Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

7 Keys to E-commerce Success This 2017

By Yan Kulakov, Monday, March 13th, 2017 in Articles, Guest posts, Tips and tricks

Keys to E-commerce Success this 2017

Hello!

Presenting you a guest article by Kenneth Sytian, the web designer and the owner at Sytian Productions. He’s sharing with you 7 keys to e-commerce success in 2017.

Kenneth Kenneth Sytian of Sytian Productions is a web designer from the Philippines. He is the owner and the driving force behind the company. Kenneth has been designing websites and developing web apps for more than a decade.

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Template Editor in CS-Cart 4.4.1: Edit Emails, Invoices, Packing Slips, Gift Certificates, and Order Summary in the Admin Panel

By Yan Kulakov, Monday, November 14th, 2016 in Articles, News and announcements, Tips and tricks

Template editor

Hi!

In CS-Cart 4.4.1, we’re presenting a long-awaited function: a visual template editor. It allows for editing emails, invoices, packing slips, gifts certificates, order summaries in the admin panel.

We’ve divided the editor into two menus. In Design → Email templates, admins edit emails; in Design → Documents—invoices, packing slips, gift certificates, and order summaries.

Editing Email Templates

In a CS-Cart store, both customers and administrators receive email notifications. Customers receive emails about their shopping and admins about store management.

Email is a great tool for establishing personal and valuable communication with your customers. It’s great for persuading them to visit more, buy more, and it also helps in keeping them loyal to you. So it’s important to ensure your email notifications are personalized and match the style of your e-commerce business.

Before CS-Cart 4.4.1, you couldn’t see the full list of email notifications for your store, which meant that you couldn’t modify notifications to make them personalized and perfectly fit your business. But now, CS-Cart features a template editor, which allows you to edit email notifications in the admin panel—and without programming skills.

Check out how to edit emails in this video:

Editing Documents

The new template editor allows you to edit invoices, packing slips, gift certificates, and the order summary email. We call these “the documents”.

In the editor, you can configure these documents so that they meet your country standards and match the visual style of your store.

For example, editing invoices is a must-have feature for most store owners. Different countries have different official invoice standards. To issue invoices officially, you have to configure your invoice to meet official standards. With the new template editor, you edit your invoice right in the admin panel.

Check out how to edit these documents in this video:


Hope the new template editor will make your store management easier. Comments are much appreciated!

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Upgrading Is Now Safer Starting with CS-Cart 4.4.1

By Yan Kulakov, Monday, November 14th, 2016 in Articles, News and announcements, Tips and tricks

Safe upgrades

Hello!

Keeping your store software up to date is a must. Every CS-Cart release not only enriches your store with new features but also improves its security.

Of course, it’s up to you whether to upgrade your store or not. But often upgrading is necessary. For example, a carrier updates its API and so now some shipping services don’t work for your country. A payment service updates its security protocols and now your favorite payment method doesn’t work in your store. In these cases, an upgrade will make those work again—we continually update shipping and payment integrations in CS-Cart over time.

So that you can easily keep your store up to date, we’re offering one year of free upgrades when you buy the license. To receive upgrades after that first year, you should buy an upgrade subscription for one year more for $160.

Upgrading is a technically complicated process. Sometimes it fails because of a particular server configuration or if a store is deeply modified.

In CS-Cart 4.4.1, we’ve made upgrading safer. Now, you can upgrade to newer versions without worrying about breaking your custom storefront theme or facing conflicts during upgrading. We’ve achieved this by changing the logic in theme upgrading and by adding a core file changes detector.

Custom Themes Won’t Break after New Upgrades

A theme defines the appearance of your storefront. Usually, store admins use either the built-in Responsive theme or develop a custom one. Admins often prefer the latter because with a custom theme a store looks unique.

CS-Cart 4.4.1 ships with two themes: Responsive and Bright. Responsive is the “parent” theme. We call it “parent” because all other themes—Bright or any custom—depend on Responsive and use its templates.

Themes

Previously, upgrades updated templates in the Responsive theme plus the templates in a custom theme fetched from Responsive. As a result, a custom theme could break down after the upgrade.

