AspDotNetStorefront 9.5 – Exploring the new release

I recently had the opportunity to set up a brand new eCommerce store with AspDotNetStorefront Version 9.5 (released in January 2015) and have the following review. Please note that some of these features may have been available in versions before 9.5, but they were new to me.

Stuff that I like (love?)

  • Admin site user interface- Just WOW!  By far my favorite enhancement of the release, I can’t help but start here… The older versions of Admin were a bit clunky and “old school” visually and technologically.  The new UI is much sleeker and easier to navigate.  New thought has been given to terminology as well, so things are easier to find if you really don’t know where to start (“Settings” instead of “Appconfig Parameters” – hurray!).  Another particular favorite of mine is the “Quick Adds” option on product detail pages.  Previously, if you forgot to add a manufacturer (a required field) before entering a new product, you had to stop, save the product with another manufacturer, go add the manufacturer, go back to the product and revise the manufacturer selection.  Now the “Quick Add” feature allows you to complete these steps in one pop-up screen – yes!
  • Responsive skin– Skin 3 that’s included out-of-the-box is responsive and, upon preliminary but not thorough review (yet), it holds up quite well on tablets and phones.  A far superior option to the older “mobile site” offered in previous versions (and apparently still supported in 9.5).
  • Help interface– Previous versions are documented in the online manual at http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/, which is packed with useful information that I use daily when working on a new AspDotNetStorefront implementation.  I was terrified to lose such a valuable resource, but my fears were for nothing, as the new version uses a different and superior help interface which is cleaner and easier to navigate and search.  The inclusion of Print, Bookmark and Email links are particularly useful.

Stuff that’s now included

I was delighted to find that the following great features that at one point were “add-ons” and required additional purchase, are now included with the purchase of 9.5 and Year-Round Benefits (annual support and upgrade coverage):

  • Smart Mini Cart
  • Smart One Page Checkout
  • Natively Responsive Skin

Stuff that has gone away

According to the 9.5 release notes, the following features are no longer available in 9.5.  This is important to note for clients using these features in previous versions, as custom coding may be required to continue to use these features after upgrading to 9.5:

During the build of AspDotNetStorefront 9.5, a positive decision was made to remove features that, for a number of reasons, were not felt to be right for inclusion. Reasons varied, and largely covered performance hits, legacy architecture and feature overlap.

Our primary focus in 2015 is to deliver software that helps attract traffic, and we are delivering services (like 500+) that support the ‘more traffic’ initiative. After all, we say, what use are more ecommerce features on a store that rarely gets visited? We would sooner be building a cart that helps make sales, than a cart that just wants more bells and whistles than the next guy.

These are the omitted features:

  • Google Checkout
  • Component Art
  • Recently Viewed Products
  • Gift Registry
  • File-based entity/product descriptions
  • Gallery
  • Line Item Notes on Orders
  • Polls
  • Show In Product Browser (for entities)
  • Subscriptions
  • Stop/Start Dates (for products)
  • Cardinal MyECheck Payment Method
  • Spec files
  • Swatch Images
  • Mailing Manager
  • NoScript field (for products)
  • Topic Mapping (topics can still be filtered by stores via Store Mappings page)
  • sitemap.aspx
  • Customers who bought X also bought Y
  • Gateways:
    • eWay
    • HSBC
    • iDeposit
    • iTransact
    • JetPay
    • Moneybookers
    • Netaxept
    • NetBilling
    • Ogone
    • PayFuse
    • PayJunction
    • PayLeap
    • Payment Express
    • Paymentech
    • Pinnacle Payments
    • PlugNPay
    • SecureNet (v2)
    • Verisign
    • WorldPay

Other Stuff

The following additional features are also mentioned in the release notes, but I didn’t have an opportunity to review them for this post.  From the descriptions, they appear to be great for SEO, administration and performance and I look forward to playing with them in the near future.

  • Added support for Google Tag Manager
  • Continued work on Rich Snippets (Schema.org)
  • DotFeed connector embedded natively
  • Tightly coupled feed from store to Google’s merchant center
  • Now supports Google Universal Analytics (analytics.js)
  • New ‘bulk’ actions allowing volume data throughput
  • AspDotNetStorefront now natively runs on .NET 4.5 Framework
  • All remaining ntext database fields converted to nvarchar(max)
  • Redundant files and images removed

Previous Reviews

If you are interested in my previous reviews and articles about AspDotNetStorefront, please feel free to browse!

By | 2017-08-08T08:41:29+00:00 March 26th, 2015|Web Development|Comments Off on AspDotNetStorefront 9.5 – Exploring the new release

Day 2 at IRCE

IMG_20130605_070249Day 2 at IRCE was extremely busy and full of breakout sessions from notable guests like Al Gore and Beacon clients/partners Bronto & Delta Apparel. The exhibit hall opened at 9:00 a.m. and after a quick breakfast Beacon team members manned the booth and started meeting attendees and giving away prizes. Our team member Annette, was helping out at our partners booth, AspDotNetStorefront, to talk about how Beacon and Aspdotnetstorefront can help businesses succeed through e-commerce.

