Posts Tagged ‘Ecommerce’

PayPal Buttons Get the Low Down

Written by Debra Leitl on September 1, 2011. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

PayPal buttons are functions that online merchants use to create a user-friendly way for customers to pay for their items.  The buttons also make it easier for the merchant to organize, track, and manage transactions from an easy-to-use button management interface.  If you are unsure what PayPal buttons are here is a graphic example of some of the types of buttons you might see on a website: 

If you are already familiar with PayPal buttons and have seen them on websites on a regular basis, when it comes to implementing them for your own business you will look at it from a much different point of view.  It is kind of like viewing websites on a daily basis but when you go to create one it is a very different animal.  To help you understand PayPal buttons, here is a quick start overview of what buttons are available and how they are implemented. 

Using The PayPal Button Manager API

You will find many different approaches to PayPal buttons when you search online.  However, if you would like to get all of the information you need in one location the best place to start is with Button Manager API.  This is a program provided by PayPal that allows online business owners to create and manage standard PayPal buttons. 

When you create PayPal buttons with Button Manager API you are provided with access to many features such as inventory management and other services that help you to manage a complete set of buttons from one location.  Button Manager API also provides you with the code you need to install buttons on your website. 

How PayPal Buttons Work

There is a wide variety of different PayPal buttons that serve different ecommerce purposes.  Here is the lowdown on some of the buttons and the services they perform. 

  • Buy Now: The Buy now button allows your customers to purchase your product or service without having to reveal their credit card information.  Once they click on the Buy Now button they are directed to their PayPal account to pay for your item.
  • Add to Cart: This button allows you to add items to your cart when you are shopping on an ecommerce platform in preparation for checking out with Pay Pal.
  • View Cart: View Cart allows you to view items you have added to your shopping cart in the event you want to change your mind and remove some of the items from your cart or check the status of the items you added. 
  • Pay Now: The Pay Now button is used when you have confirmed everything you want to purchase in your shopping cart and are ready to pay for your order. 
  • Subscribe/Unsubscribe: These buttons allow you to subscribe or unsubscribe to a membership site, an option provided by the merchant when you check out, or any publication you have opted to receive and no longer want. 
  • Buy Gift Certificate: With this button you can purchase a gift certificate for the online retail establishment where you are making a purchase.  The gift certificate can be for one of your friends, family, or even yourself for future use. 
  • Donate: The Donate button allows you to accept donations via PayPal if you have a website that you run for the benefit of others such as a self help site, a charitable organization, or other website where you do not generate other streams of income. 

There are many more different types of PayPal buttons that help you provide different functions for your business.  Once you create a PayPal button, PayPal will automatically generate a code that you copy and paste into your website.  The code identifies you as the merchant to ensure the money is deposited into your PayPal account.  You can learn more about PayPal buttons and button management by logging onto Button Manager API by clicking here.

What is your favorite PayPal button text? Let us know in the comments.

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Book Ecommerce: The Kindle One Million Club

Written by Debra Leitl on August 30, 2011. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

The Kindle One Million Club gets its name from authors who have sold more than one million copies for Amazon’s Kindle.  During the last week of 2010 Amazon sold more than 12 million copies of Kindle books and when the iPad came out in full force sales jumped considerably.  Amazon predicts the trend will continue and that the one million club will continue to grow. 

So who are the top 10 authors in the Kindle One Million Club and how do you become a Kindle publisher? 

Top 10 List Kindle One Million Club

The following authors have sold more than one million copies of Kindle books on Amazon: 

The most recent authors that were added to the club are Janet Evanovich, author of “Smokin’ Seventeen” and Kathryn Stockett, author of “The Help.” 

The previous authors include Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins, Michael Connelly, and John Locke. 

These are all best selling authors who have had success selling their books on Amazon’s Kindle for use with the Kindle reader and the Kindle reading apps for the smartphone, PC, Mac, and iPad. 

