XML Files for Google Webmasters, Bing and others

XML sitemaps

If you have no clue what these are or how they can be good for your site, read https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/156184

I have take the time to create a better system for producing osCommerce specific sitemaps. By clicking one link in your admin area, you will produce 4 XML Sitemaps, ready for use:

1. Categories
2. Manufacturers
3. Products
4. Special Offers

You can use any or all of these to do wonderful things.

This new system has ZERO core code changes. It has been tested on a site with over 1500 categories and 23000 products – all 4 sitemaps were produced in less than a few seconds.

This new system will be made available in my next Newsletter which is due in the next week, if you have not yet signed up for the Newsletter, please do so at http://www.clubosc.com/oscommerce-news-and-updates.html

Featured XML Image courtesy of Hopstarter

osCommerce News and Updates

I’m going to be emailing once or twice month – and each mail will contain interesting news, maybe a special offer, maybe some free code that no-one else gets.

You can sign up by inserting your email address into the form below and click “subscribe”. Nice and easy.
It’s a Mailchimp list so if you subscribe, you can easily unsubscribe should you wish to.



So, if you want to learn about the possibilities that YOUR shop can bring you, sign up today and wait for the next Newsletter.

Guest Checkout? Customer Actions…

If you are running any flavour of guest checkout, it is likely that your buyers have no way to easily perform after-sale actions. Typical examples would be;

1. Contact you about the order
Of course they could do this via your contact_us form, but they would have to somehow find their order number. Or you, the shopowner would have to waste time trying to marry up and order to the customers name or email address.

2. Leave a review
Once again, they could do this via the contact_us form. Shopowner, that’s you, would have to waste more time in (a) marrying up the customer and product and (b) somehow getting it into the reviews structure on your site

3. See their Order and Order Comments
It’s really dumb not to give customer the opportunity to see their order after the order is finalised. In addition why not allow the customer to track their order via your system of order updates.

Most shopowners who use osCommerce (with guest checkout) probably have never even thought about allowing guest to perform after sale actions. WHY ?

Let’s take just one part of this argument; Reviews

What is a customer review; CONTENT
What is a customer review; WORD OF MOUTH

Next up consider that the Reviews at your shop are fully microdata’d which ALL the major search engines love…and that the review posted is going to be custom content that your site (AND ONLY YOUR SITE) has! Win, Win, WIN.

Why the hell are you shopowners not able to see the wood for the trees? Get a system into place that allows both guest customers and regular customers to easily review the product(s) they have purchased. It’s pretty damned simple…

When an order is made:

1. Give it a random token, stored in the database against the customer ID.
2. Make customer aware of the Token, perhaps by email
3. Have a new page on which;
3a. the token is inserted, this gets the customer ID, which in turn shows the order summary, order update, and a form to give a review, and so on.

THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

Make it easy for your customers, make it easy for yourself. Let the software do the heavy lifting.

All of the above is available, now which shopowners want to see a brighter future for themselves – I’m betting not more than 2 or 3…if you are one of those few Band of Brothers, email me.

osCommerce and Mandrill

Lots of hosts have now placed rules and limits on emails, so if you are one of those shopowners having problems with emails being sent and received, maybe it’s time to use Mandrill to send and receive email…

What is Mandrill

A system that allows you to send Transactional Emails (eg; contact us, order updates and so on) via the Mandrill App, completely bypassing your hosts email system. The “from” address is still your own email address, so it is completely transparent to those who receive emails from you. Read more about Mandrill.

Upside:
You can track emails.
You can resend emails direct from the MandrillApp interface.
Better uptime than your host!

Downside:
There is a cost attached.
1 off cost to me: £20 for installation of the system to cover my coding time.
Ongoing to Mandrill: It is (as of todays date) $9.95 for 25000 emails per month, however the first 2000 emails are free so that you can test the system before deciding to continue with it.

Interested? Get in touch.

Working With Mailchimp – Advanced …

Some time ago, I created a Mailchimp Module that allows osCommerce and Mailchimp to work hand in hand, with some very nice features (eg, ajaxy sign up for both registered customers and non-customers). As this module is a superior approach to all the other available osc<>mailchimp efforts, I was approached to write a new version of Mailchimp that allowed the possibility of working with Groups.

In Mailchimp, Groups are used as “sub sets” of the Main List, which allows you (the list owner) to send email to one or more subsets.

Typical Example: Let’s imagine that you own a Pet Shop, where you sell products for a number of animals; Dogs, Cats, Rats, Hamsters, Gerbils

You must agree that only a very very few of your clients are interested in all 5 of those Animals. It is far more likely that a customer has 1 or 2 of those animals…

In Normal Mailchimp: You have 1 list. You have no idea what animal(s) the subscriber is interested in. You send an email to tell people about a super new offer for Gerbils. How many uninterested people will read your email ?

In the ALL NEW Grouped Mailchimp: You have 1 list with 5 subsets (each of those Animals). You can now send an email only to those on the list who have signed up to “gerbils”. 100% of your readership is now interested.

I’m certain you can think of more examples that can be applied to your own shop. Please comment if you can think of any examples that could be good for your shop…and I will update this post with your ideas (and a link to your shop if you want it)…

Here is how it looks on the Newsletter Page:

mc-groups

This can also (very easily) be plugged into the Account Creation page, to allow people to sign up to your Mailing List at that point.

Conclusion

By utilising the Groups feature in Mailchimp, you can target your customers with pinpoint accuracy – and avoid the usual scatterbomb approach. Work smart, work better.

