ViArt - PHP Shopping Cart

Archive for the ‘Ecommerce and Small Business News’ Category

Online UK Shopping Sales Up 80% on Last Year

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Online shopping saw a massive spike in online sales last month, up 80% compared to July 2006.
Online sales were actually a huge £1.86 billion higher than they were in July 2006.

Other facts that may be of interest to all you shopping cart owners:

  • The IMRG Index exceeded 4000 for the first time, suggesting that UK e-retail sales had exceeded £4 billion in a month for the first time (£4.2bn).
  • In the high street, the average value of weekly sales in July was £5 billion, 3.3% higher than July 2006.
  • The highest sales growth was in electrical goods, according to National Statistics Online
  • Clothing sales were also strong online: the IMRG Clothing / Footwear / Accessories Index was 56% higher than a year earlier
  • Annual growth for: Jan = 16.5%; Feb = 34.7%, Mar = 40.9%, Apr = 54.4%; May = 48.0%; Jun = 55.1%.

Why such a huge annual growth?

  • Very wet weather - The rubbish UK summer has encouraged people to travel abroad - encouraging many people to shop last minute online.  It’s also forced many people into replacing water-damaged goods.
  • More competitive online prices
  • Detailed product information available
  • Ease of the buying process
  • New customers as a result of strong uptake on domestic broadband
  • Increased confidence encouraging repeat online buying.

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

Thursday, 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.

Shopping Carts: 5 Usability Problems

Wednesday, 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.

Convert More Shoppers with More Information

Wednesday, 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

Ecommerce News: Google Trends Launch Hot Trends

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Hot Trends is Google’s new Google Trends feature that will now report the top 100 ‘hottest’ search queries for each day.

For each ‘hot’ search query, you can view a graph that displays the popularity of the query, related searches and the top results from Google News, Blog Search and Web Search. These results should explain to you why the queries are so popular.

How do google define a hot trend?

Google say they use an algorythm to identify a sudden rise in a query phrase, that is not the norm for that query.  The higher the sudden rise, the hotter the topic.

You will also be able to access an archive of ‘hot’ trends - just select a past date and up pop the ‘hottest’ queries for that day!  See the people, the news and the events which defined that day in history!

At the moment Google only shows the “hottest” queries in the US, but it is expected that other countries will follow.

When you click on a search query you can even see how popular that search query is in a certain city or state and compare these stats from city to city.

I expect to see things of this nature a lot more in the future on Google’s various properties, what do you think?

Google Analytics Gets An Upgrade

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

For those of you taking advantage of Google Analytics, many of you may have received an email from google this morning announcing its new features and interface.

Google’s hope is to offer more comprehensive data to those shopping cart owners that need it, and simplify the vast amounts of data available to webmasters.

The main upgrades to Google Analytics include:

  1. Email reports and clearer graphs to enable users to understand data and draw solutions to potential problems.
  2. Plain, straight forward language descriptions to help users better understand what the statistics mean and what can be done to improve their website.
  3. Score cards that help to explain what certain statistics refer to.
  4. The dashboard also has more customisable features.

Google Analytics Upgrade

In a recent update Viart shopping cart software actually introduced a new feature that allows you to integrate Google Analytics into your shop (8th point down).  For those Viart owners that haven’t done that yet - I would definitely recommend it.  Every shopping cart owner should analyse their traffic as it can often reveal a lot about where problem areas exist in a website, for example, points at which a user is leaving a website and as a result not converting into a customer.  For marketing a website online, Google Analytics is a great tool.  It can tell you where your traffic is currently coming from, what keyterms they are using to find your shopping cart and much more.

If your Google Analytics account hasn’t been upgraded yet, don’t worry, Google only started yesterday and will continue to upgrade accounts for the next several weeks.

Hitwise Statistics on Google Checkout Take Up

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

As you may already know Google Checkout recently launched in the UK.  Google Checkout has actually been available in the US for just less than a year now and Hitwise have just made available some statistics showing how the take up of google checkout is going so far in the US.

The statistics show that PayPal received 67 times more of a larger share than Google Checkout did.  This is not greatly suprising given that PayPal have built up trust over a long period of time.

The statistics also revealed a huge peak in visitors around the period of time when Google launched a big promotion - $10 to $30 off purchases.  The same is likely to happen in the UK given that Google are similarly offering £10 off purchases of £30 or more.

Newsletters and Shopping Cart Software

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

Newsletter functionality is on almost everyone’s list when choosing their shopping cart software.

They’re a great marketing tool for engaging customers, telling them about special promotions and offers, and generating repeat business.

There’s a great article about newsletters and shopping cart software over at Practical Ecommerce - Definately worth a read!

Attention Advertisers - New Contextual Advertising

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

For those shopping carts owners who advertise with… is launching a new sponsored listings contextual product.

So how is Ask’s new contextual product different from Google Adsense and Yahoo Publisher Network?  There’s two differences:

  1. Publishers will be able to set ‘page yield’ thresholds and ‘relevancy’ thresholds.  There will be levers to allow publishers to determine if they want higher paying ads or if they want more relevant ads.
  2. The new contextual ads will have “very customized” interfaces such as customized backgrounds and graphics.

The Ask contextual product will initially launch with Ask’s own network of sites including and TicketMaster.  Individual publishers will have to wait a little while to gain access.

Current Ask sponsored listing advertisers will be opted into the content network automatically - so be aware of this if you’re a current Ask advertiser.   In addition, advertisers will be able to preview the new tools and features they have before the launch date; the week of May 21st.

ViArt - PHP Shopping Cart