More advanced configuration for Zen Cart discounts

A client had several dozen products, spread across multiple categories, that he wanted to discount.  “Do I really have to create dozens of add_condition/set_constraint/set_discount statements to set up Big Chooser?”

The answer is no!  You can use the power of PHP to programmatically configure your discounts.  See the fourth example in my Advanced Discount Configuration guide.

Better Together, Frequently Bought Together and Combination Discounts

E-Commerce expert Linda Bustos writes in the Elastic Path blog about how Amazon is ditching Better Together for larger discounted bundles.  Now I’m a huge Amazon fan, but I don’t think that making the bundles individually switchable, as they have, is a good idea.  3 items combined in any way yields 7 choices, which I think it just too many.

You can get larger bundles than 2 in your Zen Cart by moving from Better Together to Combination Discounts.   You can also offer single click purchases of the bundle (as long as all the items are products without attributes) using Buy The Set.   And of course, don’t forget about the new Combination Discounts Admin Panel!

Starbucks gold – a badly designed rewards plan

I go to Starbucks twice a day, so the idea of a rewards program is very attractive.  Now Starbucks already has a “Rewards card,” so I assumed their new “Gold card” was just a higher level of the same thing.  Not really.

If you’re enjoying Starbucks Card Rewards benefits, such as free syrups, milk options and refills on drip coffee, then we hope you continue to do so. But if you’re looking for daily savings on everything from espresso beverages to espresso machines, you should check out Starbucks Gold. (Please note that Starbucks Card Rewards discounts cannot be combined with Starbucks Gold discounts.)

Umm… so they’re separate?  Can’t be combined?   I have to carry two cards around?  And the discounts aren’t stacked?

This was needlessly confusing, Starbucks.   That Software Guy’s recommendations:

  • Your rewards program can have multiple tiers, but should be physically integrated with your existing payment platforms: the Duetto (a credit card) and the Starbucks card (a stored value card).  A sticker – or better yet, electronic encoding – could easily be used to identify premium membership.
  • You should encourage card registration and promote your biggest spenders automatically (with no fee) to the premium tier of rewards.   This is pennies on the dollar for your biggest fans.
  • The words “… don’t be surprised if your barista doesn’t know about it yet” indicate a major planning failure.   If your staff hasn’t been trained yet, delay the rollout.  The last thing you want to do is have your staff arguing with your best customers, for heaven’s sakes!

Conference call dull? Why not do some shopping!

In a recent Ipsos survey, 12 million Americans fessed up to shopping online while listening to coworkers and clients drone away on a conference call.  Lifehacker has posted a list of techniques to help people avoid zoning out during a call – but I’m more interested in encouraging and exploiting this trend.    What if shopping cart vendors were to automatically discount purchases made between 9 and 5 local time, or create coupons which were only valid during business hours – would it work?