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We are very pleased to announce the release of some innovations that will further support you in your ecommerce journey while helping you achieve greater omnichannel growth.

In this release, we've added several features to increase integration capabilities and maximize user friendliness.

  • Improved functionality and visibility for refunds
  • Enable unique solutions for your projects with increased ease
  • More flexibility for the store fulfillment picking workflows
  • Integration with Vue Storefront to easily build your PWA-based front-end storefronts

Order Management System (OMS)

We’ve added several new features to improve platform capabilities like the ability to issue partial and full refunds in the OMS and to create unique fulfillment workflows for sales and dependent scopes.

The platform also introduces a new microservice framework for creating external extensions to effortlessly enable unique solutions for your projects. This approach allows you to build and evolve microservices independently from the platform.

We are also introducing a direct native integration with Canada Post as a carrier provider. This new direct integration adds additional enterprise features, more resistance to errors, and ease of maintenance. The platform also has a new carrier aggregator provider; allowing you to leverage multiple carriers simultaneously while benefiting from the best integrations possible.

New Refunds API and UI

The platform now offers a new API for refunds to provide either full or partial refunds on an order.  A partial or total refund can be issued on an order with a Paid or Partially Refunded payment status regardless of its fulfillment completion. When a refund is issued on a payment, the amount refunded is displayed in the Payment section of an order in the Order Management System (OMS) Application.  A new Total Refund Amount value appears within the payment history helping customer services representatives understand when a refund was issued along with its details. 

This new feature also supports split tender payments when orders are paid with multiple credit cards.

Figure 1 - Partial refund and payment history

Scope-Specific Fulfilment Workflows 

Orckestra Commerce Cloud can now have unique fulfillment workflows for sales and dependent scopes. For example, if you want to attach completely different order fulfillment business processes to different geographic regions, stores, or warehouses, it is now much simpler to accomplish that. 

New Microservice Framework for External Extensions

Complementary to the release of OCC 5.4, the Order Management System (OMS) now offers a new Microservice framework for external extensions. This framework is designed to provide compartmentalized and independently managed functionalities servicing the OMS. This framework is also the foundation of the Canada Post Shipping Integration microservice and will be used for other carrier integrations in the future. Hence this approach will provide the foundation for most external integrations including new carriers, payment providers, custom routing workflows, custom fulfillment workflows and so on. The main advantage of this new microservices approach is the ability to build and evolve them independently of the rest of our platform, and it also makes it easier for our partners and clients to build, deploy, and maintain their own external extensions. 

Direct Canada Post Integration

Orckestra Commerce Cloud 5.4 introduces a direct native integration with Canada Post. In previous versions, shipping with Canada Post was achieved through Orckestra's integration with Shippo (a carrier aggregator we are integrated with). This new direct integration with Canada Post adds additional enterprise features, more resilience to errors and ease of maintenance. Automatic inclusion of return labels, when booking outbound shipping labels, can be configured. A set of retry policies improves on the purchasing and printing of shipping labels, return labels and creating manifests. This new native integration is also centered on shipping locations rather than dates, making it possible to track shipping labels across several days. Stores can manifest shipments as often or as rarely as they need, allowing them to ship more than once per day when required, or perhaps once per week for remote locations. Finally, OCC's native Canada Post integration adheres to a microservice architecture, making its deployment and maintenance independent of the platform's lifecycle.

The external Canada Post microservice is managed through a new Canada Post external carrier provider designed to interface with the microservice.

Figure 2 - Canada Post External Carrier Provider

To learn more about configuring a Canada Post as an external carrier provider, see External Carrier Provider.

Carrier Provider Aggregator

To support multiple carriers, OCC 5.4 also features a new carrier aggregator provider. Using this aggregator, a single Fulfillment Provider instance that you configure in the platform can leverage multiple carriers at the same time such as Shippo, Delivery Solutions, Transsmart, Canada Post, etc.  An example of how this is used is a scenario where you use Shippo (with one or more traditional carriers) and at the same time Delivery Solutions to support shipping with local last mile carriers like Uber leveraging both within your fulfillment provider to make the best decisions of which carrier to use based on the order promise and the customer location. 

To learn more about configuring a carrier provider aggregator in the Order Management System, see Carrier Provider Aggregator.


