Stripe Integration with Subscription Services

The latest release of 2.1.6+ of EasyCart now includes a great new and powerful payment processor that is our new favorite.  The Stripe payment gateway solution is now complete and we included a full subscription/membership system into EasyCart as well.  Now you can offer a recurring payment product to your customers and they can signup directly on your site.  All payment information is synced up with the Stripe payment processor and allows complete customer and administrative control.

Build Subscription Products

From EasyCart, creating a subscription is as easy as setting up any product.  Simply check that it is a subscription, pick how often you want the recurring payments to occur, pick a url if you like for them to access membership content (optional), and whether there is a trial period and the EasyCart system does the rest.  Customers will see the subscription product like any other product, except they will see a ‘Sing Up Now’ button instead of ‘Add to Cart’ button.

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Once users sign up, information is approved by Stripe and the subscription is placed into the EasyCart subscription system along with their first order being placed.  Each recurring payment will appear as an order in your system.

Administrate Subscriptions

EasyCart administrative tools are completely integrated to communicate with Stripe and allows you to pull up subscriptions, upgrade or downgrade customers, cancel their memberships, and review all related information regarding their subscription.  You can also see a quick payment history of their subscription.

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Customer Subscription Management

Customers also have access to a complete subscription management area from within their account.  Customers can quickly update their credit card information, upgrade or downgrade their subscription, change billing address information, and/or cancel their membership at anytime.  This gives you the store owner less support and interaction with members as they can do all administrative tasks directly from their account.

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Membership Content

One of the great features we offer with our subscription services is an easy to setup membership area system.  Simply create a new WordPress page, apply our members only shortcode, and then only logged in subscribers can access the new content.  This makes a great way for you to feed membership content to customers who have purchased a subscription if that is required by your business.

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Version 2.1 EasyCart Released – New Feature List

WP EasyCart released version 2.1 update to its eCommerce plugin for 2014 and now we have some great new features to list along with several enhancements to an already feature rich product line.

Subscription Based System

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The new subscription system allows users to build PayPal subscriptions with only a few clicks.  Add a new product to EasyCart, and you can simply designate it as a subscription and select the interval you would like subscribers to pay.

Once a customer clicks on the ‘Sign Up Now’ button, they will be taken to PayPal to handle all the particular needs of subscribing and managing that payment.  PayPal offers a full suite of management tools for the business owner to manage as well.

The subscription system will also talk back to your EasyCart installation and enter subscriptions into your administrative console.  You can see all the details of the subscription, including active status, sign-up dates, last payment dates, # payments completed and other customer information.

 

Quantity Based Shipping

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Version 2.1 includes an additional shipping method that allows you now to build a rate table based on quantity of items in the shopping cart.  This will give more customers the flexibility to give rates to their customers and allow for more precise control over the shipping of their goods.

As with our normal policy, all shipping systems are included in our Full License version.  You get Price rate shipping, Weight rate shipping, Quantity rate shipping, Static method shipping, and live rates by UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, and Australian Post.  Lite License users have access to all of these except the live shipping rates.

 

DHL Shipping Calculators

Version 2.1 now includes DHL as a shipping carrier and can return live shipping rates for customers using this option.  As a popular European solution to shipping, we are sure this will be popular with the International EasyCart users!

Global Handling Fees

Version 2.1 allows you to enter a global handling fee, which will be added to whatever shipping rates you use.  We have always offered a per-product handling rate as well, but this new option will add flexibility to the system for many users.

Catalog Only EasyCart

Many customers have requested that the EasyCart system hide the ‘Add to Cart’ behavior and allow customers to simply browse their products as a catalog.  Now you have the option to do so!  Simply change a setting under the ‘Advanced Options’ to enable catalog only mode, and the customers can see all of your products and view their full details, but without the ability to add to a cart.

Internationalization Language & Currency Updates

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With Version 2.1, we have integrated a new currency conversion system and language system that allows you to alter the entire shopping system quickly and easily.  If you are a user of WPML, we can now change the shop text, descriptions, titles and language elements when a WPML change is made.

