Frequently Asked Questions

Building a sPearCat eCatalog

The actual structure of your database is created on-line, allowing you any building possibility. No longer are you required to follow a predetermined pattern. The database structure is easily modified and updated enabling your catalog to be developed in an iterative fashion; starting quickly with a first version and improving later. Adding an attribute type to your database to better describe business products or services is as easy as to add an item. There is no need to ask a database administrator to make any modifications.
Yes the whole point of sPearCat publishing is to be able to do just that: testing each and every catalog before it goes public.
The simple answer is yes. But you can also change the labeling of each and every field that has a default title.
No, not at all. A Merchant builds up a catalog with an SQL database on a server dedicated to building and testing. This is the sPearCat staging time. Data information is published onto a web site and internally reviewed by administrators. When it is time for the catalog to be shown to customers, the data information is published onto a second server and its database becomes the synchronized mirror image of the staging one.
With a totally customizable information structure, with templates and graphic sets, complete personalization is possible. Merchant inventiveness and template designer aptitude are the only limiting factors.
Families are used to help present several products that are identical except for their size or color for example. One may want to present only one product in your catalog and then offer users a button to view other sizes or colors in which the product is available.
Yes any category (or any rank of category) has a position that is given by the catalog designers. This is the same for items or items within a family. Each and every one can be attributed a position.
Any amount of information can be stored with any category. The same is true for items. The information can be textual, numerical (for use in calculations), Boolean (yes or no) or one of a list of attributes.
Some data entry and template design has to be done first, then you would go into the sPearCat Publish Manager. With the URL and license number, at the click of a button your catalog is published. You would expect to wait a few instants if only a few modifications had been made, or a few minutes if major work had been done. Then you could view your work. Downtime itself will have been shorter.
Extra fields are like extra attributes and can be added to the item or category information structure on the fly through the use of sPearCat attribute sets.

Template design

The quick answer is yes…but
Only good HTML knowledge is necessary to use sPearCat to its full potential and we provide a demo with a first template to quick start a first catalog. What makes sPearCat catalogs unique is the total separation of content and presentation. Data content, templates, and graphic sets are all independent. Changing one doesn’t have any effect on any another. Data content can easily be changed on an everyday basis. Templates reflect attribute sets. Also templates can be given a new look through the use of a series of graphic sets developed separately.
sPearCat’s code and templates are totally separate, so updates to sPearCat Publisher and newer sPearCat versions cannot influence any staged or published sPearCat catalogs.
Dynamic implies movement. Since there is hardly any down time, catalogs can be modified very regularly, whenever a detail of a product changes, or when a clearer picture can be changed. Graphic sets can change the look of any catalog with no change made to the template. Sales can be updated many times a day if required.
Yes it supports both.

Flexibility

The simple answer is yes. But you can also change the labeling of each and every field that has a default title.
First of all sPearCat catalogs can be built with as many languages as the Merchant requires, ten or more if necessary. Also, the fields where the second and other languages have to be entered are easy to access. In both items and categories a dropdown menu leads the sPearCat user to the required fields. Again no HTML knowledge is needed. The multi-lingual data is contained within each object or item/category file.
Yes, this certainly seems the case. However sPearCat is unique in the way it can adapt to any tax or shipping situation. Customers are localized and from then on, sPearCat does all the math individually for each customer. Shipping and tax calculations in California are terribly complicated and sPearCat has passed that test with flying colors.
There can be as many price lists as each business supports, for end-users, for distributors, etc. When a user logs into the catalog, he is presented with his or her own price list. The great advantage is that ‘business to business’ and ‘retail business’ can use the same unique database. As the business changes or develops, the key administrator sets a particular price list for particular users.
There can be as many price lists as a Merchant wants. And promotions can be either general and fixed with a percentage off, or individually set to some items.
Not only items are placed in categories, sPearCat uses the feature “families” to create relationships between items. One commonly uses catalog families to group products that you want to cross-sell or up-sell, or to associate prerequisite products or optional accessories.
Yes any category (or any rank of category) has a position that is given by the catalog designers. This is the same for items or items within a family. Each and every one can be attributed a position.
Extra fields are like extra attributes and can be added to the item or category information structure on the fly through the use of sPearCat attribute sets.

