Category Archives: Ecommerce

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!

PHP 5 Deprecated This December!

PHP 5.x will be deprecated at the end of 2018!

One of the most popular platforms on the web — PHP 5 — will stop receiving security updates at the end of the year.

According to The PHP Group, security updates will only be issued for the popular PHP 5.6 branch through the end of this year.

This will have a huge impact on the web at-large and the e-commerce community more specifically. Many popular cart solutions rely upon PHP, including X-cart, Magento, and WooCommerce. Many stores also rely on PHP to run their blogging/news components in the form of CMS tools like WordPress.

“This is a huge problem for the PHP ecosystem,” Scott Arciszewski, Chief Development Officer at Paragon Initiative Enterprise, told ZDNet in an interview. “While many feel that they can ‘get away with’ running PHP 5 in 2019, the simplest way to describe this choice is: Negligent.”

from “Around 62 percent of all Internet sites will run an unsupported PHP version in 10 weeks” (ZDNet, 14 Oct 2018)

What do I do?

If your site is currently operating on PHP 5, you should determine which of the 5.x branches you’re currently using. Updates have ceased for the 5.4 and 5.5 branches of PHP 5 since September 2015 and July 2016 respectively.

PHP Calendar from https://secure.php.net/supported-versions.php [Retrieved 15 Oct 2018]

How quickly you need to deploy a new version on your site depends upon just how out-of-date you are. Generally speaking, anyone using any branch of PHP 5 should update as soon as possible. If you’re on 5.4 or 5.5, you should contact your hosting provider ASAP.

However, our experience is the moving from PHP 5 to PHP 7 is a non-trivial process. A lot has changed. Some of those changes are very fundamental. Therefore it’s not at all uncommon for us to see sites break when site move from 5 to 7.

Don’t host your site with a provider that automatically
updates major versions of PHP without warning!

BCSE will be migrating our hosted clients to PHP 7 in the coming weeks. We encourage our customers to monitor their inboxes for notification of pending updates. And, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions along the way.

Preparing Your Store for the Holidays 2018

It’s beginning to look a lot like… October?

Now that it’s October, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming holiday 2018 rush. Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Giving Tuesday! Now is the time to start getting ready, or else you may have to deal with ‘Weeping Wednesday’ when you take a look at your sales.

$335 is the average amount spent online per person in the US during the five day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday last Holiday season.

Why prepare now?

Simply put, the holiday season is the biggest retail sales period of the year, and you don’t want to miss out. If you have an online presence, you should expect people to be shopping your store on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and that there’s going to be a large, active shopping presence throughout the holiday season.

Take advantage of the months before November and December, when sales are steady and stable, to look over last year’s sales data.

  • What areas did you do well in?
  • Where do you need improvement?
  • Are there features you’ve been putting off implementing that you’d like to have for this year’s busy season?

Some typical issues that site owner see are site functionality that could be improved, your logistics and product delivery pipeline, and poor marketing positions. Is your store lacking in one (or all) of these areas?

43% of US internet users are shopped online on Cyber Monday 2017 via mobile.

Mobile Matters

Mobile sales are shattering records year-after-year. Does your mobile presence inspire trust in your brand among your customers? Is your mobile site easy to navigate? Are you accessibility friendly?

It can take two months or more to develop mobile enhancements to an existing e-Commerce site that doesn’t natively support mobile. Often, an entire site theme needs to be rebuilt and adapted to your store. The middle of November is not a good time to think about a major redesign. Start early, reap the rewards this holiday season.

58 million Americans are shopping online only this holiday season.

Smooth Stores Make More

How does your site perform? Have you tested it? There a tons of website performance calculators out there… is your site up to par? If your performance isn’t where you want it, your customers could be experiencing frustration while using your site, and that could turn them away from your shop when there are deals to be had literally everywhere.

Things you can do now:

  • Have a professional performance audit — Let one of our engineers evaluate your site’s configuration and actual performance in real world testing, to determine whether there are any changes that can optimize your content delivery.
  • Compression — Reduce the size of your content (especially images) by compressing it before delivery. This will make your site faster and, therefore, more friendly to customers. You can also minify CSS and JS, and deploy your site over a content delivery network to improve performance further.
  • Load Balancing — When your service capacity is too small for the amount of traffic your site generates, you start to see “connection refused” errors. Using multiple servers sitting a load-balancer to evenly distribute the traffic can keep your site snappy even under intense load.
  • Is your code efficient? — Are you using 50 plugins? Do you have a spaghetti mess of customizations that have been built over years and year of tweaks? Maybe you’re running an older platform that needs upgraded? All of these things can lead to inefficent, ugly, and insecure code. This one is best left to professionals to handle… contact us today!

51% of US internet users would shop digitally at the Thanksgiving table to "get an amazing deal."

But Deals Matter Most

Fundamentally, shoppers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are out for deals. Now is a good time to sit down, look at your product offerings and margins, and develop a sales strategy for the holiday season. Furthermore, figuring out what you really want to sell this holiday season can tell you how to sell it.