How To Become a Kindle Publisher

Before you can become a Kindle publisher you must hold the digital rights to a book as an author or a publisher.  Then you will need a Kindle Direct Publishing account which can be established with Amazon.  Here is how it works: 

  • Create Your Book: As an author you must create your book or acquire the digital rights to a book that was written by another author.  Then you must prepare the book in one of the formats that are accepted by Kindle Direct Publishing which include Word (.doc or .docx), ePub (.epub), Plain Text (.txt), Mobipocket (.mobi or .prc), HTML (.zip, .htm, or .html), Adobe PDF (.pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf).
  • Format the Book: Choose the format you wish to use and then follow the instructions in the Kindle Direct Publishing tutorial which is located here. 
  • Create a Kindle Direct Publishing Account: You can create a KDP account from the Kindle Direct Publishing homepage here.  When you create the account you will be walked through the process of setting up the account and then publishing your book for the Kindle Store.  Your information will also include how you want royalty payments to be made when you make a sale in the Kindle Store.
  • Follow the Steps for Publishing: In your KDP account you will be stepped through the process for publishing your book which includes how to enter product details, uploading and previewing your content, confirming your publishing rights, and entering pricing and royalty information. Then you simply click on “Save and Publish” to enter your book in the Kindle Store.
  • Promote Your Book: Kindle Direct Publishing will provide you with a wide variety of tools for promoting your book once you have published it to the Kindle Store.  The promotional tools also include managing book availability and tips for merchandising and linking from your website. 

What we have provided here is a quick start guide to provide you with a general understanding on how to become a Kindle publisher.  When you access the Kindle Direct Publishing site you will find a host of helpful information that provides more details on successfully publishing your books in the Kindle Store.

Are You A Kindle Publisher? Share Your Quick Tips In the Comments.

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An Overview of Shopify Ecommerce Platform

Written by Debra Leitl on July 28, 2011. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

If you are searching for an ecommerce platform that will serve your business needs, it may be worthwhile to take a look at Shopify.  By reviewing different platforms you can accurately compare features, pricing, customer service, and more. 

Choosing an ecommerce platform is an important decision since you will be relying on it to run your business efficiently and provide a consumer-friendly experience.  Here is an overview of Shopify and some of the features that it has to offer for online commerce. 

Overview Shopify Features

Shopify has a lot to offer in terms of features and easy-to-use applications.  If you are not well versed in website design and HTML Shopify provides you with an interface that does not require these skills. 

  • Wide Selection of Templates: You can choose from a wide selection of templates which you can customize to create a unique look and feel to your ecommerce store.  Instead of using a cookie cutter approach it is easy to change the template you choose to match your preferences.  If you are knowledgeable in HTML and CSS you can design your own templates and upload them to the Shopify platform. 
  • Store Management: Shopify offers a variety of store management features that allow you to easily manage the content and product inventory in addition to accepting payments from customers.  You can also obtain Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption through Shopify which eliminates the need for learning how to set it up on your own. 

  • Payment Processing: Shopify integrates with multiple payment methods including credit cards, PayPal, Google Checkout, and more.  The platform also allows you to configure drop shipping services, offer digital products for download, and use fulfillment services such as Amazon. 
  • Analytics: Shopify provides its own analytics program for tracking your sales funnel process and customer activity and it integrates well with Google Analytics. 
  • Back Office: Shopify helps you to keep track of orders, organize your customer data, and take care of all of the necessary back office work that is required when you run an ecommerce store. 

  • Shopify On the Go: You can manage your ecommerce store while you are on the go with the Shopify app for the iPhone.  Shopify Mobile allows you to configure notifications, view your stats, and manage more than one ecommerce store. 

Shopify Pricing Plans

Shopify offers a free 30-day trial without any hidden fees or contracts.  There are four different plans to choose from which include the basic plan, professional, business, and unlimited plans.  Prices start at under $30 per month and range up to $130 per month.  The plans vary according to storage space, transaction fees, and features with no setup or bandwidth fees regardless of the plan you choose. 

