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MrPhil

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MrPhil last won the day on August 5

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  1. MrPhil

    What the software should be

    Some things that keep coming up on osC, over and over, need to be thought about in the architecture of Kuuza. These are things like pricing, shipping costs, and taxes; which have so many ins and outs and special cases that simple solutions just can't handle. While no store owner wants to write their own custom modules for these, it may be necessary to do so, or at least we can provide some sample code that can be customized and plugged in. There's also how to handle incorrect or inconsistent addressing (affecting shipping, taxes, and interfaces to payment systems). From a customer point of view, they want to see all the correct shipping costs presented (that the store supports), with the cheapest listed first. Every shipper/post office has its own way of doing things, that needs to be accommodated, as well as "buy X amount, ship free" deals, multibox shipments and drop shippers, and restricted shipping lists (e.g., physical goods by US Mail only to US addresses, downloadables to any place worldwide not embargoed). Every US state has its own idiosyncrasies on what tax class to apply on what product, and how to map addresses to tax jurisdictions and their own set of rates for tax classes. Simple solutions such as "item -> national tax class, state -> list of rates per tax class" simply don't exist. Of course, the proper solution is to impose a national rationalized system (consistent tax classes, consistent state+ZIP mapping of rates, one-stop payment) but like that's ever going to happen... And pricing gets ever more complicated with "member" or "buying club" discounts, "buy N, get M free", volume discounts, repeat customer discounts, coupons, credits, etc. Buyers would like to see prices update "live" depending on what they've already got in their cart ("regular price: $X.XX, member price: $Y.YY" sort of thing), and their buying history and knowledge of coupons and credits the buyer is holding. It gets very complicated very fast, and an architecture that allows new modules to be plugged in to take care of these cases could be useful, rather than grafting more and more cruft on to the side of what once were simple modules. Oh yes, and make it simple enough to work with that a non comp-sci business person can easily do it. Granted, it's a lot on the plate, but at least we should be thinking about how it could be done. Do other carts out there do anything like this?
  2. MrPhil

    What is the planned release date?

    No. There is still a lot of discussion going on over some very basic design decisions. I don't expect to see a release 1.0 any time soon (and if the pace doesn't pick up, ever). If you want something now that is production-ready, use osCommerce 2.3.4.1BS Edge/CE/Frozen for now (not the official 2.3.4.1 release). There should be an upgrade path to Kuuza 1.0, whenever that's ready.
  3. MrPhil

    Guest checkout

    My impression is that customers prefer "guest" checkout because they fear that if they set up an account (no more than adding a password), they'll be inundated with spam, and not having a formal "account" somehow protects them from that. How can a merchant deal with that fear? Also, it's another password to keep track of; so easy to forget that you even set up an account with this merchant. You really have to give them something extra (of value) to induce them to create an account, that will overcome any fears or annoyances -- repeat customer discounts/coupons, ability to write reviews, enhanced order tracking ability, past order history, useful cross-selling, etc. Let them feel that they're missing out on something if they don't have an account. Of course, only customers who intend to order again from you are likely to create an account in the first place -- a casual one-off buyer won't create an account if they think they'll probably never see you again. Be sure to make it easy for someone who does come back to pick up their past order history, etc. when they decide to create an account ("We'll keep the light on for you").
  4. MrPhil

    So where i landed?

    I put this guy on my "Ignored Users" list (click on your name at the upper right). I no longer have to read his nonsense.
  5. MrPhil

    So where i landed?

    Again, please don't call it "Legacy". Make it "1.0". Calling it Legacy makes it sound so... old fashioned, copycat, and therefore undesirable. Keep the version numbering clear and simple (1, 2, 3,...) and make it sound like it's something worth picking up and looking at, not something retro. If you shame it with a "Legacy" label, no one will use it -- they'll wait for the "real" one to come out. Then they'll drift away and use other products. Marketing 101.
  6. MrPhil

    What the software should be

    Well... say we have the basic data baked into the store -- is it feasible to have several different codes to handle taxonomy vs. categories vs. ?, all working on the same data, or is a store owner's choice of organization going to affect what data needs to be used? If the store owner makes the decision up front of which they want to use, their data could be tuned to one method or another. However, they might not be able to easily switch back and forth (e.g., let the customer select which view). It could be possible to switch from one to another, but that would likely require a DB revision (offline, with store temporarily down). Should all the data be present at all times for both/all methods (and will a store owner keep the unused data up-to-date)? What kind of data are we talking about, per product, per category/class, etc.? Is there enough overlap that much of the data could be in common? For non-overlapping parts, if the store owner chooses one search/classification method over the other(s), how easy is it for them to go back and update missing data if they decide they want to switch views, or give customers the choice of views? Don't wed yourself to taxonomy just because it's hip and kewl -- it may be the wrong choice for some merchants. It would be best to give a choice of which one(s) to use (or none at all!), but we have to first think about the impact on the data we need the store to keep.
  7. MrPhil

