Note: This is a draft article undergoing review. Please check back frequently for changes and updates.
Optimizely PIM+Commerce Cloud B2C provides an ideal solution for creating and managing every aspect of e-commerce for retailers in every sector. Because these products were designed to work in many different types of e-commerce scenarios, those implementing these products will need to use their own good judgment and adapt the product to each situation. However, there are common patterns and best practices that can help you develop your unique strategy for implementing Optimizely PIM alongside B2C Commerce Cloud in most cases.
The following guidelines present some of the best practices to follow in devising your implementation strategy. The process outlined here fits into the overall implementation timeline for developing a full e-commerce solution for online retailers.
The basic pattern for all implementations involves three preliminary steps to prepare your sites for an initial test launch:
- Load Data
After these steps are complete, your site is ready to go live! However, you will want to continue to make changes monitor and refresh the storefront throughout its lifetime, following two stages:
- Maintain the Catalog
- Publish Changes
The rest of this article will explain these five steps and how to follow them to implement Optimizely PIM+Commerce Cloud B2C for the unique situation you are working with.
Step 1: Prepare Your Data's Design
Get your project started off on the right foot by thinking about how you want your data to look.
Think about how you want your Product Detail Pages to look on your B2C Commerce website. What information should show for each product? How do you want customers to browse or search for products? What product images or other assets do you want to include?
Putting in a little effort upfront can save a lot of time and simplify your work later on.
Read more about how to design your data to complete this step.
Step 2: Configure the System
Implementing PIM in integration with Commerce Cloud (B2C) involves setting up and configuring both systems to work together.
Set Up Your Team
In order to manage your implementation project, you will need to rely on many team members doing their part to help your systems to go live.
Before giving team members access to your systems, take some time to understand PIM's roles and permissions and decide how you want to manage your approval and publishing workflow. Learn more about PIMs roles and permissions and then configure the property used for setting product assignments before adding team members.
Once you have configured your workflow and configured the properties for assignments, you can begin to add team members and assign them to the appropriate products and roles for their jobs. For some environments, you will have to submit a support ticket to have members added to those environments.
Perform an Initial Property Sync with Commerce Cloud B2C
Both PIM and Commerce Cloud B2C structure data by means of properties that define the way content is presented in the storefront. Because Commerce Cloud B2C uses a more strongly typed or "opinionated" paradigm on how data should be structured, you will need to import the property types used in your Commerce Cloud B2C system into PIM so that PIM can be aware of these structures. To do this, you will need to perform an initial sync of the B2C data model.
Read on to learn how to perform the sync setup.
Configure Property Groups and Properties
Properties are data elements that define the way your products are described either internally or externally. For example, internal properties like shipping weight help the system to calculate shipping costs. External purposes are attributes visible to a customer browsing products on your site, like color or size.
Property groups are a visual way to group and organize several properties that are used together to describe your products. To configure how your product properties work, you first need to create your properties and configure them into groups.
Once you have done this, you can pull property groups with properties into product templates.
Create Product Templates
Product templates define the data elements that are required or recommended to populate products belonging to family of related products. For example, a clothing retailer might want templates for "shoes," "shirts," and "clothing accessories." Templates help to enforce data governance by making sure certain required properties are present in order to publish a product to Commerce Cloud B2C. In order to configure templates, you will first need to define your properties and property groups (see the previous step). Product templates will vary based on the types of products being sold, and should match the families of products that define the retailer's product lines.
Read on to learn about how to create product templates.
Define Category Trees and Categories
Category trees and categories organize your products and create taxonomies for customers to browse one or more of your connected websites. Your category attributes enable site visitors filter on your product list pages in your Commerce Cloud B2C site. For example, a hardware retailer might create categories like "power tools," "hand tools," "nails," "screws", and "rivets" and category trees like "tools" and "fasteners" to organize each of these categories into a logical and browsable structure to help customers find the products they are looking for. To create categories and category trees, you first need to map attributes onto your properties.
Read on to learn about how to define category trees and categories.
Finally, you will want to configure system settings to customize your experience in PIM. For example, you can define default image size types so that marketers will know what types of digital assets to upload when creating a new product listing.
Read on to learn about how to configure system settings.
