New features: bulk discount pricing, sale price, new shipping module, share your purchase and more

Jun 25, 2012 by Qetzal, Product Manager
Posted Jun 25, 2012 by Qetzal, Product Manager

Ecwid v11.0 A new major version of Ecwid (v11) has been released. All Ecwid members have been upgraded automatically. Our engineers worked throughout the entire spring to implement some highly anticipated features which will we talk about in this post. So sit back, get a cup of coffee or tea — it will be a long post : -)

New completely revamped shipping module

Shipping is an essential part of every online store. This process should be easy and user-friendly as well as powerful. We found that our old admin interface for setting up shipping rates wasn’t intuitive enough. Some merchants even had to study our knowledge base to add the shipping rates. This was clear indication that this area should be improved. We re-imagined the shipping module from scratch and created a completely new experience: easy and intuitive for starters, yet powerful and advanced, with many “under the hood” tweaks, for experienced merchants. Along with these changes some highly anticipated shipping features were added.

Setup of a new shipping method is now much easier and convenient.
Just press the “Add new shipping method” button and follow the steps — our wizard will guide you through the whole setup process. If you need to create a simple rate (e.g. $5 for all US orders) the wizard will guide you through, or if you’d like something more advanced — it will help you through each step. We’ve designed it to be the perfect balance of simplicity and flexibility.

Ability to limit carrier-calculated shipping rates by a region.
So for example if you want to limit your shipping to only a few US states, but at the same time want to use automatic carrier-calculated USPS or UPS rates to avoid creating rates manually, it’s now possible.

Ability to sort shipping methods and select a default one.
Now you have full control over displaying the list of shipping methods on the checkout pages. Prior to this upgrade it wasn’t possible to set the necessary order of shipping methods or select the default one. The cheapest shipping method was selected by default. Now you have full control over the default shipping method and can define them in any order you’d like.

Ability to create custom shipping rates based on order subtotal.
Before user-defined rates could be based on cart weight only. Now they can be set up based on order subtotal as well. For example $14 for orders more than $100, $6 for orders less than $100.

Finally you can now offer your customers free shipping based on their cart subtotal.
In a ComScore survey, 84% of consumers indicated that free shipping was somewhat very important when making a purchase, and 55% of respondents indicated they would be at least somewhat likely to abandon their shopping cart without a free shipping promotion. We’re happy to offer this feature to our users so that they could fully utilize and take advantage of this marketing tactic.

Important note: the new module is very different from the old one. So it will not be enabled for the existing users automatically. In the next several days it will be rolled out for merchants and you will be promoted to upgrade your shipping rates to a new system. If you agree, Ecwid will convert your shipping rates to a new format. So if you are not ready to upgrade your shipping rates yet, just wait a little. Please refer to our migration FAQ for more details.

Bulk discount pricing

Ecwid merchants can now offer price discounts based on quantity breaks. For example if a t-shirt costs $24.99, but if you buy 3 items, the price will be dropped to $20.99 each instead. It’s a helpful tool for merchants who have a lot of products in stock and want to attract customers to buy more items.

Discount prices are shown on the product details in the storefront and discounts are applied immediately as soon as the quantity added to the cart changes.

This feature also has something unique. We implemented an algorithm which suggests users to add more items to get higher discounts. How it works: you add some items to a cart and eventually a message appears informing you that there is a chance to save some money by adding a bit more items. Such suggestions are smart. If you have 1 item in the cart, Ecwid will not offer to add 10 more just to get a 3% discount. However if you already have 8 items in a bag, then the suggestion to add 2 items more and save, will popup. Otherwise if a discount is huge, the suggestion will appear at the early stages: “add 7 more and get 80% off!”.

The goal is to show these messages at key moments, when the chances that customers will like the discount and add more items are the highest. We think this feature will encourage your customers to purchase more items from your store.

Sale and promotional price

Customers love discounts and deals. Putting a product on sale or showing that this very price is less than a customer will find elsewhere is a great way to get more orders.
And this is how the “Sale price” feature works. You can set the special “Compare to” price for your product and this price will be shown struck out to demonstrate how much the current price is better.

For example, if you want to show that your prices are better if compared to your competitors, you can use this field to inform how much they charge for the same product. The other way is to represent your regular price when you want to put a product on sale or to show the suggested retail price (“MRP”, “List price”, etc.)

You can set this “Compare to” price in the product details and fine-tune it on the “System Settings → General → Cart” page.

Want to change its look? This feature was created to be very flexible and highly customizable using custom CSS themes. For example check the following screen-shot. It is the same feature modified by CSS.

We think it is a great promotional tool with high potential. We hope you will like it too.

Share your purchase

Twitter has 140+ million active users. Facebook has 900+ million. Almost everybody around us has accounts in social networks. People use such accounts (e.g. a Facebook profile) to showcase their personalities. To show who they are and, most importantly, show the image they want to be. For example they “like” Facebook pages not just to get the status updates in their news feed, but to express themselves via liking particular brands. I.e. they don’t like Converse just because they like their shoes. But because this brand represents a special life style that users want to follow. For example people who love these brands are different from people who love these ones.

