Variable Attributes and Dynamic pricing have long been the holy grail for ecommerce websites, especially Zen Cart. Having a price change in realtime, depending on user selection whilst auto-applying discounts is not something Zen Cart offers out of the box.
You can apply a discount to bulk items in Zen Cart, but this is not shown until you reach the basket or checkout. You can also display a fixed discount, with a typical strike through. You can with the use an Ajax plugin, display an updated price when you increase the quantity.
But what if you wanted to display a dynamic price for each selected attribute, whilst applying a bulk discount for the more attributes you select?
A great working example of this can be found at a UK based Van Security website.
vanlocks.co.uk sell (you guessed it) van locks and other van security devices. A typical Van has up to 5 Doors that after market van locks can be fitted to. Depending on your security requirements, you may wish to only secure the rear van doors, or front and rear, or only the passenger door, or side door etc.
Obviously this company wanted to scale the price depending on how many van locks you required, whilst giving their customers complete control of which doors they wish to secure.
Now it is possible to do this with a drop down for each option, which would look something like this:
But some vans such as the Ford Transit there are over 1000+ possible combinations, which is one hell of a drop down!!
Instead vanlocks.co.uk opted for the subtler combination of tick boxes and drop downs. Tick boxes are used where there is only one configuration possible such as drivers door, passenger door etc. Drop downs are employed where there is multiple possible configurations such as Rear double doors or Tailgate; Side door glazed, or side door panel van etc.
This setup works fantastically well. But to get it to work no doubt takes some butchery of the php scripts, and admin pages as well as some Ajax wizardry. The result though is perfect. Dynamic prices with scalable discounts.
Unfortunately, this module is not available for download, and I suspect is actually a combination of modules and hacks. I would think significant time and effort has been put into developing this and if it were available it would have a price tag. Either way it certainly shows what is possible with zen cart and other shopping cart platforms too, with a bit of tenacity.
Van Locks UK have so far declined to comment on the actual architecture of their module, but as soon as this changes, we hope to supply code snippets etc.