To protect yourself and your customer base, be sure your online store is pci compliant.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a set of information security measures for organizations that handle cardholder information, aims to reduce credit card fraud by protecting cardholder data. Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is mandatory for merchants of all sizes, but the requirements can seem complicated and perplexing. So that you’re not completely baffled, here are some easy-to-understand tips for becoming PCI compliant.
Cardholder Data Storage
A major way that PCI compliance reduces fraud is with the control objective put forth to protect cardholder data. In an effort to remain PCI compliant, you can simplify cardholder data security by not actually storing any of it. If you don’t regularly utilize practices such as recurring payments, consider utilizing a card reader, POS or payment processor that does not retain customers’ credit card data.
If you absolutely need to store cardholder data, see if you can do so on your payment processor’s system. Some processors allow you to input and store data on their systems as part of their service.
Don’t forget that, since you accept credit cards in your online store, your web host needs to be PCI compliant. Do not assume that your web host is PCI compliant if the details are not explicitly stated somewhere in their literature or their website; you’ll need to ask either the sales or support department. In regard to e-commerce applications and shopping carts, the PCI council provides a list of validated payment applications in their online document library for reference.
Keep in mind that the way servers are shared between website owners in a shared hosting plan makes it tougher to ensure PCI compliance — the cheaper shared hosting plan solution may not be the best. Consider choosing a hosted payment solution, which will forward your customers to a site that is verifiably PCI compliant when they make a purchase.
Dial-Up vs. IP-Based Terminals
Using IP-based credit card terminals is fast, but it greatly expands the environment in which cardholder data is stored, processed and transmitted. Larger networks of computers come with greater security implications, thus greater security measures must be implemented to remain compliant. To simplify, you could use dial-up terminals, which are slower. Doing so trades speed for a smaller data environment, making compliance easier.
Maybe you’ve already implemented IP-based credit card terminals. If so, consider setting up a separate network with its own Internet connection, dedicated solely to payment processing. A segregated network simplifies the security measures required to remain PCI compliant.
Mobile Card Reader Security
Accepting credit card payments via cell phone or tablet computer via WiFi or cellular data connections is a popular move, one that can pay dividends for many businesses. Many mobile card reader solutions exist, and each has various pros and cons. Current PCI DSS requirements don’t specifically address mobile card readers, but that doesn’t mean you can disregard compliance when you make your choice. Merchants are still required to ensure PCI compliance in these situations.
The PCI council has, on the other hand, published security guidelines for payments accepted on the mobile platform, also available in their online document library. They include provisions against physical and digital theft, malware, hacking and unauthorized use. It’s also important to only use apps from trusted sources, and to avoid any “jailbreaks” that could expose your device or tablet to malicious software. Whenever the device is under business control and the card reader is in use, you must be connected to your PCI-compliant network. This may seem obvious, but overlooking the connection on your device and mistakenly taking a payment while connected to the wrong network could happen.
Don’t let the technical science behind PCI compliance intimidate you. You should make the greatest efforts to remain PCI compliant, because being outside of compliance carries heavy penalties that can be levied on a per-month basis. With the right securities in place for cardholder data storage, web hosting, terminals and mobile card readers, staying within PCI compliance should be much easier.
Have any questions about PCI-compliance? We’d love to answer them in the comments below!
Guest Author Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, providers of secure payment processing. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.
Increase your traffic with Google Authorship
Without providing stellar content to your target audience, it’s now impossible to rule the web or dominate search engine results. Do you agree? Well, look at the last couple of search algorithmic updates by Google and you’ll know. You might have heard about the Panda and Penguin updates by Google. But one of the most influential changes that happened this year is certainly in Google authorship.
What is Google authorship anyway?
It’s a feature introduced by Google that is supposed to ensure trustworthy content. What authorship does is tie a specific piece of content to its writer or author. By doing so, Google plans to provide users with expert content written by expert authors or industry experts.
The web is overflowing with content of all types and forms. When you conduct a search, you used to not know whether a particular article or blog post you are about to click and read is written by a credible author. With the launch of Google authorship, however, it’s easy to identify the worth of an article or post by checking out the author snippets. The rich snippet is comprised of an author’s bio photo, which is pulled in from their Google+ profiles. Therefore, it allows users to read exactly what they want to, and ignore the rest.
