How to Use eCommerce on the CreateCo Cloud Platform
This is a post intended for clients of CreateCo as a reference for using our digital cloud infrastructure to build a custom environment to suit your specific needs. While you may find the information below useful, as it generally applies to a basic eCommerce website, it provides the concepts necessary to use our system to manage internal and external processes alike.
If you have a navigation item labeled Products in your WordPress administration area that looks like the image to the right, you have eCommerce on the CreateCo Cloud Platform installed and configured on your website. Here we'll walk through how to use eCommerce on the CreateCo Cloud Platform to sell items on your website.
Creating & Managing Products
The heart and soul of your online store is your products. Without products, there’s nothing for someone to buy, so pay particularly close attention to this section. Let’s walk through adding a product first.
How to Add a Product to eCommerce on the CreateCo Cloud Platform
- In WordPress, click Products > Create New in the left hand navigation menu.
- In the first field, give your product a name. This is also known as the Title of the product.
- In the Content Editor you can add a description of your product, including uploading additional images and embedding HTML.
- Product Details. This is where you assign some primary values to the product. These include:
- SKUif your product has a SKU number, you can add it here. This is optional
- Price is the normal price of the item.
- Sale Price can also be added. First, check the box next to the Sale Price label, and then enter in the Sale Price. It will be displayed, next to the original price on the front end. When the item ceases to be on sale, just come back and untick this box.
- Inventory can be used to set the number of items you have. This will automatically decrease as items are purchased, and you can set up notifications to be emailed to you when the product runs low. More on that below.
- Add Variation allows you to have one product with different options, such as a t-shirt that comes in small, medium and large or a bicycle wheel that comes in 24″ or 28″ It will simply add another row to this section where you can fill in the additional details.
- External Link can be used if you are selling a product that is actually on another site, such as selling a song on iTunes or a book that’s over on Amazon. The user will be directed to that site when they click the button on the front end, rather than having the item added to their cart directly on your website.
- Shipping can be set globally (see the Products > Store Settings area below), but you can add additional shipping costs here if this item needs it. An example might be if you’re selling an anvil, and of course it’s incredibly heavy and therefore comes with an additional shipping cost, or if you’re sending something very fragile and need to charge extra for the time and materials it takes to package it properly.
- Product Download. Enter a URL here if you are selling something that can be downloaded, like an eBook or mp3 file. After the user has paid, they’ll be given a link to download the file.
- Excerpt can be used to customize the text snippet that appears in search results pages and elsewhere on the site where the full description is not shown.
- Author is simply the name of the WordPress administrator who initially created the item. This can be changed if you'd like, to assign someone else to the product.
- Product Image. This is the primary image of the product and is displayed anywhere the product is shown.
- Product Categories. This allows you to place your products into categories, which can be viewed and sorted through by users on the front end. More information on categories below in Products > Product Categories.
- Product Tags can be used to tag a product. Tags are just additional pieces of information that can be associated with a product that might not be able to be included in the main description. They can help with SEO and user navigation.
- Publish. This box allows you to set how the product will be viewed on the front page (and also to actually create the product in the first place). There are a few options:
- Save Draft allows you to save any changes you’ve made to the product without actually putting it live to the site yet.
- Status can be set to Draft (meaning the product isn't live on the front end of your site),Pending Review (which means it was probably created by a Contributor vs. an Administrator, and needs to be reviewed before going live to the site), and Published (which is only an option after the product has actually been published live to the site).
- Visibility can be set to Public (which means that as soon as the product is published, it will be visible to anyone on the front end of the site), Password Protected (which allows you to set a password for the product, which a user on the front end would need to enter to view it) and Private (which means only logged in Administrators can see the product on the front end).
- Published on tells you the date the product was first published. You can set this into the future if you don't want a product to be available for, say, a week from now, or not until next Christmas Eve, etc.
- Move to Trash deletes the product. You can retrieve it by going to Products > Products in the left navigation and clicking Trashed near the top of that page.
- Publish / Update. When first creating a product, clicking Publish will put it live to the front end (contingent on the other settings you’ve configured here). When editing an existing product, this button will read Update.
How to Manage Existing Products
Go to Products > Products in WordPress. You’ll be presented with a list of the existing products you’ve created along with some basic information about the product. You can hover over a product to Edit, Trash or View it.
From this page you can also use the All, Published, Drafts and Trash links to sort between viewing all products, just those that are published or still in draft form, and view those you’ve thrown in the trash. These links will only appear when appropriate (ie, if you have no Draft products, that link won't be visible).
List of current products in eCommerce on the CreateCo Cloud Platform
Products > Product Categories
Here you can view all of your existing product categories, add new ones, and edit or delete existing ones.
How to Manage Your Orders
- ClickProducts > Manage Orders
- You’ll be presented with a list of all current orders in a table format you should be familiar with by now. Here you can view each order with some pertinent information about the order displayed right there, including the Order ID (unique value that can be used by customers and staff to assist with any issues that might arise with an order), the date it was ordered, who ordered it, and quantity & pricing information. The status of the order will also be presented here, which can be Received(indicating that the order was placed but payment has not gone through yet, typically doesn’t apply if you use PayPal for checkout), Paid, Shipped or Closed. More info on status types below.
