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Feb
9
Why You Need to Speed Up Your Ecommerce Store
Posted by Anton on 09 February 2016 01:42 PM

load-time1

Newborn online store is usually fast. There is a very small number of items (and thus pages), there is no traffic, and there are no add-ons like auctions, “similar goods” or “occasional special offers”. Ecommerce website hosting has a small load and so everything ‘flies’. But a little later, more time is required to open the page, and here are some visitors who do not wait until the full load of the page and close the browser window.

Why is that happening?

The primary reason is simple, economical: large complex catalog of goods usually requires a special approach, individual programming. And when you start an online store at low budget, studios do a directory on a standard universal module, without time-consuming individual characteristics. This allows you to achieve profitability. For the first time, that’s fine.

After getting many goods, you are adding classifiers and sorting, additional properties for each product, and other complexities. As a result, for the issue of the catalog page, engine (CMS site) has to collect and sort a lot of information. Do not just show all the goods in sub-category, but, for example, to show products of several categories, with certain characteristics, and also show what other characteristics exist and what sub-categories they correspond to. And what kind of deals exist for the similar products. And preferably in order of popularity based on data from the last two weeks. If there are thousands of products – this is the task not for one second, even for fast hosting. Now multiply this by the number of pages of the catalog and even the number of references to these pages, and here we have a server swamped with work. There are numerous online tools to check the speed of your webpages. Choose one of them to be aware about your website speed.

Do you still think that the loading speed of your site is not important? You are wrong! According to the Aberdeen Group, just a one-second delay during boot, converts into a decrease in the number of page views by 11%, total customer satisfaction by 16% and the number of possible conversion action – by 7%.

load-time

Therefore, disdainful attitude towards technical optimization of an ecommerce site might have disastrous consequences on its effectiveness. In this article, we will share with you some tips to achieve a significant increase in the speed of loading pages.

Image Optimization

With the help of graphic editors, you can achieve significant compression of the site images with almost no visible loss of quality. Moreover, it is not necessary to be the master of Photoshop, because there are many free tools with similar functions.

In addition, it is necessary, wherever possible, to use HTML and CSS instead of graphics. For example, the background and the other page elements.

Extra code removal

Common used visual editors and generators make it easy to create web pages, but they also generate “garbage code” that may seriously affect the speed of the site. On such pages, every line of code increases the size of the page, and also some scripts can lead to various errors hindering load.

CSS optimization

Instead of embedded style sheets, you can use the mechanism of connection from an external file; and to place a code for the call in the header. You can also combine images into CSS-sprites to contribute to optimization.

GZIP

Enable compression on the server side, it will help not that much, but still will accelerate your downloads.

Redirects

Redirects create additional HTTP-requests, increasing load time; therefore, you should reduce the number of such requests to a minimum. Do not use redirects unless it is necessary.

Additions

As most sites use common CMS, many webmasters empower them by installing additional plug-ins and module. However, each additional component increases the burden posed by the site.

Therefore, whenever possible, it is better to implement the desired functionality directly into the template code, as it can significantly reduce the load.

Caching

This option is not suitable for news sources, updated every few minutes, but for most other types of sites it is a great solution.

Server setup

In case you have many visits to your website or online store, use VPS or dedicated server instead of a conventional shared hosting. VPS (dedicated server) provide more resources and are able to withstand tens of thousands of transitions from search per day. Another advantage of using such solutions is the ability to self-configure and optimize individual scripts and server-side components that may significantly increase the load speed if implemented competently.

Content

Avoid placing bulky objects on the site (e.g. flash), and do not overload it with superfluous and non-optimized graphics, such as the use of images in the background.

Hosting

In some cases, the site is loading slowly because of problems with hosting, or insufficient power resources. After all, it doesn’t matter how long will it take you to optimize your online store with thousands of unique visitors, it will not work faster on hosting for $ 5 per month. At the same time, it is enough to take a business hosting package, to increase the speed of the site, and still have enough reserve power for the future development.

 

Conclusion

Some of the tips we shared are easy to implement, others require specific technical knowledge, and in this case, you can use the services of managed hosting company. We can continue the list of updates to increase the load speed, but even a few edits t your code are enough to significantly increase the load speed of your website.


