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Moving from the SAP Online Store to SAP Internet Sales

by Tim Bussiek | SAPinsider

April 1, 2001

by Tim Bussiek, SAPMarkets, Inc., and Birgit Starmanns, SAPMarkets, Inc. SAPinsider - 2001 (Volume 2), April (Issue 2)
 

    SAP's two Web sell-side solutions - the SAP Online Store and SAP Internet Sales - offer all of these essential e-selling functions. With these solutions, companies can create a full-fledged Web presence on the Internet while continuing to provide tight integration with order fulfillment processes.

     Since its introduction in 1996, the SAP Online Store has been successfully implemented by many companies. If you are one of these companies, when and how should you consider migrating to SAP Internet Sales? Can you leverage your existing investment in the SAP Online Store? These are the questions we answer here.¹

The Basics on SAP's E-Selling Solutions

The SAP Online Store provides Internet functionality to companies that wish to rapidly implement a Web presence to sell products on the Internet, while ensuring that this solution is integrated with their SAP R/3 system.

     The Online Store is delivered with the SAP R/3 system, beginning with Release 3.1G, and only requires implementation of the SAP ITS (Internet Transaction Server) to facilitate communication between the R/3 system and the Internet.

     SAP Online Store functionality includes presenting a product catalog to the Internet customer, which includes text and multimedia files, customer-specific views, product searches, product configuration upon request (as of Release 4.6C), and accurate pricing (including customer-specific discounts, taxes, and freight). It also includes a virtual shopping basket, customer registration (or the use of existing customer records), an ATP check for inventory, and secure payment (including credit cards, invoices, and cash on delivery). Order tracking is available using a separate function.²

     SAP Internet Sales provides an Internet touch point that acts as a strategic sales channel. Companies that choose this approach are often also implementing strategic customer relationship management processes. SAP Internet Sales functionality is delivered with the mySAP CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution, and also requires the ITS as part of the implementation.

     Beyond the Online Store functionality, SAP Internet Sales allows for staging of products and hierarchies in the product catalog, linking of accessories, automatic product assignment to the catalog, XML import of product catalogs, and product configuration. It permits users to save a shopping basket and load order templates, and offers a fast order-entry screen. SAP Internet Sales also features availability using SAP APO (SAP Advanced Planning and Optimizer), and provides a more flexible visual design.

     New functions for one-to-one marketing and personalization may be performed either statically or dynamically (with SAP Business Information Warehouse). These features include customer profiling, personal product recommendations, bestseller lists, cross-selling, and up-selling.

     Figure 1 and Figure 2 are examples of interfaces from Sap's two e-selling solutions.

Figure 1 An SAP Online Store Interface³

 

Figure 2 An SAP Internet Sales Interface

SAP Online Store: An "Inside-Out" Approach

     The SAP Online Store was created as an Internet Application Component (IAC). IACs are delivered with the core SAP R/3 system, and take an "inside-out" approach, meaning that all logic, system configuration settings, and master and transactional data reside inside the R/3 system.

     This "inside-out" approach ensures that data and logic are maintained only once, in a centralized location, enabling the SAP Online Store to take advantage of existing configuration settings and data.

     Companies achieve a significant benefit for the ability to reuse their existing sales and distribution processes without an extensive redesign of their processes, configuration, and data. In this way, the SAP R/3-based Online Store is the preferred solution for companies that require quick implementation without the addition of new strategic relationship management processes.

     To implement the three-tiered OS architecture, you need a Web server, the ITS, and any corresponding security measures such as firewalls.

     The three layers of the SAP Online Store architecture are:

  • Business Execution
  • Internet
  • Presentation

Business Execution Layer

In this layer, IACs are programmed as transactions within SAP R/3, extending the R/3 functionality to Internet shoppers. This means that changes to the business logic must be made within R/3.

     The master data (e.g., product catalog structure, products, customers, and prices) is taken from the SAP R/3 system. The resulting sales orders are also stored within R/3, so that the order fulfillment processing can begin immediately.

Internet Layer

At the Internet layer, each screen in SAP R/3 is mapped to a Business HTML template in the ITS. Within each Business HTML template, the R/3 data is formatted, and additional look-and-feel elements are added via standard HTML tags and JavaScript.

