Is your store ready for Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update?

Google’s recent announcement in their Webmaster Central Blog, uncovers some details of their major algorithm update to be released on April 21st.

As stated, “…Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

In an effort to ensure that search results are relevant and add value to the user’s search experience, Google periodically makes changes to the algorithm it uses for determining search results rankings. The announced update includes provisions for improving the mobile search experience. Mobile-friendly changes ensure that results can be accessed on a mobile device and that local options are returned based on information collected by the mobile device.

 

 

The new algorithm will have a major impact on mobile users, since the ranking system will detect whether a mobile device is being used and returns results accordingly. In other words, those who are using a mobile device to search with Google will be able to browse results that are ranked by mobile device accessibility. This move towards a mobile-friendly search experience will be applied worldwide. The intended result from this change in the algorithm for mobile devices is that users will be able to easily access the most relevant results specifically optimized for mobile use.

How the changes affect Online Stores

While the change won’t have an impact on rankings for searches performed in desktop-based browsers, it’ll dramatically change the results returned for users on mobile devices. The change represents a great opportunity for businesses that are already Mobile-Friendly, or that are willing to move forward with adopting the new Mobile Friendly standards.

Traditional mobile stores solutions – including dedicated mobile apps, while allowing shoppers to access your website on-the-go, doesn’t necessarily mean that your website is up to Google’s Mobile-Friendly requirements.

For many online retailers (especially anyone using an open-source or older solution), transitioning the existing website to a “Responsive Design” might become a challenge, to which the only solution might be investing a large amount of resources, or switching to newer hosted platforms.

Is my Online Store Mobile-Friendly

To find out if your Online Store is Mobile-Friendly, Google is providing an Online Tool that can easily help determine if your site meets the requirements.

If you store currently passes this test, you’ll benefit from the changes to come by getting more traffic and increased rankings over your competitor that might not be up to challenge.

To test your site online, visit Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page.

Not mobile-friendly

Google’s guidelines for Mobile-Friendly websites are pretty recent, and most websites are not ready for the change.

The good news is that hosted platforms like 3dcart, are ready for the change and ease the transition to a Mobile-Friendly Online Store.

Last year 3dcart released our  Responsive Template Engine, and since then we have moved to offer 100% responsive themes and designs,  developed with HTML5 technology.

3dcart Stores that are not Mobile-Friendly are able to take any of these actions,

1. Have your web developer begin migrating your current design over to the html5 template system.

2. Change the current Theme of your site to use any of the New & Free HTML5 Responsive Themes. These are available in your 3dcart Control Panel in the Themes & Styles section.

3. Transfer your current design to HTML5. You can contact your 3dcart Account Manager to discuss the details of a “Responsive Transfer”.

4. Take this opportunity to update the design of your website with any of 3dcart’s Responsive Design Packages.

 

For additional details about the upcoming changes, check the official Google announcement, or contact our team at 1-800-828-6650 x 1 with any additional questions.

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March’s Featured Partner: Avalara

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3dcart currently partners with over 200 ecommerce companies, and constantly adding new ones. These partnerships allow online merchants to expand the 3dcart functionality to specific business needs.  Each month 3dcart highlights a Featured Partner. For the month of March, the Featured Partner is Avalara. Our team interviewed Melody Hutchinson, Avalara’s Marketing Manager to help 3dcart merchants get an insight of their company and solution.

How did Avalara start out?

Rory Rawlings had an idea; a solution to automate sales tax compliance for small and mid-sized businesses. Based on the findings that clients needed an efficient and affordable way to calculate, manage, and remit sales and use taxes to supplant the cumbersome, time-consuming, and often error-prone manual processes they were following: the seeds for Avalara were planted.

Founded in 2004, Avalara, Inc. is a privately held company with headquarters on Bainbridge Island, WA.

What’s the main service Avalara offers?

AvaTax is Avalara’s solution for end-to-end sales tax automation which includes Calculation, Filing and Exemption Certificate Management.

Describe the Avalara integration and how long you’ve been a partner with 3dcart. 

Avalara, a 3DCart partner for over 4 years, makes it easy to get up and running with AvaTax; the integration is included as part of the 3DCart platform.

What are the benefits for 3dcart Merchants that use Avalara? 

3DCart merchants that use Avalara have peace of mind that they’re doing sales tax right, which allows them to focus on more important business goals.

What are your solutions’ biggest strengths? 

AvaTax is easy to setup and use, always up-to-date, accurate, affordable, and allows 3DCart customers to fully automate sales tax compliance from calculation to filing.

