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What's new in nopCommerce 3.2 ~ Tuesday, December 17, 2013

NopCommerce version 3.20 was released last week and for those of you who are not yet familiar with the new version or have just skimmed through the release note we have a detailed overview of the new features.

Working with the new features in nopCommerce 3.20 would often require a quick modification of certain settings or language resources. Therefore before I go into the details of each nopCommerce 3.20 feature I would like to point your attention to these two videos in case you are not familiar with these small but useful nopCommerce tricks:

How to search and change resources in nopCommerce

How to search and change settings in nopCommerce

NopCommerce 3.20 has a set of highlight features and and a set of minor ones. I will cover all of the new features but before we start with the highlight ones I would like to mention one of the minor features which I believe should really be listed as a major one. This is the new RTL support for the administration panel. Now if you have a language which is marked as RTL your nopCommerce administration will be indeed shown in an RTL orientation:

nopCommerce administration RTL support

Let's move on to the highlight features.

1. The first feature that will grab the attention of every nopCommerce store owner is the new Facebook Shop. Now if you go to the nopCommerce administration -> Configuration -> Plugins, you will see a new Facebook plugin:

nopCommerce Facebook Shop

If you click the Configure button you will be taken to a page, which explains how to setup your Facebook Shop:

How to setup a nopCommerce Facebook 

Shop

Setting the Facebook shop is straightforward as you can guess from these brief instructions. The most important thing to note is that before you setup your Facebook shop, your website would need an SSL. If you do not have one, you can always purchase it from your hosting provider and ask them to set it up for you.

2. The next major functionality that comes with nopCommerce 3.20 is its support for warehouses. What this means is that you can configure individual products to be shipped from a specific location (warehouse). You can also configure the system to use the warehouse location when calculating the shipping cost for the product.

First you start by configuring your warehouses from the Configuration -> Shipping -> Warehouses administration:

nopCommerce warehouses

What is important here is to configure an address for your warehouses.

Next when editing a product you need to specify in which warehouse it is located:

Assign a nopCommerce product to a 

warehouse

If you would like nopCommerce to take into account the warehouse location of a product, when calculating its shipping rate, you will need to edit the Configuration -> Settings -> Shipping Settings and check the "Use warehouse location":

nopCommerce use warehouse location

3. While we are on the nopCommerce 3.20 shipping functionality, there is another new feature worth mentioning. Now the store owner can specify when a product will be shipped. In nopCommerce this information is referred to as delivery date. This is useful for example when you are selling products, which are manufactured on demand. You can setup different delivery dates from the Configuration -> Shipping -> Delivery Dates administration:

nopCommerce delivery dates

When you create or edit a product you can specify its delivery date:

nopCommerce product delivery date

The delivery date would appear on the product details page and would be useful to the customers before they make their purchases.

4. Although we are covering the major features I would like to mention one very little but useful feature again related to the shipping functionality in nopCommerce 3.20. Now when you mark a product as Free Shipping:

nopCommerce product free 

shipping administration

This would be reflected on the product details page and a Free Shipping image would be visible to the customer. This was missing before and customers could only realize that a product is free shipping during the checkout process:

nopCommerce product free shipping

If green is not your color you can change the free shipping image by replacing this file

Themes\DefaultClean\Content\images\free-shipping.png

If you are not working with the Default Clean theme, just replace the DefaultClean part of the path with the name of your theme.

You can also change the "Free shipping" text by changing the "products.freeshipping" language resource. If you are not sure how to change language resources in nopCommerce, do watch this video.

5. Vendors were introduced in nopCommerce 3.0 but only as a backend functionality. Store owners could assign products to different vendors and manage who has permissions to see and edit these products. But all this was hidden from the customers of the store. In nopCommerce 3.20 there is a new Configuration -> Settings -> Vendor Settings -> Show vendor on product details page. When this setting is set you can see a link to the product vendor on the product details page:

nopCommerce vendor link on product 

page

Clicking on the vendor link customers are now able to see all products delivered by this particular vendor:

nopCommerce vendor page

6. In nopCommerce 3.20 there is a new store menu, which shows the main categories from the store:

nopCommerce menu

This is different from the previous versions, where you had only the Home, About Us, etc... links. In the new menu you can configure how many subcategory levels are shown in the drop down menu by editing the Configuration -> Settings -> Catalog Settings -> :

NopCommerce number of 

subcategory levels in top menu

If you are looking for more flexibility and control on what is shown in the nopCommerce main menu and how it is shown, do checkout our Nop Mega Menu plugin.