For improved performance, multimedia files are stored on the Web server.

Presentation Layer

The Online Store is designed so that customers view the most current product information on the Web site, since the data is taken out of SAP R/3 and the HTML pages are dynamically generated by the ITS.

     The three-layer architecture for the SAP Online Store is highlighted in Figure 3.

Figure 3 SAP Online Store Architecture

SAP Internet Sales: An "Outside-In" Approach

Any company wishing to take advantage of the Internet as a strategic sales channel (not as a supplemental channel, as is the case with the SAP Online Store) should implement or migrate from the Online Store to SAP Internet Sales.

     The SAP Internet Sales solution was built using an "outside-in" approach, whereby all transaction logic is controlled outside the core backend system. This architecture offers companies the flexibility to change the logic of the process flow, and to incorporate third-party services,4 without changing the core code within their R/3 environment.

     Key benefits of this architecture are improved scalability, optimal load distribution, fully automated data replication, high availability and performance, increased personalization of content, and greater flexibility in the visual design of the site.

     This solution is achieved via the four-tiered architecture shown in Figure 4, which includes a dedicated selling system (SAP CRM):

  • Business Execution
  • Business Service
  • Interaction
  • Presentation
Figure 4 SAP Internet Sales Architecture

Business Execution Layer

The SAP R/3 backend system handles all order fulfillment and financial activities.

     The products created in this system contain financial and manufacturing information that is not required in the business service layer. The business partner/customer masters are replicated between the business execution and business service layers so that they remain in sync. The sales orders are also replicated from the SAP CRM system to the R/3 system in real time, so that order fulfillment can begin immediately.

Business Service Layer

The SAP CRM system contains all the relevant master data required for setting up and running a Web shop, including the product catalog structure, product master data (replicated from the logistics execution system), business partner information, and all roles and relationships between the data.

     By managing all customer interaction in a separate system, the load is taken off the R/3 backend in the business execution layer. The sales order that is created for a Web customer is initially stored within mySAP CRM and is replicated into the logistics execution layer, so that order fulfillment can begin immediately.

     Residing outside the SAP CRM system within the business service layer are three optional components: the Knowledge Provider, to manage the multimedia documents that are referenced in the product catalog; the SAP APO, for availability information; and SAP Business Information Warehouse (BW), for product recommendations and analysis.

Interaction Layer

The components in the interaction layer allow information that originates from the business service and business execution layers to be presented to the customer with more flexibility in visual design and with performance enhancements.

     Enhancements are apparent in various areas of SAP Internet Sales: The ITS has been upgraded to accommodate flow files, which control the logic and flow of the shopping experience; these flow files call other components as they are needed. The Index server contains product catalog information that was replicated from the SAP CRM system. The Web server contains the multimedia files that are displayed for the products in the catalog, which are managed by the Knowledge Provider. The SAP Internet Pricing and Configurator (SAP IPC) contains the prices and configuration rules set up in the SAP R/3 system, which allows prices to be displayed and configuration to take place within the product catalog.

Presentation Layer

The information displayed to customers on the Web site is always current. This is because the data is taken out of the different Internet Sales components in real time, and the pages are dynamically generated by the ITS. So although the data is drawn from different components, this is transparent to customers using the Web shop.

B2C, B2B, Marketplace: Sap's Got the Three Key E-Selling Scenarios Covered

Business-to-Consumer: In the B2C e-selling scenario, a company sells its products directly to consumers from the Web shop.

With this scenario, the visual appearance of the Web shop and the ease of consumer navigation are crucial. They directly influence the customer's ability to find a desired product, and are critical factors for promoting the "stickiness" of the Web site, whereby customers are encouraged to return (consumer attraction, conversion, and retention). In both e-selling solutions, the visual design of the Web shop is separated from the business logic, which makes the process of changing the look-and-feel much simpler.

Consumers are a diverse group, so defining target groups of customers is important to companies in developing marketing campaigns. Often B2C consumers will only register at the Web shop after they have found the appropriate items. Once they register, customers can maintain their own profiles and address information online. Clickstream and customer behavior information can be invaluable in helping companies obtain a clearer picture of their customers' online experience. The personalization tools available also enhance the customer experience on the site.

