In previous TechRepublic TR Dojo posts, I explained how to install the TomatoCart eCommerce shopping cart solution and how to customize TomatoCart for your website. The final step in the setup process is populating the TomatoCart installation with products. The task isn’t terribly difficult, but it is time-consuming. The more products you have, the longer this step will take. In the end, your effort will be repaid in sales and customer satisfaction.

With the default installation, you should have plenty of sample content comprised of desktops, iPods, cameras, laptops, monitors, printers, and scanners. It doesn’t matter if these products are not even remotely related to your business — you’ll be removing them.

Here’s our goal:

  • Add new tax codes (if applicable) and zones
  • Manage product categories
  • Add new products
  • Change slide images for new highlighted products

I will assume your installation of TomatoCart is in line with my installation post, so to reach TomatoCart you would point your browser to http://ADDRESS_OF_SERVER/TOMCART, and to access the admin tool you would go to http://ADDRESS_OF_SERVER/TOMCART/admin (ADDRESS_OF_SERVER is the address of the server hosting TomatoCart).

Add new tax classes and zones

You set your primary tax code in the installation, but there may be instances when you need different classes for non-taxed products or services, for example. In order to manage your tax codes, do the following:

  1. From the TomatoCart admin site, go to Start | Definitions | Tax Classes.
  2. In the resulting window (Figure A) click the left side Add button to define a new class.
  3. Give the new class a title and a description.
  4. Click Save and then click Close.

Figure A

By default, the only tax class that is installed is Taxable Goods. (Click the image to enlarge.)

You’ll need to add zones to the new tax class; this is especially helpful when you need to charge different taxes for different states. Before you add a new zone, you have to add a new Zone Group. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. From the TomatoCart admin site, go to Start | Definitions | Zone Groups.
  2. In the resulting window, click the left-side Add button, enter the information for the new Zone Group (Name, Description), and click Save.
  3. Select the new Zone in the left-side pane.
  4. Click Add in the right-side pane.
  5. Select the country from the Country drop-down.
  6. Select the state from the Zone drop-down.
  7. Click Save.

Now, back to the Tax Classes window. To add a new Zone to the Class, do the following:

  1. From the Tax Classes window, select the Class in the left-side pane.
  2. Click the Add button in the right pane.
  3. In the resulting window (Figure B), fill in the necessary information.
  4. Click Save.

Figure B

If you want to set a default tax zone, set the priority to 0 and all others higher than that. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Manage product categories

Before you add or remove products to the catalog, it’s best the take care of the product categories. To add new product categories, do the following:

  1. From the TomatoCart admin site, go to Start | Catalog | Categories.
  2. In the resulting window (Figure C), fill out the necessary information for the category. If the category needs a page title, keywords, description, or a friendly URL, click the Meta. Information tab and fill out that information.
  3. Click Save.

Figure C

Create as many product categories as you think your business will need. (Click the image to enlarge.)

I don’t recommend deleting the default categories unless you need them. The default products depend upon those categories and, by deleting them, you create orphaned products.

Add new products

The steps for adding a product is as follows:

  1. From the TomatoCart admin site, double-click the Products icon on the desktop.
  2. From the new window (Figure D) go through every tab and complete the necessary information.
  3. When all the data is complete, click Save and click Continue Edit.
  4. Review the information and, if everything looks correct, click Submit.

Figure D

The Data tab is especially important because it holds the pricing information. (Click the image to enlarge.)

After you enter your products (or at least some of them), you can start deleting the default products. Once the default products are deleted, you should go back and delete the default categories except for the categories you plan to use.

Create slide images

You will also want to create sliding images to highlight certain products on your TomatoCart site. The default images are 960×210 pixels and automatically rotate through on the site. After you create those banners and the products associated with the banners, it’s time to add them to the Slide Images select. Here’s how:

  1. From the TomatoCart admin site, double-click the Slide Images icon on the desktop.
  2. From the resulting window (Figure E) click the Add button.
  3. Click the Browse button and locate the image for the banner.
  4. Give the image a description.
  5. Enter the image URL (the clickthrough link), which will be in the form of products.php?.
  6. Check the box for Enabled.
  7. Click Save.
Your site should be ready for the public.

Figure E

You should delete the default banners, or at least disable each one. (Click the image to enlarge.)

To be continued

There are a lot more features available with TomatoCart, but what you’ve learned so far will get you up and running. We’ll revisit this topic again soon and discuss invoices, orders, and more.