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View Full Version : Creating order forms using Excel and maybe a database



ArtisanPerfumer
07-05-2007, 07:45 PM
I'm looking into using BlueVoda but haven't yet begun building my site (and have only tinkered, so far, with BlueVoda) partly because I want to understand pretty thoroughly all of my product presentation choices, first (I'm not sure if I'll do a gallery-style site with offline order processing, a shopping cart presentation with offline order processing, or online order processing).

While contemplating and researching shopping cart, form creation, database, etc. options last week, I ran across a program that converts Excel spreadsheets into html or php forms for the Web. It seems like the Excel spreadsheet would need to be formatted sufficiently (with all possible shipping, tax rate, discount code, etc. scenarios) prior to conversion. Once the spreadsheet is formatted properly, it would then be plugged it into the program that converts it into html or php...and then that file would be plugged into my site.

I'm wondering if this would be a simple alternative to shopping cart software. It wouldn't look like a shopping cart in that customers couldn't add multiple products from multiple pages, one by one, but they could be given a complete listing (on one page) of all my products and enter the items that they want...and tweak until they're happy with the total price, # of each item, and ratio of shipping to goods, etc. With a secure website, the form itself would be secure, too, I imagine, and credit card information could be taken right there with the order.

Also, somehow, I'd want that Excel spreadsheet to hold inventory information so that I don't make available for sale products which aren't available. Does anyone know how this could work? Maybe I'd need to just look over my database and run a report daily...plug new figures into that Excel file at the start of each day...convert the file each morning, and upload the new file after that.

Do any form gurus or shopping cart experts here know if this sounds like a viable option? That way, I could use BlueVoda, Excel, XLeverywhere, and an accounting software to bring it all together.


Here is a link to a sample (converted) form.
http://www.xleverywhere.com/samples/...rder_form1.htm (http://www.xleverywhere.com/samples/order_form/order_form1.htm)

Here is a link to some information about the product that creates the conversion.
http://www.xleverywhere.com/samples/...order_form.htm (http://www.xleverywhere.com/samples/order_form/order_form.htm)


Regards,
Perfumer (feeling a bit overwhelmed by what I don't yet know about website creation)

navaldesign
07-05-2007, 08:33 PM
Also, I'm looking into using BlueVoda but haven't yet begun building my site (and have only tinkered, so far, with BlueVoda) partly because I want to understand pretty thoroughly all of my product presentation choices, first (I'm not sure if I'll do a gallery-style site with offline order processing, a shopping cart presentation with offline order processing, or online order processing).

These are completely different approaches, so you should better first decide what you want to do.

While contemplating and researching shopping cart, form creation, database, etc. options last week, I ran across a program that converts Excel spreadsheets into html or php forms for the Web. It seems like the Excel spreadsheet would need to be formatted sufficiently (with all possible shipping, tax rate, discount code, etc. scenarios) prior to conversion. Once the spreadsheet is formatted properly, it would then be plugged it into the program that converts it into html or php...and then that file would be plugged into my site.

I'm wondering if this would be a simple alternative to shopping cart software. It wouldn't look like a shopping cart in that customers couldn't add multiple products from multiple pages, one by one, but they could be given a complete listing (on one page) of all my products and enter the items that they want...and tweak until they're happy with the total price, # of each item, and ratio of shipping to goods, etc. With a secure website, the form itself would be secure, too, I imagine, and credit card information could be taken right there with the order.

This kind of form can be used as a off line order form that sends an email to you, and also store the data in a database (you will need a script capable of doing so) but, as it is, can NOT be used to trigger a shopping cart.

Also, somehow, I'd want that Excel spreadsheet to hold inventory information so that I don't make available for sale products which aren't available. Does anyone know how this could work?

You would need a database system and your script should check the unsold quantities. Then, upon submission, the processing script should also update the database with quantities ordered. After return from the payment gateway, the script should also subtract the ordered quantities from the total ones.

Maybe I'd need to just look over my database and run a report daily...plug new figures into that Excel file at the start of each day...convert the file each morning, and upload the new file after that.

If you only have quantity 1 for an item and it gets sold in the morning, how will the next customers know ?

