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Tag: Ecommerce

Cheat Sheet: Managed WordPress Ecommerce Hosting


More store for less 

Our Managed WordPress Ecommerce Hosting lets you create a robust ecommerce store quickly and easily. That means building the exact store your clients need for hundreds, even thousands, less per year. 

Build more store for less   

Powered by WooCommerce, our Managed WordPress Ecommerce Hosting features powerful flexibility with easy-to-use extensions and client-management tools. That can help you and your clients start  selling quickly and make revenue faster.  

Get online in far fewer steps, thanks to a simplified setup process with WordPress and WooCommerce installed and ready to go. 

Choose to start from scratch or with a gorgeous, eye-catching storefront theme, and then enjoy easier site maintenance with bulk updates and monitoring. A single dashboard cuts down the time necessary for performance optimization, domain management and an array of other administrative tasks. 

  • Free access to over 40 WooCommerce premium extensions 
  • No transaction fees 
  • Unlimited products 
  • Free SSL for life of plan 
  • Malware scan and removal (Website Security – Essentials) 
  • Easy WooCommerce Setup 
  • Free Premium WooCommerce Storefront design themes 
  • Unlimited storage 
  • Unlimited monthly visitors 
  • Concurrent processes allowed – PHP: 30 MySQL: 24 
  • One-click staging site 
  • Yoast SEO plugin 
  • SSH access 
  • SFTP access 
  • Full Asset CDN 
  • File Manager 
  • Auto Migration Tool 
  • Auto WP software updates 
  • Data centers in North America and Europe 
  • Free backups –  Automatic, Daily, kept for 90 days 
  • Free (1) Microsoft 365 Email with annual plan – 1st Year Free (optional) 
  • Free domain with annual plan 

Build a feature-packed online store — at no extra cost  

We’re able to pack over 40 premium WooCommerce extensions to offer the most customization and functionality at no additional cost!  

These high-end premium extensions at your fingertips include the functionality to enable: 

  • Cart and Checkout functions (6) like Checkout Field Editor and WooCommerce Purchase Order Gateway. 
  • Marketing functions (9) like Product Add-ons and WooCommerce Email Customizer. 
  • Merchandising functions (6) like WooCommerce Brands and WooCommerce Products Compare. 
  • Product functions (2) like Software Add-on and WooCommerce Photography. 
  • Services functions (6) like WooCommerce Subscriptions and WooCommerce Bookings. 
  • Shipping functions (12) like USPS, UPS and FedEx Shipping Methods. 
  • Store Management functions (3) like WooCommerce Pre-Orders and Product CSV Import Suite.

Additional popular extensions include: 

  • WooCommerce Quick View 
  • WooCommerce Box Office 
  • WooCommerce Order Barcodes 
  • WooCommerce 360º Image 
  • WooCommerce Store Catalog PDF Download 
  • WooCommerce Bookings Availability 
  • WooCommerce Accommodation Bookings 
  • WooCommerce Subscription Downloads

Protect your ecommerce masterpiece 

Once you launch a high-performing online store, rest easy knowing it’ll stay running its best. Managed WordPress Ecommerce Hosting includes leading edge security features like malware scanning and removal, security activity auditing, file integrity checks, blocklist monitoring, and notifications whenever an indicator of compromise is detected.  

Talk about locking it down. 

Every Managed WordPress Ecommerce Hosting plan also includes the installation, configuration and validation of your SSL certificate with no additional cost.   

Automated WordPress and WooCommerce updates ensure online stores are patched and protected from known security issues whenever updates become available. Restore points are created prior to updates, so it’s easy to roll back patches whenever it’s needed.  

BYOF on an open-source platform 

Flex your developer muscles with complete freedom to build your own features on an open-source platform built with a REST API. The powerful flexibility of Managed WordPress Ecommerce Hosting lets you spend less time on mundane tasks, freeing you up to create new features limited only by your ability and imagination. 

Support from the people who know ecommerce 

Managed WordPress Ecommerce Hosting customers get 24/7 premium support. Whenever you need assistance from a friendly professional, our award-winning ecommerce support team is only a ticket, call, or chat away.   


The information contained in this blog is provided for general informational purposes about Managed WordPress Ecommerce Hosting. It is not specific advice tailored to your situation and should not be treated as such. 

What’s the Best eCommerce Website Builder for an Online Store?


Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for a relatively easy way to start your own business, or a retail business owner ready to expand your business online, building an eCommerce store is a lucrative move to make.

But if you lack web design experience, the process of building an online store from scratch can look intimidating. 

If you’re already doing the work to start a new business or run an existing one, creating your eCommerce website is one more task to add to an already overwhelming to-do list. And if you anticipate it being a big job, that probably makes it an easy task to procrastinate. 

But every day you put off getting your eCommerce site up is a day of missed sales and profits. Time is money here. Not only do you want to move forward on this sooner rather than later, but you ideally want to get your website up fast once you start. 

Getting an eCommerce website online quickly—without having to learn to code—is possible. What you need is an eCommerce website builder.

Below you’ll learn what an eCommerce website builder is, how it can benefit your business, and what to look for in a website builder for beginners. 

What is an eCommerce Website Builder?

eCommerce website builders are similar to classic website builders, except they have integrated tools which make selling products online much easier.

A good website builder will take care of all the basic design elements of your website for you, so all you have to do is make some tweaks to the copy, images, and layout to bring it in line with your vision.

And a beginner website builder will have an intuitive website editor that makes that part easy as well. If it’s a well designed product, you won’t have to worry about a long training process, you should be able to figure out how to make the changes you want as you go. 

An eCommerce builder uses this same process, but also comes equipped with additional tools to help you manage and grow your eCommerce store. That will include easy options for creating product pages, built-in inventory management tools that make it easy to keep track of the products you’re selling, and compatibility with payment processing functions. 

3 Key Benefits of Using an eCommerce Website Builder

Even if you have an incredible product, you can’t build a business around it without giving people a way to learn about it and (securely) make a purchase. In our modern era—and especially in this phase of COVID-19—an eCommerce website is the best way to achieve that. 

Learning how to build an eCommerce website from scratch is a lot of work—you’d have to not only learn how to code, but also put in the time and effort required to create your website step by step. And an eCommerce site requires a whole extra set of functionalities that would translate into additional skills and steps you’d have to deal with. But none of that’s necessary anymore. 

An eCommerce website builder streamlines the process of building your website and processing online transactions, so you can focus on all the other (many) parts of running a business.

Here are a few of the biggest benefits an eCommerce website builder brings:

1. Easy to Build a High-Converting Website

When you’re building an eCommerce business, you don’t just need a website. You need one that does a specific job: getting people to buy your products. This means you’ll need to integrate product placement with the rest of your site, have product category pages, individual product pages, and a lot more.

A lot of website builders power many successful online stores, meaning they have data on the types of design elements that get results. A good eCommerce website builder will supply a base design for you that incorporates web design best practices and increases your likelihood of turning visitors into customers. 

2. Help With Marketplace Integration and Payment

Beyond just showcasing your products in a way that makes visitors want to buy, you’ll also need to offer them a secure way to pay you through your business website. Most eCommerce builders give you the option of integrating multiple payment processors. These can ensure an easy and secure checkout process for your customers. 

3. Tools to Manage Inventory

Are you still using a pen and paper to manage your inventory? Most eCommerce website builders make it incredibly simple to manage and set up your business inventory from a single dashboard.

You’ll have the ability to offer product customization options, as well as real-time inventory updates, so you always know how much you have in stock. Having all of this automated makes it much easier to know when you need to restock products, or even run discounts to help move the rest of your current inventory.

What to Look for in an eCommerce Website Builder

There are a lot of eCommerce website building software options out there. So, let the list of eCommerce features below help you sort through the noise.

You might have different requirements based on your store needs, but knowing what some of the most common features available are will help you make a more informed decision.

1. Easy to Use

The main reason to use a website builder is ease of use, so this has to be a given. If a website builder has a big learning curve or requires reviewing a lot of tutorials—what’s even the point?

Most website builders on the market are built with beginners in mind, so you don’t have to settle for one that causes confusion and frustration. Look for one that takes most of the work of building a website off your plate, and makes doing the rest intuitive. 

That could mean a tool with lots of templates and a drag-and-drop website editor. Or, you could go a step further and look for a smart website builder that creates a website for you using automation, then makes any additional tweaks you want to make simple. You’ll end up with far less work to do on your own, will save a lot of time, and can essentially outsource a lot of the decisions around your website to the tool. 

smart website builder saves time

2. Affordable

Most business owners have a strict budget to work within. Your website’s important enough to treat as an investment, but that doesn’t mean you want to spend any more on it than you have to. The right website builder for you therefore must be one that fits into your budget. 

