Our partner Agiqon has developed an OCI plugin that facilitates the connection to SAP and enables quick order processing. Find out more about its benefits and how it works.
What exactly is the Open Catalog Interface?
SAP offers an open catalog interface for its ERP systems. This standardised interface is called Open Catalog Interface – or OCI for short. SAP enables quick order processing with the help of this interface. In recent years, our customers have usually chosen one of the following two options for the OCI connection of their system to Shopware.
Option 1: On the shop side, all products are made available in a catalog for SAP. The ordering process then takes place exclusively within SAP.
Option 2: The customers access the Shopware store via an OCI punchout where they log in directly using a single sign-on. When the order is completed, the user’s shopping basket is transferred to SAP.
As the shop does not appear to the user at all in path 1 and we, as Shopware partners, would naturally like to convey the advantages of the shops in terms of usability and the shop experience itself, we favour the second path. Our experience to date also shows that end customers prefer option 2.
How does it work exactly?
We have developed an OCI plugin to implement option 2. Using this plugin, you can define whether a user is an OCI user or not at a customer level. Once this setting has been made, a punchout can take place via SAP. Customers are logged into the shop directly via a link and can start filling their shopping basket. Certain functionalities within the shop are deactivated for OCI users, e.g. address and account management, since this information is only processed exclusively in SAP.
By assigning the OCI user property at a customer level, it is possible to assign different customer groups to the OCI customers and thereby benefit from all advantages of a customer group, such as individual prices.
Furthermore, two additional fields are automatically added at the product level when the plugin is installed. These fields can be populated with the eCl@ss number required for SAP and the packaging unit.
Once customers have collected all their products and want to begin the checkout process, they are sent to the shopping basket as usual. Here, customers can then edit their order or send it to SAP. Once the order has been completed, it is transmitted to the user’s SAP ERP in the background where it can then be processed in accordance with the existing process (approval process, budget check, etc.).
Our experience shows that especially during this step of transmitting from Shopware to SAP, individual adjustments are often necessary, as the fields that are to be transmitted to SAP can differ somewhat and are often customer-specific fields. This issue should be coordinated early on in the project implementation.
Even if the values to be transmitted are quite simple, customers’ SAP systems are often configured in different ways. A good example is the issue of VAT: the SAP systems that we connected expected the values “0.19”, “19” or “1.19”, depending on the configuration. The field descriptions for the products may also vary slightly.
In most cases, once an order has been approved within SAP, it should remain synchronised with the shop. This allows you to view the status of your order in real time within the shop.
We typically also synchronise the dispatch of the goods in both systems. This often requires that we communicate with the fulfilment provider’s ERP systems. We have already successfully implemented this process with various ERP systems. It makes no difference whether the order is returned from SAP via XML, EDI or any other file format.
Upon successful implementation, the entire process – from the catalog in the SAP system and ordering in Shopware to shipping – takes place completely automatically.