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May
16

security_updateWe’ve got a fair number of inquiries about emails sent by Authorize.Net with the subject “Authorize.Net Technical Updates Reminder” and email from Paypal with subject “2016 merchant security upgrades”. It’s a scary possibility to have your store’s checkout down after June 14 or June 17 or whichever date they will pick so an urgency of those inquiries is understandable.

First of all, this is done to protect you and your customers so, take it easy and check if your store is ready or not.

 

 

  1. SHA-256 signing algorithm support

    Your server has to support SHA-256 connection (this has to be verified by your host and all servers we manage already support this) and your domain should have SSL certificate issued using SHA-256 signing algorithm.
    To check, go here: https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/index.html , enter your store domain name (ex: www.mystore.com) and hit [Submit] button.
    Wait for 2-3 minutes for test to complete and check if you see this line:Signature algorithm: SHA256withRSA

    sha256

    If you do not see SHA256 – contact your host (by the way, if you see score less than “A” on this test – contact your host and send test URL so they can fix the issues).

  2. TLS 1.2 will be required for all HTTPS connections.In the same test, check for TLS 1.2 under Protocols, you should see YES to the right of it.
    TLS_12
    * at the same time, check if SSL 3 is disabled – this is related to POODLE vulnerability which is another story not related to Authorize.net and Paypal updates but worth checking anyway.
  3. HTTP/1.1 will be required for all HTTPS connections.In the same test, check for HTTP/1.1 under “Protocol Details”, you should see “NPN: Yes http/1.1”

http11

4. Shopping cart patches

Some versions of X-cart require several patches to be installed. X-cart guys were kind enough to post the list here:
https://forum.x-cart.com/showpost.php?p=393320&postcount=2
Please contact X-cart support or contact us if you need help with installation of those patches in your store (we do not charge for security patch installations).

We are not aware of any updates related to this security changes required for Magento 1.X and Magento 2.X stores.

I hope this will help you to sleep better at night and we are here for you if you have any questions.

To your success!

Anton Pachkine
www.finestshops.com – Managed and Hosted E-commerce packages for Small Businesses.

 


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May
4

ppcPay Per Click (or PPC) marketing is one of the most effective methods of getting people to your website. By paying for each visitor, you can easily display advertisements in the paid advertising section of search results or web pages related to your business. This article is the first of several that aims to enrich your understanding of pay-per-click marketing and covers the value and various platforms that support PPC. The second article will cover costly mistakes to avoid when starting PPC marketing and next one will explain what is “Remarketing” and how you can use it.

Value of PPC

Pay per click marketing is an extremely valuable tool for any business. It helps with stability, provides useful statistics and is great at targeting a specific group of people you want to visit your site.

Diversified traffic and revenue sources

Having a large variety of different traffic and revenue sources is important to stability and long-term success. Companies should have many different revenue streams and traffic models to attract more clients from a wide area, but also to minimize the impact of issues. For example, if a company relies solely on search, and the search engine algorithm is updated, the company may be deranked and lose customers. On the other hand, if a company had diversified traffic sources, such as both search and PPC, then an issue with the search will be less likely to affect the company.

Sales and conversion stats

A useful feature in PPC ads is that they are automatically tracked. When you run an ad campaign, you can review statistics and information to gauge performance. This makes it easier to optimize conversion rate and cost per acquisition to lower the expenses associated with marketing. Most of the time, the lower the costs in relation to revenue, the better. This is why optimization of conversion rates is important, and a significant amount of testing is required to figure out how to get more sales.

Better Targeting

From a glance, PPC may look like an extremely broad, hit and miss approach. A way of putting your ads in front of anyone who searched for a specific keyword. This however, is not an efficient method, leading to low conversion rates. To fix this, Google AdWords, for example, has a feature that allows you to upload your customer list, and AdWords will track sales and customer data. This allows you to refine targeting by aiming for people who have already bought and those who are similar. This “remarketing” is an extremely effective way of getting more value out of customers. Additionally, dynamic search ads allow you to show ads that are based on the content on your website and not just specific search words you set. This can remove the need for keyword lists and even landing pages, and improve your return on investment. Audience targeting with PPC is only going to continue to improve over the long haul, so it’s better to be a part of the wave than to be left behind.