Business-to-Business: In this scenario, Web shop users are no longer anonymous customers, but are business partners with whom the company already has an established relationship, which means they have additional requirements for the Web shop.

For example, the business partners may need to register their employees at the Web shop as authorized to purchase from the site. These employees are then shown customer-specific prices and products. A fast-entry screen is available for these customers, as well as order templates that they can use as a reference to create similar orders.

In addition to selling to business partners, this scenario also enables companies to resell to end users with direct delivery (sell-through). The B2B scenario builds on the strength of SAP systems, with integrated business scenarios that leverage existing customer information, and extends these integrated processes to the Internet. All interaction with the customer, from prior order history to the Internet sales channel, are centralized for analysis.

Business-to-Marketplace: In this scenario, a company can use the selling application as an on-ramp to a marketplace.

By participating in a marketplace, the supplier obtains the benefits of targeting products to a homogeneous group of customers with very specific requirements.

The marketplace also makes it easy for a buyer to select appropriate suppliers, and allows automated interaction between the sales and procurement systems as if they belonged to the same corporation. This interaction reduces the amount of manual intervention necessary for purchases to take place.

The marketplace also provides suppliers and sellers with additional services - including auction services, supply chain management services, and order management services - that go beyond typical selling scenarios. SAP e-selling solutions can easily be plugged into marketplaces to take advantage of these communities, while still providing the backend order fulfillment processes.

Which SAP E-Selling Solution Is Right for You?

The SAP Online Store and SAP Internet Sales demonstrate Sap's strengths as an experienced software vendor with a proven track record for scalability, security, integration, and upgradability. The chart below lists the features and positioning of each solution, based on the expected customer requirements for implementation.

SAP Online Store

SAP Internet Sales
  • Internet implemented as a supplementary sales channel
  • Quick installation and implementation
  • Light architecture
  • Tight integration with the backend logistics execution system
  • Central point of data maintenance
  • Built-in availability checking
  • Already live with an SAP R/3 system
  • Majority of existing sales configuration applicable to the Internet processes
  • Internet implemented as a strategic sales channel
  • A component-based architecture with fully automated data replication
  • Fully integrated SAP solution
  • Load on the backend logistics execution system minimized
  • High availability and performance
  • Personalization of content
  • Flexible visual design
  • Openness to third-party services
  • One-to-one marketing and sophisticated personalization
  • Rich business-to-business selling features
  • New definition of data and configuration to support strategic new business processes and customer relations

Migrating from the SAP Online Store to SAP Internet Sales

For many companies, the first step in e-selling was with the SAP Online Store. However, as sell-side architectures evolve and Sap's strategic direction shifts to focus on an Internet sales approach, SAP Internet Sales has become the solution of choice.

     The Internet has increasingly become the strategic distribution channel, especially in connection with more complex extranet scenarios and distributed marketplace settings. As a result, companies currently using the SAP Online Store have begun to migrate to the SAP Internet Sales solution. Internet Sales can also be implemented as part of a complete mySAP CRM suite, which encompasses all customer touch points.

     Since the SAP Online Store already utilizes SAP R/3 functionality, and SAP Internet Sales is based on the SAP CRM system (built on an SAP Application Server), there are several tools already in place that make for a smooth transition.

     When preparing for such a move, you not only have to plan how to handle moving from one process to another, you also have to address how you will migrate the SAP Online Store data to the SAP Internet Sales solution.

     For example, you will need to carefully consider the migration consequences for:

  • SAP R/3 master data to be carried over to the SAP CRM environment. Much of the master data that is required to support SAP Internet Sales, such as business partner and product master data, can be automatically migrated via normal SAP CRM middleware replication processes. Additional tools, planned for SAP Internet Sales Release 3.0, will allow the Online Store product catalog to be carried over in an automated way as well.


  • Transactional data created within SAP Internet Sales. Sales orders encompass the transactional data that is created within Internet Sales. These sales orders are replicated into the backend SAP R/3 system, at which point the delivery, billing, and accounting processes are enacted. Sales orders from the Web shop will no longer be directly created in SAP R/3.

