Archive for August, 2009

Top 3 tools to analyze the traffic of your competitors

By Michael Gunin, Friday, August 14th, 2009 in Articles

People involved in online marketing often face the task of analyzing the popularity of website’s competitors.

Unfortunately, without having a direct access to your competitors’ visitor statistics (which is more than likely unavailable to you) it’s impossible to say for sure how much visitors they get. Such information is kept private in most cases (for obvious reasons). Still, it’s possible to perform a general analysis and find out the amount of traffic a particular resource has in comparison with yours.

There are some tools and resources which can assist you not only with comparison for the present time, but also allow monitoring how the traffic in your niche changes within different time periods.

Alexa.com alexa

Alexa is a free service which allows analyzing a website’s traffic volume for the latest months. The calculation is performed basing on a data gathered using Alexa Toolbar which is installed in web browsers of millions of web surfers. The volume of a current website audience (based on the number of Alexa.com visitors) is compared with the number of monthly website visits and used to calculate the website rating.

A site with the highest number gets the No. 1 position (as for now, it is Google). Comparing your own rating with your competitors, you can get a general idea on the volume of traffic they receive. Alexa also provides some incoming links information, as well as traffic trends for a pre-defined time period.

However, please note that Alexa’s data is based solely on information from surfers using their toolbar, therefore, it shows some overestimated numbers for computer and Internet-related resources (since Alexa Toolbar is used mostly by technical professionals).

Compete.com compete

Compete is promoted as a service with the richest set of online customer analysis tools in industry. Indeed, all free tools provided for traffic analysis are impressive. It’s possible to check two or more websites by parameters like monthly traffic volume, search keywords, total audience, percent of US-based visitors, current advertisement activity, etc.

A registration is required to access the extended features of Compete.com, the most precious of which is the ability to follow the competitors’ activity. Moreover, Compete allows monitoring the results of your website (as well as competitors) for the unlimited amount of time. It’s also possible to export the data to CSV file and use it in external applications.

Quantcast.com quantcast

Quantcast, as well as Alexa, is a free service providing a general traffic estimates based on statistics gathered from its users. The number of unique monthly visitors for a website is calculated very carefully. We’ve tested it to analyze the traffic of some websites we’ve had statistics for, and the results were quite close to our own data. In particular, a demographic analysis also turned out to be very close to reality.

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One of the main practical rules regarding the traffic comparison using the above-mentioned tools is to compare results for your website with your own data gathered from server logs. For example, if Quantcast and Compete show 500 unique daily visitors for your website and, according to your log files, there are 1000, you may safely double the numbers for your competitors as well.

Of course, you won’t be able to get exact statistics any way, however, using such tools you can still manage to find out the relative positions of competitor resources in comparison with yours.

In general, no web analytic solution provides completely precise data in any case. Still, is that so important? It’s often quite enough to see the general picture of your niche to increase the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts.

Inventory tracking: how it works in CS-Cart

By Michael Gunin, Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 in Inside CS-Cart

We are often asked how to deal with the inventory tracking and what level of automation can be achieved in CS-Cart for the product stock control. Below we outline the way to make working with product quantities completely seamless.

First of all, you may enable or disable the tracking not only for the store as a whole, but also for individual products, meaning you can decide which items should be considered ‘unlimited’ and which not.

Quantity setup for products

Quantity setup for products

Moreover, each product can be tracked either with or without options. You can choose whether to count, for example, different size and color combinations or simply treat the item as a whole.

It’s definitely convenient to control the product availability not only when it has reached the zero limit but to know beforehand that the quantity is running low and it’s time to buy some extra. That is why we have made it possible for a store administrator to receive low-stock product notifications either by email or SMS.

Still, you may wish to keep even items with negative quantities available for sale in case you can quickly increase the stock and ship new orders. For such a case, CS-Cart allows to enable or disable negative stock values for the store’s inventory.

Since CS-Cart provides a configurable system of order statuses, we’ve included the possibility to set whether to increase or decrease the stock level when an order gets a particular status. For, example, this allows to automate the inventory management for returned or canceled orders so that items are automatically returned in stock, or, on the contrary, decrease the quantities for shipped items.

Product quantities can also be controlled via import/export, so it’s possible to synchronize the data with external applications using CSV format and keep the stock information up-to-date.

Finally, you may define what minimum/maximum number of a particular item can be included within each individual order and choose the step of product quantity (as well as the number of steps) available for a customer to choose.

Defining inventory parameters for a product

Defining inventory parameters for a product

Therefore, as you can see, CS-Cart’s inventory tracking is fully automated and configurable, so you can keep your stock organized in a no-hassle way!

CS-Cart featured as Cart of the Week in Practical eCommerce magazine

By Michael Gunin, Friday, August 7th, 2009 in In the press

practicalecommerce Practical eCommerce, one of the most famous online magazines in industry, today has featured CS-Cart in its “Cart of the Week” section.

The magazine has interviewed Alex Vinokurov, Chief Visionary Officer of CS-Cart. In this interview he describes the strong sides of CS-Cart and potential benefits for merchants using it.

The second part of the article features David Finley, one of our customers, who shares his opinion about CS-Cart and how it is working for his stores.

Please, proceed to the Practical eCommerce website to read the entire article and feel free to continue the discussion in comments!

Mobile features of CS-Cart: SMS notifications

By Michael Gunin, Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 in Inside CS-Cart

Modern life is getting more and more dynamic, especially for business people. While the wide availability of wireless Internet makes it possible to work online from many access points, it still makes sense to receive the most important information in real time, without the necessity to check things every couple of hours.

That is why CS-Cart is equipped with SMS notification functionality allowing store owners to receive instant messages on key events right on their mobile phone. It is implemented via a special add-on integrated with Clickatell mobile messaging provider.

Just after signing up for an SMS gateway account and activating the module, you will be notified of your webstore’s activity as long as your mobile is active.

SMS notification settings

SMS notification settings

One can get real-time SMS notifications on all major events taking place during online store functioning: new orders, customer registrations and low-stock limit for particular products.

In order to limit the volume of messages, it’s also possible to set the minimal order amount and pick shipping methods for which notifications should be sent. It makes your work more convenient and allows to concentrate on large and expensive orders so you could react immediately.

Please, check the CS-Cart documentation to see the exact instructions on enabling and configuring SMS notifications for your online store.