“Unboxing” Oracle Commerce Cloud Release 19A (Feb 2019)

Welcome to our recurring analysis of Oracle Commerce Cloud (OCC) releases. In this post we’d like to focus on the release of 19A. 19A is the first full product release of 2019 and it is a much larger release (feature for feature) compared to 18D. This release serves as an opportunity to bring new and value-adding features to the platform. Once existing OCC customers upgrade to 19A they can leverage these out of the box features to best interact with customers and grow their digital business.

Let’s take a look at the highlights of the release.

Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS)
For any eCommerce retailer that also has a brick and mortar component of their business they will be very happy to learn that OCC’s latest release supports an advanced Buy Online, Pick Up in Store feature.

With this feature Oracle Commerce Cloud can support:
• Customers can review inventory by their preferred location.
– Think about the way a Walmart or Target handles it.
• Inventory in the storefront can be mapped to unit availability by store pickup location or mapped to unit availability by warehouse (if you allow ship to store) also called inventory location.
• Customers can place an order online and pick up those goods in store, same day.
• Customers can select when to schedule the order to be ready during eCommerce checkout process. They can also provide a first name, last name of an approved pickup person.
• They can pay for those goods when they arrive at the store or online during the checkout process.
• The store communicates back to OCC that the order is fulfilled and paid, and thus the order is completed.
• OCC facilitates a mixed cart process, meaning a customer can put in two items, with Item 1 being purchased and shipped to their home and Item 2 being BOPIS.
• OCC has new transactional emails out of the box that will inform the end customer on status updates as their order advances through the buying process.

Overall, the feature is very slick and I’m very excited for how this can be implemented for a majority of our retail customers. To learn more read about OCC BOPIS.

Stored Credit Cards

One of the most common ways that you can increase your conversion rate on your eCommerce website is to streamline the checkout process, and specifically, the payment process. In 19A OCC now ships with the ability to store saved credit cards and reuse them for future purchases. OCC communicates with the payment processor of your choice, saves a payment token (no live credit cards numbers are ever stored) and that token then uniquely communicates future order requests to the payment provider from OCC. To learn more, read about Stored Credit Cards.

Search – Boost and Bury & Faceted Ordering
Search and browse functionality of an eCommerce site can be cumbersome and tedious, or it can be streamlined and coherent. As an advancement of the dynamic curation feature set of OCC the product now has a native product level boost and bury. Naturally, the boost will rank products at the top of the list, while burying will rank products at the end of the product listing page. Many of our customers that use Endeca or OCC have a search methodology that mixes automation and manual merchandising and this feature fits directly in line with their wishes and onsite engagement practices.

In addition to Boost and Bury, OCC has released a mechanism to order/rank faceted elements in the guided navigation. As a merchandising or business user, your goal is to help shoppers locate what they are looking for. By limited facets in a high-level category and expanding the “correct” facets in a sub-navigation you can show relevant filters for that particular page. For instance, allowing a “size” filter at global main navigation will yield 10 variations of size (depending on your catalog offerings, while a sub-category of “men’s shoes” will yield sizes 7-13 and where size is explanatory and helpful to the shopper.

Agent Console (Customer Service Module) Extensibility
If I’m being honest, a true gap in the product thus far has been around digital customer service, sales enablement, and order reclamation. While you could do a handful of useful processes (complete an order, shopper on behalf of a customer, start a return) the Agent console was very limited as a comprehensive enterprise tool. That all changes with the 19A release.

In 19A you can now extend the Agent Console to include custom functionality (via widgets), create new page templates to show custom fields that fit your workflows, and even update the agent navigation to specifically alter the taxonomy for your business. The page editor for agent console customizations is within the same Design Studio in the Admin Console and allows the proper user roles to edit and control layouts without the intervention of IT.

The only limited concern that I have is around upgrading widgets. While code should be backward compatible if there are 50 (example) of widgets being created then each of those would have to be reviewed and upgraded when a new release of OCC gets released. OCC natively does not auto-update your widgets so they don’t get overwritten, but you’ll want to be aware of changes that may happen and have regression tests set up to catch any issues.

I’m very excited about this release and its proof that Oracle listens to its customers and partners about what are gaps in the product. Read more about Agent Console extensibility.

A/B Testing – Custom Experiments Goals
OCC features an out of the box A/B and Multivariate testing tool they call “Experiments”. Previously Experiments let you track normal goals such as click track or pageviews that affect the commerce metrics: add to cart, conversion rate optimization, average order value, and revenue per visitor. With 19A you can now customize Experiment goals to fit your testing requirements. The new feature uses ‘Commerce Events’ to track common metrics. There are 50 OOTB published tests (from the Oracle team) and the ability to write customized events such as “Add to Cart Success”, “Registration Submit”, “Add Coupon Code”, “Landed on Category X”, “Creating a cart more than $100” and more. Having more granular details around goals and on-site engagement is key to giving your shoppers an easy, valuable user experience.

Audiences by UTM Query Parameters
19A provides some enhancements for its personalization segmentation tooling they call “Audiences”.  Within this release OCC can now read and inherit UTM parameters from a marketing link, click through via email, Google PPC, etc. and build an audience rule to support personalization for that particular user group. For example, if someone clicks through from your Email Campaign, you can relate a promotion or static asset showing that same information so they can see they ended up on the correct page. Another great user experience would be if you were partnering with another brand and they referred you to the site the top banner could say “Thank you Buzzfeed readers/viewers for visiting our site. Check out our deals for XYZ products and use BUZZ20 for 20% off your order.”

Other Key Features in 19A
• Deeper Content and Experience Cloud integration
Within Oracle Content and Experience Cloud (OCEC) you can now create multiple channels and push those natively to OCC. The value of this feature is that you can have target content for multiple sites and storefronts, such as localized content. Customers can leverage this integration to manage and release blog/editorial content with the same publishing checks and balances they expect from Enterprise CMS systems.

• B2C to B2B conversion of accounts
While this is a use case for a small set of OCC customers, we have seen it at TAISTech be an issue. Previously you were not able to convert a B2C user to a B2B user to use B2B specific functionality. They had to create a brand-new account. Now, with 19A, you can easily export out a CSV or JSON list of B2C users, change their profile relationship to B2B and reimport that data. This feature is limited to the API only, and you must have the proper credentials/role to be able to use the feature.

• Publishing of individual site assets
Within 19A a business user can now publish or schedule to publish individual design assets changes within the Publishing tool. You can now filter the change list by Author, Status, and Area of the site and publish single page or single widget updates instead of mass updating all Design changes at the same time.

• Advanced type-ahead search
With the new framework you can integrate with AI reporting or analytics tools to recommend most popular searches for your website.