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19 September 2008 New features in LiveCart 1.2.0

The new 1.2.0 version include a number of new and interesting features that are worth having a more detailed look at, to get a better idea of what they are about and whether they would be useful for your store.

Quantity and user group based pricing

One of the most important missing features of LiveCart before 1.2.0 release was the lack of ability to define quantity based discounts. The new version can already handle this and it is now possible to set different prices for different quantities of products purchased. For example, 1 item of product A costs $10, 3 items cost $9 per item, and so on.

It is, however, not all. It is now possible to differentiate product prices basing on the user group the customer belongs to. Many stores are working in both B2C (business-to-customer, the common case) and B2B (business-to-business) markets by selling the same products at one price for regular customers and at discounted prices for resellers. LiveCart now allows to sell products to both kinds of customers without having to operate 2 separate stores. In fact, it's not at all limited to only 2 tiers of prices - there can be one tier for each user group (and LiveCart supports an unlimited number of user groups).

Advanced pricing rules and discount coupons

One of the most import additions in the new version is the ability to define complex discount/promotion rules. The rules can be based on multiple factors, which can be used for building complex conditions. The discounts can be applied when:

  • certain products (matched by categories, manufacturers or a list of pre-selected products) are present in cart with certain subtotal or quantity;
  • customer belongs to a particular user group or a list of pre-defined users;
  • order address matches a particular delivery zone;
  • customer has entered a coupon code;
  • discounts can be activated for a certain period of time;

Different conditions can be chained and combined in any way. Also for each pricing rule (matching set of discount conditions) there can be one or more discount actions, which define the actual discount amounts. The discounts can be applied either as a fixed amount off order total, a percentage off the order total, or a fixed amount or percentage off selected or matched items. Some examples of business rules that you can implement with this system:

  • give $15 discount off order total when order total exceeds $200 and customer has at least 5 books in his order
  • give 10% global discount on all items for selected customers or customer groups
  • give 50% discount to DVDs ordered from New Zealand if the order also includes a DVD player, which is manufactured by Sony, the order total is more than $100 or the customer belongs to the Reseller group, and the customer has entered coupon code nzcheapdvd

As mentioned above, LiveCart now also supports discount coupons that can be used to create simple discounts ("enter code xyz to get 10% off your order") as well as use together with complex price rules. The pricing rules can also be activated for certain periods of time only.

Product bundles

Another useful new feature is the support of product bundles, that allow grouping or packaging multiple products into one product and selling this package at a lower price than it would cost to buy these products separately. A not-so-healthy example of bundles is the BigMac meal at McDonalds. One can buy all the items of the meal separately (burger, fries, cola, etc.), but it costs less to buy them together in one package. With LiveCart it is now possible to offer similar pre-packaged solutions - for example, a complete computer system, that would consist of other products sold separately (computer system block, monitor, printer, etc.), a gadget with recommended accessories, a pack of CDs or DVDs, etc. Product bundles also have a complete inventory tracking support, so if any bundle item goes out of stock, the whole bundle becomes unavailable for ordering as well (that is, if you use inventory tracking).

Custom user registration fields

Different business models and environments often require collecting additional information about customers. The kind of data that needs to be collected may vary greatly from business to business. Most sellers will only need to know the basic information that LiveCart did already collect before - names and addresses, however the new version allows to add arbitrary custom fields to customer singup/order checkout forms. European Union based businesses often need to know customer's VAT ID (for B2B sales), sometimes additional type of contact information is needed (fax numbers, Skype ID's, etc.) and sometimes sellers would like to know more about their customers (to improve demographic segmentation), so they're asked to enter their age, select gender or hobbies, etc. LiveCart allows you to do all that now.

Custom order fields

Exactly the same way as adding more fields for customer accounts, LiveCart allows to create custom order fields as well. It was possible to customize individual order items using product options, but entering custom order level data was not possible before version 1.2.0. Popular uses for custom order fields are delivery date selection or entering special delivery requirements or notes. Read-only fields are also supported (editable by admin only), which can be used to enter order tracking information, etc.

Product ratings and reviews

Starting from this version, we're beginning to add more social shopping capabilities to LiveCart. One of the most important of those is ability for customers to rate and review products to share their opinion and experiences in benefit of other customers. LiveCart allows different rating classifications for different types of products. For example, cell phones can be rated by the longevity of battery life (among other characteristics), and TV sets can be rated by picture quality.

Product lists

Product lists is another interesting addition that allows to create custom product selections to be displayed in product category pages. This can be useful if you have a special sale (or multiple special sales) for certain products or if you wish to highlight a group of products in a special way. Examples of product lists would also be editor's picks, new products in store, special discounts/offers, etc.

Private labeling

Starting from version 1.2.0, LiveCart provides a complete white-label solution. You can easily change the logos and copyright messages not only for store frontend, but backend as well. This is a great way for web agencies to build loyalty with their clients and offer LiveCart as their own product. Setting up a white-label installation really couldn't be easier as everything can be configured from the software settings panel in LiveCart backend - no need to even edit template files.