Luckily, you can find a number of website builders that are affordable—even on a small business budget. In some cases, as with the Gator website builder, you can even get one for free bundled with the cost of web hosting. Free is pretty easy to fit into any business budget, no matter how tight the purse strings. 

3. Inventory Management

If an interested customer finds their way to your site, and sees a product they’re interested in only to find it out of stock, you’ll probably lose them for good. You want to do everything you can to avoid that! Good inventory management tools are how you do that. 

Look for an eCommerce website builder that comes with inventory management features included. Keep an eye out for features like alerts that will tell you when inventory is getting low, the ability to enter product stock, and the option to stop selling products when there’s no inventory left.

4. Payment processing

You can’t sell products without a way to take payments. Every eCommerce website needs a secure way to accept credit card payments from visitors. If possible, you may want to provide a couple different options. Many consumers will be more likely to complete the checkout process if you make payment easier by accepting a payment option they use frequently, like PayPal or Stripe.

Many eCommerce website builders will come with payment processing options built in, making this part much easier.

5. Easy tax calculations

One of the benefits eCommerce has over storefront businesses is that your customer base isn’t limited by geography. You can be based in Maryland and sell products to a customer in Texas. But this presents a complication: different states have different sales tax laws. And you do not want to be on the wrong side of any of them. 

Managing sales tax information for all the different states would be unreasonably complicated, so look for an eCommerce website builder that has tools that automate sales tax calculations for you. 

6. Easy shipping features

Shipping is hands down one of the most important parts of running an online business. Getting orders out in a timely manner is key to providing a good customer experience. And making sure shipping costs are low enough to customers that they’ll buy, while not costing you too much to make a profit is a complicated, but important balance to find when running your online business.

An eCommerce website builder should make it easy for you to set your shipping rates. Even better if it makes it easy to offer any shipping-related deals to customers, such as free shipping for orders over a certain amount. If you’ll be using a third-party tool for shipping, such as Shippo, you’ll also want to make sure your website builder is compatible with it. 

7. Mobile-Friendliness

Many consumers are as comfortable making purchases on their phones as they are their desktop computers. That makes mobile-friendly websites a must.

Because of how common mobile use is today, any website builder worth its salt should default to creating sites that work well on all screen sizes. But don’t take for granted that will be the case, so check to make sure the website builder you consider prioritizes the mobile experience. 

8.  Image library

The images you choose for your website will play a big role in the visual experience people have when they visit it. But creating original, high-quality images is a challenge, and you don’t want it to be the step that holds up the process of getting your website up and running.

If your website builder comes with an image library included, finding good-looking images that make sense for your website will be a lot easier and faster. 

9. Coupon functionality

Offering customers a great deal is a reliable way to increase conversions. Coupons can be a tool to encourage loyalty in your customers, and drive more sales during a slow period. Plus, discounts can be a smart way to get rid of inventory that’s taking up costly storage space. 

Make sure your website builder provides the functionality to offer discounts and coupons to visitors, so you can take advantage of one of the most important and effective sales tools available. 

10. Blogging features

Adding a blog to your eCommerce website is a smart way to build up your website’s SEO (search engine optimization) authority and publish helpful content that builds trust in your brand.

Granted, a blog requires a lot of ongoing work, so it may not be something you want to dive into on day one. But you want to know the option’s there for you when you’re ready. When choosing your eCommerce website builder, check to ensure it provides easy options for adding a blog to your website and maintaining it. 

11. Social and email integration

Creating your eCommerce website is a big step, but the bigger job happens after you’ve published it. Now, you have to promote it.

Marketing a website is a lot of work, so any way you can make the process a little easier is worth it. A website builder that integrates with your social media channels and email marketing software is a good start. 

12. Built-in analytics

Running a successful online business requires paying attention to what works, and evolving your business strategy as needed. To learn what your audience responds to, you need analytics.

While you can (and should) make use of the powerful analytics tools provided by Google Analytics, a website builder that has analytics built into its dashboard will make staying on top of your metrics more convenient. 

13. Customer support

A good website builder will be easy enough to use that you likely won’t need much help with it. But even the most intuitive of tech products will occasionally require support. You want to know it’s there if you ever need it.

Look for a website builder that not only offers customer support, but ideally one that provides 24/7 customer support in the channels you prefer, such as email and live chat. 

14. Logo maker

This isn’t a requirement for an eCommerce website builder, but it’s nice to have. Your logo will be the main visual marker of your business. Hiring a professional graphic designer to create one for you can be well worth it, but it tends to be costly and take time.

If you want to get one made in a way that’s quicker and easier, a website builder that includes a logo maker will save you time and money. 

Bonus:  Domain registration and web hosting

Every website requires a domain name and web hosting plan in order to be available to visitors online. If you invest in a website builder that comes with a free domain name registration and web hosting plan (or a web hosting plan that comes with a free website builder, depending on how you look at it), you both save money and keep the three main services your website requires in one place. That makes keeping your accounts current and making sure everything is up to date and working together less work. 

Build Your Online Store with an eCommerce Website Builder

Using an eCommerce website builder with the right features gives you a serious leg up in creating your website. When you offload the main work of creating a website to the right technology, you can focus on running your store and marketing to get new customers.

Hopefully, you’ve found the information above useful in helping you find the top eCommerce website builder for your needs. Once you’ve found the right platform for your web hosting needs, then start building and launch your store.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

eCommerce Shopping Carts For Home Business – Which Is The Best?


Nowadays, with the availability of eCommerce shopping carts for home business, you can easily build a professional website with all the necessary features suitable for businesses in all fields. Website design is an indispensable part of all businesses and individuals doing business. 

Therefore, it is necessary to expand the scope of activities, increase sales and profits for businesses by investing in website construction. By building a professional image on the website, customers will keep in touch with the business. 

To help you make a decision, today we will review some of the best eCommerce shopping carts for home businesses: Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, WooCommerce, and PrestaShop. These may provide you with an easy start.

Let’s begin!

What to Look For When Choosing a Platform to Build Your Marketplace?

Each eCommerce business is unique, and thus requires particular treatment. However, keeping in mind crucial characteristics which align with the capabilities of the various available shopping carts. There exist criteria that you should take into consideration for shopping cart software selection.

  • Ease of use: Platform with a moderate level of complexity allows to spend less time and effort to manage common business operations. Instead, you’ll be able to dedicate yourself and gain a broader opportunity to grow your business.
  • Customization options: At any point of development, you may need new requirements. Therefore, when selecting a shopping cart, it is recommendable to choose a cart with the ability for customization.
  • Clear navigation: Make sure that the shopping cart you employ for your eCommerce business can provide clean and clear navigation across all stages of the buyer’s journey.
  • Optimization for mobile devices: Experts predict that by 2021, mobile eCommerce will account for 53.9% of eCommerce sales. Thus, prioritize the shopping carts that are adapted for mobile device usage.
  • Scalability: Make sure that the shopping cart you choose at the very beginning will be able to support growth in the future.
  • Customer support model: Shopping cart with reliable and dedicated customer support. This choice will allow you to get fast and qualified feedback about any issue occurring.
  • Pricing policy: Choose your perfect solution based on your business requirements but not the price tag on the software.

The Best eCommerce Shopping Carts for Home Businesses

1. Shopify

Shopify eCommerce shopping carts for home businesses

Shopify’s shopping cart is a good choice for those who sell digital and tangible products. You can select from a variety of customizable templates, which can be configured to suit branding requirements. The platform is easy to use for users with little tech skills. 

Furthermore, if you can cope with HTML and CSS, you can edit the whole structure and configuration. The company offers a free 14-day trial, so you can set up a store to experience before purchasing.

The cost of Shopify store:

With price considered as the lowest on the market, Shopify becomes an attractive option for businesses that run on a tight budget. The cost of Shopify’s pricing plans per month are:

  • Basic Shopify: $29/month
  • Shopify: $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify: $299/month

Shopify Basic can satisfy your needs unless you run a large shop. You will receive regular discount codes, unrestricted storage products and multi-channel integration. Upgrading to Shopify or Advanced Shopify offers you better analysis and reporting.

Shopify offers the following features:

  • Automatic carrier shipping rates, sleek mobile optimization, customer profiles, accounts and groups, more than 70 professional themes, built-in marketing tools and more.
  • Shopify is very easy to set up . It is one of the most user-friendly structures irrespective of your technical background.
  • This shopping cart solution is a favorable combination of flexibility and robustness though its advanced features are quite pricey.

If you want to learn more. here’s a detailed review of Shopify.

