Product Content Hub: A Beginner's Guide to New SaaS PIM from SAP

Product data is a core of e-commerce and integral part of the customer experience and customer journey. The well-organized product data drives customer acquisition, sales and eventually results in the increasing lifetime value of a customer.

SAP has recently announced a new SaaS offering, SAP Product Content Hub, a cloud-based solution for product and information management (PIM). The new product relies on the SaaS model only.

In this article, I’m basically just going to give a little bit of an introduction to what SAP Product Content Hub is as well as shed some light on what is under the hood in terms of architecture and customizability. Read More »

What content management system you use is of a much higher importance today than it was years ago. Today’s CMS needs to contend with a multi-device world with a wide variety of tablets, mobiles, laptops, and be architecturally ready for new not-yet-existing channels in the consumer’s universe, such as AR/VR and the Internet of Things.

A CMS typically consists of a frontend part, or a «head», and backend. The headless CMS, as their name says, don’t stick to a single predefined “head”. Theoretically you can develop your own if it is good for your case. Another name for headless CMS is API-first, because this interaction is based on APIs.  

For example, the old hybris CMS Cockpit had both parts built with ZK Framework, which orchestrates both the HTML/Javascript “head” and was the essential part of the CMS backend. These parts were tightly connected and intertwined into a single unit called CMS Cockpit.  Later, SAP announced Smartedit, which has been a big bet and a quantum leap for Commerce Cloud’s content management. Spartacus, the open source Javascript storefront from SAP, well complemented Smartedit. I published the comprehensive reviews of both products in the blog earlier.

There are a number of headless content management systems that are mature enough to efficiently replace the built-in Smartedit CMS. Among them I would highlight Contentful, Prismic, DotCMS, Cloud CMS, Amplience, and ContentStack as well-established and innovative products with clear roadmap and good integration capabilities.

One of my recent research projects was aimed at using ContentStack as a headless content management system for SAP Commerce Cloud. This article uncovers the key highlights of the research.  As the result of that work, I also created a data migration tool for moving existing CMS content from Commerce Cloud to ContentStack.  

What is ContentStack? ContentStack is a SaaS headless CMS with an API-first approach that offers the approach known as Content-as-a-Service. It focuses on managing structured content into data feeds that other applications, such as Commerce Cloud, can consume. You can design a content data model interactively or via the ContentStack API and populate the structures with the content interactively or via the same API.

In this article, I pay special attention to the data migration from Commerce Cloud’s CMS to ContentStack. This exercise helped me to see the complexity in all its glory. Because when you design a system from scratch, you can evade platform’s constraints by designing the structures compatible only with the new CMS. When you need to migrate data, you have to find a solution on how to adapt concepts and data models to get them compatible with Commerce Cloud.


