Planned Outage Notification

We’ll be doing some maintenance that will unfortunately involve some downtime for your store.

Our usual maintenance has resulted in little to no downtime for many years, but this maintenance requires that we take stores offline to be able to make necessary updates.

We estimate that this maintenance will take up to 2 hours to complete.

During this time, visitors to your store will be redirected to a generic page saying that your store is undergoing maintenance.

As soon as the maintenance is completed, we’ll switch your store back to live.

If you have any questions, please email us at support@spiffystores.com.au

We’ll update the FAQ below with answers to any questions we receive.

Expected Impact: 2 hours outage duration
Date: Sunday 19th September 2021
Time: 9:00am – 11:00am AEST

Frequently Asked Questions

Q How long is the downtime?
A We estimate the downtime to be 2 hours or less

Q Will visitors see a page stating the site is under maintenance?
A
Yes. You can preview the page here

Create infinitely customisable products with Infinite Options. Now available.

Our poor tech team has been locked in the dungeon, tasked with coming up with ways to make our software as flexible as possible, but keeping things simple. With this new feature it may be just be time to let them out!

We often have to reach out to our merchants to find out what problems they are facing. We then work on solving those problems by creating new functions or tweaking existing ones.

One of the problems we’ve identified affects merchants who create unique handmade products… so if this affects you… keep on reading!

You may have been struggling with ways to provide your customers with customisation options, so they can customise a product exactly how they want it. Often this has required delving into the code to create custom fields on products to collect all of the info needed. In other cases, you’ve been able to use the Product Variations combined with Custom Options to offer options, but this can cause the product to load very slowly, as every possible combination needs to be loaded.

There is definitely room for improvement there.

To solve this problem, we’ve created a new add-on called Infinite Options. Infinite Options allows you to sell products that are infinitely customisable. You can create drop down, number, radio, checkbox, text, and long text fields with ease, and apply them to a single product or collection of products.

Infinite Options works on any device (desktop, laptop, mobile device iOS or Android or tablet). Every Infinite Option is purely descriptive. If you offer a customer a choice of options using an Infinite Option selection, the option choice becomes part of the order and is added to the product description in the cart, but it does not affect the price of the product, nor does it affect inventory management. If you want to create fields that do affect the product price then you’ll want to create Product Variations or Custom Options in addition or instead of using Infinite Options.

If you need stock tracking on the option, then you’ll need to create those options using Product Variations.

Why offer customisable products?

Customisation of products enhances the user experience by providing them with the ability to personalise your products. It usually leads to more conversions for the ecommerce business providing personalisation options to their customers.

When you allow your customer to personalise a product, they are turning from passive buyers to active partners. They are contributing to the product development process. The mere conscious effort of helping to create the product can prompt a customer to buy it.

How do I get it?

Infinite Options is available for free on our Plus and Pro Plans, and can also be added as an add-on to our Startup Plan for a small monthly fee. Again you’ll find that our fees are substantially lower than the competition. It can be found in the Preferences -> Infinite Options section of every store today.

Documentation can be found in the Spiffy Stores Knowledge Base.

To make Infinite Options work elegantly in a storefront, we’ve made some changes to our popular themes. We’ve released updates to our Simple, Adelaide, Melbourne, Darwin, Sydney, Bendigo, and Vintage themes to support the new fields… so they should all display beautifully in the latest versions of these themes. If you’re using an older version of one of these themes, you’ll need to update your theme. If your store is using a different theme, you’ll need to contact us for assistance if the fields aren’t displaying correctly.

Credit Card Surcharges can be your Secret Sauce

Getting your business online involves choosing an ecommerce platform like Spiffy Stores, but there are large number of features to consider when trying to make a choice between different platforms.

Credit Card Surcharges can be your Secret Sauce

In fact, for Australian merchants, there’s pretty much only one feature that really makes any difference!

Does your chosen platform fully support surcharges for credit cards and other payment methods?

I’ll explain why this is pretty important. Let’s say you accept payment by credit card or PayPal. For PayPal, you could be looking at having to pay up to 2.6% of the transaction as a merchant fee. Now this means that your net profit on the sale of an item is cut by this amount. If your ecommerce platform doesn’t support surcharges, then you need to increase the advertised price of the item by 2.6% to maintain your profit margin.

Now, considering that credit card surcharges are pretty well accepted as a normal cost for payment processing in Australia, there’s no real disadvantage to adding a surcharge at checkout time. This means that if you’re adding a surcharge, then you can decrease the advertised price of the item without suffering any loss in profits.

This turns out to be a secret advantage that you will have over your competitors. If all your competitors are using Shopify, then they don’t have the option of adding credit card surcharges. Shopify’s platform has been built for and is largely driven by the US market, where surcharges are often illegal. This means your competitors must increase their prices to cover the merchant fees, or suffer a loss in profits.

