Introducing the SharePoint Product Catalog site for Dynamics AX Retail


In my previous blog, I looked at how changes made in Dynamics AX are then directly reflected in your external facing website (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dynamics-coe/archive/2013/02/04/updating-your-commerce-catalog-directly-from-dynamics-ax.aspx).  In order to start to understand how this works, we need to understand some of the components of the Dynamics AX Commerce platform.  Dynamics AX Commerce utilises two SharePoint site collections, connected through SharePoint 2013’s Cross-Site Collection Publishing feature (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj656774.aspx).  One is for publishing content and the other is for authoring content.  The authoring content component is called the Retail Product Catalog site and it holds products, product catalogs and associated information that are then used in your external website. In this post, I will walk you through some of the features of the Product Catalog and how useful and simple it is to manage your website data.

 

Let’s get started with the home page.  The home page of the Product Catalog site looks like this:

 

 

There is a host of things we can do in this site from viewing your online product data to managing hierarchy information.  Let’s have a look at these.

1. Viewing products

To view the products, click on the Lists menu item on the left and there is a list containing all the products and the associated metadata held against each product for use on the website.  You can then drill into each product and view or manage product data.

 

 

 

2. Viewing the Catalog

The Product Hierarchy utilises the standard SharePoint Term Set functionality and can be viewed in the Product Catalog “Term Store” (for more information on Term Sets refer to tech net at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee519604.aspx). 

Access the Term Store from the Product Catalog home page, click on “Manage item hierarchy in Term Store”.  Expand the Site Collection and the product navigational hierarchy is displayed (you’ll notice it matches exactly to the navigational hierarchy we created in Dynamics AX – see my previous blog on updating commerce catalogs).

 

 

So what is the real point of this?  Well, first of all, you’ve now got a window into all the product data that has come from Dynamics AX and is now sitting in SharePoint. Then, after being pushed into defined SharePoint lists, that data is being used by the powerful SharePoint 2013 search, crawling (indexing) functions used in your external facing website.  In addition, through this site you can run other cool functions such as managing your custom sort options, managing your faceted navigation, defining workflow and general site settings.  In fact, the more you start to play with the Product Catalog site, you’ll see even more powerful functions to maintain your website data.

In my next blog, we’ll explore one of those additional functions of the Term Store: How to manage your faceted navigation through the Product Catalog site.

 

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

 

Comments (4)

  1. Peter, thank you for very useful posts about retail mechanism in AX.

    Can you help – what can be a problem if I can't see products on Product Catalog site after publishing catalog? I see only catalog hierarchy as you wrote in this post, but there is no uncategorized list of products and "Products" list is empty.

    Also I checked that all product listings records have status "Ready", and it doesn't change for a few days. All services and job "'Retail Publishing Job" are active.

  2. Wayne says:

    Peter

    This is great post, I'm seeking help in determining product vs product master setups with variants. Our products we sell we like to show colours on the website and I believe that means that we need a different SKU for each colour is that correct? Ideally I would like to use variants but also express them not as one item (and you select the different colours) but as multiple items across the page.

  3. Sergey Pikhulya says:

    Hi Wayne,

    You could have a look into Contoso Electronics catalog which is shipped with the demo VM, there you will see listings which are represented with variants where each variant has a different color. In the Product Gallery page the products are displayed in a grouped form so all variants of the same master product are collapsed and just one of them is displayed, but if you look into Product Details page you will see each variant at a time where each variant (for the dimension Color) can be selected with help of an appropriate Drop Down.

    If you would like to display exploded (not collapsed) view in the Product Gallery page you will need to modify (or remove, based on your requirements) collapsing specification for the CBS (Content By Search Web Part) which is used by Product Gallery page.

  4. Hi Vladimir,

    do you see any errors in the Retail Publishing Job?

    Please also confirm that you published a catalog from AX and executed "Create Actions" and then the job A-1075_OC.