Category Archives: Ecommerce

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!

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!

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.