to represent the location where such a value from the database is to be injected into the text.
Minimum Ship Quantity and Shipping Service Restrictions
The client for whom we performed this work sells perishable fresh food products, and had two requirements. We met the requirements with a clean and seamless revision of stock functionality.
- Due to the specialized packaging in which these products are shipped, a minimum quantity ordered had to be enforced. For one category, at least 4, and for another category a minimum of 8 units had to be purchased.
Products within the respective categories could be mixed, so long as the number of same-category products equaled the minimum ship requirement.
We introduced code as one attempts to proceed to checkout that checks to see if such qualifying products appear on the order, and if so, did they meet the minimums. Appropriate messages are displayed if the customer needs to select additional products.
- The second issue concerned shipping time and concerns over spoilage. Within a close geographical region, UPS guarantees their ground service as "next day guaranteed". Outside that region, the customer must select "next day air".
We addressed this requirement by introducing a new zip code table, and if the ship-to zip code is in that table, limit the shipping options to UPS Ground. Alternatively, only Next Day Air is offered.
Shipping Service Restriction
Somewhat similar to the situation above, this merchant desired the ability to limit FedEx Ground as an option to customers outside the US, while still having it active for US customers.
The conflict stems from the fact that FedEx will bill the merchant for Customs Duty if the purchaser refuses to pay, making very unhappy merchants.
We implemented a solution that strips the FedEx Ground service (or all FedEx services) from the shipping options display when a Canadian customer views the shipping options.
Alternate Home Page Product Selection Management
Not a huge deal, but uniformready.com and thewirehorse.com required a home page layout that varied significantly from the stock ProductCart home page layout, and wanted an external mechanism that allowed them to change the products or categories that appeared there, but needed to avoid physically editing the page itself.
We introduced a small configuration file that they can edit, resulting in the changes they wished to make to their home pages.
Advanced Category Page Layout
GlassSinksOnline.com and StoneSinksOnline.com required an alternate layout for the category page than ProductCart would ordinarily support. That layout relied upon several alternate CSS settings which were each tailored depending upon how many subcategory images were to be displayed, and how many rows would appear.
We introduced code to determine what the layout would be, how many images would appear, and which CSS style to use for each category. We have subsequently used a similar strategy for SolidWavePC.
Required Response To Purchase Agreement Terms
SmartBrainTech.com requires the customer to confirm their understanding of the terms of a brief agreement before an item can be placed into the shopping cart.
Revised Product Page Layout
EuphoriaBaby.com required a fairly extensive revision of the product page. See products in "Clothe" section for best examples. Due to the modular manner by which the product page is rendered internally, this was a fairly significant change.
"Shop By Brand" Product Navigation
Our client desired a list of brands, generated dynamically from the database, to appear in his navigation scheme. See left column of buygolfshirts.net.
Consignor Product Administration
Our client is a crafts store who has a core following of customers who create crafted goods for sale. The store permits consignment products on their web site, but the task of administering those products was too much for the client. Following the model of Etsy.com, our client chose to deploy the role of product management to their customers.
The solution we created was multi-faceted, and based on existing ProductCart functionality that supports "drop shippers". This functionality was well-suited to the requirement because it already allows the store to notify the supplier when a drop-shipped product is sold. And special login page exists where that drop-ship supplier may update an order to reflect shipping status.
First we looked at the Drop Shipper admin tool and added the ability to indicate which drop shippers are permitted to administer products, and to which product categories such products could be assigned.
Next we cloned the entire Product Administration system. Rather than allowing the customer to assign products to any category, they are only permitted to assign them to those that are pre-selected in the Drop Shipper admin tool. Also, many fields that the client wanted sole
control over, such as that product being a "featured product" on the home page, were restricted from access by the consignor.
With everything done and installed, consignors may now log in, create their products as needed, and when those products are sold they receive e-mail notification as to where the goods are to be shipped.
MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) Pricing
Certain industries such as electronics enforce rules over their dealers as to the manner in which certain sale prices may be displayed on web sites.
Our solution for ProductCart users is to add a flag to the product admin indicating that the project is subject to MAP rules. Anywhere in the site where a price would ordinarily appear, we instead display a button which links to a popup window explaining those rules, and instructing the customer to click the "add to cart" button to see the price.
Clicking "add to cart" places the item in the cart where the price may be observed, thus fulfilling the obligations of the merchant to their manufacturer.
See this product for an example implementation with a product that is using Early Impact's Apparel Add-on.
Display Quantity Discounts As A Net Price
ProductCart supports volume discount pricing on the product or category level. These discounts are normally displayed as a discount or an amount. Some merchants prefer to display a net discounted price, and we have the code to make that happen.
