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

Vine

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.

Continue reading Why Social Media Advertising Makes Sense for Every Online Store Owner

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

Top 15 Shopify Themes for Fashion Ecommerce Stores

Shopify Themes

Many burgeoning fashion designers and ecommerce entrants narrow their focus on their clothes, products, and styling, and often forget about the framework that will display their hard work––the ecommerce website theme and layout that, if done well, will ultimately serve as the final push, encouraging buyers to commit and make purchases. A beautifully laid out website sets the ambience of an online store and just like shoppers choose to shop at a brick-and-mortar store because they like the organization, visual display, and aesthetic of physical shelving and merchandising, so too will online consumers notice the layout of your ecommerce store. This is why doing your research and picking the best theme for your website is key to the success of your online store––it is arguably as important as the very clothes you’re selling (because who wants to shop at a messy, disorganized, and visually displeasing store!). Continue reading Top 15 Shopify Themes for Fashion Ecommerce Stores

How to use Twitter to Drive Traffic to Your Ecommerce Store

How to use Twitter to Drive Traffic to Your Ecommerce Store

Anyone who wants to start a successful Ecommerce business needs to have a presence on Twitter. It’s what your customers will expect, and it’s also a great way to drive traffic to your store, because the likelihood is that there’s a large number of potential customers already there.

A whole industry has evolved around social media with thousands of experts offering their advice. The truth is though, using Twitter isn’t rocket science. We’re not going to go into the basics of what an @reply or retweet is, because if you want to learn the basics of using it, sign up and have a go and you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

As an ecommerce entrepreneur however, you will want to dig a little deeper and put a few strategies in place in order to maximize the potential of your Twitter profile. Continue reading How to use Twitter to Drive Traffic to Your Ecommerce Store

Producing Professional Product Videos for Small Budget Ecommerce

Producing Professional Product Videos for Small Budget Ecommerce

If you’ll remember from our past Ecommerce Rules posts: How to Shoot the Best Product Photos and 3 Tips to Optimizing Product Pages, we hone in on the absolute need for high-quality images on product pages and the SEO boost and increased conversions that product videos bring to your online store.

Product videos serve as an additional layer of information for consumers. Since browsers of your store are unable to physically hold or inspect your products with online shopping, providing a high-quality, thorough, and thoughtful video will offer them an adequate substitute. If done well, your shoppers won’t feel that they’ve missed out on any part of shopping even though they’re committing to purchase an item theoretically sight unseen. Continue reading Producing Professional Product Videos for Small Budget Ecommerce

SEO Basics for Ecommerce Stores

SEO Basics for Ecommerce Stores

Setting up an ecommerce store requires multiple skills. Whether it’s good business acumen, in-depth knowledge of your product/market niche, or an understanding of web design, you will need to understand the bigger picture if you want to get your business off the ground.

Whilst some of those skills can be outsourced, it’s safe to say that marketing your online store is one of the most essential skills any ecommerce entrepreneur needs to have. And like it or not, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to promoting your store online.

Even if the very sight of that three-letter acronym usually makes you want to bury your head in the sand, or if you’re considering hiring an external SEO agency, it’s important to have an understanding of the basics.

After all, you don’t want to be blinded by buzzwords or have to pay out a lot of cash for something that isn’t getting results. Continue reading SEO Basics for Ecommerce Stores

3 Ways to Ensure Intuitive and User-Friendly Navigation for Your Ecommerce Store

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We know what you’re thinking: how hard could it be to make a website user-friendly and intuitive? After all, just stick a search bar somewhere at the top and some clickable tabs somewhere on the home page, and you’re good to go, right? Wrong.

Did you know search bars are not a more clear navigation tool than well-organized categories? In fact, if your product groupings are clearly named and your site is indeed intuitive, there’s no need for a search bar. What many people don’t realize when they’re thinking about how to set up their ecommerce website is that search bars are only effective for those who come to your store knowing what they’re looking for; search bars don’t directly encourage people to browse more or comb through your categories.

Therefore, the ultimate goal with intuitive navigation is well-organized tabs and categories that lead to clearly established product pages. A well-designed, user-friendly online store effortlessly guides consumers through the entire process of shopping, from searching to purchasing. At no point should customers be confused or not know what their next step is. Convoluting the path to purchase leads to abandoned shopping carts and low conversion rates. So, in this post, we’ll go into further detail about what you can do to ensure that your ecommerce store is intuitive and user friendly, and guides your customers along as they shop. Continue reading 3 Ways to Ensure Intuitive and User-Friendly Navigation for Your Ecommerce Store