  • Look-and-feel of the Web shop. Due to the different technologies that are used to implement the SAP Online Store and Internet Sales within the ITS, you will need to re-implement the HTML templates for the migration to SAP Internet Sales.

     While this may take some planning, the migration of the actual business processes and data that have accrued requires relatively minimal effort. The amount of work necessary to re-implement the look-and-feel of the shop will largely depend on the complexity of the SAP Online Store shop design at initial implementation. Any investment in design and branding, for example, can be easily leveraged in the new setting.

Stored in the material master record.
SAP Online Store System SAP Internet Sales System Migrating Data from the SAP Online Store to SAP Internet Sales
Customer Master Data
Stored in the customer master record. Stored in the mySAP CRM business partner record. The master record in mySAP CRM contains the roles that apply to the business partner, which determine what data is required. Examples of such roles include a consumer, a contact person (in a B2B scenario), and a goods recipient (ship-to party). To migrate customers from the SAP R/3 system to business partners in the SAP CRM system, a download process takes place. Rules in the middleware define the information that is relevant to the SAP CRM system, such as the role of the business partner and the data that must be replicated. After the initial download, the middleware keeps the business partners in sync, using a filter to control which business partners are replicated between systems. It is also possible to create business partners directly in the CRM system. These business partners are also replicated back into the R/3 system, which allows logistics execution processes to take place.
Material Master Data
Stored in the mySAP CRM product master record. Stored in the mySAP CRM product master record. The product master in SAP CRM contains sets, or views, of the product that are relevant to the sales process. It does not contain the financial/manufacturing data that is also part of the material master in SAP R/3. Product masters are not created directly in the CRM system; instead, the material masters are replicated from the R/3 system into the CRM system. Rules are set up in the middleware that determine the information required by the CRM system. After the initial load of products, each time a material master that meets the defined filter criteria is created in the R.3 system, it is also replicated into the CRM system, where it can be used by SAP Internet Sales. Additional attributes may then be added to products in the CRM system, which are searchable in the Internet Sales product catalog. These attributes categorize products based on marketing and sales requirements, and are not replicated back into the R/3 system.
Product Catalog
Maintained in the SAP R/3 System Plans for Release 3.0 include a migration program that transfers the Online Store product catalog into the SAP CRM system. In pre-Release 3.0 migrations, the product catalog structure must be maintained manually in the SAP CRM system. However, if the appropriate attributes are defined for the product catalog structure and for the product master records in CRM, products can automatically be assigned to catalog structure.
Multimedia Documents
Created with the Document Management System (DMS) for use in the product catalog. Through Release 2.0C: Knowledge Provider (KPRO) stores multimedia data for product catalog. Release 3.0: Plans include replacing the KPRO with the Knowledge Warehouse. Release 2.0C: In the R/3 system, multimedia documents may also be stored in the KPRO in R/3, as determined by the document type. IF this configuration option has not been set previously, a conversion program is available that allows the documents that already exist to be converted and stored in the KPRO. The KPRO is then associated with the SAP CRM system, so that the documents can be accessed from the converted product catalog in SAP CRM.
Prices and Product Configuration
Maintained in the R/3 system. Maintained in the SAP Internet Pricing and Configurator (SAP IPC).

A Knowledge Base that contains the pricing and configuration rules is created in R/3. The Knowledge Base is then replicated to the SAP IPC, which then supports all pricing and configuration processes within SAP Internet Sales scenarios. After the initial download of the process into the IPC, all changes to prices and configuration that are maintained within the backend R/3 system are immediately replicated onto the IPC, ensuring that prices and configuration rules are in sync at all times. When using the IPC, pricing conditions that make use of user exits or custom coding must e re-implemented in the IPC Java environment.

Note: If the SAP IPC has already been in use for the Online Store (this option is available upon request in Release 4.6C), it must not be re-installed. Instead, the IPC can simply be connected to the SAP Internet Sales component, since all source pricing and configuration data is maintained in the SAP R/3 system.

