5 Recommendations & 5 Tips for better eCommerce in 2018

Learn top 5 tips & recommendations for better ecommerce in 2018. Learn what the best ecommerce software for 2018 is and other great ecommerce tips to help you sell online.

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”.