In my previous blog, I looked at how changes made in Dynamics AX are then directly reflected in your external facing website (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dynamics-coe/archive/2013/02/04/updating-your-commerce-catalog-directly-from-dynamics-ax.aspx).  In order to start to understand how this works, we need to understand some of the components of the Dynamics AX Commerce platform.  Dynamics AX Commerce utilises two SharePoint site collections, connected through SharePoint 2013's Cross-Site Collection Publishing feature (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj656774.aspx).  One is for publishing content and the other is for authoring content.  The authoring content component is called the Retail Product Catalog site and it holds products, product catalogs and associated information that are then used in your external website. In this post, I will walk you through some of the features of the Product Catalog and how useful and simple it is to manage your website data.

 

Let's get started with the home page.  The home page of the Product Catalog site looks like this:

 

 

There is a host of things we can do in this site from viewing your online product data to managing hierarchy information.  Let's have a look at these.

1. Viewing products

To view the products, click on the Lists menu item on the left and there is a list containing all the products and the associated metadata held against each product for use on the website.  You can then drill into each product and view or manage product data.

 

 

 

2. Viewing the Catalog

The Product Hierarchy utilises the standard SharePoint Term Set functionality and can be viewed in the Product Catalog "Term Store" (for more information on Term Sets refer to tech net at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee519604.aspx). 

Access the Term Store from the Product Catalog home page, click on "Manage item hierarchy in Term Store".  Expand the Site Collection and the product navigational hierarchy is displayed (you'll notice it matches exactly to the navigational hierarchy we created in Dynamics AX - see my previous blog on updating commerce catalogs).

 

 

So what is the real point of this?  Well, first of all, you’ve now got a window into all the product data that has come from Dynamics AX and is now sitting in SharePoint. Then, after being pushed into defined SharePoint lists, that data is being used by the powerful SharePoint 2013 search, crawling (indexing) functions used in your external facing website.  In addition, through this site you can run other cool functions such as managing your custom sort options, managing your faceted navigation, defining workflow and general site settings.  In fact, the more you start to play with the Product Catalog site, you'll see even more powerful functions to maintain your website data.

In my next blog, we'll explore one of those additional functions of the Term Store: How to manage your faceted navigation through the Product Catalog site.

 

Peter is a Retail Solution Architect for the Centre of Excellence EMEA team