As the day wore on, we gave away our first set of Google giveaways with some Google backpacks and laptop sleeves. Our last team member arrived in the morning as Brad Henry showed up to talk digital strategy with IRCE attendees. Around lunch time all the exhibitors begin to hit the wall and the food court starts beckoning from afar. But at Beacon, we say “When in Rome…Do As The Romans Do.” So we ordered some wonderful Lou Malnati”s pizza for some excellent local deep dish taste of Chicago. It was huge and wonderful and kept the crew moving all afternoon. Coincidentally, later on that afternoon an attendee from Lou Malnati”s picked up another great Google prize.

Beacon had wonderful opportunities to hang out with some of our wonderful vendors at IRCE. Nextopia members were able to stop by to say hello, along with our wonderful clients Delta Apparel, , Burton & Burton and Annette was holding down the Aspdotnetstorefront booth most the day. Our Sales Director, Rick Boccard, had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on a breakout session by Delta Apparel and Bronto that helped give insights into holiday email marketing for eCommerce.

As the day winded down, Beacon was able to award our grand prize of the day, a brand new JAMBOX to our lucky winner, Tabi. After the social hours at the end of the day the Beacon team headed back to the hotel and down to dinner at a wonderful seafood restaurant just a short walk away that helped cap off a wonderful day at IRCE. Thursday is the last day of IRCE for us before we head back home to Greensboro.

Jordan Burleson
Jordan is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Beacon. He has a B.S. in in Communication (Broadcasting & Advertising) from Appalachian State University. Jordan specializes in search engine optimization strategies, social media marketing and analytics to help businesses drive more online traffic. When out of the office, you can find Jordan running, cycling or scaling a mountain. Along with trolling the internet for the next big thing, he is an avid movie viewer and bibliophile.

Connect with Jordan on Google+

By | 2016-11-18T14:12:43+00:00 June 6th, 2013|Beacon News|1 Comment

Day 1 at IRCE

IMG_20130604_125037IRCE is a huge event. When I say huge, I mean HUGE. Walking into the conference you have to do a double take to make sure this is where you should be. Massive RV’s, cars, three-story booths and awesome lights are a great welcome to Chicago and McCormick Place. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself…we haven’t arrived yet.

Beacon started off from Greensboro, went through Charlotte and then onto Chicago on Tuesday morning. After a smooth ride and great shuttle service to the hotel, the Beacon team (Rick, Emily & Jordan) picked up the booth and supplies and took the complimentary shuttle to McCormick Place (America’s largest convention center…think airport size). After setting up everything, Beacon was able to unveil the new look of our brand, at booth 545, and approach through SMART Web Solutions with brand new materials and a backdrop to set the booth off.

The exhibit hall opened at 4:00 p.m. and Beacon started off meeting the huge 9,500-attendee crowd. Shortly after the event kicked off we were welcomed by the rest of our team, Annette and Mark! Beacon is giving away some great prizes over the three-day conference and exhibit and started the contest to see who will take home some Google bags, lava lamps and a Jawbone JAWBOX. We even ran into one of our partners, Nextopia, who are right next to the our booth. The event shut down at 7:00 but the party continued as Beacon took part in a conference kickoff event with great food and entertainment.

Later on that evening, Beacon took to downtown, a short walk from the hotel, to go watch the Chicago Blackhawks play downtown and enjoy some good food and catch up after a very long day of travel and work. Stay tuned for a recap of day 2 and 3 at the conference and see some of the winners of the contest and meet some of our great partners who are at the event!

Jordan Burleson
Jordan is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Beacon. He has a B.S. in in Communication (Broadcasting & Advertising) from Appalachian State University. Jordan specializes in search engine optimization strategies, social media marketing and analytics to help businesses drive more online traffic. When out of the office, you can find Jordan running, cycling or scaling a mountain. Along with trolling the internet for the next big thing, he is an avid movie viewer and bibliophile.

Connect with Jordan on Google+

By | 2016-11-18T14:12:44+00:00 June 5th, 2013|Beacon News|1 Comment

Display different product prices in AspDotNetStorefront

Recently one of our AspDotNetStorefront clients asked me to come up with a way to modify the display of his products that vary by price.  One of the things I really like about AspDotNetStorefront is that there are often “hidden gems” or functionality that you might not use one day, but come up with a way to incorporate it later.  For this client, I recommended that he investigate either the product attribute features of a simple product or set up the products with separate variants.

Attribute Option

This is the easiest product setup and, in general, requires the least XML package modification/development, but may not be the ideal user experience, depending upon the type of product being sold.

  1. Log into ASPDNSF Admin and search for the product to modify
  2. Click on the product and then on the Main tab
    • Change “Color Option Prompt” to the appropriate label to indicate why this product has multiple prices (for example “Product Options”).
    • Change the XML package to product.simpleproduct.xml.config
    • Hit the “Update” button.
  3. Go to the Product Variant link, click on the default product variant displayed and then click on the Attributes tab
  4. Enter text like this in “Colors” field– “Product Option 1[-100.00],Product Option 2[-50.00],Product Option 3”.  In this example, product option 1 will be $100 cheaper and Product Option 2 will be $50 cheaper than product option 3.  Add as many product types and prices as needed; separate all product options by commas.
  5. Hit “Update”  and then view the product on the live site.  Selecting “Product Option 1” from the drop down should  discount the item by $100 when added to the cart
  6. See http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-967-varying-price-by-sizecolor.aspx for more info on this setup

Variant Option

Depending on the type of product, I think this is the best looking option for the customer, but sometimes requires modification of the XML package by a developer to display correctly.