Starting now, you have a solid 6 week period for getting together new graphics, marketing materials, and planning a strategy for enticing customers into your store.

Ideally, you’ll have a solid strategy in place a few weeks before the holiday season starts. If you couple this with a site that’s been checked out by a professional, with any issues fixed or maybe even updated a bit, you’re sure to have a stellar holiday season.

Holiday Help

Let BCS Engineering ease some of the stress of operating an e-commerce store this holiday season. Our engineers have been designing, building, maintaining, and building custom enhancements for e-Commerce sites of all flavors since 2002! We’ve got what it takes to get your site in shape for the holidays, and we’re here to help. Contact us today!

Authorize.Net Implementing Changes

Authorize.net Implementing Changes

Authorize.net is implementing changes:
Any customers having the Authorize.net DPM prior to November 10, 2016 for versions 4.4.x through 4.7.x will need to get an updated module before July 19, 2019. More information can be found at https://developer.authorize.net/api/upgrade_guide/

Anyone running the Authorize.net DPM module on 4.0.x through 4.3.x will need to contact us for customization so your module will continue to work past July 2019.

Please contact us to receive a quote for the update or customization!

Social Media Data Collection & You!

Social Media Data Collection & What You Need to Know

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the cost in personal information that occurs by participating in online social media.    It’s a “free” relationship that we initiate and companies are now starting to understand the complexity of managing social media data that is collected.  We should all take some time to understand the following 3 lessons learned from companies that have not done a great job in protecting this data in the past.

1. Awareness is the Beginning.

It’s increasingly important for companies to fully understand how social media interactions with mass consumer bases actually work and to question how they can be more responsible stewards of their customers’ data. Much of society views all 3rd parties that receive personal information as malicious.  However, there are brands that depend on direct social media contact with consumers.  Understanding why that information is needed and how it protect it is key.  For some businesses, their direct marketing strategy is based on the data that is gathered and customers do benefit greatly from this approach.

2. Fair Exchange Increases Consumer Willingness.

For the companies that rely on direct marketing strategies, eliminating this type of data collection is not realistic and would be a detriment to their business model.  Loyalty programs are based around this type of data and as time passes,  consumers are more comfortable sharing this information.   One recent survey indicated that 87 percent of online shoppers are willing to trade personal information for better shopping experiences. The shift in customers allowing this data exchange and enjoying the benefits has allowed marketers and consumers to develop more personalized relationships.  All of this is based on in-depth access to consumer data.

However, the recent events at Facebook have thrown a wrench in the works. A subset of bad third-party actors, such as Cambridge Analytica, has created an issue that affects ANY company working with social media.   As a result, Facebook has stopped development work of thousands of third-party apps that access its users and their data. This means that hundreds of well-known brands, including the trusted vendors that help those brands manage their customer interactions, have also had to stop or slow up the improvement, support and maintenance of their social media accounts.

While this is problematic, it’s not unwarranted as we would all agree that more transparency is needed when it comes to how our personal data is used.

3. Adaptability is key.

Many companies that work with social media are well versed in the best way to handle this data and can adapt quickly to new regulations and changes.  Most major companies employ 3rd party platforms to handle their numerous social media interactions.  For these companies, changes in regulation and and protocol are much more easily managed.

However, there are major differences in legitimate 3rd party third-party vendors and the illegitimate data harvesters.  Understanding these differences and how companies manage their data will be the driving force behind how a company proceeds.  Do they choose a customized program that meets their needs specifically or a standardized platform that can be more easily adapted to changes in regulations?

In general, companies will have to provide transparency into their data collection and be prepared to have a platform in place that can quickly and easily adapt to new changes in policy & regulations.

Contact us for more information regarding compliance and what you can do to make sure you are protected.  For more information regarding this topic, you can view the source for this blog post and dive deeper into the subject matter.

 

Growing Your Business-Tips from Tony Robbins

Three Simple Tips to Growing Your Business

This recent Entrepreneur article really hit home with us and we felt the need to summarize this for our followers.

1. Decide What you Will Focus On

Focus on what works and master it!  Placing focus on the negatives of your business will cause those issues to magnify into larger issues down the road.  Start by finding one thing that works and make it better and move on to the next positive item in your business and so on.

2. Stop Lying to Yourself

Become brutally honest with yourself.  Take 30 minutes per day to relax and reflect on the current state of your life in the following business categories: staff, systems, business relationships, finances and growth.  Ask yourself these 3 questions for each category: “How are we doing in this category?,” “What does this mean?” and “Where would I like to be?”  Your answers may surprise you.

3. Choose an Ultra-Specific Action to Complete

You’ve identified what you will focus on and become honest with yourself about it. Now you’re ready to take action. By taking more action, you will gain experience. Robbins says that action leads to more business success.

If you’d like more info, read the full article or contact us if we can be of any assistance.

GDPR and What You Need to Know!

What is GDPR?

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) introduces a set of privacy regulations, which expand the individual rights and protections of EU personal data, how it is handled, stored, etc.