Interested to purchase

Email me or get me on the Forum.

Summer Blowout is nearly here

Last year I ran a Summer Blowout where I sold a few pieces of code. It’s time to run another. Here’s what is in the pot so far;

Content Modules

  1. Account Logoff Link
  2. Blog Feed
  3. Customer Trust Modules
  4. Maps GeoCode

Hooks

  1. MATC (popup)

Header Tags

  1. AdRoll SmartPixel
  2. Facebook Custom Audience Pixel
  3. Google Analytics
  4. Google Remarketing
  5. Member Approval
  6. SiteLinks SearchBox

Social Bookmarks

  1. Tumblr

Standalone Scripts

  1. Google Merchant Feed
  2. Image Swapping via Attributes
  3. Price Updating Suite
  4. Google Remarketing
  5. Member Approval
  6. SiteLinks SearchBox
  7. Attributes Stocktaking

More things to be added. In the coming week I’ll post more about each of these…

Responsive Template “Jesse” for osCommerce – Bootstrap…

Here is the very latest template for the Responsive osCommerce:

jesse-large

As you can see, the layout has just the main column. The sideboxes are not useful anymore, as everything needed can now be found in the header and footer.

The template comes in a very easy to install format. Simply upload a few new modules and turn them on, with NO core code changes. It as simple as going into your shop admin and clicking a few buttons.

The only file that is changed is the “new products for month” module on the index page – this has a slightly different layout to the standard responsive layout – of course, this is an option that you might choose not to install.

The base colour scheme comes as standard in 2 shades of green, along with two shades of grey. These colours are incredibly easy to change, just find a colour you like and change the user.css file to match.

It also comes with carousel module which is linked to the Banner Manager in admin – again making it incredibly easy to set up sliding banners.

Demo

Want to see the Demo? Have a play with the site, maybe open it in both your normal computer and your mobile phone or tablet. This will give you a flavour of how responsive the template is.

To use this template, you need to be using the Responsive osCommerce, the standard osCommerce will not do.

How to buy?

Get yourself over to my template site and click the Buy Button.

Why osCommerce was the king and is now the pauper

For the past decade and more, the users of osCommerce have wanted more say in what happens next, where it goes, how it is. That say was never granted, not once, ever. I fought to get the community a say, and I succeeded. I started a new vision of what osCommerce could be and asked time and time again for the community to pitch in and help to make osCommerce once again punch at it’s weight…

What help did I get?

From shopowners

– a few shopowners started helping out until they got enough “shop” to use on their live site, then they disappeared.
– a few shopowners tested bits and pieces, then they disappeared
– one or two great guys, who really got into it, and gave some excellent help.

But mainly, what I got from shopowners was a feeling that I should not be trying to move osCommerce forward, that osCommerce belongs to them and that I, as a mere developer, should ask “how high” when they say “jump”. That feeling manifested itself by way of email, private message and even out in the open forum. Well guys – you’ve lost the chance to have any further say.

From developers

– 1 developer got into the idea and started the admin changes
– a few other developers came up with singular bits and pieces
– lately other developers started to come up with ideas and code

But mainly what I got from developers was even more abuse than shopowners gave. All of the developers who contacted me rely on copy and paste, or adding addons to shopowners sites. Of course with the new osCommerce all that is gone. There is no more amend 50 files to do something incredibly simple, now it’s drop in a new mofdule, enter admin and turn it on. The developers are scared that they would lose business. They could not see that these new modules need careful code, and great attention to detail. They could not see that professional people running shops have no problem paying for perfect code. All they could see was that they had to learn new tricks and they did not want to…

As it turns out, the majority of the community is just not interested in a new osCommerce. In return I have no further interest in the community.

My involvement at the forum is over, save for my general duty as a spambuster…I won’t be reading any more posts, I won’t be replying to posts, I won’t be making status updates, I won’t be liking content, I won’t be starting any more discussion threads.

I won’t be spending 1 more minute helping to code the community version of osCommerce.

For me it’s over – thanks to a very vocal bunch of shopowners and developers who failed to see to what was right in front of them, a new osCommerce, built by them, for them, with shopowners input from start to finish. As of right now, it’s back to how it was; you get what you get when you get it.

Thanks to that handful of great guys for your support over the last 12 months, I do mean that for those who “got it”, the discussion threads, the modules, the hooks and all the rest of the cool stuff.

To those “hot air” developers and shopowners who talked much and did nothing – EPIC FAIL – polite golf clap.

What this means is that I can give more attention to my clients needs, so don’t be afraid to contact me, as I have more time to give you these days 🙂

Product Groups – for Bootstrap osCommerce

This system allows you to easily and quickly attach products into groups or sets. Each of these sets has it’s own page. This is fantastic if you have products across multiple categories, that can also be sold or displayed as one set of products.

A typical example could be clothing, where you can put together an outfit.. hat, scarf, top, belt, trousers, shoes…

Admin Side (adding of group(s)):

24-admin-1

Admin Side (adding of product(s) into group):

24-admin-11

Shop Side (display of chosen products in a selected group):

24-shop-1

Of course there is also the usual extras such as a side column box to allow people to see the groups/sets you have set up:

24-shop-2

And a Video to show it all in action:

Interested? Cost is £39. Of course, this is for the system you see in the video, customised changes can easily be made on a shop to shop basis, should you require changes.

Get in touch by email if you would like to purchase or if you have questions.