Troubleshoot Connection Errors

This troubleshooting guide is designed to explain and give troubleshooting steps to the Network Communication errors that can occur using the EasyCart administrative console software. In part, we hope to explain why this error occurs, and then how to take some simple troubleshooting steps to help get past it.

WordPress 4.3 Upgrade Procedures

WordPress has recently released version 4.3, and there are thousands of plugins that are still working to become compatible with this latest release.

WP EasyCart has released a 4.3 compatible version, but it is critical that you update the plugin before you update WordPress.

  1. First, update plugins to 4.3 compatible versions. (plugins will say if they are 4.3 compatible in plugin update section)
  2. Second, update themes to 4.3 compatible versions. (check with your theme developer if theme is compatible)
  3. Lastly, update WordPress to 4.3 and process should go smoothly.

 

 

What to do if you get a white screen?

If your website automatically upgraded to 4.3, then it may break due to plugins or EasyCart not being updated prior to this core WordPress update.  You may experience a white screen, or a PHP error notice saying it is having trouble loading.

1.  First, you will need to log into your website through FTP and disable the plugin, for exampe /wp-content/plugins/wp-easycart folder should be renamed to /wp-easycart-old.

2.  Second, you can log into wordpress admin  now and see that under ‘plugins’ that the conflicting plugin has been deactivated…  in this case WP EasyCart.

3.  Third, go back to FTP and rename the plugin back to wp-easycart.

4.  Fourth, go ahead and upgrade the plugin in question to a 4.3 compatible version.

5.  Fifth, you can activate the new upgraded plugin.

6.  Now you should be able to continue using WordPress as usual

 

 

Are there a list of other plugins that might not be 4.3 compatible?

Unfortunately yes, there is a huge list of plugins that this is known to have an issue with, and with automatic updater for WordPress running on many websites, this could accumulate into a huge issue.  We encourage everyone to turn off automatic updates if you do not want this type of unexpected update behavior to occur on your website.

Here is a list from GitHub of plugins still needing to be upgraded:  https://gist.github.com/chriscct7/d7d077afb01011b1839d

Leveraging MyMail Newsletter Email System

WP EasyCart integrated with the MyMail newsletter plugin some time ago, and we are huge fans of its usability and ease of use.  We have several months under our belts using this plugin with our own customers and feel we can show you some tips on how to utilize its features and give some guidance on best practices.

mymail

http://codecanyon.net/item/mymail-email-newsletter-plugin-for-wordpress/3078294?ref=wpeasycart

New to MyMail?

For those who have never use a subscriber newsletter system or sent out email campaigns from their WordPress site, it can be intimidating, but rest assured, its as easy as it can get with MyMail.  For a low cost of $39 dollars for the plugin, you can send out professional emails to customers with news about your business, online store, tutorials, special promotions, even send out autoresponders after a user action has occurred for an automated system.

Getting Started

First, MyMail is already integrated with WP  EasyCart, all you need to do is have both plugins installed, and then EasyCart will put users into your system as a subscriber when they checkout from an order and click ‘signup for newsletter’, create a new account and click ‘signup for newsletter’, or if you turn on the newsletter widget and they signup.

It’s that easy, nothing really to do, but makes a great way to get your subscribers into MyMail from EasyCart.  We even offer a quick import if you have EasyCart customers and want to quickly import all the users into MyMail for the first time.

Professional Email Templates

You can certainly build your own email newsletters, but why not go to ThemeForest and search for ‘MyMail Templates’ and purchase professional email templates that are mobile responsive and cost less than $20 dollars.  Most templates allow you to do a multitude of variations and build your newsletter in a modular approach, yet consistent look for your customers and subscribers.

http://themeforest.net/collections/728172-mymail-newsletter-templates?sort_by=sales_count&type_id=728172&utm_campaign=shorturl&utm_source=rxa.li&utm_medium=link&ref=wpeasycart

Email Sending Services

MyMail can connect to a variety of email sending services, and are a great approach to sending email campaigns without taxing your web hosting email limits.  We especially like the use of Mandrillapp.com, which allows us to connect MyMail and send email campaigns through the Mandrill system with a 12,000 email limit each month for free! Want to send more, it is extremely cheap to get extra emails!  As in .10 cents per 1,000 emails!

mandrill

http://www.mandrillapp.com

We also like that MyMail connects to these external sending systems and keeps your spam and black listing to a minimum. Mandrillapp.com even lets you know your sending reputation, bounce rates, open rates, click through rates, and more via their dashboard.

EasyCart has extended our integration with Mandrillapp.com by allowing you to use their email services for customer confirmation emails as well, allowing you to see them being sent, resend them, and see if the emails were open.

Strategies for Newsletters

There are countless articles on the interwebs that discuss how and what to send to your customers.  We find a good comprehensive approach is important and with MyMail, we can automate some of these newsletters while still customizing others.

Standard Newsletters – It’s a good idea to send a general newsletter about your business, what you are selling, what is new, and what in general is happening with your business once a month or even twice a month to all subscribers.  Keep the content fresh and keep it relevant.  It’s harder than it sounds once a month!

Order Confirmation Emails – While this is automated from EasyCart, it is usually the most read email by your users.  It might be nice to get some custom information on there, perhaps even a special email that includes custom coupon codes for future or returning customers.  You can easily customize the confirmation email by going into EasyCart Admin -> Language Editor and editing phrases.