2. Wix

Wix eCommerce

By opting for this website shopping cart as an eCommerce extension of your shop, you can get your hands on it’s all-in-one management features. With its affordable pricing plans, Wix is a perfect choice for creating your very first shopping cart from scratch

Wix is also attractive thanks to a plethora of customizable templates to create a unique look for non-coders. Wix helps you to quickly construct a professional website with beautifully pre-designed templates, integrated security and in-house technology.

The three Wix plans which let you sell online are:

  • Business Basic: $20/month. Get the Full Suite.
  • Business Unlimited: $25/month. Grow your business.
  • Business VIP: $35/month. Accept Online Payment.

Wix offers the following features to eCommerce entrepreneurs:

  • Shipping, tax, and inventory management, a custom & branded checkout page builder, drag-and-drop editing, and point-of-sale (POS) support.
  • This free eCommerce shopping cart charges no fees for transactions and payment processing.
  • Real-time shipping calculators are available, making the shopping experience more convenient and joyful.
  • You can use over 500 professional templates, but without redesigning your site you can’t switch templates.
  • You may build a shop free of charge, but users must upgrade them for three economic eCommerce plans to sell.

Read our Wix review to find out more.

3. Weebly

Weebly eCommerce

Weebly is the pioneer platform which allows users to build business websites using a drag-and-drop builder. Weebly provides web hosting, SSL security, and allows you to manage your website from their mobile app. 

You can also add photos, videos, and integrate with third-party tools. As well as this, you can operate your Weebly website with one of their completely free accounts.

This platform is similar to competitor website builders, particularly Wix and Squarespace. However, Weebly offers the cheapest eCommerce plan out of the three therefore it is probably the most appealing for smaller businesses, especially for those just starting out in eCommerce.

The cost of Weebly’s pricing plans per month are:

  • Connect a Domain: $5/month
  • Pro for Groups and Organizations: $12/month
  • Business for Small Businesses and Stores: $25/month
  • Business Plus for Growing Businesses: $38/month

Weebly’s features:

  • Weebly prides itself as a straightforward, easy to use system. From setup to management, it maintains a user-friendly interface.
  • Pre-made Weebly templates ensure your website is functional and fast without messing up the build.
  • Easily update your site into an eCommerce CMS. If you want to make online sales, then Weebly will let you turn your regular site into an online store.
  • Weebly can transfer a domain name you already own onto its service. If you are building something fully new, you can search and buy within Weebly itself.
  • Weebly makes building a website from scratch straightforward with its drag-and-drop abilities. You can select an element and drag it to where you want it on your Weebly website.
  • Fast page loading times. Your pages don’t compete against others and are optimized for the server they live on. This gives you an SEO boost when it comes to brand positioning.

Read the Weebly review to find out more.

4. Squarespace

Squarespace eCommerce

Squarespace is an awesome option for small businesses because of its simplicity. This website builder offers many stunning store themes to build a website. When building a site using Squarespace, you’ll get access to their inventory management system. 

You can integrate this into your site to keep track of your inventory. Squarespace allows you to easily control various aspects of your website. You can set coupon offers, shipping configurations, and manage your email lists.

Price Policy of Squarespace:

  • Personal SquareSpace: $12/month
  • Business SquareSpace: $18/month
  • Basic Commerce SquareSpace: $26/month
  • Advanced Commerce SquareSpace: $40/month

Some features that Squarespace delivers to store owners:

  • Simple to use: No programming or coding skills needed to establish your store after migration or restart it.
  • High-quality photographic themes and models that do not need additional modification and adaptations. All changes are made to the new web standards automatically.
  • Tech support is available through a wide range of channels, including email, live chat, online forums and training videos.
  • SquareSpace has no telephone support in contrast to Shopify, therefore immediate help will be out-of-the-question.
  • Limited SEO optimization software.
  • In general, advanced marketing tools and innovative customer loyalty programs are lacking.

Check out the Squarespace review for more.

5. WooCommerce

WooCommerce shopping cart

WooCommerce attracts entrepreneurs with great chances for customization, a multiplicity of themes and integrations, and an optimal user-experience. To run the WooCommerce shopping cart efficiently and grab maximum benefits from that, it would be useful to learn some of the basics of WordPress and to make sense of the platform’s main features. 

This may sound like a lot of ground to cover, but if you have the patience for some upfront work, you’ll reap the rewards over the long term.

Price policy of WooCommerce

WordPress and WooCommerce are totally free to use, both of them can be downloaded freely from the website and can be set up easily following this instruction. Thus, small and low-budget businesses can consider using this platform to build their online stores.

However, you have to pay for domain name, web hosting or SSL certificate in order to start your WooCommerce store. Normally, the cost of a domain name is $14.99/year, hosting solution $8/month and SSL certificate $70/year. 

However, you can always find the cheap hostings that still live up to your expectations. Besides, theme and website design usually range from $50 to $100 and plugins & extensions are from $25.

The main features of WooCommerce are:

  • Modular structure, pre-installed popular payment gateways, an advanced reports builder and convenient product import options.
  • The plugin is free so that you don’t need to pay for anything to run a full version.
  • An advanced level of security is available by utilizing premium themes.
  • Integration with over 33 payment gateways.
  • Built-in renewal notifications and automatic emails. This feature lets you and your subscribers know when subscription payments have been processed and when the next payment occurs.
  • Detailed reports: This allows you to keep track of your upcoming revenue, cancellations, retention rate, and especially the number of active subscribers.

In case you pay much attention to platforms providing subscription service, you can also find the best subscription eCommerce shopping carts that match your store well.

6. PrestaShop

Prestashop eCommerce

One more decent solution when selecting the best eCommerce CMS platform is PrestaShop. However, PrestaShop shopping cart solution is not for beginners, and for the best results, you should consider engaging with professional developers. 

You can find the detailed process here. If you go this route, you’ll be able to take advantage of numerous features provided by this out-of-the-box platform. You can also enrich your store functionality with third-party integrations represented on the official addons store.

Price policy of PrestaShop:

  • Prestashop edition: As an open-source platform, Prestashop is free to set up.
  • Prestashop hosting: Customers can use hosting plans such as SiteGround, Bluehost, or HostPapa. Also, Customers can get even cheaper deals from Prestashop official hosting partners 1 and1 Hosting and A2 hosting.
  • Prestashop themes: Prestashop provides users with numerous professional themes costing from €59,99 (about $70) to €349,99 (about $348).
  • Prestashop add-ons: There are many free available Prestashop add-ons of which price starts from 30€ (about $35) to 5000€ (about $5806).

Highlights of PrestaShop:

  • One-page checkout, quick product creation, shipping method configuration, and the ability to set a minimum quantity for particular items to purchase.
  • In addition, over 3,000 mobile-responsive templates at your service to create a unique look and feel of your PrestaShop store
  • Addons for expanding functionality may seem a bit too pricey.
  • User-friendly: Store owners with hardly any technical knowledge can easily handle and maintain their websites on Prestashop platform
  • Budget-friendly: Users can use shared-hosting web services and cloud hosting, which are fairly low-budget hosting solutions in comparison with self-hosting.
  • Limited scalability: Prestashop is suitable for small to medium stores. Once a store on Prestashop grows into massive scale, it might experience lags in various aspects.

Conclusion

eCommerce shopping carts for home business

In conclusion, It may be a tough and time-consuming process to define the best shopping cart platform for your business. However, clarifying the pivotal standards to support the growth of your ecommerce business surely can help you choose the most appropriate one. 

Finally, thank you for keeping up with this article this length. We hope that this comparison among 6 top choices of eCommerce shopping carts for home business will somehow give you a broader picture of these shopping carts recommendations of suitable platforms.

If you intend to move your business to another platform that fits current needs or set up a completely new website, then LitExtension is the most reputable data migration service provider in the current market. You can always contact their support team for any further detailed requests.

Good luck with your business!


About the Author: Thomas Nguyen

Thomas Nguyen is the SEO Manager at LitExtension. He sees himself as a thought leader, strategist, and the go-to person for any digital marketing related question. He believes that his ideas are the ones that shape the marketing industry. You can find him on Likendin.

Use a Website Builder to Create Your eCommerce Site [15-Step Guide]


Even before the pandemic drove most retail businesses online, eCommerce was on the upswing. Many small businesses that have served customers in-store for years have been slow to get a website up, but know they can’t wait any longer.

At the same time, many new entrepreneurs are treating the changing economy as an opportunity to start new eCommerce businesses. Both groups have one thing in common: you need to create an eCommerce website.

In the early years of the web, creating an eCommerce site was difficult. You’d need to hire a professional developer to build the complex elements required to sell products online. But now that the internet’s a common part of our lives, new web tools have become available to make the process easier. 

Now anyone, no matter your level of skill, can build an eCommerce website. All you need is an intuitive website builder. 

