All posts in "Technical"

Four Technical Decisions To Make Before Launching An Ecommerce Store

When you start an ecommerce business, you don’t have to think about renting and decorating a space, and you don’t have to deal with the tangle of regulations that come with a physical storefront. But an online store does have technical prerequisites, platforms, and systems that must be in place before the store goes live.

The decisions a retailer makes before launch affect the store’s performance and the shopping experience, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right before the promotional push come launch day.

In what follows, I’m going to assume that you have chosen and sourced the products you intend to sell, have settled on an ecommerce application like Magento or WooCommerce, and are looking for advice about getting your ecommerce store online.

The technical components that support an ecommerce store are a domain name, DNS hosting, and a hosting platform, which means choosing both a type of hosting and a hosting provider.

Domain Name

A domain name appears in the address bar of a web browser when you visit a website. It looks like this: nexcess.net. A store’s domain name is a large part of its online identity. It is how shoppers navigate to the store and how they recognize it. Choosing a domain name is one of the most important decisions you will make.

What makes a good domain name? Devising a brand is beyond the scope of this article, but there are a few rules that you should keep in mind:

Go with .com if it’s available

The .com generic top-level domain (TLD) is familiar and trusted. You might not be able to get .com domain for your business’s name, but I’d suggest changing your brand before choosing a less-well-known TLD — they are often associated with spammers and shady operators in the minds of shoppers.

Pick a TLD that’s relevant to your business

If you are determined to use one of the newer TLDs (Top-Level Domains) like .shoes or .bike, pick one that is relevant to your business and consider that it may limit your flexibility if you want to introduce new product lines in the future.

Consider whether you need a country-code top-level domain

There is one exception to the .com rule. If your store will sell primarily to a specific geographic market — the UK or Germany, for example — you may want to use a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) such as .co.uk or .ca. Search engines use ccTLDs as a signal to rank a domain’s pages within the relevant area. You can read more about ccTLDs on Moz.

DNS Hosting

Domain names are good for shoppers, but the internet doesn’t use them to move data around. It uses IP addresses, a unique number that identifies a server on the web. Every time a shopper visits an ecommerce store, their browser converts the domain name into an IP address with a service called the Domain Name System (DNS).

To be part of the Domain Name System, a domain name’s records are hosted on an authoritative DNS server. DNS hosting is often provided by the domain’s registrar or by your web hosting provider, but it can pay to switch to a faster DNS host.

DNS has an impact on the performance and availability of an ecommerce store. If you’ve ever clicked on a link and waited while the browser does nothing at all, you’ve seen what happens when DNS fails. Slow DNS can add seconds to a store’s load time.

To get the best performance, consider paying for a specialist DNS hosting provider or an ecommerce hosting provider that offers a redundant AnyCast DNS hosting platform with a service level agreement.

Web Hosting Provider

A web host provides an ecommerce store’s data storage, processing, and network connection. There are hundreds of web hosting providers of many different types, and it can be difficult to choose a cost-effective provider that offers the customer support and technical resources an ecommerce store relies on.

A few rules of thumb will help you to choose wisely.

Low-cost hosting is usually a false economy.

An ecommerce store needs more resources than a blog or business site. The cheapest shared hosting is cheap because the provider oversells space on their servers and cuts corners with essential services like customer support.

Managed hosting is a good idea

Managed hosting is a good idea if you aren’t a server administrator. Keeping an ecommerce store fast and available is a full-time job, and your time is better spent growing the business.

Specialized managed hosting

Managed hosting specialized for your preferred ecommerce application is the least risky option. A high-quality hosting provider will provide support for the underlying infrastructure and for the application.

For a new store, you needn’t opt for the most expensive enterprise hosting, which can cost thousands of dollars a month, but it is worth investing in a high-quality hosting platform with round-the-clock customer support.

Type Of Web Hosting

High-quality web hosting providers offer a variety of hosting types that can include shared hosting, dedicated servers, virtual private servers, and cloud hosting. Shared hosting from a reputable hosting provider (see above) can work well for smaller stores, but if you expect your store to grow over time, consider cloud hosting.