PPC Platforms

Google AdWords (https://adwords.google.com/)

The most popular option just because of the sheer volume of traffic that it can provide. Google is the world’s most used search engine, with over 65% of the search engine market share, according to searchengineland.com.

  • Great traffic volume: Google’s access to ⅔ of people using search engines allows them to show your ad to extremely large quantities of people.
  • Immediately show in top results: There is no need to wait to get to the top, as long as you outbid your competition.
  • Clicks can be expensive: The cost per click is usually higher compared to the other services.

Bing Network (https://bingads.microsoft.com/)

The next biggest slice of the search engine market, Bing accesses the majority of the market that isn’t covered by google.

  • It has lower CPCs: Costs per click will be generally less than with Google providing a cheaper way to test keywords and campaigns before transferring them over to AdWords.
  • Faster customer service: If you have questions, it is easy to get support and they reply very fast.
  • Disadvantage is a lower search traffic: Bing has only 16% of the search market so the volume is almost 4 times smaller than Google’s.

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/business)

This social network allows you to promote your products to the more than 1 billion users that currently use it. With over 50 percent of all active users who visits daily, Facebook provides you a massive audience.

  • Multiple targeting filters: you can target by demographics, locations and interests.
  • Largest audience: Facebook has an extremely large user base that can be reached.
  • Lower click-through-rate which is typically much lower than Google or Bing. Facebook users aren’t actively searching for your products.
  • Needs constant update: you will need to constantly change your ad copy to avoid ad fatigue.

 

Hopefully, this article provided useful information for your store, the next article will cover common mistakes in pay-per-click marketing and how to avoid them. And another one will look into details of setting up a “Remarketing” campaign (have you noticed how some company’s ads are stalking you on the Internet ? We’ll show you how to do the same). Stay tuned!

Daniel Pachkine
www.finestshops.com | 1(800)675-0162
Upgrade Your Store – Upgrade Your Business!

 


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Apr
24

grammarlyI used to send all blog posts for proofreading, but that was too much hassle and took too long, so I stopped. This made posting articles easier but too many errors slipped in and posts looked unprofessional. Recently, someone recommended a service from Grammarly (www.grammarly.com). I signed for a free trial and was blown away by the quality of real-time check it provided. Even with a free account you get the next level of corrections compared to standard browser or MS Office spell check. I loved it so much I upgraded to a premium version the next day.

Grammarly plugin installs in Windows, MS Word and Chrome browser and will check spelling, punctuation and grammar (if you do not know the difference, you definitely need that service). If you do any writing at all like blog posts, articles, customer service, product descriptions and etc. consider using this service. If you use this link: www.grammarly.com, you will get a free week of Premium version.

To your success!

Anton Pachkine [ Click here to book a call ]
Managed e-Commerce for businesses without a large IT department
www.finestshops.com | 1(800)675-0162 ext 704
P.S. Talk to us if you are considering upgrade of your online store

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Apr
12
Paypal Payments in Online Store – Why to offer Paypal and Ways To Use It
Posted by Daniel Pachkine on 12 April 2016 09:56 AM

There are many different payment alternatives to credit cards and many people prefer not to use credit card online or use it as little as possible. You hear about “Google Wallet”, “Pay with Amazon”, “Apple Pay”, “Bitcoin” and others and wonder if you need to offer those methods in your store. After all, it would be foolish not to allow customers to pay for the order the way they want but how to start?

The one used most by far is Paypal. According to an online statistics gathering service statista.com, in 2014, 79% of digital wallet users preferred Paypal and with almost 180 million active users, Paypal will help get and keep more customers.digital_wallet_service_usage

 

Another way to compare interested in “Paypal”, “Google Wallet”, “Pay with Amazon”, “Apple Pay” and “Bitcoin” is by using Google Trends. It’s not exactly usage volume but still gives some perspective:

Paypal vs Google Wallet, Pay with Amazon, Apple Pay and Bitcoin

Why use Paypal?

