January 13, 2016

5 Useful SAP Hybris Features You May Not Know About

by Wayne Brazille

by Wayne Brazille, Chief hybris Technical Architect

You probably know the 80/20 rule of sales – 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of its clients. A similar ratio applies to software. About 80% of users will use only 20% of an application’s features.  That’s why I’m never surprised when an eCommerce client says, “hybris can do that?” Like any complex, sophisticated software platform, hybris is jam-packed with features – so many that eCommerce merchants couldn’t possibly know they all exist.

Why You May Not Be in the Know

As the 80/20 rule suggests, it’s no surprise many useful hybris features go undiscovered. Here are four of the most common reasons:

  • hybris updates are frequent and extensive – It’s hard to stay on top of every software upgrade or update, especially given the frequency of hybris software releases and the broad range of updates included in each release. As a busy eCommerce professional, your expertise is selling, not software. Even a company’s tech team can get overwhelmed. With each upgrade or update, the problem only becomes more challenging as the functionality of the hybris Commerce Suite increases.
  • Lack of proper training – Launching a new eCommerce site is a crazy time. You’re up against a deadline with lots to do. Training may often focus only on what’s needed to get the site up and running. Learning more will take place later – and later never seems to happen. Also, training may not be personalized to your implementation, so how could you know what’s not being covered?
  • Running an older version – Your site may be working well. However, an attitude of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” may prevent a business from taking advantage of platform improvements that offer many benefits. (Remember, new functionality can be used to make a business case for an upgrade.)
  • Business requirements have evolved – The landscape of eCommerce is constantly evolving. Marketing approaches change. New products launch. Companies merge. Changes can lead to new requirements for features that must be delivered more rapidly than ever. Often, a business can forget to re-evaluate the platform’s out-of-the-box capabilities when new requirements arise post-implementation.

The 5 Useful hybris Features: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Business

When working with hybris clients, my goal is first to understand their business, existing challenges, and vision for the future. When recommending how hybris technologies can help transform their selling and realize their eCommerce vision, I emphasize leveraging “out-of-the-box” features to the greatest extent possible.

Here at LYONSCG, we invest heavily to ensure our hybris Team is current with the very latest product features so that our clients can realize the full value of their investment. I suggest they customize only when necessary to meet business requirements.

To help you take maximum advantage of the hybris eCommerce platform, read on to learn about five recent features you may not know about. They could change the way you operate your B2B online business.

  • Dynamic Product Bundling
  • Product “Searchandising”
  • Procurement System Integration (B2B Punchout)
  • Assisted Service Module (ASM)
  • Merge Data from SAP and non-SAP Systems Using Data Hub

Dynamic Product Bundling

One challenge for many B2B eCommerce sites is the configuration of product bundles with associated customer-specific pricing. Many implementations tend to avoid bundling, or implement bundles using a rigid system where each possible product assortment is a single SKU in the product catalog. If bundle offerings are a challenge on your site, you’ll appreciate the ability to create flexible product bundles (and related pricing) on the fly.

The Bundling Module, one of the more under-used features of the hybris Commerce suite, can be a game changer. It provides product merchandisers the capability to dynamically create bundles of physical and/or digital products based on administrator-defined templates. While originally developed as part of the hybris Telco Accelerator and released with Version 5.0.1, the Bundling Module can readily be integrated with the B2B or B2C Accelerator storefronts with some user interface customizations.

The module helps merchandisers define rules that control both which products can be bundled together, and the discounts or pricing to be applied to a completed bundle. These tasks are accomplished within a familiar interface. The Bundling Module extends the Product Cockpit with a new perspective that provides the ability to manage bundles alongside products. Note that bundles are also fully integrated with the hybris pricing structure. This provides the ability to link bundles easily to multiple lists to support customer-specific pricing, a feature that’s very useful in the B2B space.

The result for a shopper is the power to easily build their desired bundle from selections identified by the merchandisers (driving more sales). Merchandisers have far fewer products to manage with the elimination of pre-configured bundle SKUs from a product catalog.

Check your hybris license details to verify you have both the subscriptions and bundling modules included before implementation.

Product “Searchandising” – AKA Merchandising the Product Search Results

A study by Internet Retailer indicates 74% of B2B buyers research at least one-half of work-related purchases online. The increased use of mobile phones and devices to discover and research products and place orders will grow sharply.

Merchandisers will want to take advantage of that search activity to shape a buyer’s experience and direct them to specific products. For a typical eCommerce site, fixed product search scoring algorithms have historically prevented merchandisers from modifying or manipulating search results to promote certain items.

Commerce Search, released with hybris Version 5.1, provides enhanced capabilities to fine-tune the search results displayed in B2B and B2C Accelerator storefronts. This feature builds on the existing hybris integration with the Apache Solr Enterprise Search Platform. Merchandisers will gain access to some of the most advanced features of Solr.

