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Don't publish your catalog

Catalog Manager (for non-legacy Yahoo Stores) provides a nicer, easier to use interface to update your products. You can sort and page through your items, look for items using simple and advanced searches, or edit or delete multiple items at once, tasks that are not very easily done in the store editor.

If you ever work in Catalog Manager, you may also have noticed the "Publish" button there. The inline help says, if you publish your catalog, all the changes will be immediately visible on your site. You may be tempted to use this function particularly if your editor usually takes a long time to publish, however, if your store is an editor-based store, publishing the catalog separately from the editor is not for you.

Catalog Manager was originally created to allow access to the product catalog for stores that are built on the web hosting account using "store tags". Today, of the thousands of Yahoo stores very few use store tags (and I don't recommend it either; read this posts about store tags vs RTML templates: http://www.ytimes.com/yahoo-store-tags-vs-rtml.html). Because store tags fetch information from the catalog whenever a page is requested (displayed), wherever you have a store tag referencing the price of an item for example, that price will always be as current as your last Catalog or Editor publish.

Store editor - or template driven - pages, however, work differently. When you publish your editor-based store, the final, live HTML pages are generated during the publish process, and those pages become static on your published, live site. A price displayed on such a page is simply static text.

So what happens if you have an editor-based store, and you publish only the catalog from Catalog Manager? Chances are your publish process will complete fairly quickly, and you will end up with a published catalog - and possibly an out of date store! Publishing the catalog basically pushes your product database live, but leaves all your static store pages intact, showing the state your EDITOR was last published. So, you can end up with Widget A displaying a price of $10.00 while the actual price of it may now be $12.00. A visitor going to Widget A's page will see the $10.00 price, add the product to the cart, and all of a sudden he or she will see $12.00 for the same product at checkout.

To make sure your live site and catalog are in synch, always publish your editor-based store from the Store Editor.

There is one case, though, when this out of synch behavior may be useful: that is when you have products with MAP pricing or where the manufacturer doesn't allow you to openly advertise a  price lower than the MSRP. In such a case, being able to charge a different dollar amount in the cart vs. the product page itself may be helpful. Here is how this could work:

  • Widget A can only be advertised at $10.00
  • You want to sell Widget A at $9.00
  • You set the price of Widget A to $10.00 and publish your store editor
  • Go back to catalog manager, and change the price of Widget A to $9.00
  • Publish your CATALOG only.
Now, when you go to the page of Widget A, it will show $10.00, but when you add it to the cart, it will show $9.00. If you use this method, you may also want to put a line of text on the page asking your customers to put the item in the cart for a lower price.

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