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Feb
9
Content Marketing Ideas to drive traffic to your business website
Posted by Anton on 09 February 2016 01:04 PM

content_marketing

If you care to give a boost to your marketing efforts, always go for great ideas. In light of this, the following are some of today’s best content marketing ideas that can be instrumental in the success of any business:

The Ideas

Using Quality Imagery

The use of right imagery is bound to make your content stand out compared to other similar entities. Here, it is better if you avoid the use of any pictures that can be easily attained via a simple search. Instead, try going for imagery that is unique and immediately catches the viewer’s attention. Also, you should make sure the pictures suits the taste of your target audience and is completely relevant to the topic being addressed.

Countdown

A great number of people simply love countdown posts. As such, you can create a top 10, top 50 or top 100 posts that are relative to your niche.

Addressing Controversy

Try to create a content that addresses a controversial topic. Accordingly, you can add in a video or some pictures that back up your topic.

Predicting the Future

A majority of people simply love content that predicts the future, which is based on current facts. Therefore, in your post, you can predict trends that are relative to your industry or niche.

Call to Action

Generally, an effective content can only reel in its target audience by featuring a single call to action.  Therefore, it is better if you also use just one call of action for marketing purposes.

“Catchy” Phrases

Try using catchy phrases or effective keywords on your posts. This will help you attract the attention of your target audience. But while doing so, always remember that your phrases and keywords are appropriate for your selected group of target audience.

The Submission Option

You can ask your readers to present their stories or ideas in relation to their experience with your offered product or service. Later on, you can publish them thereby letting others know what your offerings mean for your general customers.

Infographics

Viewers, especially the youth take great interest in infographics. Therefore, at your next marketing task, you can make use of some amazing infographics that better highlight today’s important facts. Moreover, the infographics can be used to let people understand the benefits offered by your product/service.

“Recycling” Old Information

If you ever run out of marketing ideas, try republishing your old posts with a new flair. As such, you can also incorporate all the latest facts in them.

Poll or Survey

A great number of people just love to know the general opinion of others – especially with respect to any current event. Accordingly, this is why marketers often use polls or surveys. Likewise, you can do a poll or survey for your audience and later publish the result in your post.

Besides all such great ideas, it is important for businesses to avail the services of leading e-commerce hosting providers. This is since with the help of top-quality services like web server, any business will be able undertake a more efficient and precise marketing of its products.

In conclusion, if you care to give a boost to your content marketing efforts, feel free to take inspiration from the above mentioned ideas. Moreover, to attain best results, you should also emphasize on availing quality e-commerce hosting services.


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Jan
20
How to SAFELY regenerate blowfish encryption key in X-cart 4.x
Posted by admin on 20 January 2016 12:33 AM

If you run X-cart 4.x store for more than a year, you would get an annoying reminder to regenerate your Blowfish encryption key:

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“Your store’s Blowfish encryption key expired. You should re-generate the Blowfish encryption key to ensure security of sensitive data in your store’s database”

If you just click “regenerate” button and start the process, there is a good change it will screw up all the passwords, payment processing setup and encrypted orders data. Easiest way is just ask us to do this for you – we do this in our clients stores every other day – but if you feel optimistic and do not have anything better to do with your time, here is how to regenerate blowfish key safely:

  1. Check if you have “mcrypt” support enabled in PHP on your server. To do this, go to Tools -> Summary -> PHP : Details and search for “mcrypt”. You should see a whole section titled “mcrypt” and first line should say : “mcrypt support enabled”
    * this is important! do not start process without this.
  2. Backup your database – this is in case you will screw up – database hold your encrypted data
  3. Backup your config.php file – this is in case you will screw up – this file has current blowfish key which you will need back if you restore database
  4. Change config.php file permissions to 666 – X-cart will save new blowfish key in there
  5. Go to Tools -> Maintenance -> Re-generating the Blowfish encryption key
  6. This process will run from few seconds to several minutes unless your database has hundreds of thousands of customers in which case it will take a bit longer. Do not close your browser or click Back until it’s done!
  7. After you get “The Blowfish encryption key has been successfully re-generated.” message, logout from control panel and login again to verify your password is still working
  8. Change config.php file permissions back to 644

If you can not login after blowfish key was regenerated or your customers will complain they can not login, you need to restore the database and config.php file with old key. Do not try to regenerate key again unless you find out why it did not work the first time.

