Following the completion of the Drupal 7 upgrade in July, the IndieCommerce team has been busy on a number of improvements, large and small, to the platform. Here’s a look at what has been done over the past few months and what’s upcoming for October and November.
- Maintenance Window: The IndieCommerce team announced the establishment of a routine maintenance window on the second Tuesday of each month. During maintenance, the team will run system updates and patches, including any updates released by Drupal for core and contributed modules. There have been three successful scheduled maintenance windows since August. Deploying updates in an organized and orderly way helps keep IndieCommerce sites secure while minimizing interruptions.
- Search Weights: By popular request, the “search weights” feature was added to the Drupal 7 platform.
- Bulk Upload of Book Lists: This new feature allows stores to upload books and products to a book list by entering ISBNs or SKUs in a form. This provides a quick and tidy way to create and maintain large lists without having to enter ISBNs individually.
- Store Outlets Improvements: For sites with multiple outlets, the pickup outlet selected by a customer should be displayed on the page with the list of active orders (store -> orders). This feature was available in Drupal 6 but was not part of the original upgrade to Drupal 7. In response to member requests, the store location display is now available on all Drupal 7 sites with multiple outlets.
- Online Training: IndieCommerce announced an initiative to help educate stores on getting the most out of their websites. Key points of the initiative include live, hands-on webinars with IndieCommerce staff, as well as brand-new training videos and extensive documentation updated for Drupal 7.
- Search Relevance Improvements, Part 1: In September, IndieCommerce rolled out the first wave of a series of improvements to the IndieCommerce book search. The first set of improvements focused on keyword relevance and improving the placement of results based on exact match of title or author name.
- Variable Price Module: A variable price feature is now available to IndieCommerce sites. When added to a product, this feature will allow customers to choose what they want to pay. It’s a perfect fit for gift cards, as it allows customers to enter any gift card denomination of their choice. (Previously, gift card denominations were fixed.) The variable price feature can also be used for donations.
- ISBN-10 Search: The ability to search by ISBN-10 has been added back to IndieCommerce. Typing an ISBN-10 into the search bar will automatically convert it to ISBN-13 and retrieve the relevant title. In order to maintain backwards compatibility without disruption for stores that use ISBN-10-like SKUs for custom products, a new store preference was added to disable this feature.
- Hide Logos on Invoice: Stores can now choose to remove their logo from invoices e-mailed to customers.
October 2015 to Date
- Message Center Improvements: The ABA message center will now display the number of unread messages; highlighting will automatically disappear once they have been read. This should help alert administrators to important communications from IndieCommerce.
- Add to Cart Disabled for Out-of-Stock Products: If a custom product has been marked out of stock, customers will no longer be able to purchase it. Previously, the stock function simply notified an administrator when on-hand numbers ran low.
- Unpublished Products Hidden From Book Lists: On book lists, customers will no longer be able to see custom products that have been marked unpublished by an administrator. It is no longer necessary to explicitly remove the product from each list that it appears on.
- Search Relevance Improvements, Part 2 (October 2015): In the next week or two, IndieCommerce will be rolling out the second part of its improvements to search relevance. This update focuses on emphasizing keywords contained in book titles over keywords in subtitles, and it adds a special boost to handle the case of books with titles that are only one word long.
- Advanced Search (Late October 2015): Some stores have requested a return of the advanced search feature from Drupal 6. This update will bring that functionality back, and add much more. Site users will be able to locate books by a wide range of attributes, including publisher, price, age range, publication date, availability, and more. In total, about 25 different attributes will be searchable.
- Many More Books (November 2015): IndieCommerce is working with Ingram to add a significant number of print-on-demand and local interest titles from Ingram’s larger catalog.
- Predictive Search (Expected November 2015): Search will autocomplete relevant results as customers type.
This list includes improvements accomplished or scheduled to date, but more features will be added in the coming months. ABA remains totally committed to providing the best possible e-commerce product to member stores. And, as always, it encourages booksellers to contact the IndieCommerce team regarding features they’d like to see added, what is working, and what isn’t. The IndieCommerce development list is based on member feedback.
ABA’s efforts to communicate more effectively with IndieCommerce users, as well as to provide a range of educational resources, are also ongoing.
The IndieCommerce Help Center has recently been supplemented by several new educational offerings. The IndieCommerce Video Training Center on BookWeb.org, which launched last month, currently features six videos ranging from content types and themes to uploading images and creating a block, and more videos are on the way. In addition, live, biweekly training webinars, which include a 30-minute question-and-answer period, are being hosted by the IndieCommerce team. Registration for the third webinar in the series is open now, and two more are scheduled. Videos of the first two webinars are available in the new IndieCommerce Webinar Center.
ABA also updates IndieCommerce stores about important developments and new features via the IndieCommunication newsletter. Booksellers can sign up to receive the newsletter in the IndieCommerce Help Center, and an archive of past newsletters is available to stores via BookWeb.org.
Lastly, anyone looking for insights into the origins and development of IndieCommerce should read last week’s letter by ABA CEO Oren Teicher, which provides the backstory on the creation of the association’s e-commerce product for member stores.
Booksellers with questions about anything relating to IndieCommerce are encouraged to contact the IndieCommerce team. Customer support is available by e-mail and phone from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time; to support West Coast members, e-mail is monitored for urgent matters until 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. On weekends, e-mail is monitored for emergencies. In addition, the IndieCommerce servers are monitored 24/7.