Below you’ll learn how an eCommerce website builder can help you build an eCommerce store in record time, the benefits to doing so, and the steps you’ll want to take to get started.

Why Use a Website Builder?

When you’re building an eCommerce store, you have a lot on your plate.

You have to research your market, name your store, determine what products you’re going to sell, set your prices, calculate shipping, and market your store. And somehow you need to build a website that looks professional, communicates your brand, and convinces people to buy your products on top of all that.

It’s a lot. 

And for people with limited web experience, the website may look like the most intimidating part. But it doesn’t have to be. With the right website builder, you can let technology do most of the work for you. You input some basic information and—bam!—you’ve got a professional-looking eCommerce website, that only needs a few tweaks to make it yours. 

A website builder takes a lot of time, energy, and cost off your plate. And it means one less item on the to-do list you have hanging over your head as a business owner. 

What to Look for in an eCommerce Website Builder

You’re going to have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to choosing the right eCommerce website builder for your needs. There are a ton website builders out there, but ultimately you’ll want to choose a builder that’s best suited to the needs and goals of your store.

Here are some features to keep an eye out for:

  • An emphasis on building a mobile-friendly website. In our world of ubiquitous smartphones, mobile can’t be an afterthought. Make sure your website builder defaults to creating websites that work well on mobile.  
  • Smart technology that does most of the work for you. The more your website builder does automatically, the less work you’re stuck handling. 
  • An image library included. This is more nice to have than required, but images play a key role in the online experience, so having access to a library of them will make building a visually stunning website much easier. 
  • eCommerce features built in. Your website needs to be able to sell things, that means you need features like inventory management, tax management, and coupon creation.
  • An affordable price. Your business probably has a limited budget, and you don’t want your website builder to cut into the cost of other things your business needs. Luckily, you can find powerful website builders that only cost a few dollars a month. 
  • Bundled website features. If your website builder comes with other important website features you need, like web hosting, an SSL certificate, and a domain name, it saves you the extra cost of buying them separately. And it saves you from having to manage them all through separate accounts. 
  • A reliable, accessible support team. Anyone new to running a website may face questions or issues they need help with. Go with a website builder backed by a company that promises 24/7 support from skilled representatives. 

Once you’ve settled upon an eCommerce website builder, it’s time to start creating your store.

If you’re still unsure about what builder will be best suited for your needs, then take the new Gator Website builder for a spin. It includes all of the features above and more.

How to Use Gator to Create Your eCommerce Store

Building your eCommerce store with a website builder is a simple and intuitive process. With Gator, almost all of the work will be completed for you once you provide some basic information about your business. 

1. Choose Your Category

Gator will automatically select a design for your website based on the type of business you have. Your first step is therefore to fill in what category your business falls under.

Once you start typing a description of your business category, Gator will provide a dropdown list of options you can choose from. Make your selection and click Continue.

choose ecommerce as website category

2. Name Your eCommerce Site

If your eCommerce business already has a name, this step’s super easy. Just fill in the business name here. 

add a name for your online store in gator website builder

If you’re still trying to figure out what to call your eCommerce business, then you’ll want to take some time to figure out the best business and domain name that’s available and suits your brand. Then you can fill in your site’s name.

Notice that once you add your business name in the website builder, it will automatically fill in at the top of the site. As you move through these steps, the information you provide will be applied to the preview window on the right side of the screen, so you can see your website take fruition as you go.

Having good visuals on your website is important to creating a memorable visitor experience and ensuring your website looks professional. The next step is to choose your background image.

You can choose here from the library of free images that come with Gator, and the website builder will supply some suggestions based on your business category. Or you can load your own image file by selecting Upload on the right. 

Anytime you click on an option, you can see how it will look on the site in the preview window. You can take some time to play around with different choices and see which you like best. 

select header image with ecommerce website builder

4. Select Your Font

Your images will make a big contribution to your eCommerce website’s visual identity, but it’s just one part. Font plays an important role too. Gator will provide a selection of font pairings you can choose from. Select the one that feels the most appropriate for your brand. 

As with the images, you can see how the font selection looks by clicking on the option and viewing the preview window on the right. 

select font with ecommerce website builder

5. Choose Your Website Color Scheme

Your online store’s color scheme will be one of the main things visitors associate with your visual brand.

If you have an existing business, think about the color scheme you use for your current brand materials, such as signs, business cards, and advertisements. If you’re building a new eCommerce business and haven’t developed a visual brand identity yet, then this is a good opportunity to do so!

The website builder provides suggestions of colors that go well together, and you can click on different options to see how they look in the preview window before you make a choice.

Make your selection and click Continue.

choose color scheme for ecommerce store

6. Choose Your Navigation Style

You want to make it easy for visitors to find their way around your website. Websites typically have a menu across the top of the site, or behind a hamburger icon that reveals the menu once you click on it. 

The website builder provides a few main options for how to structure your eCommerce website so people can find the navigation features. Try out different ones to see how they look in the preview, and select the one you like the most.

choose navigation style in ecommerce website builder

At this stage, consider what main categories you’ll use to organize your website. The number of items you’ll include in your main menu will influence which navigation structure makes the most sense. If you’ll have a lot of products that will fall into several categories, you’ll want an option that leaves room for a larger menu.

You want to make it as easy as possible for people to figure out how to contact you. The eCommerce website builder puts your contact information right on the bottom of your main page. 

Add your address, phone number, and the best email address for customers and prospects to use. You may have to scroll down to see the information populate on the page in your website preview window. 

add contact information for online store

Click Finish, and the basic structure of your eCommerce website will be in place!

8. Customize Your Homepage Copy

Now you start customizing your website to your specific brand and business. Change the words on the page so they represent your business. Anywhere you see text, click on it and you’ll be able to update it.

You’ll also see a menu pop up right above the text with formatting options you can add as you go.

add copy to ecommerce website

If the website builder added text blocks to the page that you don’t need, you can easily remove them by clicking, highlighting the text, and removing it with the Delete button on your keyboard. 

9. Customize Your Images 

Every image the website builder added to the page can be replaced with another one of the free images in the library, or with one you upload. Click on the image, then click Select Image from the menu of icons that shows up.

add image to ecommerce website with gator website builder

You can search the library of images available, or click on My Images to add your own. 

media library in gator website builder

From the same menu of icons that shows up, you can select:

  • Edit image to make changes to the image itself
  • Link to add a hyperlink to the image
  • Edit alt text to add alternative text to the image (which is good for SEO)

10.  Move and Remove Sections

If there’s a section on the page now you don’t want, or think should be higher or lower on the page, click on it and look in the top right corner. You can use the blue arrows to move the section up and down the page until you get it where you want it. Or use the red trash can icon will delete it completely. 

add or remove sections in gator website builder

By the time you get your homepage looking the way you want, you’ll be an expert in the skills you need to edit your other pages. 

11. Add Your Online Store

For an eCommerce website, the store portion of your website is one of the most important parts.

Look at the menu on the left side of the page to find the Store icon. When you click, it will open up a page that walks you through the steps of adding your store.

add online store using gator website builder

For payment methods and shipping charges, the website builder allows you to go with its default recommendations. If you’re not sure what to choose, stick with the default options or skip these steps for now.

12. Add Your Products

One of the steps in the setup process is to add the products you’ll be selling. Fill in all the details the form asks for.

add product to online store with ecommerce website builder

This information will become the product page, so even though the form won’t require you to fill in all fields, you should if you can. 

A few suggestions for your product pages:

  • Use your product description to provide a clear explanation of what the product is and what it does, and to make a case for why your visitors would want to buy it.
  • Be thoughtful about the language you use on the page. Do some keyword research to figure out what your audience is searching for, and incorporate the keywords they’re using into your copy. This will both appeal more to your target audience, and help with SEO. 
  • Load a high-quality product photo. Anyone buying a product online will have to trust the photo on the page to see what to expect. Make sure your photograph looks great and gives an accurate portrayal of what customers will get.

Once your store is created, when you click Back to Editor, you’ll see that it shows up automatically as part of the website menu. 

13. Add New Pages

Now that the basics are in place, start creating additional pages and getting your website organization into place.  To create a new page, click Pages in the menu on the left side of the screen. Select New Page, then Page.

add new page in gator website builder

If you want this page to become one of the main categories of your website that shows up in the menu, leave the “Parent page” section blank and leave the “Show in navigation” option selected.

If you want your new page to show up in the drop down menu under another page, select the parent page it should go under from the dropdown.

Fill in the name of your page, and the website builder will automatically create a suggested URL based on your page name. You can go with its suggestion, or edit it to one you think is more intuitive or better for SEO.  

