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Put Late Nights to Rest with Date-Effective Commerce Categories in NetSuite 18.2

Posted by Ian McCue, Content Manager

It’s a Friday night and you have a packed weekend planned, but instead of enjoying dinner and drinks with friends, you’re stuck behind the computer screen at your home office. At midnight, your company’s biggest sale of the year kicks off and you need to be there to make sure everything goes smoothly – that the landing page is live, works properly and has the right content on it.

This is an all-too-familiar scenario for ecommerce managers and site administrators, especially those who have to do this on a regular basis. However, with NetSuite’s Site Management Tools (SMT) for its SuiteCommerce or SuiteCommerce Advanced ecommerce platforms, it’s no longer an issue. Included in the recent NetSuite 18.2 release is a new feature called Date Effectivity for Commerce Categories.

Quick refresher: Site Management Tools’ Commerce Categories allow SuiteCommerce users to organize their products into a hierarchy with categories, subcategories and products so customers can easily find what they are looking for. For example, you may have a root level category of Women, with a subcategory of Women’s Shirts and Blouses, then a product of Blue and White Striped Blouse.

By adding Date Effectivity, SuiteCommerce users can create new or update existing Commerce Categories for a future date easily through SMT so they can get work done ahead of time. It enables you to simply manage multiple category pages with different go-live dates and life spans.

Let’s look at two common scenarios where Date Effectivity offers a big helping hand:

Limited Time Product Promotion: If you’re an apparel retailer running a sale on Labor Day weekend for 30 percent off certain pairs of shorts and T-shirts, you can build out a new category for this sale.

In SMT, go to Category Settings -> Visible on Specific Dates (the other option is Always Visible) and enter the start date and end date, say Aug. 31, 12 a.m. to Sept. 3, 11:59 p.m. After that, put the appropriate products into this category.

Then schedule your Friday night email blast with a link to this newly-created category and a promo code that can be applied to these select items. Remember, if these items live in another active category on your site, shoppers can find them. However, they will not see this Labor Day sale category page until the go-live date (that’s true even if they try to access this category through the direct URL).

You can preview the future category through SMT by clicking the Ellipses (…) à Preview. Make sure View Site As Of at the top of the page is set to the start date (if the visibility date is set to Now, nothing will show up). In the days and weeks leading up to Labor Day weekend, you can add or remove items and enhance the page with additional content.

Once midnight strikes on Sept. 4, the Labor Day category is no longer visible. It’s really that simple.

Staging New Products: The same apparel retailer plans to launch a new line of active wear in six weeks (let’s assume these products are not currently available anywhere on your site). You have all the pictures and product information you need for these products, so create a category in SMT for active wear and set the visibility date to the agreed-upon launch date. Then build item pages for these new products and include them only in the future active wear category.

Once again, you can preview the active wear category page and individual product pages to see how they look and make changes before any shoppers check it out. It’s a superior process to the alternative of turning each item on, checking the progress, then turning it off to make adjustments repeatedly until everything looks good.

On top of being able to create limited time product promotions and staging new products using SMT’s Date Effective Commerce Categories, you can still preview all of your content in different browser sizes to verify that it looks good.

SMT also offers a visibility timeline that shows all the scheduled categories and their contents in chronological order. This makes it easy to keep track of all your upcoming activities in one place.

Final Tips for Date Effectivity

When using Date Effective Commerce Categories, there are a few important things to note that are easy to overlook:

  1. If a category exists in multiple places within the Commerce Category hierarchy, the same visibility rules apply to all of those instances. If it is not visible in one location, it is not visible in a second location.
  2. Subcategories of a Date Effective parent category are only visible if the parent category is visible. So if the parent category is set to display in two weeks, all subcategories under it will not display for two weeks.
  3. Users cannot preview expired categories that have passed their end date, but they can manage them.

In addition to being on NetSuite 18.2, your online store must be fully migrated to Elastic search, and you need SMT version 3 to take advantage of all the functionality around Date Effective categories described above.

This functionality should come as welcome news to anyone who uses SuiteCommerce every day. You get your precious time back!