Introduced in Feature Pack 2

Product overview: WebSphere Commerce search

WebSphere Commerce search provides enhanced search functionality in starter stores by enabling enriched search engine capabilities such as automatic search term suggestions and spelling correction, while influencing store search results by using search term associations, and search-based merchandising rules.

Business benefits

WebSphere Commerce search provides the following key business benefits:
  • It is built on the top of open architecture: Apache Solr and Apache Lucene.
  • It contains a rich set of search functionality for shoppers in starter stores.
  • It provides integrated search management tooling for business users in the Management Center.
  • It extends the scope of searchable content for business users for both structured and unstructured content.
  • It lowers the total cost of deployment and ownership, since its functionality is included as a feature of WebSphere Commerce.

User roles that interact with WebSphere Commerce search

The following user roles interact with WebSphere Commerce search:
  • Store developers who want to deliver powerful search-based catalog browsing flows.
  • Site Administrators who want to deploy, manage, and maintain WebSphere Commerce search implementations.
  • Business users who want to influence search results by using the Management center.

Finding WebSphere Commerce search documentation in the IBM Knowledge Center

The following entry points in the IBM Knowledge Center exist for the main focus areas in WebSphere Commerce search:
WebSphere Commerce search documentation
Concept Details and audience For more information
Introduction and training Learn about WebSphere Commerce search and how it is integrated within WebSphere Commerce.

This information is intended for any WebSphere Commerce role responsible for researching WebSphere Commerce search.

Storefront features Learn about the cross-channel starter stores that take advantage of WebSphere Commerce search, including the ability to search by voice in mobile starter stores.

This information is intended for storefront developers responsible for deploying WebSphere Commerce search-enabled starter stores.

Configuration Learn about the configuration scenarios in WebSphere Commerce search and how they can be deployed in your environment.

This information is intended for Site Administrators responsible for deploying WebSphere Commerce search.

Administration Learn about the day to day tasks of WebSphere Commerce search and how they are managed over time.

This information is intended for Site Administrators responsible for administering WebSphere Commerce search.

Index lifecycle Learn about the index lifecycle in WebSphere Commerce search and how Site administrators and business users can play potential roles in updating the search index to meet their business needs.

This information is intended for Site Administrators responsible for administering WebSphere Commerce search.

Search relevancy Learn about tuning search relevancy, so that customers can find products more efficiently.

This information is intended for Business Users and Site Administrators who are responsible for influencing search results in starter stores.

Search term management: Search relevancy configuration:Auto-suggestion:
Search merchandising Learn about merchandising the store catalog, so that you can personalize the storefront with content that is more relevant to the target audience.

This information is intended for Business Users who are responsible for influencing search results and product listings to maximize conversion.

Landing pages:Catalog, Ruled Based Sales Categories, and facet management - Catalog Administrators:Merchandising rules:
Customization Learn about the customization points in WebSphere Commerce search and how they can be used in your implementation.

This information is intended for WebSphere Commerce developers responsible for customizing WebSphere Commerce search.

Migration Learn about the capabilities of WebSphere Commerce search, and how its functions can be migrated between Feature Packs.

This information is intended for Site Administrators responsible for migrating their WebSphere Commerce search implementation to a newer feature pack.

Performance tuning Learn about how to tune and optimize your WebSphere Commerce search implementation to meet your business needs.

This information is intended for Site Administrators responsible for tuning WebSphere Commerce search.

Troubleshooting If you encounter problems while you use WebSphere Commerce search, refer to the troubleshooting information to help determine the problem and find possible solutions.

Successfully troubleshooting issues helps reduce complexity when encountering errors in WebSphere Commerce search.

This information is intended for Site Administrators responsible for troubleshooting issues with WebSphere Commerce search.

Utilities and scheduler jobs

Feature Pack updates

WebSphere Commerce feature packs are cumulative and include new features to improve your WebSphere Commerce solution.