  1. Log into ASPDNSF Admin and search for the product to modify
  2. On the Main tab
    • Change the XML package to product.variantsindropdown.xml.config
    • Save the product with the “Update” button
  3. Go to the Product Variant link and clone the default/existing variant using the “Clone” link.  Create as many clones as there will be product options for this product.
  4. Click on the first variant in the list.
  5. Change the variant name to “Product Option 1” (or other applicable label) and change the price field to the correct price for this product option and then save the variant.
  6. Click on each subsequent variant in the list and change the variant product name and price for that product option.
  7. Save the product and then view the product on the live site.  Each product variant will appear as a separate choice in the drop down box along with the applicable price for that product variant.

I hope that you find this information helpful!

By | 2016-11-23T10:31:15+00:00 April 17th, 2013|Ecommerce|1 Comment

The iPad arrives

Annette's new toy Recently I won my very first iPad by providing the winning suggestion in a product detail page review for AspDotNetStorefront and it arrived today!  The contest involved reviewing a product detail page for a current AspDotNetStorefront customer and my suggestion involved modifying the color drop down box to display different images, based on the color selected (manual instructions here).  The customer explained that they “chose your comments over all others because you were brief, to the point and pointed us to a feature of ASPDNSF that we were not utilizing. We appreciate the time you took to share your comments with us.”

Thanks to the folks at http://www.safetylightsandsignals.com for selecting me and my buddies at Vortx for sponsoring the contest!

What should I do first??

By | 2016-11-22T10:42:49+00:00 May 16th, 2012|Web Development|Comments Off on The iPad arrives

Super quick Aspdotnetstorefront site setup

There are literally thousands of settings that you can configure for a new AspDotNetStorefront site, but here is a set of instructions that we use to quickly set up a very basic non-eCommerce (catalog only) site in Version 8 of AspDotNetStorefront:

  1. Follow manual instructions to do a base install: Installation Guide
  2. Skin/Template set-up
    • Review the available default skins or purchase a skin template
    • Navigate to the docs/skins folder of your new AspDotNetStorefront site and rename the  Skin_1 folder to Skin_old
    • Copy the new skin to docs/skins and rename “Skin_1”
    • Resize the company logo to the height of the logo.jpg file included in the skins/skin_1/images/ and save as logo.jpg in this folder (if not a jpg file, see #3 below)
  3. Template.ascx Set-up– Open /docs/skins/skin_1/template.ascx in an HTML editor and make the following updates to the HTML code.
    • If the company logo is not a jpg file (png, for example), change logo.jpg in template file to correct logo name
    • Remove shopping cart and wishlist links from utility nav in template.ascx
    • Remove all links and content from top and bottom nav that do not apply
    • Update copyright line/year in footer
    • Remove departments/sections from left nav (if not in use on site)
  4. Style.css Set-up— Update colors and styles in docs/skins/Skin_1/styles.css as needed to match corporate colors
  5. Admin Set-up
    • Log into Admin with default id/password and create super users under Customers/Add New Customer and then Customers/View-Edit Customers/Super User button.  Notify new admins of id/password/Admin URL.  Log in with one of the new super-user accounts and delete default admin user. 
    • Update store details under Configuration/Site Configuration Wizard including Store Name, Store email address, etc.
    • Go to Configuration/Email and set email server information
    • Appconfig updates– Make the following updates in Configuration/Advanced/Appconfig Parameters
      • Search for “meta” in the Appconfigs section and complete all relevant fields with search engine data/keywords
      • Remove buy and wish list buttons by setting ShowBuyButtons and ShowWishButtons to “false”
      • Remove items from site map that should not be displayed by searching appconfigs for “sitemap.” and setting areas that should not be in site map to “false”
    • Hit reset cache to force updates to appear on public site
  6. Topics— Update the following under Content, Manage Topics in the Admin area
    1. Add content to all topic pages that are relevant to this company (about, service, security, hometopintro, etc.)
    2. Hyperlink any new topic pages to Help & Info box so they show in the left navigation
    3. Review each existing topic page and do the following:
      • Remove topics that will definitely not be used using “Delete Topic” button
      • Set topics that should not show in sitemap to “no” with “Publish in Site Map” field
      • Update text on all topics that start with “Empty” and “Productnotfound” topic
      • Update hometopintro with homepage content
      • Update pagenotfound text
  7. Products/Categories– Add Categories and Products using either a product import (our preference) or manually in Admin
  8. Complete “Go Live” checklist
  9. Carefully review and test the site, make revisions as needed
  10. LAUNCH THE SITE!
By | 2016-11-22T10:56:27+00:00 February 13th, 2012|Ecommerce|1 Comment
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