3dcart Success Stories: Featuring Stockade

Stockade

Stockade is a family owned business of more than 40 years with a simple goal: provide creative people with top-quality products.

The company was founded by Ross and Colleen, who dived into the craft industry by making and selling a selection of wooden toys, games and piggy banks in the late 70s at craft fairs and gift shops across Canada.

It wasn’t long before the company expanded by selling individual wood parts to DIYers, and in 1988, Stockade relocated from Salmon Arm, British Columbia to a more central location in Guelph, Ontatio.

Sarah, daughter of Ross and Collen, recalls the exciting yet challenging aspects of running a business in the 90s: “After relocating to Ontario the toughest obstacle we found was keeping up with demand. The 90s were a crazy time for do-it-yourselfers. The economy was down and people were finding creative ways to make and save money. People were selling or making wooden toys for their own use and to sell at craft shows.”

Stockade’s customer base grew considerably as they began targeting a new craft niche: crafters and decorative painters. But although the business was experiencing great success, and boasted an online presence for more than a decade, they soon realized they needed a more powerful site to deliver the best shopping experience possible.

3dcart was recommended to Stockade by their marketing company, and their recommendation proved rewarding. “They were correct with their recommendation as 3dcart has all the features we can’t do without (ie: the promotion manager and discount quantity pricing) at no additional monthly charges.”

Today, Ross, Colleen, their daughter Sarah, and their awesome staff continue to supply Canadians with the best craft supplies available.

To find out more how Stockade grew from a small gift shop presence into a nationally-recognized brand, visit 3dcart Success Stories.

Want to share your own story with the world? Fill out our form to be featured on our website and/or blog. 

Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more success stories soon!

Important Changes for Customers Integrated with Authorize.net

Authorize.net-Logo

If you’re using Authorize.net as your payment gateway for your online store, you may have recently received several alarming email notifications about upcoming technical changes to the gateway.

In preparation for this update, 3dcart has already made the necessary changes to our system. As an online store owner, you do not have to make any changes to prepare for this update – your store and gateway will not be negatively impacted.

Here’s a brief overview of the changes being implemented by Authorize.net:

  • Akamai SureRoute: Authorize.net will be using Akamai SureRoute, a third-party cloud network service, to help safeguard against interruptions caused by issues beyond their direct control, such as internet congestion, fiber cable cuts and other similar issues. For more information, visit Authorize.net.
  • Transaction and Batch ID: In the coming months, it will be possible to receive Authorize.net IDs that are not sequential in order.
  • RC4 Cipher Disablement: Authorize.net will be disabling the RC4 cipher suite for the first half of 2016.
  • TLS Remediation for PCI DDS Compliance: TLS 1.0 will be disabled in sandbox and production in early 2017. In addition, due to concerns, they are discussing the possibility of disabling TLS 1.1 at the same time.

Again, there’s nothing you need to do to as an online store owner to prepare for these changes, and any subsequent email notifications regarding this update can be safely disregarded.

For more information about these changes, visit Authorize.net’s Developer Blog.

Bean Bag Chairs and the Pursuit of Search Excellence

 

Sumo Lounge Bean Bag Chairs

Sumo Lounge’s bean bag chairs were the first of their kind. But it takes more than a great product to establish a lucrative retail business.

Over the past decade Sumo Lounge became a booming brand on the strength of powerful marketing. Creating a new product niche of high quality, affordable bean bag chairs filled a big gap in marketplace, helping establish the company as an extremely successful international e-commerce business.

Building on its tradition of scrappy marketing, Sumo Lounge is one of the latest 3dcart customers to tap into our in-house SEO services. From daily sitemap submissions and optimizing Google Shopping feeds to URL optimization and broken link cleanup, online stores like Sumo Lounge build the search traction they need to drive more traffic and, ultimately, more sales.

SEO (search engine optimization) isn’t just for bean bag chair shops. It’s a critical piece of the marketing puzzle for online businesses everywhere. Along with social media and advertising referrals, search traffic often plays a crucial role in how people find online stores, whether through Google or through more targeted search services like Google Shopping.

But SEO can be both time-consuming and technical. In the long run, it ends up becoming a full time job. For small online businesses that are already spread too thin, it’s extremely difficult to find the extra time to commit to it. Not to mention, it takes quite a bit of know-how to do a really comprehensive job on it.

