Configuring the Store
The store needs to be configured before the shopping cart can be activated (products can be created and placed in the website as the store is configured). Store configuration includes General Settings, Regions, Taxes, Payment Methods, Shipping Methods, Inventory, Manufacturers, Suppliers, Naming & Terminology Suppliers. These configurations are accessed from Store section the Site Administrator's Settings Dashboard (Settings Icon).
General Store Settings
The Store’s General Settings need to be configured before the shopping cart can be activated. For Quick-start, the default configurations are for stores located in North America. You will have to enter the address of your store’s location (used to calculate shipping and taxes). You should change the following General Settings to suit your needs:
- Store Location (Change Business/Shipping Address)
- Currency format
- Checkout Settings
- Invoice Header (change your logo)
- Invoice Footer (change your address, contact, and tax information)
- Payment Methods
- Regions and Taxes
- Shipping Methods
The following General Settings can be modified after you activate your store.
- Checkout Settings (disable/enable anonymous/guest checkout)
- Shopper assignment to Contact Groups (used for advanced relationship management)
- Advanced Inventory
- Watermark (to protect your product photo)
- Manufacturers and Suppliers
- Related Product Titles
The Checkout Settings configure the behavior of the shopping cart when a purchase is being made. Options include allowing purchases without registering as a Contact, adding the purchaser to a Contact Group, configuring purchase notifications (to internal staff), and access to the the shopping cart (restricted sales). Note that invoice configuration is also available from this group of Store setting options.
Settings for your Payment Methods control how a customer can pay for the products they purchase. Out-of-the-box, ShoutCMS is configured to accept payments by cheque or COD. A payment gateway (sometimes called a merchant account) must be configured before you can accept credit card or debit payments. A signing officer from your organization will have to apply for an account at one of the payment gateways (PayPal, BeanStream, SkipJack, PSIGate, Moneris, Moneris-Interac, and others) supported by ShoutCMS. The Merchant ID that is created by the payment gateway will be entered into ShoutCMS to enable the specific account. The Merchant ID is used by ShoutCMS to transfer funds to your account when a customer purchases an item (or when paying an online invoicing).
Payment methods are first activated (by entering the merchant ID issued for your business), and then enabled for the shopping cart. The second step (enabling) allows you to arbitrarily turn merchant accounts on or off as required. In rare situations, you may have multiple payment gateways configured. In this situation, you must select the gateway that will be used for each payment type.
The off-line processing method is used when payment processing is done manually (such as receiving cheques in the mail or processing a COD order when the order is fulfilled. The Offline processing option should not be used for credit & debit card payment.
Regions and Sales Taxes
Regions and Sales Taxes should be configured before adding products to your store. Sales taxes should be created only for taxes that your business is authorized to collect and remit. Once created, these sales taxes are applied to sales based on the region the product is purchased in (or shipped to). Sales tax calculations and remittance processes vary by region and must be configured based on the types of products and shipping methods that are used. Note that some jurisdictions charge border duties and sales taxes when items are shipped outside of the the jurisdiction.
If your store requires shipping of products, you should configure a shipping account. Shipping costs are generally based on size, weight, and final destination. ShoutCMS integrates with www.CanadaPost.com and www.UPS.com services to estimate shipping costs when an online purchase is made. ShoutCMS is initially configured without a shipping account. In this configuration, shipping costs must be calculated manually and a handling fee added so that a reasonable fee can be charged when the purchase is made..
Checkout/Shopping Cart Options
Note: By default, the Shopping cart forces creation of a customer Contact record when a purchase is made - this can changed to allow anonymous sales. When created, the Contact record is used for order tracking, product returns, and future correspondence. Products can be configured to assign the customer to one or more Contact Groups when the sale is processed. This feature allows sales teams to manage contacts and promote other products to the customer. The option can also be used to provide post-purchase support (e.g. warranty or subscribed services).
The shopping cart and checkout process depends on regional settings and taxes to calculate the amount to charge. The shopping cart also collects information needed to ship items and to contact the shopper if needed during order fulfillment. Some products may override default shopping cart options or capture additional information required to complete the purchase (for example Name Tag information).
Depending on notification settings, confirmation emails are sent to the customer and optionally to staff. By default, staff notifications are enabled, these can be turned off if the store is busy.
By default, the shopping cart guides the customer through the process of creating a Contact record as part of the online transaction. The Contact record allows ShoutCMS to track orders & returns as part of the Contact History. The shopping cart can also be configured to add the Contact to one or more Contact Groups as part of the purchase process. This feature allows sales teams to manage contacts and promote similar products to the customer.
Other ShoutCMS Settings
The ShoutCMS store is integrated with the pages of your website and contacts created through lead generation and store sales. In this way, the store has dependencies on how you create contact groups and security settings used to grant access to pages and other resources on your site. The good news is that these settings can be configured as advanced store features after your initial store has been activated.
Creating a Product
Products are created from the Page Designer (Pages) in the same way you would create a regular page for your website. Products are generally added to one or more pages of your site as list items (list items are displayed on a page with other items in the list based on the pages list display options). Page attributes specific to products include: cost, price, option fields,discounts, shipping cost, inventory & re-order levels, and post-order notifications. Note that products can also be associated to other pages using the Featured Content option.
To create a product, from the Page Designer, click on the Add Product button. Details about creating a product page can be found in Create a Page of the Pages user guide and Configuring Products of the Store user guide. Creation of products can be accelerated by configuring Content Templates for product and using the Clone Product feature to duplicate an existing product.
Creating a Sale or Issuing Coupons
Products are configured with an initial "List Price" that can be discounted using the ShoutCMS discounts and coupon system. A discount can be applied specifically to the product or collectively to the page that the products are displayed on (Category sales). We suggest developing your sales and discounting strategies before you activate your store. In many cases, discount and coupon strategies are simple. Refer to the Sales and Discounts section of the Store user guide for important information about how sales and discounts work.
Testing the Online Store & Shopping Cart
A best practice is to create a test product that is visible to only Administrators. This product can be sold and resold. It can also be used as a base for Cloning when new products need to be created. During testing, you can enable payment by cheque or COD so staff are not required to run through a merchant account. Final store testing should include processing through a credit card.
When testing your store, it is convenient to enable the "pay by cheque" payment method (See Store Settings-> Payment Methods). This allows you to create and process an online order without initiating a credit card transaction. Testing of merchant accounts can be done by defining a test product with a price of $1.00.
Recommended First-time Testing:
- Notification messages – client and staff notification configurations
- Product pricing and discount models
- Layout of product including images and navigation to where products are listed
- Completion of the shopping cart and enabling anonymous checkout
- Calculation of sales taxes in registered regions of operation
- Configuration and activation of merchant accounts (requires installed SSL certificates)