Posting your Zen Cart inventory in Google Merchant

You want to sell your wares in Google Shopping?  Great!  By all means, build a feed from Zen Cart for Google Merchant and get started.  But remember the rules: Google wants you to list shipping costs along with your products for every region you advertise in.

Here are the most common ways to do this:

Shipping option Description
Free Simple to configure and maintain
Flat rate Simple to configure and maintain
Carrier rate (UPS, USPS, Fedex) Rates are automatically calculated based on carrier rates for all users (not negotiated rates). Only available in some countries (USA, AUS). You may add a surcharge (% or fixed amount).
Percentage of order total Simple to configure and maintain and allows for varied shipping rates based on price
Unique shipping costs for one particular product Specify the shipping price within the feed using the
shipping attribute.
Allows you to manually override account settings for a product with unique shipping rates

Google maintains a team of auditors who will compare what’s in the feed to what is shown on your website in the Shipping Estimator, and complain about any variance between the two. Now according to their own rules, you are allowed to “overestimate” the shipping cost in the feed (see rule below), but even then, I have received complaints from them. Per Google,

“To show ads to a particular country or region, you must offer shipping and correctly set up shipping costs for that area. The shipping costs that you submit to Merchant Center must match the costs you charge on your website or at least overestimate those costs.”

In other words, it’s ok for the feed to show a higher shipping cost than your website. It’s not ok for your website to show a higher shipping cost than the feed.

Potential Problems

        • If you determine shipping costs algorithmically using your own logic, you’re going to have to figure out some way of mapping this to one of the techniques in the table above for the purposes of the Google feed. Again, per Google,

          “Keep in mind that if you dynamically choose where to ship from at the time the user checks out, there is currently no way that this can be configured in Google Shopping.”

        • You quote negotiated rates (for example, using the Zen Cart upsxml shipping module). If you use Carrier Rates in Google Shopping, they will retrieve non-negotiated rates; this will cause the rate shown in Google Shopping to be higher than what is on your website. Although this is permitted according to their rules, you may have to argue with them about this.
        • You have enabled multiple shipping modules, or multiple services within a carrier. In this case, you may be forced to show all relevant rates, not just the lowest or most common one.

Zen Cart 2.0: the great renaming

Many moons ago, the “next” version of Zen Cart was given the name 1.6.0. As time moved on and features were added to the code for this release, it became clear that it was going to be different enough from the 1.5.x branch of Zen Cart that a bump in the major number made sense. So the release name was changed to 2.0. But many other things still used the old name – which was kind of confusing.

As of today though, the renaming is done:

Enhancements to Zen Cart 360 Sales Reporting

I have added an optional feature to Zen Cart 360 Sales Reporting (link) which shows recent direct deposits on the admin dashboard.  Update admin/index_dashboard.php, and at the end of the file, add this block of code:

<div id="colthree" class="col-xs-12 col-sm-6 col-md-4 col-lg-4">
<div class="reportBox">
<div class="header"><?php echo "Recent Direct Deposits"; ?> </div>
<?php
require_once(DIR_WS_CLASSES . 'currencies.php');
$currencies = new currencies();
$orders = $db->Execute( "SELECT * FROM " . TABLE_DIRECT_DEPOSIT . " ORDER BY deposit_date DESC LIMIT 5");
while (!$orders->EOF) {
?>
  <div class="row">
  <span class="left">
    <?php echo substr($orders->fields['name'], 0, 20); ?>
  </span>
  <span class="center">
     <?php echo $currencies->format($orders->fields['amount']); ?>
  </span>
  <span class="left">
     <?php echo $orders->fields['deposit_date']; ?>
  </span>
</div>
<?php
$orders->MoveNext();
}
?>
</div>
</div>

Zen Cart Coupon Single User

Zen Cart Coupon Single User has been upgraded so that you can now restrict a coupon to any email address on a single domain, not just a single email.

So for example, if you want to permit a coupon to only be used by customers with a “@BigClient.com” email address, you would create a coupon code starting with “@BigClient.com”, such as “@BigClient.com_save_ten” or “@BigClient.com-half-off”.

BUG: Always Display State as a Pulldown in Zen Cart 1.5.5

There’s a bug in Zen Cart 1.5.5 that causes the State dropdown not to be correctly populated when you set Configuration->Customer Details->State - Always display as pulldownto true in Admin->Configuration->Customer Details.  It causes your State dropdown menu to look like this:

Zen Cart State dropdown without state set

even though the value of State has been set.

You can see the root cause of this error in the Chrome Javascript debugger.  Right click and select Inspect, then click the Console tab, and you’ll see the traceback for the error.

Traceback in Zen Cart for no state error in 1.5.5

The root cause of the error was that the stText element id was removed from the default template Zen Cart 1.5.5, an attempt to modify that DOM element failed, and stopped JavaScript processing.  The fix was straightforward; just check for this element’s existence before updating it.  You can pull the fix from Github and apply it to your Zen Cart 1.5.5 site, or hire me to do it.

Zen Cart – MailChimp Integration

My Zen Cart – MailChimp integrations have received the following updates:

  • Fixed bug in API integration:
    The original integration had error checking that was based on the 1.3 API, and lo longer work.  So while the success path logic was all correct, the error handling was wrong.
  • Added instructions for changing Zen Cart newsletter page:
    The original Zen Cart integration only handled signup on the account creation page. Now users may subscribe or unsubscribe on the newsletter page (which is linked to on the My Account page as /index.php?main_page=account_newsletters.
  • Removed double opt in:
    At the request of ecommerce companies, MailChimp has changed the default subscribe behavior so that double opt in is no longer required.  Users who prefer the prior behavior can still change it back by modifying the PHP API (includes/functions/extra_functions/mailchimp.php) to set status based on $options[‘status’] rather than just to subscribed.
  • Moved MailChimp error log to /logs folder:
    In the event of an error, the MailChimp.log file was being written to the /cache folder; it is now written to the /logs folder where it is more likely to be noticed (since most logfiles have been migrated there in Zen Cart 1.5+).

You can see the updates in my ZenCart MailChimp and ZenCart Newsletter Discount contributions, and  my MailChimp Integration for Zen Cart GitHub repository.

From Zen Cart to Salesforce – Handling Accounts

Unlike most B2C e-commerce systems, Salesforce makes a distinction between Contacts, which are identified by an email address, and Accounts, which are identified by a name and site.  Contacts belong to an Account, and an Account may have many Contacts.

The way I handled this relationship in the first version of  Zen Cart to Salesforce was simply use the email address as the Account name. This has a significant advantage, since the email address for a shopping cart account is an immutable field.

However, some larger customers have multiple email addresses associated with a single account.   Also, some customers had e-mail address changes over the life of their relationship with me.

For these reasons, I decided to add a “salesforce_account_name”  field to the customers table.  I populate this only in cases where the email address is not sufficient.   I also had to modify the customer export script to export that field rather than the email address in the Account column of the CSV when it was set.

This new way of handling Accounts is reflected in the 360 Sales Reporting modification I did, to get more accurate per-account sales data.