Archive for the ‘Tips and tricks’ Category

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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How to Secure Your eCommerce Business Website

By Yan Kulakov, Friday, October 21st, 2016 in Guest posts, Tips and tricks

About the author:

Alex, a Security Operation Analyst at a global cybersecurity company, is interested in different topics on eCommerce marketing, along with other cybersecurity concerns like endpoint protection for enterprises. Her blogs oftentimes focus on technology, business, marketing, and cloud-integration aspects. eCommerce websites are prone to malicious threats, that’s why she’s sharing some tips on how to secure your eCommerce website.

One of the biggest problems being faced by businesses engaged in ecommerce is keeping the security of their ecommerce sites. Addressing this issue will help the ecommerce industry grow even more. So what should a business do to secure its site from risks? The following can help them out.

Choose a Secure Platform for Your Ecommerce Site

The first step in securing your ecommerce site is establishing it on a secure platform. The platform that you’re picking should have hefty features and shouldn’t not take security lightly.

A good example of a secure platform is CS-Cart. Taking it from CS-Cart itself:

CS‑Cart has been created and developed by a team of professionals since 2005. Not a community of artists, this is a team of highly qualified full-time professionals. That’s why our ecommerce tools are much more secure than Magento or PrestaShop. If we find a bug, we fix it at our quickest pace.

Ensure That Your Payment Processing is on a Secured Connection

Ensure that cyber crooks will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to tap into your payment processing systems. Use a secured connection by implementing Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) or the improved Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer.

For the highest standards in connection security, make sure that you are compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). For example, CS-Cart supports SSL and adheres to PCI Standards.

Avoid Storing Sensitive Data

The less data you store, the less risk is posed. PCI actually forbids the storage of sensitive data, such as debit or credit card numbers and the card verification value (CVV).

Verify Credit Card Transactions

Avoid fraudulent credit card transactions by employing address verification systems, as well as by requiring the card verification value.

Educate Your Employees

A good strategy in keeping the security of your ecommerce site is keeping your employees educated of security protocols. This reduces the chance for them in falling to tricks by cyber crooks.

Monitor Your Ecommerce Site Regularly

Make an effort in ensuring that your site is monitored by a real-time analytics tool. Also discuss monitoring protocols with your web host which, should include malware and virus scans.

Utilize DDoS Protection and Mitigation Service

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is an attack from multiple sources which overwhelms the site, and ultimately makes the service unavailable. Protection against such an attack is vital.

Deal with Fraudulent Transactions Head On

Having fraud management and chargeback management services is a practical contingency plan in dealing with fraudulent transactions. It is best to be ready when this kind of transactions slip as you will never be able to fully prevent them from coming.


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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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What is Web Hosting and How to Choose the Right One

By Yan Kulakov, Thursday, July 7th, 2016 in Articles, Guest posts, Tips and tricks

Hello!

Marco Mijatovic, Content Manager at First Site Guide, has prepared a cool infographic explaining a web hosting for beginners. This article will come in handy for the Internet newcomers and eCommerce beginners.

Marco is a professional writer and blogger. He will help you understand the power and reach social media for your blog or website. You can find him on First Site Guide and tweet the First Site Guide team @firstsiteguide.

Let’s assume you want to start your own company, or that you already have one, and the next step towards advancement is creating a website. What should you do? Well, you can either take a quick online course or a tutorial on how to make one, or hire a web designer to do it for you. After all it’s in your best interest that your online store, blog, or company website look really attractive and professional. However sooner or later the issue known as web hosting will come up, and people will start to ask you about which web hosting service company you are going to choose as your provider.

If you have never created a website and are relatively new to the whole thing, you might ask: “What is web hosting, and how does it affect my website?” Well, web hosting is very important for a website’s performance and its speed. For example, you can create an eCommerce website using a fast CS-Cart software as your platform, but the speed of your CS-Cart store will also depend on web hosting. If the hosting is not that good and fast—a page will still take much time to load and the user will probably leave and won’t even give your content a chance.

It’s basically a server where your website is located and depending on user proximity to that server its loading speed is either fast or slow. So, a good web hosting service should have numerous servers where your content is uploaded, so that all of the users around the world have a satisfying experience when browsing your website.

There are many more features and details related to choosing a web hosting service, and for someone who is a first time user, all of this can be really puzzling. Luckily, First Site Guide has designed an infographic that will show you everything you need to know about web hosting. Once you are well-informed it’s far easier to make the right decision and choose a provider that will meet your demands and goals. Once you are done, you will know what web hosting is, what a good provider should provide and the existing types of web hosting.


Hope you liked Marco’s article and found the infographic useful!

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