Archive for the ‘Tips and tricks’ Category

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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Build the eCommerce Mall of Your Dreams with Multi-Vendor

By Yan Kulakov, Monday, April 11th, 2016 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hi, how are you?

The eCommerce world has really grown recently, but still has a great outlook for further growth. Amazingly, 80% of the web population has yet to purchase products online.

If you’re thinking about diving into eCommerce, or you’re already in and have a couple of original business ideas, then our Multi-Vendor will help you transform your ideas into a live eCommerce mall.

With Multi-Vendor you can build your own eBay, an eCommerce mall, where different sellers offer their products in a shared marketplace, and you regulate sellers’ activities.

Today, we’d like to share with you three Multi-Vendor marketplaces that use original ideas and look cool. Check out the previous set of marketplaces in another post about Multi-Vendor.

Yumbles

Yumbles is all about hand-crafted yummy food.

The idea of Yumbles is to connect food lovers with independent food and drink producers all over the UK. Guys from Yumbles carefully hand pick the food makers to work with, so you’ll only find the most original and incredible food on the marketplace.

Since the sellers on Yumbles are indie food and drink makers, you order directly from them. Makers only use carefully sourced local ingredients and make their foods fresh to order for you.

A particular feature of Yumbles is the Gifts section, where you can find gifts almost literally for everyone! Choose gifts by recipient, occasion, personality, and price. You can even make a gift yourself with a “Make-it-yourself kit”, or get a gift within one day by ordering one from the Last minute gift category.

Another unique feature of Yumbles is the Community section. This section is full of recipes for everyday cooking, baking, health food, and food for special occasions. You’ll also find articles with cooking tips, fitness articles, and other recommendations.

Wealden Fairs

Wealden Fairs marketplace sells products of Wealden Times Midsummer and Midwinter Fairs, which take place in the village of High Halden in England.

The idea of this marketplace is to allow people to buy products available at these fairs in any season, rather than only when the fairs take place. People can now enjoy “visiting” Wealden Times Midsummer and Midwinter Fairs 365 days a year.

The Wealden Fair marketplace looks cozy and has a great home style. For example, instead of the usual “cart” you see “bag” and when you’re buying products, you add them to this bag. The marketplace is full of little things like this that give it a more distinct look and feel.

Country Culture

Country Culture marketplace offers designer goods from all over Australia. Every seller is an independent and talented designer showcasing his or her hand-made products on Country Culture’s storefront.

According to the marketplace founder, Angela Lavender, the idea of Country Culture is to bring talented designers from Australia together and showcase their talents to the whole world. In this marketplace, many of the pieces are one-off products, making them feel like perfect gifts!

Designers, as the sellers too, wrap and ship their products themselves. But Country Culture supplies them with original gift wrapping so that all the products come to customers beautifully wrapped into the branded Country Culture wrapping.


We hope we’ve inspired you with these Multi-Vendor malls. Tell us what comes to mind about this article in the comments.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with news. Also, check our forum for beta feature announcements, such as Vendor subscription plans for Multi-Vendor.

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Meet More Beautiful CS-Cart Stores!

By Yan Kulakov, Monday, March 21st, 2016 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hi!

Customers prefer to shop in the stores where they feel comfortable. For example, when you’re shopping for shoes, you expect a shoe shop to have a comfortable place for trying shoes on, a pleasant interior, and a polite in-store consultant.

The same works for online customers—they prefer beautiful and convenient online stores to shop in. As a result, stores with attractive graphics and well-thought navigation bring more money to their owners.

We’re happy to present a set of 3 eye-catching CS-Cart stores to inspire you with more design ideas.

If you missed the previous set, check it out in this blog post.

Burford Garden Company

Burford is a family business with quite a history. The store sells products for the garden and home: plants, garden tools, furniture, cushions, home furniture, kitchenware, lighting, and much more.

The store owners say their products are different from the mainstream, and they present them differently. And it‘s true! These products are presented on the storefront with thorough descriptions and lovely product pictures. The storefront in general feels friendly and a great “home” style.

A particular feature of the Burford store is a section offering one-off products, interestingly called Le Souk.

The base of the Burford store is in the UK, so customers only pay in British Pounds. Burford uses CS-Cart 4.3.4 with a custom-made storefront design:

Rossano Ferretti Parma

Rossano Ferretti Parma offers its own branded hair-care products. Here in the store, you’ll find a wide range of shampoo, conditioners, masks, sprays, oils, and other hair-care products.

Rossano Ferretti is known for his special style of cutting hair, where the stylist cuts along the natural fall of the hair. Rossano Ferretti has already founded over 20 brick-and-mortar salons all over the world, as well as an online store based on CS-Cart.

