4 Lessons Learned During a WebSphere Commerce Upgrade

Hannah Gierosky

Any eCommerce implementation or upgrade comes with its share of challenges, even for teams as experienced as ours. For a recent project, our WebSphere Commerce team took a client from WCS Feature Pack 6 to WCS Feature Pack 8, Fix Pack 9.


This Feature Pack has new capabilities that change the way a new store is set up and, as such, was an important step in order to keep up with the changing technology. Those changes don’t necessarily come about smoothly, however. The following are the challenges that our team faced along the way and how we fixed them.

Broken Order Integration

One of a developer’s worst nightmares is surely when something goes wrong in production with no indication of an error in stage. That’s what happened with the order integration feature during this upgrade. The store was not receiving responses from E-Business Suite and the store was unable to capture funds for a few days. This meant that the client’s store was completing and shipping orders in Oracle E-Business Suite, but WCS was not receiving the message and therefore not closing orders or capturing funds.

In order to fix this issue, our team redeployed a file that had been overwritten and caused the communication shutdown between E-Business Suite and WebSphere Commerce.

False Successes from IBM

Part of the installation process involves updates being made to various tables in the database, and scripts being run to alert whether the updates were made successfully or not. During this project, those scripts reported that the updates had been successful, but upon closer inspection, they hadn’t. Our team was experiencing bugs, causing the site to go down and not come back.

Once the problem was identified, our team had to go into the system and manually insert columns into the tables, ensuring the updates went through.  

PayPal Complications

During the checkout process, a page appears where the customer submits their credit card information or selects PayPal as their payment method. Once PayPal is selected, the customer is taken out of Commerce and into PayPal to enter their info, and then they are sent back to Commerce to complete their purchase. During this project, the PayPal aspect malfunctioned and the customer was not being taken back into Commerce after completing everything in PayPal. Because of this, the order could not be completed.

The solution to this issue was another file redeploy. A default version of the file had been installed and the correct file needed to be redeployed.

Product Details Page Customizations

While WebSphere Commerce is an incredibly powerful platform, some situations still require customizations. For example, this client offers both products and installation services for them, which required a bit of customization to add to the order. Functionality around installation services malfunctioned, preventing the installation request from being added to the cart.

Other issues included broken links and confirmation emails not being sent after an order was placed. Each of these bugs required a developer to go in and solve the problem using their WCS expertise.

While each of these issues provided their own challenges for both the client and our team, they were resolved through communication and teamwork between our developers and the client, a crucial aspect to monitor when choosing an eCommerce consultant.

Beyond working with the right partner, there are other things you can do to prevent some issues from coming up in an eCommerce project. Long term planning is one of the most important steps of an installation or upgrade, and it needs to happen before the project starts. You also need to make sure that your server configuration is prepared to handle the new software, and perform appropriate testing.

Do you have more questions about a WebSphere Commerce implementation or upgrade? Give us a call.

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