Post by MrPhil » Thu May 11, 2017 12:50 am

Hi all. I'm considering using OpenCart 2.x for a new store, and have many questions about whether it can do the things I need it to do. The store will have a fairly small number of items, but includes downloadables, and several classes of physical goods. I am proficient in PHP and HTML, so if some sort of add-on is needed, or even if I need to write a module, that's OK. I would appreciate getting answers to the following questions, even if an individual poster can answer only a few of them.

  1. Downloadables (software) can ship to most countries, but some countries may be under sanction and I can't sell some software there. Is it reasonably easy to exclude a list of countries, either overall or per item?
  2. Physical goods I want to ship only to the US (domestic mail) addresses, as it's not worth the hassle of filling out customs forms and figuring out postal rates for foreign orders, for inexpensive goods. Is this easily done?
  3. Are product attributes well supported? For example, for software I want to offer optional (for extra cost) CD-ROM and printed manuals (US shipment only). How about T-shirts in different sizes? Something like that must have been done already.
  4. For on-demand physical goods, such as CD-ROM options, inventory is created as-needed. For other physical goods, inventory needs to be tracked at attribute level (e.g., T-shirts by size). It does no good to have all my shirts of one design lumped together regardless of size. Worst case, I can make them totally separate products by size, but it would be nice to have one design = one product with attribute selection.
  5. I need to properly collect sales tax in New York. This is destination-based, with S/H taxed. I'm not going to ask a customer what county they're in, to figure the tax jurisdiction (most people don't know what county they live in!). I'm thinking of a Google maps-API to geolocate a customer to city and county, with a fallback to ZIP Code lookup if they give a faulty address. Has something like that been done (add-on) or is the interface reasonably clean to write my own?
  6. I will need at least three tax classes (non-taxable, general merchandise, and inexpensive clothing). I think OC can do this, but want to make sure.
  7. Payment should allow PayPal (standard? basic? I'm not sure what the account I have is called) and check/money order drawn on US bank. Does the PayPal interface have adequate safeguards to preserve the order information if the customer fails to return to the store after completing the order payment? I will present PayPal with the order total, so they don't need to figure out shipping rates or sales tax themselves.
  8. Future: recurring payments (monthly, quarterly, etc.) via PayPal?
  9. Are colors and fonts easily configured to match the rest of my site? Is there a reasonable selection of Responsive layouts/themes? My site uses Bootstrap (for now), so that would be preferred.
  10. SEF links are an add-on? These days, customers seem to distrust sites with dynamic URL Query Strings, and like nice clean-looking SEF/SEO links.
  11. Can OC be easily configured to use SSL for the entire store? Once I get an SSL cert, I will probably want to put my entire site under it.
Thanks much for the information!

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Post by artcore » Thu May 11, 2017 5:03 am

Hi MrPhil,

I'll try to answer here and there
  1. Downloadables (software) can ship to most countries, but some countries may be under sanction and I can't sell some software there. Is it reasonably easy to exclude a list of countries, either overall or per item?

    I think you can do this by adding your own shipping extension and limit this to certain countries/zones. Once at checkout and the customer filled out the address and his country isn't in the zone, he'll see a message: 'no shipping methods available' and won't be able to continue. Of course a warning before hand would be nice :)
  2. Physical goods I want to ship only to the US (domestic mail) addresses, as it's not worth the hassle of filling out customs forms and figuring out postal rates for foreign orders, for inexpensive goods. Is this easily done?

    See above, you have to mark the product as 'shipping required' also.
  3. Are product attributes well supported? For example, for software I want to offer optional (for extra cost) CD-ROM and printed manuals (US shipment only). How about T-shirts in different sizes? Something like that must have been done already.

    This is done using options in OC.
  4. For on-demand physical goods, such as CD-ROM options, inventory is created as-needed. For other physical goods, inventory needs to be tracked at attribute level (e.g., T-shirts by size). It does no good to have all my shirts of one design lumped together regardless of size. Worst case, I can make them totally separate products by size, but it would be nice to have one design = one product with attribute selection.

    I'm pretty sure OC can do this using options but you might need an extension for option stock. Not sure
  5. I need to properly collect sales tax in New York. This is destination-based, with S/H taxed. I'm not going to ask a customer what county they're in, to figure the tax jurisdiction (most people don't know what county they live in!). I'm thinking of a Google maps-API to geolocate a customer to city and county, with a fallback to ZIP Code lookup if they give a faulty address. Has something like that been done (add-on) or is the interface reasonably clean to write my own?