On the other hand, tying content with its authors is also an opportunity to rank higher in SERPs. Google favors ranking high quality content, written by professionals, industry experts and thought leaders. But, another good part of the Google authorship feature is that it also increases the click-through rate. According to a survey, the use of rich snippets increases the click-through rate quickly by as much as 30%.
Google authorship is like a reward for top quality content creators. Already, a good number of content creators have adopted this feature. They know it’s the way to the future as far as ranking at the top of Google search results is concerned. So, what are you waiting for?
Here’s how to set up Google authorship –
- Sign Up for a Google+ Account – Since Google extracts author data from their Google+ profile, you should make sure you or your content creators have their personal accounts on Google+. At the same time, the author name should match with the name that they have on their accounts on Google+.
- Get Your Account in Order – Only creating a personal account on Google+ is not enough. The profile should also be filled out well. Most importantly, you should pick a top quality picture as the profile image, the one that Google pulls for showing in rich snippets. If you don’t use a profile image, Google can easily detect it and your rich snippets won’t be shown in search. The better the quality of your profile image, the better click-through rate you can expect as your rich snippets appear in search results.
- Verify Your Google Authorship – The next step is to go to the Google Plus authorship page. As you enter your email, Google will send you a verification link which once clicked will connect your Google+ account to the website.
- Link Blog Posts to Google+ Profile – Also, you need to include an author byline on each post on your website. The author byline further should be connected to the respective author page on the website. The author page should have the author’s bio, a list of the posts they have written and a link to their personal account on Google+ (or Google Plus).
- Verify with rel=author Markup – In case you are unable to add an author byline due to some specific reasons, you can also achieve it manually. All you need to do is create a link from your web page to your Google+ profile page. Reciprocal linking (link from your profile to website) is also required.
Now, if you need a little more encouragement or information on the matter, you can always check out Google’s page on authorship.
Has Google authorship helped your search ranking? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
Link building is not the same as it used to be. Though your website’s SEO still very much depends on backlinks, there are several changes that have happened to link building post-Penguin. With every update, you need to keep up with the new expectations and know how to avoid dangerous blog links. First released on April 24, 2012, Google’s Penguin is a recent algorithm update that analyzes the quality of links pointing back to websites and penalizes those that indulge in any kind of link scheme or practices that they consider questionable or dangerous blog links.
Save yourself from dangerous blog links!
If you want to improve the SEO of your website or regain lost traffic due to a Penguin penalty, you should quickly understand the types of links that are harmful or dangerous and those that carry quality, even if you feel they are legitimate.
Given below are different types of dangerous blog links that you should always avoid while building links for your blog.
Swapped or Reciprocal Links
A few years ago, reciprocal linking was one of the most effective link building tactics to improve SEO. After Google released its Penguin update, however, reciprocal linking is no more acceptable. Instead, they’re now considered dangerous blog links. It’s only because most of the webmasters started to take advantage of the technique and manipulate this link building technique by swapping links in a large number. If you are planning or already building links through swapping links in bulk, you should avoid it right away. You may even get penalized if you’re doing it with the best intentions.
One of the most dangerous blog links that you should always avoid building is paid links. Whether you buy links or sell links, it’s a bad practice and should be avoided at all cost. Very recently, several UK news websites were penalized by Google only because they were selling links to pass PageRank. Paid links are always considered dangerous blog links.
You may be surprised to know that even directory links are on Google’s radar. But you shouldn’t worry as not every directory link is spammy. What you should actually avoid is mass-submitting to junk online directories. Google has already de-indexed those directors that nobody uses.
Even if you build links through directories, you should pick only the high quality ones and avoid automated or bulk submission, which make it look like you’re trying to index dangerous blog links.
Blog Network Links
Building links for your blog via link networks is also very dangerous. A few years ago, there were many systems that used to build links for websites or blogs through their own blog networks. After Google de-indexed many of these blog networks, this practice was tagged as black-hat. If you remember, Build My Rank (a popular blog network) tumbled down for the same reason. Blog network links are dangerous blog links.
Every blog belongs to a niche or industry. While building links for your blog, you should always keep your niche in mind. Many webmasters, in order to improve their SEO, would start acquiring backlinks from just any website regardless of the niche or industry they belong. This is unethical and dangerous. If you want your website safe from Penguin search penalty, you should never get links that are irrelevant or unrelated to your own niche.
Article Directory Links
Popular article directories like Ezine Articles, Article Base and Go Articles have lost their weight to a great extent. As people began to manipulate these article directories to build tons of links quickly, content farms were created. It’s due to this reason that Google degraded the search rankings of many popular article directory websites.
