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Category: Tips and Tricks

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!

So after a brief blogging hiatus to get some actual work done (which it turns out is necessary to run a business), I’m back on the blogging bandwagon. In the last few weeks I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration however, so expect to see posts a bit more frequently again!

Which brings me to a conversation I was having with a new client a couple of weeks ago in which he asked my opinion on pop-ups on websites. To be honest, as a website user they annoy me, and I said so. He completely agreed and gave me a great analogy that I’d like to pass along.

What’s great is that it’s an analogy that applies not only to popups, but also to excessive use of Flash transitions on a site and to those silly entry pages that have a “Skip Intro” link on them.

To roughly quote the client: When I see popups, it feels like I’m walking into a store and getting rushed by 5 salesmen.

And he’s right. It’s annoying. What I thought about myself when he mentioned this was walking through the perfume / jewelry / makeup section of department stores where there seems to be a person every 5 feet with a perfume trying to get you to make eye contact so that they can suggest you try their perfume / jewelry / eyeliner. How frustrating is that when you just want to get to a different part of the store to pick up what you actually want?

We just want information!

If someone is visiting your business’s website, they’re most likely there for information about your product or services. That Flash intro / transition or popup is just delaying that process. Avoid the temptation to use them on your website!

If you want to highlight something on your website, design the site so that area draws your visitors’ eyes.

Don’t annoy them with unnecessary delays. Remember: Sometimes Less is More.

As always, if you have any questions or are interested in help getting your website started or improved upon, feel free to get in touch with me either at nlandis@sysgenmedia.com or (631) 343-2211!

But I thought Twitter was just for teenagers and self-centered adults?

Not anymore it’s not. Twitter is a tremendous business tool.

I just finished my second meeting this week where using Twitter to drive traffic to a website was one of the main topics. Is Twitter going to be the magic solution that you need to increase traffic to your website? No, probably not. But if used properly (and yes that means actually learning the community, spending time finding people to follow and building your followers, and having meaningful things to tweet)  it can be a huge boon for your business.

Excuses

I’ve heard a lot of excuses to stay away from Twitter, and can counter them all (have any reservations that I missed? Comment and I’ll get back to you!):

  • I don’t have anything to say. Be creative! Tweet a quote of the day. Tweet links to blog posts (more on Blogging For Your Business in an upcoming post). Tweet random advice. Tweet links to useful articles related to your business. There’s no end to what you can do if you put some thought into it.
  • I don’t understand how it works. Learn. Seriously, it’s worth it. Take some time to look over the Twitter pages of businesses that you know. Sysgen Media, for example. Or contact us if you’re looking for a more guided tour. We can talk to you about all of our Internet Marketing packages.
  • There’s no way I can fit anything useful into 140 characters. You’d be surprised how much info you can stick into two sentences if you try. Check out the tweets of businesses you know of for examples. And use a url shortening service like http://www.bit.ly to shorten urls for your tweets. For example: http://www.ultimateathletemagazine.com (38 characters) can become http://bit.ly/3nnh6V (20 characters).

Connect With Your Clients and Customers

Just as important as Tweeting however, is connecting to other Twitterers. The search feature of Twitter is amazing. Once you’ve created your account, search for people with similar interests. Find existing clients and follow them. Find potential new clients tweeting about products or services that you offer and connect with them. The possibilities are endless.

Brand Your Twitter Page

This goes beyond just filling out the basic information that Twitter asks. A plain twitter page is boring. Make sure that you grab the eye of anyone who visits your site with a custom background. And make sure that this background is consistent with the look of your site and any other promotional material you use.

If you want to display more information than the basic twitter fields allow (and you should!), make sure that that background includes all of this extra information on the top left-hand side of the screen.

Let Us Help!

Still unsure if Tweeting is right for you? Need help figuring out how to get started? Contact us for help with your Internet Marketing and Branding! We’re working on this type of work for a few clients now, and are always looking to help more people.

As always, if you have any questions or are interested in help getting your website started or improved upon, feel free to get in touch with me either at nlandis@sysgenmedia.com or (631) 343-2211!

Last week, as I was browsing various websites that I frequent, I stumbled upon an interesting blog post titled: The Myth of the Rational Buyer: How Too Much Thinking Can Hurt Your Brand. It was an interesting read, and to sum up the relevant portion of the article,  it states that many buyers don’t think rationally and that sometimes saying too much gets them thinking too much… and then they don’t buy your product.

From personal experience, one of our biggest points of delay when setting up a new website for a client is getting content from them about their business, product, or whatever they else they want to talk about on their website. Perhaps they are just thinking about it too much.

Take the iPod packaging for example. iPod

It’s sparse, with just a bit of detail of the product and the iPod itself. In short, it’s brilliant.

While an approach that’s this sparse probably won’t work for everyone, perhaps it’s a good model to follow to a point.

On the other end of the spectrum, check out this youtube parody of what would happen if Microsoft created the iPod package.

My Point

If you’re having trouble figuring out exactly what to put on your website, just keep it simple. Especially in this age of information overload, many people really don’t take the time to read more than the first few things they see. Instead, as a starting point, just get the facts out and get your website online.

As always, if you have any questions or are interested in help getting your website started or improved upon, feel free to get in touch with me either at nlandis@sysgenmedia.com or (631) 343-2211!