Rossano Ferretti Parma works on CS-Cart 4.3.3 and has a neat black-and-white custom design. Customers pay in US Dollars or British Pounds and can select one of the four languages: English, French, Italian, or Spanish.

Wrendale Designs

Wrendale Designs sells products with unique designer prints illustrating animals. In their catalog, you can find greeting cards, gift bags, calendars, stationery, ceramics, and much more.

Wrendale Designs began as founder Hannah Dale’s hobby. She was inspired by the nature of Lincolnshire where she lives. Hannah started painting hares, and her illustrations were an immediate success among local people. Then she began painting other animals. Now Wrendale Designs is a family affair.

A particular feature of this store is that it has two storefronts on different domains. Catalogues on these two storefronts differ. On the UK storefront, customers pay in British Pounds, while on the US storefront, it’s US Dollars.

Wrendale Designs uses CS-Cart 4.1.5 and is packed with a custom storefront theme based on the default Responsive theme:


Hope you like this set! Stay tuned for the next one in April.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest news and announcements.

To learn how to develop design for CS-Cart, check the Designer Guide.

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CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.6 Are Here!

By Yan Kulakov, Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 in CS-Cart releases, Tips and tricks

Version 4.3.6 got a performance boost and new Multi-Vendor features, including the anticipated vendor subscription plans

Hello!

We’re proudly bringing to you the new version of our shopping platform—CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.6.

Although this is a minor release that fixes bugs, it also brings new features and PHP 7 support, which speeds up your store and makes it more enduring:

  • PHP 7 support—CS-Cart 4.3.6 works with PHP 7, which speeds up page loading and allows CS-Cart to withstand a higher load.
  • Store import is back—upgrade from version 2.2.4 and higher to the latest version by importing all of your store data to CS-Cart 4.3.6 installation while keeping your current store up and running.
  • Сhanges to enhance usability of your store—links for quick accessing a carrier’s parcel-tracking page from the admin panel, correct displaying of the delivery period for UPS, the Subcategories tree filling for the categories block, and the Description field for shipping methods.
  • Vendor plans add-on (beta)—create subscription plans for vendors with restrictions, such as maximum number of vendor products, maximum revenue per month, and more.
  • Vendor’s terms and conditions add-on—allow your vendors to add their terms and conditions that customers must accept at checkout.
  • No empty categories in a vendor microstore—if a vendor doesn’t use one of the available categories, this empty category is not displayed in his or her microstore.
  • A vendor can get the Pending status more than once—a marketplace admin can change a vendor’s status from Active to Pending at the vendor’s request.

See other changes in the changelog.

Performance Boost

Speed and stamina are important for a website. Make a visitor wait too long for the page to load—he leaves. Make a visitor see your store crashes—he never returns. Good performance is especially critical for an online store because when a visitor leaves your store, you lose a potential customer and money.

CS-Сart 4.3.6 speeds up your store and enables it to withstand a higher load on PHP 7—it’s confirmed as the fastest version of PHP, it even beats HHVM.

We’ve taken the cheapest 5-dollar VPS hosting on DigitalOcean and compared the performance of CS-Cart 4.3.6 on PHP 7 and PHP 5.6 to one of the most popular CMS—WordPress.

WordPress is known for its simplicity and light functionality. CS-Cart, which has a richer set of ecommerce features, shows superiority in performance tests:

  • If the number of HTTP requests exceeds the number a store can handle per second, it slows down and crashes. CS-Cart 4.3.6 on PHP 7 handles 2 times more HTTP-requests per second than WordPress:
  • The faster a page starts loading, the sooner a customer sees the page. Pages in CS-Cart 4.3.6 start loading sooner than in WordPress:

Store Import

It’s important to keep your store software up to date to ensure security, speed, and feature richness. But moving to the new CS-Cart version could be a painful procedure sometimes—upgrading can cause issues on some servers or if your store is deeply modified.

Now, here comes Store Import. Simply transfer all of your store’s data to the new CS-Cart installation, keeping your current store online. First, if something is not working after the import, you still have your old store up and running. Second, you continue selling in your old store while configuring the new one after the successful import.

You can import your store data from CS-Cart 2.2.4 and higher, both Professional and Ultimate.

Multi-Vendor doesn’t have Store Import yet. If you really need it for your marketplace, let us know in the Help Desk, here in the comments, or in the forum.