So for a Spiffy Stores platform merchant, the difference is clear. You can advertise the same item at a lower price than your competitor, without having to sacrifice any profit margin. As we all know, shopping on online has made it very easy to do price comparisons, so for the same item, the store that has the lowest advertised price will most likely pick up the sale.

And that’s it. By choosing Spiffy Stores your online business gets a head start on all your Shopify competitors without any loss of profits.

Spiffy Stores offers the ability to set credit card surcharge rates for individual credit card brands, and also for PayPal payments. It’s fairly likely that at some stage surcharges will be allowed for Buy Now, Pay Later schemes such as Afterpay, and we’ll be able to implement support for that almost immediately.

Spiffy Stores is an Australian-built and owned ecommerce platform that aims to fully support Australian merchants in a way that is lacking in most of the major global platforms. We’ll be adding new articles on a host of other features that can help you, as an Australian merchant, improve your sales and cut down the time and effort required to keep your store up and running. If you have any questions on how we support credit card surcharges, please contact us at support@spiffystores.com.au

Adding jQuery to Webpacker 6 under Rails 6

From time to time we post some notes about technical issues that we’ve encountered during our development work on Spiffy Stores. There are a lot of moving parts to manage, and sometimes we come across some tips or techniques that can help others to build their projects.

In this case, we’ve been looking at how to configure Webpacker 6 (currently Beta 7) under Rails 6.1, which acts as a wrapper to the latest version of Webpack 5. Now, as anyone who’s used Webpack since it was introduced as an option in Rails 5 will attest to, it’s not an easy package to get working properly.

The new versions of Webpacker and Webpack bring around some changes to the way things are configured, and unfortunately, some of the documentation is lacking, or indeed, wrong.

For our environment, we need jQuery as a starter. The trick with Webpack is to get the code loaded and assigned to the global variables, $ and jQuery. The trick with jQuery is to realize that the node modules version provides both a distributed module and also the source code which can be used to build the module with Webpack. If you just

require("jquery")

then you’ll get the pre-built module. It turns out that it’s better to build it from source instead.

If you’ve followed the migration documentation, you should have a custom.js under your webpack directory.

module.exports = {
   resolve: {
     alias: {
       jquery: 'jquery/src/jquery'
     }
   }
 }

Requiring jquery now, pulls in the source files instead, and this will build jQuery with the appropriate global references.

Another important “gotcha” with Webpacker 6 is that when you include the javascript_pack_tag in your layout, you MUST include it only once.

<%= javascript_pack_tag('application', 'common', 'customer', data: { turbolinks_track: :reload }) %>

Webpack builds a number of different file chunks for each entry point, and this means that the javascript_pack_tag will generate a number of <script> tags, one for each chunk. If you have multiple entry point files, then you must include them all on a single javascript_pack_tag and not create a separate tag for each entry point.

Unfortunately, coming from a Sprockets background, most Rails programmers will be used to creating multiple javascript_include_tags, but this is not the case for Webpacker.

If you happen to use multiple javascript_pack_tags, you’ll likely find that scripts may be loaded multiple times. In many cases, this may not be obvious, but if you see errors from @rails/ujs, then this is probably because it is being loaded multiple times by Webpack.

Expanded Payment Surcharge Options Now Available for Australian Merchants

Surcharges for payments by credit card are now fairly common in the Australian market place, and came about from an RBA review into the payments system, which recommended greater transparency for consumers.

These sort of regulations, however, do not exist overseas… especially in the US. This means that support for adding surcharge payments to orders is basically non-existent, and is not really likely to be added in the near future by US-dominated ecommerce platforms.

In case you hadn’t realised, Spiffy Stores is 100% Australia owned, so of course we’re more concerned with meeting the needs of our Australia based merchants. Today’s announcement demonstrates this point.

So we’re happy to announce that our payment surcharge options now include the ability to add a percentage surcharge to all PayPal transactions, in addition to our existing credit card based surcharge options, which allow differing surcharges based on the credit card brand.

Perhaps one of the important lessons we’ve learnt from the global pandemic is that maybe there are some things we don’t really want to get from overseas! It’s been a reminder that there are benefits in looking at local solutions for many of our needs.

Shouldn’t this also be true when you are considering what platform you choose as the basis for your own business?

I guess the bottom line is that with Spiffy Stores, you’re going to get a platform for your online business that is aligned with your needs as a business owner. The same can probably not be said for the US-based platforms that you may be considering.

Creating content just got a bit easier.

Hope everyone is doing well in these “interesting” times.  Has anyone else noticed that Netflix seems to have fewer decent movies than ever?  Are they taking advantage of the fact that some of us are trapped in our homes?

