I recently came across a nice little Firefox plugin called Alertbox that can be used to monitor changes in web pages. The Miva Merchant store I was working on needed needed a way to monitor inventory on a range of products. (Their inventory is updated automatically every 15 minutes from a remote server but this technique could also be used to monitor in-house inventory.) After installing Alertbox, I set up a simple template in our Features module that displayed the product name, product code and inventory level for the products to be monitored. The products are pulled from a list in Features–it is quick and easy to add or remove products from the list. That template was assigned to a new page, which could then be accessed in a browser allowing Alertbox to go to work. It checks the page every few minutes and alerts you with a sound and unobtrusive icon when the inventory level changes. As my art teacher used to say, “Simple, but effective.”
A few fixes were added to USPS Advanced 5 over the past couple of months but some did not make it into the version available on the server. We have made all of these available now as version 5.025.
This feature is a little late and something of an oversight in our development, so our apologies on that. The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. We’ve added a Purge option to the Live Stats table that will clear out the table manually. Future releases will automate this and will also store some information that is worth keeping (e.g. Referers) in a separate table for long term reporting.
Coupons offers all the typical bells and whistles that you’d expect from a coupon module. One of the notable features is to have category and product specific coupons. If you want to offer a coupon to apply to only two categories (or, really, however many you want), you can have a coupon just for that.
The module also supports offering free shipping and state, country and zip code restrictions. Customer specific coupons (i.e. the customer with login ‘john’ or ‘bob’) are now supported. As with the 4.x version, Price and Availability groups are likewise included.
Some of the other admin screenshots should give you a good idea of what can be done with the module:
A new feature I wrote specifically for this module is an option to bulk generate a coupon. If you want to create 50 unique 25% off coupons in your store, you can do that now!
The module also logs all coupons used so you can easily see what coupons have been used in your store.
As usual we are always looking to improve modules we write, so we are certainly willing to listen to any suggestions you may have!
The documentation isn’t completed yet, but it should also give you a good feeling of what the module can do.
Be on the lookout for numerous modules from us over the coming weeks and months! We’re cranking on quite a bit in the workshop at the moment.
I just completed a new version of the FedEx Advanced for Merchant 5.x module which adds LTL as a shipping method. It is handled in much the same way as the freight methods that were already in the module. I.e. a single order’s shipping can be split between regular FedEx methods and LTL and the shipping option will be displayed to the customer showing how much they are paying for each (and the total shipping). Options associated with the LTL method include being able to specify the weight cutoff over which a package will be restricted to LTL shipping (the FedEx api will actually return LTL shipping quotes for packages of only a few pounds!), the freight class of the package, and the FedEx LTL account number (FedEx maintains a separate account number for LTL shipping…it’s optional for the module to be able to calculate LTL shipping). And as with other shipping methods these otions can be configured individually for products configured to ship in a separate package.
In accordance with the options offered by the FedEx LTL api the module can now prompt the customer to select which of the LTL options they need (e.g. “Lift gate required”).
In addition, this new version also adds a tab to the order details (under >Order Processing in Merchant admin) which displays the shipping cost alloted to various methods (if there was more than one they are listed separately) as well as which options the customer selected. This same feature has also bee added to the UPS Custom Integration for Merchant 5.x
I have modfied the 5.x version of the Order Status Manager. This update adds two new features:
- Support for displaying the data collected during checkout (the “note” and other data as detailed in this FAQ) in emails sent to the customer by the stock notification email modules (and third party modules if they support the evaluation of variables) and on the invoice (INVC) page. Details on how to go about it can be found here.
- Support for displaying customer customer and product data (configured for the customer and products using Merchant’s stock “Custom Customer Fields” and “Custom Product Fields” modules) in the Order Status Manager’s various templates. Details on how to go about this can be found here.
I have done a poor job of posting here since we put up the blog. It always seemed like such a time and energy consuming great hill to write up something worth reading. That hasn’t changed but we do need to do a better job of “getting out the word” on the goings-on at VikingCodes. So I have decided to drop the “worth reading” criteria and will be going with shorter, more frequent posts with the main goal of keeping you informed.
On that note, I have just completed a modification to the Inventory Manager for 5.x that permits the tokens intended for use with the VC Attribute Template module to be used in the “Product Attribute Template” area of the page templates in Merchant 5.x. With this change the VC Attribute Template module is no longer necessary for adding inventory information to your attributes and controlling attribute option dispalys based on inventory status. The use of component tokens as discussed in the Inventory Manager 5.x documentation applies to the token use in the “Product Attribute Template” area as well. You’ll find more information in the documentation and a brief FAQ on the matter.
We have just finished up a new module, Free Shipping 5, that makes it easier to display when you have free shipping in your store.
Free Shipping 5 is built on top of our suite of shipping modules - UPS Custom Integration, FedEx Advanced and USPS Advanced. The module reads the settings of any of those modules you have installed and allows you to place some simple SMT Code in any location where a product is displayed in your store. You can use the module on product, category, product listing, basket and other pages in your store.
An ancillary benefit of Free Shipping is the ability to quickly test whether or not free shipping is working in your store (without having to go through the checkout process). So, if you were to flag a product is set to ship for free and you are tinkering various override settings at the category and product level, you could easily test if shipping were working as you anticipated. (Note, however, Free Shipping 5 doesn’t take into account price point free shipping, e.g. if you set products to ship for free on orders greater than $50.)
Our new search module for Merchant 5.x (and eventually for 4.x if the market is there) is finally completed and available for sale. You’ll find it in our store here:
Focus has been in the works for quite a while. I started on it shortly after the last conference and since then I have had to re-write it a few times to change the overall approach. I like very well how it turned out and I’m really looking forward to seeing what people can make it do. The layout and functionality is “Template and Token” based (like most of our modules, and Search Manager before it) and provides for a great deal of customization. Being able to modify the search form any way you see fit provides for an amazing degree of flexibility.
You can find a partial list of the module’s features here. The documentation is “mostly done” and we’re updating it every day (and hope to have it completed early next week). The documentation on the admin interface itself is done. You can find the documentation here.
I love to talk about Focus (well, modules in general) so if you have any particular questions ask here and I’ll get a good detailed response into the mix.
Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to dedicate to Pulse that I wanted, thus the prolonged beta release. However, I’m now back in the groove with it and am releasing an update with a few tweaks and bug fixes:
| Revision 5.010 2008/09/10
| - fix live stats date range search defaulting to week
| - whois opens in new window
| - changed wording to “Excluded” for IPs and Referers
| Revision 5.009 2008/08/01
| - add new module UI
| - fix issue with zero orders
| - fix blocked ip
I’ve gone back and forth on some pending issues, e.g. the referer field–should it only show the initial referer or should it show the referer for each subsequent screen? The initial referral is obviously the most important, as you want to know where your customers are coming from. However seeing how they navigate through your site is also informative so for now, I’ve left the referal trail active and may make it optional in a later update. Note that the referer reports will always be based only on the initial clickthrough to your site.
My primary focus will now be on purging. Although not the issue it was with the old DBASE backend, it’s understandable that some users will want to cleanout data. The challenge will be doing that without losing too much valuable information.
Other items on the to do list:
- category reports
- individual product reports
- date range queries on all the existing reports that can allow for it, e.g. the basic products reports (viewed, added, removed, ordered) should allow for date range restrictions
- a current baskets report
If there are other features, you’d like to see, please let us know.