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When it comes to developing complex and heavily loaded products such as an e-commerce store, you need to prepare a “foundation” for it. This foundation can consist of universal reliable frameworks and ready-to-use products that significantly ease the development process.
When choosing an e-commerce platform to use, the owners of the web stores should ask themselves questions such as: do I need my platform to be multi-regional, support multiple languages and currencies, have a huge stock and several warehouses inside it?
If the answer is yes, then Hybris Commerce platform can be your choice for building heavy-loaded e-commerce-based products.
Hybris platform: an overview
Hybris is a SAP platform for building comprehensive and international e-commerce stores. Its open and extensible set of “out of the box” features helps to lower development efforts, improve customer service and sales, and speed up the development process.
Hybris is suitable for international businesses due to such features as multi-warehouse, multi-currency and multi-languages support (which, in comparison, do not come out of the box in many e-commerce solutions).
The main benefits of SAP Hybris Commerce
Though SAP Hybris has not yet gained such popularity as Magento or Shopify, it has several advantages that make e-commerce owners choose Hybris over other platforms.
Availability of extensions
Hybris comes available with a number of plugins and extensions for better platform customization (Adobe Analytics or Certona Platform as an example). In this way, Hybris allows fast and easy customization from the start, enabling you to add the necessary amount of personalization to the platform.
Variety of out-of-the-box features
While Shopify may be quite limited in terms of available features, Hybris offers its users a wide choice of out of the box functionalities. They include built-in tools for SEO optimization, pricing simulation, financial management, support for multiple languages and currencies, and many others.
The omni-channel delivery is probably the biggest Hybris benefit. With Hybris, store owners can sell their products and services across multiple channels such as mobile, desktop, and in-store. Hybris performs equally well on all devices and therefore expands one’s digital and physical presence.
Support for internalization
As already mentioned, SAP Hybris is highly suitable for international businesses due to the functionality that it offers. Hybris comes with ready support for multiple languages and currencies and in addition it is highly scalable and capable of handling a massive load. Thus, if you want to set up several stores in different countries, Hybris will significantly facilitate and optimize the process.
Now that we’ve had a look at the competitive advantages of Hybris platform, let’s look at the platform from the technical point of view. This will allow you to better understand how Hybris can benefit your business and how it competes against other e-commerce solutions.
While many e-commerce platforms are built using different languages (such as .Net, Perl, C++), Hybris is built on Java only. SAP Hybris can be deployed in any Java EE Servlet container (like Apache Tomcat). The platform itself consists of different modules and Spring allows easy wiring and configuration for each of them.
If needed, new extensions can be easily added in order to extend or replace the existing functionality. This is done by creating Spring Beans. The extensions are provided by the platform itself, or can be created from the available templates (the so called custom extensions). By adding a new extension, you can rewrite the UI experience, expose REST endpoints, or simply extend business logic.
There is a set of templates for the new extensions provided by Hybris. A new extension can be created from the command line by using an extension generator and an ant/maven command.
Building and platform startup are also provided in separate commands.
The backoffice plays the role of an admin panel where users with appropriate roles can manage server data, restart business processes, start cron jobs, generate a wide range of reports, check server load and fulfill many more options .
Business and Persistence layer
The Hybris commerce suite is divided into four separate packages that serve as an essential core for further customization: Commerce, Content, Channel and Orders. Let’s see each in more detail.
From the name of this package you can guess that it provides the core information for the site. It describes Product Catalogs, Categories and Media data for your product.
Catalogs in SAP Hybris come in two versions: staging and online. When you add a new product to the staging version, you need to synchronize it with an online catalog in order to see your products available on the website.
This section contains all logic related to Order fulfillment management, Promotions payments and Order history.
The Order fulfillment is organized with a business process engine. The logic/steps for fulfilling the order are described with xml files. These files represent the flow of actions needed to perform it.
Channels offer you various options of how to reach customers. Hybris omni-channel support means that you don’t need to create separate strategies. If you want your Catalog to be available on multiple devices and platforms, Hybris takes care of it and unties all the channels that you need in one solution.
There are two types of components available for customization in Hybris:
- B2B – Business to business
- B2C – Business to customers.
They are located in separate packages and you can choose either of them depending on the type of your clients.
By default, SAP Hybris uses the pre-configured HSQL database. But for better performance, we recommend that you you choose one of the databases that are supported by Hybris:
- SQL Server
- SAP Hana
Flexible search query support is used for easier interaction with the database in the DAO layer. Hybris uses its own ORM. Types and their relations are predefined in separate items.xml files and are added to the database during a system update or initialization.
A common choice for the controller layer in Spring environment is the usage of Spring MVC framework. But technically, a Java Framework (like JSF or Struts) can also be integrated by Hybris clients.
Presentation-oriented web applications generally use dynamic web-pages. JSP is often the main choice.
WCMS (Web content management system) Cockpit which is built by using the ZK framework and the next generation Framework is used to manage frontend templates. Hybris comes with the CMS pages feature in order to provide flexible and extensible frontend pages that can be managed by a non-developer inside the Product Cockpit. Backoffice (or hmc which is deprecated in latest hybris versions) is used to import data and media types for further usage inside the Cockpit GUI.
Service-oriented web applications provide web-server endpoints. The Omni Commerce Connect (OCC) offers RESTful web services that make Hybris logic completely open to any frontend technology that you prefer. This approach significantly simplifies the development process and allows you to make the best use of the platform.
Being a product of SAP, Hybris is a reliable and robust solution that solves many issues of available e-commerce platforms. Hybris has rich functionality, supports internationalization, and offers vast customization options. Therefore, it is a really good choice for the store owners who plan to go international and want to have many customization options. Please note that Hybris has received complaints about its analytics so you might want to consider a third party solution.