Integration of Dibs payment method
Dibs Payment Services is a leading payment service provider in Scandinavia. Our client requested us to complete integration with their Flexwin payment method.
Greenhouse Planting JIT (Just In Time) Requirements Scheduler
Our client sells vegetable plants, and allows the customer to designate during checkout the date on which their order is to be shipped.
As one might imagine, there is a lead time whereby the plant must be sprouted so that it will grow to a size that is ready to be sold by
the requested ship date, but not so large that it is impractical to place in the shipping container. As such, our client needed to know
how much product is required on any given shipping week so that they can work backwards to determine how many seedlings need to be
sprouted in advance of the requested shipping dates.
We built a system as follows. A modification of the Sales Report was prepared to list total products by requested delivery date. This
report allows the reported data to be exported to a CSV file. A master 52-week spreadsheet was prepared, containing
various inventory columns, and populated with a series of custom macros. Using one such macro, data from the modified ProductCart Sales Report is automatically
posted to the spreadsheet by "date required" and SKU number. Additional data is introduced via macro to the master spreadsheet from a "planted"
spreadsheet, reflecting the SKU number and the planting date. The end result is a fully-populated master spreadsheet showing on-hand
inventory levels and demand (based on sales) over the entire year. Additional macros accommodate new year initialization and other
Integration of AvantLink affiliate sales tracking
Our client engaged us to implement a modification of the ProductCart checkout process so that AvantLink will recognize completed sales
Integration of Quickpay payment method
Quickpay is a leading payment service provider in Denmark. Our client requested us to complete integration with their Quickpay payment window.
Membership purchase/renewal enforcement
Moore Farms and Friends is a marketing association of small Sustainable, Certified Naturally Grown and USDA Certified Organic food producers. A $25 annual membership is required prior to purchase, and is renewed annually. We created a series of program alterations that enforce a variety of rules such as making certain that new or renewal memberships are purchased.
Shipping modification for perishable food products
This popular manufacturer of sausage and other food products ships perishable items in a special cooler along with dry ice. In this modification we altered the system so that individual products may be identified as perishable or not. When perishable items are in the cart,
the system will use the "maximum weight per package" (set in the shipping settings) as a determining point for how many packages are in the order. To each package in the order, we add 30 pounds (representing cooler and dry ice) prior to calculating shipping. Additionally, for each package containing perishable products or non-perishable products, handling fees are applied to the order. All of this is done without conflicting with the normal shipping calculations, and so on.
Size/Inseam Search feature for the PC Apparel Mod
Our client requested that we create a means by which their apparel products could be filtered by site visitors based on their size and inseam preferences.
We began by introducing a new tool into the admin. This allows the user to declare one or more "product options" that represent the
necessary search criteria for a category. Such search criteria may be named, and any number of such options may be declared.
Next we introduced changes that allow those named search options to be assigned to the appropriate categories. And finally, code was introduced to the public side of the site so that the designated search tool appears on the appropriate pages.
See the results here.
Spreadsheet import/export tool for volume discount pricing data
This merchant was building a new store in the advertising specialties sector. Every product in the store is offered at discounted prices, depending upon the number of units purchased.
While ProductCart does feature a mechanism for importing/exporting product data via spreadsheet, that tool does not cover the
ability to introduce volume discount data. We created a complete tool, modeled after Early Impact's own product import tool, allowing the administrator to efficiently import data provided by their vendor.
Additionally, we learned that this data would originate from three sources, each in a different format. We provided an Excel macro which takes the data from the second two vendors and reformats the data to the format provided by the first supplier, thus enforcing a common import format.
Make/Model/Year implementation for automotive parts
LPIRacing.com had established a partially complete solution by which automotive parts could be associated with the make/model/submodel/year relationships of the vehicles for which such parts were designed to fit. However, the solution required significant refinement, and they relied upon Greybeard to deliver a solution.
We began by creating a robust series of tools to manage the base tables required for this system. Then, leveraging our experience on the prior volume discount pricing data import, we created a suite of import/export tools for all of this data. When complete, we created a flexible search tool that allows the shopper to locate their required parts.
See the public portion of our solution here. A similar solution was implemented for http://www.expresspaint.com
Perishable food products shipping modification
This was an intriguing project. Chappell Hill Sausage Company ships their frozen meat products in a special container that serves as an ice chest. The packaging is sufficiently heavy, along with dry ice, to impact shipping fees sufficiently. They needed a robust solution to allow the shopping cart to calculate shipping correctly.
The strategy was fairly simple. They knew how much product weight would fit into one such shipping container. The goal was to use a built-in feature of ProductCart to calculate the number of packages based on a known weight, the 32.5 pounds that would fit into a cooler pack. That's where we stepped in.
