Shopping Engine Submission

App Store News – GoDataFeed

Submitting your products to shopping engines is, by far, the best way to drive traffic to your site.  After all, a shopping engine is basically a search engine for people who are actively looking to buy!  3dcart makes the process of submitting your products to shopping engines quite easy with our built-in feed generation algorithms for 10 of the most popular shopping engine services; including Google base, Shopzilla, and Bing.  Simply log into your 3dcart online store admin and go to Marketing =>Shopping Engines to select which shopping feed you’d like to generate for your store.

However, even though we’ve made creating the feeds as easy as possible for you, you still have to submit the feeds to their respective search engines – one at a time.  This in itself can be quite time-consuming if you have hundreds or even thousands of products in your store.

This is where GoDataFeed can come to your rescue!

With GoDataFeed you need just one feed created for your store.  That’s right, just one feed which is automatically generated by your 3dcart store and updates itself automatically as you make changes!

This feed is then submitted to your GoDataFeed account where you can optimize it and submit it automatically to over 60 different shopping engines – all at once!

Also, with GoDataFeed’s built-in analytic reports, you can track the effectiveness of each shopping engine service to help you optimize your feeds even further.

With plans starting at $50 a month, GoDataFeed is the affordable and easy way to manage your shopping engines feeds.  Try them today – risk free – with their special $0.99 trial!

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Ecommerce Feature Spotlight – Built in Photo Editing

Ecommerce Feature Spotlight – Picnik Integration

One thing that sets 3dcart apart from other popular shopping cart providers is the number of tools we provide for our merchants.  Our goal is to make 3dcart an all-encompassing solution for all of your ecommerce needs.

It was with this in mind that we added Picnik integration to the 3.2 version of 3dcart.

What is Picnik?

Picnik is a free and easy to use photo editing system which allows you to edit and manipulate your image files.  When building your store, a feature like Picnik can be invaluable for touching up and correcting product images as they are being added.

How it works

When you create your free Picnik account, you are given an interface where you can upload your images, edit them, save them and then re-download them for you to use them as needed.

Now, as we mentioned, Picnik is essentially free to use.  You can also upgrade your account to their premium services – which allow for more filters and editing tools – but you’d be surprised how well rounded the basic free version is on its own!

3dcart’s integration with Picnik

Normally, editing images with Picnik requires one to upload them to your Picnik account and then download them after they’ve been modified.  With 3dcart, we’ve taken that process one step further and we’ve made it so that each of your product images will have an “edit” button listed for them.

Clicking this button will take your image and automatically pass it to your Picnik account where you can manipulate the image.  Once you’re finished, you simply click on the “Export” button located in your Picnik account and the image is sent back to your 3dcart store!

How does it work?

When you become a Picnik user, you are given access to an API key.  3dcart allows you to easily input this API key into your store so that the integration is complete.  Our KB Article (located here) explains it in far better detail.

Give it a try today and see how easy it is to edit images right from your 3dcart interface!

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Accept International Orders Today

App Store News – International Checkout

In today’s article, we’ll be showcasing 3dcart’s integration with International Checkout.
(Available in the App Store)

Why would I want to use International Checkout?

For many online merchants, the idea of accepting international orders can be an exciting prospect.  After all, the moment you get that first order from a whole continent away, it can feel like your store has “gone global” and now you’re playing in the big leagues!

On the other hand, that international order can also carry some anxiety along with it.  Inevitably, questions like the following will go through your mind:

  • Is it a valid credit card?
  • Do I need to worry about the exchange rates?
  • Am I being paid in US dollars?
  • What about duties and taxes?
  • Did I charge them enough for shipping?
  • What about customs?
  • Is it even legal for me to ship or do business there?
  • What if they want to return items?  Will I be able to communicate with them?

Questions like these have kept many online merchants from making their stores available to international customers.   Question like these have kept many stores from progressing to that next level and increasing their revenue.

International Checkout’s goal is to help answer these questions.

How does it work?

When you integrate your 3dcart store with International Checkout, your global customers will see a new button in their view cart page that looks like the following:

When they click on this button, the customer and their cart items are taken to your International Checkout profile where the order is finalized.

Afterward, the International Checkout team will go to your store and place the order on behalf of the international customer.  When they place the order on your store, International Checkout will use their own U.S. based corporate credit card as well as their corporate shipping address here in the U.S.

