Blog: Site Management

Company Stores 101: Giving Customers Money to Spend

If you’ve ever been given a gift card for your birthday, you’re familiar with the concept of “stored value”. Gift cards (or “stored value” or “retained value” cards as they’re sometimes known in the retail industry) are just one way to give customers a limited amount of money to spend at a store or restaurant.

While your storeBlox CS company store can process normal credit card transactions, it also has numerous methods for giving customers money to spend. There are a lot of reasons you might want to do this:

  • Your client wants to limit the amount of money their customers can spend
  • Your client wants to reward an employee
  • A client’s department (a group within the company) has a fixed budget that they cannot exceed

A storeBlox CS company store has three primary methods for handling this:

Gift Certificates: Gift certificates in storeBlox CS work pretty much the same way they work anywhere else; you assign a dollar value and an expiration date, then storeBlox CS generates a unique code. This code is used by the customer when they place an order.

Every gift certificate has an audit trail, which is a fancy way of saying we track all the transactions against the gift certificate, right there on the certificate itself, including the final balance:

Gift certificate transactions in storeBlox CS Company Store

Budgets: Budgets are kind of like gift certificates on steroids, and they are used for a different purpose. Gift certificates are meant to be handed out to anyone, where budgets are assigned to specific users or groups to control spending.

Two other big differences you’ll see in budgets from gift certificates: You can continually modify a budget as needed, adding or subtracting funds down the road (and even adding notes as to why!). Budgets also have built-in detail reporting of usage, and these reports can be exported to your favorite spreadsheet program whenever you like!

Budget adjustment in storeBlox CS Company Store

Points: Points stores are a topic unto themselves, but points are simply an alternative “currency” that a store can use when regular dollars are not desirable. Points have two distinct advantages over other methods of storing value.

First, points can be accumulated. That means that your client can use points to reward employees for, say, safety or performance, and the employees can collect points over time to get the things they really want. 30 points might get them a shirt, but if they have six straight months of perfect safety they can get that iPod Touch they’ve been craving.

Second, using points may have accounting advantages over other methods of giving customers money to use (we’re not accountants, so please talk to your friendly CPA about this). Since things like gift certificates can store value, your client may be “on the hook” for that dollar value until it’s used or the gift certificate expires. Points usually have no real dollar value, so the accounting implications are often less complex.

Look for a separate Company Stores 101 on points stores very soon!

Swap out product configuration images dynamically

storeBlox 2 now offers the ability to swap out the main product image when a user mouses over a thumbnail, so that all product colors or variations can be viewed as quickly as a user can move their mouse.

For products with many colors or styles, this feature gives your customers instant access to all the variations available for a product without requiring a time-consuming page refresh or opening and closing a popup window.

Best of all, this preserves the “Larger Image” feature, so a user can still click on a thumbnail to view a full-resolution image of each variation.

Click here to see the feature in action. If you’d like to start using this feature, please contact us and we’ll set it up for you.

From the storeBlox Newsletter: Embedded Multimedia

Last month, we added embedded media support to Banner Management. You can now embed multimedia files in any banner location on your site and manage them like you would any other banner.

To switch a banner to embedded media on a current storeBlox 2 site, just click the “Embedded” radio button and paste the code into the embedded box.

storeBox Banner Management screen shot

(If you’re creating your own Flash files, just use the Publish function and it will create the embed code for you. If you use a service like YouTube, the embed code can be copied from there.)

If the media file exists on a server somewhere (such as a YouTube video), you’re done. If you produced the media yourself, you’ll need to upload it to your FTP space. Make sure the links in your embed code refer to the correct URL for the file. That’s it!