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Sales Manager


Introduced with ProductCart v4.5, the “Sales Manager” allows merchants to flexibly configure, start, stop, & archive a sale across selected products in the store catalog. You can create multiple sales and run them at the same time, as long as they don't include the same products.

Approach Used

We approached this feature with the goal of minimizing code changes in the ProductCart storefront so that chances of introducing problems in the many areas where price calculations are performed would be minimal. In addition, we did so to make it easier for people that have modified the ProductCart source code in those areas to be able to take advantage of this feature without a major recording effort.

To accomplish these goals, product prices are not edited, but rather replaced when a sale is started. Specifically:

  • Existing prices are backed up to a separate database table
  • Non-sale prices are replaced with the sale prices
  • The storefront uses the same price, which is now a sale price

Feature Limitations

A few important notes before reviewing all the features and settings that the Sales Manager provides:

  • v4.5: Discount Code Field is HIDDEN
    When products are “On Sale”, the default behavior is to HIDE the Discount Code field on the Checkout Page. The reason for this is… that by a significant consensus, the feedback we received from merchants is that they did not want to allow additional discounts when products are also 'On Sale'. However… there is a work around if you still want to allow customers to use Discount Codes when they are purchasing products that are 'On Sale'. Due to time constraints, we didn't have time to add a 'switch' to the ProductCart Control Panel for managing this behavior, so we added a variable to the following files:

To allow discount codes when products in the shopping cart are 'On Sale', locate the following line:

=1: True - Default
=0: False

… and make sure the variable is “0”. This will then allow customers to use a Discount Code during checkout, even when they are purchasing products that are On Sale.

In v4.7, the above setting is applied through the ProductCart Control Panel under 'Settings > Store Settings > Order & Customer Settings (AdminSettings.asp?tab=2)

  • One product = one sale
    The same product cannot be part of two sales, as that scenario would create pricing conflicts. This includes limiting the Sale Price to one Pricing Category.
  • BTO products exclusion
    A Build To Order product cannot be included in a sale. The reason is that managing the price changes at the product configuration item level is simply too complex. Consider - for example - that the prices used in the product configuration can be different from the prices for the same products that are used when those products are sold as stand-alone items on the store. For now we have not found a good way to handle BTO products through the Sales Manager.
  • MS SQL only
    The Sales Manager requires a MS SQL database. If your ProductCart-powered store uses MS Access, you will not be able to use this feature.
  • Quantity discounts remain “as is”
    Quantity discounts are applied to products that are on sale the same as if the products were not on sale.

Creating a New Sale

You can create a new sale from scratch or clone a previously run sale, if any. The cloning feature allows you to quickly create a sale that is very similar (or maybe identical) to one that was run in the past. A friendly wizard will guide you through the steps of creating a new sale.

To create a new sale from scratch: from the Marketing menu, click on Manage Sales > Create New Sale

Choosing Products

The first step is to specify which products will be affected by the sale. ProductCart will display a search form that allows you to locate products that will be included in the sale. Don't worry if you cannot locate all the products you wish to include in the sale with just one search: you will be able to edit the products included in the sale later.

  • Use the search filters to locate the products to be included in the sale
  • On the search results page, all products are checked, so you can easily add them all to the sale by clicking on the Add to the Sale button
  • If there are products listed in the search results that should not be added, uncheck them
  • If multiple pages of results are returned, you can check/uncheck products on any of them before clicking on the Add to the Sale button. ProductCart will remember your selections as you navigation from page to page

Defining the Sale

The next step is to define how product prices will be affected as part of the sale. You can choose between two types of prices changes:

  • Direct Price Change
    • The calculation only involves one price: you are “directly” modifying that price.
    • Select the price that you want to affect with the sale (the ”target” price). Typically, it will be the Online Price. However, you could also create a sale that is reserved to wholesale customers, or to a specific customer pricing category (e.g. preferred customers, resellers, etc.).
    • Indicate how much the target price will change: it can be a percentage amount or an absolute amount
    • Specify whether you want the resulting price to be rounded to the nearest integer or the nearest hundredth
  • Relative Price Change (relative to another price or the product's cost):
    • The calculation involves two prices: the target price and the price used to calculate the change in the target price. For example, you could create an aggressive sale where you are selling certain products barely above their cost: online price = 20% over cost.
    • Select the price that you want to affect with the sale. Typically, it will be the Online Price. However, it may a different price, as mentioned above.
    • Select the price based on which you want to recalculate the target price
    • Indicate the percentage change (e.g. 50% off the List Price, or 120% of the Cost)
    • Specify whether you want the resulting price to be rounded to the nearest integer or the nearest hundredth

Defining the sale with the Sales Manager

In the example above, the store manager is creating a sale that offers a 40% discount on the regular price (the Online Price).

Don't worry too much about the settings you enter on this page:

  • The sale is not live until you start it
  • You will be able to preview the price changes
  • You will be able to change these settings at any time while the sale is “Pending” (has not yet been started)

Previewing the Price Changes

The next step give you a quick preview of how prices will change with this sale. ProductCart picks 5 products from the ones you selected for the sale, and shows you how the price will be affected. The top part of the page provides other summary information on the sale, such as how many items will be affected.

