Automatic Coupon Creation in Zen Cart

I’m working on extensions to Zen Cart that will allow you to automatically create coupons based on either the cart contents or the order total.  Take a look at Spender AutoCoupon and Chooser AutoCoupon (the syntax they use is derived from Big Spender and Big Chooser, which is why they are so named).  They’ll be ready for sale in early fall; the design is almost complete.

These shirts are all business

Since we talked about t-shirts on Monday, I thought I’d wrap the week up with the same theme.

I have admired from afar the “clothing for the 2 and 20 crowd” produced by vcwear.com, but when I saw their latest offering last week, called “Revenue is Sexy”

Revenue is Sexy

I literally could not resist and ordered it right away. (Size large – even though I’m only 5’7″, I like my desserts.)

I thought vcwear.com was a very elegant implementation of a shopping cart on a blog using E-Junkie, so I asked Ryan Cook (one of the principals) about the site. Here’s what he had to say:

The site has always been WordPress based, and we really liked the AJAX shopping cart with Google integration offered by E-Junkie. It’s simple and doesn’t intrude on the user experience that we wanted. Until recently, we had simply been listing the products through E-Junkie and managing inventory manually with a Google Spreadsheet. This was extremely cumbersome as people were able to order shirts that we didn’t have in stock. After playing around with E-Junkie, I figured out how to list products where the variants (shirt size in our case) each had their own individual stock quantity. The last step for a successful integration was to tell Google Checkout to report sales back to E-Junkie after they were made. The important part here is to make sure that each variant had a unique code so that E-Junkie would subtract from the correct quantities. I did have to contact support at E-Junkie to receive the tip on setting up Google Checkout properly, because I had missed that step in the setup. They were very helpful, courteous, and prompt in answering my questions and discovering my problem.

Now that it is all setup, we receive emails from Google Checkout and E-Junkie when a sale is made successfully, then it is up to me to fulfill the orders. I also receive emails from E-Junkie when stocks are low for certain variants. For a small operation such as ours, the integration is perfect.

That’s great! Congratulations, Ryan and the VCWear team on your success.

The folks at E-Junkie have been on my interview radar screen for a while – we just haven’t gotten together yet. Hopefully in August I’ll talk with them directly.

Customer Reviews

Entrepreneur Magazine provides an interesting writeup on RatePoint, a new service which hosts and manages customer feedback.  I thought RatePoint’s service was very clever and nicely implemented, but not well suited for online enterprises like That Software Guy because of the prominence of map and address information on the review page.  I would have also liked some way of culling out people who I hadn’t actually transacted business with (but then this raises the question of whether the business is tampering with the reviews).   I wonder why PayPal doesn’t offer a service like this?

BTW, has anyone else noticed that rating requests have become standard for Amazon Marketplace purchases?  I don’t remember receiving these (at least this often) in the past.

What’s Free?

A recent thread on the Zen Cart forum dealt with newsletter services for small businesses. I use and recommend MailChimp for this purpose, because I think that on a price/performance basis they are unbeatable. One of the posters replied, “I think I’ll use phpList because it’s FREE!

I pointed out to him that TANSTAAFL, and that the cost in time of setting up and maintaining phpList could easily outstrip the savings, but the conversation got me started thinking about time and money. An age-old meme is “must save money.” But there is a new line of reasoning that the glut of global talent plus the easy availability of telecommunications means you should outsource everything.  Not just “must save time” – more like “must to to extreme lengths to save time.”  Witness for instance the success of Timothy Ferriss’ book, The Four Hour WorkWeek. So which will be triumphant – the “saving money by working 80 hours a week” approach or the “saving time by outsourcing everything possible” approach? My money is on the latter. Or is that my time? Well, you know what I’m saying. 🙂