    Taxes are bound by zones in a country. It would be a head scratching setup but sounds feasible if your customers know their city :)
  6. I will need at least three tax classes (non-taxable, general merchandise, and inexpensive clothing). I think OC can do this, but want to make sure.

    You might need more than 3 if the rates are different per zone
  7. Payment should allow PayPal (standard? basic? I'm not sure what the account I have is called) and check/money order drawn on US bank. Does the PayPal interface have adequate safeguards to preserve the order information if the customer fails to return to the store after completing the order payment? I will present PayPal with the order total, so they don't need to figure out shipping rates or sales tax themselves.

    PP works fine, both standard and express which are both free
  8. Future: recurring payments (monthly, quarterly, etc.) via PayPal?

    PP by default and a few other payment methods. Contact me when you're ready for this, I'm fairly well versed in this matter :D
  9. Are colors and fonts easily configured to match the rest of my site? Is there a reasonable selection of Responsive layouts/themes? My site uses Bootstrap (for now), so that would be preferred.

    Make sure you pick a theme that is known to play nice with 3rd party extensions. Search the forum for a thread on 'why are themes so horrible' or to that affect...
  10. SEF links are an add-on? These days, customers seem to distrust sites with dynamic URL Query Strings, and like nice clean-looking SEF/SEO links.

    Out of the box if setup well. Many threads about this...
  11. Can OC be easily configured to use SSL for the entire store? Once I get an SSL cert, I will probably want to put my entire site under it.

    Very easy
Hope it helps,
Cheers

Attn: I no longer provide OpenCart extensions, nor future support - this includes forum posts.
Reason: OpenCart version 3+ ;D

Thanks!


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Post by MrPhil » Thu May 11, 2017 9:05 am

Thanks for the quick (and mostly positive) response. I'm new here... "extension" is the name for both free and paid additions to the stock code?

Regarding #5 and #6, yes it's messy. What I need to do is map the shipping address (billing address if all downloadables) to one of NY's 81 sales tax jurisdictions (62 counties, and 19 cities within counties). I take it that a "zone" would be NY state, but there is no state-wide tax rate. General merchandise ranges from something like 7% to 8.875% and clothing 0% to 4.75%, so once I have the jurisdiction number (which I need anyway for reporting sales tax collection) I can just look up the three tax rates for that jurisdiction and use the one(s) that apply. I hope that either each item in the cart can have its own tax rate applied, or the cart can have up to three subtotals by tax class.

I'd like to feed the customer address to Google Maps or similar to get the county and city, from which I can look up the tax jurisdiction. Unfortunately there are bound to be customers who insist on using an irregular form of their address that the USPS can figure out, but a geolocator won't be able to match up. Maybe I can ask them to check their address and if they won't change it or it fails a second time, try to use the ZIP Code. The problem with ZIPs (postal codes outside the US) is that a Post Office can cover multiple tax jurisdictions, and which one do I choose? I presume that the customer would like for me to choose the one with the lowest total tax amount, and will squawk if I pick the wrong one, but that might get me in trouble with the state. The state refuses to provide an acceptable address-to-jurisdiction interface, so I'm on my own here. If the ZIP is invalid, I presume the shipment would be undeliverable anyway, so that's an incentive to insist that the customer give a valid ZIP. I'll look around this forum for any discussion on rates by ZIP Code.

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Post by MrPhil » Mon May 15, 2017 8:56 pm

Any other comments or suggestions, anyone, particularly with regards to handling sales tax?

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Post by acidrs » Wed May 17, 2017 2:18 am

MrPhil wrote:
Mon May 15, 2017 8:56 pm
Any other comments or suggestions, anyone, particularly with regards to handling sales tax?
Hello MrPhil,
I was taking a little look into your tax questions. I found that other carts were using a tool called Taxcloud which is a free U.s sales tax management service.If your not already using it it might be something to look into. From what i can see in the extensions store there is an extension that integrates this service into opencart.

https://www.opencart.com/index.php?rout ... ax%20cloud

Im not sure if any of this helps you or not, but i thought i would see if i could help.

