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Would your organization like to make some money selling promotional items? Are you an artist looking to share your work with the world? Perhaps your company produces a publication that customers want to purchase? If you have something of value the visitors of your site want or need, then Lifeary’s Shopping application can help you get these items to your customers with a secure transaction.

The Shopping portlet uses PayPal and allows you to choose the credit cards your store accepts. You can organize your inventory with categories and subcategories. A search function helps users find items quickly. Users place items in a shopping cart, allowing them to purchase multiple items at once. There is also an email notification system to alert customers when their transactions are processed.

Before we start printing money, let’s first create an online store.

Setting up Shop

To begin setting up a store, place the Shopping application on a page in your site. Like the Message Boards portlet, the Shopping portlet takes up a lot of space. It’s best, therefore, to dedicate an entire page to the application. The Shopping portlet is available from the AddMore menu in the Dockbar under Shopping.


Figure 12.15: Start setting up the store by entering items and categories in the shopping portlet.

The shopping portlet has four tabs across the top:

Categories: shows the categories of items in your store. For example, if you’re selling music, you might have categories for various genres, such as pop, rock, metal, hip hop, and the like. The portlet defaults to this view.

Cart: shows the items the user has selected to purchase from your store. It displays the order subtotal, the shipping cost, and a field for entering a coupon code. There are buttons for updating the cart, emptying the cart, and checking out.

Orders: displays a list of all previous orders placed, containing options to search for orders by the order number, status, first name, last name and/or email address.

Coupons: lets you define coupon codes to offer discounts to your customers. You can enter the coupon code, discount type, and whether it is active or not. Search looks for a particular coupon offer while Add Coupon opens a new form to key in the coupon data. Delete removes a coupon.

Below the tabs are breadcrumbs for navigating between the categories and subcategories you create. In fact, this would be a good time to start creating some categories.

Creating Categories

It’s not difficult to create categories. Simply click the Add Category button to display the Category form. In this form enter the Name, Description, and set the Permissions for the category. That’s all there is to it.


Figure 12.16: In this figure there are three subcategories for the Aromatherapy category. The first subcategory has three items, the second has two, and the third is empty.

When you click Save, your new category is listed in the portlet, along with the number of subcategories and the number of items that are in the category. You can edit the category, set permissions for it or delete it using the Actions button.


Figure 12.17: Breadcrumbs are an important navigational tool in the shopping portlet.

Each category can have unlimited subcategories and you can add subcategories to any category. Notice as you add categories and subcategories, navigational breadcrumbs appear in the portlet. Use these to move through the store inventory.

Creating Items

When you select a category, you’ll see its items appear. You create items the same way you create categories. Use the Add Item button to open the new item form. Enter data for the SKU number, name, description, and item properties. You can select checkboxes to specify whether the item requires shipping and whether it is a featured item. Enter the stock quantity to record how many items are available and set the appropriate permissions.

The Fields area is where you add additional fields to set specific characteristics for the item. These can include things like sizes and colors. The additional fields appear in the item form as pull-down menus, as in the figure below.


Figure 12.18: The additional fields you create for an item appear in the item description form as menu options.

The Prices area is for all data pertaining to the item’s cost, minimum and maximum quantities, quantity discounts, taxes, and shipping costs.

The Images area lets you add photos to the item form. You can add a link to the photo or upload the file locally. Choose from three sizes of images. You must select the appropriate check box for the image you want to display. When you’re finished creating a new item, click Save.


Figure 12.19: The image in this figure is the medium sized option.

As products are added, they are listed in the Items section of the portlet. If the item you just created needs to go into one of your new categories or subcategories, you can assign it to the category by editing the item. Choose the Select button (next to the Remove button), and this displays a dialog box listing all the shop categories.


Figure 12.20: To put an item in a category, edit the item and choose Select to see the available categories.

Choose the desired category from the list to relocate the item to its new location. Notice how the breadcrumbs reflect this change in the item form.


Figure 12.21: When an item moves into a category, the breadcrumb navigation updates accordingly.

You can make changes to any item through ActionsEdit. Finding an item is easy, using the Search function.