Autoresponders – We really enjoy leveraging this in MyMail, because you can setup an autoresponder email to go out to users after a preset defined time.  Maybe after someone orders, you want to send an email out to the user with special coupons, extension products, or other products they may like.  It’s also nice to ask for reviews or other specialty articles related to their order.  MyMail allows you to setup autoresponders quickly, easily, and professionally using their newsletter campaign builder.

Custom Subscriber Lists

This is where things get even more interesting…  MyMail allows for subscriber lists, and you can custom code the automation of users into those lists based on products they purchase by simply creating a child layout file of our confirmation email and coding in a few lines of code to inject users who buy specific products into specific email lists.  That is targeted email!

lists

So a scenario may go like this; a customer orders from you and buys product XYZ.  They will receive a confirmation email that the order was successful, you could add a small bit of coding and put this customer into not only an ‘Customer List’ for future emailing campaigns, but you could also setup an autoresponder to email this customer 2 weeks after purchase to please come back and review their experience, rate your shopping experience etc.  You can also add this user to a ‘Product XYZ List’ so that you can later email anyone who purchased Product XYZ, or also send automated responders to them, such as special instruction emails, etc.

WP EasyCart Extensions

While our Mandrill extension is not required for MyMail to work, it is helpful to also use for all EasyCart confirmation emails and transactional emails in conjunction with MyMail.  This way all of your communications go through a secure dedicated professional grade email system that lets you insure deliver and takes away these extra tasks from your web hosting server.

 

 

WP EasyCart – Guide to Marketing 101

In this marketing 101 tutorial, we want to discuss all the various options EasyCart can offer you as a business owner to market your website.  It’s not easy, but with a lot of work and patience, you can attack each of these methods and gain more traction in the online retail world.

Marketing Basic Concepts

Social Media – Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, MySpace, Instagram, and others that allow you to post up links, pictures, and other pieces of information about things you like.  Others, who are associated to you in that social media, can then see your links, pictures, and information and view them.  Makes for a great marketing platform to have your products go viral.

Coupons – We refer to coupons as something the customer has to bring to your store.  Typically a paper coupon in a retail store, but on websites, coupons are often shopping codes that the customer enters during checkout to get an extra discount.  Coupons do not apply to everyone, only those who receive it, making it a ‘special’ offer for some.

Promotions – We refer to promotions as something that run on your website and EVERYONE receives the discount.  Perhaps you have a fall sale, or a special weekend sale that everyone will get on your store because it is set for a time period or specific set of products.  No entry of a coupon code is needed to redeem.

Cross-Sell –  Showing one product, and then showing some related products that allow you to cross sell to another product. typically a ‘You may also like’ or ‘alternative products’ sections on a site.

Up-Sell – Taking an existing product, and then adding some extra value to it to get the customer to purchase a little bit more.  Typically in the form of options, add-ons, etc.

Affiliate Marketing – Paying other people to promote your site and selling your goods.  Affiliates will often link to your website with a special code, and in return, if customers come from that link and purchase goods, you will pay the affiliate a specific cut of the profit.

Volume Pricing – Offering pricing based on quantity purchased.  Typically if you buy more, you can get each individual purchase at a cheaper price, especially useful tool for selling in bulk.

Customer Reviews – Ratings & customer reviews have become increasingly popular with a variety of retail goods.  Give a bit of confidence to customers by offering other peoples opinions on the product.

SEO and AdWord Marketing – specifically target market to the search engines, so the will index you and you can benefit from organic searches from the search giants.  You can even pay to advertise on giants like google to increase your search presence and attain higher placement on searches.

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1.  Social Media

There are a lot of misconceptions about social media, but it is really like any other market place.  If you are there a lot, spend the time, you can attract people, but it takes a lot of time, effort, and socializing to do so.  Facebook and Twitter are the highly regarded giants in this area, and you should always offer at least a page for your business to share it’s latest releases and updates.  It’s fairly easy to do and posting once a week or every couple weeks is easy to do.

You can recommend your friends like the page to begin with and it will slowly gain traction.  One good tip we have regarding social media is to ‘Boost’ an important post or sale you display on Facebook for a small fee.  This can get your small ad in front of thousands, get more likes, and in return more visitors and often will lead to a couple conversions on your store.

On EasyCart’s side, we offer sharable buttons for every product, so customers who visit your EasyCart products can click and share links to them.  No need to install another social sharing plugin into WordPress, it’s all automatic with EasyCart.

shareicons

 

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2.  Coupons & Promotions

A great feature of EasyCart is you can create both Coupons & Promotions for products.   Create a coupon and specify whether the coupon offers free shipping, or dollar/percentage discount.  You can even specify the coupon will only apply to a specific product, all the products in your store, or to a specific manufacturer group.

Once you create coupons, it is entirely up to you how customers will receive that special code.  You can develop custom email newsletter campaigns that distribute that code to specific targets, or you can post it on social media so only those folks see your coupon code.  You can even run public local ads that only local newspaper or visitors will see and use.

Promotions are very similar, but you can establish time periods in which the promotion will run.  Here is an example of a promotion that will offer free shipping to any order over $100 dollars.

freeshippingpromo

The best part about promotions is they apply automatically based on your specific date selection, product selection and type of promotion to run.  All your customers benefit from the promotion and no coupon code is necessary to enter.  So based on your specific needs and how you want to marketing, coupons OR promotions can be used in a beneficial manner.