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Payments: A look Inside the Black Box
Payments is a critical part of any e-commerce system. Integrating with a new payment processor is often full of unknowns for developers, and the documentation is either too cumbersome and time-consuming or, on the contrary, scanty and, to the extent it is available, tends to focus only on technical details. The aim of this article is to provide a primer on the key concepts and terminology of online card payments as well as shed some light on the payment integration and related complexities. It provides brief context on the payment system and key regulatory principles and best practices you need to know before designing and implementing the payment module. We also covered the oft-forgotten edge cases you need to handle for large e-commerce solutions. You will learn what to expect and how to address the payment-related issues and problems. Read More »
In this article, we would introduce “SAP Commerce Developers Toolset” as a free open-source solution for IntelliJ IDEA IDE. Read More »
The Challenges of Chinese and Japanese Searching
Today I want to talk about tailoring website search functionality for Chinese and Japanese languages.  When it comes to entering “the East”, companies often face many challenges they could not have experienced before. Everything is different in China and Japan including the way how websites are built and how the users interact with them. In this article, I will cover one aspect of these challenges: how to adapt product/content search to work with Japanese and Chinese languages.  Read More »
SAP Commerce Data Hub is an ETL integration platform introduced by SAP back in September 2014 as part of Hybris 5.3. Today it is being decommissioned because of better alternatives but many are still using it and may benefit from these insights. In this article, I am going to dissect Data Hub and turn it inside out. It is more or less a post-mortem at this point but for those who are still using Data Hub, it may be a good complement to the official documentation. I must say that nobody liked Datahub despite all the efforts being made by SAP. I think we’ve put up with it for too long. It was the only SAP-aware integration platform that comes with Hybris/SAP Commerce, and later SAP Commerce which was recommended by the vendor for master and transactional data replication. Read More »
There are different ways to integrate SAP Commerce Cloud with SAP and non-SAP systems. The choice would depend upon the capabilities and limitations of the systems involved. These are related to the integration interfaces, data formats, extensibility, cost of changes, strategic plans and many other factors. Right now we are facing to a kind of uncertainty because one solution, SAP Commerce Data Hub, is declared retiring, and another, Cloud Platform Integration, is defined as strategic and developing that may create an impression that the product is immature and in beta (it is not so!). In fact, SAP Cloud Platform Integration is not too young as many from SAP Commerce/Hybris community think. The platform has been continuously evolving since June 2013. It went by another name, SAP HANA Cloud Integration (SAP HCI). The product was renamed at the beginning of 2017 as part of a general rebranding of SAP’s cloud offering. In 2018, SAP SCPI started showing up in the context of Commerce projects. In this article, I want to address the most common myths and objections associated with this product and explain the fundamental concepts behind the solution. Read More »
I updated the upgrade map for SAP hybris Commerce. Using this reference you’ll be able to find a list of the capabilities you get if you upgrade your platform from the version X to the version Y, grouped by topic…. Read More »
Back in 2016, EPAM released an Eclipse plugin that makes it easier for developers to work with SAP Commerce code. It was released in January 2017. Recently we introduced a second version of the plugin. In this article, Maxim Bilohay, one of the plugin developers, describes new features and improvements. Read More »
Today SAP officially released a new version of SAP Commerce Cloud, 1905. “05” stands for “May”, today is 30th, so SAP barely made it on time. What is new? Read More »
Authentication with Hardware Security Keys and WebAuthn in SAP Commerce Cloud
In this article, I give a technical overview of hardware security key based authentication and take you through a worked example of SAP Commerce and hardware security key integration. Read More »
Document-level access control ensures that the search results have only those products that a logged customer is authorized to see. This is a common request for B2B solutions with a large and sophisticated product and customer models. Many manufacturers and suppliers want to provide exclusive or restrictive access to products for particular partners. Such an approach reduces the number of incorrect or incomplete orders and makes navigation easier. In this article, we are discussing in detail how to support product whitelisting/blacklisting per customer in SAP Commerce Cloud for large product sets and large customer base. We also present our solution and possible alternatives. The tests showed that the solution is capable to process millions of documents, tens thousands of customers and millions of access rules saying what product is blacklisted/whitelisted for what customer. Read More »
Takeaways from SAP SAPPHIRE NOW AND CX LIVE 2019
Last week, the 30th annual SAP SAPPHIRE NOW conference took place March 7-9 in sunny Orlando, FL. This year, it was three in one: SAPPHIRE NOW, ASUG conference and CX LIVE. All three brought no fewer than 30,000 attendees to the Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. More than 2400 sessions were held during the three days, spread throughout more than 1,5 million square feet of exhibition space, meeting rooms and halls. For those of you who didn’t make it to SAPPHIRE NOW and CX LIVE, I’ve pulled together key takeaways from both. Read More »
When it comes to your overall website usability and providing good user-experience to your site visitors, the login component plays a very important role. This article explains how it should be built to provide the best customer experience. I am focusing on how to implement login forms and authentication process in the e-commerce systems built on top of SAP Commerce Cloud, but general recommendations and findings are applicable for other platforms too. Read More »
Will you be attending the SAPPHIRE or SAP CX Live events in Orlando next week? As usual, I am highlighting some of the sessions seem interesting to me and hopefully to you also, the reader. Read More »
Non-product content management has for many years been the weakest link of the SAP Commerce platform. Formally, the suite had a WCMS module from the very first version, but it was obvious to everybody that the solution was terribly old-fashioned and outdated. Already back in 2016, SAP Hybris Commerce was extended with a new solution, SmartEdit. On the one hand, SAP released it too early. Many commented that the product is underbaked to replace WCMS Cockpit. Even two years later, Smartedit had drawn much criticism from the users and developers. On the other hand, it was long overdue. We had been waiting for a replacement for years. In the search of the truth, in 2018, I was examining Smartedit in detail and shared the findings here on Hybrismart. There hasn’t been a lot of water under the bridge since 2018, but the situation with Smartedit has taken a definite turn for the better. However, being a “non-mandatory” component during two years, it was generally ignored by the community. After all, why should we use Smartedit if there is a good old WCMS Cockpit, time-tested and proven, albeit with known issues and poor customizability? This is why only a small percentage of developers are aware of Smartedit from the technical perspective. I hope this article will help them to move forward. Read More »
Merging Carts When A Customer Logs In: Problems, Solutions and Recommendations
When an anonymous customer has a non-empty cart and wants to log in, what shopping cart should they see? The question is about what should happen to the items in the account-linked carts versus the items in the anonymous carts. There are different options, and some of them come with SAP Commerce Cloud. In this article, I will review the existing implementations and propose a new one to consider as a possible alternative. Also, you will see why the merging cart strategy implemented in SAP Commerce Cloud requires additional optimization for high traffic and large volume websites. Read More »
Come take a look into the 1811 release. We’ll cover cool and interesting new features, enhancements, and changes, and offer some commentary on what we like and what we like… less. Judge for yourself what SAP did well and what might warrant some extra polish. Read More »
Autocomplete, Live Search Suggestions, and Autocorrection: Best Practice Design Patterns
In the various sources, the terms like Autocomplete and Suggestions are not defined clearly. They turned out to be too wide to avoid confusion when defining design patterns and software requirements. The customers use the wrong terms in the RFPs, the partners try to use the RFP language and mix that with their own terminology. In this article, I review these topics in depth. Read More »
Have you ever thought about a top 3 things you wanted to change in the platform? I guess Ant would hit almost 100% of your made-up lists. This article outlines details about an offline project done by a group of EPAM’s hybris enthusiasts who made a great step forward with migration from Ant to Maven as a primary build system for a platform. We are the ones who work with SAP Commerce Cloud day to day. Are we the ones who can help improve platform for the best? Read More »