Our logic, at the beginning of the shipping calculations process, was to add to each package in an order the weight of the shipping materials. Once we had increased the weight of each package, then we had to loop back and re-calculate total weight and allow the system to determine the correct shipping fee. And it worked!
Shipping Exclusions Tool
Tasteful Garden sells live organic vegetable plants, and has special requirements that they must comply with in terms of shipping. For example, they are not allowed to ship live plants to California. They have other parts of the country to which they must enforce a variety of rules as to what shipping methods are available. For example, orders to Alaska must travel such a distance that the only way to ensure good plant health by the time the shipment arrives, only overnight shipments are offered to Alaska.
To provide the flexibility that they required, we created an admin tool that allows them to define the shipping methods which are otherwise active within the store, but are not to be offered to those customers whose ship-to address is in a particular geographical region.
The site also includes a number of other unique features such as its tracking of the next availability date of each live plant product. In the checkout process, the system will evaluate the shopper's preferred shipping date relative to the availability date of items in their cart, and warn the shipper of possible split-shipment conflicts. Throw an item in the cart and head for checkout to see how we have accomplished this.
Klarna Payment Method Integration
Klarna is a leading payment provider for purchases in Sweden and the surrounding region. Unlike most payment processors such as Authorize.net, Klarna is based on the premise of offering installment and invoice based payments.
The process began with a unique challenge - being able to fully recreate a complete sales transaction, fully detailed and correctly priced with regard to ProductCart's core functionality, and to be able to ship that transaction to Klarna in their preferred format. Adding to the complexity was the need to calculate the correct sales taxes against the transaction.
The whole solution is integrated tightly into ProductCart's admin using the same sort of setup and administration features as are typical with all other natively supported payment methods.
Alternate category page layout features
ProductCart allows the administrator to select 4 different layouts by which product categories may be displayed. To accommodate the needs of our client who sells packaging materials, we created an additional pair of page layouts designed for specific categories.
In their boxes category, pricing is subject to volume discounts, and it is easier for shoppers to understand pricing tiers with this format that allows those tiers to be displayed along with the product names. That category also features a powerful search tool that allows the shopper to specify the dimensions of the article(s) being shipped, and it returns boxes that are within two inches of the minimum required size.
Additionally, padded mailers provided a particular challenge. In that category, an additional dimension, not easily supported with stock functionality was required. We call it a "size reference". Padded mailers are
referred to as size 00, 0, 1 and so on. Within those size references, bundles of mailers are sold in a variety of quantities and are priced accordingly.
The mailer format required modifications of the category admin tools, and introduction of an additional tool that allows management of these "size reference"
descriptions. Once the "size references" are defined, they must be associated with the respective products and categories. Correctly configured, the page layout will be arranged such that the different quantity bundles are arranged relative to their respective size reference codes.
Showroom Price Tag Generator
The variety of projects never fails to result in the unexpected! Based in Chicago, OfficeFurnitureCenter.com operates a vast warehouse/showroom and tracks their inventory with ProductCart. In order to gain
efficiencies in managing their stock, they asked Greybeard to create an online tool which allows them to create the price tags for the products that are present in their showroom. By using a flexible search tool, their office staff is able to gather a listing of the products for which price tags are needed. Once that listing is complete, a couple clicks results in their custom price tags - complete with photos - are headed for the printer. Those price tags are then inserted into protective sleeves for distribution throughout the warehouse.
HTML E-mail integration
Our client had a simple request, which we completed, but it wasn't that simple! They wanted a complete suite of HTML e-mails to replace the text-formatted e-mails produced by ProductCart.
To simplify the process we created a template approach whereby the basic layout of the e-mails is prepared as a static HTML page with "<tokens>" which represent the locations where data is to be replaced. These tokens are then filled in by the new logic we introduced to the various script modifications throughout the application.
Order integration with various 3rd-party solutions
This one started several years ago when a client asked us to connect their store to their accounting system. With that as the beginning point, we went on to create similar integrations to several other systems. The list has now grown to include the following:
- Eagle Accounting
- 2 fulfillment warehouse systems, including one based on EDI rules
- Stone Edge Order Manager
At the core, this integration begins with changes to the "view all orders" screen. We introduce a means of manually exporting orders via that screen. Once that has been used to prove that the system works sucessfully,
we engage a scheduled task that automates the process of exporting orders on whatever realistic schedule is requested. Orders are placed in a specified folder, and a remote FTP process is tasked with pulling those files as and when they appear. At that point, the application
at the other end is responsible for importing and processing the orders.
In most installations, we add a second automation process which monitors a separate folder for "shipment tracking" notifications. Once such a file arrives, we associate the transactions with their corresponding orders and update the status to "shipped" along with updating the
tracking number into the order. Optionally, the system can send an e-mail to the customer.