We recommend that you run a banner on your home page or other pages that display what type of promotion is running, and even share on social media that you have a current promotion running.  Email campaigns are another great way to spread the word and get visitors returning to your site.

promo-applied

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3.  Up-Selling, Cross-Selling, Reviews, & Volume Pricing

EasyCart offers a vast option system that allows you to create options that change pricing for products.  This makes a great way to display a product and then offer up-selling options to a customer as they add to the cart.  These added value options often give the customer a sense of ‘why not’ at the product level and they are more likely to convert and add the extra options at this point rather than as separate products.

upselling

 

EasyCart also offers an easy way to attach like products that a customer may want to purchase.  You as the business owner know best what customers may like, so offering some featured items or a ‘You May Also Like These’ section is a great way to suggest to a customer online what they may also like and keep more visitors shopping without having to restart the navigation process.

crossselling

 

Customer reviews are another great marketing strategy to involve customers and get them to leave content on your website.  EasyCart offers a full 5 star review system and review commenting section for you as a store owner to activate per product.  Using this on a highly commented retail site is a great way to build confidence in customer decisions.  Of course it may not fit in every businesses product line, but if you sell one or two goods and receiving a lot of praise from customers, offer a coupon code to anyone who leaves good positive feedback for you on social media, on your website review system, or other website.

reviews

Volume pricing is a great strategy if your products fit into this type of bulk distribution.  Give customers an incentive to buying in bulk by using the EasyCart tiered volume pricing system.  Just establish a set price, then offer what each product will cost at various intervals of quantity, it’s easy and a great way to market a few more items.

tiered-pricing

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4.  Affiliate Marketing (new)

EasyCart just announced a new integration with AffiliateWP and we are continuing to develop this system further with the company.  The beautify of the system is you can offer affiliates a way to signup and register using AffiliateWP on your website, then affiliates use their custom link to promote your site.  The more they promote, the more they make, and the more you make.  As each customer  purchases, AffiliateWP software keeps track of the totals and even allows an easy one click bulk pay to the affiliates at the end of the month or other payout period of your choosing.

Affiliate marketing is a great way for you to leverage other people as marketers and to only pay them if successful.  Affiliates will spread the word about your products in channels of friends, social media, emailers, and websites that you would never reach, and yet you get complete control over how much affiliates take in proportion to your sales.

EasyCart even built in custom rules so that you can offer each product or each affiliate custom rates based on your specific needs.  We are working closely with AffiliateWP staff on this integration and it may change shortly to accommodate even more options.

affiliatewp

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5.  SEO & AdWord Marketing

One of the leading ways to market is via good old fashioned organic searches in Google, Yahoo, and Bing.  Of course, you must realize you are now competing in a global marketplace and that your small retail store may have a million competitors in the search engine market, so here are a few strategies we recommend when focusing on search engine placements.

1.  Don’t spend thousands of dollars on SEO companies to ‘Get you on page 1’.  If you believe they have the answer to get you to page 1, we have some property on the moon to sell you as well!

2.  Spend money on AdWords, not a lot, but some reasonable marketing money on google AdWords.  Setup a small ad, and enter a few keywords that you really expect visitors to enter into a search to find you.

3.  Keep your key words focused and unique.  Don’t waste time on thousands of keywords, but really focus on a small handful of words that will bring in 90% of the customers.

4.  Write content that matters.  Your website must have actual words that people could read, blogs, stories, how-to’s, something…  don’t expect visitors through search engines if you don’t keep relevant content on your site that is continually updating.  Search engines even get bored if they see the same content each scan, so take time to write.

5.  EasyCart allows you to enter each product with keywords and SEO text.  Write descriptive descriptions and specifications if you can.  The more unique text you write, the more relevant the products will be in searches.

6.  Submit your EasyCart products to Google merchant feed.  While this may not be appropriate for all businesses, nor worth the time, if you have a bunch of retail goods, get them on the shopping section of Google merchant with our merchant feed system.

7.  Track visitors.  If you don’t use Google analytics, get it on your website.  You can see where visitors come from, what they search for, what pages they visit, and with EasyCart, you can enter your Google analytics code in our basic settings and track eCommerce sales data.  How can you expect to market a site if you can’t track what is successful or what is not?  Data is the only way to see what content is working, what changes are working, and where/why visitors come to your site.  It’s powerful, free, and only requires a bit of knowledge and research on your part.

 

Conclusion

marketing an online site is a lot of work, and if anyone felt they were going to make millions selling online without doing anything, they may be misguided…  In fact, we always felt it takes more time selling online than in retail shops because of the amount of descriptive work that goes into displaying and selling a product.  But do not let this discourage you, there is a lot of potential if you use the right tools, that you can get for the right price, and not eat away at your profit margins to much.  Utilizing a bit of your own time, researching your own content, finding your niche, and then following a plan can make you a marketing genius and help catapult your business into the black.

At Level Four Development, creators of the WP EasyCart, our mission has always been to provide tools that WE would want to use, at a low affordable cost to the mass marketplaces that want to sell online… and our software success is starting to show this.

Selling eBooks with Print Option

One of the most common product types that WP EasyCart users like to sell are eBooks. When selling eBooks, many want to offer their customers the choice to buy the eBook, the print version, or both and want to do so without creating three different products. Thanks to our latest product options this is easily possible with the WP EasyCart! In just a few steps, we will show you here how to create the option set needed to attach to your eBook/print product and get selling right away!