When the items are received, International Checkout will ship the order out to your global customer and take care of the rest.

Best of all, International Checkout is FREE!
Becoming an International Checkout merchant partner costs you nothing.

So, reviewing those questions from earlier, here’s how International Checkout helps to answer them:

  • Is it a valid credit card?
  • Do I need to worry about the exchange rates?
  • Am I being paid in US dollars?

Answer: When the order comes through your store, you’re being paid by International Checkout’s team using their U.S. based corporate card.  International Checkout takes care of exchange rates and customer settlements.

  • What about duties and taxes?
  • Did I charge them enough for shipping?
  • What about customs?
  • Is it even legal for me to ship or do business there?

Answer: International Checkout will handle all of these situations.  Using the service, your international customer will have the option of including Duties and taxes wherever applicable.  International Checkout will handle all of the shipping charges for the order exclusively.   You need not worry about the cost of shipping internationally.

Furthermore, International Checkout will handle all of the customs and legal considerations needed for the order.

  • What if they want to return items?  Will I be able to communicate with them?

Answer: International Checkout will also handle all of the returns and exchange processes by adhering to your store’s very own returns policies.  International Checkout will also handle all customer service issues pertaining to your international customers with their very own world-class, multi-lingual customer service team!

If all of this wasn’t enough, International Checkout will also help promote your site to its customer base by featuring your store in their merchant partner directory located at http://www.internationalcheckout.com/

As you can see – although taking your store to the global market can be exciting and scary at the same time – 3dcart and International Checkout will help you ease those fears and open your store to a whole new group of customers!

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Ecommerce Partner Review: PayLeap

PayLeap is a payment processing company that offers adaptive services aimed at reducing cost and keeping online merchants safe. At 3dcart we asked Daryn Barney, VP of Business Development at PayLeap, ABOUT their services and how they can help 3dcart merchants with online payment processing.

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3dc:

When was PayLeap founded and how many active merchants currently use it?​

PayLeap:

PayLeap was founded in 2007 and is based in Warsaw, Indiana. Thanks to our partner network and valued customer base we have quickly grown and now have offices in Washington and Utah. In 2008, we introduced our own proprietary payment gateway. Today our core focus is on providing best in class payment processing solutions for online merchants. We offer ecommerce merchants a “bundled solution” inclusive of a payment gateway and merchant processing account – designed to save merchants time and money. PayLeap is PCI certified and is registered under Wells Fargo bank. PayLeap currently has in excess of 2,000 satisfied clients across the United States.

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Built-in ECommerce Blog Feature

Feature Spotlight – Blogging
With the introduction of the SocialCommerce tools in 3dcart version 3.2, we unveiled the store Blogging tool.  This feature allows you to instantly create a blog on your store that is housed all within the confines of your main site – thereby sharing, not only the same SEO and RSS functions of your site, but also your site’s overall look and feel.

For today’s Feature Spotlight, we’ll be covering the 3dcart Blog feature.

What exactly is a Blog?

The term “blog” has been around for several years, and it’s basically a shortening of the phrase, “web log.”   Originally blogs were used as a type of online journal where writers posted their thoughts, feelings and observations.
With the arrival of Social Media sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, the practice of blogging about one’s life was eventually replaced with “Status Updates” and “Tweets.”  These days, blogging is more commonly used to provide commentary and news on a specific topic or subject matter.  As such, a blog can be a great way to showcase your online store.
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App Store News – Advanced Search

Last week, we introduced our new App Store.  This week, we’d like to showcase one of the many popular apps available in the store.

Advanced Search

Your 3dcart store comes with a site wide search tool already built-in.  The standard search function will provide accurate results for simple searches based on product name, short descriptions and keywords as well as other product fields.  While the standard search tool is accurate and useful in its own right, store with many products can have a difficult time providing accurate search results.  

This is where the advanced search tool can come in handy.

3dcart’s Advanced Search plugin is powered by FusionBot and offers a very extensive search function for your site.  Through FusionBot, your product searches are based on a wider range of product attributes including Pricing, Manufacturers, as well as stock levels.

Furthermore, these attributes can then be used as filters on your site’s search result pages – thereby enabling your customers to narrow down their options even further.  For example, a search for “sparkplugs” on a standard auto-parts store will allow a customer to further narrow down their results by specific price ranges, categories or even specific brand/manufacturers.

