Category Archives: Blog

3 Steps to Test Your New eCommerce Site

As a non technical person, being asked to test your new or upgraded website can seem like a daunting task, however it doesn’t have to be! This short article will give you the guidelines needed to make sure you cover all the basics in site testing.

By testing your own site, you can help ensure that all the pieces are there to make sure your business processes are effectively implemented and that there isn’t something missing!

1. Think like an Established Customer

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What products do I want to buy?
  • What information do I need to decide to buy?
  • Are there any features of the website making buying difficult?

Pick your top 10 products you want to be selling and try to find them on the new website. Fully complete a checkout process including creating test orders using all the payment methods you have available.

2. Think like a New Customer

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What would help me build buying confidence?
  • Are the shipping and delivery options clear?
  • Are the descriptions on products clear and concise?
  • Does my About section clearly tell my story?

Browse your site with the eyes of a stranger. Do you trust it? Enlist some friends not familiar with your site too. Do they feel comfortable purchasing from your new site?

3. Think like an Admin of Your Site

Now that you have created test orders in the previous steps, go through the admin side of your site.

Admin tests:

  • Pretend like you are filling those orders you created
  • Create new products
  • Edit existing products
  • Use any custom tools you have

Are there any business processes missing? You are the best person to test this part as you know how your business operates.

Have a staff of many? Enlist the appropriate staff members to test their specific area of the site they use. Usually the more testing the better!

eCommerce Testing Summary

Programmers and developers can thoroughly test your site from a technical perspective and many times user perspective too. However having one type of person test your new website, will limit the perspective of the testing. Having many different types of people, and many different knowledge backgrounds will help your site be much more successful in launch! Everyone sees the website differently, just like everyone sees the world differently!

Need user testing or help upgrading your site? Contact Us today! We have launched and upgraded countless eCommerce sites since 2002!

Top 5 Fall Maintenance Items for your Ecommerce Site

Just like you have a list of maintenance items you would do on your house or building every Fall to prepare it for winter, so should you be doing maintenance and preparation for the upcoming Holiday season! Even if your business doesn’t rely on Holiday Ecommerce Sales, you should be regularly maintaining and reviewing your website. What better time to do it than before the end of the year?

1. Security Patches

Lack of applying Security patches is one of the number one reasons eCommerce sites get hacked. If you run X-cart or Magento, they regularly push out security patches a few times a year.

Security Patches for X-cart and Magento generally are fairly easy to update and install. If you are hosted with us, you automatically get security patches applied. Make sure if you are hosted somewhere else, that you have us apply them for you or hire a developer if you are unsure how to patch your site!

2. New Content

Do you have a blog on your site, a news area? If you aren’t consistent throughout the year at creating new articles, you should at least once a quarter be creating a new article. Having new content on your site shows Google that you are still there and still updating the site. Otherwise you become stale and less important to the search engines.

So having a plan for new content, even if it’s only once a quarter is key. Be consistent and stick with it. Your topics can even vary and don’t have to be directly about your business. Just keep them interesting and tell your story!

3. Review Old Content

Have you looked through your website lately? Do you have any old articles that are so out dated, they do not make sense anymore? Be sure to review your site at least twice a year to remove old, stale and out dated information.

Keeping old content can be good and key for search engines, but if you know it is not in any way relevant, then get rid of it. So when you are reviewing, think from an outside readers perspective.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I want a prospective customer having this page as my first impression?
  • Does this article provide good information still?
  • Do I need to rewrite this to keep it relevant?

4. Test your site for usability

How long has it been since you pretended to be the customer? Have you tested your site on Desktop, Mobile and Tablet devices recently?

Standards change and devices change, it is a good idea to explore your site regularly with multiple different brands and types of devices. You may find some glaringly obvious issues that weren’t there before! It could be preventing you from getting the sales you need and want! Usually just a quick typical testing of your site is key to finding any big issues that may be new.

5. Review your Competitors

Regularly checking in on your competitor’s sites is key. You may find something they are doing really well that you should be doing as well. You may find something they are not doing well, that you do well. In this case, you can work to highlight what you are doing well and be able to stand out from the crowd.

One thing you never want to be though is a copy-cat. Make sure if you do find features or functions that your competitor does well, that you put your own twist or uniqueness when you work to implement something similar. Your customers want to shop with you because of you. Never try to be something or someone else than you are!

