Ready for Business! Websites with the new Shopsystem

Admittedly, it took some time – but now all the the great functions that existed already are included – and of course much more!

Actually, the system has been in operation since February last year. However, the implementation of the online sales concepts that are now possible is often not only a technical thing, but also requires a lot of thought in the companies, occasionally requires organizational changes, sometimes forces to think about the entire marketing concept… in short: it also takes time.

In addition to the modernization of the technical basis, many more item details can now be displayed, there are filter mechanisms, the navigation is freely configurable directly from the PCG, there are more possibilities to display subscription boxes, we have relaxed the registration (“guest”) and also the subscription control is back.

In the meantime some of our customers reimplemented their websites, which means that there is not only the PCG team, which can advise you, but there are also colleagues you can ask. Much of what we have learned has ended up in the new documentation system, which we will present shortly at the user meeting.

The new system consists of building blocks that have to be built into a website. For example, there is a shopping cart component, a component for displaying articles, for logging in, for filtering products or components for chat and mail. Once you know which pages to place these components on, the WebDesigner has to “dress them up”in your style.

In contrast to the previous system, this gives a lot of freedom to design – this freedom forces me to think: how can I best present my products? A little crazy or traditional? Of course you can look at colleagues… or at other shops out there.

So far there are some websites, which means several web designers are already familiar with them and can make you an offer. As a PCG team, we will also be able to offer you pre-configured systems during the course of the year, including training and assistance with initial setup.

Within 2018, there will also be a prefabricated standard system, which will replace the current (“Amperhof”) model. This should also work “out-of-the-box” and can be adjusted in a few easy steps. Of course, you then have a standard layout and not the flexibility of the solutions described above.

Incidentally, the new system could also be installed “by the way”: Why not have a website just for one event? Only for some product groups or brands? For recipes or for a specific region? With the technique of alternative system this is easily possible parallel to the main shop.

We are happy to advise you!


Meet the Team: Simon

And today it’s Simon who wants to introduce himself:

“I’m Simon Heilmeier, 22 years old and I’m from Freising. In 2017, I moved from my computer science studies to PC Gärtner GmbH in order to gain practical experience in programming. Since September I have been supporting the PCG team in programming and now, after the training, I will work more and more productively on PCG modules.

In addition to my education, I spend my time playing football and snowboarding in winter, as well as all sorts of things to do with computers.”

Delivery is Due!

With the automatic order reminders, customers can always be reminded of upcoming deliveries. A large number of customers gladly accept this notice and update their order.

In the last few weeks many small enhancements have been added to this feature. Of course, the most important thing was the memory of customers who only order occasionally. These can be specifically marked in the communication settings of the PCG.

The time of sending was previously fixed at 9:00 a. m. – now you can select the desired hour for sending.

In order to get more transparency about the function of this automatic, the execution can now be simulated in the admin area of the shop. There is also the possibility to initiate the process by hand. Another new feature is a report that is sent to the admin email after execution.

If the message is sent as an SMS, several SMS numbers can now be stored at the customer’s premises. The internal number check ensures that no mails are sent to Timbuktu by mistake.

New EU Data Protection Rules 2018

A topic that was already on the table in 2016 – there was the basic data protection regulation (DSGVO)… And now again? I see that many people are now rolling with their eyes as they read; -) But fair trade involves dealing fairly with the data of the people with whom we trade and work together – and that is why it should even be a boss issue.

A comprehensive data protection reform will enter into force across the EU in May 2018. The rules have been known for some time and will be updated and obligatory on this date with the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG).

It is generally relevant for PCG users – even if you run a system without an online shop. The essence of the matter is personal data. But on this occasion you can also illuminate other data flows.

For larger companies there are detailed regulations (ITIL) and best practices, which often serve as a precondition or preparation for certification. But even if you don’t want to have an ISO9000 stamp, the tables of contents of such manuals offer good hints where all risks can be hidden.

Few people will have the patience to work through this, so we will discuss some aspects of the law in the next issues. This reading material can be regarded as a homeworkers’ task – so the company is fit for it in May.

Alternatively, you can get help from service providers who – in contrast to us – can also make legally binding statements.

Step one: Process Inventory

Many companies have grown over the years – new employees have taken on tasks that had previously been performed by the boss herself; growth often leads to the specialisation of areas of responsibility with their own rules and procedures. Something of the overview can get lost – and this is what you need in order to identify risks for the “data” of employees, customers or the company itself.