FusionBot’s advanced search engine also allows for keywords searches based on word synonyms and common misspellings, as well as logging common search terms to help you determine which phrases are being referenced more often.

Along with faster search results, here are a few of the other features provided by FusionBot.

Smarter search logic through

  • Synonyms:
    You can manually configure synonyms to increase the scope of potential matches in your results set.  By way of example, you can setup a synonym to equate the words ‘vintage’ and ‘nostalgic’.
  • Spell-check:
    Misspelled search terms entered into the search field will still display results for the correct word, i.e. all product results with the keyword Halloween will display even if the word Holloween is entered.
  • Word Stemming:
    Example: A search for ‘pop rock’ yields the same matches as ‘pop rocks’, or ‘popping rocks’, etc, again, expanding the universe of potential matches, increasing the opportunity for converting visitors into customers.
  • SEO Keyword links
    The Advanced Search can automatically analyze your visitors search activity, and create search engine friendly, “static in appearance”, keyword links based on the most popular terms searched on your site.  By linking to the SEO generated report, spiders will index this content (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc), assisting in driving quality, targeted traffic to your site, automatically.  This brings your search implementation full circle, since the most frequently searched terms ON your site, are likely the same terms that would most “relevantly” drive traffic TO your site, when searched for on the Web at large.

What you get

When you purchase the Advanced Search Add-On, you get your very own FusionBot account and access to the FusionBot interface.  Through the FusionBot interface you can:

  • Request a complete indexing of your site
    FusionBot will spider crawl your site and catalog all of your products
  • Run search reports
    Use these to research your customer search behaviors and common phrases
  • Customize your search filters
    Specify filtering options your customers will be able to use to narrow search results
  • Customize your search result templates
    Share your site’s unique look and feel with the search result pages.
  • Much more

See it in action

Here are a few stores currently using the advanced search.

  • candy.com
  • sweetsoles.com
  • idealbaby.com

In summary, the Advanced Search Function is a powerful and affordable solution for Merchants who’d like to offer a more robust search experience to their customers.


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How to Get the Best Rate on Every Transaction

Ever been excited about a big sale, only to see how much you paid in credit card processing fees?  Stop seeing your margin erode with high processing fees.  There may be things you can do to lower your rate.  You know that by offering credit card acceptance you win more sales.  Multiply this effect by lowering your processing costs.  To get the best rates on every transaction, your merchant account needs to be configured correctly.  You also need to handle transactions in a specific way.  Your merchant bank is charging you based on the type of credit card you run, the way you run these transactions, and your type of business.

Use These Best Practices as applicable to Your Business

All Merchants

  • Settle your batch within 2 business days of transaction date.  This ensures that the cards you authorize are charged in a reasonable time frame.  Your customers expect this.  If you hold authorizations for too long, customers are likely to forget their purchase, and not recognize your transaction when it does come through on their statement.  It may sound like it will never happen to you, but this can result in a chargeback.  Knowing this risk, the card associations reward merchants who follow this best practice with lower rates.
  • Unless you are set up with a special merchant account type such as a restaurant or beauty parlor, never modify the transaction amount after receiving an authorization.

Internet Merchants (and Key Entry)

  • Perform address verification (AVS) on every transaction.  When the AVS response is “match”, you know that the person entering the transaction knows the correct billing address on the credit card.  This provides you some assurance that the cardholder is the one making the purchase.   Your merchant bank may qualify more of your cards for your best rate.
  • Enter an invoice number or purchase ID number, and send it with every settlement transaction.  Visa recognizes this number, and it helps in customer communication.   Most eCommerce providers will automatically include an invoice number, but make sure to check with them that this is the case for your shopping cart.
  • Settle transactions within 7 business days of the original order date, and hold them in your gateway queue in the interim.

Best Practices to Avoid Incidental Costs

Incidental costs are costs incurred after the transaction has processed, and are additional to the processing fee.  They may include chargeback fees, retrieval fees, PCI non-compliance fees, and ACH rejection fees.