Paypal is a popular, fast and safe way to pay. Customers can easily check out in a few easy steps and save time by using their Paypal account to pay with their balance, credit card or Visa Debit card.

Paypal has an “Express checkout” feature that makes it extremely fast and easy for people with accounts to checkout. All they need to do is just login and press “Pay”, this makes those who use Paypal frequently choose your site, and stay as customers. According to Ipsos Study you can boost sales up to 18% by adding Paypal Express Checkout.

For those who do not have accounts, Paypal offers an optional, simple and easy to use system for paying with credit card or Visa Debit without sign up for a Paypal account.

Types of Payments offered by Paypal

Standard

  • No Monthly charge
  • 2.9% + $0.30 or less Transaction fee
  • Accepts credit cards and paypal
  • Mobile payments
  • Online invoicing
  • Included by default in Magento and X-Cart
  • Read more

Advanced

  • 10$ monthly
  • 2.9% + $0.30 or less Transaction fee
  • Everything above
  • Pre built checkout templates
  • Seamless checkout for customers
  • Mass payments
  • Option to offer financing to your customers using PayPal Credit
  • Included by default in Magento and X-Cart
  • Read more

Pro

  • 35$ monthly
  • 2.9% + $0.30 or less Transaction fee
  • Everything above
  • Control of entire payment experience
  • Cart integration and API
  • Take credit cards by phone, fax or mail order
  • Requires extra module to keep PCI compience
  • Read more

PayPal DPM for X-cart Module

Paypal direct post method for x-cart is a payment addon that works with your Paypal account to make payments that are PCI Compliant and and compliant with the new PA/DSS standard. This module does this with minimal setup hassle, and it does not change anything in checkout, maintaining a seamless checkout for customers.

Features:

  • Customers never leave your site!
  • Open source! This means if your cart is customized, you can edit this module to work with your customized cart!
  • Allows the store owner to complete PCI compliance with a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) A, instead of the more complex SAQ D*.
  • Offer “Save Credit Card” for faster checkouts to your customers using tokenization

If you do not accept Paypal payments in your store, you are losing orders and customers who went to your competitors instead.

Talk to us today about adding Paypal payment option to your store to get more sales and loyal customers.

Daniel Pachkine
www.finestshops.com | 1(800)675-0162
Managed e-Commerce for businesses without a large IT department


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Apr
5
Basics and Tips on B2B e-Commerce
Posted by Daniel Pachkine on 05 April 2016 09:34 AM

B2B E-Commerce Information and TipsThis article will explain B2B e-Commerce and show you how to improve your B2B oriented online store.

What is B2B e-Commerce?

B2B e-Commerce is short for business to business electronic commerce, it is the selling of products and services through the internet to other businesses to improve efficiency between companies by eliminating the amount of work that people need to do to complete business.

In some ways B2B web stores are similar to B2C, they have products, navigation, search and order placement. However, in other areas B2B requires much more in depth features such as a complex ordering system, large collections of attributes, or elaborate back-end system. Arguably the most important distinction between the two areas is that in B2B, people visit your website because it is their job, and not because they are shopping for something for themselves. This means that they will probably invest less effort to find exactly what they need, and if the interface is not optimal they will simply move onto your competitors. Although this may seem like a bad thing, if you make their job easier on your site, they will be coming back.

How to improve B2B e-Commerce store?

    • B2B customers want to be efficient. They won’t waste effort on looking through websites with sub-par searching features or a confusing layout. Thus, the easier you make their job, the more likely that they will return to you, and not your competitors. Usability of your store design is very important here and you may want to stay with proven layout and navigation instead of letting your design team to go wild with crazy concepts. Your store can follow corporate color scheme and guidelines but navigation, search, mini shopping cart and other sections have to be in “usual” places and function as expected. Your visitors here to work, not to play around.



    • Make finding products as easy as possible. Over 75% of customers say the most important aspect of a website is that “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want”. This means they need features such as advanced search, navigation, filtering and other tools that will speed up and simplify the process of finding their required products. If you are running X-cart based store, consider setting up CloudSearch module and Refined Filters module. For Magento, use a Sphinx based search extension or one of cloud search services and built-in filtering functionality. It’s take time to setup initially but your customers will thank you for it with more orders.



