Updating your Commerce Catalog directly from Dynamics AX

Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 R2 included the release of an integrated Commerce platform built on and using Microsoft technologies.  If you haven't seen the details and in particular the impact on retailers I suggest you read Michael Griffiths blog here (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dax/archive/2012/11/16/the-new-retail-reality-are-you-ready.aspx)!

Fundamental to the Dynamics AX solution is a centralised, true omni-channel retail product and catalog management function that drives all your channels including stores and your web.  No costly and high risk interface required to be built here.  It’s a single solution working out of the box with low total cost of ownership.

In the first of a series of blogs on using the powerful features of this release, here's the quick and easy guide to updating your commerce catalog directly from Dynamics AX.


Step 1: Make changes to your catalog as required

In this example we're going to extend the structure of our web navigational hierarchy.  Contoso, our electronics superstore, is no longer going to sell home appliances.  As a result, we need to remove "Home appliances" from the website category hierarchy. 

So here's what our website hierarchy looks like before we start:


If we look in Dynamics AX, we see that the above hierarchy is represented in the retail navigation hierarchy attached to our web channel.  In the below screenshot, the hierarchy on the left shows the screen where this hierarchy is maintained in Dynamics AX.  As part of our scenario, I need to inactivate the "Home appliances" node.  To do this I click Inactivate at the top of the screen and the result is shown below on the right (If you want more detail on changing retail navigation and product hierarchies, stay tuned for a future blog where I'll explore these features).



Step 2: Publish your online channel

Once you're happy with the new navigational hierarchy, you need to go to your online channel form in the Retail module.  You'll note an existing publishing status of 'Published'.  Simply press 'Edit' and then 'Publish' on the ribbon bar and you're ready to roll.



 Once you do this, you'll note the publishing status turns to "In progress".


Now if you're impatient like me, you can run a couple of processes to speed up the background work. We can call these steps 2a) and 2b) if you like.

2a) Run the Create Actions job to analyse any changes made in synchronised data elements, then

2b) Run the Commerce Data Exchange process.  If you're looking at an out of the box installation, this process is called "A-1075_OC"


Note the publishing status of our online channel again…!


Step 3: Refresh your web page

So that's done, go back to your web page and click refresh. Voila!! 



There you go, three easy steps! 

No web re-programming required, no code changes and therefore no need to call the developers down from upstairs - changes made in Dynamics AX are directly reflected in the web.


In upcoming blogs, I'll take a deeper dive into each of these components to show how you can drive further productivity improvements in your commerce data management activities.


Peter is a Retail Solution Architect for the Centre of Excellence EMEA team




Comments (2)

  1. Otto Müller says:

    Hello Peter,

    thanks for this great description. Have you already made more experience with MS Dynamics AX for adjustments in the web shop? What about the attributes? You can define the attributes in MS Dynamics AX at several points (to the product, the navigation hierarchy, etc.). What are your experiences here?

    What about the trade agreements in MS Dynamics AX? Are the trade Agreements part of the out-of-the-box Synchronisation with the webshop?

    best regargs


  2. Sergey Pikhulya says:

    You can have web shop logic which will depend on the AX attributes (newly created or existing), there could be many examples, one of them is below:

    if we want to let's say somehow highlight the products which are on sale we can create an attribute (in AX) OnSale, then we should include the attribute to be published to the Online Channel and it should have a flag Queryable enabled. Then, in the web shop's web part, we can modify our display template (which utilizes the SharePoint Search), or add a new web part and new display template, to query only those products which are on sale so they could be displayed in a separate view. Or, we could utilize the same existing web part/display template by updating the display template in such a way that the products which are on sale will be rendered in some special way (to do that we need to mark our attribute with flag Retrievable).

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