If you are using duplicate, spun or low quality articles and submitting them to article directories to build lots of links for your blog quickly, you should stop it without any delay or a penalty is just round the corner.
Whether it’s a website or blog, you should build links in a way that doesn’t violate the latest Google quality guidelines. Most importantly, you should make the process of link building look natural to search engines. If you manipulate link building, use spammy tactics or build links in an unnatural way, one search algorithmic update is enough to mark your website or blog for having dangerous blog links and send it’s rank down the gutter.
As a small business, you want to be found among the billions of pages on Google and other search engines. It’s critically important that you take the proper steps to enhance your page rank and website’s search engine optimize (SEO) rather than taking shortcuts or applying unethical methods. The primary reason to take the proper approach is that search engines are very strict and will penalize a site that doesn’t.
Here, we’ll share some of the top methods you don’t want to apply in your quest for SEO greatness. Protect your page rank by avoiding the following sins.
The search engine police will indeed punish you for bad SEO practices.
Okay, Sin #1. Don’t buy links back to your site from others. Why? Because Google wants to see links to your site from quality sources of content that are also related to your content. Linking to your site from irrelevant sites looking to make a dime on link-building will provide short-lived SEO, but long-term pain and poor page rank.
Search engines also have algorithms that indicate when a site is building links too quickly. You will ultimately be punished for this activity with decreased ranking, so take your time and build quality links to your website.
Duplicate content pages.
Don’t create the same page over and over again on your website. Search engines can’t be fooled by this, and you will be penalized. Create high-quality content that utilizes your keywords elegantly. Continue to improve upon your content with high-quality blog posts and get your audience to share those. That’s where the high-quality link-building starts to come into play.
Don’t stuff keywords into your pages.
Old as time is the strategy of putting your keywords at the bottom of a page in the same color as your page’s background, or using the keywords way too many times in the page’s context so it reads unnaturally. Here’s an example of keyword stuffing utilizing the keyword gluten-free:
“Gluten-free foods are delicious. Try our gluten-free products so you can remain gluten-free all of your life and feel better because you are gluten-free. Gluten-free products are the best products because gluten-free products taste great and are gluten-free.”
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it’s not going to earn you any favors with search engines.
Google and other search engines are watching and waiting for these sins to be committed. Steer clear to protect your page rank!
This is the process of delivering content to a user based on their IP address – if the site detects that the visitor is a search engine spider, different content will be delivered than that which would be delivered to the average visitor. Typically people will use cloaking with pages that have duplicate or sketchy content so as to go undetected by search engines.
In short, keep your SEO methods ethical and be patient. SEO wasn’t built in a day, and you will very likely hurt your existing page rank if you try to take shortcuts. Stay away from strategies like buying links to your site, keyword stuffing, duplicating content, and cloaking. You will wind up wasting your time because search engines gave caught on to these tricks to say the least!
Guest author Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics ranging from daily reputation management to health and wellness.
Find your target audience and focus your marketing dollar in their direction.
What’s your idea of running an online business? There are many who think running an eCommerce store is simply posting and selling products. Sadly though, it’s a lot more complicated in today’s world of eCommerce. No matter what niche you belong to, there’s tough competition for attracting customers so you need to find your target audience and develop a strategy around them. Why? Because nowadays, every single niche has hundreds of thousands of online stores, each one of them vying for customers’ attention. With these odds, being able to find your target audience is more important than ever before.
Developing an effective marketing and sales strategy is important for success and starts with learning how to find your target audience. You should not jump into marketing and sales strategies unless you know who your best customers will be, where they belong and what their key demographics are? Don’t waste marketing dollars by trying to sell to everyone. Find your target audience and make every dollar count!
A target audience is just a specific group of people who are most likely to be interested in the products you have to offer. The demographics of a target audience will change with each product line you push. For example, a collage aged audience might be interested in current retail trends while new parents will be interested in baby products. As an SMB, small to medium sized business owner, you can’t sell to everyone and attempting to will break your bank. To sell more in less time, you’ll always need to find your target audience, those people who are ready to buy what you are selling.
Now, the big question remains… how to find your target audience. Well, you should start with these important questions –
- What is my product?
- What problems does my product solve?
- Who could have the problems that my product solves?
- To whom will my product appeal the most?
- How will customers use my product?
