The nopCommerce 3.1 release has been out and about for 2 weeks now and we would like to share with you what's new in the system in a little bit more detail than the standard release note. So let's get straight to the point.
NopCommerce 3.1 comes two months after the major 3.0 release so there are no ground-breaking features like the multi-store, multi-vendor, or the new markup. Still there are a few quite important improvements in the system, which are worth an upgrade of your nopCommerce website.
The most important change in nopCommerce 3.1 is the absence of the product variants, which were an integral part of the system in the previous versions. Now in nopCommerce you have just products. And products can be either group or simple. Essentially all your products with product variants are replaced via a group product with simple products underneath. In addition simple products can show individually on catalog pages, like the category page for example. The Product Variants tab is removed from the Product administrator page. What you should be looking for is the Associated Products tab.
This change makes the catalog system in nopCommerce simpler, at the same time more powerful. With the grouping between products and at the same time the possibility to show simple products individually you can cover complex catalog scenarios.
For example, let's say that you have a product Levi's Alfresco Jeans and two simple products underneath it: Alfresco Blue and Alfresco Green. The two simple products have separate skus and prices. You also have a separate category called Sale, where you show all your products that are on sale. You decide that the Alfresco Green is not selling very well so it needs to go on sale. Now because the Alfresco Green is just another product you can map it to the Sale category. Mark the Alfresco Green as "Visible Individually" and it will show in the Sale category. Previously this scenario was not possible due to the fact that product variants were tied to one specific product and the product itself was the leading entity in the catalog.
So the new group and simple products in nopCommerce 3.1 are a great feature for the nopCommerce store owner. But let me tell you that the nopCommerce developers as well as the nopCommerce team of course, will have to put a lot more effort when working or customizing the catalog system. But this is a topic worth a whole new blog post (very technical) so let's move to the other new features in nopCommerce 3.1.
If you are a nopCommerce store owner, you will definitely love this new addition to nopCommerce 3.1 as it was an obvious and most requested feature. In nopCommerce 3.1. you can associate a product attribute to a product picture. In other words if you have a certain dress, which you sell in two different colors : black and blue and you have two different pictures of the dress for each color.
When the customer goes on the product page and chooses a color, let's say blue, the product picture on the page changes to show the correct image of the blue dress. This UI behavior seems natural and thus important but was missing in nopCommerce up till now. So it alone is well worth considering and upgrade to the newest 3.1 version of nopCommerce.
If you are still not convinced the new product bundling functionality in nopCommerce 3.1 could be it. Now you can have a bundle of products, which works seamlessly with the pricing and the order process in the system.
To create a product bundle in nopCommerce all you need to do is to associate a product with an attribute value. Then when the customer selects the value, nopCommerce will know that you are actually buying the product associated with the attribute value. Do note that you need to have the Dynamic Price Update setting set to true in order to have the prices update with each product you choose.
NopCommerce 3.1 also adds several improvements to its multi-store support. Most importantly now you can enable\disable plugins per store.
You can also configure payment methods per store as well as shipping rates by weight and dimensions.
NopCommerce 3.1 comes with a few performance improvements, which have to do with new database indexes and more presentation level caching. The release note contains also a list of small but useful bug fixes and improvements. If you are interested do check it out here:
Let's summarize what we have learned so far about nopCommerce 3.1.
- It simplifies the catalog system for the store owners
- Adds very useful features for both the owners and the customers of a nopCommerce store
- Fills multi-store functionality gaps
- Come with the usual performance and functionality fixes and improvements
So the release is more than worth a look by all involved with nopCommerce.
Do not also forget to checkout our nopCommerce themes and plugins, which are available for nopCommerce 3.1. Currently we are developing responsive versions and theme rollers for all our themes as well as new responsive nopCommerce themes. Every new theme we release is added for free to the Nop Ultimate Theme Collection package of existing customers.
So stay tuned as we continue to develop more products for the greatest (there is absolutely no doubt) .NET e-commerce platform on the market.