3dcart version 6.6 update

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This week, we went live with 3dcart version 6.6. The rollout is part of our continued strategy to bring our customers rapid innovation through agile software development.

Here are the new items we think you’ll find most important.

  • Beta of Single Page Checkout v2. Our new simplified Single Page Checkout is now in Beta and available to all 3dcart merchants. Including the latest usability standards for ecommerce, this new checkout will help increase conversions in your online store.
  • Google Trusted Stores Update. The GTS integration has been updated to support Google’s latest changes. Apply for the GTS program and easily become a Google Trusted Store Merchant.
  • WePay Integration. New Payment Integration with WePay Payment Provider.
  • Shipping Update For Dimensional Weight Calculation. With predefined boxes for your items, the system will now determine the best fit for your products based on their dimensions.
  • Responsive Transactional Emails. All the transactional emails, including Order Notifications, and product specific messages, have been updated to Responsive Emails. It’s easy to update to the latest version directly from your control panel.
  • Admin Account Security Questions.Enhanced security for your 3dcart account with security questions that will protect your sensitive information when is time to retrieve your Admin Panel password.
  • Adobe’s Aviary Integration.Easily edit images from the 3dcart Control Panel with Adobe’s Aviary built-in integration.

We’re always looking for feedback, feature ideas and ways to improve the software overall. Don’t hesitate to send us your thoughts through our feedback portal at http://3dcart.uservoice.com .

For merchants interested in perusing the entire list of bug fixes and feature updates, visit the announcements section of the 3dcart forum. Happy selling!

 

April’s Featured Partner: Searchspring

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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 April, the Featured Partner is Searchspring.  Our team interviewed Scott Zielinski, Searchspring’s Co-Founder to help 3dcart merchants get an insight of their company and solution.

How did Searchspring start out?

In 2007, Our co-founders Scott and Gareth teamed up to create SearchSpring, a hosted ecommerce site search solution that makes it easier for shoppers to find the right product. The duo have grown the company to serve over 650 merchants across the U.S., Europe and Australia. Ingenuity and dedication to customer service is at the heart of our culture.

What’s the main service SearchSpring offers?

Our technology provides best in class site search results and management flexibility. Our site search service is backed with advanced analytics, various merchandising tools, and automated SEO capabilities. SearchSpring delivers enterprise-level software without enterprise-type fees.

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

Quickly integrated, SearchSpring’s AJAX code snippets can be added to a 3dcart website template easily. SearchSpring’s team works directly with each client providing full integration and management for each domain set up. Clients can fully customize SearchSpring to improve search result relevancy, product visibility, website bounce rates, and overall ecommerce performance. Complimenting 3dcart’s already stellar platform offerings.

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

On average, SearchSpring processes roughly 7 million queries for 3dcarts user community per month. 3dcart merchants who receive a minimum of 30,000 visits a month, an average order value of $25 – $100, and are utilizing SearchSpring maintain onsite search conversion rates of 6-10% and overall conversion rates of 4.1% – consistently above ecommerce industry averages. The addition of SearchSpring to 3dcart improves onsite search conversions by an average of 280%.

 What are your solutions’ biggest strengths?

SearchSpring is a high touch, white glove service. Our implementation process is painless for our merchants. In addition to our rockstar support, SearchSpring is an innovative solution featuring our learning search capabilities powered by our IntelliSuggest technology.

How’s your solution price structure?

Our pricing is real cut and dry. SearchSpring bills based on your overall monthly traffic with a starting point of $499.95/mo.

How does SearchSpring compare to similar solutions in the market?

While there are “similar” products, SearchSpring continues to innovate and lead the industry for best in class site search. As one of the only US based site search providers, located in Colorado, we are a phone call away.

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

SearchSpring has a dedicated team to future product development. We are constantly working to expand our feature set and overall benefit to our merchants. Some things to keep an eye out from SearchSpring are more analytic options, advanced merchandising and marketing tools, and increased artificial intelligence.

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

Every shopper that visits your website leaves data behind. This data should be consistently used to improve and polish relevancy via site search. Items viewed, items purchased, items searched, filters selected in the navigation, discount vs. new product sales performance can all be useful to improve website offerings and create hyper-relevant site search results. Use site search analytics to help and understand your shoppers, think about creative ways to utilize search data for a better shopping experience.

