ShoutCMS supports both traditional and online shopping processes. If your business is not ready for online shopping services you can still use ShoutCMS to manage quotations and generate invoices for services that are delivered through traditional (counter or phone) channels.
The following sections provide a “Quick-start” overview of store configuration and operation. Additional details are available in subsequent chapters of this user guide. This section of the guide assumes that basic setup of your ShoutCMS site has been completed and that you are familiar with using the Administration console to create Pages and Contacts (refer to the Getting Started Guide for more information).
The store needs to be configured before the shopping cart can be activated. Products can be created and placed on the website but a user cannot complete an online purchase until store is activated). Store configuration includes defining General Settings, Regions, Taxes, Payment Methods, Shipping Methods, Inventory preferences, and Manufacturer/Supplier information. Store configurations are accessed from Settings Dashboard (Store settings). Products, Sales, and Coupons are configured and placed on the website using the Pages section of the Administrator Console.
While there are many store options, the default options can be used in most cases. Exceptions include: your Store's address, Regions & Taxes, currency, and return policies. Configuring the store can be completed in under an hour if you have access to the required information. It may take up to 3 business days to apply for merchant and shipping accounts required for online sales.
Products are created from the Page Designer (Pages) in the same way you would create a regular page for your website. Products behave the same way as Articles, they can be linked to lists in one or more pages of your site. When added to a page list, the product is displayed along with other products using the format defined by the pages layout. To create a product, from the Page Designer, click on the Add Product button. Creating a Page
A simple store can be configured by creating a product page, linking it to the site tree, uploading one or more product images, and setting the price. All other product options can use the default options. Products can be placed on any page of the site tree (multiple times), they appear with other products when the page is displayed. Products can also be associated to pages using the Featured Content option - Building the Site Tree. Advanced product features are described in Configuring Products.
Pricing and Discounts
A product’s “list price” can be discounted by creating a “sale”. A sale can be attached to a product or a group of products in a Product Category. A sale is assigned a name, start date, end date, and a discount value (relative to the list price of the product). The following discount options can be configured:
- Standard sale (discount entered as a percentage of list price or cost)
- Volume discount (by two or more at...)
- Volume restricted price (first four at...)
- Member pricing (special pricing for members of ...)
- Coupons (enter the coupon an get a discount...)
A product belonging multiple Product Categories inherits all active sales from these category groups. The lowest sale price is always displayed, regardless of which category is viewed by the user. A ShoutCMS best practice is to create an "On-sale" Page on the website and add/remove products to this page to put the product on sale. The product will be displayed as on-sole on all other pages in the website (it's very easy to manage temporary pricing) Sales and Discounts.
The Online Shopping Cart
The shopping cart is built into your website. Outside of store and product configuration, there is nothing to do to enable the shopping cart. The shopping cart automatically appears when a product is added to the cart. Users can continue shopping, or can initiate the checkout process when ready.
The shopping cart guides your customer through the sale process. The cart captures information about the customer to support taxes, shipping, order tracking, and potential returns. By default, ShoutCMS creates a Contact when a person buys an item; this involves registering the person during the purchase process. Anonymous Checkout can be enabled to allow customers to make a purchase without creating a contact. The disadvantage is that the contact cannot login to view their purchases at a later date.
The shopping cart completes the sale when payment information (credit card) is collected. Confirming the order results in the display of the confirmation screen and the sending of an email to the client with the purchase and payment details. An online product (such as a download) can be sent to the customer in the email if required. If enabled, a notification is sent to in internal email address to prompt staff to fulfill the order.
Basic store operations include receiving online orders, fulfilling orders, tracking/processing payments, tracking active orders, processing returned items, managing sales and discounts, stocking inventory, and reviewing store reports. Additional activities include: creating quotations and electronic invoices, managing inventory, and synchronizing data with external Inventory and point of sale systems. Running the Store.
The following is a summary of activities associated with running your store:
- Managing shopping-cart orders created by online customers
- Creating Electronic Quotations, Orders, and Invoices for counter/telephone sales
- Fulfilling orders (internal processing, assembly, packing, and shipping activities)
- Notifying customers about changes to an order (e.g. inventory related delays)
- Tracking an order and related shipment(s)
- Manage subscriptions and recurring orders
- Accepting and reconciling payments
- Tracking accounts receivable including payment follow-up
- Managing returns and/or warranty claims
- Managing inventory levels
- Assessing store performance (store reports)
- Review sales by customer
- Reconciling daily sales and merchant accounts
- Ensuring store security (theft prevention)
The ShoutCMS Store uses two primary processes: Order Fulfillment and Payment Reconciliation. Invoices are automatically created when an Order is created (either through the shopping cart, or manually through the Electronic Order feature). The Order State is used to manage activities to pack, ship, and manage product returns associated with the order. The Invoice State is used to control billings, payments, refunds, and write-offs. The two processes are related to the order but are distinct from the perspective of the teams involved in processing the order.
The effort and detail required to manage your store will vary depending on the nature of your business. For instance, service-based businesses generally do not involve shipping; however, internal processing may still be required as part of quality control, license management, or other activities.
Creating Electronic Quotations and Invoicing
Unlike many other eCommerce solutions, ShoutCMS includes online quotation and invoice features that can be used to support traditional business processes associated with your counter and phone-based sales. You can use ShoutCMS to create a quotation for services, convert the quotation into an electronic invoice (with PDF copy), and email it to your customer. Customers can click on the invoice's 'Pay Now' button to pay the invoice immediately using their credit card. Configuration of online quotations and invoices is described in Electronic Invoices.