  • Require that your customers read and agree to your return/refund policy prior to checkout.
  • Check the AVS response for each transaction, and follow these steps to avoid chargebacks:
  • Look more closely at the entire transaction if the response is “no match”.
  • If suspicious, ask for further information from the customer, such as the name of the bank on the front of the card, to validate the charge.  Your merchant processing bank or the issuing bank can then tell you if that matches.
  • If your instincts still tell you something is wrong, void the charge, and do not ship the product.  Merchants learn from experience that if something feels wrong, it probably is.
  • Check to see if the shipping address matches the billing address.
  • Require a signature on delivery (SOD).  Again, this provides further protection to you in the event of a chargeback.
  • When you change your business name, make sure that you inform your payment processor.  They will need to update your record so that your new name travels with your card charges.  If you leave your old name in that spot, customers will not recognize the transaction.
  • Make sure that your business is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant.  The cost to you for a data breach can be over $100,000 per incident.

Your Merchant Bank and Vendor Responsibilities

  • Your acquirer needs to include specific data within each settlement, identifying you as the merchant.  This ensures that a cardholder can contact you if they are unclear about the charge they are seeing on their credit card.
  • Any vendor storing, transmitting, or processing cardholder data – even if only for a nanosecond – also needs to validate their compliance with the PCI DSS.  Be sure you are using compliant providers.

How to Shop for the Best Rates

  • Get a quote that’s specific to how your business processes transactions.
  • If you have two distinct methods of processing, you may need a quote for each.
  • Ask if AVS is available.
  • Understand Visa’s rules regarding location and merchant processing type, as these factors contribute to how your rates are determined.
  • Ask questions about any set up fees, annual fees, cancelation fees, etc.  You may find a merchant account with low discount rates, but be careful that your savings are  not eroded by recurring fees.
  • If it’s been a while since you set up your merchant account, research current industry rates, and then ask your merchant bank for a rate review.

Good payment processing practices boil down to common sense.  Train your staff to always think about the customer, and their expectations.  They expect to be charged the amount that they authorized. They expect their card to be charged within a reasonable time frame after the order, and they expect you to ship product in a timely manner.  Your procedures should be right in line with these considerations.  The credit card associations, similarly, expect you to use these best practices.  They can, and do, penalize you with higher rates for not following them.  In the long run, it will create happy customers, save you money in processing and incidental fees, and reduce your risk of chargebacks.

Understand that the measures you take to get the best rates should save you money on processing costs.  At the same time, not every transaction you run will qualify for your lowest rate.  Many factors contribute to how your rate on any one card is determined.  You may be a merchant selling primarily to consumers, and have a fabulous low rate for qualified credit cards.  When you do take the occasional order from a business, their corporate credit card may downgrade to a higher rate.  This is the case even when you perform AVS and settle your batches in a timely manner.  To be within Visa rules, most merchants need to accept any card with a Visa logo on it, regardless of type.  You also can not charge more or penalize a customer for the type of card they give you.  The exception would be if you decide not to honor a sale, due to suspected fraud, lack of inventory, or the like.  In these cases, you may void the authorization.  However, if it is solely a matter of processing costs that may be incurred, Visa frowns on penalizing a customer for offering you their chosen payment type.  Instead, use all of the tips above consistently for a higher chance that more of your cards will qualify for a low rate.

About the Autor:
Our guest author, Mary Clare Ferber is  Account Manager at BankCardServices Worldwide. For more information about Merchant Services, visit http://www.3dcartmerchant.com


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Ecommerce Feature Spotlight: Built-in Email Marketing

At 3dcart, we feel that we have the best, well-rounded, and full-featured ecommerce shopping cart offering available anywhere.  With so many features contained under one roof however, it’s no surprise that our merchants are sometimes unaware or otherwise unfamiliar with many of the tools available to them.

It is with this thought in mind that we introduce our new “Feature Spotlight blog series.  Each week we will showcase and describe one of the many features contained in your 3dcart powered shopping cart.  So without further ado, we introduce our inaugural posting for this week’s Feature Spotlight – Email Marketing!

What is Email Marketing?

Simply put, email marketing is a way to reach your existing and prospective customers in order to entice them into clicking through to your store.  A typical email marketing campaign can take the form of a simple greeting introducing customers to your store and products; to a full-blown, HTML rich, email that advertises all of your special sales and promotions.

You mean Spam, don’t you?

Not at all! Spam is generally characterized as unsolicited nuisance messages that are sent out to random recipients without rhyme or reason.  To put it bluntly, spam is nothing more than a desperate attempt to generate sales, by blanketing a wide audience which really isn’t interested in your services or products.  More often than not, spam messages are sent to non-existent addresses and generate no leads whatsoever.

