There are three organizational models you can use for your product catalog in ATG Commerce: single-path, multi-path, and custom catalog.

A single-path catalog contains items arranged in a tree-like structure. Each category contains products or other categories as its children, and each category or product has one parent category. The following diagram illustrates a product catalog in which each product and category has only one parent category.

Note that there is a single navigational path to any given product. For example, to get to the BMX Racing Helmet product, the customer must select Accessories, then Helmets, and then BMX Racing Helmet.

A multi-path catalog offers a more flexible approach, and allows the customer multiple navigation paths to reach a given product. The following diagram illustrates a product catalog in which products have multiple parent categories.

In this example, the Kid’s Road Bike and the Deluxe Lighted Helmet are accessible through multiple categories.

Custom catalogs are still more complex, in that entirely different catalogs can be presented to different users. If you have ATG Business Commerce installed, you can create custom catalogs immediately. If you have ATG Consumer Commerce installed and want to use custom catalogs, see Converting from Standard to Custom Catalogs section in the ATG Commerce Programming Guide.

When a user with access to the Bike Store catalog views the root categories, he or she sees all of the root categories in the Accessories subcatalog as well as the root categories of the Bike Store catalog itself. A user who only has access to the Accessories catalog, however, sees only the Helmets and Lights root categories.

The Commerce product catalog supports all of these structures. Your catalog can have a rigid hierarchy in which each category or product has only one parent, a flexible structure in which a category or product can have multiple parents, or a still more flexible design in which different users see specially tailored catalogs.

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