ShopSite Tip – Merchant Alerts and Shipping Errors

A while back, we wrote about Payment Processor Errors and how they can be easily reviewed with the addition of the Merchant Alerts feature in ShopSite Pro v11 SP2.  Today we’re going to review another common alert tracked in Merchant Alerts – Shipping Errors.

Where Is It?

Merchant Alerts is in ShopSite Pro starting with v11 SP2 and it’s available on the Commerce Setup screen.  You can configure what alerts to track, whether to email you when an error occurs, and you can view prior error details.

Email Alerts

While sometimes they can be a little overwhelming on larger stores, the email alerts that ShopSite will send are pretty concise and let you know right away if a customer had a problem.

When you receive an alert email from your store, it will usually have a subject line looking something like this:

ShopSite Alert: Failure in FedEx for *store-id*, Tracking ID: d61fee80-548d-11e4

The “Failure in” part will tell you which module had an error, the “*store-id*” will be your store ID (helpful if you have more than one store) and the “Tracking ID” will be the ID for the issue.

The email will contain details for what the error was, as well as a link to view the details.

Sample Errors

There are a whole variety of errors that ShopSite will track and here are a few samples from alert emails that we have seen customers report recently:

Module: FedEx
Error code:
There are no valid services available.

Common Cause – Invalid zip code or one not serviceable by FedEx, such as an APO address.

Module: UPS
Error code:
The Ship To postal code is invalid for the selected location. (Error code: 113021)

Common Cause – Invalid zip code or one not serviceable by UPS, such as an APO address.

Module: USPS
Error code:
The Destination ZIP Code you have entered is invalid.

Common Cause – (You can see the trend here!) Invalid zip code entered by the customer

When In Doubt – Click The Link

At the bottom of all merchant alert emails will be a link to the details for that alert in your ShopSite backoffice.  So if the alert email doesn’t have enough information or if you are curious for more details go ahead and click the link to login to your backoffice and view that specific error.  The link will look like this:

To view this error, go to the ShopSite back-office for the store at:

Viewing the details will allow you to see what Country & Zip Code were selected, and even what was in their shopping cart.  You may even see a message saying the customer was able to complete their order.  That looks like this:

The order for this error ended successfully as Order#1455.

If you see that then you know the customer resolved their issue and placed their order correctly.

Replicate & Research

If you don’t see anything obvious for the cause of the error, like a 6 digit zip code, then you can use the details from the merchant alert to try and replicate the error.  To do that just place a test order for the same products it shows the customer had in their cart, and use the same country and zip code.  That will allow you to see if there is an issue or if it was just a temporary issue with that specific shipping service.

TIP: When researching the issue, be sure that the products the customer ordered all have weights assigned to them.  If they do not then a real-time API rate cannot be calculated.

To check zip codes, the USPS has a lookup tool here:!input.action

Click “Cities By Zip Code” on that page to enter a zip and view its cities.  If it’s invalid that will explain the issue, or if it shows something like “APO AE” then you know it’s a military location and only USPS can deliver there.

If you suspect there was an outage with a shipping API, we have a monitor site here that tracks API outages:

As you will see most shipping alerts come down to user error, usually by accidentally typing an invalid zip code or having the wrong country selected, but it only takes a few minutes to go into the backoffice and review the details to see what happened.

Further Reading

Shipping API Monitor – What Does 1 Year Tell Us?

ShopSite Tip – Payment Processor Errors

Ecommerce Tip: Social Logins For A Better Customer Experience

According to a recent survey by Janrain, a majority of customers (perhaps as many as 50-80%) prefer to use an existing social media account for log-in/registration on e-commerce sites.  The most popular of which has been Facebook Connect which accounts for 55% of all social logins.


Providing social login options to customers simplifies the registration process.   Ease of registration/sign-in should lead to greater customer engagement.  It’s also one less set of credentials for the customer and merchant to manage.

ShopSite Integration

Merchants running ShopSite Pro (v11 or higher) can seamlessly integrate with Facebook Connect, allowing new and returning customers the ability to  register/sign-in using their existing Facebook account.  Enabling this feature greatly simplifies the registration process and makes signing in a breeze.