Each page you create will start out looking like your homepage. That makes it easier to create an Ecommerce website where each page matches stylistically, since you’re starting with the same colors and structure each time. But you’ll want to make enough changes to differentiate it visually, while also making the content of the page match its unique purpose. So go through and update the images and copy on the page, and move and remove sections as needed. 

Repeat the process with each page you want on your website. 

14. Proofread and Test

If your eCommerce business sells a variety of products, creating your pages, loading your products, and getting all the pages organized in the right way on the website may take some time. Once you’ve got that done, you’re close to ready to launch, but not quite there yet.

Now you need to double check that everything looks good and works the way it should. Go through each page of the website and read back over it, twice. Proofreading is how you catch embarrassing errors like typos, and fix sentences or phrases that have awkward wording. While you’re on the page, go ahead and test out every link on it as well to make sure they all work and go where they should.

Now, see if you can enlist a friend or family member (bonus points if it’s someone that matches your target demographic) to spend some time on your website to make sure it seems intuitive. Ask for feedback about how well it’s designed and organized. Did they find anything confusing? If their feedback is positive, you’re good to go. 

15. Publish Your eCommerce Store! 

Once your website is done, click Publish in the top right corner of the website editor.

Since Gator comes with free website hosting and a domain name, those things will already be in place. You just need to press that button to take the website live. 

Get Started Building Your eCommerce Site Now

With Gator, you can build out a simple eCommerce store in a matter of hours. And while stores that include a lot of products or categories will take more time than that, adding everything you need will be a simple process.

The faster you can get your website up, the sooner you start making money from it. Dive right in and start building now!

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

How to Optimize a Server for Ecommerce


No one enjoys shopping on an ecommerce site that is slow. Since the dawn of ecommerce, studies have shown that higher latencies cause higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. Performance optimization is critical to ecommerce sales and profitability. But what is a viable ecommerce performance target in 2020? And what can ecommerce retailers do to give shoppers the best possible experience?

More…

See Also: ServerMania E-Commerce Server Solutions

Because performance is so vital to ecommerce, there is a lot of evidence we can draw on to establish a baseline performance target.

A study by CDN provider Akamai found that a load-time delay of 2 seconds increased bounce rates by 103 percent. The same study showed that a 100-millisecond delay in response time reduced conversion rates by 7 percent.

Performance is even more important on mobile. A 2018 report from Google showed that the bounce rate probability increases as load time increases.

Performance Metrics That Matter for Ecommerce

As a rule, ecommerce retailers should focus on two metrics: Time to First Byte (TTFB) and Time to Interactive (TTI).

  • Time to First Byte is the length of time between the browser sending a request and receiving a response. TTFB is an indication of network, DNS, and server performance.
  • Time to Interactive is the length of time between the browser sending a request and the shopper being able to do something useful on the page, such as searching. Network and server performance influence TTI, but front-end factors such as loading and executing JavaScript have an enormous impact too.

There are many more fine-grained performance measurements that affect shopper experience, but these are the top-line figures every retailer should focus on. In this article, we’ll look at server-side optimizations that contribute to both metrics.

Optimal Server Hosting for Ecommerce Performance

Ecommerce applications such as Magento and Drupal Commerce tend to consume significant resources compared to other server-side web applications. Ecommerce servers with insufficient resources will slow under heavy load.

Memory

Magento recommends at least 2 GB of RAM for a small ecommerce store servicing a hundred users a day. Other mainstream ecommerce applications have similar requirements. The most important factor is the number of concurrent users. RAM use scales proportionally to the number of concurrent users, and memory is likely to become a performance bottleneck as a store grows, especially at peak shopping periods like Black Friday.

For many small and medium ecommerce stores, increasing the RAM available to the web application will have the most significant impact on server performance.

Storage

Ecommerce applications use storage in two main ways: for static files and the database. Static files include product images, which can take up considerable storage space. Both static files and the database benefit from high-performance storage such as SSD drives.

SSD or NVME drives can provide a performance boost for busy stores, providing other aspects of the store’s hosting—the network and processor—don’t create a bottleneck.

It is impossible to give general advice for all stores, but the average ecommerce store is more likely to suffer from RAM limitations than I/O performance issues. It usually makes more sense to spend a limited budget on RAM upgrades than migrating to a faster storage format.

Processors

Ecommerce is a CPU-intensive server application. Features such as searching, filtering, indexing, and page generation for logged-in users can burn a lot of CPU cycles.

You can gain a rudimentary understanding of CPU utilization on your Linux ecommerce server with tools such as “uptime” and “top.” Both create a metric that looks like this:

load averages: 2.19 2.26 2.20

This displays the CPU load averages for one, five, and fifteen minutes. Load averages can be difficult to understand, but, in essence, you want the numbers displayed to be lower than the number of CPU cores in your servers. If the numbers are consistently higher, processes such as those created by PHP or the webserver are waiting in a queue for execution, which can result in perceptible performance degradation.

As a general rule, if CPU utilization causes ecommerce performance issues on your store, upgrading to a processor with more cores is better than upgrading to a CPU with a higher clock rate (the number of GHz).

Network

Ecommerce stores on shared hosting or low-powered virtual servers often run up against network bottlenecks. If the store doesn’t have a reliable network connection or an adequate bandwidth allocation, network performance suffers, manifesting as long TTFB measurements and poor shopping experiences.

Factors that influence network performance include:

  • Network interface speeds: The amount of data throughput the interface can handle in a given period.
  • Network reliability: How often the network suffers downtime.
  • Network contention: How many applications owned by other hosting clients are competing for access to the same network resources. This is a particular problem for ecommerce stores hosted on shared or cloud hosting platforms.
  • Route optimization: Poorly optimized networks force data to travel over longer routes than well-optimized networks. Ideally, the data center housing your ecommerce server has access to the networks of large bandwidth providers that can move data around the internet with fewer hops.
  • Location: However well-optimized a network is, geographical distance adds latency. A server hosted near to ecommerce shoppers offers better performance than a server hosted on the other side of the country.

Ecommerce retailers cannot usually influence network performance directly. They should choose a server hosting provider that optimizes all of the network performance factors we have just outlined.

ServerMania equips dedicated ecommerce servers with network connections that have up to 20Gbps speeds and bandwidth allocations of up to 40 TB or more. We offer a 100 percent Network Uptime SLA on our route-optimized network with multiple connections to major bandwidth providers.

Ecommerce Server Clusters

There are two ways to scale the resources available to an ecommerce store. The first is to upgrade by adding more resources to the server or migrating to a more powerful machine. This is called vertical scaling. The second is to split the store between several servers. This is horizontal scaling.

Larger ecommerce stores are usually hosted on clusters of servers. There may be several web servers, a database server, a static file server, load balancers, and so on. When a store becomes too busy to host on a single server, ecommerce retailers should consider horizontal scaling because it allows them to easily increase their store’s capacity and performance by adding more servers.

Clustering also enhances redundancy and availability. Clusters can be organized with redundant servers. If a server fails, another server steps in to take the load. For example, if one of the web servers fails, the load balancer can route requests to the remaining servers, ensuring that the store stays open for business.

In Summary

Server and network performance have a huge impact on the ecommerce experience. They are the foundation on which reliable, high-performance ecommerce stores are built. There are many other ways to optimize a store for performance, but the fundamentals must be in place first.

To talk to a ServerMania server hosting professional about optimizing your ecommerce store’s performance with enhanced hardware, networking, and infrastructure architecture, book a free consultation today.



2020 E-commerce Website Affiliate Marketing Guide : Affiliatemarketing

Affiliate programs are of great importance for a brand to become bigger and stronger, especially for products with a long consumer buying process.The affiliate marketing industry, like all other industries, is full of competing for affiliate networks of all sizes, providing similar services and solutions, so advertisers have more choices.

Company introduction:

Note for 18 years of affiliate marketing. Currently, The network serves 4,500 advertisers and over 100,000 active publishers generating more than 12m transactions a year, making it the third-largest affiliate marketing network in the US. Most of the publisher accept Pay-Per-Sale advertising, and some support LEAD and CPC. Shareasale focuses more on small and medium advertisers. Awin acquired ShareASale at the price of $35M in Jan 2017. but the two platforms still operate independently. The acquisition offers both networks a mutually beneficial partnership. ShareASale’s market reach, brand equity, and reliable product offering, coupled with Awin’s strategic account management, custom solutions, and global reach, offers a broad spectrum of solutions to advertisers and publishers depending on their needs.