Tech Support

Shopify offers online tech support with plenty of articles that answer the most common questions under multiple categories about the Shopify platform.  You can also contact Shopify via an 800 number five days a week.

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An Overview of Big Commerce Ecommerce Platform

Written by Debra Leitl on July 27, 2011. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

Choosing an ecommerce platform is one of the most important decisions you will make when you are building an online presence.  The ecommerce platform you use will play a key role in the ongoing success and functionality of your online business.  For this reason, it is important to shop around so you can compare and contrast different ecommerce platforms to choose the one that is most appropriate for your business needs.  Here is an overview of Big Commerce which is an option you can consider for building an online store. 

Overview Big Commerce Features

When you compare and contrast ecommerce platforms it is important to review the features.  These are the components that you will need to effectively run your ecommerce store.  Big Commerce offers a comprehensive list of features with consistent upgrades that add to the functionality of the platform. 

  • Innovative Interface: It is not necessary to have knowledge in web design or HTML coding with Big Commerce.  The user-friendly interface offers a drag and drop feature which allows you to easily customize the look and feel of your online store with functionality that lends itself to easily changing the layout, text, images, and other components. 
  • Flexible Display: Big Commerce offers a host of display features that allow you to create an appealing product display including the ability to create multiple variations of your products, a diverse set of photo platforms, and zoom capabilities for viewing products close up. 

  • Multiple Options for Promotion: The platform allows you to promote your products through multiple channels such as social media sites, online auction sites, and through mobile devices.  The platform also integrates well with the major comparison shopping sites. 

  • Search Engine Friendly: Big Commerce offers a feature that allows you to optimize each page of your ecommerce site for the search engines.  The features include the ability to optimize SEO tactics for each individual page, create URL page addresses which contain words used during organic searches, and create sitemaps to help the search engine bots find their way around your pages. 

  • High Quality Templates: The templates which are provided with the platform offer a diverse variety of designs and are high quality in appearance.  You can also customize each template to give your online store a unique and finished look. 

Big Commerce Pricing Plans

There are basically four different plans which include bronze, silver, gold, and platinum with pricing that begins at just under $25 per month ranging to $150 per month with a one time setup fee of $50.  The plans vary according to bandwidth, storage space, logins, and features. 

Tech Support

Big Commerce offers tech support via telephone that is delivered by in-house staff as opposed to an outsourced call center where the customer support personnel attempt to help you by referring to a manual that explains the platform.  Tech support is around the clock and you get to talk to a real live person instead of an answering service.

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An Overview of Volusion Ecommerce Platform

Written by Debra Leitl on July 26, 2011. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

When you are comparison shopping for ecommerce platforms, Volusion is another solution that you should add to your list in addition to other ecommerce platforms we have discussed on this site.  Volusion is an all-in-one platform which is compatible for small business or you can choose to build a large ecommerce store with the Volusion platform.  Here is an overview of Volusion to help you get started with comparison shopping for ecommerce platforms. 

Volusion Feature Overview

Volusion offers a comprehensive set of ecommerce tools that help you to build and market a professional looking ecommerce store.  You can choose to begin building your store from one of the 33 templates which are customizable or design your own template for upload if you are skilled in CSS and HTML. 

  • Social Media and Mobile Commerce: Volusion offers a variety of social media and mobile commerce tools for promoting your business outside of your website.  The tools allow you to list products on your Facebook page, make direct posts to Twitter, manage videos, and share content. 
  • Store Management: The store management tools offered by Volusion allow you to keep in touch with your customers, track inventory, track and organize order processing, generate reports on the status of your business in real time, and automate routine business tasks that are a necessary part of the back office. 

  • Security Solutions: The Volusions ecommerce platform provides multiple security solutions that allow you to control who can access your store, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption, reliable hosting with 100 percent redundancy which ensures your site continues to function with minimal downtime, and other components that can be configured with passwords. 

