OFBiz for Digital Commerce: Build a Full-featured Online Catalog

Mike BatesPublished: Updated:

When you build a digital commerce Platform with OFBiz, the possibilities are endless

This is a refresh of a post we first published back in 2010–even more relevant today. Enjoy!

When a business decides to implement an e-commerce system, whether a product retailer or a manufacturer / distributor is making the move to go direct to consumer, one of the first steps is to translate products in the warehouse to an online store catalog. The  main requirement is that the catalog makes it easy for web store customers to find what they’re looking for. A good store catalog contains as much product information as possible, and is organized in such a way that customers can easily drill down to the level of product detail required to inform a purchase decision.

 When you build a catalog using a tree, the fruit is always low-hanging

Catalog Tree digital commerce platform with OFBizJust like items on display in a brick-and-mortar store, the online catalog should leverage merchandising capabilities and prompt customers to explore the product line, take advantage of special offers, and so on. The catalog also needs to accommodate product features and attributes like size, color, quantity, finish, and the list goes on. A full-featured online catalog also stays aware of inventory levels, enabling out-of-stock notification on the storefront and time-to-re-order notification in the back-end.

Setting out to build a catalog that meets all of these requirements can seem daunting with so many organizational possibilities. And once it’s built, there is the matter of keeping the catalog current from both storefront and warehouse perspectives. Is Is this all possible with HotWax Commerce and OFBiz? The answer is yes, and it is all out-of-the box. How do we do it?

We start with the thorough and well designed OFBiz data structure that applies across all enterprises. Part of what makes the model so flexible is that OFBiz stores information that defines separately from information that classifies.

For example, as it pertains to products, one group of database elements defines a product (with attributes such as name, ID, and description), while another links products to categories through association. In this way, products can be classified under multiple categories without redundancy in the database.

Similarly, multiple categories can be assigned to a catalog, and multiple catalogs can be assigned to a store. What we end up with is a product database that looks like an inverted tree. Products in a catalog structured this way are naturally easy to find, pick, buy, and sell. In other words, on such a tree the fruit is all low-hanging!

Product-category association coupled with some simple configuration in HotWax Commerce, powered by OFBiz, enables businesses to control the type, relevance, and amount of product information on the storefront, ultimately satisfying all aforementioned catalog requirements. Let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Mike Bates About Mike Bates
Mike Bates founded HotWax Systems in 1997 and is our chief executive. His career in web application sales, marketing, design and development spans two decades, and he is a long time open source software advocate. He has led high-profile web software projects for numerous national and global brands and has taught web development courses at the graduate level. Mike joins other HotWax employees and advisers in periodically posting thoughts here related to HotWax Commerce, OFBiz, digital commerce, and other topics.

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