A proper email marketing campaign is targeted to either your existing customers or to prospective customers who sign up for your newsletter subscription; an audience that is actually interested in your products, and willing to purchase from you.  In many cases, merchants are able to reach over 70% of their targeted audience with a properly managed mailing campaign.

Email marketing is intended to not only generate an increase in visits to your site, but also increase your overall sales from your store.  Spam merely exists to annoy and disturb.

Sounds interesting…  How do I sign up for Email Marketing?

With many shopping cart providers out there, email marketing is normally treated as an “a la carte” selection which must be purchased separately.  In many cases, the email marketing services offered are from paid 3rd party providers like MailChimp and Constant Contact which have to be configured for your particular domain.

With 3dcart however, the email marketing features are built right in and are already part of your monthly subscription costs.  Every 3dcart user has the ability to launch an email marketing campaign without incurring any additional costs.

That’s right.  With your 3dcart account, you already have access to the following:

  • Mailing List Management
  • Subscription Groups
  • Newsletter Builder with pre-built templates
  • Email Campaign Tracking.

So, what’s so special about 3dcart’s Email marketing?

Well, with 3dcart’s email marketing service you have the ability to create HTML rich emails using our built-in WYSIWYG editor.  Furthermore, since the service is built right into your store, you can easily link your store’s products directly into your email messages using the Mailing Wizard interface.

It doesn’t just end there however.  With 3dcart’s email marketing services, each campaign is generated with a unique newsletter ID that is used to track and report your campaign’s progress.  Use this to see not only how many emails were sent, but also how many were opened and viewed as well as the order amounts that were generated by each campaign!


You can even dynamically generate mailing lists based on your store’s order history.  For example, use a SmartList that takes all of your orders over a specific period of time, for a specific order amount, and generate a mailing campaign for an extremely localized group of your customers.

Here are just some of the functions available to you

  • Front-end Subscribe/Unsubscribe box.
  • Back-end Subscriber management.
  • Mailing Wizard automatically populates products into Newsletter.
  • Dynamically select Mailing List Groups, Customer Groups or SmartLists.
  • Reports with sales generated from email campaign.

 

So as you can see, email marketing can be a rather effective marketing tool for your ecommerce store.  Best of all, 3dcart makes it easy for you to generate your campaigns, reach out to existing and new customers, and track all of the sales generated by your email newsletters.  All from the same 3dcart online store manager interface you’re already familiar and comfortable with!

About the Autor:
Henry Suarez is 3dcart’s Product Manager and has extensive experience in the area of technical support and training, as well as a background in quality assurance and testing. Tune in weekly to hear Henry as he conducts the Build, Promote and Grow You Online Business with 3dcart webinar at http://www.3dcart.com/ecommerce-webinars.asp

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The 3dcart App Store is Now Open!

In addition to the powerful new features included with 3dcart, like our Mobile Store and the Social Commerce tools, we’re proud to announce that our 3dcart App Store has officially launched! The App store offers a collection of add-ons that address specific business needs with niche solutions that enhance your online store beyond the standard functionality.

There are currently 36 applications available.  More than half of these are free to integrate for merchants that already subscribe to the third-party service like PowerReviews and Fulfillment by Amazon.

For Merchants

You will see a wide range of options.  From applications that can help bringing more traffic to your store like GoDataFeed, and applications that help to increase conversions like Buysafe and Verisign Trust Seal, to apps that open your store to new markets like International Checkout and eLayaway. Every app offered has been carefully evaluated, tested and selected by 3dcart experts to assure that it offers the best “bang for the buck” in the market.

Some other interesting applications for your online store include our ecommerce apps like the Advanced Search, Autoship and the 3dReminders offering. All apps are intended to help 3dcart’s merchants with their Shipping, Order Management, Accounting, Fulfillment, Security, Marketing and Tax needs.

For Developers

The 3dcart App Store also invites developers and savvy merchants, who feel other shop owners could benefit from self-developed apps, to publish on the 3dcart App Store and earn rewards from their contribution. With the use of 3dcart’s API, developers can create unique web-based and desktop solutions and offer these via the App Store to over 10,000 3dcart merchants.

Featured Apps

We’ll continue to add more solutions to our App Store throughout 2011, and help establish 3dcart as the leading eCommerce solution with the largest partner network.

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