  • Built-In Affiliate Software: The Volusion ecommerce platform offers the opportunity for you to build an affiliate program to promote your products.  Other publishers can promote your ecommerce store for a percentage of the profit when they generate a sale for you.  The affiliate program can be run directly from the Volusion platform and contains automated features that help reduce the time it takes to maintain an affiliate program. 

  • Payment Processing: When you use Volusion for payment processing it is necessary to meet qualifications for your merchant account.  Once you qualify payment processing is easily integrated into the Volusion platform. 

Volusion Plans and Pricing

Volusion offers five different plans which include steel, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum with pricing that ranges from $19 per month for the steel plan to $149 per month for the platinum plan.  The plans are based on product capacity which ranges from 100 products to unlimited inventory and data transfer from 1GB to 20GB. 

There is no charge for the setup and all packages offer templates, mobile commerce, social media tools, and live chat.  The gold and platinum plans offer onboarding coach, social store builder, and API access. 

Tech Support

Volusion offers tech support around the clock 24/7 via online chat, open support ticket, or through their 800 number which allows you to contact a live representative.  There is also comprehensive help information under the support section of the Volusion website.

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An Overview of Shopp Ecommerce Platform for WordPress

Written by Debra Leitl on July 25, 2011. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

If you are using the WordPress open source platform for your website or blog it is worthwhile to consider using Shopp for your ecommerce store which integrates well with WordPress.  Shopp is designed for WordPress and is an ecommerce plugin that allows you to easily customize and launch an online store.  Here is an overview that will help you become familiar with the ways in which Shopp can meet your ecommerce needs when you have a WordPress site. 

Shopp Ecommerce Features

Shopp contains a comprehensive set of features that allow you to create a state-of-the-art shopping experience from your WordPress site.  Since the Shopp platform integrates with WordPress you can easily manage your online store and still keep the functional publishing platform that WordPress provides. 

  • Easy Setup Features: Instead of hassling with codes and other complex elements, Shopp is designed help you get up and running within a short period of time through the use of templates.  The templates can easily be customized to match your WordPress site plus you also have access to other user-friendly tools that do not require in-depth knowledge of website design. 
  • Management Tools: The management tools for your ecommerce store are easy to locate and use because they are designed according to the WordPress administrative interface.  The interface is easy to configure with user-friendly settings that are simple and straightforward. 

  • Built-In Security: Shopp offers Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption using the SSL certificate from your website.  The platform is designed so that your customer’s credit card information is never stored on your website for added security.  Shopp also uses the same built-in security features which are contained in WordPress and is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. 

  • SEO: Shopp allows you to optimize each page for the search engines so your products can easily be found in organic searches.  You can also categorize your products and implement easy product search features to help your customers find what they are looking for. 

  • Back Office Tools: There is a wide variety of back office tools included in the Shopp ecommerce platform which includes inventory management, low stock email alerts, order history, easy exporting of customer information into spreadsheet format, automated import of transactions into Intuit QuickBooks, and email notifications for sending order status information to your customers. 

  • Payment Gateways: Shopp supports a wide variety of payment options for both remote and onsite checkout platforms.  Some of the payment options include accepting multiple credit cards, PayPal, Google Checkout,, and much more. 

Shopp Ecommerce Plans and Pricing

Shopp offers three different options which include single-site access starting at $55, developer access at $299, and developer access upgrade at $259.  Add-ons are available at an extra cost of $25 for each application. 

Tech Support

Shopp provides an online support system via articles that answer the most common questions posed by Shopp users.  If you need immediate support you can submit a priority ticket otherwise your question will be answered within 14 hours to three days.  Additionally, there is a forum on the Shopp website where you can login and get assistance with any problems you are having with the Shopp platform.

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How to Write Product Descriptions That Sell

Written by Debra Leitl on July 19, 2011. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

The inception of Panda, a Google search algorithm update, has raised the bar for website owners in terms of producing original and innovative website content and, writing product descriptions is no exception. Not only should your product descriptions stand out in the minds of your website visitors but they also must meet the criteria set forth by the new algorithms in the Google search engine.

