Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

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Build feature-rich online stores with Joomla! 1.0/1.5 and VirtueMart 1.1.x

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by Suhreed Sarkar | April 2009 | Joomla! MySQL Content Management e-Commerce Open Source PHP

In the previous article by Suhreed Sarkar, you have seen how to create and manage user groups and assign permissions to user groups. We also saw how to create permission modules and functions that are used for implementing a permission system for special groups. In this article, the last in the series, we will learn about managing orders, viewing an order's details, updating an order's status, creating and managing order status types, and also managing and updating product inventory.

Our shop is now ready for customers. They can register to the shop and get some permissions to browse products and place orders. After building the catalog, one of the big tasks of the shop administrator is to manage the orders. Managing an order includes viewing the order, ensuring that payment is made, shipping the product to customers ship to address, and setting the appropriate status of the order. Whenever the status of the order changes, the shop administrator can also notify the customer about its status. When the product is delivered, the status should also be changed. Sometimes, you need to change the status when the customer refunds it for some reason.

Viewing the orders

To view the list of orders placed, click on Orders | List Orders. You get the Order List screen:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

The Order List screen shows all of the orders placed so far in that store. It shows the latest order first. As you can see, it shows the order number, name of customer, date of order, date last modified, status of the order, and total price of the order.

As there may be hundreds of orders per day, you need to filter the orders and see which ones need urgent attention. You can filter the orders by their status. For example, clicking on the Pending link will show all of the orders which are pending. Viewing the list of pending orders, you may enquire why those are pending. Some may be pending for not making the payment, or you may be waiting for some offline payment. For example, when the Money Order payment method is used, the order needs to remain Pending until you receive the money order. Once you get the payment, you can change the order status to Confirmed.

Viewing an order's details

In the Order List screen, you will get an overview of each order. However, sometimes it may be necessary to view the details of an order. For viewing an order's details, in the Order List screen, click on the order number link under the Order Number column. This shows details of the order:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

In the Order Details page, you will first see the order number, order date, order status, its current status, and IP address from where the order was placed. There is a box section from where you can update the order's status and view the order's history. Then, you get the Bill To and Ship To addresses. After the Bill To and Ship To addresses, you get the list of ordered items and their prices. You can also add a new product to this order from this section. This section also shows taxes added, and shipping and handling fees:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

After the product items, you get another section which shows shipping information and payment method used:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

In the Shipping Information section, you get the carrier used, shipping mode applied, shipping price, shipping and handling fees, and shipping taxes.

The payment section shows what method was used and when the payment was made. It shows the payment history for this order. It also shows how much of a coupon discount was applied to this order. As an administrator of the shop, you can change the values in the fields where an update icon () is displayed.

At the bottom, you see the customer's comment. Customers may provide comments while placing the order. These comments may be very much valuable for the shop owner. For example, the customer may want the product to be delivered in a special way. The customer can express that in this comment.

For printing the purchase orders, you may use a printer friendly view. To see the purchase order in a printer friendly view, click on the Print View link at top. This formats the purchase order as a plain document, and also shows a printer icon. Click on that printer icon to print the purchase order.

Understanding an order's status

How is the order management workflow maintained? Mainly, this is based on the order status. After receiving an order from the customer, it passes several statuses. An order's life cycle is shown in the following diagram:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

These order status types are defined in advance. At the very outset of starting the shop, the workflow should be clearly defined.

Managing order status types

You can view the existing order status types from Orders | List Order Status Types. This shows the List Order Status Types screen:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

As you see from the screen on the previous page, there are five status types. We may add another status type of Delivered. For adding a new order status type, click on the New icon in the toolbar, or on Orders | Add Order Status Type. Both brings the Order Status screen:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

In the Order Status screen, first type the Order Status Code. For the Delivered status, assign D as code. Then, type the name of the status type in the Order Status Name text box. In the Description text area, you may provide a brief description of the order status type. At the end, specify a list order value. Then, click on the Save icon in the toolbar. This adds the new Delivered order status type. You can create as many order status types as you need.

Changing an order's status

As indicated earlier, while fulfilling the order, the shop owner needs to update the status of the order, and communicate that status change to the customer. You can change an order's status from two places. In the Order List screen, you can see the orders and also change status. For changing the status of an order, select an order status type from drop-down list in the Status column. Then, click on the Update Status button to save the change. If you want to notify the customer about this     status change, select the Notify Customer? checkbox.

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

One disadvantage of updating the order status from the Order List screen is that you cannot add a note on changing the status. The other way of updating the order status provides this advantage. For using this, click on the order number link in the Order List screen. The order details page will open. On the right side, you will see a box from where you can update the order status. Can you see the Comment text area in the following screen?

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

As you can see, from the Order Status Change tab, you can change the status, write a comment, notify the customer about the status change, and can also add the comment with that notification.

Joomla! E-Commerce with VirtueMart Build feature-rich online stores with Joomla! 1.0/1.5 and VirtueMart 1.1.x
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Viewing an order's history

While viewing an order's details, you can see its history. To see the order history, click on the order number link in the Order List screen, and go to order details page. On the right side, you get a box. Click on the Order History tab on that box. That shows that order's history:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

From the Order History tab, we know the date and time when the status was changed, whether the customer was notified or not, what status it was changed to (status code only) and the comments we added to the status changes. These are only for viewing, and we cannot change this information.