So customers can adjust not only your website, but also adjust the entire shopping system and product data using the correct techniques.  We even can adjust currency using a simple currency conversion rate that you can control in the ‘Advanced Options’.

You will also notice there are new widgets available for customers to change currency in the store or change shop text translations quickly, but we find that many will want to use WPML to change the entire site globally and quickly.

We will be producing a tutorial video and demonstration website that showcases these capabilities soon!

 

EasyCart Review and Walk-Through

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The folks at Sell with WP have created a really nice objective review of the WP EasyCart software and eCommerce system.  The article is an in depth analysis of the entire installation process, major features, and pros and cons to the new software.

One aspect we really enjoyed about the article was the refreshing way they covered a large plugin like EasyCart in-depth.  Many reviews are very short and often compare apples to oranges, while this review actually compares it’s features with the way it is constructed in an overall sense.

For anyone who is new to eCommerce and plugins, this is a great walk-through on how to get the EasyCart setup, installed and configured, and what steps you should likely do in chronological order for a fast setup time.

While the folks at Sell with WP do work for a competing eCommerce platform, we felt they were still fairly objective in their review and show the strengths and weaknesses of  the software.  For more information and to read the full review, simply click on the logo above, or Click Here.

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!

 

Remove Contact First and Last Name in Cart

We get a lot of requests on how to remove the first and last name from the contact information when a user is checkout out for the first time. To do this we need to complete two steps: 1. Hide the two rows of first and last name in the layout file. 2. Remove the check for these values in the javascript file.

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1. Hide the first and last name rows: I like to add the code ‘style=”display:none”‘ for each row. This is to make sure we do not mess with the core functionality, but complete what we want on the display side. The file we are editing is her: wp-content/plugins/wp-easycart-data/design/layout/{my layout}/ec_cart_contact_information.php

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2. Remove the javascript that requires the first and last name in the contact information section. This file is available here: wp-content/plugins/wp-easycart-data/design/theme/{my theme}/ec_cart_page/ec_cart_page.js.

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Now your users can checkout without providing another first and last name for their account information.

2014 Outlook for WordPress Websites

Well 2013 has come and gone and 2014 is rolling along quickly.  Many WordPress users are looking forward to the new year as we continue to pull a country out of a recession, put new innovations on the shelves, and pushing their online content to the masses.

We are here to tell you the future looks good, and we are optimistic with the path we are taking with our technology on the long term outlook.  WordPress has always been a major blogging platform, but has recently taken hold as a great website development tool.  Easy themes, easy plugins, lots of features, but more importantly an easy to use platform all together has developed it into much more than a simple blog tool.

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Compared to joomla and drupal, the leading competitors, it looks like WordPress is pulling favorably ahead in popularity and usefulness.  Good news for many of us who have used WordPress as our platform of choice, and for our piece of mind as we all continually look for the best CMS software we can.

WP EasyCart looks to leverage this base as well.  We are seeing increased trends in theme development and plugin development for WordPress, all supporting the increase in this popular platform.

2014 Predictions:

I will go out on a limb and throw out a few predictions for 2014.

1.  WordPress will continue to develop quickly, and gain more market share compared to it’s counterpart CMS systems.

2. Theme spaces such as Theme Forest will grow in size as designers begin to leverage the growth of user base in WordPress and the theme architecture it provides.

3. More users will begin to capitalize on their websites and leverage plugins such as EasyCart to add e-commerce to their simple websites and blogs.

4. Social Media has plateaued, Facebook, Twitter, and other programs may become less relevant as people bring on entire websites that present themselves, their businesses, and their image.

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5.  Apps, plugins, and mobile game development will increase as tablets, TV’s, and other devices stream internet content and developers see the gains in market share and profit in these areas of development.  (think more people playing candy crush than Facebooking)

6.  I also feel online security will continue to increase, retailers and site owners will have more regulations and strict security standards that we must adhere to to ensure we have safe online e-commerce.  In WordPress, limit those unknown small 3rd party plugins and use SSL certificates to secure traffic.

