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Managing Search Fields

Understanding Custom Search Fields

The following information applies to ProductCart version 3.5 and above. Previous versions contained a limitation to 3 Custom Search Fields per product, and the features ”Drill Down Navigation” and “Search Field Mappings” were not available.

Custom Search Fields are an extremely powerful feature in ProductCart. Here are some of the things that they allow you to do:

  • Display Additional Product Properties
    Custom Search Fields allow you to display product information on the product details page separately from the product description, with each field linking to other products that share the same property (e.g. on a wine store you could see all wine from 1995 with one click).
  • Use Additional Search Filters on the advanced search page
    Custom Search Fields, when setup to be visible in the storefront, can become additional search filters added to the advanced search page (search.asp). These additional search criteria are shown in the Filter by section of the page, which is only visible if custom search filters have been assigned to active products in the store. The first drop-down menu contains the field name (e.g. “Made In”), while the second drop-down shows all the values associated with that field name that are being used on the store (e.g. “USA”, “China”, “Italy”, etc.). When the user selects an entry from the first drop-down menu, the second menu is populated automatically with the corresponding values. Note that not all search field values are shown, but only the ones that are associated with active products. In ProductCart v3.5 and above you can use multiple filters at the same time, on the same search.
  • Allow for Drill-Down Navigation
    This is a feature that becomes incredibly useful to your customers when they are dealing with large product categories. For example, assume you sell computer printers and the “Printers” category contains 200 products. How can your customers quickly narrow down the list by type of printer (e.g. Inkjet vs. Laser), operating system (e.g. Windows vs. Mac), etc.? That's what ”Drill Down Navigation” is for.
  • Use Additional Product Properties when Exporting a Data Feed
    Custom Search Fields can be hidden in the storefront and become strictly “product properties” used for other purposes. For example, you can use them to import, store and export product specific information such as the UPC, MPN, or ISBN codes. These are useful when creating data feeds for comparison shopping engines and product directories (e.g. Google Base, Live Search Cashback, etc.).

Whilst the use of Custom Search Fileds can be very useful, they should be used sparingly if possible. Where many Custom Search Fields are used we have seen performance issues in the drill down searching. We will endevorto review the reasons behind this in the future, but in the meanwhile we recommend defining them starting with the most important and testing the impact on the performance as you go - it's a balancing act between adding functionality through additional search fields and keeping performance acceptable.

Adding and Editing Custom Search Fields

Log into your ProductCart Control Panel and select Products > Manage Custom Fields > Manage Custom Search Fields. This is the page where you can:

  • Add a new custom search field
  • Edit its name and some useful properties
  • Associate field values with it
  • Associate product categories with it

Managing Custom Search Fields

Add a new custom search field

At the bottom of the page there is a form entitled “Add new custom search field:”. To add a new custom search field fill out the form as described below.

1. Fill out the following details:

  • Field Name - The title of the search field.
  • Field Order - The order in which the search field will be displayed.
  • Display Options - Allows you to show or hide the search field in different areas of the shopping cart. For instance, you can create a search field for drill down navigation and hide it from the search page. To show a field check the box next to one or more of following choices:
    • Display on the Advanced Search pages in the Control Panel
    • Display on the Advanced Search page in the storefront (search.asp)
    • Display on the Modify Product page in the Control Panel
    • Display on the Product Details page in the storefront (viewPrd.asp)

2. Click the Add New button

Edit its name and some useful properties

Use this page to edit any of the options you selected when you created your search field in the previous steps. To edit the search field be sure to check the box on the left hand region of the page next to field you wish to edit, or select “Check All”. Edit any of the options listed below.

  • Field Name
  • Field Order
  • CP Search - Display on the Advanced Search pages in the Control Panel
  • SF Search - Display on the Advanced Search page in the storefront (search.asp)
  • CP Details - Display on the Modify Product page in the Control Panel
  • SF Details - Display on the Product Details page in the storefront (viewPrd.asp)

When you have finished editing the values click Update Selected to save.

Associate field values with it

Next to each search field is a set of icons. Click the first icon to add values to your search field. If you are not sure which icon to click just roll your mouse pointer over the icon to view what it does. When you click on the “Display Values” icon you will be taken to a page called “Manage Search Field Values”. To add your new value simply type its name in the “New Value” field. Then type its order in the “Order” field. Lastly, click the Add New button.

Associate product categories with it

Next to each search field is a set of icons. Click the third icon to associate product categories to your search field. If you are not sure which icon to click just roll your mouse pointer over the icon to view what it does. When you click on the “Show Categories Associated with this search field” icon you will view a pop-up that works exactly like the category assignment tool on the product details page. A pop-up window will allow you to easily check or uncheck the categories that the selected search field should be assigned to or removed from. When you are done, click on Update and you will be returned to the custom search field page. For more information about using product categories and search fields view the Drill-down Navigation Widget.