Netflix bitching aside, I should get to the real purpose of this article… which is to let everyone know that we’ve added a new wysiwyg text editor to stores that allows you easily lay out your text, make text bolditalic, different colours etc.

That’s not it though… you can change alignment, add bullets, add links in, and do pretty much all of the other stuff you can do in common desktop editors.

Oh… and you can also add in images and rotate & crop them inline… as well as adjust the size, brightness, contrast, and a bunch of other stuff.

Just to make sure the new editor doesn’t break stuff that you’ve created using the old editor, it only shows up on new products, pages, and articles that you’ve created in the last week or so.

We know this feature has been around for ages, and it may seem that we’re a bit slow bringing it to our software.  Conversations about the editor usually ended with someone screaming “x#$%&* no way! it makes the code too messy!”… which is exactly why we have delayed this release.

The text that you add for your products can be used in many ways… such as when you connect your store’s product catalogue to Facebook, Instagram, or one of the shopping portals we support.   They don’t want to deal with messy code, and neither do we.  The great news is that we’ve almost perfected cleaning up this code so products aren’t rejected.  

The editor is still a work in progress, so please let us know if you run into any issues with your product feeds, or with the editor in general.

Simple Ecommerce Theme

Over the past months, the Spiffy Stores team have been flexing our creative and technical muscles hard to bring store owners and developers a simple but full featured new Spiffy Stores theme.

Now, we’re excited to introduce you to the result of all that hard work — and open up a whole new set of possibilities to stretch your creativity.

It’s called Simple – and it’s the newest premium Spiffy Stores theme available for free on all Spiffy Stores plans.

Simple is designed to be exactly what it sounds like – super simple.

Simple represents years of feedback from store owners and developers of all types who want more flexibility and control when it comes to themes, as well as keeping the overall look as clean as possible… but still containing the features built in to our other themes.

That’s a delicate balancing act!

Feature overview

The real power of Simple becomes obvious once you apply the theme and see the options available in your Theme Editor.

Here’s a roundup of some of the highlights of the Simple theme:

  • Advanced mega menus without an app: We know that mega menus are a key way to not only to “show” your shoppers around the store but also get out your marketing messages — so we’ve expanded the mega menu functionality in our other themes to create our most flexible setup yet.
  • A beautiful slideshow, with customisable size, colours, transitions, and fonts.
  • Customisable Instagram feed to show off a gallery of your product images
  • Customisable parallax banners on all pages including collection pages, product pages, blog articles etc.
  • Customisable tabs on product pages. You can break up your product pages into section for displaying different kinds of info, such as videos, size charts, shipping info, reviews etc.
  • Customisable popups, which are far more effective than just having a subscribe form in your footer.
  • Display featured products, featured collections, and blog articles on your home page…. along with welcome text, a slideshow, and your Instagram feed. We’ll also soon provide a tutorial on how to re-order and customise sections.
  • Integration with Yotpo to provide product reviews
  • Customisable announcement bars to provide important info
  • Choose from over 50 included fonts, or add your own custom Google font.
  • Colour options so you can recolour everything in the theme, or choose from built-in colour schemes.
  • Product sorting, list view, grid view, and unlimited scrolling options
  • Google reCAPTCHA to protect you from spammers
  • All the other features, in other themes, such as wishlists, mobile responsiveness, social media integration, image galleries etc.

How to get it

Like our other themes, the Simple theme is available exclusively to Spiffy Stores, and can be applied in the Theme Gallery section of your store’s admin. If you’re switching from another theme, you may want to ensure you download a backup of your current theme first.

You might want to read The Simple Theme Guide, as the theme has a lot of customisation options in the Theme editor, and a lot of the functionality is disabled until you enable it.

The future of Simple

We’re planning on adding a bunch more features to this theme, so stay tuned. Planned enhancements include;

  • Quick shop popup windows
  • Create unlimited custom fields on your products
  • Video in product images
  • Video in the home page slideshow
  • More enhanced responsive images

This is only the beginning

Finally, as you start using Simple, don’t forget that this is version 1.0 only — so you might say we’re only in the warm-up phase of pushing Spiffy Stores theme flexibility.

We’re already hard at work on a series of updates that will be released to bring even more features and functionality to this theme.

Love a Bargain? Customers Love Product Bundles.

We love adding new features to Spiffy Stores, especially when they add heaps of value for our customers. Our newest addition to the family is the Product Bundle.

You might already be familiar with the concept of selling products in convenient bundles or related products. It’s great way to encourage your customers to buy a few extra items by offering them a bargain when they purchase a product bundle. Studies have shown that customers are drawn to product bundles if they see them as providing good value. Why buy the items separately when you can save money by buying them together in a bundle?

