28 Sep A Look into Oracle Commerce Cloud 18C-MP
In our recurring analysis of Oracle Commerce Cloud releases, today I’d like to focus on the release of 18C-MP (Maintenance Pack). This Maintenance Pack serves as an opportunity to rectify a few bug fixes in the product, but also includes some noteworthy features that customers can use out of the box. Let’s take a look.
As far as features are concerned, the most important feature to be released in 18C-MP is “Dynamic Curation” for search. With many customers moving to OCC with advanced search capabilities in their current platform, those customers will want to have a “like for like” search function within OCC. Dynamic curation takes an already strong, consolidated Endeca based search function and makes it even stronger.
In short, dynamic curation will allow the business user (and system) to dynamically drive the order of products on your site via search. This is akin to the “boost and bury” feature within Endeca. Oracle Commerce Cloud search will use this feature after considering all the other OOTB search features (stemming, ordering, relevant rankings, etc.). If all rules are equal, dynamic curation stands to be the tiebreaking vote on what product should show for a specific search result.
Within 18C-MP, there are a handful of levers you can pull to order search results. All of these features are enabled in the Admin panel UI.
Out of the box, you’ll have access to:
- In-Stock (or not in stock); if an item is available or not.
- On Sale; if an item is discounted
- Number of times a product has been sold in 30 days (moving window)
- Number of times a product has been viewed in 30 days (moving window)
- Newness; relevant to its “arrival date” which can be changed on each product
- Product type; certain product types show before others
It is important to note that you can stack and combine rules to boost and bury the proper results. For example, “I want products that are in-stock first, but also want to focus on sales metrics and popularity (viewed products).” This is totally doable.
Additionally, you can set curation rules for collections or search terms. By default, collections use the static order defined by the admin user, but if you want to use OCC search to drive the collection results, you now have a new way to define what shows up first.
In this example, we have boosted a specific collection to focus on in stock, product type, sales revenue, views, and lastly newness. You can easily preview your configuration and dial it in for the best user experience.
For collection page UIs, there will be a sample layout widget released by the OCC product team to allow filtering by a search within a collection. This will be available to use and edit to meet your specific website needs.
Note, if you want to utilize OCC search results as the primary way of creating your main navigation collection(s) you’ll need to do some additional development work to update your content areas within the collections themselves. This is the same for your meta information (SEO) as you’ll want the source code to change for each search results page. An example may be, “I’ve searched or navigated to a main navigation collection for ‘Women’s Shirts;’” you’d want the UI layout to pull up a promo banner showing women’s shirts and the proper meta information into that page. This is a search page, so effectively you would be seeing the search results page not a formal collection. To solve this issues there is a doc about linking to additional content and dynamically pulling up banners, etc.
Remember, Dynamic Curation is primarily about controlling the order of product results in the query list response, rather than changing any response in the source code or content.
Multiple Location API
Before 18C-MP, the Oracle Commerce Cloud platform natively only supported one single inventory per instance of OCC. This limitation has been reviewed and modified to allow for multiple inventories per instance. In short, each “site” within Oracle Commerce Cloud will have the option to include a unique targeted inventory for a distribution center or warehouse. This feature will be extremely useful for online retailers or distributors that sell in multiple countries, or regions, and maintain multiple inventory levels per origin point.
In the example, simply identify your LocationID with the proper value per Site, publish your changes, and you are off to the races.
Note that this feature has also been pushed out to the Assisted Selling Application, allowing in-store associates to select the proper origin point for inventory availability and ship to store or home.
B2B Shopper Profile Options & Secondary Navigation Widgets
Up next we have shopper profile updates. While this is a small, specific use case (that this would be applicable for), this newly released feature includes a new secondary navigation option within the customer profile.
Out of the box, OCC is providing a storefront widget for both account-based shoppers and regular B2C based shoppers. Effectively, this feature could be bridged with the 18C feature option to configure shopper profile layout pages via a specific URL and show unique sub-navigation elements like “order lookup” or “invoice lookup” to your customers. You are able to define visibility to specific menu elements depending on the customer’s storefront role (admin, buyer, etc.). Lastly, the new widget allows you to easily configure your sub-navigation for either a horizontal or vertical sub-navigation within the customers’ profile area. This allows more flexibility to quickly meet the demands of the UI design or comp.
Again, not a huge whiz-bang feature, but it does save some time and level of effort for your Oracle Commerce Cloud systems integration partner (TAISTech) if you are trying to hide/show content in the profile area.
Back-Order and Pre-Order Support
The last notable feature released was an extension of the existing backorder and preorder functionality in OCC. When used in conjunction with a configured add-on product, you can now mix and match inventory states to add to cart and checkout.
Previously, all items within a bundle of add-on products would have needed to be in-stock for you to add the product to the cart. This new feature allows you to checkout via OCC with a bundle of products: some in stock, some potentially out of stock (on backorder) and some on preorder.
The example given was a “Movie Gift Pack” in which the items with the asterisk next to them were on backorder (see image below). You can see that all of the add-on SKUs in the screenshot are on backorder, but, in theory, 1 or 2 of the movies could be in stock as well.
Effectively, it is mix and match of preorder, backorder, or available now. As part of the feature both the storefront UI and agent console UI displays will have messaging attached if products meet that preorder or backorder status. The customer or CSR will be informed before placing the order.
The cadence for Oracle Commerce Cloud releases will continue to average 6-8 per year, if not more. Make sure to bookmark the TAISTech blog to get more updates on feature releases that you can implement today to help both your customers and your bottom line.
Director of Solutions Consulting
TAISTech, A Mastek Company