Catalog

This section is intended for both site designers and maintainers of sites where the Catalog and Shopping Cart is enabled.

The catalog templates for this system are located in the document root of the site.  The base catalog template is called catalog.tp1.  The product display template is called product.tp1.

Overview: A catalog is way to arrange information in categories with individual entries.  Normally these are products but other things can be so arranged.  Although, we refer to "products" these entities can be anything  which can fit into a "catalog" structure.  Products and Categories can have additional and re-purposed fields (e.g., multiple option fields in a product, no long description in a category).  This help file describes the standard setup.  Please contact your site developer or CyberStrategies, Inc. if you have special requirements.  As the visitor goes through the site they will select products which will be placed into a "shopping cart".  When they are done they will go to a "checkout" page where they will enter billing, shipping and payment information.  Upon validation of payment they will be taken to a "thank you page and a confirming email sent to their email address.  Optionally they will be able to track when their order was prepared for shipment.

Catalog Elements:

  • Categories are entities which can contain one or more other categories or "products".  You can view a catalog as a tree with branches.  Unlike a real tree, both categories and 'products' can appear under more than one parent category.  If the site supports restricting access to content pages then it is also possible to restrict access to Categories. 
  • Products.  Think of the leaves at the end of the category "branches".  
    • Information about individual products including images, etc.  
    • Products can be arranged into groups if they are similar as a Parent Product (contains common description and images, but can't be ordered) and Child Products (what you can actually order).  For example a shirt with a particular pattern may come in several sizes.
    • Each separate product has its own unique SKU or Product ID and for sites which support on-line inventory tracking, available quantity (except for parent products which can't be ordered since they exist only to hold information).
      Products may also have other characteristics which may vary without needing a separate SKU.  The system calls them Options (e.g., type of packaging).
    • The system can (optionally) track the quantity of a product available and prevent ordering of out of inventory items. Items which are not purchased within a specified period will be returned to inventory as the system picks up abandoned shopping carts. Note: great care must be take if inventory and product options are combined, child products are normally a better fit for systems with inventory.That is, in a system which tracks available inventory, options should be limited to changes in a product which can be added to a product, e.g., a special kind of packaging or for those products for which there is an infinite supply (e.g., items which will be drop shipped from the manufacturer and which share the same SKU).
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Arranging a Catalog
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  • Categories can be assigned to none, one or more parent category.  For example, jeans could appear under Men's Pants as well as Casual Clothes.
  • Products, either those without child products or the parent products can appear under multiple categories.  The maximum number of parent categories under which a single product can appear is site dependent. 
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Templates:  Unlike the content management system there are three page templates for the basic catalog system.
  • The base Catalog template is used to display the list of all the categories in a catalog, details about a single category as well as the categories under it together with the products in it,  and to display the shopping cart containing the items the visitor has selected.
  • A product display template which is used to display just a single product or a parent product and its children.
  • The secure buy page template.  A separate template is needed because the addresses of images on the secure server are different than on the non-secure server.
  • Optional templates exist for the Thank You Page and Order Tracking Page if these are implemented on your site. If no template is provided, the system will use built-in generic templates. 

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Online Purchases:

  • Products can be marked as taxable or not.  The system can support both location based taxing (State by State) as well as location and "weight" based shipping. 
    • If a product's "weight" is marked as -1 then the system will report that manual calculation of shipping weight will be required.
    • The units of weight (e.g, pounds, ounces, or whatever) just need to agree with the units set in the shipping tables.  If you want shipping to be based on the total cost of a shipment, then just put the unit price in the weight column.
    • The system uses the total weight (assuming nothing has the '-1' flag set) to determine the shipping cost of an item.  Shipment above the maximum weight for shipment  (or which have a product with a '-1' weight) are flagged as requiring manual calculations.
      • The system can support a single method, distance independent shipping system (e.g., the USPS Priority Mail) with a maximum weight .
      • The system can also support zone based shipping with multiple methods.  Not every method need support every shipping zone and may have different maximum allowed weight depending on zone.  Assuming the shipment does not have a '-1' flagged item, only applicable shipping method will be shown. If it contains a flagged item, the system will indicate manual shipping cost is required.
    • The system will use the State code or the State/Province and Country code for the shipping destination.
  • The system can also be configured to support the electronic delivery of products.
  • The system will accept those credit card types acceptable to the site as well as optionally, purchase order and facsimile orders. 
    • All credit card purchases have the number validated for structural correctness (i.e., the number matches the format for the type of card specified and the expiation date is in the future)
    • Real time credit card charging is supported and is recommended for high volume sites.  It is up to the site owner to provide configuration information to CyberStrategies, Inc.   Currently, Authorize Net and First Data have been tested.  These and other services normally charge a higher fee for real time processing so we do not recommend it as the initial configuration or for low volume sites.
    • Payment by PayPal is also supported, but the site owner is responsible for forcing transactions via a special link, when PayPal fails to report the transaction as being completed (usually because the visitor fails to hit the return to site button).   Since the actual payment occurs on PayPal's computers, unless they click this link there is no way for our servers to know whether they changed their mind an walked away or just failed to click the return to site button.  Owners of sites which accept PayPal payments need to check that the order went through whenever they receive the email notification of a payment from PayPal.
    • If real time charges (either via a special process on our servers or vial PayPal) are enabled, care must be taken to ensure that there are no flagged items in the catalog and that the tables cover all possible weights for all zones or no shipping will be charged.

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Managing Catalogs and Orders:

  • Orders: press this button to access orders, prepare packing slips and get payment details.  
  • Discount Codes (opt.): allow discounts to be applied to entire orders.  May require special code and can be limited to specific shipping zones.
  • Option Groups: specify the various options which can be applied to specific products.
  • Options: once option groups are defined, this button allows you to describe the options within a group including their effect on costs
  • Categories: define categories and relate categories to each other. 
  • Products: define products, relate products to each other and put them under one or more categories.
  • Shipping (opt.): for sites using multi-method shipping, this is where you upload the new files.
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