These questions are just the starting point. As you ask yourself more questions like these and get deeper and deeper, you’ll be able to identify the type of people (or businesses) who your product will suit the best. As soon as you have the picture of the ideal customer for your e-commerce business, you’ll need to extend your research further to know the finer details like their age, gender, occupation, educational qualification, marital status, interests etc.
There are several benefits of identifying your target audience and your whole business will operate around them. When you know the target audience for your e-commerce business, it will becomes easier to make important business decisions. Whether it’s about designing your online store or improving your online marketing strategies, you will be able to achieve success with all of these issues only when you know who you are selling your products to.
Finding your target audience helps you a great deal when it comes to making decisions about the ancillary service of your business. When you are aware of who to sell, you can easily decide out where to sell, when to sell and how to sell. At the same time, it will become easier for you to attend the right kind of functions as well as enter into the right kind of partnerships. Unless and until you find your target audience, you’ll make mistakes with all these key decisions which in turn will make a negative impact on your business and profits.
It’s best to stay one step ahead and know who you’re selling to and what they like… before you start selling! If you are having low profits or spending too much in marketing, you need to quickly break out of the mold, identify your idea customer base, and try to find out as many details about them as possible. The more you know about them, the better strategies you’ll be able to create.
Did you find your target audience before or after you launched your online store? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Which solution is best for you?
By John Trimble, Head of Search
June 17, 2013
With more and more businesses investing in trading online the importance of having an effective warehouse and stock control software is becoming even more key to the difference between profit and loss.
If you’re in the process of procuring eCommerce software, how your back office integrates should be an important consideration when reviewing solutions. Primarily there are two possible back office solutions from an eCommerce perspective:
- An eCommerce Solution which integrates into your existing stock control and warehouse management systems.
- An eCommerce solution which incorporates built in warehouse and stock control modules.
Option 1 presents a solution which will require both your eCommerce software and back office providers working closely together to make sure integration is as painless as possible. This option can be very cost effective if the integration doesn’t require too much customisation from both sides.
Option 2 relates to the latest generation of eCommerce solutions which includes functionality for full stock control and warehouse management and often contains additional support for supply chain and customer relationship management.
If you’re going down the route of implementing a package which includes an integrated back office or a new standalone solution there are several key bits of functionality you should look for if you are running an eCommerce business that doesn’t use drop shipping:
Stock Control Software as a Service
Although few vendors within the industry provide Stock Control Software as a Service (SCSaaS) there are various benefits over the traditional proprietary stock control software model:
- No Large One Off Costs: Traditional stock control software normally involves a hefty upfront fee, SCSaaS differs from this as you get full access to the software for a monthly or yearly fee.
- Trouble-Free Upgrades: Because the SCSaaS solution provider manages the updates and upgrades, there is little exposure to issues involved in downloading and installing software updates.
- Reduced IT Costs: As the software is hosted off-site in the cloud by the SCSaaS provider there is no associated IT infrastructure or staffing costs.
- Globally Accessible: One of the prime benefits of Stock Control Software as a Service is the ability to access it anywhere in the world provided you have internet access.
Ad-Hoc Goods In Put Away
In a less rigid warehousing environment, modern stock control solutions can be used to specifically tell the system where each item is going to go, as the item is being put away. For example, as stock is received the system will put the stock into a Quarantine location. The user will then be able to scan an item and decide whereabouts they would like to put it.
Most sophisticated stock control software also allows the more effective dealing of large reserves of stock in bulk/overspill areas of your warehouse, which can often create difficulties in terms of monitoring the transitions of stock from your overspill to picking areas. These types of stock replenishment systems can intelligently prompt you to move your stock as and when it is needed.
Automatic Allocation of Stock to Orders:
Saving time by automating the allocation of your stock to order processes. Enabling orders to be picked quicker which in turn further enhances the customer experience.
With real-time inventory and forecasting logic most leading Stock Control Software solutions allow you to simultaneously reduce back orders and stockholdings, further driving efficiency in your warehouse and business.
Guest author John Trimble is the Head of Search for ecommerce software and back office solution providers Exact Abacus Ltd. They provide integrated ecommerce, stock control and warehouse management system to both the SME and low end Enterprise Market
By Amanda Walters
June 10, 2013
ZippyCart’s Shopping Cart Software Reviews will help you find eCommerce solutions that provide tools to help in engaging your audience.
When you embark on setting up your business, or even if you are simply focusing on growing your brand, you need to make sure you are engaging your audience. Without engagement, you cannot truly know your audience, you cannot see where you are going right or wrong.