So how can you create product descriptions that appeal to your visitors while ensuring that you do not get penalized by Google’s new standards?

Stand Out from Your Competitors

The product descriptions you create must stand out from your competitors and be written in a manner that appeals to your customers. This means you must know your customers and what will grab their attention and co

mpel them to click. As you are considering your customer’s interests you should also observe how your competitors are describing their products then come up with a way to create your descriptions differently so they stand out.

Make the Descriptions Original

If you want to satisfy the search engine algorithms then you need original content on your website and this includes your product descriptions. If you simply regurgitate the product descriptions that the manufacturer uses the search engines will penalize you for duplicate content. Besides, the descriptions from the manufacturer tend to be run of the mill instead of creative and innovative. Instead, you want content that is going to grab your readers as well as keep Google happy.

Don’t Be Wishy Washy

Although you want product descriptions that stand out and appeal to your customers, don’t waste time with vague descriptions or creating content that is ‘cutesy.’ Get to the point and demonstrate authority in the descriptions that you create. Remember that the reason people are visiting your site is because of your knowledge and authority on your subject matter. Don’t do all that work to attract your visitors and then blow it by writing weak product descriptions.

Create Light Hearted Descriptions but Don’t Go Overboard

Create product descriptions that generate a relaxed atmosphere and convey things that are fun. Don’t overdo it by trying to be too fun otherwise you will be like the person at the party that keeps telling joke after joke and then laughing at their own punch lines…..after a while it really gets annoying.

Don’t Forget about Keywords

Although your intentions are to lead the customer to the sale, don’t forget about keyword optimization. You never know when someone will locate your product or even your website for that matter through an organic search for a specific product. Avoid keyword stuffing and fit the keywords into the natural flow of the product description.

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Ecommerce Testing: Shopping Cart Checkout Button Recommendations

Written by Debra Leitl on May 18, 2011. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

Part of funneling your traffic through to completing the sale requires a lot of testing, analyzing, and consideration.  The shopping cart is factored into this equation and often determines whether your customers will follow through with the sale or they will abandon their cart when they reach the checkout process.  Although it is important to keep testing and tweaking your sales process there are a few buttons that you can add to the checkout process from the get go that will encourage your customers to follow through with the sale. 

Automatic Sales Tax Calculator 

Sales tax can come as a big surprise when the customer is presented with the grand total and can cause them to abandon the checkout process.  Provide a button where they can see exactly what they will be paying in sales tax ahead of time before they get to the last step of following through with the sale.  The sales tax button automatically calculates sales tax based on geographic location. 

Built-In Shipping Calculator 

The shipping calculator works in the same manner as the sales tax calculator and allows the customer to obtain an estimate of shipping costs to ship an item to their geographical area.  The button usually provides a drop down menu of options or will automatically calculate shipping when you select the type of shipping you want and your geographical area.

Discount Calculator

If you are running a special sales promotion that provides the customer with a discount you can use a button that allows the customer to enter their promotion code and then automatically subtract the discount from the price of the item.  You can also use a button that automatically displays the discount in the shopping cart as the customer is adding items to the cart. 

Checkout without Registration

You may hear conflicting views on providing a button that allows customers to checkout without registration.  However, many customers are afraid of being inundated with spam or they are just not comfortable signing up for an account with your store if it is their first purchase with you.  The checkout without registration button will ease their concerns and prevent them from abandoning their cart and chances are if you offer quality they will return in the future.  You will also have their customer information on record when they purchase so all is not lost. 

Easy Checkout

Provide your customers with the option for easy checkout that can be done in one page.  Sometimes if there are too many steps involved the customer will get impatient especially if the page refreshes too many times.  It is best to play it safe and make the checkout process as seamless as possible.

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Will iPad Users Shop?

