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Clint Taylor - 09.05.2019

Extending Kibo's Platform for Greater E-commerce Control

Kibo is an omnichannel E-commerce platform comprised of several E-commerce tools that have been purchased, absorbed or built over the past 24 years. These include Shopatron, Baynote and Mozu, among others. Today, Kibo is a full stack E-Commerce Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering that delivers cloud commerce solutions, from E-commerce and Order Management to Personalization and Mobile Point-of-Commerce (mPOC).

Having several moving parts that are inherently freestanding, Kibo’s partnerships offer a great deal of versatility. A client can choose to piecemeal their solution and use any one component or opt for the full stack. Part of the attraction of this platform is that it lends itself to being very customizable and extensible. From the unique theme framework of the retail site to the multi-SDK supported web API, you can almost always find a way to make your store stand out.

The administration panel allows you to manage your catalog and orders in a convenient location, regardless of the pieces of the stack to which you have subscribed. It is, for the most part, intuitive and powerful, but as with any technology, there is always room to expand.

Why Extend Kibo's Platform?

It’s likely that your system needs will be different from others using Kibo. That said, there can be many reasons you’d want to connect existing or even future applications with the Kibo platform. These may include batch or nightly processing, some integration with an accounting or inventory system, customized needs for catalog management, or simply because the administration panel is too restrictive for your needs.

At Sagepath, we have written or supported customized applications for these and many more reasons.  Our clients trust us to lead them towards the most efficient and least impactful solution in dealing with any of their systems; it’s no different when dealing with a PaaS such as Kibo. We feel it is important to involve everyone affected by a software ecosystem, not just the department asking for a change. Our process is to work closely with all stakeholders to identify opportunities for integration, simplification and introduction of software into their organization. This way, any integration that may affect another department can be assessed for risk during the planning and design phase. Obviously, catching and mitigating that risk is much less costly earlier in the lifecycle.

Our familiarity with Kibo enables us to address any implementation or administrative issues as they arise. Following is an example of our extending the API to help get around some of the administration panel’s restrictions.

Administration Restrictions and Their Workarounds

While Kibo’s administration panel is largely helpful and can quickly allow you to make updates to your catalog, theme and other retail presence settings, some actions just can’t be accomplished in this environment. Most examples involve some sort of batch or multiple product update.

In this case, our client had a specific need to remove a dynamic set of products from search result sets. For instance, any item that matched their criteria should not show up when the word “lamp” was used in the site search. While many types of lamps were being returned, some were highly specific and often cluttered the results. This would push their bigger sellers down in the results.

The administration panel allows the administrator to set product ranking rules, or search tuning rules, that would boost or block products based on the term(s) used in the search. This solves the problem I described.
Except . . . this action must be taken one product at a time. So, if you have an entire category of lamps that need to be “blocked” on a rule, you will be required to search for and add each product in that category to the rule you are editing. With 350 lamps to block, you may be skipping lunch that day.

That’s where Sagepath’s Kibo expertise comes in. Kibo was nice enough to provide both a RESTful web API and SDKs in your favorite tech stacks to help you extend their platform. The three SDK offerings are the .Net SDK (used in this discussion), the Java SDK and the NodeJS SDK. Using the SDK and your favorite .Net project type, you can provide an interface for your customer to not only boost or block a batch of products but allow them to search for products dynamically to build the batch of products they are updating.

For our client, a simple console application was all that was needed. This could easily be a WPF/WinForms or web application if you need more customer participation. Our client literally needed to enter a search term or phrase, verify file contents, and then execute a command to upload the products. Here’s how that worked:

First, the customer could enter the terms that would give them the products they wanted to block, let’s say “Marvel Lamp”. This would bring back all lamps that had Marvel in their facet or description list. All those products are sorted and then placed into an Excel file locally for the customer to manage. From there, the customer could sort, remove or even add products to be processed.

Once the customer has verified the products, they can then tell the console application to use that file and update the search tuning rule to which it applies. The application then uses the Kibo API to update the rule with all products in a matter of seconds (or less, depending on your product count).

Another option our client had was to enter the tuning rule, the search term, whether to boost or block, and just do the update based on the results without the file verification step. After some test runs ensuring their lists were consistently accurate, this is the route they chose to update their tuning rules. This interface allowed for updating an existing rule or adding a brand new one on the fly.

This simple application took less than a day to write and was able to block more than 10,000 products in a matter of a minute or two. That efficiency allows digital marketing managers to join the rest of their team for lunch, instead of settling for that PB and J you brought from home.

The Bottomline

Kibo’s flexible platform allows you to bend it to your will using its API and SDK offerings. The platform’s versatility really does set it apart from some of the other major players in the E-Commerce space. It is not a silver bullet, and there will always be some functionality that any platform can’t support. Kibo is making the effort to be as flexible as possible to help fill those gaps. If you have helped support Kibo or are a current Kibo customer, let us know how you have extended it to your world!