E-commerce step 3 of 4: Enhancing your online catalog by creating “Product Detail” pages

In my last post, I showed you how to use Zoho Creator to build an online catalog of products to sell on your Web site. With a little bit of scripting, you can even set this catalog up to automatically generate and display the appropriate PayPal “Add to cart” or “Buy Now” buttons to allow people to purchase your products online with PayPal or any major credit card. This is a great feature to include in your catalog, but what if you need to have more information available about your products? Most major online sellers have a page dedicated to every product they sell. They can do this because their product pages are rarely unique, individually-coded Web pages, but are pages automatically created by the server using information stored in a database. In this post, I will show you how to use Zoho Creator to build a similar functionality into your online catalog.

Although I could not find a reference to this on the Zoho Creator site, I did accidentally stumble across a way to link to a unique Web page for each entry in your Zoho Creator database. In fact, you can create multiple links for each entry because you can specify not only the entry ID number (assigned by Zoho), but also the specific view containing only the fields you want to show. The basic structure of the link is as follows (you will need to replace the items shown in red below with your own values):


User-Name: Your unique Zoho Username (required for all of your Zoho applications)

View-Number: This is an integer value that identifies the specific view you want to display. You can easily find this number by accessing your application and switching to the view that contains the data you wish to display. The view number will be displayed in the address bar of your Web browser.

ID-Number: This is a non-configurable ID number Zoho uses to identify every record generated by Zoho Creator. It is a fairly long number. The best way to find the ID number for a specific product is to create a new view (or modify an existing view) that displays the [ID] field.

You can use Zoho’s scripting feature to automatically generate a link to this “details” page so people can view more information about the product. For example, you might want to enter the following “script” code, exchanging the variables shown in red with your own values:

“<a href=’http://creator.zoho.com/lockworld/view/8/record/” + input.ID + “‘ title=’View product details’>View product details</a>”

Once you understand how to use the unique URL for each of your products, you will see there are many possible uses for these “product details” pages.

Basic product information page: In the simplest form, this link can be used to display additional details about your product to anyone who is interested. Last week, I created a sample Zoho Creator catalog for my readers to experiment with. Anyone can add sample products to the catalog or view the sample products already listed. In addition to the PayPal “Add to cart” buttons, for every product, there will be a link to “View product details,” which will take you to the unique page for that particular product. There is a field in the database labeled “Detailed Description,” which is where you can add text (or HTML) that will not show up in the regular catalog view, but will only be visible if someone clicks on the “View product details” link.

Related applications: While doing research for this post, I came across a question in one of the Zoho Creator forums related to adding PayPal functionality into a form. Sitemanager asked if there was a way to incorporate PayPal functionality into an event registration form. This got me thinking about how you could use the unique URL for each record created in your Zoho application to create some sort of a “View/Print Registration” page for anyone who uses Zoho Creator to manage event registrations. As I explained (briefly) in my reply to sitemanager, you could use Zoho’s scripting capabilities to send a confirmation e-mail to anyone who registers for the event. This email could contain a link to the specific registration details as well as a PayPal button to allow the individual to pay for his/her registration online.

Advanced application: On my Web site, LockworldHerald.com, I am experimenting with ways to embed this unique page into my own site so people can view the product details for any item directly on my Web site. I am still in the testing phase, so please let me know if you experience any difficulties with this. I have tested it with Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 running on Windows XP, but I am not sure if other browsers/OSs may have problems loading the page. What you should see, however, is a brief “loading” page when you click on a particular product in the catalog. This page will resolve into a full product details page embedded directly within my site. I have gone into much greater details on my own site than I’m explaining in this post, but feel free to contact me if you would like to know the full details (I’m planning on compiling a PDF with detailed instructions on this whole process in the future, but I’m not sure how long it will take for this to become available).

That’s all for today. Although I am planning one more post in this e-commerce series, it’s just meant to wrap up a few loose ends. I have already covered creating your own free Web site, setting up a free PayPal account, building an online catalog of products, and creating individual “product detail” or “registration confirmation” pages (this post). So, if you’ve been following along with this blog, you’ve built your own Web site and online store without spending any money! Congratulations!

I’d like to take a moment to thank Pete Thomas for picking up my last post in his Land of ZC: Exploring the world of Zoho Creator blog. As a new blogger (This post wraps up my second month writing The Web for You), I appreciate the exposure Pete’s given to my blog. Not only that, but I’ve also enjoyed reading the great tips Pete offers on “all things Zoho Creatorish.” Thanks, Pete, for the exposure and the great tips!

One Reply to “E-commerce step 3 of 4: Enhancing your online catalog by creating “Product Detail” pages”

  1. Nice work! The ability to link to individual records is new to me; seems like it holds potential benefit for lots of kinds of ZC applications…

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