Creating the Option Set

All of these instructions will occur in the EasyCart Admin -> Store Admin -> Products -> Manage Option Sets. Please navigate there to begin.

  1. Create your option set that will be used with all your eBook/print products, select the advanced combo box type.
    ebook-option-set
  2. Navigate to the area to add new option items, Edit Option Set Items -> Create New Option Item for each item 3, 4, and 5.
  3. Add your eBook only option, be sure to allow the product download and disable the product shipping. We will also only adjust the pricing for print and both, assuming the lowest cost will be for the eBook only option and the main price of the product.
    ebook-only-optionitem
  4. Add your print only option, be sure to uncheck the box to allow product download and leave the disable product shipping unchecked. We assume the price for a print book will be more than the download and will do a basic price adjustment to account for this.
    ebook-print-only-optionitem
  5. Add your eBook and print delivery option, be sure to check the allow product download and do not check the disable product shipping. We also assume the price for both items is a larger price adjustment and will use a basic price adjustment to account for this.
    ebook-both-optionitem

Setup Your Product

While setting up your product that will sell eBooks and print versions. You should start by creating a download product type and then select the following options to complete the setup:

  1. Set the weight and product dimensions to that of your print version that will ship when purchased.
  2. In the Set Advanced Listing Options area, select to ship the product.
  3. Go to the option sets section and select advanced option sets and attach your delivery method option set.
  4. Go to the downloads section and upload your eBook copy.
  5. Be sure to setup all other necessary options (title, description, price, images, etc…).
  6. Insert this product.

That should do it! You have setup a product that allows the customer to purchase an eBook, print version, or both all in one product! If the customer selects an option with the print version, they will be charged the appropriate shipping price. If the customer selects an option to purchase an eBook, they will be given the appropriate links to download after the purchase is complete.

Getting Started with Taxes

Taxing within the EasyCart

You may not know it, but the EasyCart is a very powerful system when it comes to getting taxation correct for your store. We offer six different ways to tax your customers, ways to allow users to be tax exempt, and all the tools you need to operate within the laws in your situation. For this article we will cover our largest customer bases (USA, Canada, EU, and Australia) and give tips on how to operate within the laws most easily.

USA Taxation

Businesses based in the USA have it easy, if you have a physical presence in a state, collect applicable local and state sales tax. If you have multiple physical locations in multiple states, then you must collect the tax applicable to each state that you have a physical presence. In addition, you only have to charge that sales tax to purchases that ship to states you plan to tax, for example: No need to tax someone from Arizona if your business is located in Washington. Lately we have had a lot of questions in regards to taxing each state you sell to, regardless of the location, but this is simply not true at this time. We happily point you to an article on the SBA’s website, which quickly confirms the small amount needed for most small businesses; to read more on this topic: https://www.sba.gov/content/collecting-sales-tax-over-internet.

Setting up sales tax is simple for many operating in the USA (we will cover the exception next). Go to your WordPress admin and go to EasyCart Admin -> Store Admin -> Rates -> Manage Taxes to begin setting up. First select “Enable State Tax”, then, for each state you need to tax within, select the state and enter a tax rate (e.g. 8.5) and click save.

EasyCart State Tax Display

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TaxCloud_Logo

As mentioned above, there is a small exception to the rule of thumb that tax in the USA is easy for online sales. If you have lots of physical locations across a state that has different local tax rules, you are theoretically supposed to charge a sale from each area in the state a different amount. Luckily, a wonderful tool is available and already integrated for use within the WP EasyCart, Tax Cloud! Tax Cloud allows you to setup a free account and establish the necessary tax rules by cities, counties, and states, making the process of taxing the correct amount easy! For more information on integration with Tax Cloud, we refer you to our docs on the topic: http://wpeasycart.com/docs/3.0.0/settings/advanced_options.php#taxcloud.

Canada Taxation

Tax in Canada consists of GST, HST, and PST, which makes setting up slightly more complicated than setting up in the USA, but never-the-less a fairly simple process once you know which options to select. The first step is to go to the WordPress admin -> EasyCart admin -> Store Admin -> Rates -> Manage Tax Rates and enable the country tax system and add a 5.00% tax for Canada. Then move over and enable the state tax system and add the appropriate tax rates for each province/territory, if you are unsure of these rates, you can find the exact rates on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sales_taxes_in_Canada.

canada_tax_setup

EU Taxation (VAT)

We have now come to the most complicated taxation system around and because of this we offer the most options for our EU customers. Start by navigating to your WordPress Admin -> EasyCart Admin -> Store Admin -> Rates -> Manage Tax Rates. The first choice is do you want to charge VAT at a specific rate globally or different rates for each country. The latest VAT laws require you to charge VAT in the country that you ship to, so our recommendation is to go straight to the country to country rates. The next choice is between including VAT in the price of the product or adding VAT to the order totals during checkout and this varies from country to country so choose the method best for you, but if you choose to include VAT in the product pricing remember to set your pricing to include your countries base rate, the cart will adjust from there for each country.

VAT Setup in EasyCart

Now that you have the basics setup we should move to adding individual country rates. If you are on the screen shown above, click the set individual country rates button, otherwise navigate to EasyCart Admin -> Store Admin -> Settings -> Manage Country List and edit each country that you plan to sell to. A complete list of rates is available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_rates_of_Europe.