- Click on the Order ID to see more details about the order.
- You’ll be taken to a new screen,Order Details. From here you can:
- View the details of the order, such as what they bought, quantity of each item and price, along with the number of times they’ve downloaded a product (if it’s a downloadable product).
- Other information such as whether or not they had aCoupon Code, the Total amount of their order, and any special instructions they may have included in their order.
- Shipping Information including of course their address, the cost of shipping that was charged, and a form where you can enter in the tracking code that is provided to you by your shipping provider. So once you process the order and ship it, you can get the tracking number from UPS, FedEx, etc. and paste it in here. ClickSave or Save & Mark as Shipped and the customer will receive an email indicating that their order has been shipped along with the details (including tracking information).
- Order Noteswhich will appear on the page the customer can visit to view the status of their order.
- Payment & Status Informationis listed in the right column.
- You can click any of the Status types in the top right box as well, which will allow you to keep the customer updated as to where their order is at.
How to Manage the Details of Your Store
Now that we’ve covered how you can create and manage products, we’ll get into more detail as to how you can fine tune the settings of your store, if needed. Note that the following options can greatly affect how your store operates, the amount of tax applied, who can buy items, and much more. It is possible to break your store if you mess this stuff up, so please read carefully and proceed with caution!
To get to your store’s settings area, go to Products > Store Settings. You’ll be presented with a list of tabs which we’ll cover one at a time here. I will have initially set all of this up for you, but you can make changes (except where noted below) where applicable.
Here you can set the following settings:
- Location Settings. This should be set to wherever your main office is located.
- Tax Ratecan be entered and will be applied to all products, along with some settings as to whether or not to apply tax to shipping and if tax should be included with the product’s price when listed on the front end of the site, or shown separately.
- Currency Settingsso you can choose what type of currency is being used on the site, and the format prices should be displayed.
- Miscellaneous Settings
- Inventory Threshold When a product gets to X number of items, you’ll receive an email notifying you that it’s low on stock. Set that number here.
- Maximum Downloads is the number of times a user can download a product, for those products which can be delivered digitally.
- Force Login Do you require users to register and login before they can purchase a product?
- Products Listing Only This is not recommended and your site has not been configured for this, unless you’ve specifically been told that it has.
- Google Analytics I will have already set this up for you, so unless you’re aware of a reason to change it, I don’t recommend it.
- Special Instructions simply provides a field during checkout for customers to enter in any special instructions.
In this area you can create and manage existing coupons. It’s a pretty self-explanatory interface. To create a new coupon:
- In theAdd a Coupon section, near the bottom, enter a Coupon Code, which can be any combination of letters and numbers.
- Choose whether it’s a percentage or dollar amount discount, and enter the amount. So for a 10% discount, enter the number10 into the input field and choose % from the dropdown. For a $50 discount, enter 50 into the field, and choose$ from the dropdown.
- Choose aStart and End Date.
- You can enter a number into theAllowed Uses field to restrict how many times the coupon could be used. Good for “first 50 customers get a 20% discount” type of scenario.
You can check the box to the left of any existing coupons and click Delete to remove the coupon, or click the Edit button to make changes to it.
Here you can theoretically change the appearance of your store. However, I do not recommend this as configuring the store is a big job, and your store has likely been configured to match your site. Changing anything here could make your site look ugly or downright break it. Seriously.
You can manage the content of various emails and that are sent out by the store here, as well as some aspects of certain pages on your store (such as Order Confirmation pages, etc.). There are a variety of codes you can use, which are listed near their appropriate Content Editor.
There are several ways to customize your shipping options & functionality:
- General Settings > Choose Target Countries. Check off any countries that you are willing to ship to. If a country isn't selected here, it won't be available during the checkout process (and therefore people from those countries can't really buy anything from you).
- Select Shipping Method allows you to set how shipping costs will be calculated.
- Flat Rate allows you to set one price for shipping (based on where they’re located, so you can set one shipping rate for the lower 48 states, one for Hawaii & Alaska, one for Canada, and one for everyone else)
- Table Rate allows you to set a shipping cost based on how much they spend (again, with each of the regions above broken out). So you might charge $5 for shipping if they only buy $50 worth of items, $10 if they buy $100 worth of items, and $0 if they buy over $100 worth.
- Per Item. Note that this only allows you to create shipping costs associated with dollar amounts. To assign a rate to a particular item, edit that item via Products > Products and set a specific shipping rate for that particular item.
Here you can change the method by which you accept payment. I will have already set this up for you initially, and making any changes here requires you to know what you’re doing with the various required settings. It will also change the user experience on the front end, and if you don't enter the information correctly, can seriously break your store (in that people can't checkout and pay, so your store is useless).
Changing any settings here during or after the Beta period will incur additional charges if I need to fix anything that may have been broken.
These are explained in detail on this page. They essentially allow you to add products and other store information on other Pages of your website.
This is a section used more for initial setup and should not be tampered with unless you feel confident that you know what you’re doing. In almost all situations, that won’t be the case.