Thank you for choosing to take Nexternal for a test drive. This brief guide will walk you through the following demos:
Please note, the design of your store will be matched to your website by a Nexternal designer when you activate your account. If you prefer the design of the free trial store, you may use this design for your store and even your website for no extra charge. We'll even add your logo and other branding for you.
Log in to the OMS (Order Management System)
Open a new browser tab and navigate to your OMS login screen here: http://www.nexternal.com/myvirtual. Log in with the user name and password that you selected when you signed up for your free trial.
Note, throughout the OMS you will notice question mark icons . These provide very useful explanations and we recommend that you click on them regularly.
Create a Category
- Click Categories in the left nav (navigation) and then New in the top nav.
- Enter My Category (or any other name) in the Category Name field.
- You can make this category a subcategory by select the parent category in the Subcategory Of drop-down list. Note, categories can contain subcategories or products, but not both. For now, let's leave this set to none to make this a top level category.
- Scroll down to the Thumbnail section and click Browse. Browse to a category thumbnail image on your computer. If you need a sample image, you can download the one located here (right click on the image and select save as).
- Scroll down and click the finish button at the bottom of the screen.
- To see the new category in the store, visit the storefront URL http://store.nexternal.com/virtual/storefront.aspx in another browser tab. You will see the new category in the Shop By Category list in the left column and in the main content area.
That's it! You can edit the category by clicking Categories in the left nav and then clicking the pencil icon next to the category you wish to edit.
Create a Product
- Click Products in the left nav and then New in the top nav.
- Enter My Product (or any other name) in the Product Name field.
- Select the product's category in the Primary Category drop-down list.
- Type a product description into the Long Description. Note, you can copy HTML code or text from a word processor into this section as well using your computer's Copy and Paste functions.
- Scroll down to the Product Pricing section and enter a price. You have many pricing options, but for now let's choose single.
- Scroll down to the Images and Audio section and click the Browse button to upload three images for the product. The Main Image will appear on the product detail page, the Large Image will appear when a customer clicks the View Enlarged Image link under the main image, and the Thumbnail will appear on the product list screen. If you need some sample images to upload, you can download a set by clicking the following links: Thumbnail | Main Image | Large Image. For a great looking store, we recommend making each type of image the same size throughout the store. The sample images above have ideal dimensions for this store, but a Nexternal designer can give you recommendations taylored to your store. Just ask your Account Executive before uploading all of your images.
- Feel free to enter any additional product info you wish to add at this point. Remember, you can view a detailed explanation of each option by clicking the question mark icon .
- Visit the store again and navigate to the product you just created to check your work and see how the product looks in the store.
- Please note - If you wish to delete the demo products already in your account, the blue cleanup button at the top of the Products screen makes it simple.
Note, product information can also be uploaded and edited in bulk from an Excel spreadsheet by clicking Products in the left nav, then Import in the top nav. Don't hesitate to ask your dedicated Account Executive to assist with this.
All right, now we're rolling. Next, let's view the store from a customer's perspective.
Place an Order
- Visit your store in another browser tab and place an order. This process should be intuitive so we won't list instructions here except to say that you can use the credit card number 4111111111111111 on the final checkout page.
Beauty, we hope that placing an order was quick, easy, and intuitive. Next, let's assume the role of store owner again (that's you) and return to the OMS and view the order you just placed.
View Your Order
- Click Orders in the left nav of the OMS.
- Locate the order you just placed in the order list, and click on the order number to navigate to the Order Detail page.
Fulfilling orders with the OMS is easy and efficient and choosing Nexternal should help your company save a significant amount of time. Of course, the details of this process depend on some options we have not configured yet. Before taking your store live, you will need to configure a few settings such as shipping methods and a payment gateway for credit card processing. Once everything is in order, it just takes a few clicks to print shipping labels from your shipping carrier, print packing slips and invoices, send out email notification to customers, or even initiate drop shipping from a fulfillment house.
When you're ready, your Account Executive can answer any questions you have about these settings. For a preview you can select Settings in the left nav of the OMS. Whoa, that's a lot of settings! Please don't be intimidated. While Nexternal is highly customizable, many of these settings can remain on the default values for most merchants.