Unlike other types of hosting, cloud hosting can scale from tiny to gigantic without an expensive platform migration. Resources can be added on-the-fly so that a store doesn’t run into hard resource limits during periods of peak traffic. Stores can be deployed almost instantly. Cloud ecommerce hosting platforms often include multiple redundancy to make them resilient to hardware failure.

In 2019, cloud hosting is the best option for new stores, but some care should be taken when choosing a cloud host. “Cloud” is often used as a marketing term to refer to everything from shared hosting with a lick of paint to old-fashioned virtual private servers. A true cloud platform uses virtualization and orchestration technology to combine many physical servers into a pool of resources that can be allocated dynamically. Be wary if a “cloud” hosting provider’s platform doesn’t fit that description.

It is easier to build a successful online store if the technical fundamentals are in place right from the start. With the right domain name and DNS hosting and a reliable and scalable web hosting platform, you can focus on what really matters: building a customer base and growing your retail business.

Author Bio: Graeme Caldwell is a writer and content marketer at Nexcess, a global provider of hosting services, who has a knack for making tech-heavy topics interesting and engaging to all readers. Graeme’s articles have been featured on top publications across the net, TechCrunch to TemplateMonster. For more content, visit the Nexcess blog and give them a follow at @nexcess.

 

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How to Make Your Ecommerce Store Spring Ready

Spring is finally here! It’s that time of the year when the fragrance of cherry blossoms fills the air and people put on their tank tops and roam the streets. And it’s not just the street style that goes through a change — entire consumer patterns shift!

As the season gets warmer and vibrant, you need to adapt to such changes and transform your retail practices as well!

We all know that people barely go to stores now. Ever since the internet boomed, retailers have been relying on digital marketing and online trading to reach out to a client base and sell their products. This is why the need to improve your online presence, especially your website, is extremely important!

This spring, use these tips to upgrade your ecommerce store according to the season’s shenanigans to truly relate to your target audience!

1. Marketing Strategy

As the season changes, so should your marketing strategies. Since content marketing across the online forums is more or less the same, you need to review your SEO and see how your target audience is now searching for keywords.

Reviewing SEO

Keyword analysis will enable you to devise your fresh content marketing strategy. To review the keyword trends, ask questions like:

  • Is your niche audience still using the same keywords or different ones?
  • Are there any new trending phrases that could be used as keywords?
  • What should you change in your website’s keyword incorporation?

Search for Dead Links

A dead link is a non-existent link on a website that exists due to:

  • Improper URL entry
  • Removed web page
  • Deleted website
  • User access blocked because of a firewall or software
  • Owner access being hindered because of a firewall or software

This spring, your aim should be to boost your SEO ranking. No matter how spot-on your content marketing is, you won’t be able to achieve this goal if there are dead links on your website as it lowers your SEO ranking.

Content Analysis

To create effective content marketing this season, you need to look up the results of your previous ones. Ask yourself:

  • Which content performed well?
  • Which content failed to generate traffic?
  • Which content had the highest conversion rate?

Once you analyze the way your former content performed, you will be able to create effective content strategies for the coming spring season.

2. Creating Content

Whether you’re focusing on textual or visual content, it should grab the attention of your users.

Relevant Content

To prepare your ecommerce store for this spring season, you need to create relevant content. This means that the content should inform people about the latest spring trends relevant to your industry. Your purpose should be to create content that is delivered at the right time and in the right style.

Beautiful Content

Spring is all about fragrances, flowers, colors and beauty! Keep this in mind when creating your content so that you can aesthetically attract your target audience.

Community Content

The spirit of spring is all about happiness, kindness and sharing. As a result, your content strategy must incorporate the essence of this season by getting people involved. To make your content even more effective, make sure you instill it with a sense of belonging, which brings together people and allows them to appreciate your product in a much better way.