Add Custom Search Field to Products

Log into your ProductCart Control Panel and select Products > Manage Custom Fields. Select the link called Add a custom search field to selected products under the Manage Custom Search Fields heading. You have two options for adding a custom search field to selected products.

Using an existing custom search field

  1. Select the Text to display - Choose from any existing search field title
  2. Select the Existing Value - Choose any value associated the previous option
  3. Type a New Value if none of the Existing Values apply
  4. Type a Value Order for the new value
  5. Click the Continue button to search for products
  6. Check the products you want to associate with the search field
  7. Click the Apply Custom Field button to save

Adding a new custom search field

To add a new custom search field and associate it with one or more products fill out the form under the Adding a new custom search field heading.

1. Fill out the following details:

  • Field Name - The title of the search field.
  • Field Order - The order in which the search field will be displayed.
  • Display Options - Allows you to show or hide the search field in different areas of the shopping cart. For instance, you can create a search field for drill down navigation and hide it from the search page. To show a field check the box next to one or more of following choices:
    • Display on the Advanced Search pages in the Control Panel
    • Display on the Advanced Search page in the storefront (search.asp)
    • Display on the Modify Product page in the Control Panel
    • Display on the Product Details page in the storefront (viewPrd.asp)

2. Click the Continue button to search for products

3. Check the products you want to associate with the search field

4. Click the Apply Custom Field button to save

Add Custom Search Fields to Categories

Different categories may use completely different Custom Search Fields. For example, on an electronics store, the drill-down navigation filters that you will want your customers to see when browsing “Flat Panel TVs” are completely different from those that are used when navigating “Laptop Computers”.

The drill-down navigation filters are the Custom Search Fields associated with that category.

To associate Custom Search Fields with one or more categories, log into your ProductCart Control Panel and select Products > Manage Custom Fields. Select the link called Add a custom search field to selected categories under the Manage Custom Search Fields heading. You have two options for adding a custom search field to selected categories.

Using an existing custom search field

  1. Select the Text to display - Choose from any existing search field title
  2. Click the Continue button to search for categories
  3. Check the categories you want to associate with the search field
  4. Click the Apply Custom Field button to save

Adding a new custom search field

To add a new custom search field and associate it with one or more categories fill out the form under the Adding a new custom search field heading.

1. Fill out the following details:

  • Field Name - The title of the search field.
  • Field Order - The order in which the search field will be displayed.
  • Display Options - Allows you to show or hide the search field in different areas of the shopping cart. For instance, you can create a search field for drill down navigation and hide it from the search page. To show a field check the box next to one or more of following choices:
    • Display on the Advanced Search pages in the Control Panel
    • Display on the Advanced Search page in the storefront (search.asp)
    • Display on the Modify Product page in the Control Panel
    • Display on the Product Details page in the storefront (viewPrd.asp)

2. Click the Continue button to search for categories

3. Check the categories you want to associate with the search field

4. Click the Apply Custom Field button to save

Mapping Custom Search Fields to Export Fields

When you create a data feed to post product information to systems such as Google Product Search and Microsoft Bing Shopping, it is important to include standardized product information such as the MPN (Manufacturer Product Number), UPC (Universal Product Code), and ISBN (International Standard Book Number). These pieces of information allow comparison shopping engines to quickly identify products as being the same item, even if the product names uploaded by the different merchants might not match exactly. Google Product Search now (summer 2011) requires this information for most products.

You can use Custom Search Fields to assign this information to products in your store catalog, and then use it when exporting product data feeds. This feature is a huge time saver. Just follow these instructions:

  1. Add the Custom Search Fields to the system. When you do so, remember to configure them so that they are not used as search filters (leave all 4 “Display Options” unchecked). For example, you could add three Custom Search Fields named MPN, UPC, and ISBN (or anything else you need to have specified at the product level).
  2. Export a simple list of your products (e.g. even just a single column CSV file with the SKU).
  3. Add columns to your spreadsheet named exactly as the Custom Search Fields you created.
  4. Import the file back into ProductCart to update your existing product information. During the Import Wizard, map the columns you added to “Custom Search Field (1)”, “Custom Search Field (2)”, and “Custom Search Field (3)” respectively. The information will be saved to the product database.
  5. Select “Products > Manage Custom Fields > Manage Custom Search Fields” and click on the “Map to Export Fields” button. You will then be able to match your new Custom Search Fields to Export Fields that are used when creating product data feeds.

You're done. Next time you create a Google Product Search or Microsoft Bing Shopping data feed, ProductCart will automatically populate that information for you.

When you use Custom Search Fields as described in this section, there are potentially thousands of values associated with each field, since there is a one-to-one relationship between field value and part number. For this reason, they should never be used as search filters. Otherwise, you could create performance problems. Set the Display Options mentioned above so that “Display on the Advanced Search pages…” in the Control Panel and the storefront is set to NO. A long list of UPC codes on the advanced search page would not be very helpful anyway!

Using Custom Search Fields for Drill-Down Navigation

Technical Information about Custom Search Fields

Increasing the number of search filters shown

How Custom Search Fields are stored


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