The obvious way to engage is socially. You can get started on building this up yourself; exploring and experimenting are key. If you are setting up a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn page, make sure you have engaging content to post before you start focus on engaging your audience. If you already have your social networking pages set up, this will not be a problem. Use the tools within these to find out who your online audience is, you can then begin tailoring the content you send out in order to get the feedback and growth you desire.
In order to make money from these mediums, you need to have in the region of approximately 10,000 likes/followers, or a smaller target audience that is extremely motivated to spend on your product. Once you have grown your quality followers, you can set up a content marketing strategy. This should be insightful information that will bear relevance to your target audience and keep them engaged in your brand. It is not just about selling your product, you want to appear trustworthy and interesting while being a useful source of information that people can come back to.
Once you have achieved a greater following you will need to make sure you have the correct tools on your website in order to convert traffic into sales. If you need help with your feature lineup, ZippyCart’s comparison chart and expert ecommerce software reviews can help online merchants find the tools they need by reviewing the best shopping cart solution for their needs.
Over a period of time, you will be able to follow analytics to learn when your audience is most likely to click on your links. From these stats, work out how to best to structure your content and achieve a higher click through rate. You can also find out what type of images your audience prefers and how to keep your engagement levels up.
Facebook and Pinterest are the leaders when it comes to making money from your social networking pages. Also, through the use of content targeting, Facebook allows you to essentially split test between males and females, people in the UK versus USA and so on.
Interactive content and applications are fantastic, as they give greater flexibility to explain or engage your users. Interactive content can be as simple as an interface to link images and text together, or as complex as a 3D product configuration, allowing on-line customers to customize products in real-time.
Not only will engaging your audience bring about greater traffic, conversions, but also enable you to enhance your products from the feedback you get.
Guest author Amanda Walters is a journalist, blogger, poet and an artist. Having written for various websites including Huffington Post, DailyWaffle and having her concrete poetry work exhibited at university events in the UK. She loves to network, working with an array of clients including You The Designer and dhub, as well as attending events across the UK.
Finding your target audience is an important step in setting up an online store!
By the ZippyCart eCom team
May 29, 2013
Do you run an online store? Thinking about starting one up? Ok, great… who’s your target audience? Please don’t give an answer like ‘all age groups 18-55’. If your answer is something this vague, you may need help with How to Find the Target Audience for Your Online Store. You can’t target everyone. That would be an impossible task that requires too many marketing dollars. You need to define your audience and narrow it to your specific niche… that’s what we call finding your ‘target audience’.
It’s very important to find your target audience early in the game. No matter how well you’ve set up your store or how amazing your product is, you can’t sell effectively if you don’t know who your target audience is. There are many factors that play into finding you’re the buyers for your specific market. We mentioned age group earlier but here are a few more, of the dozens more to consider…
- Geographical Location
- Academic Qualification
- Technical Capability
- Family Size
I’m citing these essential factors to make you aware as to how the traits of a target audience may vary from one niche to another. The one major benefit of figuring out your target audience is to be able to focus your marketing dollars and sell your products to those people who are actually interested. You can’t sell everything to everyone… you’ll go broke with too broad of a marketing campaign.
There are several huge benefits in determining who the target audience for your online business actually is. When you know your target audience really well and understand how they may think, it’s easier to reach out to them and figure out which platforms are right for your sales efforts. Knowing your target market also helps build brand loyalty and an appealing online reputation. You’ll be able to reach out and socialize with them in a way that’s appropriate and fun… which also increases sales, in the long run.
These strategies will put you in a better position to showcase yourself as an expert. In turn, your target audience will be attracted to news and posts from experts in their field of interest.
When you want to figure out the target audience for your online store, one surefire way of getting started is to have a closer look at your current customers or the existing customer base of your established competitors. Your best customers or the core target audiences actually come from your existing customer base. Study them… get to know them. You can reach out to them via email, social media and online surveys among others. The more you study or analyze your current customers, the more knowledge you’ll again about the kind of audience that will benefit your online business the most.
With the results of this study, you can also create the profile of an idea customer for your online store. By knowing the persona of your ideal customer, you can build an image in your head. Whether it’s the content on your e-commerce website, your email newsletters, social media or your blog, you’ll be able to communicate with the specific group of people that constitutes the target audience for your online business. It’s then when you can create a highly focused marketing campaign to maximize conversions.
