SAP Commerce Product Content Managmement (PCM) is one of those modules that took time to get some love and was unavailable to be upgraded to the new Backoffice platform until version 6.4. But there have been other improvements in the last couple of years that help to make the SAP Commerce PCM the de facto choice for product handling and enrichment.
Here are some of the new features implemented in SAP Commerce PCM during its tenure in series 6:
With the new framework from 6.0 to 6.3, some changes came to the Backoffice engine but were not visible until version 6.4 for the PCM. This includes:
• Dynamic Nodes in the Explorer Tree that allow you to display data structures of any complexity and use java or groovy to generate them.
• SOLR can be used to support searches in the Backoffice.
• Refactoring of the Collection Browser Widget
• The cockpit-config XML configurations are being validated according to the XSDs with a quick feedback to the designer.
• Grid View in the collection browser widget
• The mechanism of search in reference editors is now extended to use the Advanced Search Widget along with the Collection Browser Widget to allow the user to express queries of higher complexity and browse the results using any of the available molds (including the newly-introduced Grid View).
• New widgets in Backoffice Framework widgets library: Catalog Selector widget, Global Links widget, Quick List widget, Refine By widget
With SAP Commerce 6.4, PCM was finally migrated to the Backoffice framework and the next versions continue to get the functionality from the legacy PCM.
The first improvements are two perspectives, Product Search and Browse and Assortment View: Catalog Management.
With the Product Search view, you can search and browse your products using the original catalog selector to choose which catalog to view, an explorer tree for further drilling down, or facets to refine search results. You can also rely on simple search and filters to further narrow down your results. As in the legacy version, you can click one of the products, and a detail page will slide on the right side with the most relevant information about the product.
Something I find pretty neat is that you can also select multiple products from the list and choose to edit them. This will take you to another view where you will have a working list of the selected items, navigate across them, edit their properties and save your changes.
The Assortment View: Catalog Management perspective allows you edit the products, catalogs, catalog versions and catalog hierarchies. The main advantages include drag and drop and better context menus for quick edits.
Another great feature introduced to the PCM is Data Quality, which is how many requirements an item meets. These are by default reflected as validation constraints.
One of the main complaints I had in previous versions was that you could sync only the catalog or one product at a time. Now you can pick a group of products and synchronize them in the catalog.
6.5 to 6.7
Many features in the Backoffice were ports from the legacy system with improvements inherited from the new framework like workflow management and visualization. The actual improvements are related to batch update of product information.
With the Microsoft Excel Import/Export feature, you can edit a huge set of products by exporting them to an Excel spreadsheet (under the hood it still relies on impex importing/exporting), edit them there and re-import them again into the system. The import feature can also be used to import new products into the system, which could be used with suppliers for product listings. Another new feature is the ability to clone products.
Following this trend, the next step for 6.7 was mass editing. For example, you can select multiple products and approve them in a single step or assign them to a specific category. This feature can also be applied to workflows.
With 6.7 also came the ability to import media using Microsoft Excel. For this, you can create your own directory structure that includes images and other media, zip the folder, and import it along with your product data via the Excel import feature. You can simply reference the images based on your own folder structure in your Excel sheet.
You have now a read-only view to compare products side by side, although from there you can jump to the edit mode of one of the products or to a pre-populated list of all the other compared products.
The newest version of the PCM includes more enhancements to the Excel import/export to support the classification system with the files and integrating a validation engine. The compare views are now more compact due to collapsible containers for collections and localized attributes.
I hope this gives you a nice view of the advantages of the PCM in SAP Commerce; and you can give it a shot if good PCM is a vital component of your digital commerce solution.