Sales Manager: preview the sale

If the price change is not what you expected, click on “Change Sale Settings” to return to the screen where you can define the price change.

Describing and Saving the Sale

The final step of the the Create New Sale wizard is where you can describe the sale, select an icon that can be shown in the storefront to help your customers quickly identify products that are on sale, and save the sale.

  • Sale Name
    Enter a short name for the sale. It will be used both in the storefront and in the Control Panel
  • Sale Description
    Enter a description for the sale. Use the HTML editor to format it and insert links (e.g. to the official Terms and Conditions of the sale, which you can create using Content Pages).
  • Sale Icon
    Upload a small icon (GIF, JPEG, PNG): the image file will be saved to the “pc/catalog” folder and the file name will be copied to the input field automatically. If the image has already been uploaded to your store, you can use the image search feature to locate it.
  • Products Manager
    Allows you to view and edit the products included in the sale. You can edit the list later, before you start the sale.
  • Sales Recap
    Provides a summary of the sale settings.

Click on “Save Sale” to save the sale.

Describing and saving the sale

Sales Statuses

Once you save a new sale, the sale is “Pending”, can be edited, and is shown together with other Pending sales when you select Sales Manager > View & Edit Pending Sales from the Marketing menu. Here is a list of the different statuses that a Sale can be in.

  • Pending: a new sale that has been saved. The sale can be fully edited.
  • Current or Live: a sale that is currently running. Only the sale name, description, and icon can be edited. Product and price change settings cannot be altered once a sale has been started.
  • Completed: a sale that has been stopped. A a completed sale cannot be restarted, but you can create a new sale by cloning a completed one, which achieves the sale goal of starting a sale that has the same or similar settings.
  • Archived: a completed sale that is moved out of the Current & Completed Sales screen. It no longer contains details about the individual products that had been on sale.

Starting a Sale

Select Sales Manager > View & Edit Pending Sales from the Marketing menu to view a list of Pending sales. Click on the Start icon to start a sale. You will be shown a brief sales summary, which gives you a final chance to confirm that everything looks OK, and to make changes, if you need to.

Starting a sale with the ProductCart Sales Manager

If the number of products shown is different from the number of products you originally selected, the reason is that some of those products must still be part of another active sale. You have 3 options:

  1. Stop the other sale
  2. Start the current sale with the products that are not already included in other, running sales
  3. Wait to start the current sale until the other sale has been stopped

When all of the products in sale B are included in sale A, and sale A is already running, the system will return the following message if you try to start sale B: ”There's a problem. The sale - “as is” - does not affect any product(s) in your store. They might already be 'on sale', or may have been removed from your store. You need to edit the sale and change the product selection.

Viewing & Editing a Live Sales

Select Sales Manager > Current & Completed Sales from the Marketing menu to view a list of sales that are currently running. When a sale is Live, you can:

  • View - but not edit - the items that are on sale
  • Edit the sale name, description, and the icon used in the storefront
  • Stop the sale
  • View a list of orders placed for items that are on sale

Stopping a Sale

Select Sales Manager > Current & Completed Sales from the Marketing menu to view a list of sales that are currently running or have recently been completed. Click on the Stop icon to stop a sale that is currently running. When a sale is stopped:

  • the prices that had been backed up are now restored
  • you can no longer edit the sale is any way
  • you can clone a sale to restart an identical or similar sale

Troubleshooting Stopping a Sale

On a couple of occasions we have had reports of problems stopping a sale. This appears to have happened when “back” was selected at some point during the activation of the sale.

There is a “trick” that you can use to call up the page in the ProductCart Control Panel that will allow you to Stop the Sale. First, you need to find the “ID” of the sale, which you can do by hovering over one of the links related to the Sale. So, for example… if the ID of the Sale that is in “limbo” is '11', then you would login to the ProductCart Control Panel and paste the following link into the browser address field and press [Enter]:

Replacing all the url before the sm_stop with that appropriate for your store. Note that the “pcadmin” directory has probably been renamed, so you will need to substitute that. After pasting the above link into your browser, you should be able to Stop the Sale.

Archiving a Sale

As you complete a large number of sales, you may want to archive older ones to “clean up” the Current & Completed Sales window. To archive a sale, click on the corresponding icon. The “Archive” icon is only shown once the sale has been completed. An archived sale:

  • Is no longer shown in the Current & Completed Sales window, but rather in a separate Archived Sales screen
  • No longer contains details about the individual products that had been on sale. Instead, it displays the message: ”NOTE: this sales has been archived. The system no longer has detailed information on the products that were included in the sale
  • The View Archived Sales button on the Current & Completed Sales page is only shown when there are archived sales

Sales in the Storefront

There are many ways for your store visitors to notice the existence of a sale:

  • The sale icon is shown whenever a product that is on sale is displayed
  • The “Specials” page lists all running sales at the top (name, description)

Sales manager: sales in the storefront

  • Sales become filters on the advanced search page, which means that you can choose to only view products that are currently on sale (and specify which sale).

Sales manager: sales on the search page

  • The sale icon is shown whenever a product is listed with other products or displayed on its own. In he image below, you can see it next to the online price, which already reflects the discounted price.

Sales manager: product details page

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QR Code Sales Manager (generated for current page)