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Category: Ecommerce

If you’ve decided to use VirtueMart 2.X on your Joomla! site to sell any number of products, you may be running into some trouble trying to set up some custom fields for specific types of products. For example you may have a t-shirt that comes in different sizes, or a type of bracelet that has different gold or silver type options, maybe you sell sweaters that come in a number of different colors as well.

Trying to navigate VirtueMart’s custom field options can leave an individual who is unfamiliar with the platform tearing at their hair trying to get them to behave properly. VirtueMart is notoriously confusing, especially when it comes to establishing a simple drop down menu to allow a size or color option for an individual product. What I’ve outlined here are a list of steps that can take the average online store owner through the process of setting up a series of custom attributes, and then how to display those attributes as a simple drop down menu on the front end of the site. This can also be applied towards other types of attributes such as text fields.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we assume you already have VirtueMart installed with some products setup.

Lets’ begin by logging into the admin panel of your Joomla! Site.

1. Go to ComponentsVirtueMart

2. Click the “Custom Fields” tab on the menu at the far left side of the page under the Products section.

3. Click the “New” button at the top right of the page with a green plus icon above it, right next to the cancel button.

4. For “custom field type” select “cart variant.”

5. Type the name of the attribute in “title,” for example I will make a drop down list for “Size.”

6. Click “Yes” for the “cart attribute” radio button

7. In the field “Default” type in the attributes separated by a semi-colon. In this case I will type “small; medium; large”

8. Then go to the question “Is this a list?” and select “Yes.”

9. Then click “Save” in the top right to save the custom attribute.

10. Now go to the “Products.” tab on the menu at the far left side of the page under the Products section.

11. Select the individual product you would like to add this attribute to.

12. Click the “Custom Fields” tab of that individual product at the top right of the page.

13. Now go to “Custom Field Type” drop down, and select “size,” or whatever custom field you desire to be displayed on that page.

**HERE IS WHERE IT GETS CONFUSING**

You must add that same custom field for each instance of that attribute. It is intuitive to think that by adding the size custom field to a product that you would then see a drop down list of sizes on the store. THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

14. So you have just added the size custom field and you will see a drop down list that shows small, medium, and large as specified.

Select “small” and then in the open box to the right you can add an additional cost if there is a price change associated with that size. If there is no price change leave that field empty.

Now you must select “size” once again from the “custom field type” drop down. Again you will see size appear below size. Now select “medium” from the drop down. If there is a price increase you can specify it here as well.

Once again select “size” from “custom field type” and this time specify “large” from your drop down. You can then add any price increase information in the empty field to the right if necessary.

This will create a single drop down on the front end with the options “small, medium, and large.”

15. Click “save” and go to the product on the front-end, you should now see a drop down with your new custom attributes.

**BUT WHAT IF ONE OF MY PRODUCTS ONLY COMES IN “SMALL” AND “MEDIUM” BUT NOT “LARGE.”**

If a specific product only has the options of “small, medium” then just leave off “large” when you are adding each attribute to the product.

The key here is that each custom field created can have all of the options, or just a few of them, but that needs to be specified by you for each product, even when a product will use all attributes for a specified custom field.

**BUT WHAT IF MY PRODUCT HAS TWO CUSTOM ATTRIBUTES LIKE “SIZE” AND “COLOR” ?!!!**

To achieve this, at step 2, we can create all of the different custom fields that we would like for our products. Just create the field for size with the values desired entered into the “default” field separated by a semi-colon.

Then save that custom field and add a new field called “color” with the “default” field having the color values desired inside of it separated by a semi-colon. e.g. “green; blue; pink.” 

When we go to the product page we will then add one “custom field type” for each attribute required. e.g. “small, medium, large, green, blue, pink.”

Because these are now two different attribute types they will automatically show as “size” and “color” on the front end with drop downs showing the values specified for that product in the product custom attributes list.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully just set up custom attributes for use on any of the products in your store. This same process can be use to apply any number of options to your products as well as apply new prices for those options if necessary.

Mike Rispoli
Sysgen Media LLC

In talking with my clients, there is a topic that kept coming up in regards to Ecommerce, and the topic was Shopping Cart Abandonment. The questions were: What is it? Do I have this problem? What should I do about it?