EasyCart Country VAT Rate Setup

At this point you should be taxing your customers correctly according to the EU rules, but in order to be in complete compliance you will need to do a few more things to really be ready to sell. The first requirement of 2015 is that you must require your customers to confirm that they are providing accurate information as to the shipping location. To do this, first turn on the requirement that the customer agree to your terms and conditions in the WordPress Admin -> EasyCart Admin -> Store Setup -> Basic Settings and in the cart section turn on “Require Terms Agreement”. You should also add links to your terms and conditions in the basic settings while you are there, which should be a separate page on your website. Edit the agreement text in the WordPress Admin -> EasyCart Admin -> Store Setup -> Advanced Language in the section “Cart – Payment Information”, edit the terms text to fit your specific requirements.

The final thing to know is that you are required to collect and save evidence of the customer, including the purchaser’s IP Address and proof they agreed to your terms (which should now include information about how they agree they are shipping to the intended country, even if their IP Address is outside the country). We collect this for you and can be downloaded from the WordPress Admin -> EasyCart Admin -> Store Admin -> Orders -> Store Orders -> Export Orders. You will find this information at the far right of the downloaded excel file.

Australia Taxation (GST)

By far the easiest setup is for Australia, go to your WordPress Admin -> EasyCart Admin -> Store Admin -> Rates -> Manage Tax Rates and enable VAT tax by country with VAT included at the product level and the VAT Rate a general 10% tax. Once you save this, set the individual country rates and set Australia to 10%. This should make your store compatible by law.

To adjust the wording on the store and fix the VAT display to say GST, go to the WordPress Admin -> EasyCart Admin -> Store Setup -> Advanced Language and edit the content to switch VAT to GST.

Other Great Options

1. Product taxation on/off – To turn tax on or off for each product, simply go into the advanced listing options while creating the product and check/uncheck the VAT option.

2. User Tax Exemption – You can allow specific users to be tax exempt by going to the user’s account in the store admin -> accounts area and check the “Exclude Taxes” box.

3. VAT included/excluded from shipping – By default, VAT is added to the total including shipping, to disable this option go to WordPress Admin -> EasyCart Admin -> Store Setup -> Advanced Options and turn on “No VAT For Shipping”.

Shipping Setup Guide & Tips

WP EasyCart offers an abundant amount of shipping options all within a low-cost plugin, but that doesn’t mean the options are not as powerful as some competitors plugins.  The shipping options of an online business can be confusing, and often difficult to setup regardless of the plugin used and the configuration needed.  When you consider all the facts that need to go into a good well rounded shipping system, it can easily be overwhelming.

This guide is to help you consider some of the many options EasyCart has to offer.  While I will be the first to say we do not offer ALL shipping configurations and options one could conceive, we do offer a good well rounded majority of choices that many businesses can adopt.

First Tip:    Before you read further, consider every software package is built for the masses, so if you have developed a shipping system that MUST be used, reconsider as it may not be conventional at all and/or have a small portion that will not conform to any software package…  be flexible as you explore options in software.

 Second Tip:  Are your products shippable.  Not every item in EasyCart is made to apply to shipping charges.  Downloads and Gift Cards for example are digital goods, they will not trigger shipping charges on checkout.  Also consider if you have a weight for a product!  If you enter a weight of 0.00 for a product, then it’s considered intangible good like a service… so shipping will not apply.

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Step One:  Determine your Shipping System

WP EasyCart offers a variety of systems, all fit different businesses, different models, and will likely cover at least a good portion of what shipping system you need in your business.

shipping-selection

 

Price and Weight Table Rate – These methods use triggers to establish shipping prices.  The are extremely stable if you set them up correctly and provide a quick return on shipping rates.  You essentially enter either a price or weight that you want to trigger and the rate it should show.  So you start with a trigger price or quantity  of 0.00 and then establish a rate, say $5.00.  Then at maybe $50 dollars you want to trigger a rate of $7.50 and then at $100 you want to trigger $10.00.  so on and so forth.  Same goes for weight, if a user has a total weight order of 5 in their cart, then trigger $x.xx amount, so on and so forth.  Remember that weight in EasyCart is just a numeric value… it can represent pounds or ounces, you set the measurement of calculation in various places where appropriate, such as live shipping gateways which use this.   Easy to setup, and easy to see working.

Percentage Table Rate – This method is the same as price and quantity, except you simply establish a set percentage when a trigger price range is reached.  Say from $0.00 to $99 dollars you want to charge 10% shipping, and then from $100 – $500 in cart total you want to charge 7.5% in shipping, this method allows you establish tiered pricing using  a percentage of their order.  Again, very easy to setup and very reliable system.

Quantity Table Rate – Like the other table rates, quantity table rate shipping simply adds the total in the cart.  This can be appropriate if you need to track how many items there are and then charge appropriately.  Set a quantity trigger, and then the price to charge.  The quantity table system only looks at products, so if you have option sets that change quantity, it will likely not be affected.  So this may work in your situation, or it may not.  It’s reliable and easy to setup.

Static Method Rates –  These are by far the most reliable shipping methods available.  Set a name for the static shipping and a rate… that’s it.  So if you always ship ‘Standard Ground’ and charge $5.00 for it, use this method.  Customers always see the correct list of options.  You can create several shipping methods using this option, such as a ‘Ground’, ‘Next Day Air’, ‘Express’, ‘In Store Pickup’ or whatever you need.  It gives you control over labeling, pricing, and options available to customers.