Order statistics

There are two places from where you can view order statistics. The first is the summary of orders, and another is the detailed report by products, months, weeks, and days.

Let us see the summary of orders statistics first. When you log in to the VirtueMart administration panel, you get a summary of your store's orders in the Statistics tab:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

This Statistics tab shows the number of customers, the number of active products, inactive products, and featured products. In the Orders section, it shows the number of orders by order status type. In the New Orders section, we get a listing of new orders and their prices. Similarly, you can see new customers in the New Customers section.

Of course, you will not be satisfied with the summary of orders shown in the Statistics tab. You want to see more details and analyze which products are selling and on which occasions. For this purpose, you can use the Report module in the VirtueMart administration panel. Click on Reports | Reports. This shows the Reports screen:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

As you can see, from the Reports screen, we can view monthly, weekly, or even daily order statistics. We can also select a date range and view the orders placed during that period.

Let us first see how the monthly report looks. For generating such a report, in the Set Interval field, select the Monthly radio button. Then, click on the This Month button to see orders placed in the current month. That displays the sales for that month at the bottom of the screen with a heading like 'Report for Sep 1, 2008 --> Sep 30, 2008' (as shown in the screenshot above). The report shows the period, number of orders, total items sold, and total revenue from these orders.

If you want to know which items have been sold during the current month, check the Individual Product Listings, then select Monthly in the Set Interval field, and finally, click on the This Month button. This shows the report as shown in the following screenshot:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

If you set the interval for this report to Weekly, uncheck Individual Product Listings, and click on the This Month button, the report looks like the following screenshot:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

Similarly, you can see the report for the last month, last sixty days, last ninety days, and selecting the date range, and also by daily interval. These statistics will help you manage your orders and will be of great help for promotion and public relations.

Managing inventory

When orders are placed, and you fulfill the orders, the inventory levels of products tend to reduce. You need to keep an updated inventory of all product items, and proactively restock items that are approaching a low level of stock.

In VirtueMart, you can view the inventory of product items from the Product Inventory screen. To reach the Product Inventory screen, click on Products | View Inventory:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

By default, the list hides the products that are out of stock. To view the list of all products, including those that are out of stock, click on the List All Products link. This shows the list products with 0 number in stock:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

As you can see, the item Joomla! Laptop Messenger Bag is out of stock, showing 0 in the Number field. Suppose you received 10 of that item today, and want to restock it. To do so, click on the product name link. That will open up the Update Item :: Joomla! Laptop Messenger Bag screen. On this screen, click on the Product Status tab:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

In the Product Status tab, the first field is In Stock. Type the number of items you have, say 10, in this text box, and click on the Save icon in the toolbar. You are done!

Now, go back to Product Inventory screen again. You will see that the Joomla! Laptop Messenger Bag has 10 in stock:

Managing orders in Joomla! and VirtueMart

Using the same process, you can update the stock level of any product item by entering a new value in the In Stock field on the Update Item screen.

The limitation of inventory management in VirtueMart is that, like other shopping carts, it does not warn you when a product's stock level reduces to a certain low level. It also does not show the out of stock products at a glance.

Summary

In this three-part article series you have seen how to allow customer registrations to your VirtueMart shop, how to manage the registered users, how to define extra fields for customer registration and account maintenance forms, how to create and manage user groups and assign permissions to user groups. You have also seen how to create permission modules and functions that are used for implementing a permission system for special groups. Finally, you have learned about managing orders, viewing an order's details, updating an order's status, creating and managing order status types, and also managing and updating product inventory.

 

If you have read this article you may be interested to view :

 

Joomla! E-Commerce with VirtueMart Build feature-rich online stores with Joomla! 1.0/1.5 and VirtueMart 1.1.x
Published: March 2009
eBook Price: £18.99
Book Price: £30.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Suhreed Sarkar

Suhreed Sarkar is an IT consultant, trainer and technical writer. He studied Marine engineering, served on board the ship for two years, and then started journey in to IT world with MCSE in Windows NT 4.0 track. Later he studied business administration and earned MBA from University of Dhaka. He has a bunch of BrainBench certifications on various topics including PHP4, Project Management, RDBMS Concepts, E-commerce, Web Server Administration, Internet Security, Training Development, Training Delivery and Evaluation, and Technical Writing.

He taught courses on system administration, web development, e-commerce and MIS. He has consulted several national and international organizations including United Nations, and helped clients building and adopting their web portals, large scale databases and management information systems. At present he is working on building a framework for education sector MIS, and promoting use of ICTs in education.

Suhreed is renowned technical author in Bengali – having a dozen of books published on subjects covering web development, LAMP, networking, and system administration. He authored Zen Cart: E-commerce Application Development, Joomla! E-commerce with Virtuemart, and Joomla! with Flash, published by Packt Publishing.

While not busy with hacking some apps, blogging on his blog (http://www.suhreedsarkar.com), reading philosophy of Bertrand Russell or management thought of Peter F Drucker – he likes to spend some special moments with his family. Suhreed lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Contact Suhreed Sarkar

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