ViArt - PHP Shopping Cart
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Google Rolls Out Custom Search Business

July 27th, 2007

Google’s Custom Search Business Edition enables shopping cart and website owners, particularly small-to-medium sized enterprizes, to utilise google’s search technology.

The custom search engine will let visitors access search results from any website or websites that you, the Webmaster, chooses.

Starting at around $100/year, you can add Google search to index and search up to 5,000 pages on your website; $500 gets you up to 50,000.

Google’s Business Edition also gives you the ability to remove Google AdWords advertisements and change the colors of the results pages so it matches your shopping cart. You can also choose to feature specific content in your search results or display particular promotions or events above the search results.

Viart Shopping Cart Software Adds 3D Secure Payment Gateways

July 17th, 2007

To ensure the highest level of compliance under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI), Viart Shop has recently added two 3D secure payment gateways to their shopping cart software. (, an online company supplying PHP shopping cart software worldwide, has recently enabled two more 3D secure payment systems.  This will help merchants to safeguard online shoppers and help protect them against online credit card fraud.

3D secure is a new technical standard developed by Visa and MasterCard to secure CNP transactions over the Internet.  Visa brand their version of the scheme ‘Verified by Visa’ and MasterCard have called their initiative ‘MasterCard SecureCode’. Other cards included in the scheme are Maestro and solo.

“3D secure transfers the liability for fraud from the merchant to the card issuer, under a range of conditions. It’s an online version of ‘Chip and Pin’ technology, making shopping online more secure for both merchants and shoppers. Explains Mr. Birzul, Technical Director of

Fraud and security concerns have grown in tandem with the growth of eCommerce.  By offering 3D secure payment systems, Viart is making shopping online safer for both buyers and sellers.

3D Secure authentication requires the cardholder to enter a PIN/ password they previously assign to their credit card.  This is needed to complete any transaction online and therefore protects the cardholder from unauthorised use of their card.

For merchants, the benefits of 3D secure include confidence in order acceptance and protection from fraudulent charge backs. Read the rest of this entry »

Google to Acquire Postini For £320 Million/ $625 Million

July 12th, 2007

Google has recently announced the acquisition of Postini - A company that offers security and corporate compliance solutions for email, IM and other online based communications.

Postini serves over 35,000 businesses and 10 million users worldwide.

Google has explained the deal will allow them to offer more hosted services to businesses.  At the moment, 1,000 small businesses sign up for google Apps (Which includes Google Mail, Calendar, Talk etc.) on a daily basis.   While Google launched Google Apps to help businesses to communicate and share information, larger companies have been unable to use it due to breach of legal and compliance issues.

Google has said that they want to address these information security and compliance issues - hence the reason for the acquisition of Postini.

Wikipedia - Top For Online News

July 10th, 2007

Wikipedia continues to grow, with the online encyclopedia recieving around 20 million more vistors per month, than it did 12 months ago.

As reported by Nielsen/ Netratings, Wikipedia had 46.8 million unique visitors in May 2007.  This is a huge 72% increase compared to June 2006.

Research carried out ealier this year also found that 36% of online users in the US consult Wikipedia on a regular basis.

While Wikipedia is often criticised for the imprecision of its articles -  “the truly remarkable thing about Wikipedia as a news site is that it works as well as it does.” (Why Wikipedia Works- Center for Citizen Media)  It’s chaotic - but it just works!

This tremendous growth in the past year has made the open-access website the most popular news source online.  The speed at which the news items are added, edited and expanded no doubt plays a part in its popularity.

Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment

July 2nd, 2007

Shopping cart abandonment is a significant issue for all merchants.  Before completing the checkout process, it is thought that as much as 75% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts - as reported by industry research reports.

There are a few ways merchants can identify drop out points.  My personal favourite is using Google analytics.  Anyone with a website can enable google analytics and amongst many features you can evaluate in great detail visitor navigation and analyse their behaviour.   As a result merchants can pinpoint and improve certain areas of a website so as to avoid shopping cart abandonment.

Another way to identify obsticals in order completion is to utilise a shopping cart abandonment survey.  This could be sent to abandoned or lost customers.  

Another article you might find interesting is: Shopping Cart Abandonment

Flickr Integrated into Yahoo Image Search

June 28th, 2007

Very recently it was reported that Yahoo has added millions of Flickr images into its image index.

This is a huge step for Yahoo! in their efforts to improve relevancy!  This has to be the central reason why Yahoo bought Flickr in the first place way back in March 2005!  It’s impressive that a move towards social search was imminent way back in 2005!

Having taken the first step, Yahoo are heading in the right direction towards using social search and rank to increase the relevancy of their image search!

Shopping Carts: 5 Usability Problems

June 20th, 2007

The process leading up to a transaction online is possibly the most critical to a shopping cart’s success.  If the buying process causes frustration, confusion or insecurity, the user is likely to abandon the shopping cart, never to return again.

The usability of a shopping cart refers to the efficiency with which a user can achieve their goals on a website.  Many of the larger online shopping carts, like and, are continuously striving to make their buying process as fluent and as effortless as possible.  Knowing you can buy a book or film in just 3 or 4 clicks encourages you to return to the same, reliable website.