Need help with a Site Review?

Give us a call or contact us! We would be happy to set up a consultation for a site review!

Athens Ohio is about to Double in Size!

Our city is about to double in size and go from about 25,000 people to about 45,000! Ohio University classes start Monday! Most of us at BCSE have at least one degree from this wonderful university!

Ohio University is the state’s first university, established in 1804 and is situated in beautiful South Eastern Ohio. Every Spring, the city “breathes out” when the students leave and the locals enjoy a much quieter few months. Then every Fall, we breathe back in around 20,000 students to the Athens campus. We enjoy the diversity and culture that the university brings to this unique area of the state.

Once you’ve lived here and experienced the city, you will never find a place quite like Athens Ohio!

Read more about Ohio University: https://www.ohio.edu/

robots.txt Changes with Google Core Updates

Google has announced a major change to the way it’s web-crawler responds to directives within the robots.txt file.

Under the latest “Core Update“, Google will stop supporting robots.txt rules that are not published in the open-source Robots Exclusion Protocol Specification, including the “noindex” and “nofollow” directives.

Google is providing recommendations for how website operators should handle these changes:

  • Noindex in meta tags. You should use <meta name="robots" content="noindex"> on all pages that you previously listed in robots.txt with a noindex directive.
  • HTTP 404/410 status codes. Google will drop any page which returns one of these status codes. For instance, if a page legitimately no longer exists.
  • Password Protection. Use markup to indicate subscription or paywalled content as Google will remove all password protected content that’s not legitimate subscription or paywalled content from indexing. Thus, password protecting content removes that content from Google.
  • Disallow Directive. Search engines only index pages that they know about. Therefore you should use the disallow directive in robots.txt to indicate that Google cannot crawl that content.
  • Search Console Remove URL tool. The tool is a quick and easy method to remove a URL temporarily from Google’s search results.

In conclusion, Google aims to make the internet a more open and simpler place by implementing these changes. In most cases, the end result will be a much simpler robots.txt file and an easier time for webmasters protecting content.

As always, BCSE is here and ready to assist with your SEO. If you need assistance with your e-Commerce or other website, SEO, or hosting please contact us today!

Carding Prevention with Payflow

Paypal has recently announced that they have added a new feature to their popular Payflow Payment Gateway. The new feature aims to limit the impact of carding, or a process that


fraudsters use to determine whether stolen card numbers are active and not yet reported lost or stolen

Source: 3dcart

Carding can take on many forms, including:

A single card repeatedly used in quick succession for low or identical dollar amounts
Multiple cards repeatedly used in quick succession for low or identical dollar amounts
Cards with the same information (name and/or billing address) from the same IP address
Multiple cards with differing information (name and/or billing address) from the same IP address
Multiple cards with different billing addresses but an identical BIN (Bank Identification Number)

Source: 3dcart

The the new carding module for Payflow e-commerce stores will now get notified of suspected carding activity. Paypal will return a new result code, 170, indicating that “Fraudulent activity detected: carding.” The account will also be blocked at Paypal from purchases in your store.

Don’t worry, you’ll be able to easily unblock accounts in your Paypal Manager.

Look for forthcoming updates to the Paypal modules for Magento, X-cart, and other e-commerce packages. Most stores will still handle this new error code and prevent the purchase from registering to the vendor even without an update.

For more information on Payflow Carding Protection, visit the announcement.

And if you’re concerned about excessive carding attempts occurring with your e-commerce store contact us today to see how we can help!

Granting Access to Google Analytics

Frequently, we find ourselves needing access to our client’s Google Analytics accounts. In order to provide access to us, follow these simple steps:


Step #1: Login to your Analytics Account.

Step #2: Navigate to “Admin” in the lower left corner.

Step #3: Select User Management for either a particular Analytics Account, Property, or View. (Generally, if you are unsure, you can simply add a user to your analytics Account and they will be able to see everything you see.)

Step #4: Select Add User from the large “plus sign” menu.

Step #5: Enter in the user’s email address, adjust permissions if you desire to give the user more control than simply viewing the data, and then select “Add”.

That’s it. You’ve now added a user to your Google Analytics account!

Consulting Services

Consulting Services from BCS Engineering

BCS Engineering is the largest third-party developer of X-cart modules and customizations. Since 2002, we’ve been helping e-commerce retailers improve their sales, customer engagement, and customer satisfaction.