How’s your solution price structure? 

Avalara’s pricing structure is based on annual transaction usage.  We have annual transaction plans that start as low as $9 per month so 3DCart merchants of all sizes can benefit from sales tax automation.

How does Avalara compare to similar solutions in the market? 

Avalara has married technology and compliance better than our competition. AvaTax is reliable and sub-second fast to accurately support high user conversion on your 3DCart website. So, no matter where you sell, what products, or to whom, Avalara gets it right.

What plans do you have for future development of your solution? 

Avalara will continue to expand additional support for international Value-Added-Tax (VAT), as well as add automation features that continue to support our ease-of-use mantra.

Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?

If you’re starting an ecommerce business it’s important you establish a scalable process for managing your sales tax compliance requirements from day one. When it comes to being audited, the look-back period can be up to 7 years. Being prepared and having dependable information are invaluable assets when you need them.

To learn more about Avalara and how it can help your store be tax compliant, register for our Free Webinar “Ready, Set, Go: Sales Tax Automation for 3dcart in Minutes” on Tue, March 24th, 2015 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM EST.

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Google Trusted Stores 2015 Update

One of the many reasons that Google has remained so successful through the years is because the search engine giant is constantly performing updates to deliver the best service to users. Those updates often cause problems for website owners when their online stores are not on a hosted platform like 3dcart, and they can’t keep up with constant updates.

The latest GTS update and 3dcart’s built-in integration with it, helps online merchants avoid these type of issues. So, If you’ve held off on applying to be a Google Trusted Store, you’ll be pleased to know that the process is easier than ever thanks to this year’s changes. The Google Trusted Stores update went live earlier this year, and it’s poised to help business owners reach new levels of success.Google Trusted Stores

What is Google Trusted Stores?

Google Trusted Stores is a free certification program that e-commerce site owners can use to show the world that they run a reputable and reliable business. Most small business run the risk of missing out on a lot of business because online shoppers aren’t sure whether to trust your company or not. Upon being approved as a Google Trusted Store, you will receive a badge that you can prominently display on your site. You can also add the designation to your AdWords ads, which is sure to improve your click-through rates.

Important Changes

The new update eliminates the need to provide Google with your cancellation and shipment feeds. Indeed, the application process is now much simpler and more streamlined. Thanks to 3dcart, the installation simply requires entering your GTS credentials in your 3dcart control panel. The process is completely free and doesn’t take too long. If you’re approved, you can also specify the position for your badge, which makes it easier to work with other elements of your site. The update also allows the badge to be displayed in the HTTPS pages of your site.

Something for Everyone

Google Trusted Stores brings many great benefits to the table for e-commerce site owners. At a glance, visitors will know they have landed on a reputable site. Also, they can opt for free purchase protection from Google on orders of up to $1,000. Trusted Stores can help you convert more customers, so it’s great for business owners. It also helps online shoppers make more informed decisions without having to do a ton of research.

To apply for the Google Trusted Stores program click here, and to learn more about implementing this on your 3dcart website, visit our knowledge base article here.

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Three Shipping Insights For eCommerce Merchants

Guest post by Jose Li
Founder & CEO of 71lbs

What is the #1 source of pain felt by most e-commerce merchants? Shipping costs. We all need help reducing them. But how can the average merchant cut costs while FedEx and UPS keep increasing rates and the USPS threatens to close branches and slash personnel? Unless you ship at Amazon-level volumes, it can be difficult to gain leverage and cut a break with your shipping carriers.

Here is some good news: There are a number of things you can do to save on shipping. They all involve some investment in time and, to a certain degree, knowledge. Here are three you can implement today:

  1. Understand What You are Spending
    Sounds simple, but when was the last time you looked closely at your carrier’s invoice? Did you REALLY understand it? Shipping invoices can be very difficult to follow, as carriers print various product codes and acronyms that are seldom used in daily business, and often carry mistakes that you end up paying.71lbs_01One useful metric to measure on a periodic basis is your ratio of sales vs. shipping spend. On average, we have seen e-commerce merchants spend 10% of their sales on shipping. If you are spending more, it may be worth exploring in more detail.
  2. Get a Refund

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    FedEx and UPS offer a money-back-guarantee for late deliveries – even if late by 60 seconds. Claims must be submitted within 15 days or they are gone forever. Many companies don’t take advantage of this policy as $2 billion dollars are left unclaimed every year.  The policy covers overnight and ground service. Both come with guaranteed time commitments, which were promised to you when you paid for the shipments.
  3. Ask for A Discount

    71lbs_03It’s a competitive marketplace and both FedEx and UPS want to keep their existing customers and gain more. Many merchants believe they have to ship extremely high volumes to qualify for a discount, but that’s not necessarily true. More than half of small businesses get zero discounts from their shipping provider. Let your carrier surprise you. You may get one just by asking.