We saw a lot of online stores struggling with SEO, which is why we decided to build a team in-house as a value-added service for 3dcart customers. Bigger, more established online merchants can get a lot from engaging our e-commerce marketing team to supplement search marketing specialists you might already have on your team. Think of it as a full, consistent SEO site scrub that includes detailed reporting to help you make sense of your investment.

Since they started on the 3dcart e-commerce SEO services late last year, Sumo Lounge has seen an upswing in traffic and sales stemming from better search rankings. The company’s online store for bean bag chairs is a potent example of how small businesses can use outside resources to fill specialized roles, keeping things lean, profitable, and growing.

Bike Shop Responsive Theme – A FREE Professionally Designed Theme from 3dcart

Here is a preview of our most recent theme “Bike Shop” — a new, professionally designed responsive theme.

bike-shop-html5

If you would like to preview the live demo of our “Bike Shop” theme, you can do so by clicking the link below. Check it out on your phone, tablet or computer; you’re sure to love it for the price, FREE.

3dcart’s Live Demo of the theme “Bike Shop”

Stay Tuned! Additional New and Updated 3dcart Templates are coming soon!

Bank Transfers and Your Business: How and When to Integrate

Marketplace Payouts

Payments may not be the sexiest topic. However, if you run an online business, the ability to facilitate payments to, from, or even between your customers or vendors is a non-negotiable for building a successful company.

One of the most affordable, albeit also most complicated, forms of accepting payments is via the ACH network. But what are ACH payments?

ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. It’s an electronic network that allows banks and their customers to send funds between one another in the United States. Basically, the ACH network allows you to send and receive bank transfers via an online interface. By entering your account and routing number or logging into your online banking platform to send a payment, your payment is being processed through the ACH network.

According to a report from the Federal Reserve, there is less fraud involved in ACH transfers as compared to credit card transactions.

Common ways businesses use ACH payments:

  • Payout contractors or employees
  • Pay vendors or sellers
  • Accept high-dollar transactions (avoid the high credit card processing fees)
  • Issue dividends to investors
  • Receive payments that are subscription or usage-based (utilities)

How your business can benefit from ACH transfers

When leveraged properly, ACH transactions can be extremely powerful and flexible—allowing you to facilitate payments in a multitude of ways. However, building your own infrastructure to handle processing bank transfers, rejections and corrections can be costly when navigating compliance and security requirements.

In order to determine whether you should be investigating an ACH payment solution, begin by mapping out all of your ideal payment scenarios. Ask the following questions:

  • How would you like to accept payments from your customers?
  • How would you pay out your vendors?
  • Would you prefer to build in a fully automated payment network, with credit and bank transfers working together?
  • Would you be okay using a ready-made payment solution that requires customers to interface with the payment provider?

Don’t forget about things like returns, insufficient funds, and fee splitting. Look for places you can save money, where you can be offering a better end-user experience and where it makes sense to use credit versus bank transfers.

After considering these questions and scenarios, the big decision you will have to make is whether you want to build your own ACH interface with a bank or leverage a third party to facilitate bank transfers.

If it’s not part of your business plan to build your own ACH transfer solution, chances are you can get up and running more quickly with a third party integration. A third party saves you the time of navigating the complex rules and regulations of the ACH network—tap into that provider’s established banking and financial relationships, rather than going out to establish those on your own (which can take months or years).

Things you should consider when evaluating ACH payments provider:

  1. Flexibility: ACH transfers can be facilitated by companies that have open sourced their own ACH APIs. These APIs allow you to tap into their network of experts and functionality in order to make ACH transfers work for you, in a way that fits with your business and customer needs.
  2. Customizeable: A quality API allows for various customization options and control and is adaptable for specific use cases and scenarios. The ability for an API to scale alongside your business—whether it’s on the front or backend of your product—is imperative.
  3. Straightforward documentation: Software providers that have put in the time to accurately and clearly document their APIs for the developer community is invaluable.
  4. Working examples: Find an payments API with a variety of use cases demonstrating it’s ability to develop a tailored solution that works for your unique needs.
  5. Great support: When developing payments into your platform, there may be questions that you need to float by someone that works on that API for a living. There’s great value in finding a service that is committed to getting you and your product to market.

