Planning for the Product Catalog System

Commerce Server 2002

You use the Product Catalog System to create catalogs of products and to add and update product data. This system provides both import and export functionality, and allows you to define and modify the schema for catalogs.

The following table lists some of the questions that you need to answer in planning for the Product Catalog System.

Planning questionRecommendation
Do you plan to synchronize information in the Product Catalog System with an offline catalog?If you synchronize information in the Product Catalog System with your offline catalog, you must develop custom software. If you require this functionality, consult with your system administrator.
What is the best organizational schema for your catalog?The Product Catalog System is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of schemas. If you are designing a new catalog, make sure to include plenty of opportunities for expanding the schema.
Which languages will your site support?If you are going to use more than one language on your site, you will need to decide which will be the reporting language, that is, the language in which data is exported to the Data Warehouse and used in analysis reports.
Which currencies will your site support? If your site will display information in multiple currencies, you need to decide how you will manage multicurrency pricing. You can choose to convert currencies using in one of three possible ways:
  • Fixed rate conversion. You create a virtual catalog for each new currency used, including the relevant base catalog in each virtual catalog, and you create a catalog level price rule to convert prices to the new currency.
  • Dynamic rate conversion. Using this approach you dynamically compute the currency value at run time before it is shown to the user. The International sample site in the Software Development Kit demonstrates this approach.
  • Explicit alternate currency pricing. You use this approach to explicitly define prices in each currency. For example, a single product may be priced at $29.99 in U.S. dollars, $39.99 in Canadian dollars and 24.99 in euros. To do this, you must add additional properties of type "currency" to your catalog; for example, a CDN_Price property, and a EURO_Price property. You can then add prices to these properties using the Catalog Editor module in Business Desk. At run time you use a pipeline component to select the appropriate price property from the product for the currency that the shopper is using.
Will you provide custom pricing or product selection to different user groups?Create virtual catalogs to provide special pricing, or to display subsets of products, for specified groups of users.

Create catalog sets to identify one or more catalogs that you want to make available to different users or organizations.

What catalog data do you want to analyze in reports?You should export the information required to the Data Warehouse so you can run reports and perform other analysis on the data. You specify which product data to export to the Data Warehouse when you create your property definitions.
Will you exchange catalogs with your trading partners? If you will, then include Microsoft BizTalk Server 2000 or later in your deployment plan. It provides functionality to exchange catalogs automatically with trading partners.

See Also

About Catalogs

Business Desk Catalogs

Integrating with BizTalk Server

Integrating a Third-Party Product Catalog

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