It is best to start with a list of processes known in the company. “Create new customer” or “process order” are obvious, but also “employee leaves us” or “article purchase” should be found in this list. After a while of thinking, the list should have 20 entries, maybe more. Some processes that have always existed will be given a name for the first time.

Such a process directory is also helpful to train new employees or to measure and optimize internal processes. But that’s not what this is about.

In the next step, you write the data processes that are involved for these list entries. With the example of the new customer installation, this would be first of all the collection of data – from the online shop or an email or by telephone. Maybe a little sketch might help. Now you could add who “moves” these data (one name or a role, e. g.”customer service”), with which he moves them (“email program”,”PCG”) and where these data “store” (“server with PCG”,”oekobox-online”). Probably first in an email mailbox, then locally in a database and then online in a database – the new customer should be able to log in to the shop.

Here are a few more ideas for processes, which can be found in one form or another for each of them, some of which are possibly very similar and can be summarized:

  • Subscription changes, vacation entries, customer master data changes
  • Modification of employee data (o-yes, these are also persons!), time recording or vacation arrangements
  • Tracking data collection of web pages and the online shop: who collects, who does what with the data?
  • Collection and maintenance of supplier data
  • Processes in Ordering
  • Driver and delivery processes (driver app)

You may not be aware of some of these things (because they are hidden behind a button in the PCG) or you may not even be interested in them – please feel free to ask us in the PCG team. Often it is more interesting than you think; -) – besides, as mentioned above it is a matter for the boss, it could also be, a data protection officer comes by and asks you.

In four weeks we will need this list to identify data fields, identify risks and identify responsibilities.

Item Representation: DataNatuRe, Ecoinform

Both, DataNatuRe as well as Ecoinform are currently primarily for german data consumers – perhaps that will change some time in the future.

For some time now, DataNatuRe has been building a product database for the organic and natural goods trade. In addition to data from our proprietary “Ökobox”-pool and that of the pioneer in this field, Ecoinform, our shops can now also display data from this new source.

In the online shop we need descriptions, pictures, exact manufacturer information and details of the ingredients. This is important for displaying, filtering and organizing information on the web pages. However, some of these are also important in the ERP backend. Anyone who has already registered new articles in the system knows how time-consuming this process can be.

Of course, it is as simple as possible for the seller if this data is complete and uniform, because then the import can be done automatically. Unfortunately, this is not always the case: why is it so difficult to get good article information for the online shop? Or to put it another way: why is it so difficult to build a unified database?

On the one hand, not every manufacturer has the capacity to present its products well for all sales channels. For example, an image should usually be high-resolution and rich in detail for printing, while for an article list in the online shop a striking and less data-intensive smaller image is more likely.

On the other hand, a central database is used by many people in different positions. They often have a very specific look at the data: Bookkeepers, for example, tend to look at prices rather than pictures, while marketing people focus on the text and the picture, rather than the ingredients. Statisticians compare merchandise categories and need the articles in a certain order. Some mean well and fill in the fields for description-long, descriptive-medium and description-short, others are in a hurry and write a sentence in the “-lang” field.

The article information also differs according to the product group – i. e. there are different data fields for a cheese (e. g. fat content, rind or rind type) than for a wine (drinking temperature or decanting time). And then the structure and type of data are not the same: the fat level is expressed in %, but there must be clear indications in the country of origin. Allergens can be one or 10, certifiers usually have one, but sometimes several.

This complexity is even evident in DataNatuRe’s rather young database, which is designed with modern means and on a broad basis. This way we get all the information for our system, but the preparation is not easy:

  • From the large number of data fields (more than 1000 in total) the relevant data fields for filtering or display in the online shop must be selected – even though the merchandise category assignment in the individual shops usually does not correspond to the data supplier’s specifications.
  • Many numerical values are not entered homogeneously and cannot be compared easily, e. g. during filtering (100ml are 0.1l, but a computer does not know this easily)
  • Despite a lot of trouble with the input masks, I have already seen vegans, which is explicitly not vegetarian, or a chicken broth which explicitly does not contain pork (oh).
  • It often happens that some articles have a super detailed description, others don’t – if these articles stand side by side in the shop, for example, this is noticeable negatively – not to mention article names that wind around the screen.
  • Unfortunately, images are typically not available on the web – optimized for small and large screens, for detail or list display. This is where automated image processing algorithms come into play, which have to cope with very different raw materials.