Marketing

sPearCat can offer all the marketing tricks of the trade. Up-selling and cross selling, Sales and different Price lists for different people are all possible. There is no end of what can be built. The sPearCat marketing team hasn’t yet been outdone by a marketing strategy. If you want to do something that isn’t documented, just ask the team.
personalizing Internet Websites is crucial to a business to represent virtually the same “Look and Feel” of the shop, chain, mall or business. Selling toys and car parts is just not the same and doesn’t require the same features at all. However, they both want to be able to make a customer feel satisfies he or she has arrived in the right place. For a perfect “Look and Feel” template management and data offered to inform customers has to be personalized to each and every business. SPearCat offers just that for a package price.
There are two publishing stages to a sPearCat catalog. One for testing purposes, the staging Publish and the other for placing a particular catalog for public display, live Publish. To publish a catalog for testing implies that for a few instants, no one can work on the Publisher, so minimizing the publish time is important to the team. Minimized downtime means that sPearCat utilizes a single commit: information is blocked, transferred to a server, and then committed in one go, ensuring minimal downtime for catalog publishing. Therefore, to publish a catalog for public display in a short time implies that customers will have access to the site much faster. Depending on the industry, this can be crucial to the business and this is why we are so proud of our publishing times.
Again you have to understand sPearCat. A Merchant with one license can build as many catalogs as required. One catalog can be publicly displayed in the Fall whilst the Christmas catalog is being tested and data edited in the wings, at the same time as a Spring catalog is being built and data entered with all the new styles. sPearCat is incredibly powerful.
There can be as many price lists as a Merchant wants. And promotions can be either general and fixed with a percentage off, or individually set to some items.
Not only items are placed in categories, sPearCat uses the feature “families” to create relationships between items. One commonly uses catalog families to group products that you want to cross-sell or up-sell, or to associate prerequisite products or optional accessories.
Yes. And any marketing strategies are possible. The fact that publishing downtime is minimal allows you to create sales, promotions, or special features ahead of your chosen publishing dates giving you the ability to test catalogs on a staging server before publication. You have total control over the date and time you want to publish since publishing is the result of a click on a button. Your Web presence becomes a powerful part of your marketing strategy. At any time you can work on other seasonal catalogs on your local server and create multiple catalogs using the same item database. If you have trouble finding a solution to your business expectations, our team can advise you. We haven’t yet had a question too hard to resolve.
Tracking through additional sales is of course possible. Any other tracking is also possible but not yet documented. Please contact customer relations at sPearWay.
Families are used to help present several products that are identical except for their size or color for example. One may want to present only one product in your catalog and then offer users a button to view other sizes or colors in which the product is available.
Special promotions by category can be created through the use of category attribute sets, price lists, or specific template design.
There is no limit to the number of catalogs the product can support. One license/One Merchant/x number of catalogs

eCatalog maintenance

With sPearCat, incredibly complex catalogs can be built, presenting and organizing products or services exactly how they must be. But however complex the catalog’s structure, and intricate the template, maintenance of content is always the same. Automated import helps fundamental catalog changes. Manual data entry tweaks every detail so that you can test thoroughly every catalog before it goes onto the Hosting server and becomes public.
Also you can modify a detail without any hassle at all, a price or attribute change taking 2 to 3 minutes from login to publish.
Regular staff, with no HTML knowledge at all, can do any content maintenance necessary.
The actual structure of your database is created on-line, allowing you any building possibility. No longer are you required to follow a predetermined pattern. The database structure is easily modified and updated enabling your catalog to be developed in an iterative fashion; starting quickly with a first version and improving later. Adding an attribute type to your database to better describe business products or services is as easy as to add an item. There is no need to ask a database administrator to make any modifications.
No, not at all! Access Rights are customizable as well as everything in sPearCat, and each user can be given read or write permissions. Access rights can be assigned per group and per user.
Dynamic implies movement. Since there is hardly any down time, catalogs can be modified very regularly, whenever a detail of a product changes, or when a clearer picture can be changed. Graphic sets can change the look of any catalog with no change made to the template. Sales can be updated many times a day if required.
Because all maintenance and administration occurs through use of a browser, and because to publish a new catalog is just a question of clicking on a button for testing, and then clicking again for public viewing, catalogs, even the most complex ones, have no reason to be out of date.

