The Pitfalls of Free Open Source Ecommerce Systems

PitfallsWhen you’re in the initial planning phases of setting up an ecommerce site, selecting a platform is a daunting challenge. There are dozens of software solutions out there. Going through each one’s benefits and features is a timely, painstaking exercise. One key factor in choosing an ecommerce system is price. Package pricing is generally based around business size, and some platforms are designed to work specifically with enterprise companies. And then you have your free open source ecommerce solutions. If you’re in a small startup business, the word “FREE” is going to catch your attention. “I get to put my products on the web for free? What could possibly go wrong?” Actually, a lot can.

Support and Hosting

One of the main problems with choosing a free ecommerce platform is that you are mostly on your own when it comes to running and hosting it. Sure, a number of open source ecommerce systems boast having active communities full of development support. In most instances, however, these developers are not going to hold your hand as you go through all your problems. Say that you’re gearing up for the holiday season and something breaks. One of the few things you can do in this case is submit a post to the ecommerce system’s community forum, pray for the best, and hit F5 a bunch of times. It’s worth noting that some open source platforms offer support at a price. This may prove expensive in the long run since some lock you into contracts, while others charge a costly rate per each incident. Continue reading The Pitfalls of Free Open Source Ecommerce Systems

How to Use Vine to Gain Social Media Exposure


If you are an avid social media user, chances are that you have noticed an explosion of Vine videos on your feeds at some point. For those of you who don’t know what Vine is, let’s step back a second. Purchased and owned by Twitter, Vine was initially released in January 2013 and is a video making app that is available for iOS, Android, and (unofficially) Windows Phone. All you need to do is go to the app store and download it for free. The program captures sound and video with its in-app camera, and a user is limited to six seconds (it doesn’t have to be a consecutive shot, however) when creating a video. Given its simplicity and ability to create content quickly, companies of all sizes have already started using Vine to jumpstart advertising campaigns. These are big name companies, too—General Electric, Gap, Calvin Klein, and the list goes on. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to sign up your ecommerce store for the Vine express! Here’s how you can use Vine to support your online store. Continue reading How to Use Vine to Gain Social Media Exposure

Why Social Media Advertising Makes Sense for Every Online Store Owner

eCommerce is a vehicle driven by visibility, and social media is the fuel that powers it.  Need proof? Consider this. According to study conducted by eMarketer, nearly 1.7 billion people around the world will use social media in 2013, a figure that’s up 16% from 2012. Of those 1.7 billion, nearly all of them will make at least one online purchasing decision that’s been influenced by what they see on, and how they interact with, social media.

Like it or not, our hyper-networked society is addicted to the Internet, and in order to be a successful online store owner using and advertising on social media (Facebook in particular) is essential.

To many eCommerce merchants, Social Media Marketing (SMM) remains a foreign concept. Most operate under a Field-of-Dreams-like assumption that if they build it, they will come. But when it comes to SMM, nothing could be further from the truth.

Effective social media campaigns take time to create, strategic planning to execute and money to maximize visibility. Online store owners can benefit greatly from advertising on social platforms, and thanks to recent changes, doing so has never been easier.


When advertising on Facebook, you have a few options, either promoting your business page to generate more followers or promoting individual posts to maximize their visibility and reach.  Both have proven to be extremely effective, but the overall success of an advertisement is, and always will be, determined by its content.

On October 8th, Facebook announced “a major overhaul of both its basic ad-buying platform, Ads Manager, and its more sophisticated offering, Power Editor, both of which now boast a more streamlined interface,” according to a recent article by Lauren Indvik, associate business editor at Mashable.

Facebook now asks for objectives immediately. Objectives can range from sales conversions to page “Likes,” or boosting in-store promotions to increasing RSVPs for a Facebook event.  Once an advertising objective has been established, Facebook will use that information for ad placement purposes, deciding who will see it and where it will appear.

For online store owners familiar with SMM who prefer advanced functionality and control, Facebook’s Power Editor allows users to manipulate an ad’s targeting, content and placement.


Nearly one week ago, Twitter filed for an initial $1 billion IPO. And while many remain skeptical about the platforms sustainability when it comes to generating revenue, we remain cautious about telling e-store owners to heavily invest in Twitter Ads.

Here’s the problem. When it comes to advertising on Twitter, visibility is hard to sustain. Targeted ads or promoted tweets get posted, reposted and posted again, but when they appear in news feeds, they only remain visible for a short period of time before being replaced by more timely content. This means ads generally find their way to the bottom before they’ve had the chance to have a lingering effect on the intended audience.

That said, advertising on Twitter does have its advantages, assuming, of course, that you know what you’re doing.  In order to create a successful ad campaign on Twitter, we suggest the following:

  • Consider promoting your Twitter account rather than individual posts. This will cost more money but will help you gain visibility and build a loyal army of Followers.
  • Be sure to directly target your audience with Promoted Tweets. Failing to define exactly who you’re trying to reach will only cost you time money.
  • If you’re into hashtag campaigns, consider promoting your trend. Promoted trends appear next to targeted users’ timelines giving them maximum exposure.
  • When it comes to advertising on Twitter, analytics is a must. If you don’t know who your target audience is, your promoted campaigns won’t be effective.  We recommend downloading a program like Topsy or HootSuite to assist.