Step 3: Load Your Data
Once you have created the structure for your commerce site, you can now import your product data from different sources to bring your product listings online. Obviously, you will want to take care to ensure that your products exist in your ERP, so they are orderable by customers. You can do this by performing a product refresh from your ERP to Commerce Cloud B2C of transactional product data like part numbers, titles, tax codes, weights, units of measure, and so on. Using this fresh data, you can then create product records in PIM by importing data from Commerce Cloud B2C, your ERP, wholesale suppliers, or other data sources and feeds.
Read on to learn more about how to import product information into PIM.
In order to create complete product listings, you will need to include digital assets like product images, manuals, regulatory disclosures, and other documents that customers may need. Once these digital assets have been imported into PIM, they need to be assigned to products so that they can be assigned to the products they are associated with.
Read on to learn more about how to import and assign digital assets.
In order to prepare to properly ingest the data from the various sources you may have, you will need to understand how you have set up the various configuration settings for your product catalog defined in the previous step ("Configure the system")
- Understand the properties and property groups you have configured.
- Understand how product templates and import templates can make this process easier and more failsafe.
- Understand how your data sources are structures so you can map these fields into your PIM database.
- Ensure that you have adequately prepared your digital assets (images, manuals, regulatory documents, etc.) to upload alongside the product data.
Step 4: Maintain the Data
Once your initial import has been completed and you have a live commerce storefront with Commerce Cloud B2C backed by PIM, you will continue to need to continuously monitor your product information for accuracy and completeness, or change product descriptions and digital assets in order to increase sales.
Maintain Your Product Information
Maintaining up-to-date product information is an important task in PIM. You can can search and filter for products you have been assigned in order to find the products you want to update. You can edit multiple products directly from within the results grid, or select an individual product to edit in the product detail view. When your product data changes are complete, you can then approve and publish them to your Commerce Cloud B2C websites.
Read on to learn more about how to maintain product information.
Organize Digital Assets and Assignments
Maintaining up-to-date and appealing product images and other relevant assets forms an important aspect of product information management. PIM makes managing digital assets easy by allowing you to create folders for a group of assets so you can upload similar assets together. It is a good practice to organize your asset folders based on product templates, categories, brands, and so on. Depending on how you organize your product marketing efforts, you may also want to assign products to your users. Additionally, tags provide a non-hierarchical way to categorize and filter your product assets.
To provide the best experience for managing digital assets, follow these practices:
- Organize your assets on your local computer before you import them.
- Ensure that you have set up asset folders before you load assets. You will not be able to load assets without selecting a destination folder in PIM!
Read on to learn more about how to organize digital assets.
Once you have uploaded assets into PIM, they need to be assigned to products in order to be displayed to visitors who want information about those products. To make asset assignment easier on your team, PIM supports auto-assignment of assets at the time of upload. To enable auto-assignment of assets to products, simply include the product number within the file name.
Read on to learn more about how to import and assign digital assets.
Use Collections and Workspaces to Find Products
Collections and workspaces allow you to easily identify product information gaps, fix issues with product data, and locate groups of products you need to work on.
Read on to learn more about how to use collections and workspaces to find products.
Create Product Variants
Product variants are a useful way to provide customers with information about different varieties of the same product. For example, you might have a particular type of shoe that comes in various sizes and colors, or a bulk product that can be purchased in different quantities or volumes.
Product variants work by creating a separate product for each variation (the child product) and grouping them together into a variant family which customers can select from on your sites. In order to create product variants, you need to define the appropriate product templates and make sure you have already created a record for each variation.
Read on to learn more about how to create product variants.
Work with the Dashboard and Reports
The PIM dashboard provides a centralized place to get an overview on all aspects of your product data. The product dashboard allows you to view notifications, monitor work in progress, access your product workspaces and collections (see the section above on workspaces and collections).
Read on to learn more about how to work with the dashboard and reports.
Step 5: Publish Changes
As you continuously monitor and update your product information, you will want to ensure that that data is reflected in the Commerce Cloud B2C storefront that your customers view when they visit your storefront. Your publishing process will follow the workflow for review and approval you established during the configuration steps above. While the system's users will be continuously updating product data in PIM, only published data will go live to customers on your site.
Note: Information on publishing product data to Commerce Cloud B2C is forthcoming. The process, however, is believed to be similar to those described here for publishing to Commerce Cloud B2C.