Changes to Enhance Usability

To make CS-Cart clearer and easier to use, we’ve added links to tracking numbers so you can quickly access a carrier’s parcel-tracking page from the admin panel, made the UPS delivery period look clearer, and included the new Subcategories tree display style of categories:

  • Links for quick accessing a carrier’s parcel-tracking page from an order details page—click a tracking number on an order details page to open the carrier’s tracking page and check the delivery status of the order. This feature saves you time because you don’t have to copy the tracking number and insert it manually onto the carrier’s tracking page.
  • Clear delivery period for UPS—when UPS returns the delivery period in days to your store, a customer sees a clear delivery period in days: ‘3 days’ for example. In earlier versions, a customer saw only ‘3’ without the ‘days’, which was confusing.

  • Subcategory filling for the categories block—on a category page, customers only see subcategories of that category, not the full category tree.
  • The Description field for shipping methods—on a shipping editing page, you can enter descriptions for shipping methods, that customers will see at checkout:

Vendor Subscription Plans (Multi-Vendor)

Multi-Vendor 4.3.6 supports an anticipated feature—Vendor plans that allows a marketplace admin to create subscription plans for the vendors.

We haven’t yet included the Vendor plans add-on in the Multi-Vendor 4.3.6 installation package because we’re going to be testing the add-on and putting the finishing touches according to your suggestions.

Keep an eye on our forum so as not to miss the post about Vendor plans containing installation and configuration instructions.

The Vendor plans add-on is a flexible tool that helps you increase your revenue if used wisely:

  • Create as many plans as you want, edit, and delete them all on the Vendor → Vendor plans page.
  • Set the plan’s price, the period for which a vendor pays for the plan, and the transaction fee that you will charge for each order.
  • Define the maximum number of products a vendor can have, set the maximum revenue per month a vendor can get, and allow or disallow a vendor to have a microstore with filters, categories, and search.
  • Allow your vendors to access only particular categories and assign plans to existing vendors.
  • Vendors monitor the usage of the plans on their dashboards and change plans themselves.

Vendor’s Terms and Conditions (Multi-Vendor)

The Vendor’s terms and conditions add-on in Multi-Vendor 4.3.6 allows vendors to specify their terms and conditions so that the customers accept them at checkout.

Terms and conditions act as a legal contract between a vendor and a customer. It’s important for a vendor to have his/her own terms and conditions—this will demarcate liability between the marketplace owner and the vendor, and help to handle conflicts between a customer and a vendor.

A vendor specifies the terms and conditions on the vendor editing page in Vendor → Vendors:

At checkout, customers must accept the terms and conditions of each vendor, whose products they are buying:

No Empty Categories in Vendor’s Microstore (Multi-Vendor)

On a Multi-Vendor marketplace, vendors can have their own microstores with filters, search by vendor’s products, and categories.

Marketplace admins often allow vendors to use all the categories available in their marketplaces, but vendors usually do not use all of them. In the previous Multi-Vendor versions, unused categories were displayed in a vendor’s microstore, and customers could view those empty categories. As a result, customers could get confused.

In Multi-Vendor 4.3.6, empty categories vendors don’t use are not displayed in a vendor’s microstore.

Pending Status for Vendor More Than Once (Multi-Vendor)

A marketplace admin must approve new vendors before they can sell. If an admin is unsure whether to approve a vendor or not, he sets the vendor’s status to Pending. In the Pending status, a vendor can access his admin panel, change the company information, and add products.

In earlier Multi-Vendor versions, an admin could set the Pending status only once—right after the vendor completed registration.

If an active vendor is reorganizing his business, or moving all his supplies to a new warehouse, he needs to suspend selling. The Pending status is the best option for that—the vendor still can manage the microstore, but customers don’t see this vendor’s products in the marketplace.

In Multi-Vendor 4.3.6, an active vendor can ask the marketplace admin to change his status to Pending at any time.

Get It

Before upgrading to CS-Cart 4.3.6, make sure that your server has PHP 5.3.6 or newer—older PHP versions are no longer supported.

You have 2 options to upgrade to CS-Cart 4.3.6:

  • Via the Upgrade center on the Administration → Upgrade center page of your admin panel. License owners with active upgrade subscriptions will see the available upgrade in their Upgrade centers within a week.
  • Via Store Import on the Add-ons → Store Import page (make sure you have the Store Import add-on installed). All you need is to download the CS-Cart 4.3.6 installation package and install it on your server. Then import your current store’s data to the new CS-Cart installation.

If you’ve never used CS-Cart before, download the installation package and buy a license.


We hope that you like the new version. We greatly appreciate your ideas on how to make CS-Cart even better. Share your thoughts on our Uservoice.

Please report bugs to our bug tracker.

If you have any questions about the new features or the upgrade, feel free to ask them here in the comments or in the CS-Cart Forums.

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