WebSphere Commerce search includes the following enhanced functions and continuous improvements from feature packs:
Feature Pack updates
Feature Pack Feature set
Price indexing and facets:
  • WebSphere Commerce search builds calculated prices into the search index, so that a B2B storefront can use the indexed price mode to support contract-based pricing based on calculated prices.
  • The storefront displays facet values based on the selected contract. Asset stores can either share prices, or use different prices for Extended Sites based on the selected pricing model.
Parallel preprocessing and distributed indexing:
  • You can index large catalog data into the search server with parallel preprocessing and distributed indexing by sharding and merging.
  • Data can be split either horizontally or vertically into different threads, so that each thread can process smaller chunks of the data. This approach is useful when the catalog size is large, or when preprocessing and indexing times are not acceptable.
Rule-based sales categories:
  • Business users can create rule-based sales categories that use WebSphere Commerce search to find catalog entries that match defined search conditions. The matching catalog entries are automatically assigned to the categories. Rule-based sales categories can also be updated automatically.

    For more information about rule-based sales categories, see Rule-based sales categories.

Search relevancy enhancements:
  • Site Administrators can group products in search results.
  • Grouping products in search results allows you to aggregate the search results, and display accurate price ranges and facet counts based on the matched entitled items.
Starter store enhancements:
  • The auto-suggest menu uses the SiteContentHandler REST service to apply entitlement and catalog filter rules when offering search suggestions.
Software stack:
  • Updated to Apache Solr 4.7.0.
For more information about a key area of Feature Pack 8, see WebSphere Commerce search and the B2B direct business model.
New feature for Feature Pack 8Feature Pack 8Feature Pack 8 further enhances WebSphere Commerce search:
  • Setting up WebSphere Commerce search in a clustered production environment reduces complexity of the following tasks:
    • Initially setting up the search index in a clustered environment, including configuring replication.
    • Adding more languages or new master catalog index cores in a clustered environment.
    • Setting custom Solr properties, such as caching values, and preserving them after you apply fixes.
    • Adding more search node members into a search cluster.
  • The managed configuration is introduced as a new search deployment mode. It is a variation of the advanced configuration, but contains streamlined configuration tasks, where all managed production Solr cluster members are federated and managed by a deployment manager.
    The managed configuration contains the following characteristics:
    • The search index setup utility includes an extra action and accepts an input property file. Using the new action and property file helps set up more managed search templates for each server type. For example, master, repeater, or subordinate.
    • WebSphere Application Server tools are used to deploy the managed search templates into the deployment manager.
    • The managed templates are synchronized to all Solr cluster members, so that search configuration changes are streamlined when updates are promoted to production.
    • Only the production cluster's primary node needs to be updated with search changes; then, the changes can be replicated to all nodes. For example, you can set up the search index in the master node, and then replicate the index structure to all the subordinate cluster nodes. This task is beneficial when there are many subordinate nodes or many language indexes to be set up.
    • Feature Pack 8The managed repeater and subordinates can perform index check validation to ensure data integrity of the search index.
    For more information, see WebSphere Commerce search server: Managed configuration.
Feature Pack 8
Deploy and scale the search and browse storefront traffic separately from WebSphere Commerce:
  • The search runtime can be accessed directly through a REST interface from the storefront. With this approach, the search and browse-only traffic from the storefront can be offloaded away from the WebSphere Commerce server (transactional server), to the search server. That is, the search server acts as a read-only non-transaction service provider for storefront navigation. With this architecture, the search servers can be scaled separately and therefore the search and browse traffic can be handled independently, creating a flexible and scalable deployment model that can adjust to various storefront browsing traffic at different times or shopping seasons.
  • Separate the site navigation and search workload in the search server from the transaction workload in the main WebSphere Commerce server.
Search index enhancements:
  • Product and Category enhancements, including a new product and category sequencing approach. In addition, the storefront Department menu is constructed from the search index, rather than from the WebSphere Commerce database.
  • Search expressions that are used for B2B product and category entitlement are precompiled at authoring time, and cached for reuse at runtime.