Do any form gurus or shopping cart experts here know if this sounds like a viable option? That way, I could use BlueVoda, Excel, XLeverywhere, and an accounting software to bring it all together.

Not in my opinion, but ofcourse it is your call. I understand it as an order form, but not as part of a shoping cart. On the other hand, i must admit that most shops are not real shops, just Buy Now buttons that drive an external cart (Cart Manager, or Mal's or PayPAl or other) so, no available quantity check is possible with those (i think). OSComerce and other in site hosted carts perform all these features and wil solve many problems (though they are the origin of others, like style)

Watdaflip
07-05-2007, 08:49 PM
I don't think it would be a good idea. I looked at the website of the product, and it just doesn't look like it is a very advanced piece of software. I doubt it has that great of security measures, if any (And no, just because the rest of a website is secure doesn't make a script within it secure, in fact the script would compromise the entire site). Credit card payment with it wouldn't be possible (if not functionally, its not for security, it doesn't mention any compatibility with ssl (secure socket layer), which is a must for any online payment.

I believe naval has given you the best solution for what you are wanting, and that is to use OS commerce (or Zen Cart), which will track your inventory, as well as a professionally developed piece of software. (I don't trust generated software)

navaldesign
07-05-2007, 09:03 PM
To be honest, this is a great piece of software, that practically allowes transferring an Excel spreadsheet in a html form. The calculations are done using Javascript that is automatically created when the software analyzes the spreadsheet. It supports (as others similar to this) most of excel's functions. I have used a similar one in this example order form (http://www.dbtechnosystems.com/formaexcel1.html) which i have then manually edited in part to get the look i needed. Security measures could be also added by someone that knows how to add some php code.

However, it is not, in my opinion, good for a shopping cart.

ArtisanPerfumer
07-06-2007, 02:03 AM
Navaldesign and whatdaflip,

Thank you each for sharing your feedback and experience!
Great information you each gave. I'm understanding a lot more already.

What is generated software, whatdaflip?

I think I'd really like my site to look more original than the shopping cart look will allow (but I don't really know what's possible since I've not yet used Zen Cart or any other shopping cart system), but I also don't have a lot of money to put into customizing the look, and I've heard that this can be a really time-consuming and tedious process...sounds like paying might be the better option.

How difficult (for someone who doesn't yet know how to code) is Zen Cart to use as it comes? How difficult is it to customize? Is programming needed for either option (as-is or customized)? If so, what sort? HTML? PHP? etc?

Is Zen Cart and online-only system where all of my information is kept online only? Or would I also have the ability to hold it all on my computer as well?

I imagine that Zen Cart or some other comparable program wouldn't update my accounting program with each purchase. Let say, I tell Zen Cart I have 10 of Item A. Two days later Zen Cart shows that I have 5 left. In that 2-day period, let's say I've entered into my accounting program that I've created a new batch of Item A and now have another 100 of those for sale. So, I'd need to subtract from my accounting database any that have sold and then add to Zen Cart the new 100 pieces? Maybe the QB forum will help me answer this question.

Also, maybe I'll need to create a separate thread for this question, but I've been wondering if BlueVoda allows HTML (etc.) to be manually-entered (in the event that I either (1) learn to code some or (2) pay a programmer to help me add features that BlueVoda doesn't yet supply visually). I think that's possible since I see a button for inserting HTML. Also, can the code behind the visually-designed part of my site be accessed if I, one day, were to want to take my site with me to another host. Would just having the source code that's publicly visible on the Web be all I need (to copy and paste) in a situation like that?

ArtisanPerfumer
07-06-2007, 02:44 AM
Navaldesign and whatdaflip,

Thank you each for sharing your feedback and experience!
Great information you each gave. I'm understanding a lot more already.

What is generated software, whatdaflip?

I think I'd really like my site to look more original than the shopping cart look will allow (but I don't really know what's possible since I've not yet used Zen Cart or any other shopping cart system), but I also don't have a lot of money to put into customizing the look, and I've heard that this can be a really time-consuming and tedious process...sounds like paying might be the better option.

