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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.
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:
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, ...).

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.

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.
    Dr. Ingo Woesner
    Product Management
    SAP Web Channel Experience Management - Rollout
    SAP AG



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