CartThrob: With Bells OnLikely, one of the biggest perceived risks any add-on developer takes on when writing a product is that the core product, regardless of the platform (ExpressionEngine, Wordpress, Windows, Mac, whatever), will adopt your product's feature set into the core product. Within the ExpressionEngine community we've seen this recently with, off the top of my head, the introduction of the Rich Text Editor and File Manager features; 2 core features that overlap existing add-ons (Assets/Channel Images & Expresso/Editor/Wygwam respectively). To some, this is a big enough barrier to pass on the idea of extending a platform all together.
And, on the surface, it is a scary idea. If you give it almost zero thought, yes, competing with free sounds like a tough ride. That said though, I think that attitude's just a cop out. A way of letting your fear win and laziness prevail. It ignores so many aspects of economics that all it takes is a little forethought to realize the fallacy of the whole idea. In the cases of the Rich Text Editor and File Manager, it comes down to quality. Yes, for free, you can have a Rich Text Editor and File Manager out of the box with ExpressionEngine. But they are nowhere near as awesome or useful as those offered by PutYourLightsOn or Pixel and Tonic or DevDemon. (BTW, I'm not trying to imply that the Rich Text Editor and File Manager aren't cool or good, just that they can't be as awesome as those others without serious time investment.)
And how could they be? I mean, seriously, EllisLab has to build a whole freaking CMS with a hundred different moving parts and pieces of functionality; the above devs just focus on the one feature being implemented. Even given how smart the EllisLab devs are, and make no mistake these are some crazy talented and intelligent developers any team would be lucky to have, there's just no way for them to step things up to the level of quality the add-on developers can in the short time they have to do it. There's just too much minutia and domain knowledge learned through focus that takes months and even years to really understand. Maybe if Ellislab had a single focused developer for each feature, maybe, but that's just not economically viable.
Now, I say all of that because I find myself in a similar situation with CartThrob. If you hadn't heard, CartThrob is now working on a new Order Manager module; an area of clear overlap with CT Admin. And I get this. Perfectly understandable as to why. They. Have. No. Choice. Just like ExpressionEngine, CartThrob is up against some pretty stiff competition who already have this type of functionality and without it, well, it's obviously tough to compete regardless of how bad ass CT Admin may, or my not, be.
(BTW, on a personal note; both Chris Newton and Rob were completely open and above board about this. I knew about this months ago and was impressed with how both showed concern in how this may affect me. Both are class acts all the way.)
But this left me in a similar position as the add-on developers mentioned above; the initial fear was definitely there. Still, with just a little thought I realized it wasn't really an issue. CartThrob has to focus on building an entire e-commerce suite; I just have to focus on managing and reporting on that store. Even with how talented and smart the Barret Newton team is, and make no mistake, these guys can play, they still have an uphill battle with split focus. So long as I continue to keep innovating CT Admin will continue to be a premium product for those stores that need more than what the Order Manager can give.
Which, after 800 words of preamble, is what CT Admin 1.5 (today's update) is all about; going bad ass on an Order Manager for CartThrob stores. Don't get me wrong, CT Admin has always been awesome (yeah, I'm humble) and had a special place in my heart. I'm very proud of the product and, honestly, it's my #1 add-on in terms of revenue (Backup Pro is still my top seller in volume) but with CartThrob coming out with their own I felt the need to really step things up and go for awesome above and beyond. And from the feedback I've gotten so far I believe I've done just that with 1.5. The highlights are below though.
CT Admin 1.5 now has all the Ajax goodness and polish we've all come to expect from premium ExpressionEngine add-ons. Managing orders in bulk is a breeze. You want to extend things and add in custom reports? Yeah, that's in there. Want CT Admin to really be the core of your store? It is. Update an Order or Product in the Channel Entries page and you're now brought back to CT Admin automagically. Want detailed Product reports? Yup; it's there now. Want better integration with CartThrob Notifications? There too. What about only allowing a single quantity of an item to be added to a cart or requiring a coupon be valid if it's entered? Added in 1.5. Be sure to check out the change log for details on what's new.
To help with managing CartThrob Orders in bulk you can now do status updates and Order removal in bulk with just a few clicks. Select your Orders from the list, choose your action (and status), and submit. All status update notifications are also now sent out using the CartThrob Notifications settings.
The 1.5 update also brings in over 10 new extension hooks so you can customize things to fit your needs. Things like adding in new menu items, content blocks, modifying what data is displayed, or adding in new custom reports are all done through creating extensions that display inline within CT Admin.
You can customize pretty much every page within CT Admin as well as modifying some of the data on each page. If you have a need for any additional hooks please don't hesitate hitting me up.
With 1.5 you can also make CT Admin the core of your store within the Control Panel. Essentially, since CartThrob stores everything within Channel Entries it was a tremendously uphill battle to allow complete Order modification from within CT Admin. I mean, think about it; replicating the Channel Entry modification screen is the picture of reinventing the wheel (Custom FieldTypes are a bitch to put it mildly). Why bother? Instead, CT Admin now allows for basic Order editing from within the module, things like Status, Billing and Shipping Details and requires using the Channel Entries page for detailed modifications. When you update an Order (or Product) you'll automagically be directed back to your Order within CT Admin. Don't like this? No worries; it's configurable from the Settings page.
There's also now a complete Product vector do get details about each product and the history of it's performance. While viewing a product you can see the date/time of the first and latest purchase, total quantity sold, total revenue earned, total customers, and a history graph of purchases by month.
Note that the number(s) in parenthesis are the total regardless of Order status. Handy to know how many missed opportunities there were on a per product basis.
The Product Sum Report will show a detailed breakdown of the various prices your product is sold at. For example, if you have 1 product with 2 variations in price CT Admin will show you how each has performed.
To help visualize things, there's also a pie chart provided in an overlay of your Product Sum Report. The Customer list will display the top customers for a given product. Keep in mind that the Customer list respects the Customer List Limit set in the Settings area. You can export an Excel document of all the customers who have purchased the product as well.
You can purchase CT Admin from both devot:ee and CartThrob.com .