Established time: 2000  

headquarter: Chicago, US

Member status:100,000 publishers, 4,500 advertisers

Affiliate type:Content, Social media, Deal , Coupon/cashback

Main areas: United States (covering 80% of affiliate resources in the United States), Canada and the United Kingdom

Website monthly visits: 7.5M

Charging model: SAS account opening fee of $ 550, minimum deposit of $ 100 required for account recharge, a total of $ 650 (ShareAsale affiliate platform commission = publisher commission * 20%); and FTP service fee (data feed service for collaborators in the project): $ 1 / AFF, paid by merchant

Payment: prepayment mode, support online PayPal top-up, bank transfer; if the balance of the merchant account is as low as $ 0, the project will be suspended and will not be active again until recharge

Pros:

  1. The platform is powerful, especially the commission setting level, which supports commissions in various ways such as new and old customers, first order incentives, gradient incentives, exclusive incentives, etc.

  2. The merchant has strong self-operability and can disprove invalid orders by himself, and modify the order amount without customer service intervention

Cons:

  1. Global companies, the interface lacks personalized settings;

  2. There is no one on one customer service, and any question and queries need to submit tickets.

contact email: shareasale@shareasale.com

3. Prepayment required

Established time:Founded In 1996, formerly known as LinkShare, founded by Americans, it was acquired by Rakuten in 2005 for $ 425 million and was renamed Rakuten Affiliate Network in 2014 headquarter: New York,and 16 offices worldwide(Chicago, New York, Salt Lake City, San

Mateo, Seattle, Aix-en-Provence, Brighton, London, Germany, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore,

Sydney, Melbourne and Japan)

**member status:**150,000 publishers 1000+advertisers

**Affiliate type:**Content Coupons/Voucher DNS/Web-Extensions Deals/CSE Financial Loyalty/Rewards Mobile Other

Search Service Provider Shopping Social Networking Sub-Network Employee Discount

**Main Areas:**USA, UK, France, Canada

**Monthly Visit:**196K

**charging model:**3% of sales as platform fee per month, minimum spend of $ 500

**Payment:**Postpaid,Bills are divided into platform bills and channel bills paid once a month.

Pros:

  1. Powerful tracking, including S2S push order technology facing ITP, rarely missed orders

  2. Have global high-quality traffic channels, and many high-quality content-based resources

  3. Platform operation is easy to learn and various batch functions

Cons:

  1. There is a minimum consumption requirement, which is not friendly to small advertisers

  2. The order cannot set the commission ratio separately according to whether custom is new or return customers. Also, the commission ratio needs to be agreed on by the channel.

Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ 

**Established time:**Established in 1998,  formerly known as Value-Click

headquarter: USA

**member status:**70,000 publishers 4,000 elite global brands

Affiliate type:Coupons/Voucher,content blog,shopping

search

**Main Areas:**US, UK, France, Canada (mainly English-speaking countries)

Monthly Visit: 1.3M

**charging model:**The commission is 3% of the order amount. A single commission of less than $ 0.3 is charged at $ 0.3, and minimum monthly consumption of $ 500 is charged.

Payment:Prepaid

Pros:

  1. Established alliance with a long history and comprehensive system

  2. Powerful tracking, support cross-screen, and cross-device tracking

  3. Rich resource types, more content-based media resources

Cons:

  1. The platform has the lowest consumption, which is not suitable for small and medium advertisers

  2. Precharge, need to add some funds

  3. No dedicated account manager

  4. The contract requires a fixed fee of $ 500 per year

  5. Platform operation is a bit slow and stuck

**Established time:**2009年10月1日

headquarter:Headquarters in Germany, with branches in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Germany, India, China

Member status: 614200 publishers,1600 advertisers

**Affiliate type:**Voucher (26%)  Cashback (40%) Content (5%) Influencer (9%) Paid Social (1%) Paid Search (1%)

Comparison (1%) Facebook (1%) Lead Generation (1%) Other (15%)

Main Areas:Russian market (Russia, Eastern Europe)

Monthly Visit:10M

**charging model:**No set-up fee, monthly platform fee is 20% ~ 30% of affiliate commission, there is no minimum consumption

**Payment:**Pay monthly, 60 days billing period

Pros:

  1. The platform tracking function is relatively complete, and various reports are comprehensive.

  2. Rich resources, based on localized resources of the Russian market and global traffic resources

  3. A dedicated account manager, convenient and timely communication

Cons:

  1. Channel contact information is not visible

  2. More garbage traffic

  3. The platform is biased towards affiliates, and advertisers’ interests are affected

  4. Commissions are troublesome to set up and need to be handled by your account manager

  5. Marketing Materials cannot be batch uploaded

Original Source: https://www.nextsmartship.com/2020-e-commerce-website-affiliate-marketing-guide/

Common design mistakes ecommerce sites make


As a WordPress Maintenance and Support Specialist at FixUpFox, I manage ecommerce websites on a daily basis. There are a few common mistakes that I see when people are starting up new ecommerce sites that I’d like to go over. Fixing these mistakes before your site is launched means that you’ll be presenting a better experience to potential customers, leading to higher conversion!

Not following design standards

We have a quarter-century of ecommerce design to draw upon when building our own sites. There are many standards and guidelines that exist for how to make a usable site that converts. Most of those standards are evident when you look at what a good ecommerce site is doing and note where things just make sense.

As an example, you’re likely to have pictures of your products to the upper left of a product page, with the product details to the right and description below. In that area to the right, you’re most likely going to find an add to cart or buy now button. You’re also going to be able to navigate through thumbnails if multiple images exist (and they probably should), as well as zoom in on images in some way.

The Petshop WooCommerce theme demonstrates a lot of great design standards, including compelling product images, straightforward navigation, and breadcrumbs to let you easily look at related products.

There’s no reason to stray too far from that layout when designing your ecommerce site. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Having some standards means that your visitors will know where things are, and not have to discover some other method of navigation.

Overly complex navigation

Speaking of navigation, there’s a lot to address there when it comes to design mistakes.

There are many ways navigation can affect your site. You want to ensure that the right customer can get to the right page with the fewest clicks, from entry onto your site to checkout.

Here are a few tips for fixing the navigation of your site.

  • Place less used navigation elements in the footer. You should absolutely provide trust to your customers in the form of a privacy policy, return policy, and terms and conditions. But links like those, as well as other useful but not as important for converting links should go in the footer of the site.
  • Make buttons and links large enough to click on mobile. If something is clickable, it should be clickable on mobile. We’ll talk about more mobile mistakes below.
  • Make search and filtering prominent. Customers don’t always know how to find what they’re looking for, and it’s your job to help them. Place a search bar and icon prominently on the page, and allow filtering if enough products exist to allow for it.
  • Make the shopping cart and add to cart buttons easy to find. This should be a given, but I’ve been on sites where I can’t figure out right away how to add a product to my cart, or how to get to my cart after I’ve added it. This is how sales are lost!

Not displaying related products

You may offer discounts on shipping or products if a customer purchases past a certain threshold. You may have products that go together, even if it’s not immediately obvious from the description that they do. You may just want to highlight the fact that two products are commonly purchased together, or that you want to have people buy.

One way to do this is to display related products on your single product page and in your shopping cart. A cross-sell is a product that would be in addition to the product that you are buying. For instance, if you buy a phone, you may also buy a phone case, which would be the up-sell. An up-sell would be a comparable product, but higher value in some way, like a newer model of a phone than the currently viewed product.

If you are using WooCommerce for your storefront, it’s easy to add related products, as well as cross-sells and up-sells on your store. Check out the WooCommerce documentation for instructions on how to do this.

Having a site that is not mobile-friendly

There aren’t many excuses left to not have a mobile-friendly ecommerce site beyond not wanting to make more sales. For some retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, more than half of their ecommerce site views are from mobile-only visitors.

You should look at a few things when making your website mobile-friendly. Ensure that it is responsive, meaning that all of the content stays on the page, but moves around to fit on the screen and not require sideways scrolling. Allow forms to autocomplete so that customers can easily enter shipping and billing data that they already have saved. Make all buttons and links large and make all text easy to read. Wherever you can, reduce the size of images and files to make your storefront faster to load.

The TeePublic mobile site is easy to navigate, while still displaying graphics for products front and center. Search, filtering, your cart, and navigation are all present and easy to access.

When in doubt, look at your site on a phone or two, as well as a tablet if you have one. Try navigating around and making a purchase or searching for products to see how it feels. If you can’t figure out how to get around your own site, your customers won’t be able to either.

While you’re at it, test your site on a variety of browsers as well. Chrome may be the dominant browser now, but it wasn’t always the case and it hopefully won’t always be. Check out your site on Firefox, in Safari and Edge if you can. Thankfully there are fewer cross-browser weirdness issues than in the past, but it still helps to be sure.

This was the fifth installment of our Black Friday series. Eager for more tips on optimizing your ecommerce performance? Stay tuned for more posts just like this one featuring industry experts and some of our technical partners. Learn how to improve your website design, conversions, online marketing, and more.  