When a customer elects to Register via Facebook, all “shareable” data is passed to the ShopSite Customer Registration module and saved in the same way as a traditional registration.

1.  Log into Facebook ( and follow the instructions provided by ShopSite to create a new Facebook App:


Hint: In order to follow the above instructions, it is necessary to exit from the Facebook “Quick Start” mode (starts by default)


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2.  Under Commerce > Customer Registration > Configure, paste the App ID, App Secret and Site URL (from above Facebook App settings)

Facebook Connect

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3.  To verify Facebook login is now enabled and working, navigate to your ShopSite Registration or Sign-In page.   You should see the Facebook login button.

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If your current Customer Registration template does not include support for Facebook Connect, the following additions will be necessary.  To identify the template currently in use by Customer Registration, go to Commerce > Customer Registration > Configure.  The field to look for is Registration Template.

Merchandising > Custom Templates > Advanced (Customer Registration)

1.  Add the following to the desired location within the [-- DEFINE New_Registration --] section of the template:

[-- IF CR_FACEBOOK_CONNECT --][-- CR_FACEBOOK_CONNECT --]<span id=”cr-or”>[-- Store.Email_SignUp_Or --]</span>[-- END_IF --]

2.  Add the following to the desired location within the [-- DEFINE Sign_In --] section of the template:

[-- IF CR_FACEBOOK_CONNECT --][-- CR_FACEBOOK_CONNECT --]<span id=”cr-or”>[-- Store.Email_SignUp_Or --]</span>[-- END_IF --]

3.  At the end of the customer registration template, add the following section:

### E-mail for Forgotten Password if Address is a Facebook Login Customer ###
[-- DEFINE Forgot_Password_Facebook_Email --]
DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN” “”>
<p>[-- STORE.RegisteredFacebookEmail --]</p>
<p><b>[-- STORE.Name --]</b></p>
[-- END_DEFINE Forgot_Password_Facebook_Email --]

To match the layout/style of your current registration template, it may be necessary to add HTML/CSS.

Magento Integration

Merchants running Magento Community Edition can install one of several popular extensions available via Magento Connect.  Most will also include support for Twitter, Google+, Linked In and other social media platforms.

Below are a few of the more popular extensions compatible with the latest CE version (1.9):

Social Login by LitExtension

The LitExtension includes a tutorial for setting up API credentials with some of the most popular social media sites.

GoMage Social Connector

AddShoppers: Social Marketing Apps for eCommerce

Note: An account on Magento Connect (free) is required in order to download/install extensions.

First-time Magento Connect users will want to read this short installation guide:

After installing an extension you may need to copy the files to your custom theme and skin folders.

Complexity of integration with Magento will vary by extension.  Some minor template modifications may be necessary to achieve the desired look and feel.

It’s Never Too Early To Start Preparing For The Holidays

September is here, fall is on its way, and it’s the time for pumpkin spice everything, but it’s also a great time to spend some time preparing your online store for the holiday season.

1. Mobile & Responsive Design

Online store purchases made with phones or tablets account for over 11% of sales on average, and it’s increasing every year.  If you are working on a new design for your site, or thinking about doing it soon, Responsive Design is the way to go.  If you’re not ready for a new design yet, ShopSite 11SP1 and newer has a mobile feature you can enable.  While not a responsive method, it still provides mobile friendly pages to your customers.

2. Speed: Google & Customers Like It

A fast loading website will not only improve your search engine ranking, but your customers will like it too.  Don’t let your competitors have more sales due to your site loading slowly.  For example, do you have a slide show with 20 images pre-loading?  Cut that down to 5 or work with your developer to have it load 1 first and the load the remaining images after the rest of the pages loads for the user.

3. Target Google Shopping Campaigns

Review your Google Shopping Campaign settings and target your most profitable and popular products.  You want to make sure you’re spending your advertising budget in the best possible way.

4. Your Checkout Page Is Secure, Right?

Place a test order and make sure your checkout and thank you pages display their SSL lock symbols correctly and there are no warnings about insecure items loading.  If there are, review the issue with your developer and they can check the code for insecure images or other items that may be breaking it.  We have a great tool to help find insecure items called Why No Padlock?

