The success of Etsy, Zibbet, and other handmade marketplaces have shown that the demand for uniquely crafted, collectable, and one-of-a-kind items is stronger than ever. But how does one capitalize on this trend using the Volusion platform? It’s easier than you might think!
Setting Up Your Specialty Stock
You’ve established a business model for your store, and it hinges on offering one-of-a-kind items. These items should sell like proverbial hotcakes, then get shipped out to your happy customers and disappear off the face of the earth (or at least your store) forever. Before you can put this business model into effect, you’ll need to know a few things about how to create your products.
First, it’s good to configure a few product settings that will prevent purchase by more than one customer. The easiest way to do this on a product’s editing page is within the Advanced Info > Stock section. In the Stock Status field, enter the total available quantity for the item (such as “1”), then check Do Not Allow Backorders. This ensures that only one customer will be able to purchase the item. If you want the item to disappear from your storefront once it’s been purchased, go to Advanced Info > Product Display and select Hide When Out Of Stock.
If, on the other hand, you’d rather tantalize customers with past product offerings while ensuring that they’re marked “Out of Stock”, go to Inventory > Products and click Settings > All Product Settings. Select Display Stock Status and save your changes. Now, the words “Out of Stock” will display on the product page for any item that is no longer available.
Blocking “Bookmark Buyers”
Hiding out-of-stock products is all well and good, but customers can still potentially access them. The “hide” function prevents a product from displaying on your store’s category and search results pages, but if a shopper previously bookmarked or remembered the product page URL (maybe from an old newsletter you sent), they can still reach it.
Now, sometimes it’s a good idea to keep old products in your store; it ensures that the product code links still function in old orders and reporting records. If you don’t want to delete the product entirely, but you’re concerned about customers being able to view it, you can configure it as a “temporary” product. To do so, go to Settings > Config Variables and perform a search for “Enable Temporary Products”. Select the relevant config variable, then save.
Once you enable temporary products, each product editing page will contain two new fields in the Advanced Info > Product Display section: Display Begin Date and Display End Date. If you set the Display End Date to a time and date before the present, the product will not display at all on the storefront, even when accessed through a bookmarked URL. This method can also be useful if you want to limit sales of a particular product based on a time range, rather than stock count (for example, when selling tickets to a workshop that occurs on a certain date).
Organizing Inventory Erasure
You may wish to completely delete a product once it sells. Maybe you have a limited number of products as part of your Volusion hosting plan, or you just like a clean product list. Not a problem!
First, make sure you’ve fully processed any orders that contain the product code in question. Once you delete a product from your store, any links in connected order records will no longer function. You should also consider whether you plan to add similar (but slightly different) products to your store. If so, you can save yourself a lot of time by duplicating the existing product before deleting it. To do so, visit the product’s editing page and click Add at the top, then click Sure when asked if you want to pre-fill the fields based on the existing product.
Finally, if you plan on deleting a product, we recommend keeping a backup record of its settings on your own computer for future reference. You can do this manually or, if your hosting plan qualifies, you can visit the Inventory > Import/Export section of your Admin Area to create a backup CSV file with all the relevant information.
301 Redirects: the Stockless Site Shuffle
Let’s say you opted for deleting the product in question. You’ve solved the problem of customers finding it on your storefront, but you’ve created a new problem in the form of a “dead” link. If customers attempt to access the nonexistent product page, perhaps using an old promotional link or a bookmark, they’ll see a 404 error page.
To prevent customers from seeing an error message, you’ll need to create a 301 redirect for the page. A 301 redirect is essentially a set of instructions that tells web browsers to go somewhere else if it tries to access a page that no longer exists. To create one, visit Settings > Maintenance in your Admin Area and click Manage 301 Redirects.
You can redirect a nonexistent product page to any other page of your site: the homepage, a similar product’s page, or even an article page that tells customers what to do when the product they wanted is gone. These efforts can go a long way toward keeping a clean, seamless experience for customers navigating your site, no matter how they get there.
To learn more about creating 301 Redirects for deleted pages, check out our helpful Knowledge Base article. One final tip: when making promotional materials or providing links to customers, we recommend using the URL you see when navigating to the page as a customer would on your storefront. If you use the URL you see when clicking the View Live button from a product or category admin page, you won’t be able to create a 301 redirect later!
The life of a store that features unique, one-time products is bound to be filled with constant change, but it also opens the door for a windfall of exciting promotions to pass on to your customers! By following the advice above, you can set your mercantile menagerie up in a way that streamlines the process for you and your shoppers alike.