How to maintain a fast ecommerce website


Whether you’re adding functionality to your website through a plugin, a theme, or carrying out bespoke development, it’s important to review any changes you make and the impact they have on your site performance. 

For any website, but especially for ecommerce, performance is extremely important. Your website speed has an impact on how you rank on search engines and on your customers’ experience when shopping with you. Slow websites result in fewer page views, a reduction in customer satisfaction, and fewer conversions. 

Setting up a website that’s optimized for speed is not a one-time deal. As your site grows, any changes you make can impact the work you’ve already done. If you’ve made a change that seems to be affecting your performance, you should immediately address it to get your site back on track. 

Creating the foundation

Before getting into all the considerations when making adjustments to your existing website, it’s very important to start with a solid foundation. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you are using WordPress, but much of the process still applies when working with other platforms.

From the outset, ensure you are hosting your website on a high-performance provider such as SiteGround. You should enable some form of caching (with SiteGround you can enable SuperCacher) which will keep things fast. For caching, although there are some amazing techniques that will make everything faster for the vast majority of people landing on your website, you still have to keep in mind visitors receiving an uncached piece of content. Caching is not a solution to all performance issues, especially since not all content can be cached.

It’s important to start with an optimized foundation for key areas of your website such as the home, product, cart and checkout pages. Ideally, you should also have a staging environment in order to carry out future tests in a safe way.

Setting a baseline

First of all, you’ll want to get a baseline of your current performance to know what you are working with.
To do this, I recommend using a selection of different tools, some of which serve the same function but ensure your results are more representative of your visitors. These tools are all free.

  • GTMetrix, provides an in-depth analysis of your page speed scores, fully-loaded times, page size and even total request generated on the page along with resolutions.
  • Pingdom, this serves the same purpose as GTMetrix but using multiple versions of a similar tool increases the accuracy of your results.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights, provides information on how your page loads along with additional audits and how to resolve issues if they are present.
  • Query Monitor, a WordPress plugin that gives insights into what your website is doing behind the scenes, how much memory it’s using, how many database queries it’s making, how many outside requests it makes and much more.
  • Chrome Developer tools, these are tools built into the Chrome browser that allow you to review, monitor and debug certain performance-heavy areas and even test things such as page speed yourself. If you’ve never used these tools, right-click on a website in Chrome and select inspect.

Start by using the first three tools above to run through your homepage and a product page. These first steps are easier to work with right in the browser without technical knowledge.

Once you’ve gone through these and made a note of the applicable load time, page size, etc., it’s time to move on to testing the cart, checkout and add to cart in your browser. To do so, head over to one of your product pages and open the developer tools (you can do so as above, use F12 or option + command + I)

Clear the log of any entries using the stop icon on the left-hand side, enable preserve log and disable cache. Once you’ve done so, add an item to your cart and make a note of the information along the bottom bar, repeat the same steps for the cart and checkout ensuring you have at least one item in your cart when you do so.

You can even use the menu highlighted in the image above to limit the speed of your tests. This is helpful when it comes to mobile users who are likely to be on slower connections such as 3G (always remember to switch this back to online if you change it though).

Building for the future

Now that you have a baseline to work with you can use this in the future whenever you make significant changes to your website. You can also use this to create certain targets for how fast the website should be.

If your baseline numbers seem slow, I would highly recommend going through Andrea Zoellner’s article which provides a brilliant starting point to boost performance all round.

Moving forward, you can use your staging website to test out new plugins, themes, or custom code, ensuring they provide what you are looking for. Make sure they aren’t causing any performance regressions by running through the tests again. You might be surprised at what can have an impact on your website speed. When companies like Amazon note that for every added 100ms in loading time, it cost them 1% in sales, it’s important to keep on top of these things.

A real world example of naive bespoke development

Now that we’ve gone through some of the basics, I’ll provide a real world example of a very small piece of code that had a significant impact on the speed of adding to cart, viewing the cart and using the checkout. This is a little more technical but provides a good insight into how a seemingly minor piece of code can have a big impact.

In this example, I addressed the general performance of the site but quickly noticed that there was still a major issue with the cart and checkout. It was taking anywhere between 5 and 20 seconds to load these two pages, which is way beyond an acceptable level (you want to aim for 1 to 3 seconds at most if you can). In return, this was causing a major decline in purchases. If a customer can browse your site, add items to the cart but then they get to the cart or checkout and it takes a long time to load, they are likely to give up after 5 seconds and your conversion rates drop significantly.

At this point, I decided to install the Query Monitor plugin on the site to see if anything obvious would jump out. After installing the plugin and activating it, I then went to the cart to see what diagnostic information it would give me. The first thing that jumped out was that the page was using a large amount of memory —60mb in fact! This may not sound like much, but it adds up quickly when you have a large amount of visitors on your site. This high memory usage lead me to believe that perhaps the page was loading a large amount of data from the database. I switched the query monitor tab to queries and scrolled through the list to eventually come across a particular query that had a very high row count and was taking a long time to process. This confirmed my initial suspicions for the reason of the high memory usage.

Then, we disabled every plugin except WooCommerce, repeated our test and still had an issue. We changed the theme, repeated our test and the issue was gone. Now we knew it was theme-related.

Knowing this, we re-enabled the plugins, carried out a further test and found that everything was running smoothly and at a much more acceptable: 2 second load time on the cart. We then re-enabled the bespoke theme and started digging into it, beginning with the functions.php file. 

During this time, I also had a discussion with the client to establish if they’d had anything in particular added recently because this issue was relatively new. They noted some functionality was developed for them. The new functionality was that a particular coupon would be automatically added to the cart if a customer was logged in and they had not made a previous purchase.

As you can imagine, there was a little back and forth here but it wasn’t long before I found what seemed to be the offending code. I commented it out and ran another test: 2 seconds load time again. Bingo! We found the issue. But now, how do we solve it?

 

The code before and after

Before:

Upon initial inspection, this particular piece of code looks fairly innocent. First, it loads all completed orders for the current customer based on their user id, counts them and then returns true or false depending on how many orders it counted.

However, let’s highlight some problems:

  1. It loads all orders, notice the -1 for numberposts
  2. It loads all orders even if the customer isn’t logged in (one of the requirements was only for logged in users)

The biggest issue with loading all orders, especially for a guest, is that for every new order made by a guest, this function will start getting exponentially slower as it has to query the database for all records. Because it’s using the get_posts function, WordPress will then parse all of those to a WP_Post object.

So issue one was addressed by altering numberposts to only 1 because we only need to load one completed order to know they’ve made a previous order. We also don’t need to run this if they are a guest, so we can add a further check at the start to return early if they aren’t logged in. This in turn means the query won’t run. We can also change this to use WP_Query instead of get_posts. It’s generally more correct to use WP_Query and it provides additional functionality. Lastly we can actually reduce the fields that the query returns because we don’t need them all to know there is an entry either.

After:

Following this fix, the cart and checkout loaded with in an acceptable 1 to 2 seconds for both guests and logged in customers. The best part is not only did the website go back to its usual sales, it further surpassed expectations by doubling them! This goes to show that taking care of performance can have a significant impact on your bottom line and is well worth the investment. You can do it yourself or have a third party carry out an audit and work with you on optimizing your site.

Be wary of copy and pasting code

Just for fun, I decided to see if I could find this problematic piece of code in the wild, to see if it had been taken from somewhere. I happened to find it on Stack Overflow which by all accounts means it was just copy and pasted with no thought given to how it might affect the site.  

I even took a look at some of the additional answers in that particular thread and although they are generally of higher quality, they all still suffer from the same issue of loading more data than necessary. This isn’t to say ours couldn’t be improved, we could in fact write a raw database query, but this would give a very minor improvement and become considerably less workable. There is a fine line between optimising code while keeping it understandable.

Scaling well to maintain speed

Changing your site carefully is an important part of maintaining a successful online business. The tips above like creating a solid and powerful foundation with a good host that has caching, using a staging site to test any of your changes, and evaluating any changes with speed tests can help you avoid major mistakes. Never implement any questionable code without testing it first and when in doubt, reach out to someone for a second opinion. With time, you’ll be able to scale your site and your revenue without worry.  

This was the 10th installment of our Black Friday series. Eager for more tips on optimizing your ecommerce performance? Stay tuned for more posts just like this one featuring industry experts and some of our technical partners. Learn how to improve your website design, conversions, online marketing, and more.  

Understanding LTL Shipping Rates for Retail and eCommerce Businesses


With more people diving into the world of ecommerce, dropshipping and selling on Amazon, the business of truck deliveries has been growing at a rapid pace as well.

