#2 Creating a Department & Managing Inventory

A Department is, essentially, a page on your website that displays items for sale. Each Department you create will have a separate page on your website. You may want to create different Department pages for different types of items. For example, put your jams & jellies on one Department page and your fresh produce on a separate Department page. This keeps your Ecommerce store organized and makes it easy for your customers to find what they want.

This article will take you through the process of setting up your Ecommerce Departments. It will cover the following topics:

  Creating a Department
  Adding Items & Managing Inventory
  Department Settings
  Viewing a Department on your Website

Get Started!

Creating a Department

You may decide to create one Department to handle all of the sales for your CSA or you may decide to create different departments to handle different ordering windows, products, or pickups. Start with one Department for now. Small Farm Central Support Staff can help you create a more complex set-up in the future. Whatever way you decide to organize your Ecommerce store, your first step is to create at least one department page that will hold your items. To start, log in to the Control Panel and navigate to:

   Sell > Manage > Departments

Once you are on the 'Manage Departments' page, click on the 'Click here to create a new department' link located in the yellow box. This will take you to the 'Create New Department' page.

   Figure 1. Create New Department Page

Follow these steps to create your first Department:

  1. Under the section entitled 'Department Information' type the name of the Ecommerce page you would like to create. For example: Jams & Jellies. You may add a short description of important information about your Department here.

  2. The next section, entitled 'Menu category to create department' determines the location of your department in your website’s navigation bar. (for Small Farm Central website subscribers). For more about this, read the “Managing Menus” article in the Website Tools section of the Knowledge Base.

  3. The 'Display of Items' section includes the 'Sort Method' used to show which items appear first when your customers are shopping. You can set your department to display them by weight or alphabetically.

  4. The 'Checkout Option' determines how customers complete orders from this department. Options include Invoice Only, Paypal, Authorize.Net, or combinations of the three. For a complete list of options and information on how they work, read the article “Configuring Checkout & Shipping” in the Getting Started with Ecommerce section of the Knowledge Base. For now choose any 'Checkout Option' that makes sense. You can change this later.

  5. The next section addresses 'sold-out' inventory. Normally when an item in your inventory is 'sold-out', it won't be shown as an option for purchase, that is, until you replenish the inventory. If you would like the 'sold-out' items in this department to still be shown (so that your customers can see the products you normally offer), click the checkbox to display 'sold-out' items. You can change the display message for these items as well.

  6. The final section determines whether or not "shipping rules" will apply to this department. If you won't be charging any shipping or handling fees for your Ecommerce orders, you can leave this unchecked. If you want to charge shipping and/or handling fees, we'll talk more about how to do that in the "Configuring Ecommerce Checkout" article

When you are finished, click the Create Department button at the bottom of the page. This will take you to the "Edit Department" page. Here you will see some of the details of your Department including the title & description that you created previously. There are other things to edit on this page that we will go over in the other “Getting Started with Ecommerce” articles.(Click on the links below this article to learn more.)

Adding Items & Managing Inventory

Now it's time to add items to your Department. Click on the link entitled 'Edit Inventory' at the top of the page. (You can also add items by navigating to: Sell > Manage > Items) Click the 'Create New Item' link located in the yellow box.

   Figure 2. Create New Item Page

Follow these steps to add Items to your new Department:

  1. Choose an item name and write a brief description. If you have a photo of your item in your Gallery, select it from your photo options. You can also upload a new photo by clicking the 'Click here to upload a new image' link. (For more information on uploading photos read the "Uploading Photos & Creating a Gallery" article in the Getting Started with Website Tools section of the Knowledge Base.)

  2. 'Producers' can be used to acknowledge that different items are sourced from different farms or even separate parts of one farm. When you create inventory for your departments, you are asked to assign it to a Producer. Often there will only be one choice (your farm) but you can add more producers to have more customized reporting. Click the 'Create More Producers' link to add more options.

  3. If you have more than one Department created they will be listed in the "Pricing and Inventory" section at the bottom of the "Create New Item" page. Here you can change the pricing & inventory details by clicking on the title of the Department that you want to add your item to.

If you are only going to have only one option under that item, you can fill in the price and inventory information in the fields that pop up when you click on the department name. You can click the "ignore quantity available" option if you have significant inventory and are not worried about running out.

If you are going to have multiple options under an item (such as Small, Medium, Large), you'll want to click the blue plus sign + to switch over to creating multiple options. Click the plus sign to add as many options as you need.