    What the software should be

    Regarding a "basic" cart, something to keep in mind is how it gets upgraded when the next version comes out. Some CMSs replace all PHP files, assuming that all customization should be in the database contents. It should be a one-button operation (at the least, check for updates to both core code and all official additions, with hooks for checking third-party additions/extensions, and inform the owner if updates are available in a big banner in the admin area and possibly an email). Same goes for language support files -- know what core languages are being supported, and what national variants (e.g., Spanish, updated by Argentine Spanish, on top of built-in English), and inform when updates are available. I think it was over in the osC forum somewhere that I recently discussed this at length. Templates/skins might be handled in the same manner. If a store owner has modified core files, selective upgrade (deltas/diffs) might be applied, or just tell the owner that the current file cannot be replaced because it's been modified, and throw it in their lap to manually upgrade (load in the new file with a .new extension, so it's available for comparison). Come to think of it, you might want to upgrade all or none, rather than do a partial upgrade. Above all, keep the store owner informed about upgrades and make it as painless as possible to upgrade, so we don't have people asking for support on 15 year old installations ("my store is heavily modified..."). Regarding categories vs. taxonomy, I've seen some long discussions on it (can't remember if it was here or over in osC land). It's not clear to me that one method has a clear advantage over the other, so making it modular and giving the owner the choice of using either might be a good approach. That is, don't bake categories into the basic structure of the product data, but make it something on the side. Is it even possible to enable both, leaving the search choice to the customer?
  8. MrPhil

    What the software should be

    A few more thoughts on language support. Since translations to non-English always seem to lag behind, how about the following: US English as base install, acting as fallback for anything not supplied in another language (no missing string errors, but could get English text in the middle of a page). Generic "other language" (e.g., Spanish/Espanol as written in Spain) installation that any "es_*" language would first point to. It would supersede the US English strings, hopefully with most if not all defined for Spanish. Anything not defined would fall back to US English. US English would be treated as the generic form for any en_* language (or UK English, if most developers would prefer that, for base install and generic English language). Country-specific terms that differ from the generic form of the language (e.g., Argentina versus Spain). It would not necessarily be a complete replacement for the Spanish package, and would probably lag even further behind than the Spanish package. If you have a common or generic Spanish language package (core + add-ons), and country-specific terms for various Spanish-speaking countries, would a merchant still need to add their own terms to fine-tune their store? I'm not sure how different something like Catalan is from "standard" Spanish (Castilian?), so Catalan might be "another language" or it might be a country-specific term pack on top of Spanish. Let's not get involved in autonomy disputes, etc. Regarding add-ons, any thoughts on the best way to handle them? An add-on might hit multiple modules or pages, so I don't know if it's possible to put everything into one file with a standard name, and automatically have the module or page try to load the add-on's base US English, then the language, then the country pack, if they exist (the base should, at a minimum). It would require standard naming conventions and possibly one file per module or page. Putting languages into a database might be a bit cleaner, with the same search order, and the database updated during add-on installation. Any idea how much slower or faster reading from the database is, versus a file? An add-on is likely to go out in US or UK English (base install) with sometimes one additional language. Some mechanism for checking and notifying the store owner when additional or updated language packs are available for an add-on (or core) would be good. The database could keep a list of what languages and countries are in use, and check for updates on a regular basis (check for new core and add-on versions at the same time). In the meantime, I suppose a merchant might supply their own translation as either a country-specific file, or even a merchant-specific override. The code might even solicit them to offer their translation as part of the language library, or advise them that their override may not be necessary any longer. On the subject of installation in other than English, it could be feasible to supply a handful of major languages. Wouldn't each not be a full Kuuza store, but just the text necessary to perform an installation and configuration? Perhaps a few dozen entries for each language? It really wouldn't bloat the installer all that much (even less if it can be requested and downloaded as the first step of installation), and can be erased after installation.
  9. MrPhil

    Waiting...

    _____)) <(O^O)> *
  10. MrPhil

    Waiting...

    I would give him until June 30 to offer "Edge" as the official 2.3.5, with a commitment to bring out "Frozen"+BS4 as 2.3.6 by the end of the year (provided that Gary's happy with it and it's been reasonably tested). I'm all for being "fair" to Harald, but he has left osC in the lurch for far too long (even predating his recent disappearance). If he has had confirmed health or family issues (we don't need to know the specifics, just that he has a legit excuse confirmed by reliable sources) and can't immediately resume his duties, he should turn over control of osC to trusted lieutenants to carry on. If osC is moving along vigorously, we can then discuss whether a Kuuza replacement is still needed (is that the official name now?), or if it would be better to work on osC 2.4 (provided Harald opens up support and development to others). Otherwise, it's the same old same old, and we should forget osC. My apologies in advance if this comes across as too harsh, but if we don't want osC to wither and die, something has to be done. If it's not clear that this fate is to be avoided, full speed ahead on Kuuza.
  11. MrPhil

    Waiting...