Business HTML Templates
Maintained in the ITS. Reside on the ITS. You will need to re-implement the Web pages of the Web shop in SAP Internet Sales, since the programming logic used in the SAP Online Store is quite different (as described in the architecture overview.) However, this is actually a benefit in disguise since it will allow you to take advantage of the greater flexibility and added functionality of the Internet Sales product. In addition, you will also need to re-implement the user interface of the SAP IPC using flow file technology if the IPC was used in conjunction with the SAP Online Store using the user interface servlet. The SAP ITS will need to be upgraded to Release 4.6D so that the flow file technology is available.
Figure 5 Guidelines for Migrating Data from the SAP Online Store to SAP Internet Sales

Data Migration to SAP Internet Sales

When an SAP CRM system is implemented, the existing SAP R/3 configuration can be downloaded into the CRM system, so that duplicate configuration is not required. Download programs exist for these configuration objects. This allows for a quick implementation of the basic SAP CRM data.

     Usually, the SAP R/3 system already in place will also continue to serve as the backend for order fulfillment and processing of financials, while the new SAP CRM system contains all the marketing, sales, and relationship management processes. The data that is required in each system must be replicated and kept in sync, which is done using the SAP CRM middleware.

     Figure 5 (on the preceding pages) lists information on where data is stored for each solution, and considerations for migrating data to SAP Internet Sales.

Process Migration to SAP Internet Sales

The final step in migrating from the SAP Online Store to SAP Internet Sales is to examine the business processes that are currently in place for the Internet Sales channel, and which additional processes are desired.

     With the implementation of SAP Internet Sales, marketing and personalization features can now be incorporated into a Web shop, which was not possible in the Online Store solution. Profiling customers using target groups, presenting personalized product recommendations, cross-selling and up-selling, and presenting bestseller lists are now possible in the Web shop - all ways to enhance the customer shopping experience. Since these enhancements were not available in the SAP Online Store, these marketing processes need to be designed and implemented in SAP Internet Sales.

     Most order fulfillment processes do not change in the migration, since the majority of the logistics, billing, and accounting functions within the SAP Online Store and SAP Internet Sales are carried out using the SAP R/3 backend, and do not change with the implementation of SAP Internet Sales.

     The sales orders are first saved in the SAP CRM system, and then replicated to the backend R/3 system in real time. Once an order arrives in R/3, it is processed in the same way as a typical order within R/3, or an order previously created from the SAP Online Store. If a product is make-to-order or assemble-to-order, the sales order triggers a requirement that the product be manufactured; otherwise, the sales order creates a reservation in the system for the appropriate quantity.

     This step is then followed by standard processes for picking, packing, delivery, billing (invoicing or credit card), and accounts receivable processing.

     With the SAP tools already in place, you are ensured a smooth migration from the lighter architecture of the SAP Online Store to the richer, component-based architecture of SAP Internet Sales, where you will enjoy more strategic e-selling features.


¹ This article is based in part on an earlier internal SAP document by Rolf Schatzmann (April 2000). The content has been updated and the scope extended to include a detailed discussion of migration from the SAP Online Store to SAP Internet Sales.
² The Sales Order Status can be implemented in conjunction with the Online Store to provide order and delivery tracking. This is a separate IAC, which is also delivered with R/3.
³ This SAP Online Store interface is part of the SAP Simplification Group's preconfiguration, which can be accessed at www.saplabs.com/ecom.
4 One example is the TeaLeaf Technology solution, which allows you to capture the customer experience on the Web site for session replay and business analysis.

Tim Bussiek leads the Internet Sales Product Management in Palo Alto as part of SAPMarkets, Inc. He has helped build the dedicated e-commerce applications within SAP (B2B Procurement, Internet Sales, Marketplace) since their beginnings in 1998. In close contact with many varied customers, he has gained extensive experience in formulating SAP IT strategies for the "new, new economy." The focus of his current work is uncovering new trends and technologies that will determine the future success of e-selling software. He can be reached at tim.bussiek@sap.com.

Birgit Starmanns holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia. Birgit joined SAPMarkets, Inc. in Palo Alto, California, mid-2000 as product manager for Internet Sales Applications. Prior to this, she was the e-commerce project manager in the R/3 Simplification Group at SAP Labs. Before joining SAP, she implemented R/2 and R/3 for numerous companies as a consultant, since 1990. You can reach her at birgit.starmanns@sap.

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