Having read numerous articles and white papers dedicated to best practice shopping cart design and usability; below I have highlighted five potential design problems in shopping carts that I’m sure many users have encountered.

1. Shopping carts that ask a user to register before knowing if the product is available or not.

It could be quite irritating for a user if they have spent 10 minutes entering their credit card details, home address, telephone number etc etc. only to find out during the checkout process that the product they want to buy is out of stock.

Many shopping carts enable you to present users with live stock availability before the user places their product in the shopping cart.

2. Suggesting the user buys similar products before adding the main product to the shopping cart.

It’s often helpful when a website recommends additional products you may want or need after adding your main product to your shopping cart.

However, I think you’ll agree that it could be slightly confusing if these additional products were offered to you before even adding the main product to your shopping cart?  You press “Add to Cart” and suddenly you’re offered batteries, or insoles or travel cases.  Many users would be left feeling confused, wondering if their product had been added or not, or if they’d pressed the wrong button.

Best practice guidelines would indicate offering your user the extra products after the user has finished shopping and they’re entering the checkout process.

3.  Shopping carts that ask a user to register before they have even added a product to their shopping cart.

Asking for a user’s personal information before they have even added a product to their shopping cart is not a good move.

Customer registration can offer some big advantages to you as a merchant including recovery for abandoned shopping carts, customer loyalty and email contact.  However, many users may be browsing a number of websites, adding products to numerous shopping carts for the main purpose of comparing prices and features.  If a user has to register personal details before using the shopping carts, a large percentage are likely to abandon the website.

4.  Requiring a user to delete and add the same product to shopping carts just so they can change its colour, size or variation.

Editing a shopping cart should be as simple as possible and shouldn’t require the user to delete anything from the shopping cart.

If a product comes in different colours and different sizes don’t make them delete it from their shopping cart if they want it in a different variation.  Users should be able to select from within their shopping carts the different options.

5.  Websites that do not clearly show the user the contents of the shopping carts.

Have you ever been on a website and added the same product to your shopping cart 3 or 4 times because you’re not sure if it worked the first time?

Many users that can’t see the contents of their shopping cart in the same browser as the one they are shopping on can often feel confused about whether or not their item has been added successfully.

As a merchant it is understandable that you don’t want to take your user away from the page they are shopping on every time they add something to their shopping cart.  Best practice guidelines therefore indicate displaying the contents of a users shopping cart in the same browser, in the right hand corner for example.

To summarise, the design of the entire shopping experience is of utmost importance. These 5 potential design problems highlighted are five of many common problems found on shopping carts.

Which one is most likely to make you abandon your shopping cart?

Tell us about additional usability problems you have encountered!

Which, out of those above, do you think is the most irritating and the most likely to cause shopping abandonment?

Viart Shop ( offer scalable and flexible ecommerce shopping cart solutions.  To evaluate the Viart shop, the company are currently providing a fully hosted 30-day trial of their PHP shopping carts.

Major Search Engines Deliver Different Results

June 14th, 2007

The big search engines deliver search results that are dramatically different, according to a new study.

According to a new study the big players in search; Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask, all return very different search results.  In fact the first page results from all four search engines overlapped by less than 1%.

The study, conducted by metasearch engine Dogpile and technology provider InfoSpace, also revealed that 3.6%of the top organic search results were the same across all search engines for any given query.  This result is down from 7.0% in July 2005.

The study also found that:

  1. A huge 88.3% of all search results were unique to one search engine.
  2. Only 2.2% of total results were shared across 3 search engines.
  3. The majority of all first page results were unique to one search engine:
  • 69.9% of Google first page results were unique to them.
  • 79.4% of Yahoo’s first page results were unique to them.
  • 80.1% of MSN’s first page results were unique to them.
  • 75% of Ask’s first page results were unique to them.

I find these results very suprising actually… I thought there would be a lot more of an overlap between search results!

Shopping Carts Get More Traffic from Social Network Sites

June 7th, 2007

The latest statistics from Hitwise has revealed that the arrival of MySpace has had a significant impact on shopping carts.  Shopping carts now receive 3.15% from MySpace - up 86.1% in the past year

LeeAnn Prescott from Hitwise notes that the increase from MySpace to ecommerce shopping sites could have several explanations: more advertising presence on the site, a general increase in traffic to the website or Google search on the site.

So, despite scepticism about the advent of social marketing, it seems it might be starting to take hold.  TopShop for example got 5% of its shopping traffic from MySpace.

It will be interesting to see what the traffic stats are from social network sites next year.  My prediction:  Facebook will be up there with MySpace and there presence for ecommerce sites will continue to grow!

Convert More Shoppers with More Information

May 30th, 2007

A survey carried out on US web users has revealed that customers with plenty of information during the buying process can help to convert more browsers to buyers.

2,873 US online shoppers were surveyed and amongst other findings, it was revealed that almost half of consumers have abandoned their shopping carts because they couldn’t find the information they wanted.

56% of consumers surveyed said they wanted to be able to access information during the checkout process

The survey was carried out by Harris Interactive.

Further reading:
Shopping Cart Abandonment
84% of Online Shoppers Don’t Browse

ViArt - PHP Shopping Cart