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Step by Step
         Creating Availability Groups
By Ahmed Saad, Technology Matrix Group - Copyright 2001
You can setup as many availability groups as you need.  Products assigned to an availability group will be "hidden" from the public until a customer assigned to that group logs in.  Then, the products assigned will show.  The same applies to categories assigned.  For more information on using availability groups click here.

Step 1

Login to your store from admin.   Expand your store by clicking on the triangular blue arrow.  Expand "Availability Groups" by clicking on the triangular blue arrow and you will see an "Add Availability Group" link under it.  Click on that and the right frame will show a screen similar to the one below:

Type in a name for your availability group and click add.   The group will be added and 3 more tabs will appear on the top bar.  You will also notice that the newly created group has a link under "Availability Groups" in the left frame.  Clicking on that link in the left frame in the future will allow you to edit the group.

Step 2

The first tab is "Customers" which will allow you to selectively assign customers to the availability group.  You can use the lookup function to locate a customer aided by the all too familiar tab: "Assigned" and "Unassigned". 

Only customers assigned to the group will be able to see products or categories you assign to this group in the next steps.

Step 3

The second tab is "Categories".  Click on it and you will see all the categories you have created so far. That includes subcategories too, since as we discussed earlier, sub-categories are merely categories that are placed under another category.  Assigning any category to the group will make it not show except for the customers assigned to the group.  You will see 10 categories at a time unless you change the number 10 in the lower right corner to another value and click refresh.  You can use the lookup function to locate a category aided by the "Assigned" and "Unassiagned" tabs. 

Assigning categories will not make the products under them become part of the availability group and "disappear".  You have to assign such products to the group separately.  The category will not be visible from the store front to the general customer but the products that are under it will show in searches, in the product list, and can be directly accessed.  They will also show if they are assigned to other categories that are not under an availability group and are available to the public. 

One more thing, if you assign a parent category with subcategories under it, the parent category will disappear and be inaccessible; the subcategories under it will disappear but if you had a direct link to them they will still be accessible and you will notice that they ALL show up under no subcategory in the category tree.  This will only occur after you go directly to one of the subcategories.

This is a set of categories in one of our stores.

As you can see "Books is a parent category with two sub- categories.

We placed "Books" in an availability group and now the general public can no longer see it. Its two sub- categories are also no longer visible.

But, if you go directly to one of the sub-categories (e.g. via a bookmark) you can access it and the other sub- category under "Books" shows up as well.   If you try to go to "Books" via a bookmark you will get an error since it is only accessible to those in the availability group.

Step 4

The last tab is "Products".  Just like step 3, you can select the products you want to make only available to certain customers from the list of products in your store.  Again, you must assign the products under the group for them to be "hidden" from the general public.  Assigning a category that has the products is not a shortcut becuase it will not work.  You can of course do a lookup using a code that is common among a bunch of products that are under a category, then click the select all button then update!

Again, for more on availability groups, click here.


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