Well this weekend has proved very productive. The job scheduler is working extremely well. My fears of runaway-spamming a customer thanking them for their order may have been unwarranted
Order shipments auto-trigger a 7-day one-time email to the appropriate customer for follow-up courtesy and marketing purposes. I made it so the admin can configure the number of days to their preference. I also added an On/Off for people who don't want this particular functionality.
Stock notifications work extremely well. Visitors simply need to be told to register with the site and add the out-of-stock items to their wishlist. Once the system detects a product (or variant!) going from 0 to positive stock level, it fires the scan against the wishlist items for that item. Any matches auto-generate a one-time email notifying the customer with the admin's choice of email template. I even made the email template create a link directly to the product referenced – turned out nice.
I've also added an On/Off so this particular feature can be disabled if necessary.
All 3 feed files were easy. All the parameters are saved when you run them normally through the Able menus. So as long as you've run them manually at least once, you can now schedule them to generate AND upload. Tough to test on my site though, takes a while to run and upload but appears to be working thus far.
General functionality has taken shape nicely. Queue management now allows job deletion and "run now" for any specific job. Also finished debugging the queue pause feature – now you can pause the entire queue processing if necessary. Some debugging features were added so job tracing can be done. It spams the AC7 error log, but very useful in tracking down why something did/didn't fire like it should have. This too can be turned on/off.
The last feature to add will be my most ambitious – "review solicitation with coupon reward". What I'm wanting is a way to automatically encourage customer reviews on the products they have purchased. So the trick will be figuring a way to "land" them to a convenient site page for the given product and ready for review entry. Once the review is received, the customer is assigned a group and given a coupon code for their next order. I'll be exploring this Monday.
So far, I've managed to still keep all of this functionality so that only a single Able file is changed. Everything else is new and separate. That makes implementation super easy especially for modified sites.
* COMING SOON *
Automation is a key ingredient to a smooth running web store. With our new Job Scheduler module, you will spend more time running your business.
Here is a preliminary feature list:
Automatically send a follow-up email X days after an order ships. Great marketing and customer service opportunity for every customer who buys from your store.
In-stock notification! Visitors who register with your site can add out-of-stock items to their wishlist. When that item comes back in stock, a notification email complete with product link is automatically sent to them using the email template of your choice.
CPC Marketing Feed files for Google, Yahoo and Shopping.com can now be fully automated. The module will use your saved feed settings to generate the file AND upload it on a schedule you designate.
Support for one-time and recurring job schedules.
Easy job management. See what jobs are queued with quick links to involved products, users and orders.
Customization possibilities all over the place. We'll be able to incorporate your class files into new job types. This will allow you to automate your own custom programming. A good example of this is electronic distributor feeds that update stock quantities and pricing. No more daily downloads!
Automatic Sitemap.xml generation. No more manually updating the sitemap.xml when you add/change/delete products in your store catalog.
Currently we are doing internal beta testing. We should have our first beta release available to the general public by the end of December 2008. Be sure to subscribe to our New Products feed by clicking the icon on our home page at http://www.AbleMods.com
Learning is the name of the game with ASP.Net. Today I was trying to use Server.MapPath in my class library. But it always throw an error and Visual Studio wouldn't suggest which Import statement to use.
Finally figured out you have specifically add a reference to System.Web in your project. Apparently "Imports System.Web" at the top of your class file isn't enough.
So, once you add a reference to System.Web, you can now use System.Web.HttpContext.Current.Server.MapPath()
Finally some time to write some programming!
Business has been far more busy than I would like. Normally that's a good thing, but when it keeps you from the things you do best, that's a whole different problem. Fortunately I have some help coming that will take some of the daily paperwork workload off my plate.
In the mean time, I managed to get an update out for Feed Builder. This one is marked v1.3 and includes the following changes:
Improvements to formatting of descriptions in all feed formats
Resolved issues with odd HTML tags crashing the file construction
Improved Affiliate URL handling – now you can specify whether the 3rd party affiliate URL should be put at the beginning of the product link (like AffiliateWiz) or at the end of the product URL.
Updated documentation that includes better explanations. This will be further enhanced as time permits.