Give Customers Credit Where Credit is Due

We’ve rolled out a small update to our customisable email templates this week. This one allows you to customise the email that gets sent to your customers when you add a credit to their account. This allows you to personalise the messages that you send to your customers.

While revisiting customer credits, we realized that even though customer account credits have been available from the day that we added customer accounts to Spiffy Stores, it’s not really a feature that’s widely supported in many of today’s most popular ecommerce packages.

This is important for you, as a merchant, to consider when choosing which platform to use for your online business. It’s widely acknowledged that giving customers an account credit, perhaps as a signup bonus or as a way of dealing with returns, is one of the most effective ways keeping your customers happy and prepared to keep shopping with you.

We’ve found that often it’s suggested that you can use Coupon Codes or Gift Certificates as a substitute for the missing Account Credit functionality, but this really misses the point of a credit. A customer gets the account credit automatically added to their next order, without having to remember or search for that Coupon Code or Gift Certificate email that was sent 6 months ago. What’s more, a Coupon Code or Gift Certificate may not support partial payments if the next purchase by the customer is less than the value of the Coupon Code or Gift Certificate.

All in all, if you really want to give your customers the best experience and easiest way of shopping with you, then don’t just make do with Coupon Codes or Gift Certificates when you want to give your customers an account credit. Coupon Codes and Gift Certificates are valuable marketing tools in their own right, but they are definitely not the right tool to be getting from your toolbox in these circumstances.

 

Square accepts payments from anywhere, now including Spiffy Stores

We’re very happy to announce that Spiffy Stores are now accepting payments using the Square ecommerce payments gateway. You can now process your payments instantly in your online store, working alongside your existing mobile or point of sale systems using Square’s card reader.

Using Spiffy Stores and Square’s payment processing APIs, you can sell online and seamlessly integrate your online and offline sales. Track all your reporting and payments in one place using Square’s free app.

Connecting to Square couldn’t be any easier, especially if you don’t know anything about computers. You just select Square as your credit card processing method then decide what credit cards you’d like to support and whether you want to add a surcharge for each card. After a simple click of a button, you’re able to confirm your connection and you’re done. Your Spiffy Store can now process your payments with Square.

Remember too, that only Spiffy Stores allows you to manage your credit card payments exactly the way that you want to, with credit card surcharge payments that can be configured on a card by card basis.

Spiffy Stores Fulfilments and Australia Post eParcel – A new partnership

We all remember the time we received our first order from our new online store and how we eagerly packed the parcel, wrote out a label and proudly took it down to the post office to be sent on its way.

This was the start of a new adventure, and with time and effort, it’s now grown to the point where packing all those parcels and sending them off can consume a significant part of the day. It’s not that we’re complaining about the success, but it would be really nice if it wasn’t such a chore.

This is a common story, that many new store owners experience as their businesses grow. Once the volume of your sales increases, you can start to take advantage of discount shipping rates by signing up with services such as Australia Post’s eParcel.

eParcel is used widely by many businesses, and it allows you to submit your parcel information electronically and to generate pre-printed labels and tracking information automatically.

Although there are many advantages to using eParcel, it can become a bit of a chore without some sort of direct integration between your online store orders and the eParcel system.

This is where the new Spiffy Stores Fulfilment integration shines. Once you have activated your eParcel account within the Spiffy Stores Toolbox, you can directly submit it to Australia Post with the click of a button. Your customer is automatically notified with the tracking information, and you’ll be able to check on the status of each parcel until it is successfully delivered.

Our new Fulfilment integration is going to save you so much time that you’ll have oodles of time left to invest in marketing your store. Our first users are already delighted and excited by the way this improves the way they run their businesses.

 

 

 

Restricting product visibility to members or wholesale customers

vip-customerNew feature… and free for every store!

So your business has been growing and you want to expand into the wholesale area or maybe you’re creating customised products for specific groups of customers. How on earth do you deal with that in your Spiffy Store?

We’ve found that a lot of small businesses are running into that exact problem, so we decided to do something about it.

The concept is pretty simple. When you enable customer accounts for your store, you can add ‘tags’ to all of your customer accounts to help you group and categorise them. For example, maybe some of your customers have a VIP status, so you could add a ‘vip’ tag to each of these accounts.

Now suppose you want to offer only these customers a special package deal. You can create this special product exactly like every other product, but then you add the ‘vip’ tag to the product in the Customer Visibility section.

Once that’s done, only customers who are logged in to their accounts and have the ‘vip’ tag will be able to see and buy that product. It won’t be visible to any other customers or guest users. Nor will it be visible to the search engines or product data feeds.

It’s a VIP product, so only VIP customers get to buy it!

And that’s it. Now imagine how you can extend this idea to support lots of different groups of customers and you can see how powerful this feature is.

For this feature to even show up you’ll need to do the following;

Finally, remember that this is a free feature and is included on every Spiffy Store plan.

A Major Spiffy Stores Toolbox Update

spiffy-presentsWe decided all our Spiffy Store owners deserve an early Christmas present, so we’ve rolled out a rather fab update to the Toolbox a little earlier than we’d previously planned.

We’ve been working on this for some time, but as it’s mostly an upgrade to our infrastructure code behind the Toolbox, we don’t think you’ll notice much of a change. However, the huge benefits for everyone are clear to see. We’ve positioned our code so that it’s far easier to upgrade and to extend, so you’ll see a more consistent interface, and we’ll be able to deliver new features at a faster rate.

So, it’s pretty much “Good news everyone!”

Along the way, we also decided to improve a few of the Toolbox features and we hope you’ll find these enhancements useful.