Don’t sell everything to everyone just because seems a lot easier. Find your target audience, and watch your loyalty and profits soar. After all, the easy path is not the right path, most of the time.
By Andrew Lisa
May 27, 2013
Good software makes all the difference when it comes to invoicing.
Invoicing is something that every business has to do and almost every business owner dreads the most. While collecting money is great, the process by which you collect it takes valuable time and energy away from improving your business and working on your strategy. A slip angers clients and messes up your numbers. This is why everyone needs invoicing pointers!
Your books have to be straight, but does keeping them straight have to be a nightmare? Follow this guide to taking the pain out of invoicing.
Get Good Software
There are places in your business where you can use to cut corners. Your accounting, bookkeeping, and invoicing software isn’t one of them.
Get stable, reputable software that automatically tracks what’s going in and coming out. That’s not to say that it has to be expensive. Major corporations need to spend big money on big software packages. You may not. You can probably afford a good program, or even get started with free online software that’s fairly comprehensive, like OutRight.
Your eCommerce site and invoicing software should be fully integrated.
Get Started with an Integrated eCommerce Company
The firm you hire to build your Web site and online store should work seamlessly with your invoicing software. PinnacleCart, CoreCommerce, and BigCommerce are all great shopping cart software that offer full integration with payment processors like PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Checkout, and QuickBooks.
Keep track of your inventory, sales, expenditures, and invoicing by starting with an eCommerce software that makes it easy and intuitive.
Establish Policies and Articulate Them Up Front
You want to be paid after doing work for a client. Occasionally, you’ll encounter a client who can’t or won’t pay on time, who will make frivolous disputes, or will be difficult to get in touch with after the job is done.
By establishing clear policies written in plain English that the client sees and signs off on before the work is started, you can save yourself a headache and potential confrontation down the road.
Don’t presume you’re going to remember the minutia of any transaction with the passage of time. By making notes, it’ll jog your memory when it comes time to bill, when it comes time to pay taxes, and — most importantly — if any client disputes arise in the future. This is one of the simplest invoicing pointers that people forget!
Do Your Invoices a Little at a Time
There are few things more daunting than facing a mountain of invoices you absolutely can’t put off for another day. By taking care of them in small batches as they come in, you not only avoid a pileup, but ensure accuracy by recording your transactions while they’re fresh.
Clean books and good client billing can be the thing that keeps a business afloat during lean times. Bad invoicing can sink an otherwise strong enterprise. Take the grind out of one of the most tedious parts of any business by setting and following good invoicing practices.
What are your favorite invoicing pointers?! We’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Guest author Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about a variety of online business issues, including how to improve reviews.
Photo1 courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo2 courtesy of Renjish Krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Mary Weinstein
May 13, 2013
Every sales quarter, CPC Strategy conducts a study on the top shopping channels, including Google Shopping on seller metrics such as traffic and revenue. For Q1, Google shopping traffic almost doubled.
CPC Strategy’s 2012 Ecommerce Industry Report compares Google Shopping against rival shopping engine Amazon Product Ads. It analyzes the sales data of more than 200 online retailers with a buying power of more than $5 billion.
- Google Shopping conversion rates dropped for the fourth straight quarter, decreasing from 3.0931% in Q4 2011 to 2.4018% in Q4 2012, a YoY decrease of 22.35%.
- In Q4 2011 Google Shopping was sending merchants 79% of the traffic Amazon Product Ads was sending. In Q4 2012, Google Shopping now sends merchants nearly double the traffic that Amazon Product Ads does, 96.08% more.
- Google Shopping was on average 32.77% more cost-effective for merchants during Q3 and Q4 2012 than Amazon Product Ads.
To read more, feel free to head over to this Q4 CSE Rankings article
Google Shopping is a shopping engine which warrants merchant attention. An increase in traffic such as we seen from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013 is just another reminder of how important the paid campaign is for online marketers.
Guest author Mary Weinstein is Content Manager at CPC Strategy, with extensive experience in all things Ecommerce, comparison shopping (CSE) management, Google Shopping and digital marketing. A NY native, Mary spends her time discussing CSE strategy with online merchants, hiking and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
By Kinjal Adeshara
March 25, 2013
Nowadays, small and large product based business need ecommerce sites. In 2013, will be flooded with new technologies and it’s important to make sure you online business pages shine. Ecommerce websites will only be considered well structured when users can search for a product easily with smooth navigation. Having a custom ecommerce site will help develope a personal connection with your target audience and online shoppers.