7. The last but not least major change in nopCommerce 3.20 is its performance optimization.

Now CSS files are being bundled and minified, a feature which was contributed by the Nop- Templates development team. In addition to this more frequently used data is being cached in memory, which decreases the response time significantly.

8. Although this is not a feature, it is important to mention that nopCommerce 3.20 now runs on MVC 5. What is new in MVC 5 is beyond the scope of this article but you can read more on the official MVC 5 release note.

I have covered all the major features in nopCommerce 3.20. Next I will mention the other new features, which although classified as minor ones, I believe are extremely useful to the nopCommerce store owners and developers.

9. In nopCommerce 3.20 you can change what templates are being used for the category, manufacturer and product pages from the administration panel:

nopCommerce templates administration

This is very handy because to achieve the same in previous versions you had to edit the database directly.

10. Have you ever tried to run a scheduled task on demand in nopCommerce, let's say Send Emails? In previous versions you had to reschedule your task to run every second and then restart your application. After that you had to revert the schedule of your task and restart your application again. In nopCommerce 3.20 you can run a scheduled task immediately:

nopCommerce scheduled tasks

In this way you are not only saving time and effort but also not restarting your application twice, which would make your website not respond for at least 30 seconds on every restart.

11. In nopCommerce orders have different statuses (Pending, Cancelled, Complete). Before nopCommrce 3.20 changing an order status would require a direct edit of the database. And if you have been running an online store you would know that a store owner should be able to change an order status manually with no hustle. In nopCommerce 3.20 this is now possible from the administration panel:

NopCommerce change order status

NopCommerce change order status

12. Another new and useful feature related to the order management in nopCommerce 3.20 is the possibility to see all orders for a product. There is a new tab in the product administration page, called Purchased with orders:

NopCommerce purchased with orders

13. You can also view what orders a discount has been used with. On the discount administration page, the Usage history tab is now a much more useful source of information:

NopCommerce discount history

14. In nopCommerce 3.20 when an order is being processed, the store owner can choose to include the automatically generated invoice with the order placed or order complete email sent to the customer. This can be done from the Configuration -> Settings -> Order Settings administration:

nopCommerce include invoice with order emails

15. If you would like to add additional information to your invoices (remember that they are automatically generated by the system), now you can do so. Going to the Configuration -> Settings -> General and miscellaneous settings, you need to click on the PDF Settings tab and use the two new fields to add text to the footer of the invoices:

nopCommerce pdf settings

16. Moving on from the order management, in nopCommerce 3.20 there is a nice little CMS feature which allows the store owner to manage the social links in the footer of the website. This can be done from the nopCommerce administration -> Configuration -> General and miscellaneous settings -> Store Information tab:

nopCommerce social urls administration

In the public website this information is presented in the footer:

nopCommerce social urls

17. NopCommerce 3.20 allows the store owner to choose from the active themes in their store in a much more user-friendly way. Now if you go to the Configuration-> Settings-> General and miscellaneous settings you will see that the themes dropdown has been replaced with a nice set of radio buttons, showing a preview of the active themes:

nopCommerce themes administration

18. I would like to finish the overview of nopCommerce 3.20 with one very little but very useful feature, which is the auto complete tags in the product administration:

nopCommerce product auto complete tags

The release note of nopCommerce 3.20 is extensive and covering all the new funtionality would be impossible in one blog post. But feel free to study the changes in more details here:

http://www.nopcommerce.com/releasenotes.aspx

http://nopcommerce.codeplex.com/workitem/list/advanced

As you can see in nopCommerce 3.20 not only are the new features quite a few but they are also very handy and will greatly facilitate the work of the nopCommerce store owner.