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Post by MrPhil » Wed May 17, 2017 2:42 am

If I'm reading TaxCloud's documentation correctly, I have to collect and remit sales tax in 24 states (not including New York) in order to get the free service, otherwise it's a $10 monthly fee. They say that the states pay them to handle sales tax collection (ensure compliance), so someone in Iowa ordering from me would be paying their local sales tax (not just New York customers). I have no problem with ensuring compliance in other states, but it's not clear to me just how deeply TaxCloud reaches into my operations. Do they just track how much I've supposedly collected in sales tax, inform the states, and remind me of what I need to pay? Or do they expect to automatically remit with a connection to my bank account? I just want to get an idea of what I'm getting into before I pull the trigger, and would be just as happy not to have to get sales tax IDs, file returns, and write checks to other states. Specifically in New York, they can figure out what tax jurisdiction (county, some cities) a customer is in, and select the correct rates (general sales tax, inexpensive clothing, perhaps others in the future)? Do they remit collected sales tax only for those 24 states? (I still have to manually file for NY?) In all states they collect for, do they take care of all the filing etc. so I don't have to be bothered? Do they offer any guidance in setting up tax classes for those of us selling a variety of items?

How does this thing work in practice?

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Post by acidrs » Wed May 17, 2017 3:07 am

MrPhil wrote:
Wed May 17, 2017 2:42 am
If I'm reading TaxCloud's documentation correctly, I have to collect and remit sales tax in 24 states (not including New York) in order to get the free service, otherwise it's a $10 monthly fee. They say that the states pay them to handle sales tax collection (ensure compliance), so someone in Iowa ordering from me would be paying their local sales tax (not just New York customers). I have no problem with ensuring compliance in other states, but it's not clear to me just how deeply TaxCloud reaches into my operations. Do they just track how much I've supposedly collected in sales tax, inform the states, and remind me of what I need to pay? Or do they expect to automatically remit with a connection to my bank account? I just want to get an idea of what I'm getting into before I pull the trigger, and would be just as happy not to have to get sales tax IDs, file returns, and write checks to other states. Specifically in New York, they can figure out what tax jurisdiction (county, some cities) a customer is in, and select the correct rates (general sales tax, inexpensive clothing, perhaps others in the future)? Do they remit collected sales tax only for those 24 states? (I still have to manually file for NY?) In all states they collect for, do they take care of all the filing etc. so I don't have to be bothered? Do they offer any guidance in setting up tax classes for those of us selling a variety of items?

How does this thing work in practice?
My Bad, looks like i have given you more questions than answers.

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Post by Johnathan » Wed May 17, 2017 10:55 pm

I'm the developer of the TaxCloud Integration, so hopefully I can answer a few of your questions.

1. Yes, if you use TaxCloud's automated compliance, you must collect tax in all states part of the SSUTA. If you don't want to do that, you need to pay the $10 per month fee to use their rating services and API.

2. My extension will submit orders to TaxCloud, so they should keep track of all tax for all states, and then file your tax reports for you. (I've never tested that myself, but that's what they say they do.) I assume they pull the necessary amounts directly from your bank account, since that's part of the data in your TaxCloud account, but you'd need to contact them to make sure about that.

3. You can calculate tax for any state, not just those part of the SSUTA. You can choose your tax states in the TaxCloud admin panel -- generally you only need to collect tax in states you have a physical presence in, but you can collect and pay tax in any state (which is the idea of the SSUTA). I'm not sure if they file tax reports for other states outside the SSUTA, so you'd need to ask them about that.

4. For finding the right TIC value for different product types, you'd need to probably contact your state's tax office to find out how products are classified. Most stores generally just use 00000 for all products, but I know NY has some different classifications for clothing above/below certain amounts, so you'd probably need to at least fill that TIC value in. I can't really assist with that, but TaxCloud may be able to tell you what the values are for NY (or they may point you to your state's tax office as well).

5. If you don't want to go with TaxCloud, I have other customers who use Postcode-Based Fee/Discount or Category & Product-Based Fee/Discount to manually set their taxes up based on city + zip code. It's definitely more finicky to manage, but it's an option if you like having full control over the tax calculations are, and don't want to charge tax in states outside your own.

Feel free to contact me at www.getclearthinking.com/contact if you have further questions about my TaxCloud Integration.

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