Starting from CS-Cart 4.4.1, upgrades only update templates in the Responsive theme and don’t affect any additional themes. You won’t have to worry about your custom design when upgrading any longer.

You Can Track Changes in the CS-Cart Core

CS-Cart has a convenient architecture: the core defines the basic functionality and add-ons extend it with advanced features.

When extending the CS-Cart functionality, developers should add new features via add-ons only. They shouldn’t modify core files because any core changes can break a store or provoke conflicts during upgrading. Moreover, any feature added by modifying the core stops working after the next upgrade.

Actually, your core could always be modified even though you likely didn’t realize: it could happen when you ordered a feature from a third-party developer. The coder extended your CS-Cart by modifying the core—but after the next upgrade you lost that feature.

In CS-Cart 4.4.1, we’ve implemented a core file changes detector. This detector scans the CS-Cart core for changes automatically when you log in to your admin panel. You can also start the detector manually—find it in Administration → File changes detector. The detector warns you in advance that you have changes in the CS-Cart core and that you could lose them after the next upgrade.

File changes detecta


What do you think about these two improvements? Please do share your opinions in the comments!

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Vendor Subscription Plans in Multi-Vendor 4.4.1

By Yan Kulakov, Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 in Articles, News and announcements, Tips and tricks

Vendor subscription plans

Hello!

Vendor subscription plans is another feature in version 4.4.1 worthy of mention. Did you know it got 325 votes on our UserVoice?

Previously, we were offering this feature as an early access add-on that you could download from your Help Desk. Now the Vendor Plans add-on is built into Multi-Vendor 4.4.1.

Why You Need a Subscription Model for Your Vendors

Owning a multi-vendor-based marketplace, you’re allowing other entrepreneurs to sell their products on your territory. You offer them your service. So you have two options when it comes to bringing in revenue: to charge by service or to apply a subscription model.

Here are 5 reasons why you should move from the old billing model to the new subscription model:

  • Predictability. Your vendors pay a flat fee for the subscription: they always know how much they will pay you next month and thus can budget more accurately. You, as a marketplace owner, benefit from subscriptions in the same way—you have an accurate picture of incoming revenue.
  • Simplified pricing. With subscription plans, your vendors always know how much they pay and what they get. Subscriptions organize pricing and make it more transparent.
  • Customer retention. With the subscription model, your clients (vendors) are more likely to stay with you and increase their lifetime value.
  • Marketing base. Email marketing is known as the most effective advertising method. With the subscription model, you can easily collect the email addresses of your target audience. Having a base of subscribers, you can market to them and to their friends through them to attract more vendors to your marketplace.
  • Flexibility. You can configure subscription plans to find the best combinations of the price a vendor pays and the features he gets. A vendor can easily move to another plan with no investment loss.

We’ve prepared a video guide on how to manage vendor subscription plans, where you can learn about all the setting and the workflow:


Do you find vendor subscription plans useful? Let us know in the comments!

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2 Tips on How to Showcase Your Products Right

By Yan Kulakov, Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hello!

Adam is a business owner. He sells fedoras in his small shop in the city center. To make shopping easier and to drive more customers, Adam opens an online store, as well. Soon, though, he encounters a problem: his brick-and-mortar store is selling well but his online store isn’t bringing in new customers or income.

Adam’s actually got a fairly simple problem: he hasn’t presented his fedoras well! He quickly took product photos on his smartphone and copied poor descriptions from the manufacturer website. To drive more visitors to the online store and convert them into paying customers, Adam has to put effort into presenting his products in the right way.

While in brick-and-mortar stores people can see the actual products with their eyes and hold them with their hands, in online stores they see products as images. And, of course, in brick-and-mortar stores people can talk to the seller and find out about the features and benefits of the product—in online stores, they have to trust product descriptions.

In this post we’re going to talk about two key things you be doing when showcasing your products in your online storefront: product images and product descriptions.

1. Make Your Products Look Cool in the Images

In brick-and-mortar stores, customers can hold and try products before buying. When customers can see a product in real life and hold it in their hands, it weighs the scales in the seller’s favor.