That’s how you create an item for the store. Now let’s examine some of the shopping portlet’s configuration options.


By selecting the wrench icon in the top right of the portlet, you can manage the configuration options of the shopping application. In the Setup view, there are tabs for Payment Settings, Shipping Calculation, Insurance Calculation, and Emails.

Payment Settings

The payment settings section is where you configure all the functions related to transactions for your store.

PayPal Email Address: is the address of your store’s PayPal account which is used for payment processing.

Note that PayPal can be disabled by entering a blank PayPal address in the field. Credit cards can likewise be disabled. Payments to the store are not required when these settings are disabled. The credit card function does not process payments; it instead stores the card information with the order so you can process the transaction separately.

Credit Cards: sets the type of credit cards your store accepts.

The Current column holds the cards your store takes. The Available column holds cards not accepted by your shop. These can be moved easily from one column to another by selecting a card and clicking one of the arrow buttons. The arrows below the Current window allow you to choose the order credit cards are displayed on the form.

Currency: sets the appropriate currency your shop accepts.

Tax State: sets the applicable state where your business is responsible for paying taxes.

Tax Rate: sets the percentage of taxes your store is responsible for paying. This rate is added as a sales tax charge to orders.

Minimum Order: sets the minimum amount required for a sale.

Shipping and Insurance Calculation

Both the Shipping and Insurance forms have identical options.

Formula: sets the equation for determining shipping and insurance costs. They’re calculated on either a flat rate based on the total purchase amount or on a percentage of the total amount spent.

Values: sets the shipping and insurance fees based on a range of figures that the total order amount falls under.


This form sets the addresses for customer email notifications. Use the list of term definitions below to customize the correspondence with your customers.


Figure 12.22: Shopping emails can be configured in a myriad of ways to suit your needs.

Emails From: sets the email address from which order and shipping notifications are sent.

Confirmation Email: Use this form to customize the email message customers receive when an order is received.

Shipping Email: Use this form to customize the email message customers receive when an order has been shipped.

So far we have added the shopping portlet to your site, created categories and items for your store, set up payment options, and configured customer communication options. These are the basics required to get your store up and running. Now let’s review the buying process.

Using the Shopping Cart

Logged in users are given a shopping cart to store the items they wish to buy. Customers can manage items and their quantities directly from the cart, allowing them to purchase a single product or multiple products at once. Customers can also key in coupon codes to take advantage of any discounts your store has to offer. Products can be placed in the cart from any category or subcategory. The cart’s appearance can be customized to reflect the overall design of your store.

When buyers select an item, they see the item’s description displaying all of its relevant information. The figure below is typical of what an item’s description might look like.


Figure 12.23: You can include images of each item in your store. (Medium sized images display on the item’s description form).

Below the product description is the Availability field indicating whether the item is in stock. There are also two buttons for managing the shopping experience:

Add to Shopping Cart: places the item in your cart for checkout.

Next: lets you to scroll through all the items in the category, giving you the option to add to the cart as you go.

After adding an item to the cart, click << Back to return to the product description and continue shopping by navigating the category breadcrumbs at the top of the form. You can also continue shopping by scrolling through a category, item by item, using the Previous and Next buttons at the bottom of the product description.


Figure 12.24: This shopping cart has two items in it so far.

Each time you add an item to the cart, a running tally of the cart’s contents is kept. Quantities for each item are controlled using drop-down menus. The order subtotal and shipping costs appear above a field where coupon codes can be entered. When you have finished adding products to the cart, you have three options:

Update Cart: lets you change the quantity of an item being purchased. If a minimum number of items has been set in the item description, the field under the Quantity column shows that number by default. You can adjust the exact number of items you want with the drop-down menus in the cart.

Empty Cart: lets you clear the contents of the cart to either start shopping again or to stop shopping.

Checkout: sends you to a new form to verify the billing address, shipping address, and the credit card information. You can also add comments about the order if necessary.


Figure 12.25: All the information pertaining an order can be seen in the order summary view.

When all the data has been entered correctly, click Continue to see the order summary. After reviewing the summary, click Finished and you are given confirmation the order has been placed, along with the order number. Use this number to search for the order history and keep track of its status.

