As the old adage goes, it’s better to work smarter, not harder. Managing a business involves a good deal of both, but why not speed things along with a few tricks of the trade? The following tips include some useful workarounds that you might find handy when working on your store. The Volusion platform is robust and versatile, but any software has its limits. The mark of a true expert is bending the software to do what few people realize is possible!
Searching In Style
One of the more common needs within the Volusion platform is a way to view specialized search results from various tables in your Admin Area. This is often straightforward: if you need to see your products listed by Product Code or Product Name, you can go to Inventory > Products and click the top of that column to organize them.
But what if you need to search using a value not easily displayed on that page? What if you’re going to repeatedly need access to data from this search result? Have a look at this article describing How to View Products by Vendor. Keep in mind, the strategy in this article isn’t limited to vendors, or even to product data! You can search for products produced by a specific manufacturer, orders submitted by a certain customer – the strategy can be used for anything available in a list view.
Once you’ve saved a search in the Query Bank, you can return to Settings > Bookmark Results to quickly run the query. After you perform a search, you can also download an Excel file of the results by selecting Settings > Export Results > Export. Be sure to select the CSV file format before clicking Export again. For very specific search queries, this can be faster and more customizable than your Reports > Reporting section.
Related Products, Relatively Speaking
Many merchants find it useful to display Related Products on their product pages, displaying similar products that customers may also be interested in purchasing. However, the Related Products feature has very specific functionality: it only shows products from the same category, and only in randomly selected sets of four or eight.
If you want to choose the specific related products that display on each product page, this article on Related Products explains a crafty way to do so.
Essentially, you can assign as many Accessories to the product as you wish, and then rename the Accessories section to “Related Products”. This way, you can display products in wildly different categories on the same product page, if you wish, to incentivize customers to add more to their carts before checking out.
Product-Specific Shipping Options
Some merchants may require separate shipping considerations for specific products – for example, those that offer large numbers of small or low-price-point items, and fewer big-ticket products. While there isn’t a way to apply specific shipping methods to specific products in your store, there’s a workaround for merchants who don’t use live rates. Details on this workaround can be found here: How to Apply Shipping Methods to Specific Products.
This article shows how to create a flat rate shipping method on all items that fall within exaggerated weight requirements, such as a method that only applies to orders over 1,000 pounds. Since flat rates don’t use live rate calculation, you can safely set whatever cost you’d like for this shipping method and assign artificially high weights to the “specialty” items that you’d like to apply this shipping method to. This will trigger your custom flat rate shipping method to appear for the specified products.
Child Products and Customer Input
You may already know how the Inventory Control Grid feature creates “child products” based on the options you apply to the original “parent” product. This can be very useful for tracking stock on child products with certain option combinations, such as an extra-large t-shirt in black compared to a medium version of the same shirt in white.
But what if your business model requires customer input? Your store supports the configuration of personalized products by allowing for “textbox” option categories, but this function does not work well with the Inventory Control Grid when generating child products.
Thankfully, the solution is simple: remove the textbox option from the product, enable the Inventory Control Grid to generate the child products, and then add the textbox option back on! When a customer chooses options for a product, your store will recognize the appropriate child product as normal, but will also tack on the customer’s textbox input as an option.
If you’ve already activated the Inventory Control Grid for a product and want to use this trick, not to worry: uncheck the Enable Inventory Control Grid setting in the product’s options section; click save; delete all child products in the Inventory Control Grid below; and then re-enable the grid to start over with new child products.
The Sensational Shrinking Slideshow
Your store’s homepage is the first thing most customers will see, so it’s important that it represents your store’s style and offerings in an attractive, user-friendly way. Many merchants use Volusion’s Homepage Slideshow feature to spruce up their sites. This feature allows you to easily add slideshow images with links and transitions, boosting your store’s “curb appeal” to customers with just a few clicks!
The homepage slideshow resizes images to fit the ideal dimensions for your template. The size for non-responsive templates is 960 pixels wide by 540 pixels high, whereas responsive templates use a width of 1170 pixels. For certain layouts, however, this resizing can result in blurry or distorted images that take up more of the page than is optimal. If you have this issue, but want to keep using the slideshow feature, there’s a solution*! It all relies on this handy bit of CSS code:
You can add this code snippet to your store’s CSS files by navigating to Design > File Editor; clicking on the link under CSS Files; and then changing the dropdown above the code from “template.css” to “homepage.css”. Then, copy the above code, paste it into the bottom of the template.css file, and click save. The code will shrink your Homepage Slideshow section down to 45% of its original size! You can even change the value next to “width” to customize how large you want the slideshow to display on your storefront.
Keep in mind that your slideshow’s navigation buttons will remain the same size, so this solution may not be ideal for all templates or store configurations.
There you have it: a smattering of sneaky skills and strategies to help you manage your store in new ways! Volusion is a robust platform, and there are countless strategies for manipulating your store’s tools to their maximum potential. If you’re curious about whether a particular application will work for your store, or if you have any difficulty with the steps above, our support staff are here 24/7 to assist with any technical questions you may have.
* Success of this workaround may vary depending on the template and whether or not you’ve made additional customizations.