And again, the easiest way is to just ask us to do this for you.


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Jan
11
Best X-Cart module (January 2016) : Authorize.net DPM
Posted by Anton on 11 January 2016 12:05 AM

authorize.net dpm for X-cart shopping cartSince new PA/DSS compliance requirements came out some time ago, our clients were asking for simplifying credit card checkout. X-Payments module works but is expensive and complex and saving credit card feature was not working too well last time we tested.

There is an alternative and, for several months now we used  Authorize.net DPM module from BCS Engineering. This module does not need X-Payments and offer customers option to safely enter credit card number right on checkout page. Recently, Authorize.net included tokenization into DPM module to allow customers securely save credit card and reuse it later for faster checkout.

BCS Engineering added that feature into the latest version of their module and made it the best checkout option for X-cart. If you are using or considering Authorinze.net as your payment gateway, here is how we would recommend setting up your checkout options:

  • Authorize.net gateway with your merchant account configured with “Authorize.net DPM” module from BCS Engineering to accept credit card and offer “Save my card” feature to your customers;
  • Paypal Standard method to allow customers to pay with Paypal account;
  • Phone orders is recommended as well to capture any orders which had problems with using credit card or Paypal to checkout.

There are two tricks we learned about setting up Authorize.net DPM with “save credit card” feature:

  1. Authorize.net CIM has to be enabled in your Authroize.net account if you want to offer “save credit card” feature.
  2. CVV number is required by default but has to be set to optional for “save credit card” feature to work (this has to be changed in your Authorize.net account). You still need to keep CVV filter enabled and set to decline transaction if number does not match:cvv_filterThis way, first time customer is using credit card, X-cart will force CVV to be entered and Authorize.net will check it and decline if it does not match but if customer is using that card again, store will not ask for CVV and Authorize.net will not decline transaction because filter for “Should be on card, but is not indicated” is not set to decline.

You can find more information on BCS Engineering website or let us know if you are interested in this module and want us to arrange and install it in your store.


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Dec
28
Why should you upgrade your Magento store?
Posted by admin on 28 December 2015 11:55 AM

Magento is nowadays one of the leaders in the world of e-commerce for setting an online store and running it. Magento offers plenty of great features and extensions to raise the usability of your website, and to enhance the shopping experience of your consumers. As you may know in 2015 Magento has released the updates to both of its versions (Magento Community Edition 1.9.2 and Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14.2). Let us look at the improvements and discuss whether you should upgrade your store.

Magento Community Edition 1.9.2

magento managed hosting

If you are still on Magento 1.6-1.8 versions let us look up on the general improvements in 1.9 edition:

  1. The 1.9 version is mobile-responsive, which means your website will be portable-device-friendly (it will display properly on tablets and smart phones) and it will give you some additional opportunities for SEO.
  2. It supports PHP 5.4.
  3. It has a Bill me later option and several other checkout improvements to increase your conversion.
  4. It allows you to trade in different countries or states, keeping the same price, regardless of tax regulations.
  5. The version 1.9 has improvements in the operation of currency change – there is no need to change the currency when using PayPal Standard Payments.
  6. Several other improvements in terms of security (e.g. billing agreements, Magento randomness function, file system security, cross-site scripting etc.)
  7. Fixes on Payment Methods.
  8. Fixes on Shopping Cart and Web Store.
  9. Import Fixes.
  10. Fixes on Promotional Price Rule, Invoicing, Credit Memo, Administrative Ordering etc.

You should know also, the older version you have now the more improvements you will get (actually, each new version has some specific features, and Version 1.4 compared to Version 1.9 will have a really small number of working tools). Also it is very important to get the most recent updates on security patches – to make your consumers experience safe and pleasant.

Magento Community 1.9.2.1 specific updates.

This recent version has been launched on August 4, 2015 with the following security patches and updates:

  1. Zend 1 Framework support and Reddis Integration.
  2. Automated Functional Testing.
  3. Security improvements.

 

Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14.2

upgrade magento

Together with the updates to a free version of Magento the updated version of Magento Enterprise Edition has been released earlier this year.