Fraktjakt – This is primarily only available to swedish residents, but a popular option that allows customers to select from several live carrier rates and get current up to date rates.

Live Shipping – UPS, FedEx, DHL, Australian Post, and Canadian Post have all been pre-integrated with EasyCart and included in our small $80 dollar license charge.  This is unheard of and other plugins charge $99 dollars for each individual one…  Live shipping can be intriguing and many businesses think they want live rates, but there are a few considerations before you choose to go this route.  Every detail must be accounted for on your part of the setup.  If you think you can just offer UPS Ground, think again…  Hawaii, international orders, they will see error messages with that setup.  If you offer only Express and 2nd day air, think again, some cities don’t offer all services… so those customers will see error messages.

Live shipping can be difficult to understand, but the key to it is to consider every single variable in the shipping world and it needs to be setup.  If you are game to tackle this, then we can show you some tips.

1.  Setup one shipping carrier first, get it working, connected, and then move on to another carrier.

2.  Include as many shipping codes as you can.  I realize you may just want ‘ground’ and ‘2nd day air’ but those may not be available in all cities or locations.  Adding more shipping codes means that you will likely get more to show to the customer and also less errors and holes in your locations.

3.  Do not apply shipping zones.  We will discuss this later, but if you only ship to US and Canada, don’t create zones for that.  The purpose of zones is to provide different rates, not limit who can buy on your store.  Get the entire shipping system working for your default country, whether that be US, Canada, Europe, Australia, or wherever…

4.  Use as few shipping carriers as possible.  It may be nice to show FedEx, USPS, UPS, and DHL, but that’s 4 calls to 4 carriers during checkout and can greatly slow the system down.  Try to stick with one or two.

5.  If you want to offer free shipping, simply add a common shipping code, such as ‘Ground’ and then override the price with $0.00.  You can even override the name of it and say ‘FREE shipping’ so customers have that as a selection.

6.  Even if you enter 6, 7, 10 shipping codes, EasyCart will only display what the carrier returns for that location.  So your customer may only see 1, 2 or 3 rates.  This is why we really suggest testing.  We have found some cities require select shipping codes if shipping within the same city.  If you have zero rates returned, we suggest you look at your settings zip code and the zip code during checkout and contact your carrier to see what rates are available.

7.  IF you have negotiated special rates with your carrier, we will try to display those instead of general rates.  AGAIN, test, test, test…  you are the web developer and that is part of the job!

 

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Step Two: Test Your System

We can not say it enough, but as a WordPress user you are likely taking on the task of making a website yourself.  Part of that job is to test your system.  Don’t assume it should just work or is working without going through the entire checkout process as a customer would.  This would be like fixed someones automobile as a mechanic and then assume it’s fixed and hand the vehicle over to the customer.  Always check to see if it is working as desired and fix accordingly.

test-shipping

 

Even when using basic table rate shipping systems, we have seen gaps in triggers, which means there is no rate going to show up.  We have seen live shipping setups without any shipping codes, which means no user will ever be charged shipping.

 

 

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Step Three:  Adding Shipping Zones

IF you feel you need to have a shipping zone, then you must be thorough about your setup.  Shipping Zones is not for the faint of heart.  You must have a thorough knowledge of what it means to setup a shipping zone, and DO NOT use shipping zones to limit who can buy from your store.  That is not the purpose.  IF you want to remove china or any country from ordering, do so by removing the country from the pull down of countries within the store admin -> settings -> manage countries.

shipping-zone

Third Tip:  Think of shipping zones as a post-address filter.  It only works AFTER the customer has entered their billing/shipping address information.  NOT when a customer just views the shopping cart.

So you decide you want to setup different rates for the US versus Australia versus Canada…  EasyCart can do that, but only with the right setup.

1.  Setup all of your shipping for your default country with ‘Do Not Apply Zone’ for every setting.  Whether using table rates, static, or live rates, set it up first without any zones.

2.  Test to insure it’s working for your default country.  What this will do is establish a ‘Default’ rate that all customers will see when they simply add an item to the shopping cart and view the cart.  Remember, they have not entered their address yet, so without a default, they would just see $0.00 for shipping, and it’s better to supply SOME type of shipping in the cart.

3.  Once all your default shipping is working, now you can setup a shipping zone.  Lets say you are in australia, and you setup all your shipping for australian customers.  Now you can add more shipping prices, triggers, or live shipping codes and add a shipping code.  So maybe you use Australian POST live rates, you could add ‘International shipping’ with a shipping zone of ‘North America’.  IF easycart sees a user checking out from anywhere in North America, it will apply International Shipping code that you applied.  If someone from Europe ordered, it would not see this ‘Post Fitler’ and just apply default shipping codes.

