which is a Java standard framework for building server-side Web applications. By using JSF, the UI development is driven by Facelets, which apply a component-driven pattern.

    The UI and interaction layer is based on JSF 2.1 and represents the highest level of the Web application with focus on the user interface to render the requested content. Several extensions were implemented by SAP on top of JSF to provide suitable functionality for state-of-the-art Web applications. Because the framework integrates deeply the JSF technology, we recommend strongly to get familiar with the standard JSF to get better understanding of this layer and the programming model.

    The architecture of JSF implements the model-view-controller design pattern, where the views and controllers are contained in the UI and interaction layer, but the model is contained in the business object layer. That means that the business object layer represents and holds the processed business data within a user session, and provides business functionality that is not connected to any back-end system details. If business objects have to communicate with a back end, they will never access them directly from their level but instead using well-defined interfaces provided by corresponding back-end objects.

    The back-end object layer implements these interfaces to provide multi-back-end functionality. Although these implementations are backend-specific, the interfaces themselves are not. The back-end objects are mainly responsible for exchanging data from/to a back-end system like SAP ERP or SAP CRM. On this level only, specific logic related to these back-end systems is implemented, for example, the call of an ABAP function module.

    To summarize, the UI and interaction layer typically communicates with the business object layer to receive the requested data. Then the business object layer communicates with the back-end object layer to access business data that is not yet available, persisted in an underlying back-end system.

     

    Module Management

    All business functionality built upon the Web Channel framework is based on the modularization paradigm. Modules, as encapsulated building blocks of SAP Web Channel Experience Management, provide reusable units of functionality, which can be assembled into an application at runtime, using the Web Channel Builder tool.

    Technically, the module concept provides an encapsulated development approach at design time, and a decoupled deployment model at runtime. The main advantages are:

    • a high degree of interchangeability and technical decoupling
    • improvement of maintainability
    • optimized development-deployment cycle
    • well-defined reusability parts

           

    This approach is intended for any kind of modifications as well, so that by extending SAP modules again, partner modules or customer modules need to be created. These modules then inherit, and so reuse, the standard functionality.

    modularization_ov.png

    Each module has a unique module ID and a standardized structure modeled by module parts. Each part contains different aspects of a module, and each part contains certain information or pieces of functionality that are available to other modules or the runtime framework. The following parts are available:

    MD part (metadata)

    Metadata related to the entire module is stored within the MD part. As well as some fundamental data like module ID or module type, references to other configuration files and dependencies on other modules are also defined in this part.

    UI part (UI implementation)

    The UI and interaction layer of a module is developed in the UI part, and certain view components and pages can be made public to other modules. The UI part itself does not contain business functionality, but only implements the presentation layer and uses view component handlers that are defined in the UI repository and managed by the Web Channel framework.

    BO part (business and back-end implementation)

    All the modules' business and back-end object layer functionality is developed within the BO part. Business objects can be made available to other modules by defining and implementing interfaces.

    INTF part (interfaces)

    The INTF part owns all module interfaces related to the functionality offered by a module that can be used by other modules. Other modules may only define references to the INTF parts, but never directly reference the UI part or the BO part.

    DPU part (deployment unit)

    Each module has its own deployment unit, which is achieved by the DPU (deployment unit) part. As a build result, an EAR or SDA file will be created that contains one JAR file per module part (MD, UI, BO, INTF). Since each module has its own deployment unit, modules can be deployed decentrally and independently of each other.

     

    Configuration Data Management

    Configuration data management (CDM) is a framework component that provides the functionality of creating, maintaining, reading, and persisting Web Channel-related settings. CDM is used by the administration tool Web Channel Builder to create and store settings, and it is also accessed by the modules during runtime to read the module settings.

    The following CDM entities have a hierarchical relationship to each other:

    Application

    An application represents a long-term-focused frame with only a few global settings, such as back-end type (SAP CRM or SAP ERP) or user storage system. Each application has a stable ID, which is used when accessing the Web site to determine the current active configuration.

    Configuration

    Each application contains one or more configurations. One of the most important pieces of information on configuration header level is the "valid on" date and time, where the starting point of productive availability is defined. Additionally, each configuration has its own settings such as UI themes, pages with layouts, and most importantly, the selected modules as a basis for the available business functionality.

    In general there are three groups of configurations:

    • Pending
      Either configurations in preparation which are not yet completely set up, or already completed configurations that are not yet approved or not yet active (relating to the "valid on" entry).
    • Active
      Completely set up configuration that is active (relating to the "valid on" entry). Only one configuration may be active at one time.
    • Expired
      Completely set up configurations that were displaced by another active configuration, and therefore expired.
     
    Module Configuration

    Each configuration defines which modules are part of it. Each module can have again module-specific settings, which contain all the Customizing data for a specific customer scenario. 

     

    The following picture illustrates the hierarchical CDM entities: application ("B2C Shop"), configuration ("Easter"), and module configuration ("Marketing", "Catalog", ...). Additionally, the three kinds of configurations are shown: pending, active, and expired:

    cdm_ov.png

    Conclusion

    This overview of the Web Channel Experience Management framework architecture with some more details relating Module Management and Configuration Data Management should provide first starting point for a successful extension or implementing of a web-based application. Additional study of the standard JSF framework should intensify the knowledge and is highly recommended.

     

    As already indicated, this framework offers some more technical aspects which are not part of this blog. It's planned in the next time to cover such topics in other blogs which will be referenced here as well.

    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

     

    WEC-0029.jpg

    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.

     

    WEC-0000.jpg

     

    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.

     

    WEC-0009.jpg

     

    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. 

    WEC-0006.jpg

     

     

     

    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):

     

    wcem20_sapphire.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 WIKI - THE 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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