Boasting the twin perks of highly credible performance and competitive pricing, Oracle Retail Merchandising Foundation Cloud Services (RMFCS) has become one of the most widely used cloud computing services by retail organizations across the world. Oracle constantly updates its services to keep up with the rapid changes required by client business scenarios. Recently, RMFCS launched version 21, keeping in mind the latest requirements.

The new version is released with more features and enhanced add-ons to provide greater customer satisfaction to end-users.

The new features being offered in the updated version 21 include,

  • Technical architecture enhancements
  • Updated solution URLs
  • Merchandising file transfer services
  • New foundation, inventory, and pricing services
  • OAuth for REST service authentication
  • External web services configuration
  • Data conversion file upload changes
  • Initial data seeding for Store Inventory Operations Cloud Services (SIOCS)

Technical architecture enhancements        

With the version 21 update, all of Oracle’s merchandising cloud services will shift to Oracle’s next-generation SaaS architecture. This architecture is container-based and allows for immense scalability with a lot more security and enhanced uptime and availability. This enhancement is achieved by connecting a Kubernetes cluster management backend to Oracle’s database services.

The benefits of this update include,

  • Significantly reduced downtime due to fully automated deployment pipelines for updates and patches
  • Improved scalability for middle-tier and application-tier operations
  • Maximum leverage of all customer-end hardware and hence higher throughput
  • Monitoring and alertness using industry-standard tools like Prometheus, Grafana, and ELK
  • Easier reporting administration through Centralized Oracle Retail BI instance
  • Service-based approach replacing the SFTP.

Updated solution URLs        

With this feature, merchandising cloud services will move to another data center. The URLs used for accessing the service as well as some other features will be changed. The region and sub-namespace for the customer too will change in the new URL. The region will represent the data center of the organization’s environment and the sub-namespace will have an acronym for the company name along with the type of environment.

Merchandising file transfer services

In this release, all SFTP are being replaced as File Transfer Services which are used by all merchandising cloud services that are being exposed. This service is used by all merchandising cloud services, including the Data Conversion Tool. This release helps to manage the upload and download of files to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Object Storage, a high-performance platform that is reliable, cost-efficient, and offers data durability.

Logical containers called Buckets are created in the Object storage for every customer environment. Any kind of data regardless of the content type along with its metadata is stored here. Buckets are accessed for upload and download through a Pre Authenticated Request (PAR) in the form of a URL. This needs an appropriate file transfer REST service and no other authorization. These services primarily enable the import and export of data from and to the Object Storage from the solutions by valid users who come within the list of authorization policies.

New foundation, inventory, and pricing services

This release of Oracle introduces new services that will be used to integrate foundation, item, and pricing information from the Merchandising and Pricing solutions to the following Oracle Retail cloud services:

Services used by ORCE 

  • Organizational hierarchy
  • Stores
  • Merchandise hierarchy
  • Items
  • Item images

Services used by OROB

  • Stores
  • Warehouses
  • Items
  • Store inventory
  • Warehouse inventory

These services will replace the previous integration method that uses Oracle Retail Integration CS (RICS), which is called Omni-Channel Data Service (OCDS). The existing services will remain to ensure integration support with older versions and third-party solutions’ backward compatibility. Few additional services have been released other than ORCE and OROB to support future Oracle Retail solutions or additional third-party solutions.

New Merchandising system options are used for both merchandising and pricing requirements to understand the Oracle Retail solution being used and they provide a new set of tables that hold the integration data in JSON format for the supported entities. The service call queries the JSON message from the new tables to serve the consumers. These new tables need initial seeding from the base tables, and continuous maintenance to keep them updated for changes in the base tables to run Merchandising services. The initial data loading and continuous maintenance are carried out by new batch jobs.

  • Bulk data processing: This process is used for bulk maintenance of the JSON cache table.
  • Delta processing: The Delta changes made to base merchandising and pricing tables are populated or merged into respective JSON cache using delta processing.

 OAuth for REST Service Authentication

OAuth 2.0 is an industry-standard protocol for authorization. Merchandising cloud services using REST Services now supports OAuth 2.0. To invoke these services, you will need to obtain an access token to be used as a bearer token.

The Basic Authentication access will however no longer be supported for these services. REST clients that need to call Merchandising REST service endpoints should use the given client id and the secret code of the OAuth client-generated while getting the access token.

External Web Services Configuration

In this new V21 release, the Application Properties workflow as part of the Oracle Retail Application Administration Console (ORAAC) will maintain the External URLs listed below and the relevant information to invoke them. Previously they were configured via a table (RETAIL_SERVICE_REPORT_URL).

Two services for retrieving promotion and offer level details from Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Service (ORCE) were also configured along with the above. However, these have been moved to be only internally configured.

Data conversion file upload changes

Data conversion tool will be changing its upload and download processes,  like in the case of other file transfers of the Merchandising cloud services that will be changing as part of this release.. It has been enhanced to use the Merchandising File Transfer Service, rather than SFTP.

The changes include the following:

  • Using the “uploadfiles” method within the REST Service for uploading the input files.
  • Using the “downloadFiles” method within the REST Service for downloading the error files.

Additionally, this release also implements two other changes for data conversion, namely,

  • During upload, the tool will now support only zip format files. However, there can be multiple .dat data files within a zip file.
  • The URL for accessing the tool has changed.

To upload files for the Data Conversion tool, or download files from the tool, one can start leveraging the service-based file transfer process described above.

Initial data seeding for SIOCS

The Oracle Retail Merchandising Foundation Cloud Services V21 release brings in a change in the method of how initial data seeding and periodic on-demand refresh by the store is performed in SIOCS when implemented along with Merchandising. Before this version was released, bulk data integration (BDI) was used for initial seeding and periodic on-demand refresh by store. Henceforth, Merchandising and Pricing will expose data views, which will be used by SIOCS to pull data for initial seeding and periodic on-demand refresh by stores. The existing process will remain in Merchandising for backward compatibility for a certain period till the initial release settles down.

Browser requirements

If running Windows, Oracle Retail assumes that the retailer has ensured its Operating System has been patched with all applicable Windows updates.

The following web browsers are supported:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Google Chrome (Desktop)
  • Apple Safari
Yamini Chitturi