3. Sales Tactics

As a retailer, you’re already well-versed with sales tactics. Planning a ‘Spring Clearance’ sale or offering exclusive, special seasonal discounts will appeal to your audience that is already embracing the season’s bliss.

However, to prepare your ecommerce store for this season, start a limited-time offer or a seasonal-campaign using the following:

  • Discounts (according to % or up to $)
  • Sale on the season’s trendiest colors, designs, need-based items
  • Free shipping (limited-time offer)
  • Flash sales (celebrating the season)
  • Gifts that celebrate the season or represent it
  • Exclusive spring-themed designs

4. Follow a Theme

This season, be outrageously creative and show it to your target audience. Good news is, you can easily contact any WooCommerce development company to incorporate season-inspired themes, graphics, animations and layout on your website or even re-design it from scratch to specify your website for spring and make it look up-to-the-minute.

All you have to do is to come up with some exciting, intriguing and catchy ideas and your chosen developers will turn your vision into your virtual reality! Some of the spring-associated themes are mentioned below.

Flora and Fauna Prints

Are you trying to make your website spring ready? Then the easiest way you can catch the attention of your target audience is by playing with flora and fauna prints! Whether it is a rose-tulip-daffodil braided border or a zebra-tiger striped background, it will work like a charm on your audience. The key is to add visual beauty while staying relevant to the season as well as your product.

Sunshine

Spring is basically the pre-summer time. Illuminate your web design with sunshine’s radiance to bring your target audience out of the winter gloom and into the pre-summer happiness! What makes this theme exceptional is its ability to strike and spark attention.

Vibrant Colors

While the warm colors are fit for fall-inspired themes and neon colors for winter, rainbow colors are suitable for your spring-themed web layout and design. It adds a burst of life and visual freshness for your niche market and makes them interested in your product instantly. And that is the desired effect you need to aim for!

You have the ideas and creativity to make your website stand out and the professionals at Webby Monks can put your ideas into action and make your ecommerce store ready for the spring season.

Author Bio: Nick is the head of marketing at Webby Monks – An agency specialized in WordPress and WooCommerce Website development. Services helping business across the globe to grow their visibility online. When not writing for technology, he spends his time fishing, clicking awesome pictures and digging into the mankind history. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter & LinkedIn.

 

 

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Eight Improvements Your Business Should Consider for Your Ecommerce Site

With so many competing companies, capturing the attention of online shoppers is no easy task. From the moment a customer lands on your ecommerce site, you must grab their interest and keep them engaged, or you risk losing them to one of the thousands of other places where they can spend their money.

There are approximately 1.92 billion digital buyers worldwide, with the number expected to increase to 2.14 billion by 2021. The world of online shopping will continue growing, but your site will only be successful if it’s user-friendly.

Focusing on a few distinct elements of an ecommerce site helps to improve your conversion rate and keeps customers coming back for future purchases. Here are eight improvements you should make to your site today to help catch and keep customers!

1. Improve Page Load Speeds

In a study of more than 150,000 random websites, 82 percent of sites had issues that impacted their overall performance. Around 43 percent of the problematic sites had slow page load speeds. People are impatient, and they expect a website to load in milliseconds.

Speed up your site by investing in better servers and reducing the load on the page. Avoid JavaScript and optimize images. Cut any clutter on your page and make sure it’s responsive to mobile devices. Small changes can improve your load times and keep people from bouncing to another website.

Crossrope uses caches, fast servers, and optimized images to load its ecommerce site at lightning speed. Upon your first visit, you’ll wait mere milliseconds for the entire site to load, and subsequent visits will be instantaneous. The mobile site loads the text before the images, allowing for delays in mobile connectivity while still presenting necessary information while the user waits.

2. Create a Style Guide

Have you ever visited a site that seemed as though a team of strangers pieced it together? Over time, with different people working on your pages, your website can become a mashup of different styles. A style guide works at creating a consistent look and feel for your site.