4.  This means if you use, for example, Price or Weight table rates, you would setup an entire table structure with ‘Do Not Apply Zone’ and then you would create an entire table structure for  each zone.  It’s necessary that you do not have any gaps, so 10 trigger rates would be added for default, then north america, then europe, then asia, so on and so forth.  This way you do not have any gaps…

Fourth Tip:  If you get confused, create a simple spreadsheet, list out the ‘Shipping Method’, ‘Trigger Rates’, and the ‘Rate expected’ and you can see how vast the options can become.  Now throw in a shipping zone and see things multiply!  Pre-Planning is important and can become overwhelming

 

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Step Four:  Handling Fees and Expedite Order Options

EasyCart has tried to make shipping as flexible as possible, without getting overly complicated that nobody could set it up.  Two options that are common are to add a handling fee.  Lets say you have a trigger rate system or live shipping system, but want to add a simple $5.00 handling charge to it, we provide a quick way to do so.  Another option is to do it at the product level.  Only add a handling charge to a product IF you enter it at the product level under advanced pricing options.  A great example is a furniture store… a couch may incure an extra large handling fee on one product, while the rest of the products may be just regular shipping rates.

optional-shipping-charges

We also offer an ‘Expedite Shipping’ option.  This can represent anything you want, maybe same day processing or actually a shipping expedite upgrade.  You can choose to enter that for trigger rates or not.

Fifth Tip:  Don’t be afraid to be a little off on shipping.  If you get fairly close on shipping costs, it usually will come out in the wash.  Consider the time and hours it may require to setup a perfect shipping solution versus setting up a really good solid simple solution easy for customers to understand and you may come out neutral.

 

 

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Step Five:  Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)

As a web developer or business owner who is building their own website, the old web design rule of keeping it simple stupid should apply…  Try to keep things to a minimum because if it’s hard for you to figure out, your customers may find it impossible to understand.  Many visitors want a choice or two on shipping, or to have it simply calculate automatically… which makes trigger table rates a good choice.   Static rates work great for flat rate type orders… giving customers simple pricing that is consistent and accurate.

The fewer intricate details you try to build into your shipping system the fewer errors you will receive on shipping, the less over and under charging you will receive, and the more conversions can be had by doing so.  Fewer errors, fewer complaints, and more conversions is what every store owner wants!  Keep It Simple…

Sixth Tip:  Remember EasyCart is an $80 dollar plugin made for the masses in WordPress.  If you NEED a solution that you do not see, you might consider ramping up to an Enterprise shopping cart solution and spend the thousands it costs to attain your specific customization.

Selling Digital Downloads with EasyCart Product and Membership Pages

There are a lot of ways to sell goods these days, but EasyCart makes it easy with one location for all your retail goods, digital download goods, subscriptions and membership services and more.  With digital downloads, you can easily sell products with little to no overhead  other than building your content and product.  Once it’s operational, your downloads can be sold with little to no interaction from you on your end.  No packaging, no shipping, and no handling make this arena of e-commerce an attractive candidate for many businesses.

Selecting your Shopping Cart

There are a hundred+ e-commerce packages that can allow you to sell online digital downloads.  After looking into many of these various software packages, some are expensive and can cost $1000+ to acquire licensing and setup.  Other software packages are so limited that the management of the digital downloads is lost, tracking is lost, and the overall experience is not selling the digital download, but rather luring you into buying their software.

WP EasyCart tries to offer a low cost solution to WordPress store owners who want a powerful plugin, but also a low overhead cost.  At only $80 dollars, the plugin is low cost for sure.  Starting a business with an $80 dollar startup cost is extremely inexpensive, so you can quickly regain your costs with a few sales… Yet EasyCart offers a wide variety of methods to sell digital downloads.

Selling Individual Downloads

The easiest way EasyCart can sell downloads is to offer a single downloadable product that users can add to their shopping cart and checkout with.  This process is very easy to setup in EasyCart, since you setup the product just like a normal retail good, with the exception of adding the download ZIP package or other digital file to the product.

single_download_product

sell digital downloads with EasyCart!

EasyCart takes care of the rest for you.  Customers add the product to their cart, they checkout and pay just like any other website.  Once they purchase and the process is approved, the customer can access their account at any time to download their digital download.  Be wary of plugins that send a download link, this is often a security issue and lets customers send out that link to friends and family to also jump on and download the exposed files.

Offer Downloads on Your Server or Amazon S3 Servers

WP EasyCart also allows you to use Amazon S3 servers for storing digital content.  If you sell large files or videos, simply use their servers and connect it to the product.  This way the security and download processes are loaded on the Amazon S3 server instead of your hosted account.

amazonS3_link

Select Amazon S3 to store and deliver digital content if needed.

Added Security for Downloads

For extra security, EasyCart even gives you the option to limit how many times the download can be attempted OR a time limit, giving customers a week or so before the link in their account expires.  This can also help curb customers sending out credentials to their accounts or passing links around to files… something many low cost plugins neglect to help eliminate.

max_download_limits

Add security to your download links!

 

 

Selling Membership Downloads

Another great feature EasyCart offers that many competitors do not offer is a subscription based system.  For those selling digital downloads, it’s often a nice idea to offer a membership area on your website for subscribers to log into.  This way you can offer more than just a link to a product, but actually offer multiple download links, descriptions of the products, forms for subscribers to use, video material, all from a single page.

subscription_signup_product

EasyCart includes ability to let customers subscribe and become members!

We even use this feature at WP EasyCart to sell our premium subscribers various WordPress themes, extra plugins that we build, and even access to our live chat systems.  Whatever your needs are, the membership/subscription system is a great way to pass material to customers who pay.

The WP EasyCart subscription system is easy to use, but can take some setup time.  It utilizes the stripe.com payment processing system to link payments and subscriptions to an active system.  Customers can then cancel memberships, upgrade/downgrade subscriptions, even update their credit information directly from EasyCart.  This makes it easy for customers to maintain their accounts without the need to contact your support facilities.