Guest blogger Kinjal Adeshara is a web enthusiastic and blogger who interested in all things software, web design & development… especially ecommerce site development. She is working with Rightway Solution which is offshore software development company. She loved to write articles and shares new, exciting and informative content with users.
By the ZippyCart eCom team
March 13, 2013
Though credit cards are great, they should not be your only online payment options an e-commerce store offers. According to Fred Neff (President, Internet Merchants Association), online payment options can make a huge impact on the number of your online sales. Therefore, it’s vital for e-commerce business owners to break out of the ‘traditional credit card payment’ mold and provide buyers with more options of online payment.
Customers are always looking for more when it comes to making payments… global shoppers, especially. Even today, there are many countries and situations where customers don’t feel comfortable with the use of credit cards online. South Africa is a good example of such an emerging markets. Online shoppers in this region are especially hesitant to reveal their credit card information while buying or purchasing products online. They expect to have more payment options so that they can complete their purchase.
The more payment options you offer on your e-commerce website, the more likely your customers, especially global shoppers, will be to complete the purchasing process.
Regardless of where you are in the world, you’ll find potential buyers who are reluctant to put their credit card information into just any online store. And with good reason… you cannot trust that every eMerchant has built their online store with eCommerce solutions software that provides PCI-compliance.
It’s no wonder a market of alternative payment options has emerged around the world. In the USA, PayPal, Payment by Amazon and a few other powerhouses are the standard. People from different countries, however, prefer using different options of online payment. Many countries would have their own most preferred options. Going back to the growing African market, for example, most of the online buyers prefer making their payments through their mobile devices using a service called M-Pesa. There are many different favorites around the globe, however. You’ll need to put a little research into your possible markets to make sure all your bases are covered.
The number of online buyers is continuously on the rise and experts are projecting eCommerce and mCommerce to become the new norm. By offering a wide variety of online payment options, you are actually helping customers in their buying process. If you check out, you’ll find a number of payment service providers or payment processors, which you can choose according to your website requirements. You can also hire professional services so that your chosen payment systems can be easily integrated with your shopping cart software. If you have an old website, you may need some upgrade before you are ready to embrace modern payment processing tools.
Since e-commerce has a wide presence today, you’ll always find a number of payment processors to use.
Some of the most preferred options include –
- PayPal’s Bill Me Later
- Amazon Checkout
- Google Checkout
- Secure Trading
Of course, there are many more. Depending on the technical capabilities of your shopping cart software, you can choose those tools that suit you best. In any case, you should always remember to provide your customers with several payment options so they can easily convert and complete the purchase. All you need to do is focus on providing your e-commerce website visitors (or customers) with a seamless transaction experience.
Online retail sales are projected to increase by leaps and bounds. When the customer base is ready to buy, your business should also be geared up really well towards providing payment systems that customers want to use. In doing so, you can rest assure you are doing the best to increase your online store’s sales.
By Kinjal Adeshara
March 11, 2013
“Ecommerce” will continue to be a buzz word in 2013 and while this comes as no surprise, what needs to be seen is what will be the trends that will power this domain. Ecommerce will definitely evolve as it did in the past years but this evolutionary process is going to accelerate.
- More Personalized Services
No, personalized services may not something that is fresh or unique but, this is going to be a continuing popular trend. The focus, however, will be on offering as personalized a product or service as possible. There are new technologies that will monitor and analyze the buying pattern of consumers to bring forth some startling revelations as far as consumers buying decisions are concerned. This will help you personalize the content to suit the specific needs and requirements of your target audience.
- Ecommerce will align with Mcommerce Again this is a trend that we are witnessing, but this alignment will happen far more seamlessly this year. Your site will need to be mobile compliant, that’s a given, but that’s not something that will have you laughing to the bank. What your future buyers will look forward to is a better, more intuitive and highly engaging shopping experience that makes shopping a largely interactive process. They are looking to form a deep connect with the product or service they want to buy and they will expect this from an integration of web and mobility.
- Augmented Reality The adoption of this technology will come of age this year and the years beyond. The first trend that I mentioned was that Ecommerce will become more personal, well it is this technology that will play an important role in bringing this about. So, the next time you are moving through a particular store, don’t be surprised if you start getting information about the store, the various products it has on offer and the various offers on the same; all this, as you keep moving through the different parts of the store. 2013 will be shopping at its finest yet.