    As Gary listed in the 9.5 year old discussion, there are lots of things that could be done with a good attribute system, from both the shopowner and customer point of view. Let's take everyone's favorite example, tee-shirts. I want to sell 5 designs in 4 sizes (S, M, L, XL) in 3 colors (red, white, green background) in two design variations (crew and vee neck). That's 5x4x3x2 = 120 variations, each needing their own inventory count. From a customer standpoint, I'd like them to see 5 products (designs), each with a selection of size, color, and neck attributes to choose from. A few complications: one of the designs does not go well with red, so it's only available with white or green. One of the designs is a bit saucy for kids, so we only offer it in adult (L, XL) sizes. For some reason, crew necks are not available with green. It should be easy for the shopowner to mark which combinations are allowed, and track inventory separately. The customer should see 5 products, and then select an allowed attribute combination that is in stock. If there are 5 SKUs (one per design), some means must be found to internally extend the SKUs to show the various combinations, for stockkeeping, etc. On the other hand, it could be 120 different SKUs, but then a means to gather and group them into 5 product displays (one per design) is needed. Oh, and be careful about how you handle extended SKUs or product IDs. osC had a lot of problems with using curly braces {} in external product IDs, which more recent PHP and server levels are often configured to ignore (security problems). You probably would be safe to use dashes/hyphens or similar characters.
  12. MrPhil

    A Reason eCommerce is Tough!

    Very few shoppers bother to. States are losing a boatload of sales tax revenue, as well as local jobs when brick and mortar stores close. Yet they're too stupid to close ranks and come up with a streamlined sales tax system. Apparently, they're more interested in trying to poach shoppers from other states that have higher tax rates (race to the bottom). Be careful of FBA. I have purchased a few times from Amazon sellers (presumably FBA), and the sales tax is usually way low (0% or 4% state tax only, no local county/city tax), requiring extra declaration of "use tax" at the end of the year (if you care to be a schmuck good citizen). Yes, it would be good (i.e., fair to all) to force all sellers to collect and remit the proper sales tax from their customers, but that won't happen until it's a reasonably simple and consistent system (the same tax classes nationwide, rate lookup by ZIP Code or by state, one-stop remittance). It will require Federal law changes, and possibly the overturning of a Supreme Court ruling or two. I think "Avalara" does something like this for you (for most states) on a voluntary use basis, but last time I looked they only covered general sales tax (one tax class) and had problems with tax credit on returns, etc. They take a cut of the tax revenue you collect, to pay for the system, so there's no direct cost to you. If they're collecting the correct sales tax for their customer, that helps level the playing field. But as I said above, it's easy to undercharge sales tax, and no one holds their feet to the fire. Not "having to" pay sales tax is a big draw for online shoppers, and without doubt contributes to loss of business for brick and mortar stores, and the loss of jobs and tax revenues. Often the extra shipping costs (to your home versus to a store) outweigh the tax "savings", but for some reason shoppers don't seem to notice (and shipping charges can be wholly or partially buried in the price).
  13. MrPhil

    A Reason eCommerce is Tough!

    Uh, you are still legally required to pay your sales tax when you buy out of state! It's just that the seller doesn't have to collect and remit it if they don't have a "nexus" in your state. It falls to you, the consumer, to declare your purchase and pay what's usually called "use tax" (equivalent to your local sales tax). The vast majority of online buyers blow it off, and that's a major reason why brick and mortar stores are dying. If the States want to force all online sellers to collect and remit sales tax, they're going to have to greatly simplify the process: a uniform set of tax classes, rates by ZIP Code (at worst) or statewide, and a one-step centralized payment system. I doubt it's going to happen.
  14. MrPhil

    Magento sold, again

    The software used to drive the system aside, are we heading away from "install your own copy" of software, and towards "SaaS" instead? I could see that being of value to a lot of small merchants who are not software engineers themselves, and basically want an appliance to sell for them. A small monthly cost (rental) could be more cost effective for many than free software where you have to supply your own domain, hosting, and lots of time (or specialist fees) to get running and keep it running. After all, how many brick and mortar stores own their own stores, rather than renting them?
  15. MrPhil

    Design by Committee

    Don't waste your time with that 12 year old who's trying to sound like a Big Man. His intellectual level doesn't even rise to that of Reichfuehrer Drumpf. As all he wants to do is make noise like a child, it would be best to permanently ban him and remove his posts. Failing that, everyone should put him on their "ignore" list so his posts don't even show up. Just ignore him, and maybe he'll get tired of getting no responses and go away.
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