The nopCommerce developers will appreciate the performance optimizations, the code refactoring and the move to MVC 5. There is also the new deploy directly from Visual Studio but I will cover this in a separate blog post.

So stay tuned for more useful information on this new and strong release of our favorite e-commerce system. Do not also forget to check our new video page, which is constantly being updated with video tutorials on nopCommerce.

Talking about video marketing I can’t help but bombard you with some stats straight away:

  • the prediction is that by 2015 the number of online video consumers will reach 1.5 billion.
  • adding a video to your email marketing can increase the CTR by 96%.
  • having an explainer, how to, or product video on your site can increase the traffic by 20%.
  • your brand recognition can be increased by 76%.
  • video ranks better in search engines, in fact youtube is the second largest search engine.

Why is video so popular? The simplest explanation is that video engages in a way that no other formats can. Visual content is more powerful than words and can quickly capture your attention. Video has a longer “shelf-life”, a high share factor and a great potential to become viral. And one more thing – people just love video content.

Video is a perfect medium to inform, engage and convert. And if just a few years ago people might have thought that it is crazy to use video for business purposes, now it is crazy not to take advantage of this marketing channel.

The following infographic is courtesy of JLB Media Productions and shows some interesting stats how video helps increase brand awareness.

Truly believing in the power of video content we at Nop-Templates are initiating a series of “how to” videos which aim to help our customers give a quick and clear answers to the most common questions regarding nopCommerce. We hope this will be a benefit to you!

The term responsive design has been around for a while now and it has definitely caused quite a commotion. Many say that it is just a hype, while others think about it as a trend that is going to shape the web marketing and development for decades to come.

With the rapid rise of the mobile internet users and the predictions that desktop usage will eventually get obsolete, it is clear now that businesses should respond to this evident market shift. No matter what your online business is, to neglect this tendency will mean to neglect all your mobile visitors and the money they are willing to spend purchasing your products.

This is especially true for the e-commerce business. If you run an online store and if you have been asking yourself what the benefits of the responsive design are and whether your e-commerce store needs to get responsive, we would like to answer this for you.

The most obvious benefit of responsive design is that you are going to reach a bigger number of potential customers. Your mobile customers are not going to bounce off your website but browse through it and shop, without difficulty.

Responsive design is different from mobile web sites as you only have to maintain one website with one markup, which adapts itself and looks good on all devices: desktop, tablet, smartphohe, e-reader, etc.

Responsive design is also an investment in your website SEO. Search engines are most probably going to factor in responsive design in their page rank algorithms in the future. And if they are not already doing so and rewarding your responsive website, the fact that your responsive design allows more visitors to stay more on your website and do more conversions is enough to boost your SEO standing significantly.

The following infographic explains what responsive design is, what its advantages are and why you shouldn’t overlook it.

In the last couple of months we at Nop-Templates.com have been working on introducing responsive design to our nopCommerce premium themes. We are sure that this innovation will help our customers explore new business opportunities and drive more sales and revenue their way.

The infographic is courtesy of http://www.infographs.org and is produced by www.dotcominfoway.com.

What's new in nopCommerce 3.1 ~ Friday, August 16, 2013

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.

NopCommerce Group Products

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.

NopCommerce Assosciated Product Attributes With Pictures

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.

NopCommerce Bundled Products

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.

Administering NopCommerce Bundled Products

NopCommerce 3.1 also adds several improvements to its multi-store support. Most importantly now you can enable\disable plugins per store.

NopCommerce Plugins

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:

http://www.nopcommerce.com/releasenotes.aspx

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.

The Nop Mega Menu plugin adds a powerful and flexible dropdown mega menu to your nopCommerce web site. You can enjoy an easy and effective navigation in your store managed right from your administration panel.

To learn more about the Nop Mega Menu Plugin watch this video.

If just a few years ago the big question was whether to put the E in front of your business, now the more adequate question is whether to substitute the E with the more relevant M. If you are one of those retailers who are still pondering on the former, then you are obviously ignoring or even not aware of the M evolution. In this case, the chances are you are going to be left behind.