Lightweight REST services programming model on the search server:
  • A set of search and navigational REST services are provided by the search server with lightweight runtime implementation and customization interface to access index data and database information.
Software stack:
  • Updated to Apache Solr 4.3.0.
Note: Documentation conventions:
  • WebSphere Commerce search documentation that is denoted by (FEP 7) in the title indicates that the documentation applies only to the Feature Pack 7 REST-based search application.
  • WebSphere Commerce REST API handlers that are denoted by (Search) in the title indicates that the REST class applies only to the Feature Pack 7 REST-based search application.
For more information about a key area of Feature Pack 7, see
BloomReach Search, Navigation, and Personalization (SNAP) integration:
  • BloomReach provides search, navigation and personalization solutions that enable businesses to dynamically adapt site experiences to each unique shopper. BloomReach SNAP uses sophisticated algorithms to combine cross-device behavioral patterns, natural-language processing, machine-learning, and other web-wide signals of intent to automatically present the most relevant search results, navigational features, and contextual filters. BloomReach SNAP is powered by continuous learning technologies that respond to the shopper's changing context without the need for business users to manage extensive search rules. In cases where granular control is required, the BloomReach platform contains data-driven management tools to empower business users to make informed decisions around business rules.
  • Using the WebSphere Commerce Search Connector, businesses can extend WebSphere Commerce search with the self-learning BloomReach SNAP solution. The WebSphere Commerce Search Connector enables WebSphere Commerce to communicate with the BloomReach SNAP service, including passing search results from the storefront for further processing.
For more information, see BloomReach Search, Navigation, and Personalization (SNAP) integration with WebSphere Commerce search.
  • Search relevancy can be managed by Site Administrators and Business users, and observed in starter stores.
  • Search rules can be configured to produce more relevant search results. For example, by promoting or demoting products in search results.
  • Management Center store preview enhancements are supported in WebSphere Commerce search. For examples, see the Management Center store preview enhancements section.
  • An optional inventory index can be set up and built to refresh independently of other search indexes, such as the product index. Search rules can be created to demote products that are out-of-stock, or conversely, to promote overstock products.
For more information about a key area of Feature Pack 6, see Search relevancy and merchandising.
  • Attributes for facet display. Product Managers can specify that shoppers can find a facet by using search-based navigation.
  • The need for full reindexing is reduced. That is, almost all common business update operations through Management Center can now be converted into a delta update on the search index. This change can reduce the availability delay of pending changes due to index updates.
  • Software stack. Updated to Apache Solr 3.5.0.
  • Updates to Managing WebSphere Commerce search documentation include lifecycle management. For example, including workspaces and best practices when you are building search indexes in a staging environment.
  • Store preview. By default, the workspace schema is indexed when a user previews the store changes that are made in a workspace.
  • Greater control over site operations. The UpdateSearchIndex command has two new parameters: mode, and masterCatalogId.
For more information about a key area of Feature Pack 5, see Workspaces in WebSphere Commerce search.
  • Cache invalidation: The search cache can now be invalidated in WebSphere Commerce search.
For more information about a key area of Feature Pack 4, see Caching and invalidation in WebSphere Commerce search.
  • Site search statistics: Analyze top search hits and misses so you can continually improve site search effectiveness and increase conversion rates.
  • Indexing for categories: Enhance your store's auto-suggest feature by suggesting categories, in addition to products.
  • Indexing for site content: Index static store pages, such as related articles and shipping information, so that customers can access the pages through search and auto-suggest.
  • Search rule experiments: Gather usage and conversion statistics for specific search rules to see which rules are most effective at driving sales.
For more information on a key area of Feature Pack 3, see Indexing site content with WebSphere Commerce search.
  • WebSphere Commerce search is introduced as a new feature available with WebSphere Commerce. WebSphere Commerce search uses the Apache Solr search platform to deliver enhanced search capabilities in starter stores.
  • Business users can manage search term associations and search-based merchandising rules with the Management Center. The built-in search capabilities and tools allow businesses to optimize the search experience, reduce the total cost of implementation, and provide a tightly integrated commerce and search solution.
For more information about a key area of Feature Pack 2, see WebSphere Commerce search in starter stores.