02 Jan “Unboxing” Oracle Commerce Cloud Version 18D
In our recurring analysis of Oracle Commerce Cloud releases, we’d like to focus on the release of 18D. 18D was the last planned release of the 2018 calendar year. This full release serves as an opportunity to bring new, exciting, needle-moving features to the platform. Once customers upgrade to 18D they can leverage these out of the box features to best interact with customers and streamline eCommerce processes.
Let’s take a look.
Support for a True Multiple Catalog Instance
In previous versions of Commerce Cloud, you had the ability to have multiple catalogs. However, there was a general flaw in the old approach. OCC assumed that you’d have a single master catalog and that you would then be sharing collections and products between that original master catalog and other sub-catalogs, which isn’t always the case. Now, with 18D you can create streamlined, independent, non-shared catalogs with unique product mixes. This is helpful for brand houses or distributors that have multiple websites and require unique catalogs for each website.
In addition, you can now easily “link” collections and products within multiple catalogs with a new Admin console GUI. Linking is useful when you want a product to appear in multiple
collections or a collection to appear in multiple catalogs. You can find a collection to link in Catalog A (see image 1), select the new catalog (B) to share it with and save it.
Ex: Assume you have a “Leather Coat” product in the Men’s Outwear collection. You can easily link that product to Father’s Day Gifts.
The benefit of this approach is to have a single collection/product as a master data source is that one change within the master collection/product automatically makes those changes in other areas across the instance. This can be helpful for content, products, and SEO (in certain cases).
Saved Carts and Multiple Carts
One of the more requested features from our OCC customers was the ability for a shopper to have multiple carts under a single account. A registered shopper (B2C and B2B) can now save multiple carts, cart contents, and name the cart for easy review. They can then manage those carts in their “my account” area and retrieve those carts later to checkout and pay. The value of this feature is that it allows customers to manage multiple purchase cycles and procurement cycles for a single account. At first glance, I believe this feature is more beneficial for B2B customers because B2C customers already had the ability to add to wishlists and recall their cart (auto-add to cart) from a wishlist.
Note: If your instance supports multiple sites, shoppers cannot access their saved carts across sites; that is, a shopper can access a saved cart only on the site where they saved it. My guess would be that Oracle will remove this requirement and allow multi-site saved carts in the future.
Share Purchase Lists
Most commonly used in the B2B world, the use of purchase lists or requisition lists are a quick and easy way to reorder a subset of products. With a new 18D feature, OCC allows the sharing of purchase lists across other account-based contacts. The use case that I first thought of is the onboarding of new sales team members. Rather than having a new employee create their own purchase lists they can inherit previously approved purchase lists for certain product mixes. This will save hours of time (if you have multiple lists) and ensure that the new employee is adding the proper product to his or her shopping cart.
I was hoping there would be a bit more collaboration aspects to the purchase lists, but there are some rudimentary access controls. Controls are maintained by the purchase list creator and allows them to edit the name of the purchase list and grant editing permissions. The recipient can view and manage the quantity to add to the cart and (if given permission) edit the SKUs in that purchase list.
Self Registration to Existing Account
Self-service is one of the top two reasons that B2B companies continue to invest in digital commerce channels. From a B2B perspective, there are some nice features added in 18D, including self-registration. In previous versions of OCC, a contact could make a request to create an account on the B2B portal, but it had to be reviewed and manually associated with an existing account. 18D takes this functionality one step further and allows new account contacts to provide the account they want to be associated to in their request for account creation. New contacts can provide their Account ID with a brief comment and get approval much quicker. The expectation is that the existing Account ID number should be provided from the master account holder to the new user ahead of registration.
Quick Order CSV Upload
At TAISTech we specialize in creating feature extensions for OCC. When the Quick Order CSV upload feature was announced for 18D we were happy, but ultimately it wasn’t a huge value driver for us because we have created our own in-house solutions for Quick Order. Through other customer projects, we have a full suite of extensions for B2B, and Quick Order is one of them. None the less, seeing the out of the box functionality of CSV ordering is positive and allows customers to get to market marginally faster.
The format of the CSV is very simple. In column A you have the SKU and column B the quantity.
Anonymous user tracking advancements
Oracle continues to invest big dollars into big data and dynamic personalization. The latest personalization effort is another example of how customers can have a unique experience, tailored to him or her, on the Oracle Commerce Cloud platform. Within 18D you can now target individual anonymous users by how many visits they have made to your website. The benefit of this feature is that marketers and merchandisers can now design the front-end web experience to target a first-time shopper or previous shopper.
As an example, a first-time shopper may be interested in the history of a brand or need help navigating the site, where previous visitors may already feel comfortable with the brand and UI and want to know the best deals available to them.
Either way, by leveraging customer audiences, browser cookies, and out of the box content variation slots, you can serve the most appropriate experience for the proper customer type.
Additional Key Features
Full Deletion of Orders (Data Management)
On May 25, 2018, GDPR regulations were put into effect and many eCommerce retailers had to hustle to meet the requirements. A major part of those requirements is the “right to erasure,” which states that a customer has the right to completely remove all data associated with his or her visitation history and purchase history. While OCC has released many mechanisms in the past to handle customer data, this new 18D feature allows for a full removal of data from the system. Currently, the order deletion feature is API only, but with a few commands, you can delete one or many customer orders.
Be aware that by deleting customer orders that you will also be deleting:
• The order number itself
• The SKUs
• Any Shipping groups
• Any Payment groups
• Any returns associated to that order
Note: If there is an exchange order “x” associated to an order return “y” then order X will not be deleted but the original order “y” will be deleted.
URL compliance – No duplicates (SEO)
Candidly, we have seen a few issues with OCC’s URL structure with our current customers. Between 404 pages and duplicated URL slugs, we’ve had our hands full with audits and rewrites. Oracle has responded (and we appreciate their investment in these issues) and has provided a new suite of tools for SEO URL management that allows OCC users to index and build a URL slug table that can be reviewed for duplicates. The goal is to provide URL uniqueness for SEO and prevent unpredictable page resolutions.
New APIs for add in content (Search)
The last feature that was released was around Search Data APIs. A developer can upload any structured data to the site and it can be exposed to the search API endpoint.
An example of how you would use this would be a marketing guide, product manual, store locations, or other structured media. The value of being able to upload data is that you can make it available to site for a keyword query or via a faceted drill down. By extending the /gsdata/vl1/cloud/data sets, you can expose pages of content to show up with product data. A quick query could be “Nashville”. There could be a product called “Nashville Guitar” and page called “Nashville Guide” and a store location called “Nashville HQ”. All of those could be indexed under a single query and returned to the user. My understanding is that right now you cannot live index an outside search table/db but that it may be coming in the next 12 months.
Stay tuned for my review of OCC’s next release.