Click to learn more about SearchSpring’s integration with 3dcart.

 

Clever Promotions to Engage Your Audience and Drive Traffic

Creating unique and engaging content is a great first step in building your online authority and driving traffic to your website. While this approach to inbound marketing will help you build a solid foundation that will continue to yield results, an ideal strategy will utilize a variety of other promotional tools so that you are reaching as wide an audience as possible and keeping content fresh. Many companies tend to shy away from running promotions because they typically involve offering a discount or a prize, which ultimately affects the bottom line. Fortunately, there are some effective, clever and low-cost promotions that you can use to encourage engagement and drive traffic to you website. In addition, a little investment in capturing the attention of your target audience can go a long way in creating loyal, repeat customers.

  1. Caption Contest

Social media is full of memes and funny photos. Why not capitalize on this trend and run your own caption contest? Find or take a picture that relates to your business and provides plenty of inspiration for those with a good sense of humor. Post the photo on social media and ask people to come up with the best caption. If you really want to encourage participation, you could offer a prize for first place or advertise the post so that more people see your post. However, you certainly don’t have to invest any money in order to reap the benefits of a well-designed caption contest. The right picture will inspire people to participate and even if there isn’t any monetary compensation involved.

 

  1. Facebook Promotions

Another way to drive traffic and increase revenue is to provide special offers to customers who like your Facebook page, sign up for your email list or refer a friend. This requires minimal effort on the part of the reader and provides you with a target audience. While visitors may not immediately convert into buyers, you are now empowered with contact information that will allow you to continue to reach out to potential customers.

How you use social media and encourage people to like and share your pages can depend on both your budget and who your audience is. Here are just a few ideas that have been successful for companies in the past:

Offer a scholarship. It doesn’t have to be a full scholarship, but even a thousand dollars can go a long way in helping students pay for books and tuition. You can reach out to schools and let students know that you are running a scholarship contest.

Charitable donations. Choose a charity that is relevant to your audience and your business and offer to make a certain donation per like. If that gets too expensive, you can always simple agree to donate a certain amount once you hit a certain number of “likes.”

Choose a super fan. Every month, you can feature a fan and perhaps even offer a prize for being chosen. Everyone loves a good contest where they don’t actually have to do much to win.

Take advantage of the Facebook “places” feature. Why not reward people for checking in at brick and mortar location that is associated with your business? If you are purely an online and ecommerce establishment, you can always partner with other businesses.

When it comes to facebook and other social media outlets, the possibilities are practically endless. Be creative, offer fans the chance to win something, even if it isn’t money or the trip of a lifetime. They will participate and you will receive more traffic to your website.

 

  1. Product Naming Competition

Launching a new product? Instead of spending the afternoon debating with your colleagues at work about which name works best, let your audience crown your latest project with a unique name. Again, this is a simple way to encourage audience participation and get people to interact with your brand and your products. It also provides a great way to build buzz around a new product and get people talking.

 

  1. Customer Appreciation Events

Whether you sell products online, you have retail locations or both, be sure to show some love for existing and new customers. Even though we live in an ever increasingly online world, people still want to feel connected to the businesses and websites where they spend their money. Offering customer appreciation specials, like free shipping or a free gift with purchase will help you build customer loyalty.

 

  1. Branded Gifts

Your insurance salesman probably hands out keychains and magnets that may or may not ever get used. On the other hand, your gym probably hands out water bottles and hand towels stamped with their name that you use on a daily basis during your workouts. The point is to put your name on something that people in your target audience are going to use. Not only will your business get cool points, your name and your brand will start to spread. Everyone loves a free gift and the more creative and useful the item, the more ROI you will get out of every item you hand out.

The best part of marketing and running special promotions is that the options are basically limitless. The ideas mentioned above represent just a short list of possibilities that have worked in the past. You can always look at what other companies are doing, imitate the specific elements that you like and put your own personal twist on things. Just be sure start with a clear outline of your goals for each promotional effort. Do you want to collect email addresses for newsletter campaigns? Are you trying to encourage previous customers to make new purchases? Are you looking to drive new traffic to your website? Having a clear vision of your goals and your audience can help you create your own spin on clever promotional tactics that will produce results.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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