Last but not least, there is a series of additional information which in turn requires data to be added by other sources. For example, we have our own data pools with information on manufacturers, associations or origin marks.

In order to make the use of all these information details as easy as possible, the InfoPool module is available in the PCG. Not only can groups of articles be edited en-mass, but you can also simplify your work with the help of simple dependency rules. Finally, the information must be correct, even if the manufacturer changes the formulation of a cream, for example.

The different pools can be activated in the shop settings. For fast results, the system can easily add missing information from these data sources, e. g. by assigning them via GTIN. There are also statistics on their use and query options, which can be used during data entry and for checking purposes.

PCG cash register module updated

Use the PCG with its cash register module for shops or a connected farm shop. If several Cashier instances are used in the company, data storage is of course centralized in the merchandise management system. For smaller companies, a minimal configuration as a standalone cash register is also possible.

A tablet can now also be used for easier handling – the software has been adapted to work optimally with the touch screen of the device. In connection with a receipt printer and possibly a scanner, a cash register is quickly assembled.

Of course, the POS software is fully GDPdU-compatible (german recording policies).

Meet the Team: Daniel

In this section we will introduce you to colleagues occasionally. Today it’s Daniel’s turn!

I am Töpfl Daniel, 20 years young, and come from beautiful Bavaria. Since 2015 I have been in training as IT specialist for application development at PCGärtner GmbH. I support the PCG team from graphic design to independent projects such as the cash book. In my spare time I have fun with friends and take advantage of my age: -P.

The digital cash book is a module that simplifies the recording of cash register withdrawals and makes them verifiable. The application can be installed on different devices.

Developer-Info 11/2017: Chat, Newsletter, SEO

In this category we inform developers about changes to the system. Normally we will keep all interfaces (CSS class names, API calls, library dependencies) backwards compatible. For this reason, find here changes that can be incorporated into your managed websites, but they do not have to. Occasionally we also mention fixes for “prominent” bugs.

November 2017
  • A change in the HTTP headers now prevents caching from taking effect in development environments if it is not intended. This was the case when simultaneously editing files with calls to a staging and to the live system (or generally from different servers).
  • Improvements in the SEO area: All permalinks have been unified to really point to one resource. In general, navigation entries now all have an href attribute (. oo-shop-item-permalink). The generated sitemap has also been adapted to the new shop.
October 2017
  • New component: Chat. After a long evaluation of alternatives we decided to implement our own. This component is to be installed and adapted like all the others; there is a design guide and also a reference. As a WebDesigner you have the right to use the “remote station” in the admin area, so you can try it out and design it. A more general description will follow in a later blog post.
  • New switch on the search component: data-oo-search-onenter=”true” allows an “Enter” to trigger the search directly. If you do not select this option, the results preview will be displayed as before.
  • New component: Subscribe. We also use them ourselves in our blog. This makes it very easy to register for a newsletter, including double opt-in. After successful confirmation, the addresses land in a PCG action group. The unsubscription can be done with links from the serial mails and is also handled by this component. So try out the whole process during design!

(Translated with -sorry, but its great! – Bob)

Which Browser?

For various reasons we need information about a visitor’s browser. Not only to deliver shop content optimized for the respective end device, but also to evaluate our efforts for testing new functions: We always test the top 5 browser/operating system combinations. For this purpose, we classify the browser information (the so-called “user agent”).

In the admin area you can see this information for everyone.

Currently in front: Android before Windows. In the browser war, Google’s Chrome clearly leads Google’s chrome – this is based on data from our European clientele of about 120,000 visits per week.

This statistic uses the versions of browsers and operating systems – so it is always up-to-date.

Which browsers in the picture above (from StatCounter) are the best?

EU organic

Ok, the amendment to the EU organic regulation has not yet been fully adopted – but that will probably come soon (it was probably a tight vote, and, well, 2021 is the target – many things can happen until then). Though (EU-)”organic” is now stricter than before – as a consumer, I would have preferred real measurable criteria in any case – after all, we have them (of course at a completely different level) for conventional greenery too. It is about liability – or labelling – if there is potentially polluting conventional field next door.

But it has been a long struggle for the current version – and if it will eventually be implemented, it is in fact a good step further towards a greater clarity (e.g. origin) and even diversity (seed regulation).

No matter, organic food remains organic, and if you want to be even safer, look at the logos of the growers’ associations in the shop.

See SZ and other sources.