The Volusion platform’s versatility is advantageous for online merchants with many different needs, but it also means that many features can get overlooked in this sea of powerful ecommerce options. But do not fear! Put your captain’s hat on and take charge of your store, as we set sail to discover the hidden islands of the Volusion platform!
The Custom Filters Cruise
If you’ve been navigating your storefront for a while, you’ve probably noticed the “filter” dropdowns in your categories and store search results. These have titles like Find by Category, Find by Pricing, and Find by Brand, and can help your customers narrow their search options with auto-populated fields. You can modify the names of these fields in your Page Text or disable them in your Config Variables, but what if you also want to make your own? Perhaps you have your own ideas as to what your customers would like for filter options, and the default settings aren’t cutting it.
Enter the power of Custom Filters! After modifying the search refinement settings of your store to accept them, the creation is easy! Simply create a few new categories and subcategories that fit what you want your customers to see. For example, create a filter category titled “Ships”, and subcategories “rafts”, “sailboats”, and “yachts”. Then, go into your Ships category and assign it to an inactive navigation menu in the Show in Menu field (one your store doesn’t use for display), and under Advanced Settings > Misc, check the Filter Category box.
You’re nearly done! All that’s left is to assign various products to each of the subcategories as desired. Once that’s complete, your customers will see the new filter option for Ships in your categories and search results on the storefront. They will also see how many of your products are rafts, sailboats, and yachts, if they’re not already displaying on the page. Note: you may need to Rebuild the Search Index in Settings > Maintenance before your store recognizes the new settings. (More on this later.) Adding custom filters to your fleet is a great way to personalize your store to fit your customers’ needs and differentiate yourself from competitors.
The Peninsula of Temporary Products
In the spirit of the holidays, you may be inspired to add seasonal products to further entice your customers. Often these will be fair weather sales: great buys for the season but a liability at other times. Manually deleting and re-creating them each year would be an arduous task, so instead go to Settings > Config Variables and search for Enable Temporary Products.
With this checked your products will have new values in Advanced Info > Product Display: Display Begin Date and Display End Date. These date fields will automatically reveal and hide the product for a certain span of time! You can create a winter themed product that displays from 11/1/2015 to 1/31/2016, or a product that shows only on 4/1. Both fields will activate at 12am on the day in question, so for the second example, set the Display Begin Date to 4/1/2016 and the Display End Date to 4/2/2016. Add a few of these to your seasonal products to have your Volusion crew do the work for you!
The Vale of the Vendors
Many merchants like to use vendors and dropshipping to provide supplies for their voyage into ecommerce, but that isn’t the only reason you might be interested in the Vendors section of your products’ Advanced Info. It’s also a great place to find fields that can be useful for internal inventory tracking, especially if your goods aren’t handmade. Here you can find a place to add the ISBN number (for books), EAN (for European merchants), and UPC code. The UPC code is especially useful for merchants wanting to integrate their storefront with our Point of Sale system and a barcode scanner. You can even generate your own barcodes!. The Vendor Price field is also useful for merchants who are not using Vendor Rules with dropshipping, but want to keep track of material costs for things like profit or Cost of Goods Sold reports (see our Reporting support article for more on that).
The Config Variable Coast
No discussion of the Volusion software’s hidden treasures would be complete without weighing anchor at Settings > Config Variables. There you will find a vast array of checkboxes and other settings that change how your store functions. We’ve touched on a few above, like Enable Temporary Products and Enable Search Refinement. Another useful gem is Display Subcategory Products on Main Category Page. This simple checkbox will make products that you have specified appear in subcategories and their “parent” categories, greatly reducing the work needed to get a new store up and running. One word of warning though: as the captain of your store in uncharted waters, make sure you do your research! The Config Variables are powerful tools that can have an impact across your store, so don’t activate one until you’ve read the call-to-action button (the green question mark), looked it up in our Config Variables Knowledge Base article, and feel comfortable with the impact.
Search Terms Atoll and Live Carts Cove
There may come a time where you feel it’s difficult to see what your customers are searching for, even on a clear day. Thankfully, your store comes with functions to do just that! In Reports > Search Terms, you can see what words your customers have been using in your template’s built-in search bar, giving you a better idea of your shoppers’ needs. If you have a Plus or higher plan, you’ll also have access to Orders > Abandoned/Live Carts, which provides a list of all the current and abandoned carts people have created in your store, prior to checkout. You can even use the Settings button at the top and the Enable Quick Edit tool to click on particular Cart IDs to see what items were abandoned. If you see a lot of the same item(s) in abandoned carts, this may reveal product issues, such as noncompetitive prices or unreasonable shipping costs.
With the newfound power of these lesser-known Volusion tools at your fingertips, your store is headed for custom modifications that will make any competitor raise their white flag. But sometimes a change occurs that, for whatever reason, doesn’t carry over to the storefront. Not to worry, as your store also has tools to give it the little “kick” it needs to recognize these changes and keep things running smoothly. The tools can be found in Settings > Maintenance, an area of your admin that also displays any errors in categories or products, such as missing required fields for products or categories.
While the CDN and CDN Image Cache buttons should not be used in normal store operation, the other three can be lifesavers. Refreshing the Store Admin Session performs the same function as clearing your browser’s cache and cookies. Resetting your Photo Cache is a good idea after you’ve uploaded new photos to the store that it aren’t displaying, and Rebuilding the Search Index does the same for situations where your category or product settings have changed.
Full Speed Ahead:
Navigating the complex waters of the Volusion platform can take time, but you and your business will be rewarded at the end of your marine journey. Regardless of your business needs and size, these helpful settings mean smooth sailing for your store, better customer experiences and more sales!