And we’re not just X-cart experts! Our staff includes Magento-certified developers, and we can honestly say that for one project or another, we’ve worked with every major e-Commerce platform, web framework, and sales tool under the sun.

That’s why we’re uniquely suited to help you.


Our Diverse Expertise

Strategy and Planning

Our team has over 65 years of combined e-commerce experience. This expertise allows us to deliver an unbiased, comprehensive assessment of your e-commerce strategy. We can help you refine your processes to be more efficient, most cost- and consumer-friendly, and most importantly deliver better results year-over-year.

Design and Implementation

Above all, e-commerce implementations are complex. Our team has the experienced needed to not only assess your needs, but also to deliver the functionality that those needs demand as well. We are expert e-commerce developers with experience using the X-cart, Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, and PinnacleCart platforms.

Development and Customization

We’re engi-nerds at heart. We love making existing tools do new and useful things for our customers. That’s why we pride ourselves on knowing our platforms, building useful tools, and making the machinery of e-commerce work efficiently and in customer-friendly ways.

Marketing and Search Optimization

We’ve implemented thousands of e-commerce projects that are generating tens of millions in digital sales for our customers every year. Therefore we have the know-how and have e-commerce best practices down to a science. Our e-commerce consulting team will help you transform great digital experiences into amazing revenue generators.


How can we help you?

Give us a call or send us an email today, and let us discuss how we can help your e-commerce business. Whether you’re a new store looking to acquire customers or you’ve been doing this a while and would just like an outside perspective, we can help. Our 4-hour engagement will typically include:

  • firstly, we provide an site assessment and evaluation of your current e-commerce practices,
  • secondly, a one-on-one discussion with a member of our engineering team about concrete next actions you can take to improve your business and online presence,
  • next we’ll provide recommendations for new integrations of development that we can assist you with,
  • and lastly we’ll engage with you in open, honest discussion about any questions or concerns you bring to us about your business.

We want to see your store succeed. We can help your store succeed. Our consulting services are designed with your best interests in mind. So reach out to us to schedule an e-commerce consultation or discuss other ways that BCSE can help you today!

WordPress 5.0: “Bebo”

Wordpress 5.0 "Bebo" Released Today

WordPress 5.0: featuring the Gutenberg editor, a new theme, and new developer features!

Hot off the heals of Magento’s recent 2.3 release, WordPress is the one shaking up the world this week with the all-new WordPress 5.0. Lots of new features are added with this major release, for example Gutenberg, the all-new editor. (That’s right, it’s time to say goodbye to TinyMCE!)

 

Gutenberg Editor

The new editor for WordPress 5.0 is based around “blocks”, or small content-insertion areas of different types, i.e. media, text, quote, or code. This is akin to how many of the most popular site-builder plugins work. The idea is that it’ll allow non-web developers create, slick, modern content with no code.

Twenty Nineteen

WordPress 5.0 also includes the new “Twenty Nineteen” theme. Designed to integrate nicely with the Gutenberg editor, the new Twenty Nineteen theme features custom styles to take advantage of all of the varied “block” types available in the editor. It wraps these in a versatile, slick, and responsive package.

Should you update?

A major release like this is always likely to introduce new bugs and changes. You should always be particularly cautious about “dot zero” updates especially. While we’ve seen no major incompatibilities between our integrations and the new WordPress, we are recommending that our e-commerce clients remain cautious.

In particular, there is a good deal of controversy surrounding the new editor. And some blogs are claiming that the new block editor is not ready for prime time, as of just yesterday.

We generally follow the no-“dot zero” philosophy… avoid releases with numbers like x.0… and that holds true here. We are advising clients with production sites to exhibit caution, and delay updating, until the community has more thoroughly-vetted WordPress 5.0. Until then, if you have a development environment for you store or blog, and wish to explore WordPress 5 and it’s interaction with you store, you can download it here.

Unsure? Let the experts at BCS Engineering help. Contact us today!

 

 

Magento 2.3 Released

Magento 2.3 Released!

Magento 2.3: Multi-source Inventory, Progressive Web Apps (PWA) support, and more!

The long awaited release of both the Magento Commerce and Open Source editions is available now at Magento.com.

Mobile Experience

Firstly, the Progressive Web Applications (PWA) Studio enables merchants to deliver their mobile store in an all-new app-like experience on modern, compatible devices. The new experience is faster and more responsive than traditional mobile skins, therefore improving conversions and sales across mobile channels.