As the saying goes, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.  

 Jose Li is Founder & CEO of 71lbs.com. He has 15 years of shipping, logistics, and e-commerce experience with Alibaba.com, Jamba Juice, and FedEx.

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Monogram Town Responsive Theme – #13 of 20 FREE Professionally Designed Themes from 3dCart

Here is the preview of the newest theme “Monogram Town” which will be the 13th of 20 FREE professionally designed responsive themes released.

If you would like to preview the live demo of this “Monogram Town” theme, you can do so by clicking the link below. Check it out on your phone, tablet or computer, you are sure to love it for the price, FREE.

3dCart’s Live Demo of the theme “Monogram Town”

As we release these themes, we will continue to post them here for you to demo.

Stay Tuned! More to Be Revealed Soon

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NYC Flat Responsive Theme – #12 of 20 FREE Professionally Designed Themes from 3dCart

Here is the preview of the newest theme “NYC Flat” which will be the 12th of 20 FREE professionally designed responsive themes released.

If you would like to preview the live demo of this “NYC Flat” theme, you can do so by clicking the link below. Check it out on your phone, tablet or computer, you are sure to love it for the price, FREE.

3dCart’s Live Demo of the theme “NYC Flat”

As we release these themes, we will continue to post them here for you to demo.

Stay Tuned! More to Be Revealed Soon

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3dcart Support Announcement

Hi 3dcart users!

We wanted to inform you of important updates to the way we handle support tickets.

Beginning March 1st, 2015, emails sent directly to support@3dcart.com will no longer work. After almost 15 years of dedicated and often heroic service filtering (on average) five to ten spam emails for every actual ticket; the support@ email address has earned its right to peacefully retire from the public eye. Please join us in congratulating support@ while it enjoys its autumn years lounging on the beach, sipping mimosas and watching the beautiful sunsets off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.

We remain indebted to support@ for its hard work throughout the years, and wish it well in its travels. We’ll miss ya, buddy!

Which brings us to our new way of receiving support tickets. Moving forward, support issues and tickets will need to be submitted in either of the following ways:

  • Through your 3dcart Online Store Manager directly
  • Through our support portal at support.3dcart.com
  • Smoke Signals (weather permitting)

These new methods of submitting support issues and tickets will allow us to service your business and provide you with solutions in a much more efficient manner than ever before. And don’t worry, our phone support services will still be available 24/7! Please click here for more information.

Mike Morgan
3dcart Director of Customer Success

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The Poster Service Responsive Theme – #11 of 20 FREE Professionally Designed Themes from 3dCart

The Poster Service Responsive Theme – #11 of 20 FREE Professionally Designed Themes from 3dCart

Here is the preview of the newest theme “The Poster Service” which will be the 10th of 20 FREE professionally designed responsive themes released.

If you would like to preview the live demo of this “The Poster Service” theme, you can do so by clicking the link below. Check it out on your phone, tablet or computer, you are sure to love it for the price, FREE.

3dCart’s Live Demo of the theme “The Poster Service”

As we release these themes, we will continue to post them here for you to demo.

Stay Tuned! More to Be Revealed Soon

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5 Great Looking Responsive 3dcart Sites to Love

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At 3dcart we want to share the love for our customers, there are so many beautiful 3dcart stores that is hard to list them all, so we chose to showcase the below sampling of well-designed websites because overall they are doing ecommerce right – great navigation, beautiful product photos, compelling calls-to-action and responsive design.

So take a look & get inspired and if you think we should showcase your store in the next design-roundup let us know in the comments!

 

Read More!

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Taylor & Clique Responsive Theme – #10 of 20 FREE Professionally Designed Themes from 3dCart

Here is the preview of the newest theme “Taylor & Qlique” which will be the 10th of 20 FREE professionally designed responsive themes released.

If you would like to preview the live demo of this “Taylor & Qlique” theme, you can do so by clicking the link below. Check it out on your phone, tablet or computer, you are sure to love it for the price, FREE.

3dCart’s Live Demo of the theme “Taylor & Qlique”

As we release these themes, we will continue to post them here for you to demo.

Stay Tuned! More to Be Revealed Soon

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