Archive for the ‘Shopping Cart Software’ Category
Monday, March 17th, 2008
One of the most important factors when planning your e-business strategy is the company or product you choose to help you.. No matter what you sell, however, an e-commerce site must provide the same basic services your customers would expect.
Once you’ve decided what kind of online business you want to start, it’s time to register your domain name, and design a website that will firstly attract customers and also encourage a trustworthy relationship.. If you’re a programmer or website designer you could build the site yourself. Alternatively, you could use a HTML editing program to help you build it. There are many designs to choose from out there, and templates can easily be edited in Dreamweaver or Frontpage.
Every online store should be set up for many payment providers, including Paypal. If you decide to buy a shopping cart program, it is worth comparing prices, features, and customer service. If you have friends who engage in ecommerce, you might also get some advice from them.. Some pieces of shopping cart software might seem affordable at first, but you need to be aware that many companies charge extra if you want certain customisations or plug-ins. Here are some tips on how to make your online store attractive to potential customers.
Organize your store properly. You should make it easy for customers to find what they need.
Would you feel satisfied shopping at a store where the products were arranged at random, with no guide as to how you can find the product/ service you are looking for? Of course not, you would leave the store at once without buying a thing.. Yet it is surprising to see a great number of online stores that are not well-structured; that make it nearly impossible for customers to find what they need.
When you decide to set up your store you must have a clear idea about how to arrange your products so as to provide the most seamless shopping experience. Offer customers more than one way to find what they’re looking for, provide intuitive links to different product categories and a search function where customers can enter a product name. “Breadcrumb trails” that allow customers to retrace their steps on your website are also effective in helping users to identify where they are located on a website.
Don’t frustrate customers with long waiting.
After a customer has selected their product and hit the Buy button , they do not expect to wait for a response — or even worse, get an error message. Order confirmation should be instant. If it is not, your customer will be left feeling frustrated and anxious about the status of their order. Repeat custom is doubtful. The solution to this problem is simple; make sure your software and servers are capable of handling whatever your customers throw at them. If you’re using a third-party service, you need to be sure they are using first-rate technology. If you’re building your own site from scratch, it means investing in the best possible software and hardware.
Ensure your store has an easy payment system.
Online stores can accept different types of payment: credit cards, electronic cash, purchase orders, or cash and cheques sent via mail. Keep in mind that different types of businesses will need to accept different payment types. The paying system you choose must be easy for every customer, so ensure your e-commerce provider can handle the ones your customers are likely to use.
One more question that still worries customers is security. Even if customers realise that sending a credit card number over the Internet is extremely safe, they can still worry. Online payment systems send sensitive information like credit card numbers via encrypted connections. If your system does this, assure customers that their information is absolutely secure.
Building an online store is an intricate process and every stage, from your choice of ecommerce provider to the initial design process, is of the utmost importance.
Monday, March 3rd, 2008
When you decide to open an online store, you have a number of options to choose from. Choosing the appropriate e-commerce system is possibly the first, most important task, and even if you’re not going to do it yourself, you’ll still need enough information to make the right decision. To help you choose we have outlined the many options available, along with their advantages and drawbacks.
When creating your own online store it is possible to customize every feature of the site so as to optimize its performance and combine it with its existing inventory, accounting and other systems. You can customize your store until it’s exactly how you want it to be, and you can quickly extend it to take advantage of new opportunities.
Several sellers offer tools that help you create a custom online store. Companies such as Microsoft and Macromedia offer e-commerce toolkits providing the technology and the development tools for constructing an e-commerce site. These toolkits include the basic software that runs an online store, software “hooks” that can link to databases or other back-end systems, and even their own programming languages.
If you are going to build an online store from the ground up, you have to be prepared to provide some very basic development, using your own source code to connect together the various database, shipping, tax, fulfillment and page-serving modules that will constitute the finished site. These are time-consuming tasks, and your store will take longer to build than some ready-to-use system. To create even a basic on-line store, expect to spend $10,000 at the minimum, and a great deal of stores cost hundreds of thousands to create and keep running. So unless there are some very special reasons for devising and implementing your own system, we’d recommend using an existing e-commerce tool.
Buying an existing e-commerce system
Many sellers produce e-commerce software packages suitable for a wide range of business needs. By matching and mixing features provided by these packages, you can create an advanced e-commerce site in rather a short order.
Basic e-commerce systems commonly offer ready-to-use store templates or “wizards” that guide you through the setup process and help you get your store up and running. They also come with ready-to-use shopping cart soft that keeps customers’ purchases as they select them, calculates prices, collects the information about customers and then submits credit card information to your bank. More sophisticated systems of electronic commerce let you import and publish existing catalogs on the Web and link your online store to a database or other systems.
Of course, if you agree to use an off-the-shelf system, you lose a great deal of flexibility, both now and in the future. Many of these tools strictly limit the way you can customize your shopping cart, catalog and even the way your online shop looks. Even with such limitations, most businesses find e-commerce software that meets their requirements, and the fact that sellers allow for service and support is a great advantage.