In 2017, trucking revenues totaled $700 billion for medium and short distances. The transportation and logistics industry in the US has continued to thrive over the years. One of the shipping options that’s becoming prevalent is the Less-Than-Truckload shipping method, commonly referred to as LTL.

Related blog posts and resources:

LTL is highly flexible and convenient. What’s more, the approach is cost-effective for medium and small-sized businesses. LTL allows you to ship in a trailer’s smaller space instead of using the entire container.

You ought to have insights on LTL rates and tariffs. When you need to partner up with an affordable and reliable LTL shipping company for your business needs, understand how rates are calculated.

Weight in Freight Calculation

The heavier your shipment is, the more affordable it gets. In shipping, this aspect is referred to as the hundredweight pricing. There’s a chart listing the prices as per the weight.

Freight carriers refer to this chart to determine the cost of shipping your items. Heavier freight is often subject to discounts, commonly known as weight breaks. Understanding the base rates is essential in cost-saving.

You can increase the size of your goods slightly and enjoy almost a 50% price reduction. Illustratively, a company might be charging $79.05 for freight weighing between 0-499 lbs. You might need to increase the weight of cargo if the price reduces to $39.53 for 500 to 999lbs.

Freight Class

In LTL shipping, freight is in a different classification. The density and value of products determine the shipping rates. The National Motor Freight Classification has grouped freight into eighteen groups. The groups are from 50 to 500, with 50 being the cheapest and 500 the most expensive.

These classes focus on stowability, density, liability, and handling. Products such as food snacks can have a higher rate regardless of the low weight. Such orders are prone to damage, which necessitates extra caution when transporting.

Besides, some items are not stackable. That means that such orders would require more space than other cargos with the same weight. Consequently, shippers will expect you to compensate for such variations.

Ensure that you provide adequate details about your shipments. You will get accurate pricing and avoid unanticipated billings. Undervaluing your products for cheaper rates might have more costly impacts at the end.

Density

Density is another factor affecting LTL shipping rates. Density refers to the space occupied by the shipment, which is in relation to the shipment’s weight. You get the density by dividing the item’s weight by the volume, which is in cubic feet.

The density of your shipment determines your freight class. Just like weight, the higher the density, the cheaper the freight charges. Products with lower density mostly fall in the 125 to 500 categories, which is more costly.

If your items are in pallets, calculate the density using the pallet’s dimensions, height, and weight of freight. Ensure that you consider any protrusions or overhangs when getting the dimensions. Once you determine the density of your shipment, get the LTL shipping quote and have your order delivered.

Distance

Distance has significant effects on shipping rates. If the distance is long, the price will go high. A longer distance translates to more fuel, equipment, and labor.

You’ll need to know the regions with specific carrier services. Some of these shipping companies don’t go beyond some geographic areas. Such information will save you from incurring more costs to have your shipment within your zip code.

Most companies result in interlining, which is the transfer of shipment to an LTL carrier servicing your area. The process ensures that your luggage will get to the specified address. However, you might need to dig deeper into your pockets to cover any extra costs resulting from the high minimum charges and low discounts.

Freight All Kinds

The freight all kinds, mostly referred to as FAK, refers to an arrangement where the carrier allows clients to ship different categories of items, with the billing being of one freight class. Multiple products can attract higher costs. But with this kind of arrangement, you can save some bucks.

If your commodities range between 100 and 200, you can negotiate with your career to rate your shipment as 150. This approach helps you to save, especially on high-ranking shipments.

A client should have substantial information on shipment classes to have the upper hand in negotiations. Know your shipment class before seeking for the shipping service. You will be able to negotiate for better terms based on the type of commodities.

Base Rates

The net profit of freight trucking companies grew by 6% by 2017. Despite the different base rates, LTL carriers have been growing steadily. You need to establish a carrier with a lower base rate for friendly LTL shipping rates.

The base rates are per hundredweight. Shipping companies determine the base rates based on gross costs, demands, and volume. With the notable variations between shippers, you need to get comprehensive quotes for companies you’ve identified.

Gross costs can increase if the lanes provide a stable balance between freight and trucks. Shipping Carriers can change their base rate to accommodate more volume. You need to understand some of these factors affecting the base rate.

Accessorial

LTL shipping goes beyond the typical services provided. A carrier can provide extra services, making you liable for freight accessorial charges. You need to incorporate these rates when calculating your shipping costs.

Accessorial services include residential delivery or pickup, liftgate service, and delivery to limited access areas, among other extras. Negotiate on these accessorials to reduce the overall shipping cost. Better still, provide all necessary information upfront to avoid getting invoices for services you hadn’t anticipated.

Information on LTL Shipping Can Enable You to Calculate Shipping Rates before Engaging Any Carrier

Get to understand all the factors affecting LTL shipping. With such insights, you’ll know how to save on shipping while still enjoying optimal services. Your carrier should provide all the information upfront for better negotiations.

Explore our site further to read more articles on business, SEO, and other informative content.



WordPress Ecommerce Hosting with WooCommerce


The easiest way to build a custom online store

GoDaddy and WooCommerce have teamed up to make building an online store with WordPress easier than ever.

Our new WordPress Ecommerce Hosting plan comes with a pre-installed online store powered by WooCommerce, plus a variety of premium extensions including Advanced Notifications, Memberships, WooCommerce Brands and more.

Why a WordPress Ecommerce Hosting plan?

Building a successful online store can be a daunting task. You need to choose the right hosting plan, the right website builder tool, and the right eCommerce platform.

It’s complicated and time-consuming, not only for aspiring entrepreneurs, but even for web designers and developers.

Our new WordPress Ecommerce Hosting plan dramatically simplifies the process. We believe it’s the easiest way to build a powerful and highly-customized online store.

Here’s how it works.

We started with WordPress

WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder. It’s the top content management system (CMS) powering over a third of all websites worldwide. For comparison, the next largest CMS powers under 3%.

WordPress dominates, and for good reason. It’s open-source software built by tens of thousands of developers around the world. That focus and community effort has resulted in the most flexible, feature-rich website platform available.

As the world’s #1 web host, powering over 5 million WordPress sites around the globe, we see WordPress used every day by tech-savvy everyday entrepreneurs alongside web designers and developers.

We partnered with WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the #1 eCommerce solution for WordPress. It has unmatched functionality and usage, powering millions of online stores around the globe.

On October 22, 2019, GoDaddy and Automattic (the parent company of WooCommerce) announced that we joined forces in a formal partnership.

Together, we’re delivering an exciting new hosting plan that makes building a highly-customized online store easier than ever.

WooCommerce is now featured on our WordPress Hosting page

Now it’s easier to launch & manage an online store

Start customizing in 70% fewer steps

It takes 4 steps to set up a typical WordPress online store:

  1. Choose a hosting plan
  2. Install WordPress
  3. Install WooCommerce
  4. Install WooCommerce extensions (add-ons that enhance the functionality of your online store, such as the ability to auto-populate USPS shipping rates into your cart)

We’ve combined these 4 steps into 1. It not only makes the process easier, but also lets you begin editing in 70% fewer steps than leading competitors.

Guided to success

The GoDaddy WordPress Hosting Ecommerce plan includes an “Action Center” that helps guide you to success. It will prompt you to complete key tasks as you build your site and set setup your online presence. Some of these tasks include activating your custom domain, optimizing SEO, utilizing Google marketing credits, or setting up a business email address.

Free SSL, configured and automatically maintained

The Ecommerce plan includes an SSL certificate that is 100% hassle-free. Once you assign a custom domain to your site, the SSL certificate will automatically deploy and from there the maintenance of the certification is 100% automated.

WordPress updates done for you

Ensuring that your site uses the latest version of WordPress helps keep your site secure and running its fastest.

As part of the GoDaddy WordPress Hosting experience, we will automatically complete all WordPress software updates. No work is required by you.

GoDaddy and WooCommerce bring unmatched value

You can create an amazing online store without breaking the bank. With the GoDaddy WordPress Hosting Ecommerce plan, you’ll get free access to over a $1,000 of WooCommerce extensions.

These extensions allow you to add unique functionality to your site such as the ability to sell memberships, sell personalized products, allow payment plans, and offer rewards.

Is the new WordPress Ecommerce plan right for you?

WordPress is the most-used website builder tool in the world. It offers an incredible amount of freedom and flexibility, making it the tool of choice for tech-savvy DIY entrepreneurs and website designers and developers.

But with that flexibility comes complexity.

If you’re already familiar with WordPress and WooCommerce, or are somewhat tech-savvy and willing to learn, our new WordPress Ecommerce plan will be a great fit.

If you’re looking for a quicker, easier solution and don’t need the highest level of flexibility, GoDaddy Websites + Marketing might be a better option.

Ready to launch your online store with WooCommerce?

Start creating your online store today — plans start at $15.99 per month.