5. Sales & Coupons – What Options Are There?

When you set up your sales, coupons, or other discounts – be sure to test everything ahead of time.  Don’t send out a mailing to thousands of customers and find out from a customer that the coupon code doesn’t work!

Here’s a blog post we published last year with a variety of tips and options for promotions you can do in ShopSite:

For Magento stores, this tutorial will show you how to configure coupons:

6. Saving Shopping Carts Can Save A Sale

A customer may not finish their purchase on their first visit to your site, but if they return to complete it and find their cart empty they may not bother to find the products on the store and buy them again.  Don’t let that happen!

ShopSite defaults to saving the cart contents for 7 days so  when the customer returns the products will still be in their cart.  If you have ShopSite Pro you can adjust the value if you would like with the “Keep unfinished shopping carts” field on the Commerce Setup > Order System > Shopping Cart screen.  ShopSite Starter & Manager are hard-coded to 7 days.

For Magento, this feature is called the “Persistent Shopping Cart” and here are the steps to set it to 7 days (604800 seconds):

In the admin panel, go to:
System -> Customers -> Persistent Shopping Cart

Set the following parameters:
Enable Persistence: Yes
Persistence Lifetime (seconds): 604800
Enable “Remember Me”: No
“Remember Me” Default Value: Yes
Clear Persistence on Log Out: No
Persist Shopping Cart: Yes

7. Shipping API Backup Plans

While real-time shipping APIs allow you to provide multiple and accurate shipping rates to your customers, once in a while a carrier’s API servers go offline or have delays reporting rates.  We have a website at which you can use anytime to check to see if an API is online and returning rates.  If your store is reporting shipping errors you can go there to see if it’s an outage.

If the API you use is offline or having connections problems, and you don’t run any others, you could put an extra shipping option in place temporarily so your customers can still place orders.  Maybe you setup a flat rate Ground Shipping options, or enable another carrier, but it can be very helpful to have a backup plan available in case your carrier’s API is ever offline.

More Suggestions…

Would you like some more ideas and tips for holiday preparation?  Check out the links below for more suggestions:


Extending Magento

While Magento CE has a robust built-in feature set, there are times when desired functionality is seemingly non-existent (e.g Full page cache, Google Shopping feeds, Affiliates program, etc…).  In this post, we’ll review some “best practices” for addressing functionality gaps in Magento.



magento-logoTo get started, we highly recommend outlining known requirements, expectations and assumptions.  This critical first step can mean the difference between success and failure.

Sharing a consistent set of well written requirements with each technical contact you consult (e.g. community boards, developers, web hosts, vendors, etc…), helps ensure recommendations are accurate and their experience and expertise fully leveraged.  Spending quality time on requirements saves time and money, while also reducing frustration (for everyone, including the merchant).  Bottom line – Don’t skip this step :)


Perception vs. Reality

The Magento backend is highly configurable and at times quite complex.  Prior to extending core functionality, it’s important to dedicate some time to ruling out the possibility a desired change could be met using existing functionality.  Leveraging a core feature avoids not only the upfront costs associated with extensions and custom development, but also the on-going maintenance third-party code brings to the table (especially during upgrades).

Some built-in features, such as pricing & cart rules, are quite flexible and can be extended beyond their advertised usage.  A little “outside the box” thinking goes along way when evaluating requirements against existing features.

A thorough overview of Magento features and how they are configured can be found at:

Also, specific topics can be researched on the community message boards at: (read-only as of 2014):


Magento Connect

If existing functionality will not satisfy requirements, the next step would be to search for an extension on Magento Connect.


An account on Magento Connect (free) is required in order to download/install extensions.

First-time users will want to read this short installation guide:

Some things to consider when deciding on an extension (assuming you have multiple options):

  • Does the extension fully meet your requirements?  Documentation can be sparse, so it may be necessary to temporarily install the extension to fully evaluate it (preferably in a test environment).
  • Is the extension actively supported (free or paid support)?  If an extension has been abandoned (i.e. not compatible with the latest stable core release), there is usually good reason – either it didn’t meet expectations or the functionality was incorporated into the core product.
  • Cost (many are free)



magento-codeWhen required functionality isn’t available in the core product or via a community extension, the next option is to hire a developer who can build a custom solution.