Product Bundles are such a great idea that we’re kicking ourselves for taking so long to add them to our set of core features. The Spiffy Stores core features are all included as part of our base software, and there’s no need to mess around with 3rd-party apps to get access to something that’s essential to running your business.

Product Bundles are also such a great addition to your Spiffy Store that we include them free of charge in all of our plans except for the entry-level Startup plan, where they are also available as an Add-On.

Product Bundles also have other uses. They are great for managing your inventory when you want to sell build-to-order products such as Gift Hampers. A Gift Hamper is going to be made up of lots of different products, which you may or may not sell individually. The Gift Hampers are likely to contain some products in common, but it would be crazy (and bad business) to build your hampers ahead of time, as you really don’t know how many of each type are going to be sold.

Building your Gift Hamper products using Product Bundles allows you to track the inventory levels of all of the individual products, so no matter what hamper sells the most, you’ll always know that you’re not overselling your products and ending up with disappointed customers.

Finally, Product Bundles are an easy way to offer bulk-purchase discounts for a single product. Just create a Product Bundle for the product, and then add additional variations to the bundle for the multiple quantities that you want to sell, such as a “Pack of 5” or a “Pack of 10”. Adjust the bundle quantities and prices of the packs and you’re done. Bulk-Purchase discounts done in a few simple steps.

If you’re not using Product Bundles now, then maybe it’s time to start adding them to your product line-up. If you’re not using Spiffy Stores as your ecommerce provider, then maybe it’s time to make the switch to save money, support an Australian business and get access to all our great features.

More info about Product Bundles can be found in the Product Bundles Tutorial in our Knowledge Base.

New Australia Post Flat Rate Satchels & Boxes

In case you missed it, Australia Post is now offering flat rate shipping to anywhere in Australia! They now have a new range of satchels and boxes, and you can also use your own packaging. You can now pack up to 5kg in any of their Flat Rate Satchels and boxes.

Before, when you sent something weighing 5kg or under in a Flat Rate Satchel, your postage was based on the weight range for the satchel you chose. If it weighed more than the maximum allowable weight for your satchel size, you were charged at the next weight level.

Now, instead of pricing being based on weight range, it’s based on four satchel sizes – Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large. Each size has its own flat rate. And you can now pack up to 5kg in, no matter which size you choose.

As these new rates are new services, and you can choose to use them or not, they are not instantly available to every store that is using Australia Post. The rates need to be enabled in the Preferences » Shipping & handling » Carrier shipping section of your store.

These rates may not help some. It’s up to you if you would like to use them. If you want to enable them, you just tick the new options and click the Update button.

If you’re not using carrier shipping, my may want to rethink your shipping pricing strategy to take advantage of these rates.

Many store owners are already using other shipping providers, but Australia Post hopes that this new offering will bring some of you back. One thing we’ve noticed is that if you use your own packaging (yay! less discarded plastic!), it’s still a weight based flat rate, which appears to be a more competitive offering than their previous rates.

More information about how their new size-based system for Flat Rate Satchels and Packages compares to the previous weight-based system can be found on the Australia Post website.

Planned Outage Notification

Expected Impact: 3-7 hours outage duration
Date: Wednesday 16th October 2019 
Time: 11:00pm – 7:00am (Sydney time)

Dear Store Owners,

This is just a heads up that we’ll be re-locating our servers to an awesome new data centre this week.  Our current data centre is in need of major upgrades, and rather than put everyone through that, we’ll be relocating all of our services.

The new site has more redundancy, connectivity and security than the current facility and has been built to Tier 3 standards providing more connectivity options with carriers, IT Service Providers, Cloud Providers and many more.

This move has been several months in the planning, and will result in massive improvements to our speeds and connectivity.

The move will result in all Spiffy Stores services being offline for the duration of the outage.  Should there be any issues, we will provide any updates on Facebook.


FAQ’s

Will my billing change? 
Absolutely not, there will be no change to any of our pricing. We will simply be providing you with better facilities for no extra charge. 

Will I need to update anything in my store?
No, you won’t. We have been busy working out and planning this to ensure that there will be minimal ongoing impact to stores. 

Do I need to do anything? 
No, you don’t.  The relocation team will manage the entire process during the night, and we should all hopefully wake up on Thursday with everything back to normal.

Will there be any “Temporarily offline” nice message page when someone visits my store? 
No there won’t sorry. All Spiffy Stores services will be offline for the duration of the outage. All servers are being physically relocated by our service provider. This means we cannot manage redirects or show friendly messages. It is an outage that is required to ensure there aren’t future unplanned outages, and we can provide you with better facilities for no extra charge.

If you are concerned that your customers will be affected, you may want to alert them ahead of time as we have done.

If you have any questions about the move, please email us at support@spiffystores.com.au or call us on 1300 727 334.