Customizing the Shopping Cart with a Hook

If you think the shopping cart looks a little basic for your purposes, you can customize it by using a hook. To learn more about changing the appearance of the shopping cart, consult the Liferay Developer’s Guide or see section 8.3 in Liferay in Action.

Now your online store is set up, you have inventory, you have a payment system, and you have sales rolling in. All is good. Some day there will be customers with questions about their orders. Let’s go over the orders next.

Managing Orders

Under the Orders tab there are fields for finding specific orders. Search for orders using the order number, order status, first or last name on the order or by the email address associated with the account. For more information on searching in Liferay Portal, see the Faceted Search section in chapter 5.


Figure 12.26: Search for orders in the Orders view or select one from the list.

Below the search fields is the orders list. Orders can be deleted or edited using the Actions button. When you select an order from the Orders tab, or if you edit an order, you see a summary of the order details along with some options across the bottom.


Figure 12.27: Review order specifics in the Edit view.

Invoice: creates a printer-friendly copy of the order that can be sent to a customer.

Resend Confirmation Email: lets you notify the customer that the order has been received and is being processed.

Send Shipping Email: notifies the customer that the order is en route. You can also include a tracking number with this email to allow the customer to follow the delivery process.

Delete: removes the order from the system.

Cancel: closes the Edit view and returns the user to the main orders view.

You can also add comments about the order and subscribe to the comments to get any updates on the order.

Managing Coupons

The Coupons view of the Shopping application lets you provide coupon codes for special sale events or other discounts. You can determine the type of discount to apply and whether it is currently active. You can search for coupons and create new coupons from this form.


Figure 12.28: Create a coupon code automatically when you select the Autogenerate Code box.

To add a coupon, enter the coupon code in the Code field. If no code is specified, you can create one automatically by selecting the Autogenerate Code checkbox. After entering the coupon’s name and description, you can set the coupon’s start and expiration dates. Additional options let you activate the coupon and set it to never expire.


Figure 12.29: Customize your coupon parameters under Discounts and Limits.

Under the Discount section, you can set the minimum order amount required for the discount, the discount amount, and the discount type. Types can be based on a percentage, a fixed amount, free shipping, or a tax free sale. The Limits section lets you set coupon restrictions based on a list of categories and/or SKU numbers.

Integrating the Amazon Rankings Portlet

If your store sells books, you can use Liferay’s Amazon Rankings application to display them alongside the main shopping portlet. Both of these are found in the Shopping category under AddMore in the Control Panel. The Amazon Rankings application lets you highlight the books in your store’s inventory outside of the typical category structure. Books are arranged in ascending order according to Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank. Book cover images displayed in the portlet come from the images in the product’s description.

Setting up Your Amazon Web Services Account

To use Amazon rankings, you must first setup an Amazon Associates Program account. This gives you the associate ID tag you need to enter in your portal-ext.properties file. Then you need to join the Amazon Product Advertising API group. This yields the access key id and the secret access key that also must go into your portal-ext.properties file.

Amazon License Keys are available here:


Add the following lines to your portal-ext.properties file and populate the values for the associate ID tag, access key id, and secret access key. Ensure there are no spaces between the = sign and the property values.


Note that these keys are provided by Amazon for personal use only. Please consult Amazon at http://www.amazon.com for more information.

If your Amazon Web Services key is set improperly, you can’t add books to your Shopping portlet.

Setting up the Amazon Rankings Portlet

After setting up your Amazon Web Services account, choose the books to display in your store. Select Configuration from the Amazon Rankings portlet in the upper right corner. Go to the Setup tab and enter the International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) in the textbox, separated by spaces. The portlet accepts 10-digit ISBNs rejecting ISBNs that letters.


Figure 12.30: Separate ISBNs with single spaces.

When you are finished setting up the rankings, books appear in the portlet similar to the example below. Clicking on the book’s cover image opens the book’s Amazon page.


Figure 12.31: Using the Amazon Rankings application can be a nice addition to your store.

Now that you have a good grasp on Liferay’s Shopping and Amazon Rankings applications, let’s see what the Knowledge Base application has to offer.

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