- Cross Channel Targeting of the Same Consumer Right, you have a product and you believe that an SEO campaign is the best fit, as far as its online promotion is concerned. Well, while SEO is important, this kind of thinking will have competition in 2013 as you will be forced to target your consumer through various marketing channels. Yes, it will be the same consumer, but you will be keeping at him, from all directions. So, yes, there will be an SEO campaign that will be launched, but also of importance will be a presence on social media, and you of course wouldn’t want to miss out on targeting him through his mobile device. Integrated marketing campaigns will be the name of the game.
- More focus on Social Network Integration Can’t miss out on this one can we? There will be more and better social network integration than ever before. As we keep using social media for marketing our products and services, we are getting better and better at it. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter keep getting better and better and new ones like Pinterest allow us to explore new avenues for establishing a social media footprint for business benefit. The integration of social media with an Ecommerce solution will become even more intensive and incisive in 2013. What’s more, with the plethora of options on hand, you will be hard pressed to choose the one that suits your needs and requirements best
- Customization of Products and Services – Consumer in Charge Heard about ‘Web-to-Print’, ‘Design your own T-shirt’ etc.? These are all examples of the kind of solutions that put the consumer in charge of the designing and customization process of the product that he/she wants to buy. Yes, customization was, is and will always be important to sell products and services, but now the merchant will increasingly allow the target consumers to tailor make the product, as per their specifications. Ecommerce as its stands will never be the same again.
- Content What you say, will become even more important this year. As competition increases and the need for accurate information become even more paramount, the significance of content will keep getting bigger and bigger. The presentation of your content in terms of form, style, tone and facts will decide whether the sales of your products and/or services increase or remain stagnant or for that matter go down.
- Think Global but Go Local Even if you are targeting a global market, the focus will still be on thinking ‘local’. Niche oriented Ecommerce will rule as people will keep looking for products and services through local search. So, even an enterprise level organization will need to ensure that its marketing is focused on specific locations/regions; if they want they can target different markets with different campaigns, with each campaign keeping in mind the needs, interests, preferences and buying behavior of the local population.
- Responsive Ecommerce You have heard of responsive design (it will be huge in 2013), but as an online business owner, what you also need to take note of is responsive Ecommerce. All eMerchants will need to quickly respond to the needs of their target consumers and if they cannot, they will need to adapt to the changing demands of the market to respond as their consumers expect them to.
- Keep it Simple At the end of the day, the lesser the complications, the better you can control a particular process. So, Ecommerce will become more compartmentalized, where merchants and marketers will not try and do a lot of things, but will want to do a few of the things perfectly. As can be imagined, each aspect of Ecommerce is going to be consumer focused and it’s upon the merchants to identify which is that collection of strategies that will help them zero in on a profit generating Ecommerce campaign.
Guest author Kinjal Adeshara is a web enthusiastic and blogger who interested in all things, software, web design especially ecommerce website development. She is also work with Rightway Solution which is offshore Software Development Company. She loved to write articles and shares new, exciting and informative content with users.
By Susan Delly
March 8, 2013
One of the things that we love about Shopping Cart software is innovative and fast paced… it’s always improving. This is especially apparent when you look at the shopping cart solutions on ZippyCart’s top carts of 2013 comparison list.
Here are a few recent upgrades and changes that are worth noting.
- Fortune3 – after a recent upgrade, the team at Fortune3 was pleased to announce their integration with Endicia, for all of your shipping needs. It’ll now be easier to print postage and labels online!
- PinnacleCart – as of March 15, 2013, PinnacleCart.com has decided to focus their efforts on their hosted solution and no longer offer their licensed solution. They will still be providing the same quality support to their existing licensed stores and right now, they have a killer offer for those who want to get in on their licensed product last minute. Check them out if you’re interested!
- AmeriCommerce - with the latest upgrade, they added new embedding tools, blog widgets, a customer reward system, additional payment options, a new coupon code generator, a bunch of new apps and 2 new themes. They’ve been busy over at AmeriCommerce!
- Ashop – a company on the rise… AshopCommerce is currently taking on some major upgrades. They have recently put out an amazing new admin design and layout and have disabled some features that were outdated, to make for a smoother, easier navigation. For more information, check out their ZippyCart review and site.
- Shopify – version 3.4 of Shopify mobile was recently released and with it comes some stress reducing goodies. Their new mobile dashboard allows eMerchants to access key orders and products easily, as well as manage batch or multiple orders with one click!
With the whirlwind of changes and improvements, the eMerchant always wins!
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