The best way to see the full power of Nexternal's order fulfillment tools and how they can save your business time is to call (800) 914-6161 for a demo.
Edit the About Us Page
Most merchants who use our software maintain a website hosted by the hosting provider of their choice such as Godaddy or Network Solutions. As mentioned, a Nexternal Designer will match the look of your Nexternal store to that of your website when you activate your account. We call this a site synch. Once this is done, some merchants prefer to use the Articles feature in the OMS to host certain website pages such as the About Us page. Articles pages can easily be updated within the OMS using the WYSIWYG editor. This saves you the time and money involved with paying a web designer to periodically update these pages. We recommend that you configure your site so that your entire store, including articles pages, resides on a subdomain of your domain such as http://store.yourdomain.com. You'll find a link to the instructions for this in the last section of this document.
If you plan to host every page of your website on your server, feel free to skip the following steps.
- Click Articles in the left nav of the OMS.
- Find the About Us link in the Articles list and click the pencil icon next to it.
- Change the page title to "About my Company Name". This is the title that will be listed for this page on search engine results pages.
- Edit the Content section within the WYSIWYG editor.
- Click Finish and view the updated page by clicking About in the top nav.
Thanks for taking the time to go through this guide. We have only touched the surface of Nexternal's features, but we hope you now feel confident with the basics. At this point, we encourage you to click on each left nav item in the OMS and explore the options. You can learn a great deal by clicking the question mark icons in each section. And remember, your Account Executive will be happy to answer your questions or demonstrate any of Nexternal's features for you personally.
When you're satisfied that Nexternal is the best choice for your business, you can activate your account by clicking Account in the left nav of the OMS and filling out the short form. We are confident that Nexternal is the best e-commerce solution available, and we look forward to working with you to help your business succeed. Thanks again,
The Nexternal Team
But Before You Take Your Store Live...
Once you activate your account, the following checklist will help you prepare to take your new store live.
- Set up a domain alias such as http://store.yourdomain.com. This is not strictly required, but it is good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and helps your customers to feel like they haven't left your website during the shopping experience. You're website hosting company will need to set this up for you, and you can send them the instructions located here. If you are switching from another ecommerce solution that uses a subdomain, contact your Account Executive before performing this step.
- Initiate a site synch. This is the fun part where a Nexternal designer matches the look of your new store to that of your website. Our site synch information page explains this in more detail and tells you when and how to initiate your site synch.
- Create or import your categories and products. You already know how to do this manually, but you can also do a bulk import. For more details, we recommend contacting your Account Executive for a full demo. Please note, writing good product titles and product description copy is key. Every product title and description should be unique and elequent with generous inclusion of keywords.
- Edit your Settings. Click Settings in the left nav of the OMS and go through and customize all of the settings. You can leave the default values for many of them, but please look them all over and pay particular attention to the following:
- Site Options > E-Business Type
- Compatible Software > Online Shipping Tools
- Compatible Software > Payment Gateway - You must sign up for a payment gateway in order to process credit card orders. If you wish to use Paypal only, you can skip this section and configure Paypal under Billing Options instead.
- Billing Options
- Policies Addenda and Disclaimers > Tracking Code > Google Analytics Account - If you havne't already, we recommend signing up with Google Analytics and then installing your account number in the Google Analytics Account field. We also recommend installing the full tracking code on every page of your website. This will give you valuable information about your site visitors in an intuitive graphical interface.
- Congratulations, you are probably ready to take your store live! Please contact your Account Executive so that the Nexternal team can look things over. We want to help you get this right the first time, but by all means, you can take it live without us. The last step is to simply link your website to your new store. In some cases, you simply need to change the Shop Online link (or something similar) in your top nav so that it points to your new storefront. If you have not set up a domain alias, then this is the URL http://store.nexternal.com/virtual/storefront.aspx. If you have set up a domain alias, simply click here and then copy the storefront link from your browser address bar. Note, some websites have a lot of links pointing to various product pages or category pages. Each of these links should be updated with the correct URLs. If you are not comfortable with HTML, please contact your web developer to help with this.
- You're live! Now it's time to market your website and generate incoming links to increase your page rank. Consider advertising with Google Adwords and performing SEO on your website to help improve your organic search engine rankings. Once you're live, contact your Account Executive about a free SEO analysis of your website.