 

Creating Membership Page Content

Once you are setup with stripe.com, you setup a subscription product and customers can ‘Sign-Up’ on the frontend.  As for membership pages, that is even easier… just add our membership shortcode to a wordpress page and you can enter both ‘secured’ content and ‘unsecured’ content within the shortcodes.  We usually add our membership secured content in the ‘secured’ area and links to signup or login in the ‘unsecured’ section.

members_shortcode

access easycart shortcode from WordPress page text editor!

member_alternative_content

Create secured and non-secured membership content easily!

 

Conclusion

Selling digital download and media doesn’t need to be complex.  Once you understand the workflow of what it takes to sell and manage digital downloads for your customers, picking and choosing the software can be easy.  EasyCart offers the flexibility and features to get your videos, music, sermons, pictures, and other digital downloads out to the masses.

Canada Post API Integration

canada-post-logo

We are pleased to announce the release of a new shipping integration partner, Canada Post.  EasyCart can now handle Canada Post shipping methods and allows you to set US, Canada, and International shipping codes for your products.

We have had good success from our northern neighbors and we continue to add features that are much needed, including tax structures, shipping structures, and various shopping features necessary to make a good international shopping cart.

This feature is standard and available in all future updates for our existing customers.  If you are a new customer, live shipping is only available in our Standard plugin license, not our Lite version.

 

Marketing Strategies to Sell Online

One of the most popular questions any online business has with regards to selling products online is what marketing strategies are there and how effective are they.   We try to outline some of the popular methods below and hopefully help kick-start your online business.

One thing we have found is that there is no one way to market your site, and a good mix of all these methods is the best approach.  Try to cover your basis and be realistic about the approach you are taking and the expected results from that effort.  The question of whether or not it pays to do a marketing tactics is always the defining question and will vary depending on your given business, customers, and consumers.

 

Email Marketing

A very popular method with low cost and many times, low results.  While spamming the world with emails is probably not the best marketing method, it is not something you should over-look.  The biggest recommendation is to get followers who consciously sign-up for your newsletters and that you know are interested.  Have a section on your site for sign-ups, download your subscriber lists and import into popular online email programs dedicated to sending messages.

popular sites:  YMLP.com or ConstantContact.com

 

Pay Per-Click Advertising

Google Ad words is a marketing machine and can be very beneficial to the start-up business or online e-commerce system.  It gets your brand name out on search engine sidebars with visitors who have searched for specific content.  And best of all, you only pay if they click on the link.  You are getting your message in front of those who want to see it, leaving your site to do the selling if possible.  The best advice on these is to start with small budgets, and work your way up.  Be sure to use the search engines tracking code to ensure you are converting from those and watch out for the point of no-return, but a good $50 or $100 dollar investment a month will get a lot of visitors.

Common types of Pay Per-Click advertising methods are:

CPM – cost per thousands impressions or another said metric
CPC – cost per click
CPA – cost per certain action on your site

The most popular being CPC, it is a good compromise between impressions shown to users and those actually interacting and making it to your site through the ad.

popular sites:  Google Adwords or Bing Ads

 

Social Media Advertising

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others can attract visitors and requires little effort other than posting a few hot topics about your business.  The hardest part about social media is you have to keep up with it.  Start by building a simple Facebook page for your business, get a small banner and logo going, links to your website, and a twitter page.  You can connect Facebook and twitter so that when you post on Facebook, it automatically goes out on twitter as well.  Be sure to spend some time liking and following those comparable businesses that you like and many will follow you back.  It doesn’t take anything cost wise, but it does take a lot of time.  Setup a schedule or a reminder on your calendar to post something of interest to keep the content fresh and consistently revolving.

Social media such as Facebook now have great promotional tools, and will show your ad across the Facebook network for fees.  Give it a test and put out $30 dollars on a few of your important posts and see if you can attract new customers and convert some users into customers.

popular sites:  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Digg, and others.

 

Local Advertising

Even though you probably are reading this to gain traction online, don’t forget your local advertising channels.  Some businesses still profit from pointing local customers to a website for viewing, inventory and to see any new items.  Radio, newspapers, and yellow pages are still good avenues to get your brand out to local customers.  While they may not convert on the website as much, why would they when they can come to your store, it still gives a convenient path for them to check in and see what is new.

 

Tracking Your Efforts

Once you have all your advertising channels in place, be sure to track your investments.  There is no way to see if your online social media campaign, email campaign, or Pay Per-Click campaign are working without tracking them, and Google adwords, Bing Ads, and yahoo make this easy using their tracking tools.  The best part is you do not have to use their proprietary tracking system.  Just use Google Analytics and put a small piece of code in your header and your site will begin tracking page statistics on where customers come from, what they searched for, what city they are from, how long they were on your site, and where they went once on your site.

To track a specific advertisement, simply use unique URL identifiers at the end such as ?adwords=101 and then you can analyze the results each time someone visits with that unique link.  Each ad can be tracked this way, and with the WP EasyCart shopping system, we track Google e-commerce results, so each order and product gets results back in analytics.  This way you can see not only which ads are clicked on, but which ones get converted the most.

This leads you to spending money in the appropriate marketing campaign that pays the most converters and therefore, makes you a successfull online marketing machine!