Mobile Fulfillment and Pick and Pack Apps

Our fulfillment applications have also been enhanced with new features. MSF can now be customized to print packing slips before the picking flow starts, allowing support for fulfillment operations via desktop computers. Also, the navigation of MSF can be modified as users reach key fulfillment milestones in the fulfillment flow, preventing the accidental completion of shipments.

Printing packing slips in advance

Users can print shipment documents earlier in the fulfillment flow. A retailer has the option to allow pickers to print packing slips as early as during picking. The objective of this feature is to support fulfillment flows operated from desktop computers. When mobile devices aren't available to help pickers locate and pick products, packing slips can be used as picking list supporting the picking phase.

Printing is offered earlier in the flow through the availability of the Print floating action button in the shipment details screen. The Print button allows the user to print the packing slip associated with a shipment. A configuration setting allows the print button to be displayed in a variety of states now including Picking in progress.

Figures 3 and 4 - Print button in different picking states

Developers can pick any of the following status values to display the Print floating action button. 

  • PackingInProgress
  • ReadyForBooking
  • ReadyForShipping
  • ShippingComplete
  • ReadyForTransfer
  • PendingReception
  • ReadyForPickup
  • PickupComplete
  • PickingInProgress
  • ReadyForPacking

To learn more about this feature's configuration, see Enabling Printing Packing Slip in Advance

Navigation Returns to Shipment List

Users can now be returned to the list of shipments to fulfill as they reach key fulfillment milestones. The set of milestones triggering navigation back to the shipment list is determined via a configuration file in the platform. The objective of this feature is to minimize user errors by aligning the flow in MSF to the actual fulfillment flow in stores or warehouses.

For example, when packing completes for a pickup order, the consumer is notified that the shipment is ready for pickup. The consumer is not in store yet. Taking the user back to to the shipment list rather than to state ready for pickup has two advantages.: it prevents accidental completion of pickup before the consumer shows up in the store, and it saves users one click to get back to the list of shipments.

To learn more about the navigation transitions, see Customizing Shipment Statuses and Transitions in MSF


Grocery Pick n’ Pack

Pick and Pack is our in-store fulfillment application designed specifically for grocers and optimized for picking many large grocery orders at the same time. The grocery Pick & Pack now allows split shipments to help fulfill orders from multiple locations at the same time. For example, non-perishable food can be fulfilled from a warehouse while fresh produce can be fulfilled at the pickup location. P&P also allows zone picking by allowing a store to fulfill a shipment using several pickers.

Split Shipment  

Split shipments allow grocers to fulfill an order using many locations. One location (perhaps a dark store) can be optimized to pick up common items, and the local store (where the customer will pick up the entire order for example) can be used for fresh items.

Figure #5 - Split shipment in Pick n' Pack

Zone Picking

Zone picking allows a store to fulfill a shipment using many pickers. Grocers split their store into zones of similar products. Pickers select a zone and can fulfill all shipments of a selected zone.

Figure #6 - Zone Picking

Experience Management and Reference Application

Grocery RefApp Improvements

Our grocery Reference Application (RefApp) now offers recipe creation. Content creators can use the recipe datatype in Experience Management, add the recipe content, and leverage their new ingredient list to match products available in the catalog. We also added a new feature named My Usuals to help customers shop for products (based on past purchases) thereby optimizing their shopping experience. In addition, the grocery RefApp now allows customers to specify substitution rules for items added to their cart.

On our Retail RefApp, promotional banners and ribbons can now be displayed on product tiles, leveraging information stored in the PIM’s product custom attributes.

Recipe Management

Orckestra Commerce Cloud now offers grocers out-of-the-box content creation for recipe pages that associate products from their catalogs.  Because recipes and recipe libraries can be created from scratch, grocers now have the flexibility to recommend generic products or focus on branded products, so that they can encourage the purchase of specific products that are part of a sale by associating a promoted product with featured recipes. 

Content creators can use the recipe datatype in Experience Management, add the recipe information, image, instructions and leverage their new ingredient list to match products available in the catalog. Recipe management provides grocers with a user-friendly method to help their customers plan their meals and shopping.

