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Spanglefish 3 Manual

Shop Settings

Managing a shop on your site can look a bit complicated. This page will explain how everything works. However, the first thing to bear in mind is that Spanglefish does not claim to be a full-blown e-commerce system. We provide some shop functionality based around Paypal's shopping cart system, which is the only current method for receiving orders and payment.

If you're considering signing up for a Spanglefish site because of it's shop functions you should read the first of our FAQs, What can't a Spanglefish shop do?

Shops and Galleries

The shop block is really just a gallery block with additional options. You can change a Gallery block into a Shop block and vice versa. For example, suppose you sell Hallowe'en costumes but only in September and October. You can create a shop with lots of individual costumes each with their own prices and varieties such as Small and Large. But you can switch the whole block to a Gallery for the rest of the year. Your site visitor will still be able to see the costumes but won't be able to see the prices or buy them.

You can then just switch it back to a Shop in September when you're ready to sell these items again.

Remember, each Shop block is separate. If you have a Shop block selling Valentines Day gifts, it can still be live whilst the Hallowe'en Shop is suspended (by turning it into a Gallery).

Shopping Carts

There are 3 options as shopping carts in Spanglefish 3.

Simple Form

This does not take online payments. It allows your customer to browse your website and add items to their shopping basket. Once they're happy with their choices they can click a link on the shopping cart page which will send you an email with the order details and customer contact information. You might use this if you really don't want to use Paypal, or if (for example) your orders always require a bit of back-and-forth communication about customisation and postage before you actually ask for payment.

Paypal Shopping Cart

This uses the shopping cart built into Paypal. When a customer clicks to add something to their basket they get taken to a Paypal page. The can then check out, or they can click a 'Continue Shopping' button which brings them back to your website so that they can add more items to their cart. There are limitations in terms of how you can calculate postage etc.

Spanglefish Enhanced Cart

This paid add-on uses a shopping cart built into your website. It allows you to calculate postage based on weight or quantity along with the customer's location. It also allow you to provide discount vouchers to customers. It still uses Paypal as the final payment gateway. For more information see the enhanced shop page.

PayPal Settings on Spanglefish

If you want to take payments online you need to enter your PayPal account ID and select the currency you want to sell in. You do this in Dashboard --> Site Settings --> Advanced Settings. Scroll down to Shop Settings.

Select the Currency you trade in. Buyers from other countries will still be able to buy from you, but their payments will be automatically converted to your currency by Paypal.

Enter the email address of your PayPal account. This is how Paypal know to pay you. Note that we don't ask for your PayPal password - we have no need to access your account ourselves.

The final item on this screen allows you to set which page or pages should clear away the 'Shopping Cart' icon which shows when someone returns to your site after paying. This would normally be a page saying something like 'Thank you for your order'. If you haven't created one yet then we'd suggest creating a new page called 'Thank You' and setting it to 'Hidden'.

PayPal settings in PayPal

There are a couple of things you need to tweak within your PayPal account too. You want to set the address of the page which your customer is returned to after they've completed their payment. See the PayPal instructions here. The URL you'll supply PayPal with is the one you created as a Thank You page in the section above.

Note: if you have two websites running from the same PayPal account then this can be a problem. You'll need to decide which site you want your customers to return to.

You may also want to play around with PayPal's shipping charge facilities. Unfortunately these are really rudimentary, only really allowing you to charge shipping based on the overall amount of the order. See PayPal's non-US shipping calculation info here.

Shop Behaviour

Each Shop Block can be set to work in one of three different ways which we've called Behaviours here.

  1. Open each item in a Popup - with Arrows to navigate between items.
    That's what the illustration here shows. Users can navigate around the shop using arrows in the Popup without having to close the Popup and return to the Shop page.
  2. Open each item in a Popup, but without the Arrows.
    The arrows can cause problems with scrolling within the Popup. If you're going to have much in the way of description, or a portrait shaped picture then you might switch to this. This is probably the best default for most shops.
  3. Open each item in it's own Page.
    This gives each item it's own full page. The upsides are that this is really good for search engine purposes. The downside is that your customer has to use their Back button all the time to get back to the shop page and browse your other items. If you do select this then when editing an item you can also edit the URL of its page.
What can't a Spanglefish shop do?

If you're considering signing up for a Spanglefish 3 site to use as a shop this is the most important question. And the answer is, "a lot". Spanglefish is NOT an e-commerce site and there are all sorts of things it can't do.

The important thing to understand is that Spanglefish knows nothing at all about your customers. Not their name, their locations or what they have bought from you. All of that is handled by Paypal.

So Spanglefish does not:

  • Store orders made by your customers
  • Calculate shipping costs (*update* - see our enhanced shopping block page)
  • Calculate taxes
  • Manage your stock by reducing it when sales are made

If you absolutely need any of these then Spanglefish isn't the platform for you.

So what does a Spanglefish shop do?

Spanglefish allows you to list all of your items for sale along with a button for customers to add them to a Paypal hosted shopping cart, and then to check out through Paypal.

It allows you to create varieties of an item (S, M, L or red, green, blue etc) and (to some extent) vary the prices depending upon the choice. It allows you to create different Shop Blocks on different pages.

So in summary you can create a simple shop quickly and easily which may suit small businesses with a few items for sale.

Shop Item Options (Simple)

When you add a shop item (or edit it later) you are able to set some simple options. You can give it an optional reference number, a price (in your default currency) and you can set how many of them you have 'in stock', which in practice is just setting a limit to how many a customer can buy.

Note that this In Stock figure is not automatically updated by the system, nor does it solidly restrict a customer. The Paypal shopping cart allows customers to vary numbers, so even if you have set this to 1 in your website (because the item you're selling is unique) it's still possible for the customer to purchase 2 through Paypal. In the rare case this happens you'd need to contact the customer and arrange a refund.

Advanced Shop Item Options

Clicking the Advanced Options link brings up a number of additional functions. Note the little help icons beside some of the facilities. Click them to bring the help up in an overlay.

You can allow customers to choose different alternatives for this shop item, and to personalise it.

You can create one set of options which will affect the price of the item. So for instance if you have the a T-shirt available in different sizes which cost different amounts you'd use this option.

You can create up to two other sets of options which don't affect the price. So you might allow your customer to choose the colour of the T-shirt from a number of options.

You can allow the customer to enter some text. This might be the slogan printed on the front of the T-shirt.


If you're using Paypal as your shopping cart Spanglefish can't automatically add postage to an order because we don't know where your customer is - only Paypal knows. One possible solution is to ask your customer to choose a postage option, but you'll need to check your orders once you receive them to ensure they've done so.

*Update* - see our enhanced shopping block page.

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