Case Study: Creating Immersive eCommerce Experiences with IBM WebSphere Commerce v8

This article provides details on a recent Alpine client engagement.  IBM’s WebSphere Commerce v8 was implemented to augment the client’s B2B/B2C sites and deliver the experience and content required to overcome purchase barriers and close more business in the online channel.

About the Client:

The client is a worldwide leader in home storage and organization, offering innovative wire and laminate/wood storage systems. Products are available at home improvement stores, various online retailers, authorized dealers and the client’s online store.

Client Challenges and Requirements:

The vision of the new B2C  website was to make home storage and organization projects fun, easy and repeatable by creating a presence that dynamically customizes the consumer’s online experience, overcomes purchase barriers and increases their willingness to buy online.  To achieve this, the client required:

  • Clear site navigation
  • Stellar search functionality
  • User-friendly Content Management System

The client’s existing B2B/B2C presence included:

  • Online B2C stores (US and Canada) had originally been developed on WebSphere Commerce v6 (WCS6) using Consumer Direct starter store and later migrated to WebSphere Commerce v7 (WCS7).
  • The B2B store was developed on WCS7 using the Elite starter store. Both B2B and B2C are using their own Extended Sites models and were running in the same EAR on WCS7 using Oracle database.

The client’s design tools were running in Microsoft SharePoint. All content pages as well as search functionality on the B2C stores were managed in SharePoint.

The client desired to re-use existing content, as much as possible, in the new sites.  Emphasizing the importance of delivering that content to the right client at the right time.

The Solution – Addressing the Challenges:

The Aurora starter store from IBM’s WebSphere Commerce offered great features:

  • A robust search functionality with type ahead, ruled based categories, search-based navigation, etc.
  • Responsive Web Design for all store front pages
  • Commerce Composer tool offered an unprecedented control over catalog pages and content pages to the business user
  • Most of the store front pages use Representational State Transfer (REST) services
  • Data load Utility tool that was flexible and easy to use.

To take advantage of the features, we needed to upgrade to the latest version of WebSphere Commerce at that time (WCS8).  The scope of the project was becoming too big and we split the project into two phases:

  • Phase 1 – Migrate both B2C and B2B stores with no enhancements or changes (“as-is”) from WCS7 with Oracle to WCS8 with DB2
  • Phase 2 – While the legacy B2C was running within WCS8, develop a new B2C online store using Aurora as a starting point

Additional Details:

Phase 1 was straightforward as Alpine has migrated numerous applications within WebSphere Commerce environment. To convert Oracle database to DB2 database prior to migrating from WCS7 to WCS8 we used IBM® Database Conversion Workbench (DCW) (click here for more information on the Oracle-DB2 conversion). The project was successfully completed within the time constraints and budget.

Phase 2 consisted of migrating existing seller organizations and Master Catalog asset store that were originally created in WCS6

  • The first step was to setup SOLR for the Master Catalog that the legacy B2C was using as the new B2C stores were going to use the same Master Catalog
  • A new Aurora Asset Store was published using the B2C store model
  • The new Extended Sites stores for US and CA were created under the same seller organization as the legacy B2C and allowed customers to use the same login information from the legacy B2C
  • Custom CA languages were added as well
  • The new Aurora Asset Store policies needed to be added to the seller organizations
  • The new B2C stores had their own Sales Catalogs (for US and CA)
  • Created the List Price List in CMC Catalog Filter and Pricing tool for the Master Catalog
  • Existing integration was migrated from the legacy store to the new store
    • Tax Integration
    • Address Validation
    • Catalog Data load
    • X-SELL and UP-SELL data
    • Order processing
  • The upgrade of the design tools was handled by a third party in a different platform. The integration between the design tool and the store needed to appear seamless to the end user. To achieve this, we provided the team handling the design tools with REST calls for various UI elements for header, footer and others.


Alpine was able to deliver an eCommerce environment that augmented the online experience by delivering the right content to the right audience at the appropriate time.  This helped the client to strengthen relationships with customers and partners and convert more business in their online channels.

If you have questions about WebSphere Commerce (or eCommerce in general), drop me a line!

Mira Kostova – Senior Consultant at Alpine Consulting, Inc.

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