How Dwolla can help you leverage bank transfers.

Dwolla provides an easy on-ramp to the ACH network, making it simple to integrate bank transfers into your platform. We even help you manage fraud and compliance considerations. But don’t take just our word for it, we have a wide variety of partners leveraging Dwolla in innovative ways to bake ACH payments into their platform:

Interested in how you could get started with an bank transfer integration? A Dwolla integration specialist would be happy to help!

This guest blog post is written by Caitlin Zimmerman, Marketing Manager for Dwolla—a simple and powerful bank transfer API with no per transaction fees. Dwolla provides an easy on-ramp to the ACH network for business and individuals.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update Now Live

mobilefriendlyupdateIf you’re an online store owner, you’ve hopefully heeded the advice of pretty much everyone and ensured your store is responsive, because as of May 12th, Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm is now in full effect.

The highly anticipated update is part of Google’s ongoing effort to make the web more mobile-friendly. First announced in March, the new algorithm “increases the effect of the [mobile-friendly] ranking signal” to help users more easily find high-quality, mobile-friendly pages.

Webmasters boasting mobile-friendly sites are anxious to see what type of impact the update the update will bring, which is being described as an additional ranking boost for mobile-friendly sites. When asked in their Google+ hangout Q&A if traffic would improve with the update, Google replied “It’s possible that you’ll see an increase in traffic on mobile. It depends on what other sites on the web are doing and what users are searching for. If users are searching on mobile and other results for that query aren’t mobile-friendly, maybe you’ll see more visits as a result of having better rankings than non-mobile-friendly sites.”

Google reports this update will only affect:

  • Search rankings on mobile devices
  • Search results in all languages globally
  • Individual pages – not entire websites

The new algorithm is a page-by-page signal, which explains why the update was slowly rolled out. Depending on how quickly Google crawls and indexes your pages, you may have already seen tangible results of this update as of last week. If your website is already mobile-friendly, fret not – Google has already stated mobile-friendly websites will not be negatively impacted by this update.

If you’re hoping to boost sales to your online store and maintain a competitive edge, ensure that your store is mobile-friendly. Google recommends that you test your pages using the Mobile-Friendly Test.

If you’ve yet to make the leap to a responsive template, check out the 3dcart’s theme store and professional design services to get started.

Amazon Payments Announcement: Checkout by Amazon is being discontinued

Amazon Payments

Amazon has announced that they will be discontinuing the Checkout by Amazon service and are encouraging all Checkout by Amazon merchants to migrate over to the new program, Pay with Amazon. All 3dcart customers will be able to easily make this transition to Pay with Amazon and Amazon will be providing support for this transition to help the process. Here are the important dates:

  • Discontinuation of Checkout by Amazon will begin April 1, 2017
  • April 1, 2017, your customers will no longer be able to place orders on your website using Checkout by Amazon (CBA).
  • You will have until August 1, 2017 to ship all of your orders that were placed with CBA.
  • On January 1, 2018, Amazon will stop supporting CBA.

To learn more about Login and Pay with Amazon, click here (https://payments.amazon.com/merchant). For more information, you can also contact Amazon at cba-migration@amazon.com.

You can now sign up to participate in the Pay with Amazon beta. To learn more, click here.

Free Webinar: Sales & Use Tax Compliance for Dummies

3dcart has partnered with Avalara to host an informative, free webinar!

Tax Time Need Help

Sales & Use Tax Compliance for Dummies
Only… this webinar is NOT for dummies.

Sales and use tax compliance is difficult to manage, especially if your process is manual. Determining which items are taxable in which states and maintaining rate tables is time-consuming and can get you in trouble with the state should an auditor come knocking. Join Avalara and 3dcart as they team up with the “for dummies” folks for a fabulous hour of tips and tricks every business needs to manage their sales tax compliance, effectively and defensively. We’ll cover:

  • How to protect your business from audits.
  • How to save time and money on tax administration
  • Why zip codes mean zip when it comes to sales tax
  • Nexus and Affiliate nexus – what?

Join our webcast on Wed, May 18, 2016 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT and learn how to automate your sales tax compliance and alleviate your concerns! Space fills up quickly, so register today!