How difficult (for someone who doesn't yet know how to code) is Zen Cart to use as it comes? How difficult is it to customize? Is programming needed for either option (as-is or customized)? If so, what sort? HTML? PHP? etc?

Is Zen Cart and online-only system where all of my information is kept online only? Or would I also have the ability to hold it all on my computer as well?

I imagine that Zen Cart or some other comparable program wouldn't update my accounting program with each purchase. Let say, I tell Zen Cart I have 10 of Item A. Two days later Zen Cart shows that I have 5 left. In that 2-day period, let's say I've entered into my accounting program that I've created a new batch of Item A and now have another 100 of those for sale. So, I'd need to subtract from my accounting database any that have sold and then add to Zen Cart the new 100 pieces? Maybe the QB forum will help me answer this question.

Also, maybe I'll need to create a separate thread for this question, but I've been wondering if BlueVoda allows HTML (etc.) to be manually-entered (in the event that I either (1) learn to code some or (2) pay a programmer to help me add features that BlueVoda doesn't yet supply visually). I think that's possible since I see a button for inserting HTML. Also, can the code behind the visually-designed part of my site be accessed if I, one day, were to want to take my site with me to another host. Would just having the source code that's publicly visible on the Web be all I need (to copy and paste) in a situation like that?

ArtisanPerfumer
07-06-2007, 02:58 AM
If there's *never* (except if I were to use QB as my merchant service provider) any real-time inventory updating happening, maybe a shopping cart wouldn't be as useful as it appears, on the surface, to be. ??

Maybe offline processing (and an order form instead of a shopping cart?) would be just fine as long as I include a statement on my site that lets customers know that their card is not billed until after the order is packed in order to avoid overbilling in case I am out of any product.

And, on the products for which just a few are available, indicate this on my website. ?

ArtisanPerfumer
07-06-2007, 03:46 AM
I just found a form-builder by CoffeeCup with a sample form at the following link.
http://www.coffeecup.com/form-builder/sample/2/

From what Naveldesign said, I would need to have someone add some php script to it to make it secure. Would the security of the form then match that of an SSL Certificate?

Watdaflip
07-06-2007, 04:30 AM
No, a SSL certificate uses a secure port to interact with the website using data encryption. The security that can be provided by a php script is after the data is sent to the server, the security SSL provides happens before the data is sent, and prevents someone from intercepting the transportation of sensitive information between the user and the server

navaldesign
07-06-2007, 06:46 AM
I agree that a SSL certificate is more secure. Not only, but will also make your visitors feel more secure when they see that this info exchange takes place under a secured environment.

Zen Cart as well as OSC do take into account the quantities sold. You only need to update with newly purchased batches. They will take off the inventory the sold quantities.

It takes both php and html coding to customize a cart. However, there are companies specialized in such customization that will do the job for a reasonable price. Another yet solution would be to find, purchase and install a template that suits your aesthetic requirements, without further customization, in which case the steps to follow involve little or no coding.

ArtisanPerfumer
07-09-2007, 08:36 PM
I came across a very positive review of CartManager, then did a little search and some CM info. appeared on a page called http://www.htmlshoppingcart.com/ whose name seems to imply that CM is html-based (rather than php-based?). But it's processed over SSL; so, I'm guessing HTML-based wouldn't be a problem. If you think otherwise, I'm all ears.

navaldesign
07-09-2007, 09:27 PM
Cart Manager is well known. Many members here use both the free and the paid for versions. It requires no php because it is NOT hosted in your site. You simply add Buy Now buttons in your pages and the order is passed to your account with them.

ArtisanPerfumer
07-18-2007, 05:10 PM
Are there any drawbacks with CM that you're aware of?

Another set of options (for transferring sales and inventory adjustments into QB...and this option alone seems to be worth going with a shopping cart over a simple order page/form) that was recommended was:
Virtual Cart (www.vcart.com (http://www.vcart.com/)) shopping cart +
Bay State Consulting's TPI program (www.baystateconsulting.com (http://www.baystateconsulting.com/)) to import into QB (but TPI requires about 4-6 hours of coding work to set it up; however there is a tutorial and free tech support to help with the coding).