Written by Debra Leitl on May 19, 2010. Posted in Ecommerce Marketing

The release of the new iPad has captured the attention of Internet marketers. Recent studies have shown that sales conversion rates on the iPad are significantly more than other high end mobile devices. Although the iPad does not meet mobile standards it is like a netbook…..a really, really, cool netbook which is why a lot of iPad users prefer to shop with the iPad.

So what does this mean for online businesses? Well, recent studies also showed that the iPad performs much better on ecommerce platforms than other mobile devices. Some online businesses have already embraced shopping apps for the iPad and installed catalog features in to their ecommerce site which is a very compatible feature with the iPad. Some of the other ways online retailers are trying to accommodate iPad users include:

Being iPad Specific

Marketing to iPad users now becomes easier for online retailers since they can take advantage of iPad specific buying trends. This provides the retailer with more options when it comes to the product presentation on the iPad platform. The iPad platform provides retailers with the ability to create a professional catalog layout display and then combine it with instantaneous mobile purchasing.

Applying Shopping Apps

Although app publishers have been producing new apps for the iPad the one thing that is still somewhat limited is retail apps for iPad shopping. A few retailers such as the Gap have come up with a free app that allows shoppers to make a purchase right through the app.

By using the shopping app users can share content with their friends, view video content, company news releases, and products. The app is also multi-tasking so users can view third party information without leaving the product display behind. Geolocation allows the consumer to find the nearest store that carries the product on view.

eBay has also recently released a selling app which is currently in Germany and the UK with an eBay for iPad app available in several languages. As more shopping apps are released others will jump on the bandwagon and follow the upward trend of mobile shopping.

Optimizing Mobile Websites

Online retailers who have created two different websites for a PC and a mobile website may find themselves optimizing their mobile website to accommodate touch navigation for iPad users. If you provide this option it will help iPad users who prefer not to use one of the shopping apps to do business with you.

So when you ask if iPad users will shop the answer is “highly likely.” Online retailers have already started to optimize for iPad shoppers plus allowing shoppers to play around with the products on the touch screen is the next best thing to being in the store.

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Advanced Topics in Ecommerce Security

Written by Debra Leitl on May 19, 2010. Posted in Web Operations

If you have started to build an ecommerce business with SSL and you are ready to take things to the next level, stepping up ecommerce security is a must if you want the consumer to be confident when they shop on your ecommerce website. Solid ecommerce security also shows that you are concerned about the welfare and safety of your customers and that you care about the quality of your online business.

Here are a few things you should be concerned about when increasing the security on your ecommerce website:

PCI Compliance 1024

If you already have a website you are probably aware that the Payment Card Industry (PCI) has security standards which you must meet to protect the personal and financial data which your customers provide when they do business with you. One of the standards which are enforced by the Payment Card Industry is specific requirements for encryption if payment card information is stored with the consumer’s personal information. The standard required encryption rate to be PCI compliant is 1024-bit where it was originally only 128-bit.

2048-bit Encryption

When you obtain an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate it ensures that all personal payment information which is submitted by your customer is secure from their browser to the server. The standard bit encryption is 128 bit to 1024 bit however certificate providers are creating security certificates to be future proof by making them 2048-bit ready which is the 2010 expected industry standard.

Extended Validation SSL

The Extended Validation Standard was developed to provide added assurance of website ownership as well as the business identity. The verification process is conducted by a Certificate Authority before the business owner is awarded an Extended Validation SSL.

Website owners apply for Extended Validation SSL to place their business in a leadership position. When customers visit your website which is secured with Extended Validation SSL the location where your website URL address is displayed in the browser will turn green. To the right of your website URL address there will be another bar which will also turn green and toggle between the name of your business and the Certificate Authority (CA) that granted Extended Validation.

Extended Validation helps your customers feel confident when they do business with you because they know you have gone the extra mile to obtain an Extended Validation SSL. This is a plus during a time when identity theft is on the rise and consumers are concerned about submitting sensitive information. It will also give you the edge on your competition when a consumer reviews both websites and notices that yours is more secure. The chances are they will choose your website over the one that does not have an Extended Validation SSL.

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