New features of this version of hosted ecommerce solution include:

  1. The opportunity to categorize your products sorting them by color, position as the best product, the top rate product or the highest sold product, it is also now possible to put the newest products in the top category.
  2. The opportunity to use Google tag manager. It enables marketers to make the tags’ updates directly and so to save resources and time to build stronger campaigns. It also helps in Analytics and planning of further marketing campaigns.
  3. The Mobile Software Development Kit (SDK) for IOS. It will help you to create an IOS application for your ecommerce business, including such features as store credits, check out process, customer accounts etc.
  4. A great amount of other technical updates (e.g. full page caching, updated Zend 1 framework, quality enhancements).
  5. Several updates on the partnerships. New Relic Reporting and Lagrange Systems became Magento Gold Technology Partners. It will enable merchants to optimize the site speed, to track the application performance and managed Magento hosting environment health and to troubleshoot the problems faster.

 

To upgrade or not to upgrade?

The answer is – upgrade! To prevent your ecommerce store from suffering security issues and the need of a total rebuild – it needs to be updated on a regular basis.

Imagine, your best managed Magento hosting is an IPhone and you do not update your IOS version each time updates are available. If you keep on going like that for several updates, then you will get a smartphone working as a simple phone, not supporting the functions built into your device.

However, if you update regularly you receive all the new features without a need to change the smartphone itself.

Use Magento website development services and the managed website hosting to upgrade to the newest version and keep on going with all the next releases to keep your ecommerce website safe, working and bringing you joy from sales.

 

Have you upgraded already?


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Dec
21
Why Managed PCI Compliance Is Mandatory For Ecommerce Stores?
Posted by Anton on 21 December 2015 11:27 AM

ecommerce stores

To understand the importance of PCI compliance for ecommerce stores, we need to know a few facts related to Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. This is an organization which is formed by some of the major credit card companies, with the aim of having standard common security standards with the sole intention of fraud prevention. PCI compliance is needed by any company which processes, sees or handles credit or debit cards in electronic form which applies to retail shops, websites or office. PCI compliance is important for all companies which have a merchant bank account. This is why it is mandatory now for all ecommerce stores.

PCI compliance ensures fraud prevention and customer safety whenever customers shop. Ecommerce solutions can thrive for long only when they are able to build on trust and do not compromise on any private information provided by customers which can actually ruin their relations. PCI compliance ensures there is full security for customers who feed in credit or debit card details when shopping.

It is mandatory for managed magento ecommerce stores to ensure the safety of the customers as they shop in the store. With implementation of PCI control, a full range of security solutions is implemented for ecommerce stores. Customers look forward to complete hosting security when they are spending money in an ecommerce store. Managed PCI compliance means your ecommerce store is always updated with latest security measures and customers enjoy complete peace of mind when they are shopping.

PCI compliance for ecommerce solutions involves a number of changes or implementations for the online store. Firewall configuration is maintained and installed in order to protect cardholder data. This assures the highest security level for customers so that their financial details are never compromised.

Managed SSL Certificates

Your chosen managed hosting company will provide all services of installation and also renewal of SSL Certificates from some of the best names in the industry.

Managed Anti-virus

With the support of fully managed anti-virus hosting solutions, ecommerce websites are assured of complete protection from spyware, viruses, worms, Trojans and some other malware which can cause immense harm to the website. With the installation of anti-virus, malicious code on any file server is easily identified and it is deleted before it can cause harm to the computer or before it can lead to security issues on the computer network.

Secured Authentication

With PCI compliance, there is special two tier managed magento secured authentication which assures outstanding performance and innovation at every level with the sole intention of enhancing customer security. With such updated hosting solutions and  security features, there is a unique password generation in 60 seconds. With the specialized two factor authentication and the introduction of unique PIN, the authenticator gets a token password which means more reliable authentication. Chances of frauds are avoided.

With managed PCI Compliance, you are assured that customers do not face any security threats or their financial transactions are totally safe. This helps in building customer trust which is vital for any online store to survive in this tough cut-throat competition.


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