Figure # 7 - Recipe Management

Figure 8 - Managing Ingredients

While consulting the recipes, customers can then easily add the required ingredients to their cart. Customers can browse their recipe libraries to search for specific keywords employed by the search engine, salmon for example, and browse through products and recipes. They can also narrow their search using the recipe facets on the left-hand side. 

Figure 9 - Recipe Search

My Usuals

My Usuals  is a new grocery feature to help customers shop for products more efficiently, based on their past purchases.    Grocers define usual products by setting the frequency and time-frame of purchases. Once defined, customers can easily add them to their cart using a simple interface.

Grocers can also use My Usuals with their mobile or 3rd party applications using the APIs that drive these features. With this API, developers can duplicate these features in their own front-end or create new experiences.  

Figure 10 - My Usuals from a customer perspective

This feature can be configured in the Commerce Settings, located in the root file of your website in Experience Management.

Figure 11 - From a configuration standpoint

Substitution Options

Customers can now specify substitution rules for items they add to their cart. At fulfillment, pickers are informed of customers' preferences for each item substitution.  Selecting a substitution option displays the information in the Pick n' Pack picklist. Default substitution rules can be specified under My Account. Substitution options are configured in lookup values of the OMS Administration module.  This was something that our customers often implemented as a customization previously, and now it is offered as standard feature in the RefApp.

Figure 12 - Substitutions rules in the cart

Retail RefApp Improvements   

Using the information stored in the Product Information Management (PIM) application, clients can now choose what is displayed to their customers. On the product tiles, Promotional Banner and Promotional Ribbon can be configured in each product under Custom Attributes

Figure 13 - Product Management - Product Promotional Banner and Ribbon settings in the Custom Attributes tab

Figure 14 - Promotional Banners and Ribbons on the storefront

Vue Storefront Integration 

We are also happy to announce that we now have a new PWA Reference Ecommerce solution integrated with Vue Storefront, providing an enhanced experience on mobile devices.

We are seeing a significant share of ecommerce transactions completed on mobile devices.  While retailers want to continue improving the mobile experience, creating their own native mobile app is not always the answer. More often the best approach is to have a mobile-first web experience that is fast and caters to the needs of mobile users.  Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) provide the mobile-first experience retailers need, without the investment required to create and gain adoption for a native mobile app.  By using JavaScript, HTML and CSS technologies, PWAs are built to be mobile-first and offer the ability to use app-like features such as push notifications and offline mode.  Retailers considering a PWA approach for their next ecommerce storefront can now get there faster by leveraging our new Vue Storefront integration. Vue Storefront provides a standard-based PWA framework for ecommerce with the transparency of an opensource approach.   

We built a stand-alone PWA Reference Ecommerce Storefront that provides flexibility by leveraging Orckestra's REST APIs. This PWA Reference Storefront encapsulates many core commerce capabilities such as main home page, category and facet navigations, product list pages, product search pages, product detail pages, promotions and discounts, product relationships, cart and checkout, store locator, authentication, order history and more.  

Figure 15 - Vue Storefront integration

Platform Improvements

Authentication Expiration

OCC 5.4 introduces an improvement to login session management within our business user apps. Previously, sessions expired at regular intervals and users had to refresh access tokens through a dialog window. A new expiry mechanism now ensures tokens do not expire as they did before. Once logged into the platform, session validity periods slide forward through activity, running uninterrupted as long as users click and navigate. Inactivity causes authentication tokens to expire and require refresh.

Operational Data Store

Orckestra Commerce 5.4 introduces the Operational Data Store (ODS). ODS is a reporting service designed to monitor data from live Orckestra Commerce Cloud databases and consolidate data in an optimal way for reporting. It tracks and identifies deletions, schema changes, new data and transforms that data into a straightforward and manageable schema. It also manages the scheduled transfer of data from the live DB to the new reporting DB, where all the data is consolidated in one database.

Customers migrating to OCC 5.4 will benefit from the following application data improvements:

  • All platform data resides in one single database that is specifically dedicated to reporting
  • Data is updated according to a predefined schedule
  • Data is normalized so that all records relating to the same entity are stored in the same table (example: products from different sales scopes reside in one table)
  • ODS is monitored to ensure that the ETL process runs and that data is regularly synchronized

New APIs