Here are some things to consider when going the customization route:

  • Magento uses a configuration based MVC architecture.  If that doesn’t mean anything to you, it may be best to consult with a Magento developer, preferably one that is Magento Certified.
  • Customizations should be built as extensions of core functionality.
  • Modifying core files is bad and should be avoided at all costs.  “Hacking” core files can result in unintended consequences for dependent features (often outside your scope of testing).  If you must edit a core file, be sure to keep a detailed record of your changes.  It’s likely you will need to manually apply them after an upgrade.


ShopSite Tip – Add a Contact Us Page

Our customers all need to reach us at some point.  Maybe they need to call, send an email, fill out a contact form, or visit in person – and a Contact Us page allows them to get the information they need to reach you.

In this blog post we’ll show how to easily add a Contact Us page to ShopSite with sample code for a contact form and other details.


Contact Form

Part 1 – The Contact Form

All LexiConn accounts come with a form processor called formmail.php which is used to parse contact forms and email the results.  Below is some sample code you can paste into the Text 1 field of the page you want to use for the Contact Us page in ShopSite.

- Be sure you are not in the “editor” mode when you paste this in, it should be pasted as plain text without the editor active.
- Update all the “” lines to the values appropriate for your site.
- Update the “subject” line to what you want the email subject to be.

<div style="float: left; padding-right: 40px">
<!-- Contact Form -->
<form action="" method="post">
    <input type="hidden" name="recipients" value="" />
    <input type="hidden" name="email" value="" />
    <input type="hidden" name="subject" value="Demo Store Contact Form" />
    <input type="hidden" name="good_url" value="" />
    <input type="text" required name="realname" /><br />
    <label for="realname">Name</label><br />
    <br />
    <input type="text" required name="replyto" /><br />
    <label for="replyto">Email</label><br />
    <br />
    <textarea required name="comments" cols="25" rows="7"></textarea><br />
    <label for="comments">Message</label><br />
    <br />
    <input type="submit" name="submit" value="Submit" />

For more details about formmail.php:


Contact Details

Part 2 – Address & Contact Details

If you have an office or storefront where customers can visit, don’t forget to include the address on your page.  You could also include your phone number, fax number, and important email addresses.  Here is the code we used for our sample:

<div style="float: left; padding-right: 40px">
<!-- Address & Contact Details -->
<strong>OUR ADDRESS:</strong><br />
My Company Name<br />
123 Main Street<br />
Colchester, CT 06415<br />
<br />
<strong>PHONE NUMBER:</strong><br />
860-555-1212<br />
<br />
<strong>FAX NUMBER:</strong><br />
860-555-1212<br />
<br />
<strong>EMAIL ADDRESSES:</strong><br /><br /><br />

Copy that code and paste it in at the bottom of the Text 1 field, below the code for the contact form.


Embed a Google Map

Part 3 – Embed a Google Map

Want to make it easier for people to find you?  How about embedding a map from Google Maps on your contact page?  To do this, first go to Google Maps and search for your address.  Once you have that map ready on your screen view (in another browser tab) the instructions Google has here to get to the embed code:

Below is sample code for this part of the page, but replace the “<!– Embed Google Map Here –>” line with the embed code from Google:

<!-- Embed Google Map Here -->

Copy that code and paste it at the bottom of the Text 1 field, just like we did for the prior code.

A Sample

Now that you’ve seen the 3 pieces of code from our sample, click here to see what they look like when all put together on a page:

Note: The contact form is just there to show what it looks like and will not submit anything.  When you put it on your store it will send the email and redirect the user to the Thank You page that you configure in the code.

Just a note about the <div> you see we used in our code: The code for the first 2 steps includes some padding and a “float: left” setting.  This tells the browser to display the 3 div blocks in a row across the screen and to insert some padding between them.  If you change the order of the blocks you may need to adjust the float or padding values to get the layout you are looking for. is a great site for learning and testing CSS code:

That’s all there is to it.  In just a few minutes of copying & pasting some code you can have a Contact Us page with not only a contact form, but a map showing your customers how to find you.