  • We’ve added custom filters to the products and inventory listings and they work just like the customer filters. You can view your products and variations using a wide range of filters to select only the items you want to see. No more hunting and searching for that elusive product. The information you need is now only a few clicks away. This is really going to help our larger store owners manage their inventories.
  • You can now add custom SEO page titles and descriptions to override the system generated versions for all products, pages, articles and collections. If you want to tweak your site settings to make sure the right descriptions are picked up by the search engines, then you’ll want to use this feature.
  • The Menu Items are now using some new code to help you build your multi-level menus using drag and drop. The new code shows a highlighted placeholder to help you position the menu item exactly where you want it.
  • The Shipping rate calculators have always taken into account weekends when providing an estimate of when a parcel will be delivered. We’ve decided to take this a step further by also taking into account public holidays, so that your customers will receive an even more accurate idea of when a parcel will be delivered.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are available for most Toolbox operations. This will be a boon if you need to do some mundane data entry. The help popup is available from the link next to the store preview link in the Toolbox menu.

You’ll be seeing a lot more in the new year, but for now, please enjoy these updates!

Australian Data Retention Laws – Are you protected?

email-privacyAustralia’s new data retention laws start today, and this means that ISPs are obliged to collect and keep records about your digital activities for 2 years, and to make those records available to various government agencies on demand without the need for any warrants or legal oversight.

The good news is that the email services provided by Spiffy Stores and Domain Hosting Shop are not subject to these data retention laws. In basic terms, the law only applies to carriage service providers, which means anyone who provides the physical connection for your home or office to the Internet or telephone system.

We will keep your Spiffy Stores email safe and secure, and you can send and receive email secure in the knowledge that the messages will not be archived and retained in any way, and will not be available to any government agency.

Making Fuzzy Searching Even Better

Search-Magnifying-Glass

Here’s a little ecommerce trick that everyone seems to forget about.

Make sure that your customers can find the product they want, when they do a search using your store’s built-in search function!

At Spiffy Stores we try to strive for excellence in the way we design and build our software. This sometimes means going back to look at existing functions to see if we can improve them in some way.

This is part of our philosophy and it’s a way of setting us apart from the general way of the Internet where lots of colour and movement appear to be more important than providing something with real substance.

Continue reading

Getting to know your customers

getting-to-Know-Your-CustomersWe love adding new stuff to Spiffy Stores, and we’re pleased to announce that we’ve just finished putting the final polish on a brand new feature.

When you manage your online store, there’s obviously lots to think about in terms of products, inventory, prices and shipping. But until now, there’s been an important part missing from this equation – your customers!

As ever, we’re anxious to make sure we’re providing you with the very best tools and support to help you run your ecommerce venture successfully and to make lots of money, so we’ve done something about this. From today, you’ll see a new tab in your Spiffy Stores Toolbox, right next to your ‘orders’, called ‘customers’.

Click on this and you’ll be taken to an overview list of all your customers and you’ll see options to sort and filter your customer list, so that you can easily see who’s ordered what, how much they’ve spent and where they are located. Add to this our fantastic new custom search filters that let you create and save your own searches, and you’ll soon see these as an indispensable part of your marketing armoury.

There’s much more detail about this new feature in our Knowledge Base at https://www.spiffystores.com.au/kb/Information_about_your_customers  so we recommend you have a quick look at the documentation to see how this can help you better understand your customers.

But wait, there’s more! This is just phase 1 in our rollout of our new customer-related features. Be on the lookout for some exciting new additions to your Spiffy Store in the coming months.

Need a customised plan for your online store?

custom-add-onsHow many times have you looked at an e-commerce service like Spiffy Stores, and wished the fixed plans on offer really met the needs of your particular online business?

For example, you might be just starting out, so you want the Basic plan, but you have more than the maximum number of products that the plan allows. You don’t yet need the larger volumes of the next plan up until you really get going, so what do you do?

We often get questions like this from new start-ups, wanting a customised Spiffy Store plan to meet their specific requirements. Up until now, we had just the three standard plans to choose from (Basic, Business and Enterprise), so we decided to do something about it!

From today, all our Spiffy Stores e-commerce plans can be customised to add-on extra functions or resources to meet your needs. Yay!

We’re kicking off with two new add-ons – one that will add an extra 100 or 1,000 SKUs to your existing plan limit, and another for an additional 5 email addresses. Each add-on can be purchased multiple times, so you can choose exactly how many products or email accounts you want to support.

Add-ons can be purchased at any time for a small extra monthly fee, and cancelled at any time too, so you can keep your monthly costs at a minimum and grow when you need to. They can be added and removed in the “Accounts -> Add-ons” section of your store’s Toolbox.

Say no to old-fashioned fixed price plans and save money! Our new add-ons are the ideal way for you to customise your plan for your super Spiffy online store.

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Problems rendering a layout in Rails3

From time to time we like to share technical tips when we’ve uncovered a solution to a problem that might help other Rails developers.

Spiffy Stores is written using the Ruby on Rails framework, and we encountered a glitch with the Rails3 layouts. Basically we couldn’t get the layout to display, even though all the syntax was correct. Others have experienced this sort of problem. See http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6605716/cant-render-layout-in-rails-3 for an example.

After lots of digging around and tracing, the answer became clear. The AbstractController::Layouts module has an initialize method, but this method was not being called when a new controller was created.

If you experience this problem, then check any modules that you have included in your controller, as one of them has an initialize method that doesn’t call ‘super’.

If an included module needs an initialize method, then it needs to follow this pattern:

def initialize(*)
# Module initialization code here
super
end

If the call to ‘super’ isn’t included, then the initialization chain stops, and your controller won’t be properly initialized. You can find out all the included modules for a controller by executing this code from the console:

MyController.ancestors