experience manager integration

Posted by Peter Curran


 

 

 

Oracle Commerce Experience Manager (ExM) is a super flexible tool that merchandisers of all stripes can leverage. The staff at Cirrus10 are all deeply familiar with the spectrum of scenarios faced by business managers responsible for marketing and merchandising in ecommerce. One scenario common to almost all stores is the integration of content and product data. Banners, body copy, graphic assets and even videos are usually stored in a content management system (CMS). Then the rules governing the display of the content, especially when paired with search functionality, product and navigational data are usually controlled in tools like ExM. This necessitates that the CMS and ExM play well together. Each should leverage the strengths of the other.

We see two basic approaches for bringing these two platforms together, regardless of the CMS. These approaches vary based on the tightness of integration with Endeca. One of the determining points is the preference of business users building ExM pages – it will play a key role in the ideal outcome so be sure to understand what those users really need. Ultimately and as a general rule, the tighter the integration, the better the Experience Manager control.

Let’s go through our two options in detail.

Approach #1 All content stays in CMS

In this case, business users would enter the content ID in cartridge as plain text and target to a navigation state. The frontend or cartridge handler takes that ID and fetches content using CMS APIs. No CMS content indexed by Endeca, which makes this the loosest integration.

Pros

  • Endeca index stays the same size and baseline update doesn’t change
  • Content can be instantly configured in ExM once published in CMS

Cons

  • Manual text entry in ExM to choose content by ID prone to error
  • Content isn’t searchable by Endeca
  • Requires jumping back and forth between CMS and ExM to setup cartridges

Example

Home page banners configured in ExM. Business user enters content ID in cartridge, frontend fetches content from CMS.

Home page banners configured in EXM. Business user enters content ID in cartridge, frontend fetches content from CMS.

 

Approach #2 During baseline update, CMS content ingested by Endeca

There are two ways to accomplish this. The first option is to crawl the CMS via a custom Endeca adapter. The other option is to export the data from the CMS. Each piece of content (blog post, banner, how-to, etc.) is a record in the index. Content is configured in Experience Manager using a record selection editor which has search functionality. Content is delivered directly from Endeca and is indexed as a record. This provides the tightest integration.

Pros

  • Vastly improved content selection experience in ExM
  • Content is searchable by Endeca
  • Tight integration, Endeca delivers content using its search/navigation-optimized index
  • Incremental updates if using custom crawler

Cons 

  • Longer baseline update
  • Need code to crawl CMS or export from CMS
  • Endeca index becomes slightly larger depending on amount of content
  • More queries to MDEX

Example A

Banners are indexed into Endeca. ExM record selection editor selects content and targets to navigation state.

Banners are indexed into Endeca. EXM record selection editor selects content and targets to navigation state.

Example B

Expert advice content indexed for search results page and typeahead.

Expert advice content indexed for search results page and typeahead.

So, what would you do?

Our Opinion: use approach #2 if possible because tighter integration means less room for error when creating EXM cartridges.

This also leverages out-of-the-box (OOTB) cartridge handlers, which means less work than creating custom cartridges which use Sitecore (or other CMS) APIs

A major benefit is that now all content is searchable by Endeca

We would not recommend using approach #1 except if you are in a case where you just need a quick and dirty solution. It doesn’t require development for custom Endeca adapter to crawl the CMS or code to export from CMS. Just be aware that there will be a somewhat hostile user experience for selecting content because it will require entering a plain text ID.

Conclusion

Most business users; merchandisers, marketing teams and revenue teams – are all responsible for the success of ecommerce within their store’s boundaries. There is a constant need to provide customer facing content, product information and user experience. This means that inevitably multiple tools and platforms must work together. The key to success, is managing this in the most seamless manner possible. If we are looking for efficiency everywhere then Oracle Commerce Endeca Experience Manager and a properly configured CMS that are tuned to work together make the possibilities for success limitless.

NEED ENDECA SUPPORT?

866.996.9985

Cirrus10 is a custom Oracle Experience Manager and CMS integration provider.

Need further strategic or technical help?