Becoming partners with an e-commerce provider
The most rapid and perhaps the easiest way is to sign up with a service that constructs and maintains your storefront for you. You won’t require your own software, hardware or technical expertise, the only thing you’ll need to provide is the name of your company and a list of goods and/or services that you provide. Some storefront providers have a strict per-month fee depending on the quantity of items in your online catalog, while others charge a percentage of the sales. These providers offer e-commerce leases, and they handle all of the transaction processing, web serving, backups, etc. Some providers of e-commerce services can even set up an account for you if there hasn’t already been one.
E-commerce providers are the most inexpensive way to create an online shop, but you’ll have to sacrifice the flexibility. Most of these services provide a very narrow set of options to customize your shop, and it may be that all of the stores on a provider’s site basically have the same design and look very alike.
Finally, although the majority of e-commerce providers are reputable businesses, some can have hidden charges. A small minority can also be insecure, which is why you should always check a provider, and the most valuable thing to do is not make your choice in haste.
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Find out how to create an online survey using PHP…
Online surveys are very handy for gathering information about your customers.
- Were they satisfied with your service?
- How could you improve their shopping experience?
- How satisfied were they with the speed of your technical support?
Questions like these can help you to learn more about your target customer and improve your website to meet their needs. Survey’s can also encourage repeat custom (especially if you offer a free gift or voucher for taking part).
PHPBuilder.com have posted a tutorial showing you how to create an online survey using PHP for your website. The tutorial shows you how to create a simple 12 question format where the recipient answers: Very-Dissatisfied | Dissatisfied | Satisfied | Very Satisfied | Neutral.
The tutorial shows you how to handle the replies in two ways - you can either email the results out to an address or store the received information in a database. The first part addresses the former, and the second part (yet to be posted) will address how to store the receive information in a database for later review.
A helpful article if wanted to give this a go yourself! We’ll let you know when the second part comes out.
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Adding RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to your PHP shopping cart has many benefits, including its ability to improve your websites online presence, exposure and organic search engine rankings.
What is RSS?
RSS enables the public, and people interested in your industry, product or service, to keep up to date with your website and any new content (such as articles, news, product updates/ announcements) in an automated manner.
Once RSS is set up on your site you can syndicate your content. Content syndication enables webmasters or anybody with an interest (possibly potential customers) to subscribe to the RSS feed and receive the content in real time on their PC. All the recipient needs is a “feed reader” or “aggregator” installed on their PC which can be readily downloaded free of charge.
The Benefits of RSS
Distribute content directly to consumers - Visitors to your website and people generally interested in your industry are likely to find and subscribe to your feed, enabling you to reach your consumers via another medium.
No subscription procedure - RSS is becoming more and more popular, partly because it enables users to receive information without the hassle of subscribing and revealing personal information.
Dynamic - If you change your content, your subscriber will know about it straight away.
Attract new visitors - RSS enables users to review content without having to visit a site. When a user wants to read a full article they are encouraged to visit the source (your website). It’s rather like email marketing, but with RSS you can…
Bypass spam filters - RSS is delivered directly to your subscriber’s desktop.
Increase search engine visibility - Search engines love websites that provide fresh content on a regular basis. By adding content frequently you will encourage the search engines to visit your website more and index your keyword-rich content on a regular basis. It also helps the search engines to recognise your site as being closely themed, and as a result better match your website to related search queries.
Get more back links - Fresh content in the form of news, helpful articles, tutorials etc. attracts back links from related websites - quality, related backlinks = increased search engine visibility.
Any more benefits? - I’m sure they’ll be lots more benefits for both webmasters and users, but it was these few that sprung to mind. If you can think of any more add them to the bottom!
Getting Started with RSS
Viart PHP shopping cart has RSS integrated, enabling you to simply activate RSS on your website.
Friday, August 3rd, 2007
In-depth PHP shopping cart tutorials, expert case studies, business and technical lectures, and networking events will make up the third anniversary of the PHP conference. The latest news… Joel Spolsky is to Keynote.
DevZone announced the news earlier this week. Although Joel Spolsky isn’t a PHP developer, he knows a lot about building good PHP shopping carts and software.
The description of his talk at the PHP conference is as follows:
“In many product categories, from software to consumer electronics, the product with the most market share is often more expensive and less functional than the number two product. I will explore why this happens and suggest some ways to design a blue chip product that people will love. After you get great software and products using the usual repertoire of debugging, usability testing, etc., you have to go still further and think about beauty, user happiness, and emotional impact.”
Tuesday, 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.
Viart.com (http://www.viart.com/), 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 Viart.com.
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. (more…)
Monday, 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
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:
- Email reports and clearer graphs to enable users to understand data and draw solutions to potential problems.
- Plain, straight forward language descriptions to help users better understand what the statistics mean and what can be done to improve their website.
- Score cards that help to explain what certain statistics refer to.
- The dashboard also has more customisable features.
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.
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.
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!