While advertising on Twitter isn’t for everyone, enhanced features like Twitter Cards offer a new level of excitement and are starting to gain momentum. According to Twitter’s Development site, “Twitter cards make it possible for you to attach media experiences to Tweets that link to your content. Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpages, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a ‘card’ added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers.”

There are seven Twitter Card types available to ensure that advertisers’ needs are always met. Implementing these can be a bit tricky, which is why we recommend visiting the above link to learn more about how you — as an online store owner — can use them to successfully advertise your products and grow your business.


Pinterest recently announced that it will begin to test promoted pins on its social-bookmarking platform. Right now, there are only a handful of select companies involved in the testing process, with no available start date as to when this will become available to the masses.

While additional details on Pinterest advertising are limited at this time, the concept is generating a lot of excitement in the land of eCommerce. With Pinterest ads, the platform is promising to offer “rich pins,” which let brands attach information like product pricing and availability to their “pinnable” content.

If your business has yet to create a profile on Pinterest, there has never been a better time than right now. Before you do, however, make sure you feature exceptional product photos inside your eCommerce website as Pinterest is a visual social platform. Without awesome images to share, there’s really no point to get involved.


As of October 3rd, advertising on Instagram has become a reality as promoted posts are beginning to surface on its iOS and Android apps.

Instagram advertisements allow brands to pay for their high quality photos/videos to appear in users’ feeds. Similar to Facebook, users will be able to hide ads that do not appeal to them.

Not every eCommerce store owner uses Instagram to market their business, but we think they should. Instagram now houses more than 100 million active users, and that’s a marketing opportunity that’s simply too good to ignore. Plus, Instagram is still kind of cool, fun and hip, and if you’re clever enough, you can come up with creative ways to help build brand identity and add much-needed personality to your ecommerce business.


Advertising on LinkedIn is not necessary for eCommerce store owners. However, if your business has a LinkedIn account — and it should — use it to share the industry related articles you author. Posting jobs to LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with people and start building a respectable professional network online.

Summing It All Up

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, eCommerce is a vehicle driven by visibility, and social media is truly the fuel that powers it.

Every online store owner should create social ad campaigns, but how they elect to execute them is up to preference. We recommend experimenting a little. When something works, stick with it, but don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board from time to time. Not every social ad you create will be wildly successful, so take things slow, learn from your mistakes and keep seeking ways to improve.

One last thing, when creating social ads, it’s important to find your voice, discover your target audience and tailor content that’s both relevant and engaging. If you create dry copy, fail to insert a call to action or use low quality images, your social ads won’t be successful… plain and simple.


About 3dcart

Founded in 1997, 3dcart is a complete and robust ecommerce platform designed to help e-store owners thrive in a competitive market. With hundreds of features built directly into its software, online merchants can effectively open, operate and maintain a successful online store with relative ease and efficiency. 3dcart currently powers more than 16,000 global merchants, and its support team is always available, at no additional cost, 24/7/365. 3dcart is an Inc. 5000 company, a Visa PCI Certified provider and a pioneer in mobile commerce and social media marketing.  Fully scalable and completely customizable, 3dcart continues to be the ecommerce solution of choice by industry experts all over the world.

Five Ways to Prepare Your Ecommerce Site for the Holidays

Holiday Shopping

The most wonderful time of the year is quickly approaching us. In fact, we are just two months away before the holiday season kicks into full gear. A single day of sales in November and December can easily bring in double or even triple the amount of revenue seen on a typical sales day. To show you just how much revenue potential is out there, 2012 saw $33.8 billion spent on online sites alone during the holidays, which was up from $30 billion in 2011 (a 13 percent increase!). It’s safe to say that there will be equal if not larger sales numbers for this year. Here are a number of ways you can prime your ecommerce site for the holidays. Continue reading Five Ways to Prepare Your Ecommerce Site for the Holidays

Google Analytics 101: Analytics for the Ecommerce Newbie

Google Analytics 101: Analytics for the Ecommerce Newbie

Many new ecommerce entrepreneurs or experienced veterans, who aren’t yet savvy, have fallen victim to investing all of their time and energy into products and other tangible components of their online stores, consequently letting a critical factor of ecommerce success––analytics––fall by the wayside.

There are many third parties, add-on programs, and entire teams willing to track your online store’s analytics and while that may be a great option later on, if you are just starting out or want to keep track of just the basics, Google Analytics offers you everything you need in terms of tools and––the best part is––it’s free.

In this post, we’ll give you the know-how and break down the basics of Google Analytics to get you tracking your numbers, setting your goals, and meeting the milestones toward success for your online store. Here is Google Analytics 101: Analytics for the Ecommerce Newbie. Continue reading Google Analytics 101: Analytics for the Ecommerce Newbie