Just imagine how sales could increase if you had the ability to:

  • Promote specific products at the top of the search results by flagging the products as “Hero Products”
  • Activate/hide/re-order search refinements (Solr facets) by category
  • Set search boost rules based on product attributes by applying a weight value to an item to drive sales, so it places higher in search results

Merchandisers access these features through the Commerce Search View in the hybris Back Office tool. This view provides a collection of simple displays of the category tree and search results, along with easy-to-use controls for managing search parameters (hero selections, search refinements, search weights, etc.).

Procurement System Integration (B2B Punchout)

Large customers, such as Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, tend to work only with vendors who can directly integrate with their existing procurement systems (like Ariba or SciQuest). The hybris B2B Accelerator enables vendors of any size to connect with in-house purchasing systems using the B2B Punchout module. First released with hybris Version 5.2, the module lets a customer’s B2B purchasing agent use their Ariba (or other major) procurement system to shop products in your hybris catalog.

Selections are added to the hybris shopping cart and then saved back to the procurement system as a requisition upon checkout. The purchase is completed via the buyer’s standard procurement approval processes. The order is delivered back to the hybris storefront once approvals are completed.

The integration is based on the standard cXML protocol. So, the B2B Punchout can be integrated with any cXML-compliant procurement system.

Customer Support via the Storefront – the Assisted Service Module (ASM)

One of the challenges B2B organizations often face during the launch of a new B2B site is helping their customers learn how to use and leverage the self-service capabilities of the storefront. A buyer’s frustration with any part of the ordering process can lead to a lost sale.

The hybris Assisted Service Module (ASM), introduced for the B2C Accelerator in hybris Version 5.4, and extended to the B2B Accelerator in hybris Version 5.7, provides an excellent solution. Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) use the module to log-in to the storefront and see what the customer sees. The CSR can then guide the customer through the site, helping them search for products, add products to the shopping cart, and check out.

CSRs may also leverage the ASM to guide customer administrators who are utilizing the self-service features (“My Company”) of the B2B Accelerator to control access rights, cost centers and budgets for their purchasing agents, order approvers, and others. The ASM provides the “see what the customer sees” CSR experience for the “My Company” section of the site as well. Helping a B2B customer with set-up makes it easier for them to use and should increase orders.

The ASM also provides the ability for site merchandisers to configure special promotions or products only the CSR can see and offer to customers. This feature is another way to empower CSRs to drive a better customer experience, conversions, customer retention, and loyalty.

Merge Data from SAP and non-SAP Systems Using Data Hub

The use of the Data Hub, first introduced in Version 5.2, to integrate hybris with SAP systems is well-established and documented. However, another Data Hub capability that’s often overlooked is that it can be used to integrate and merge data from non-SAP systems.

For example, consider a B2B organization implementing a hybris Commerce site that has two sources of product information. The primary product (Master) data is stored and maintained in an SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) instance. The organization also has a legacy/custom catalog-only site that contains enhanced product descriptions and other product attributes. The organization’s marketing team has expended significant effort to create this legacy system and didn’t want to lose it in the transition to hybris.

The solution is to use the Data Hub to merge the product data and then publish (load) the combined data set to hybris. To do this, the Data Hub engineer first leverages the standard Data Hub/SAP ECC integration to synchronize the Master data to hybris. Next, the engineer can create a custom data-mapping (known as a custom extension) that defines how the Data Hub receives, loads and merges the enhanced product data from the legacy web system with the master product data from SAP. The combined set of data is then loaded (published) to hybris.

Why take this approach versus creating a separate ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) process using another technology? Some of the reasons can include:

  • Establishing a single, integrated, repeatable data load process allows for testing data loads early and frequently during the project.
  • A Data Hub can be configured to publish the merged data set to multiple DEV and QA systems, which saves project time and effort when compared to the effort needed to run ETL processes on multiple systems.
  • Reducing operational complexity enables you to focus on monitoring and tuning a single Data Hub implementation, rather than a (potentially large) set of one-off ETL and integration processes

Take Advantage of hybris Features

Based on my experience and role as leader of the hybris Practice for LYONSCG, one of the keys to a successful, high ROI eCommerce implementation is ensuring that it takes maximum advantage of the eCommerce platform features. These five useful, but often overlooked, hybris features are just a sample of the many ways an expert consultant can help your B2B online business realize its full potential.

To learn more about these features or to find out what hybris can do, please contact LYONSCG.

 

Wayne Brazille, Chief hybris Technical Architect, has specialized in eCommerce for over 10 years and focused exclusively on hybris for the past four. He’s developed eCommerce solutions for companies such as Tumi, Stock Building Supply, Target, Marks and Spencer, Phillips Electronics NV, and Michelin NA.