When the concept of EDI (electronic data interchange) was first introduced in the 1960s, the stage was set for commerce to develop into the online shopping reality we have today. Now, e-commerce is so embedded in our society that we cannot imagine living without it.
E-commerce today is not only a reality; it is also a need for a globalized world where trade cannot be constrained by border lines and distances that were before considered insurmountable. With e-commerce, we can sell and buy anything, from anywhere, with a minimum of human interaction. All this is thanks mostly to electronic commerce platforms provided by software industry giants like Oracle and its Commerce Cloud solution.
How Oracle Commerce Cloud Came to Be
When companies started to use the internet as a means for B2C transactions, their store websites were implemented from scratch. Even all the infrastructure needed to support transactions and inventory management (including an admin console and a report dashboard) were created individually for each company. It goes without saying that this model made breaking into the online market extremely costly since doing so required a full set of software engineers and architects to create and maintain each online system. For larger companies, this was an excellent arrangement. They had the budget for such innovative investments and could reap benefits from the long-term ROIs. Smaller companies, however, were unable to compete in the online market until solution providers entered the scene.
Companies like Oracle saw this new market need and realized that every web store was made from a common set of modules. In other words, because of the similarities between online platforms, a single platform could be provided and customized by any business, whatever its size or online history, allowing more companies to compete in the digital world-wide market. Today, the efforts to create a customizable platform have evolved into a solution called Oracle Commerce Cloud, which allows companies to launch fully operational online stores with minimal efforts. OCC provides the following features for administrators to use in the creation of their online stores:
In this module, stakeholders can enter and display individual products. They can also create:
- A product type: a definition of what a product is, besides its basic attributes.
- A product collection: a group for related products used as search matching strings and also as an embedded structure for website navigation.
- A price group: a currency for the product price; a product can have as many price groups as necessary for shipping to different countries with different currencies.
- Inventory: this sub-module manages the number of products in stock as well as the stock threshold, allowing owners to anticipate demand.
In this module, the company's marketing department can manage three tools to help convert/retain customers:
- Item promotion: used to give discounts or another product/gift when a customer spends a certain amount.
- Order promotion: used to give a full order discount.
- Ship promotion: used to give a shipping cost discount.
Additionally, this module can be used to create rules for stacked promotions and to define their audiences.
One of the most important features any general platform must provide is the ability for its users to customize their online store with their brand logo, colors, legal information, and general disclaimers. To meet this need, OCC provides a full set of tools for the creation of layouts, themes, widgets, and components.
A query system is one of the best ways to sell items in your online store. It allows customers to search for and find products available in the company's inventory. It must, however, be "smart" enough to understand what customers are querying by the keywords used, even when their search terms do not exactly match product names or descriptions (or whatever field you could set as searchable).
OCC handles these possible obstacles using three strategies:
- Field ranking: this makes some fields more relevant than others and also allows certain fields to form a cross reference base, making results more relevant.
- Thesaurus: a custom dictionary to allow the system to interpret commonly-used keywords as the ones available in the product inventory.
- Keyword redirection: redirects customers when keywords can be directly translated to an existing product category or another resource with its own URL, either inside or outside the web store.
In order to know whether or not business strategies are working well, managers must have a way to track how customers are using the web store and what is and isn't generating revenue (and how much). All of this information can be filtered and customized within the reports module.
In this module, a manager or stakeholder can set, among other things, shipping methods, payment types, gateways and allowed billing countries, and taxes and social information for the store.
This module also allows users to set up external APIs so that other systems may be used for internal events (such as order placements) or when information is requested from an outside application (such as an existing system already in use by the company). The inclusion of external APIs allows data requests at any point, making it easier to migrate the current web store architecture without too much impact on the business.
Even though we have just scratched the surface of the capabilities of OCC, this brief walk-through provides an introduction to the possibilities this powerful solution makes accessible. Solutions like Oracle Commerce Cloud give business decision makers a way to leverage revenue without increasing the complexity of their company's operations, or at least keeping costs at the same level. If you're interested in learning more about the unique tools provided through Oracle Commerce Cloud, we encourage you to check back again soon for related articles!
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