It means that people love to share pages and links, as it expresses themselves. Just search for “just bought” on Twitter. If a user wants to look very intelligent, he will surely share the smart book he just bought. If a user want to look “bad ass”, he will share a link to a purchased cool snowboard. And so on. Not many of us will admit this, though, but our shares are always highly influenced by our image we want to show to our friends.

And that’s a peculiarity of the “Share your purchase” feature used to drive more traffic to your store. When enabled, customer is encouraged to share a purchased product on a Facebook or Twitter after an order is placed. And since customer likes a product and it is a part of his lifestyle and “image” (that’s why he purchased it, right?), the chances he will share it to all his friends are very high.

Ecwid is the leading shopping cart application on Facebook, actually we’re #2 based on the number of active monthly users. So we have a deep understanding about what social commerce is and how it should work. The “Share your purchase” is the first of big list of social features we want to add to use the power of social commerce and drive you more sales.

Improvements of the product editor

Most likely the “product editing” page is one of the most opened in the Ecwid control panel. If you create a new store or update an existing one, you will spend some time on it editing your items. So we decided to  add some neat improvements to optimize this page and save your time when editing your items.

Now the “Save” button is always visible, even if you scroll a page. Save some seconds by not scrolling to the top to save the changes. And don’t forget, you can always hit Ctrl+S shortcut to save an item

We have moved the  “Assign categories” section to the General section. No more separate tab for it. So you can now assign a product to different categories faster, without switching to a new tab and back.

You can set a default category for a product, which will be used if you open it via a direct link or from the search results. This feature is extremely useful if your items are assigned to multiple categories and you want to have control over what category to show by default.

We hope these improvements will allow you to edit and manage your products a bit faster.

Faster checkout for Google Chrome users

Ecwid now supports experimental Google Chrome feature that allows Chrome users to fill Ecwid checkout forms in much faster, easier and smarter: literally in a single click. Google said in their blog post:
One of the biggest bottlenecks on any conversion funnel is filling out an online form — shopping and registration flows all rely on forms as a crucial and demanding step in accomplishing the goals of your site. For many users, online forms mean repeatedly typing common information like our names and addresses on different sites across the web — a tedious task that causes many to give up and abandon the flow entirely.

That’s totally true. Nobody loves to enter the same information again and again. Browsers have the “autocomplete” features that help to do this by remembering a common profile information and pre-populating the form with those values. However, they don’t work accurately enough — sometimes browsers just cannot understand what form fields are for – e.g. is it for “Country” or for “Company name” ? So some fields remain unfilled.

That’s why Chrome announced support for an experimental new “autocomplete type” attribute for form fields that allows web developers to label fields with common data types such as “Full name” or “State”. If form has such attributes, Chrome always knows what each field is for, so it can pre-populate all the checkout form correctly.

We’ve added support of this experimental API to Ecwid. So now any Chrome user who stored his personal information in Chrome can fill an Ecwid checkout forms in in a single click. They just start to fill in any field of the form, select a stored address and all fields in the form are filled in properly. Very convenient and fast, no more boring typing of the same text again and again.

As we know Ecwid is one of the first shopping carts (maybe even the first one) which implemented that experimental Chrome feature. While this attribute is still experimental, it is already available for Google Chrome which has about 33% worldwide usage share. So now one-third of all your customers has the opportunity to fill in a form in a single click and checkout much faster, which leads to higher conversion rates and more sales.

Improved behaviour for the zero-total orders

People love free things. Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics, has the theory that for normal transactions/purchases, we consider both upside and downside. But when something is free, we forget about the downside. “Free” makes us perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is. So it is a good idea to offer a free promotional product to attract customers. Especially if you sell intangible goods, such as music, books, etc.

However most of the online payment gateways don’t allow orders with zero total. So there was an issue: a customer adds a free product to a cart, however if he or she selects an online payment method, such as PayPal, they will see a warning that checkout with zero total isn’t allowed. The only solution was to create a special custom “offline” payment method and ask users to select it, if their order total is zero. Not a very good and usable workaround. Moreover if you want to offer promotional free e-goods, you had to change its order status from “Queued” (default status for orders placed by custom payment methods) to “Accepted” manually in order to trigger sending the download links.

Now this behavior has been improved dramatically. Ecwid has the “Skip payment method selection, if the order total is zero” option. This can be enabled on the System Settings → General → Cart” page, “Checkout Settings” section. If this option is enabled and the order total is zero, Ecwid will skip the payment method selection, so a customer doesn’t need to think what payment method s/he should select to place a free order. Ecwid even can set such orders to “Accepted” status, so it will send the download links of your free promotional files automatically. No more manual work.

This feature makes the ability to promote “free items” much more efficient and convenient for you and your customers.

What’s next?

This is just a small part of the features our engineers worked on in the past months. v11 introduces great marketing tools to promote your items, we hope you like these new features. We are working now on v12, which will also have some highly anticipated and great new features included. Thank you all for your support, ideas and suggestions and stay tuned!