Architecture and tech. issues

• Staging is organizing a database and building a catalog with sPearCat Publisher. You may preview locally your catalog to verify layout templates, template plug-ins, database content, and to fine-tune catalog behavior. Once everything is ready, your catalog is published onto a hosting Internet server.
• Publishing is launching a live catalog on-line using a remote Internet server. A live catalog includes a live database and is the complete on-line catalog, designed to run on an Internet server and be available to the public on the Internet or on an intranet.
Staging and published, live catalogs share the same data, templates, and option settings. sPearCat replicates information from the staging database to the live database, and runs on different computers. At all times, the staging catalog is independent of the live catalog.
The advantage is that no software needs to be installed on any client machine and that any maintenance or editing can take place from any machine connected to the network. There is only one license per Merchant. With that license, any number of catalogs can be created, and any number of people can have varying permissions and access rights.
The images are stored linked to items, categories or customers. They are part of the organized data.
This allows for very low cost laptop and desktop computers because only a browser is required. It also allows for off site maintenance, after hours administration, and any kind of flexibility. With one sPearCat license, one single Merchant can create as many catalogs as required.
With the quality of programming put into the product and the additional features added daily, optimized Web Server performance is at the forefront of the developing team’s minds.
Any SQL database can be used with sPearCat. We recommend to medium sized businesses the use of FrontBase, because it is a remarkable database at a relatively low price and high performance. A product of sPearCat’s quality with a very good, fast and reliable help line.
The program is totally written in Java on top of WebObjects. Some Java Script can be then used for template creation.
Yes it supports both.
At present, sPearCat runs on MacOSX, Linux, Windows, Solaris and HPOX. We recommend MacOSX for its better price/performance ratio.
Client requirements are a functional browser with IE5 and over, Netscape 6 or similar.
The sPearCat software’s open architecture and SDK allow us to connect to almost any existing system through the API. We can also import delimited files from other databases into sPearCat’s Publisher’s staging database. This means that we can use your existing database and still get the benefits of the sPearCat catalog.
JDBC saves you the expense and time of database conversion. Using JDBC, you can talk to an existing database you are already familiar with. If you’ve invested in a high-end database like Oracle, you don’t have to purchase a new one. Also, because JDBC talks to databases from a variety of manufacturers, your Internet catalog can pull items from multiple databases in various formats.

Customer service and sales admin

A specific SSL license has to be purchased, and Merchant credit card agreements processed independently to sPearCat. Credit Card transaction possibilities are present in sPearCat, but the outside transaction uses Merchant’s banking systems.
sPearCat can offer all the marketing tricks of the trade. Up-selling and cross selling, Sales and different Price lists for different people are all possible. There is no end of what can be built. The sPearCat marketing team hasn’t yet been outdone by a marketing strategy. If you want to do something that isn’t documented, just ask the team.
A shopping session is activated when a customer starts placing items in the shopping cart. Sessions are kept when the returning customer logs in.
Of course a customer can edit and change any order at any time.
If the Merchant has set-up a gift registry within the Publisher, then a customer can create both wish lists and gift lists. Again gift registries are not restricted to any type of celebration. The Merchant sets up the gift registry for the business.
There is a sPearCat back-office that is linked to the hosting live server. This admin tool looks after all ongoing sales administration and transaction processing. It is based on a queue system, with each queue is determined by the Merchant to match the exact way in which sales are processed within the company’s organization. sPearCat supports multi-currency payments and has a flexible architecture allowing most payment methods and processors. A shopping cart is available with purchase on line, features, we have come to expect from catalog software including: fully visible cart at any time, cart memorized for next visit, and order checkable on-line. Accurate invoicing improves customer satisfaction, reducing charge-back.
A shopping session is activated when a customer starts placing items in the shopping cart.
This is done with the sPearCat admin tool linked to the public live database.

International features

First of all sPearCat catalogs can be built with as many languages as the Merchant requires, ten or more if necessary. Also, the fields where the second and other languages have to be entered are easy to access. In both items and categories a dropdown menu leads the sPearCat user to the required fields. Again no HTML knowledge is needed. The multi-lingual data is contained within each object or item/category file.
As many as you wish. (The sPearCat interface can also be translated in any language the Merchant wishes to work with.) This includes regional variations like French from France and French for Québec, or UK English and US English.
Yes, this certainly seems the case. However sPearCat is unique in the way it can adapt to any tax or shipping situation. Customers are localized and from then on, sPearCat does all the math individually for each customer. Shipping and tax calculations in California are terribly complicated and sPearCat has passed that test with flying colors.

Technical support and training

Our policy is simple: personalized technical support offered 24/7; any message received between 9AM EST and 5 PM PST, answered within a two hour period.
sPearWay offers any consulting advice needed by our customers. On the contrary we enjoy being involved in resolving issues and showing customers how they can best adapt sPearCat to their business for a truely dynamic presence on the Web.
There is a full paperbased documentation available. There is also a forum and these FAQs. Finally we have training sessions available for users for a three day intensive training for those who prefer to learn hands on rather than alone with a book. Contact Customer relations. For the time being these training sessions are in our beautiful town of Vancouver.