With the rapid growth of the mobile and tablet internet users it is now obvious that a major shift in the market is taking place, one that is already having a huge impact on the whole E-Commerce business. It is predicted that eventually by 2015 the mobile internet users will surpass the desktop internet users. Not only more and more users access the internet through mobile devices, but they are doing it with the intention to buy. The following infographic shows how this tendency is shaping up and whether or not in recent years we will be witnessing the last days of the desktop computer.

As a dedicated vendor of premium nopCommerce themes and plugins we at Nop-Templates.com are determined to keep up with the new trend so that we can help our customers build a successful e-commerce business. We are nearing the completion of a major new development on our nopCommerce road map. Can you guess what it is?

 

The infographic is courtesy of http://sixrevisions.com and is produced by www.34sp.com web hosting company.


After the successful launch of the Nop Fashion Theme Roller, we were eager to introduce this powerful feature to the Nop Electronics Theme. We are happy to announce that we finally did it! The Theme Roller allows store owners, developers and web agencies to customize the look and feel of their nopCommerce online shop on the fly.

Now you do not need to change the nopCommerce CSS in order to match the colors and styles of your company or your client's image. Just use the Nop Electronics Theme Roller to customize the theme to meet your requirements. Once done you can save your changes and download your customized version of the theme from Nop-Templates.com.

To see how you can re-brand the default Nop Electronics Theme, please watch this video. With the new Theme Roller you will impress your customers, sell your products and make your competitors envy the nopCommerce technology that you so successfully use.

We are constantly striving to improve our products, so stay tuned for more exciting news from Nop-Templates.com

Recently we released one of the most requested and powerful plugins for nopCommerce - the Nop Product Ribbons.

And of course we immediately decided to take advantage of it and to use it on our website Nop-Templates.com. After all what a better way to showcase our produts than by showing how we use them for our own nopCommerce website.

The challenge we faced

On our product list pages, we wanted to make a quick change so that customers are informed, which products are new and especially which are best-value for price. This information had to be clear and effectively communicated when our customers go to the Themes or Plugins pages. New products are important to our existing customers of the Nop Ultimate Plugin Collection or Nop Ultimate Theme Collection as they receive them for free. While best-value products are obviously the ones new visitors to our website should consider.


The solution: We decided to use our new Nop Product Ribbons plugin as it perfectly fits our needs.

Here is what we did after installing the plugin on our Nop-Templates.com web site, proudly running on nopCommerce.

Step 1: Create a ribbon and add the required settings to it.

Creating a Ribbon is very easy from the nopCommerce administration. We set its name to be "New products", so that the name implies on what products the ribbons will be shown. We left all the other settings to be the default ones.

Ribbons General Tab

We saved the ribbon and then continued with the next step.

Step 2: Position the visual part of the ribbon on the catalog/product list pages.

A product ribbon could look differently depending on where the product is shown - in the small product box on the catalog pages or in the big product box on the product page. For example on the category page the ribbon picture should be smaller because the product pictures are smaller, while on the product page it should be bigger as the product picture is bigger.


That's why the Nop Product Ribbons plugin allows us to have 2 different ribbons for the same product (depending on where the product is being viewed) and to enable/disable both of them independently.


As we wanted our ribbon to be shown only on our catalog pages, we set up the Small product picture ribbon only.
So we went to the Small product page ribbon tab:

Category page ribbon tab

We have several options to visualize the ribbon:

  • only picture - simply upload a ribbon picture or use one of the 80 predefined pictures.
  • only text - simply add some text. For example "New".
  • both text and picture - add some text and use a picture as a background.

The Nop Product Ribbons plugin offers a collection of more than 80 ribbon pictures, which you can use out of the box. This could save you a lot of time searching for ribbon images. Simply click edit picture and choose the one that suits you best.

The picture we chose to use contained text in it, so we left the text field empty.

