Gift Cards Now Available on All Plans

As part of our efforts to support small businesses (like us) during these difficult times, we’re looking for ways we can help our merchants stay on top of cashflow woes. If you have an idea for a new feature or function that will help you, please let us know by emailing us at support@spiffystores.com.au

To start, we’re announcing new support for Gift Cards, built right into your store. We’re extending this to include our Startup Plan, which means that right now, it’s the best value ecommerce plan available from any ecommerce provider.

We hope this helps our merchants as we and our economy slowly recover from the effects of COVID-19.

Why gift cards?

Sudden declines in sales are difficult to manage when expenses haven’t changed, and still need to be paid. Electricity, rent, utilities, and basic supplies are static costs that we don’t often have control over. This leaves merchants struggling with money going out, and less money coming in. Here are some other benefits to offering Gift Cards…

  1. Gift Cards build brand awareness
    Gift Cards are easy, cost-effective advertising that can help keep your business top of mind with your audience. Virtual Gift Cards promote your brand messaging with online customers, and physical Gift Cards offer wallet-sized advertisements to share your business’s messaging.

  2. Gift Cards capture more holiday sales
    Gift Cards allow all types of businesses to catch the holiday spirit. From homewares to car wash subscriptions, lawn care, home maintenance and salon services, Gift Card programs can make the holidays brighter for everyone – whatever their interests are.

  3. Gift Cards enable customer engagement
    Gift givers are essentially your brand ambassadors, so you want to ensure recipients and givers alike are left feeling uplifted by their experience. Engagement with a customer starts with a Gift Card, but it doesn’t have to end there. Gift Card programs open doors to deeper customer relationships and additional marketing opportunities.

  4. Gift Cards are safe and convenient
    Today’s virtual Gift Cards are safer and more accessible than paper certificates that were vulnerable to loss, theft and fraud from duplication. As for convenience, you can accept Gift Cards the same way you accept credit and debit cards: in your own online store’s checkout.

  5. Gift Cards improve cash flow
    Selling Gift Cards allows you to generate revenue in advance of providing products or services. As an added bonus, customers who use Gift Cards aren’t as price sensitive. They actually consider them as free money or a discount, which means that they’ll spend more than the value of the card when redeeming the card. In fact, two out of three consumers who pay with a Gift Card will spend 38 percent more than the card’s value.

Using Gift Cards to increase your cash flow

Gift Card products can be created in your Spiffy Store in the Products section of your store’s admin. You can modify their name, image, description, and the denominations that your customers can buy. They’re sent digitally by email and can be redeemed in your store at any time. Make sure you check out our tutorial on creating a Gift Card product.

Once you’ve set up your Gift Card product, make sure you let your customers know. You can do this a number of ways…

  • Email your customers to let them know. You may even want to offer them a discount on a Gift Card using a coupon code.

  • Connect with your customers on social media. When we’re all isolating and trying to keep safe, it’s more important for you to connect with your customers. As you ask how they’re doing, let them know how you’re doing as well, and how they can now send a gift card to loved on.

  • Connect with your local community through online based channels, like chats, groups, and discussions, post on local Facebook pages. Small businesses often have loyal followers and they can help you get the word out.

Issuing Gift Cards

In addition to selling Gift Cards, you can also send Gift Cards yourself. This is often a good way to say thanks to a customer, or to issue a refund… but you can also issue Gift Cards lower in value to promote spending, rather than offering a discount.

You could also issue Gift Cards as part of a giveaway promotion, or competition. Our tutorial on issuing Gift Cards can be found in our knowledge base.

Sass support upgraded for Spiffy Stores Themes

This is a quick “heads-up” for all our Spiffy Stores web designers and developers out there who are customizing and building fantastic themes for their customers.

As you already know, Spiffy Stores has always supported the use of Sass (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets) to ease the development of stylesheets in your themes. It’s a great productivity tool and makes the whole job of building and managing your CSS styles a whole lot easier. In fact, at Spiffy Stores, we’ve been using Sass almost from day one, well over ten years ago.

Since it’s such a great productivity tool, we were a bit concerned to learn that our current implementation was being deprecated in favour of a newly developed version called Dart Sass, and that this version would be the basis of all future development going forward.

We’re happy to announce that we’ve just built a bridge to the new Dart Sass that can be used by all existing themes and any new themes without any change, ensuring our long-term commitment to the Sass language and environment.

We’re aware that another ecommerce platform has decided that supporting Sass is too difficult, and has chosen to withdraw support for Sass from their theme platform, requiring instead that all stylesheets be coded using native CSS. Booooo! As web developers ourselves, we’d be pretty unhappy about something like this, so if you know anyone who has been affected by this change, then please let them know that Spiffy Stores is fully behind Sass and it’s continued importance in the web development stack.

If you have any questions about the use of Sass, or developing themes for Spiffy Stores, please let us know at support@spiffystores.com.au.

Address Autocompletion. Now included at no extra charge.

Success as a merchant means getting a million little details right, and Spiffy Stores is continuously working on improving every single one of them for you… one step at a time.

If you’ve ever tried to ship to an invalid address, you know if you get it wrong, it costs you both the time and money to resend the order to your customer. Getting customers to complete the checkout process… let alone enter their address properly is one of the great challenges for web-based sales.

We think we’ve just made that process a little bit easier for all our Spiffy Stores merchants.

From today, we’ve included at no extra charge, an address autocompletion capability during checkout which offers customers a list of verified address suggestions based on what they’ve already entered for the address.

This feature has two great benefits;

Firstly… it makes it easier for the customer, as they don’t need to enter as much information when completing address details. Less effort for the customer means there’s a better chance that they won’t abandon their order, and go through to complete the payment for the order.

Secondly… it means that the addresses are more likely to be correct, and that means that orders are less likely to go astray and get lost because of incorrect or incomplete addressing.

How many times have you seen a customer just enter Sydney or Melbourne as their location, regardless of which suburb they may actually live in? That must be a nightmare for Australia Post and the courier companies to sort out.

So we know that address completion is a really good idea, but why is this Spiffy Stores feature even better value? Not only do you get an address autocompletion feature at no extra cost, but you get a service that is backed by the ultimate source for Australian location data.

Some competitors offer their own address autocompletion features, but you may not know that these services are generally based upon Google’s own mapping services. The problem with this is that the data provided is not always of the highest quality. For example, we checked out our own office address and to our surprise Google located us in the wrong suburb!

Spiffy Stores has been able to leverage Geoscape G-NAF, which is Australia’s authoritative geocoded address file. It is built and maintained by Geoscape Australia using authoritative government data, such as State and Federal authorities and other semi-government bodies such as Australia Post.

What this means is that you’re getting access to the highest quality data, absolutely free. It’s worth noting that this kind of service is also available from a number of 3rd party providers, but you could end up paying hundreds of dollars a month for exactly what your getting included with your Spiffy Store at no additional cost.

Go and add a product to your cart and “checkout” the newest Spiffy Stores feature!

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.