    • Provide Business specific features. Because businesses frequently reorder the same items, and make large orders, they may require order history, inventory availability, and freight options. They also need access to online quotes for large volumes, in place of calling a sales representative to get quotes.
      We have several B2B oriented modules for X-Cart and Magento like “Email shopping cart”, “Print PDF quote”, “Submit a quote”, “Re-order” button and many more. Offer “Phone”, “Check” and “PO” payment options to give your customers a chance to place an order without paying for it right away so you can arrange payment later (you will get all contact information in the order details). If you do not offer such payment options, you maybe missing large orders.



    • Social features. The new B2B buyer is educated, social and doesn’t require face to face contact.  Studies show that over 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by other people’s experiences, making social aspects such as ratings and reviews important in helping buyers. These features add value to your website by providing the customer with insight about the products. For X-cart, consider “Advanced Customer Reviews module” or integration with review service like Yotpo.com. For Magento, “Review Booster” is a popular review extension as well as integration with services like Yotpo. Make sure to setup an automatic review request in follow up emails in several days after each order placed – this is the best way to keep constant inflow of quality reviews.



    • Deliver rich content. Content lets the buyer know exactly what they are getting; products should have as much info as possible to make it easier for the buyer to see what they need. This content should also be normalized as much as possible to allow for comparisons. For example products can have fields such as: SKU numbers, manufacturer name, geographic origin, specifications, dependencies, unit of measure, price, and so forth. It should also include short and long descriptions, user manuals, installation manuals, material safety data sheets and hazardous material information. Multiple images of a product are mandatory; videos, 360º views and even 3D renders are becoming more common. Check the information tabs on product page of one of our clients : www.solidapollo.comMore information you give to your visitors – more likely you convert them into loyal buyers.



Your e-commerce store will not be perfect from the first day you go live (if you expect as much, you will never open); instead it is a constantly evolving virtual presence which is feeding by feedback from your customers, your staff and industry innovations. Like with anything in life, your online store is dying or evolving – there is no middle static stage – choose which stage you want your store to be and talk to us.

Daniel Pachkine
www.finestshops.com | 1(800)675-0162
Managed e-Commerce for businesses without a large IT department

P.S. Talk to us if you are considering upgrade of your online store



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Mar
25

660-product-viewRecent article in Ecwid Blog activated some thoughts on what is next in visual product presentation. I think a couple of technologies are coming fast to main stream e-commerce and now is affordable for most businesses:

360º VIEW and MOVING IMAGE

Rotating product presentations were around for some time but, with companies like imajize.com this becomes an affordable feature to be added into any online store. This company provides software and hardware to create photo sequence to present products in an online store. However, their viewer is compatible only with Ecwid for now (at least from what I could find), hardware can be used to create 360º views for any other system.





 

Another very cool way to show products, especially for fashion related merchandise, is a “moving image” : Click here for an example in Amazon Fashion – While Amazon is using Flash which does not work on mobile devices and in Chrome (by default), a better way will be using something like this module : Magic 360 from magictoolbox.com. It’s compatible with most e-commerce systems including Magento and X-Cart.

How to start:

  1. Setup studio with a photography turntable.
  2. Create image sequence – The linked article will give you step-by-step instructions on setting up your studio and tips on shooting your first 360º view. Exactly same technique can be used for creating moving image : “How to make 360º product views“.
  3. Setup 360 view extension in your e-commerce store (just send request to our support).

While setting up a studio may require some small investment and creating those advanced views is a time consuming process, you are looking at huge ROI because, as they say, “this is the closest thing to real life” – your customers will reward you with orders and loyalty and they will come back to your store over and over again because you offer something your competitors do not – a better user experience.

What’s next? 3D views with VR headsets? Virtual reality presentation with touch sensitivity? Virtual fitness room where you can see yourself using/wearing the product? The future will tell.

To your success!

Anton Pachkine [ Click here to book a call ]
Managed e-Commerce for businesses without a large IT department
www.finestshops.com | 1(800)675-0162 ext 704
P.S. Talk to us if you are considering upgrade of your online store


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