Lets start by briefly outlining “What is Shopping Cart Abandonment?” Shopping Cart Abandonment is when a customer comes to your site, browses for a period of time, and adds items to their cart. Then, for one reason or another, they end up leaving without checking out and without purchasing any items in their cart.

How prevalent is this problem, and is it something I should be concerned about? Turns out, over 65% of shopping carts are abandoned. That’s a lot of lost revenue!

If you have an Ecommerce site then you have Shopping Cart Abandonment.

So what do you do about it? That depends on why the customer is leaving. There are a number of reasons that can interrupt the checkout process from customer indecision to site design flaws and technical problems. 

The number 1 reason shoppers abandon their carts is because shipping and handling costs are too high. Lowering this alone can have a major impact on your sales. Other major reasons for abandonment are customers who are not yet ready to purchase, customers who are still price shopping on other sites, and customers who think that your individualized pricing is too high.

Design and trust level are two more reasons why customers will abandon their carts. Design needs to be inviting and the amount of work a customer should do to checkout must be minimal. If your site is outdated, running slowly, and confusing for a buyer, the customer will be less likely to purchase anything and thus, abandon their cart. This is the “trust level” or, the level of confidence the buyer obtains from your site while browsing.

There are two ways to go about reducing your abandonment: You can try to stop it before it happens, or you can try to encourage a customer to come back and complete the checkout process if it has already happened.

Some popular options for preventing abandonment are:

  • Offer Free or Reduced Shipping
  • Don’t force registration to checkout. Allow Guest Checkout.
  • Simplify your checkout process. Unnecessary steps allow for more options to leave.
  • Ensure your checkout process is Safe and Secure and uses SSL
  • Requiring unnecessary information. People typically don’t like filling out forms. Do you?

Even after the above actions have been taken you can still recoup some of the abandoned carts.

Remarketing is a clever technique that allows you to display advertisements on other websites to users who have previously visited your site. If used correctly, you can remarket shopping cart items that have been abandoned. Google AdWords is a good example of a way to implement this technique and of remarketing has been shown to increase conversions by 18%.

Another very powerful tool is sending an email to customers letting them know they have a cart and promoting the products that they have abandoned. Surveys have shown that 13% of leading Ecommerce sites target their customers within 3 hours of an abandoned cart. An automated waterfall campaign of three emails sent over an increasing delay such as 3 hours, 24 hours and 7 days has been shown to work well.

An analysis of one of my customers revealed thousands of dollars in potential revenue from their customer’s abandoned carts! What was even more impressive was that their Magento Ecommerce platform tracked the email address of all of those abandoned carts. Having good analytics and a strong Ecommerce platform can provide you with many useful bits of information if setup properly.

According to SeeWhy, which has analyzed data from over 600,000 abandoned carts, 54% of all carts that are successfully recovered are won back within the first few hours after abandonment. An additional 10% can be recovered within 48 hours, and at the end of 7 days, 82% can be recovered.

One final thought, Don’t reward abandonment! If you decide to send coupons in an abandoned cart email, mix it up and only send them on occasion. Sending out coupons after someone abandons their cart every time is training your customers to wait and come back later to receive a discount.

If you run an Ecommerce site, now is the time to look into your Shopping Cart Abandonment. If you need help with analysis of your site or implementation of any of the suggestions above, contact Sysgen Media’s Ecommerce Consultants and let us help you recover your lost carts!

We’re in the finishing phases of our first e-commerce site using Magento. In the beginning, the project was daunting. If anyone has tried using Magento, you might already know that the learning curve is incredibly steep. Trying to navigate the file structure and learning where everything is coming from is an uphill battle. The fact that documentation is sparse and hard to locate doesn’t help. Luckily there is a small but dedicated group of message board users and forum posts to sift through which can help find answers to many of your problems. I strongly recommend to anyone starting their first Magento project to join the forums, the users there have helped me numerous times in the beginning of this project.

Having an understanding of the MVC (Model-View-Controler) design pattern is a good idea before diving into Magento, the core code is heavily based on this design. Id also recommend taking a look at the Zend Framework.

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