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Installation

The Amazon Shopping Cart is supplied as a package of extensions, pkg_amazonshoppingcart.zip. You can upload and install this as a single package using the Joomla installer. It will install the following extensions:-

  • AmazonWS content plugin - handles embedding the product information into your Joomla content;
  • AmazonWS API system plugin - handles interaction with the Amazon server
  • AmazonWS component - provides extra views, handles the shopping cart functions;
  • Amazon Shopping Cart module - provides a "mini-cart" module, allowing customers to see the current contents of their cart
  • Amazon Product Search module - allows customers to search for products and see the results on your site
  • Amazon Shopping Cart user plugin - handles saving carts for logged in users
  • AWS Product editor plugin - provides a Joomla editor button that allows you to search for and select products directly when editing an article, and will automatically insert the code for you into your article
  • Amazon Tags plugin - fetches the product browse nodes and inserts the names as Joomla tags
  • Amazon Similar content plugin - provides the ability to display similar products to the ones currently being viewed, displayed in the Joomla article content and on the Amazon product page, and Amazon search page
  • Amazon Similar module - provides the ability to display similar products to the ones currently being viewed, displayed in a module
  • Amazon Country module - allows the user to select which country to view results from
  • Amazon Showcase module - shows Amazon products in a nice slideshow with transition effects

You should make sure that the plugins are enabled in the Joomla plugin manager: AWS Product editors-xtd, AmazonWS content, Amazon Similar content, and Amazon Shopping Cart user. If you want to use the multi-country features then you should also enable the Amazon Country system plugin

Compatibility

The Amazon Shopping Cart is compatible with 3. It can be used with any content component that supports Joomla content plugins, such as K2 or Virtuemart. We also make a legacy version (1.2.6) available for Joomla 2.5 which is available as a download when you buy the extension. It includes most of the core features, which allow the display of Amazon product and search results, and the cart, but lacks the more advanced features, such as sales tracking and support for multi-country sites.

Usage

First you need to review the documentation for the AmazonWS plugin, also make sure that you have obtained an Amazon associates (affiliates) id, and credentials for the Amazon product advertising API. If you have done this then actually you have already understood 90% of what you need to use the Amazon Shopping Cart package.

The API keys for the shopping cart are set through the AmazonWS API system plugin, using the Joomla plugin manager.

To use the shopping cart, set the 'Shop Mode' option to 'Shopping Cart'. Now when the customer views a product they will see a button saying "Add to Cart". If they click this then the product will be added to their shopping cart. Note that the cart itself will be hosted on the Amazon server, but the customer will be able to view and modify its contents on your site.

You can also enable the Amazon Shopping Cart module, and assign it to a module position in the Joomla module manager, which will show the customer a summary cart on every page. If you enable the Amazon Shopping Cart user plugin then if a user is logged in their cart will be automatically saved for 90 days, and they will have the option of recovering the cart if they leave your site and come back again later.

Understanding Shop Modes

There are three possible shop modes:-

  1. Simple mode: this is the same as for the standalone plugin, all product links go directly to Amazon;
  2. Catalogue mode: this mode allows customers to browse more easily on your site by offering additional views. For example if you offer the customer a page of search results, then they will be able to click on a product link to view additional product information, without leaving your site. However when they click a "Buy now" link, they will be taken direct to the Amazon site, there is no shopping cart available on your site.
  3. Shopping cart: this allows browsing on your site, the same as for the catalogue mode, but also allows customers to add products directly to their cart on your site, thus offering the most complete shopping experience.

The AWS Product Editor Plugin

This plugin adds a button to the Joomla editor, allowing you to search the Amazon database directly while editing a Joomla article. If you find some products that you like it will add the embedding code to the article for you. It is not necessary to use this plugin, you can still add the embedding code yourself, or use the article metatags, but it just makes adding prodcts a bit easier. The plugin needs to be enabled in the Joomla plugin manager, then it will automatically appear in the editor.

The AmazonWS Component

The component supplies additional views for the plugin, and handles the shopping cart functions. Mostly it does this behind the scenes, and there is not much that you will need to do with the component directly. However you can use it to directly create Amazon products as menu items, either as single product views, or as search results views. It is probably most useful to do this with a product search view, you just need to supply some search terms, and the results will be added directly as a menu item. The nice thing about doing things this way is that the results will be nicely paginated, allowing customers to browse additional pages of search results.

Amazon Product Search Module

This module allows the customer to enter keywords, and see the product search results displayed on your site. You set it up as a standard Joomla module.

Checking Out

When the customer clicks the check-out button, they will be redirected to the Amazon website to make their payment. We think it is a good idea to warn the customer of this, because it is a bit different from a normal e-commerce site, so we have added some additional text below the checkout button to explain this. But if you don't want this, you can remove the text using a language override, through the Joomla language manager.

When the customer clicks the check-out button they will be taken to a special purchase URL on the Amazon site, where they will be asked if they want to continue. At that point the cart itself expires, so the customer cannot return to your site and continue with the old cart.

The cart data are never actually stored on your site, but are hosted on the Amazon server. The cart items are fecthed from Amazon using a unique cart identifier which is stored on your site using the Joomla session data. If the Joomla session expires through inactivity then the cart identifier will be lost. By default the Joomla session expires after 15 minutes of inactivity on your site, which is quite short. You may find that it is a good idea to extend this time, which you can do in your site configuration.

If the user is logged into an account on your site, the cart identifier can be saved so that it can be recovered at a later period. To enable this feature, simply make sure that the Amazon shopping cart user plugin is enabled in the Joomla plugin manager.

Using The Shopping Cart With Other Joomla Extensions

The shopping cart package is compatible with any Joomla extension that supports Joomla content plugins, which is nearly all of them. This is because the AmazonWS content plugin is used to embed the product information into your site. Some examples of usage include:-

K2

The plugin has been explicitly designed to work with K2, and you can embed a product search into a K2 article using the metatags, the same for a native Joomla article. Alternatively you can use the plugin embedding code just as for Joomla articles, which is made very easy using the AWS Product editor button.

Virtuemart

You will need to enable support for Joomla content plugins in your Virtuemart configuration. Once you have done this, the AmazonWS plugin can be used to add product data by adding the appropriate embedding code to the product description.

However, note that an Amazon product cannot be made to behave exactly like a normal Virtuemart product. It will have a price of zero as far as Virtuemart is concerned, this is because normally Virtuemart product data is stored in your site database, but in this case the product data is stored on the Amazon server, all that is stored on your site is the cart identifier to fetch the data from Amazon. When a customer adds a product to their cart, it will be added to the Amazon cart, not the normal Virtuemart cart. When the customer checks out they will do it through Amazon, not through the normal Virtuemart checkout. This kind of application will work best if you set Virtuemart up to work like a catalogue, and allow the Amazon shopping cart to function as the only cart on your site.