Luxury Living Responsive Theme – A FREE Professionally Designed Theme from 3dcart

Here is a preview of our most recent theme “Luxury Living” — a new, professionally designed responsive theme.

luxury-living-html5

If you would like to preview the live demo of our “Luxury Living” theme, you can do so by clicking the link below. Check it out on your phone, tablet or computer; you’re sure to love it for the price, FREE.

3dcart’s Live Demo of the theme “Luxury Living”

Stay Tuned! Additional New and Updated 3dcart Templates are coming soon!

May’s Partner of the Month: Avalara

Avalara and 3dcart

3dcart is currently partnered with over 200 eCommerce companies. We’re constantly on the lookout for vibrant, innovative partners that can bring state-of-the-art solutions and services to our customers.

For the month of May, our Partner of the month is Avalara.  Our team interviewed Whitney Williams, Partner Alliance Manager at Avalara, to help 3dcart merchants get insight into their company and solution.

  1. Please provide some general background and history on your company:

Avalara, Inc. is a leading provider of tax compliance automation for business.  For more than a decade, Avalara has pioneered innovations in tax compliance for businesses of all sizes. Today, we offer hundreds of pre-built connectors into leading accounting, ERP, ecommerce and other business applications. Avalara calculates $100 million in taxes for customers and free users every day, files hundreds of thousands of transactional tax returns per year, and manages millions of exemption certificates and other compliance related documents.

Avalara is a privately held company; our venture capital investors include Sageview Capital, Battery Ventures, Warburg Pincus, Technology Crossover Ventures, Arthur Ventures, and other institutional and individual investors. Avalara’s headquarters are in Seattle, WA and it has offices across the U.S. and London, England; Brussels, Belgium; and Pune, India

  1. What’s the main service your company offers?

Avalara’s Compliance Cloud™ solution for sales tax management helps businesses of all sizes achieve governmental compliance by automating and simplifying the process, including tax determination, exemption certificate management, and tax return preparation, filing, and remittance.

We work within a customer’s own financial, billing, ecommerce, or point of sale systems to automate manual processes, delivering cloud-based compliance services that are fast, easy, accurate, and affordable.

Avalara continually broadens and deepens its reach, combining powerful technology with deep content to provide businesses with a single user-friendly place to manage key governmental compliance obligations.

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

3dcart partnered with Avalara in 2009 to provide automatic sales tax calculations within the cart, streamlining the tax compliance process while saving time, reducing errors, and cutting costs. Avalara AvaTax™ works with an extension that plugs into 3dcart, so buyers get an accurate calculation automatically on every shopping cart checkout.

  1. What are the benefits for 3dcart merchants that use your solution?

While 3dcart integrates with various financial applications, the cart itself requires manual entry of sales tax rates for each jurisdiction in which products are sold. Avalara saves 3dcart merchants time, money, and helps mitigate their risk by automating the process. As a result, users no longer have to research rates, build tables or make tax decisions. Avalara integrates with 3dcart to take care of these complexities, and more. 3dcart merchants have the option to buy Avalara Avatax™ online, making it a breeze to quickly get started.

  1. What are your solutions’ biggest strengths?

Manually managing governmental compliance requirements can be difficult, expensive and time consuming, and businesses can face stiff penalties if they don’t get it right. Avalara removes this complex burden, giving customers more time to focus on driving their own business success

  1. How does your solution compare to similar solutions in the market?

Avalara prides itself in offering a complete end-to-end compliance solution for customers and provide each merchant a support representative to ensure they are taken care of every step of the way. We provide more than 500 pre-built integrations into a broad base of leading business application in addition to 3dcart. If your organization uses other accounting platforms or a POS systems, Avalara can grow with you. In addition, Avalara offers its AvaTax customers “Guaranteed Accurate” financial protection in the event of an audit.

  1. Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly e-commerce merchants?

When considering how to best manage your organizations sales tax, compatibility with your current software is important, but so is compatibility with a wide range of ecommerce and accounting software. You may not use the same tools forever, so versatility is key for your sales tax solution.

No matter how you choose to manage sales tax, the single most important consideration is how well your solution will scale with your business. Minimizing compliance “growing pains” ensures that tax rules won’t hold back your business.