The holiday season is an ideal time to collect customer information you may need for the coming year. By configuring custom fields on your checkout page, you can collect customer data that will help you tailor your marketing campaigns to specific groups of shoppers.
Types of Custom Fields
Customers or Orders
To access your store's custom fields, go to Settings > Custom Fields in your Admin Area.
You can configure up to 15 different custom fields to display to shoppers, but your store comes with 10 pre-programmed by default: 5 customer-based and 5 order-based. Each can be used to collect data on customers, orders, or both.
Customer-based fields only appear once for each customer account, when a customer registers with the store or creates an account while placing their first order. The following are examples of possible Customer-based custom fields:
- How did you hear about us?
- Birthday (to send a free gift, special offer, or birthday greeting)
- Special Interests (product types or categories)
Once a customer creates an account, the information they've provided is stored within the customer's account in your Admin Area. You can view this information by going to Customers > Accounts and viewing each customer's account. Locate the Custom Fields heading to view any values entered for the corresponding fields.
Order-based fields appear at checkout for every order, regardless of whether the shopper has an account with your store. The following are examples of possible order-based custom fields:
- Include free catalog with shipment?
- Agree to the Terms & Conditions (offer a check box and a link to your store's Terms page)
- Choose your complimentary sample / sticker / promotional item
- Gift message (Note: You can also use your store's gift options to provide space for a gift message.)
The responses to the Order custom fields are displayed in the associated order page, in the Marketing section. Note that these can be changed on this page.
The main difference between customer-based and order-based custom fields is that customer-based fields only appear once to a customer. Once those fields have been filled in and submitted, they will no longer appear at checkout for that customer. Therefore, any information that you need to collect regularly should be created as an order-based custom field.
You can create additional custom fields by clicking Add near the top of the page.
Each custom field can be configured to appear as a check box with messaging, a drop-down menu of options, or a textbox.
Note that when using the drop-down input type, a value is always selected regardless of whether a customer selects something. You may wish to add "Select" as a drop-down menu option in order to differentiate non-selections.
You can also choose to make certain custom fields required for checkout, visible on the invoice, or temporarily hidden from the storefront. See the main Custom Fields article for more information.
Using Custom Fields to Group Customers
Many merchants find it helpful to divide their customer base into groups for more targeted marketing campaigns. You can use your custom fields to collect customer data such as age, gender, or product interests, then assign customers to different newsletter interest groups. This strategy helps ensure that the newsletters you send to customers contain information that is specifically relevant to them.
As an example, a sporting goods store may sell equipment for various sports (basketball, football, baseball) as well as camping gear, athletic apparel, and home gym equipment. While some shoppers may come to the site for a variety of items, many will be primarily interested in a specific category or set of products. By using customer-based custom field drop-downs (or text boxes) to ask shoppers what their interests are, you can divide your shoppers into groups that help you market to them individually.
Dropdown Custom Field
To set up a customer-based custom field drop-down, you'll need to configure the field itself and the options that will appear in the drop-down menu.
To create the custom field:
- Go to Settings > Custom Fields and click Add.
- Select "Customers" from the Table Name menu.
- Enter an Alias for the custom field. This should be a short name (15 characters or less) that helps you remember the field's purpose. It is only visible to administrators.
- Enter a Question or prompt that will appear to shoppers on the checkout page. You can also enter Question Sub Text for further information, but it's not required.*
- Select Dropdown from the Input Type menu.
- Enter any value (for example, "1") for the Input Max Length. This field determines the maximum number of characters a shopper can respond with when the custom field is a textbox.
- Select the Is Public option to ensure that the custom field is visible on the checkout page.
- Click Save.
* While the Question Subtext field supports HTML, the Question field does not. The following characters are not valid in the Question field, and may cause errors at checkout: " > < ; '
To add drop-down values for this custom field, return to Settings > Custom Fields and select Custom Fields Dropdown Values from the Filter menu.
- Click Add to create a new drop-down menu value / response.
- Select the name of your custom field from the Custom Fields ID menu. It will be labeled based on the Alias you entered when creating the field.
- In the Title field, enter the text you want shoppers to see for this drop-down option.
- In the Value field, enter the text you want to appear in the Admin Area when a shopper selects this response.
- Enter a number to determine the Placement Order of this option in the drop-down menu. For example, if you want the option to appear third in the drop-down menu, enter "3" in this field.
- Click Save.
Repeat the process as many times as needed to generate the values for your drop-down menu custom field.
Once customers select a value from the drop-down at checkout, you'll be able to see any responses they chose by viewing the Custom Fields section of their customer account. You can use the information gathered in these fields to assign customers to various newsletter groups, making it easier to send targeted information to subgroups of shoppers.
Custom fields can be a simple but powerful tool to gain feedback from customers and gather more information on how to improve and innovate your online store. Taking the time to implement custom fields around the holidays is a great way to get a head start on marketing strategies for the new year.