In online stores, people obviously cannot try your products in the same way—which is why you need to take your online shoppers as close as possible to that feeling of seeing and holding your product, just like in a physical store. Professional product photos taken from different angles will help you.

The easiest way to get professional photos is to hire a pro photographer with a studio. Hiring a photographer may be expensive but you get results in the fastest and the easiest way. However, if you’ve got budgetary considerations, then it’s still possible to take cool product photos yourself.

Just be sure to remember three things: 1) use a neutral color background, 2) place the product on a stand, and 3) make sure the product is well-lit and doesn’t drop weird shadows. You don’t need tons of expensive equipment to take nice product photos but you need a few accessories:

  • A DSLR or mirrorless camera or smartphone with a good camera (iPhone 5S and newer will do)
  • An appropriate colored background (choose between white, grey, and black)
  • A tripod for your camera or smartphone to keep it steady
  • A light source (soft light from a window on a cloudy day is perfect). You can also build a light box yourself.
  • A reflector to reflect soft light from the main light source
  • An image editor like GIMP to edit photos: crop, brighten, or lighten. It’s free and is more than enough for basic photo editing.

Look at these well-lit, detailed photos. Don’t they make your mouth water already? :-)

You can go even deeper in visualizing your products: order a custom modification that will allow your customers to rotate products with a mouse pointer on the product page. Look how it works in a furniture online store based on CS-Cart:

2. Compose Product Descriptions that Sell, not just Describe

Having attractive product photos is only half the battle. Product descriptions are important, as well: from a description a customer understands whether the product can solve his problem or not. That’s why product descriptions should not simply describe, they have to tell a customer what his or her problem the product can solve and how. For example, a laptop lets a customer work anywhere, not only at home or in the office; a fedora can become a finishing touch for a retro party costume.

Although any product solves some problem, different products need different approaches in writing descriptions. Here are eight guidelines on how to compose good product descriptions that sell:

  • Show the product benefits the way that the customer understands them. Describe product advantages clearly without excessive words and technical terms. For example, don’t write that this electric guitar has a single coil pickup and a humbucker at the bridge position. Talk instead about what a customer gets from those: “This electric guitar suits melodic solos and bone-rattling riffs”. That’s all a customer needs to know.
  • Don’t speak to the customer with fake phrases and silly bunkum. These days, everybody is immune to such statements as “This smartphone is developed by leading professionals and uses the latest innovative technologies”. There’s no point in saying things like this, because you can’t prove anything with facts. People don’t believe your words, no matter how beautiful, unless you prove them with facts.
  • Personalize product descriptions. First, decide who your ideal customer is. Then address your ideal customer directly as if he’s standing in front of you. Use the words and the kind of speech your ideal customer uses. Talk to your customer.
  • Use words that call for pleasant feelings. Words such as “crispy”, “creamy”, and “smooth” nudge a customer closer to the purchase, because he wants to experience those feelings. Be careful not to overuse these kind of words.
  • Entertain the customer with a short story. Tell the customer a catching story about your product. A paragraph is enough to relax the customer and keep him on the product page longer.
  • Make the customer’s imagination work for you. When reading a product description, the customer should feel that he already owns the product. Tell the customer what will happen and how his life will change when he gets the product. Sell a dream.
  • Show the customer that the product is much in-demand. People prefer popular products. Before buying, customers usually read reviews and look for testimonials from real people. Add a testimonial of a satisfied customer to the product description, plus attach a photo of that customer. You can also write that the product is this month’s bestseller.
  • Think through the structure of a description. Writing a long description in plain text is a bad idea. There’s a better chance that a customer reads the whole description if you keep it short, well-structured, and well-formatted. Divide the text into paragraphs, add headers, choose a bigger font size, and format everything. Kind of like how we’ve done here, for example.

Check out this coffee description: it’s short and well-structured, activates the customer’s imagination, and entertains with a short story:


Hope our advice will come in handy and you’ll be able to drive more customers thanks to cool product images and great product descriptions!

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