When you are finished, don't forget to click the Submit button! Repeat these steps until you have added all the items that you would like to offer.

Here is an example of an item in a Department on a Small Farms Central Website:

   Figure 3. Item in a Department on a Small Farms Central Website

Managing Inventory
Eventually, you will want to make changes to the items you added to your Ecommerce Store. The Inventory page allows you to view all of the items in one department at once so you can quickly change inventory quantities, prices, weight, and even remove items from a Department. Seeing all the inventory on one screen will also make it easier for you to decide what order you would like them to be displayed in. Navigate to the inventory page by following the path:

   Sell > Manage > Inventory

As you make changes to each item, you will see a checkbox appear next to those that have changed or an “X” if an inventory item is marked for deletion. (You can unmark an item for deletion by clicking the text link again.) Though you will see what is marked to be changed, you still must click the Submit Changes button for your changes to take effect.

Department Settings

To make a few more edits to your Department’s settings navigate to:

   Sell > Manage > Departments

Then click the "Edit" link next to the Department you wish to make changes to. This will take you to an editing page for that Department. See below:

   Figure 4. Edit Department Page

Here you will be able to:

Change the Name & Description
The Department name will show up as the title of the page. The description shows up right below the title, but above the item list.

Set Private Access
This tool will make your new Department restricted to only certain users or members. For users or members to be able to view and purchase items from this department, they will need a login/password.To learn more about this, read the article “Creating a Private Department” in the Ecommerce Tools section of the Knowledge Base.

Open & Close your Department
You may choose to restrict the hours that you have your Department open. For example: a Department that is open for a few days or one that closes the day before pick-up. At the start of the ordering window, you will likely want to send an email out to your members with the Mailing List tool to tell your customers that the department is open for business. (For more information on the Mailing List tool, read the "Creating User Groups & Sending Emails" in the Getting Started with Website Tools section of the Knowledge Base. To turn off the department when the ordering window is closed, you may go to:

   Sell > Manage > Departments

Click the 'Click to Disable' link beside the department if you would like to manually disable a department. You can also set up departments to automatically close at a certain date/time. To set this up, click the 'Edit' link to be taken to the 'Edit Department' page. In the 'Auto-disable Department After Date/Time' section you can set a time when your store will "close" and compose a 'Disabled Message' that your members will see to let them know when the store will open again or other important information. Don't forget to click the Save Changes button when you are finished!

Viewing a Department on your Website

Now that you have created a department and added some items, it’s a good idea to see how it will all look on your website. It is always important to review the changes you make in the Control Panel on your public site to make sure everything looks as you expect it to. There are three ways to find your Department page on your public site:

  • Click the 'Open Public Site' link in the top right hand corner of the Control Panel and navigate to the department page using the regular navigation of your website. Note: Your Department will be located under the menu category that you selected in Step 2 of the "Creating a Department" section in this article.

  • Navigate to: Sell > Manage > Departments. Then click on the name of the Department to open the public website version in a new window.

  • If you have a "Member Assembler" account without a Small Farm Central website, you may want to add links to your department on your CSA sign-up page by navigating to: *Display > Widgets > Widgets. Click the "edit" link next to your Membership Actions widget and add your store. If you do not have the Membership Actions widget enabled, choose it from the list of Prebuilt Widgets. Alternately, you can add the "Department Links" widget under the Ecommerce widgets. You can also use the Department's URL in a link on your main website. Contact Farmer Support by calling 412-567-3864 or emailing support@smallfarmcentral.com if you need further help with this step.

Here is an example of a Department on a Small Farms Central website:

   Figure 5. A Department Page on a Small Farm Central Website

Notice that you can click 'Add to Cart' to start a shopping cart. Also, clicking on the photo, the item name, or the 'More Info' link leads to a page with more information about each item. Looking at your Department on the public page should give you a better idea of what information you will want to include with each item. Figure 3. shows an example of an item in a Department on a Small Farms Central Website) Feel free to test the Checkout procedure now, but we will set this up further in the next Getting Started with Ecommerce article, "Configuring Checkout & Shipping" in the Knowledge Base.

You have just set up your first Department and have completed the first step towards offering your customers a more dynamic shopping experience on your website.

Remember: If you need extra help setting up a more dynamic Ecommerce store for box customization or a buying club, contact Farmer Support by calling 412-567-3864 or emailing support@smallfarmcentral.com.

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