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Background documentation Merchandise Category: In the Context of the Classification System Locate the document in its SAP Library structure

The only way to ensure a meaningful representation of the above-described merchandise category hierarchy, including characteristics profiles, in the SAP system is by using the SAP Classification System. The interfaces and some of the functionality have been supplemented with retail-specific features. The following terms and concepts from the Classification System are useful as an aid to understanding how merchandise category hierarchies are created and maintained and are also expressed in terms of retail requirements.

Class Types

Class types group together classes which contain objects of the same type (for example, articles).

In SAP Retail, class type 026 (IS-R article structure) groups together all the classes relating to the classification of articles using merchandise category hierarchies.

Class type 026 is a SAP-internal class type and cannot be used in the Classification System (a standard-system transaction).


Objects are classified by being allocated to classes. The first step is to create a class structure.

In SAP Retail, merchandise categories comprise all articles. Merchandise category hierarchy levels are grouped together to form superior classes. Characteristics profiles are also classes in this context.

Characteristics - Required and Optional Fields

Characteristics which represent the specific features of objects to be classified can be defined for each class.

So for each merchandise category hierarchy level (including merchandise categories themselves) required and optional fields can be defined which represent the features of the articles/merchandise category hierarchy level. Every required and optional field (characteristic) must be individually defined.


Color, size, power, type

Characteristic Values

Values and value sets can be provided for each characteristic in a class. These values are known as characteristic values.

Values (areas) can be defined for every required and optional field in a merchandise category hierarchy level. It is then possible to individually control the creation of variants. Characteristics which control variants are defined and assigned to those merchandise categories to which the relevant generic articles or individual articles are to be assigned.


The characteristic "color" has the following values: red, green, blue, black.

The characteristic "power" has the following values: 40 watts, 60 watts, 100 watts.

Characteristics Inheritance

Characteristics inheritance is the term used to describe how a characteristic and its value are passed down to all of the classes lower down in the class hierarchy.

All the required and optional fields in a merchandise category hierarchy are inherited by all lower hierarchy levels. The values are passed down from one level to the next. The values in the superior hierarchy level can be taken on as they are by the lower level or they can be amended or extended, depending on how the characteristic is defined.

The following diagram illustrates the basic structure of a class hierarchy.

This graphic is explained in the accompanying text






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