Add product ribbon picture

After we added the ribbon picture we needed to position it relative to the product picture. There are 4 positions available - top-left, top-right, bottom-left, bottom-right. We left the default one, which is top-left  and we also fine-tuned the positioning a little bit via CSS - top: -23px; left: -23px; 

We didn't want to have a ribbon on the big product picture on the product pages that's why we skipped the Big product picture ribbon tab.

Step 3: Choose the products for the ribbon.

Finally we had to choose the products, which were going to have the ribbon. We had two options again - use the very powerful product conditions using the Conditions tab or simply choose a set of products using the Products tab. In our case we knew, which are the new products and simply added each of them from the Products tab.

Product overrides tab

 VOILA! We have our product ribbon shown for our products on the catalog pages. Below is a screenshot of our nopCommerce Plugins page.

Professional nopCommerce plugins and extensions with product ribbons

Now it is much easier to know that the Nop Customer Reminders and the Nop Product Ribbons are new plugins.

In this post we just scratched what can be done with the Nop Product Ribbons plugin to market your products effectively. For more information about the product ribbons you can check out the Online Documentation.

What's new in Nop Ajax Filters 3.0.2? ~ Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Product filtering in nopCommerce has never been a trivial task, especially when you need your filters to interact with each other, to update on the fly not only the availble products but also the available filter options. Our flagship product the Nop Ajax Filters (it was also our first commercial product) has seen a lot of attention from our development team over the two years since its launch. Most of development on the plugin was driven by our customers.

With the nopCommerce 3.0 released we are starting to see a greater number of large retailers and stores pointing their opportunistic radars in the direction of nopCommerce. Naturally we have been approached by customers who had thousands of products in a single category who required that the Nop Ajax Filters filter the products withing the range of 1 sec.

If you are familiar with the nopCommerce database schema and how the different Price Range, Specification, Attributes and Manufacturer filters interact with each other, you will know that is quite a challenge. Well...challenge accpeted!

And here we are with a brand new 3.0.2 version of the Nop Ajax Filters, which can select among thousands of products from the nopCommerce intricate database in the blink of an eye.

But that's not all. We have also enhanced the Nop Ajax Filters to work not only on a nopCommerce category page but also on a manufacturer page. Now you can make your nopCommerce manufacturer pages much more friendly to your customers, who will be able to find the products they are looking for in no time.

All our 3.0.2 nopCommerce plugins including the Nop Ajax Filters have received a new sidebar menu on their administration pages in order to facilitate the administration of the plugins:

We would like to point out that the Nop Ajax Filters 3.0.2 will work on any nopCommerce 3.0 installation. If you have the plugin already installed, please uninstall it and install the new version.

We would also like to thank all our customers who shared their feedback and most importantly large real-world nopCommerce databases with us!

Next we will be enhancing the Nop Ajax Filters to work on the nopCommerce search page. So stay tuned for more new features and improvments coming out of our amazing nopCommerce development team.

You might already be aware that nopCommerce recently announced a critical security issue affecting all nopCommerce 2.x installations.

We would like to stress the importance of this issue. All nopCommerce 2.x installation run the risk of having their customers and order information exposed.

We would not disclose the issue as it will contribute to the risk of having live nopCommerce 2.x shops hacked. It is related to a third party library used by nopCommerce and produced by a big software vendor, who have already been notified of the issue. However everyone running nopCommerce 2.x should apply the following fix to their website.

1. Open the Web.config file located in the root of your nopCommerce website.

2. Remove the following three lines of code:

<add verb="GET,HEAD" path="asset.axd" validate="false" type="Telerik.Web.Mvc.WebAssetHttpHandler, Telerik.Web.Mvc" />

<remove name="asset" />

<add name="asset" preCondition="integratedMode" verb="GET,HEAD" path="asset.axd" type="Telerik.Web.Mvc.WebAssetHttpHandler, Telerik.Web.Mvc" />

3. Once this is done, change your password to the database as well as any payment provider credentials you might be using.

Again we would like to stress that this is a very important issue, which makes hacking your nopCommerce 2.x website extremely easy.

Please do take notice and apply the fix, which should not take you more than a few minutes.

Any issues you might have with this, do let us or the nopCommerce team know!

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