Who does GDPR apply to?

GDPR applies to organizations established in the EU that process personal data.  It also applies to organizations outside of the EU that provide goods or services to individuals in the EU, or monitor the data of these in the EU. If your company touches any EU-based individual’s data, then you need to have proper protection and data management in place.  It does not matter if that individual is in the EU at the time of them using your website or services.

Do I need to be GDPR Compliant?

Every company should consult with their legal teams to know if they need to be GDPR compliant.  However, the general rules above can get you started and it’s likely that you are affected in some way.  If your company touches any EU-based individual’s data, then you need to have proper protection and data management in place.  It does not matter if that individual is in the EU at the time of them using your website or services.

When does GDPR take effect?

The new GDPR regulation goes into effect on May 25, 2018.

Does GDPR just apply to my website?

Not necessarily.  If you process EU data via any of your other business systems, they will need to comply as well.  You will need to confer with your legal counsel to be sure, as BCS Engineering cannot provide you with legal advice.  We encourage you to review all services and contracts connected to third-party companies with your legal counsel, in order to confirm GDPR compliance.

Can BCS Engineering help with GDPR?

Yes, absolutely! BCS Engineering is fully capable of helping you with your GDPR Compliance. We can implement and analyze your applications to help you achieve compliance & assist you with any other issues that you might have regarding GDPR. We are offering a 4 hour consult which includes a phone consultation to understand your business processes.  We will then use that information to look into your site and propose changes that we recognize & provide a time estimate to achieve those changes.  If there is time remaining in the 4 hour consult after completing the above tasks, we will use that remaining time to start implementing the changes that we identify.

We will base our work off of current best practices regarding GDPR & do our best at that point in time to help you achieve compliance.  However, we do want our clients to understand that these regulations are a moving target & constantly changing.  We encourage you to review all services and contracts connected to third-party companies with your legal counsel, in order to confirm GDPR compliance.

Contact us for a quote to help you with your specific needs!

Where can I find more information on GDPR?

Please refer to the European Commission’s Website.

Magento Sites Targeted by Hackers

Has your Magento Site Been Hacked?

Researchers at Flashpoint have discovered that at least 1,000 sites running Magento have been compromised by brute force attacks to scrape credit card numbers and install malware that mines cryptocurrency. The Magento sites are being compromised through brute-force attacks using common and known default Magento credentials. These attacks occur when admins fail to change the credentials upon installation of the platform. Attackers can then build simple, automated scripts loaded with known credentials to facilitate access of the panels.

Once the hacker has access, they are able to install any script that they choose.  With this attack they are inserting malicious code in the Magento core file, allowing them access to pages where payment data is processed. POST requests to the server containing sensitive data are then intercepted and redirected to the attacker. Furthermore, the compromised sites will then return a fake adobe flash file which will install malicious malware on the victim’s computer.

If you think your site has been hacked or would like assistance with your site, please contact us!  We are happy to help you secure your site. You can read more detail about these attacks in this Flashpoint Blog.

Authorize.net Eliminates $49 Setup Fee!

 

 

Say Goodbye to the $49 Setup Fee

Effective April 19, 2018 Authorize.net will be removing the $49 fee for all newly created Authorize.net Payment Gateway Accounts!  If you’re thinking of switching or need a payment processor, Authorize.net just made their deal a whole lot sweeter.  You can obtain this special pricing by using this link

We can help you with your set up or answer any questions that you might have.  Contact us today for any assistance that you might need!

We also offer modules to assist you in implementing this payment processor for your shopping cart:

Magento Authorize.net CIM Module

X-Cart Authorize.net DPM Module

We cannot stress the importance of PCI Compliance & your shopping cart enough and this is a wonderful opportunity for you to take the steps to make sure your site is as secure as possible. We’ve been helping clients secure their sites and maintain PCI compliance since 2002 and can make this transition smooth for you.  Contact us today!

10 Tips to Increase Conversion

10 Tips for Web Design That Drives Sales & Contacts

The main goal of most websites is to convert online visits into sales or contacts. If your website gets a lot of traffic but you’re not seeing the conversion to sales or contacts, we can help.  Utilize the following suggestions to help make your site more likely to obtain conversions and increase your sales:

  1. Color: Different colors target different audiences. Did you know that?
  2. Video:  Show off your product!
  3. Ease of Use: Most important info above the fold and easy to find!
  4. Clear UVP:  What’s your Unique Value Proposition?
  5. Trust Symbols:  PayPal certification and other trusted badges!
  6. Free Offers: If you offer something free, make sure that comes through loud and clear!
  7. Short Forms: Keep it simple!
  8. Virtual Chat: Even if a customer doesn’t use it, the mere presence increases trust.
  9. Headlines: Address potential customer concerns in BOLD
  10. White Space: It’s a good thing!  Don’t clutter your website, less is more.

BONUS: A/B Testing: Test small changes one at a time to see if there is an impact to conversions.

For more detailed explanations check out the main article.  Feel free to contact us if you’d like our assistance in bringing your website in line with these suggestions!