Your style guide should address topics such as:

  • Your brand’s color palette
  • The tone of the site funny, serious, youthful, etc.
  • What fonts and font sizes to use
  • The layout for various types of pages
  • Language and image standards for example, all images are under 100 kb and 600 pixels wide

3. Animate Your Site

Video comprises about 80 percent of global Internet traffic, and slightly more in the United States, at 85 percent. Adding video animations of your products shows users different possibilities, such as how to put a product together or the object from different angles. It adds an element of entertainment to any site and engages visitors.

One Point Partitions uses an animated video to show the way its partitions come together and how easy installation is. One Point Partitions shows each phase of the installation, including where screws get placed for stability. Any customer wondering if they can install the partitions themselves receives an immediate answer to their question.

4. Optimize for Mobile

More and more people use websites via their smartphones, so if your site isn’t mobile responsive you’re missing out on a large segment of your browsing audience. Think through the types of things that annoy mobile users and adapt your design accordingly. Users hate to pinch and zoom, so create images and text that automatically adjusts in size without the user needing to do anything additional.

Also, think through button placement and size. A cursor is tiny, but someone using a finger to tap a link needs a bigger range to click on. Little changes make a big difference in user experience on a mobile device.

5. Simplify Your Navigation Hierarchy

Some ecommerce stores sell so many different products that the number of categories on their website becomes massive. Spend some time thinking through a simplified navigation hierarchy. What are the three or four main categories all products fall under? Remember, you can always create subcategories if you need further definition. However, for navigation, keep the number of choices small.

Zara uses clean, simple navigation to point the user in the right direction. At the beginning of the buyer’s journey, they choose Woman, Man, Kids or Shoes & Bags. After narrowing their preference to a specific category, additional options appear under subcategories, such as T-shirts, Pants, Skirts, and Beachwear. Other search filters narrow the choices even more under each subcategory, creating a personalized shopping experience.

6. Improve Product Descriptions

Your product descriptions serve as the sales pitch for your products. Online shoppers aren’t face-to-face with your sales staff, so the copy on your product pages is of utmost importance. Not only do your descriptions need to be detailed enough for your audience members to make a decision, but you must reach them on an emotional level and show them how the item fits into their lives.

Create a buyer persona and put yourself in your customer’s shoes  what type of information would you need to decide whether or not to purchase the item? Why do you want this item and what kind of story is behind it.

For example, if you’re selling a nonstick cooking skillet, you might start with a story about how busy moms have very little time to get dinner on the table between work and kids’ sporting events, and how burning food is common, but getting the stuck-on food off is nearly impossible except with this specific skillet. Describe a scenario that makes sense to your audience.

7. Make Your Unique Value Proposition Clear

Your unique value proposition, or UVP, is what you offer customers that make your brand or product special. Why should the user choose you over your competitor? If you don’t have a UVP, you must first take a step back and figure out what value you offer customers. Then, communicate that value on your website.

Farmdrop presents its UVP on its site landing page. The benefit for users is that it’s simpler to do your weekly shopping and get high-quality food from independent, local producers. Farmdrop then describes the ways its offering is better, such as high animal welfare standards and reducing the use of plastic.

8. Focus on Your Search Feature

Sometimes users land on your page looking for a specific product. Your search function must be easy to find from any page, such as in the top or bottom navigation, but it must also return valid results. If you aren’t happy with search results or notice a lot of users bouncing away after using the search function, look into improvements for your search filters and how you can tag items, so results are valid.

Conclusion: Improve Your Return on Investment

When looking for ways to improve your ecommerce store, consider which changes have the most significant impact on your revenue. As a small business owner, you should consistently reinvest in your company, but how you invest makes a big difference in the returns you see and the success of your brand. Make small changes, test them and keep the things customers respond to, while replacing the features that don’t encourage them to shop with your site.

Author Bio: Lexie is a web designer and UX design strategist. Her work is featured on Marketo, Creative Bloq, Website Magazine, Envato and eCommerce Tips. She manages Design Roast and reach out to her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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