Better Inventory

In addition to an improved mobile experience, the new Multi Source Inventory improves your supply chain management. The new system lets merchants manage inventory located in physically distinct warehouses and source channels in a single interface. Track inventory per source location and globally so that you can now know what quantity you have and where it’s located in your supply chain!

New Design Features

PageBuilder is an all-new drag-and-drop editing tool for site content. This new tool will help store operators update the look-and-feel of their site without having to hire a developer. In addition, this new tool uses a flexible grid-system, so that you can make new pages or tweak existing pages, without worrying about placement issues.

Other Changes

  • New options for shipping and order fulfillment.
  • A new declarative database schema; making life easier for developers.
  • Improved performance indexing site content,
  • Lastly, better security with update reCAPTCHA and Two Factor Authentication (2FA) options.

You can see the full list of changes by accessing the release notes for Magento Commerce and Magento Open Source, respectively.

For assistance upgrade, or to discuss how the new features of the Magento platform can aid your store, contact BCS Engineering today!

Last Minute Prep for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Are YOU ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?!Thanksgiving is next week, which means the e-commerce world is frantically preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While others prepare to gorge on turkey and spend some serious dough, are you sure your store is ready for the rush? Here’s some quick tips to get your store in shape for the busiest shopping days of the year!

Prepare Your Store

Do you have your Black Friday and Cyber Monday graphics ready to go? Do you know the plan for pushing them live? Have you tested the look-and-feel out in a development environment?

Are your offers ready? Do the coupon codes work? Have you checked to make sure the appropriate limitations on those codes are in place? And, most importantly, is your site secured?

Optimize Search

If you don’t already have robust keywords in your store, now is the time to add some! Have you properly configured Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools? These tools provide starting points for seeing what the major search engines know about your site. You can then use a good SEO mod, or tools built-in to your cart to make sure your key words have been properly added and are positively affecting your search standings.

If your business is tight on cash flow, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do! A little bit goes a long way, and since SEO should be a major component of any sales strategy in e-Commerce, if you’ve neglected this, there’s no time like the present to step up and make your site search-friendly.

Prepare for the Worst

What’s your Black Friday disaster plan? Do you have support staff on standby? What will do you if you run out of stock? Is your fulfillment team ready to get those Black Friday and Cyber Monday orders to customers?

And what about technical problems? Do you know what to do if the store is crashing on Black Friday? Do you have site backups? What about the database? One small error can massively mess that up for the whole weekend if you don’t have a contingency plan in place.

Your most likely source of problems on Black Friday or Cyber Monday will be the customers. Do you lay out your store policies on returns and shipping, and list your Holiday delivery deadlines in a clear manner on your site? Making sure your policies are clear can make working with unhappy customers easier and less time consuming post-holiday.

Aim for the Best

You should aim to give your customers a great shopping experience on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you haven’t refreshed your store’s look and feel in some time, now is not the time to try radical changes, but small quality of life improvements can go a long way.

  • Do you have mobile friendly pages? Will your Black Friday / Cyber Monday images and promotions look nice on mobile devices?
  • Do you have abandoned cart reminders enabled, so that you can re-capture those customers that are on the fence about their purchase?
  • Are you offering a loyalty program, and rewarding your loyal customers?

And, last but not least… social media. Are you engaging with your customers about what deals you’re bringing to them this Black Friday / Cyber Monday? Much of your attention this week and in the run-up to Black Friday should be on how you can capture your (future) customer’s attention next weekend. Here are some tips:

Appeal to the vanishing deal!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over fast… encourage quick purchases by appealing to your customers sense of urgency and implying scarcity of your products.

Update Your Profiles

Give your social media presence a quick make-over with new graphics, and make sure your information and correct and concise.

Use Your Blog

Write guides (like this one) in the run-up to your Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals. Review products you want to sell, or create short tutorial videos to soak up the customer’s attention.

Research

Do your homework. There’s tons of amazing guides! Her’s just a few to get you started:

When in doubt, seek help!

BCS Engineering is staffed with e-Commerce experts that have been working in the field since 2004. If you’re not sure you’re ready, or if you just want to get some feedback about a particular issue, we’re here to help you survive Black Friday and BEYOND! Contact us today to see how we can help you!