Do you have a prediction for 2014?

 

 

How To Securely Process a Credit Card in HTTPS

In today’s age of ecommerce, it is imperative that you secure customer information.  We highly recommend you always get an SSL from your web host and they will install it for you.  Once they install it, you can download a simple plugin to force SSL onto the /cart and /account pages in wordpress.  This way customers will automatically get forced into https:// secure pages and see a padlock in their browser.  To do this, complete the following steps:

 

  • Contact your hosting provider and ask for them to setup an SSL Certificate on your server for your website. This is typically around $100/year.
  • Download and install the “WordPress HTTPS (SSL) plugin, located here.
  • Edit your cart and account pages and check both boxes, the “Secure Post” box, and the “Secure Child Posts”
  • Save the pages and you are done!

 

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Matching the Store Page Setting for a Kriesi Theme

If you haven’t already taken a look at the site www.kriesi.at, you should look now. This  site has some of our favorite themes out there and all use the “avia framework” to help you and your client build outstanding content using some really nice visual editing tools. The one problem we run into is that the WP EasyCart theme is that this theme is not setup to use custom post types and their visual editing tools. For example, if you set your store page to use a left sidebar, but your default sidebar on the right, then all your product and store items will appear using the default. For many of us, this is a pain, but no worries, there is a way around it!

  1. Have the WP EasyCart version 2.0.16 or greater.
  2. Go to your WordPress Admin -> EasyCart Admin -> Store Setup -> Advanced Options and turn the “Match Store Page Meta” to “On”.
  3. You now must find the array that holds the “boxes” setup values for the avia framework. In this array, add the value “ec_store” to the ‘page’ types that are allowed to use the avia options. The file in the Choices theme is located in choices/includes/admin/register-admin-metabox.php, right at the top of this file. Image below for your reference.
  4. Go to your store page, adjust the avia settings as needed, then update the page. If you do not need to make adjustments, still hit the update button to update all store posts.

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If you are using the enfold theme, this file according to the Kriesi site is located here: /enfold/config-templatebuilder/avia-template-builder/config/meta.php.

Once you have updated this file, saved, and uploaded back to the server, you should begin to see the store page match up to your products.

Second Method Using Custom Widget Sidebar

Some of you may find it easier to use a custom page sidebar. This allows you to have a custom sidebar only for the store pages. This setting is available in the theme settings (this was completed in the Chioces theme) in the sidebar section.

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Once you have this created, go to your widgets section and add the appropriate widgets to this new custom sidebar.

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Now that you have your widgets, you need to ensure this custom sidebar shows up for all store items. This requires some custom code. To do this, open your “sidebar.php” in your Krieisi Theme. Look for the place where it sets the following variable:

$custom_widget_area = avia_check_custom_widget( ‘page’ );

Below this line, add the following:

if( get_post_type( $post->ID ) == “ec_store” ){
$custom_widget_area = “store”;
}

You need to exchange the text ‘store’ for the name of your sidebar. This will be the name above labeled “Page: store”, e.g. Your site might be “Page: shop my store” and in this case, use the $custom_wwidget_area = “shop my store”.

WP EasyCart gets version 2 released!

With the new year, we are happy to release version 2 that has a huge list of improvements in both usability and in stability and features.  We have been listening hard to each and every customer and putting in new features that many of you have been asking for.

New Streamlined Look

In version 2, we replaced the entire administrative area with a new make-over that will help improve setup and usability as you manage your shopping cart.  Now you can view current orders right from WordPress with our new dashboard, or check the store status against a variety of checks to quickly diagnose a problem.

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We have a new colorizer that is a one click stop to change the entire skin of your store.  Version 2 also includes better payment gateway setup and design file management.

New Admin Console Software

Version 2 also includes a complete redesign of the administrative console software to make it easier to add new options, products, and settings.  The WordPress admin plugin, desktop applications, iPad, and android software were all updated with a vastly better user interface to help you get products in quicker and manage orders smoother.

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A Large List of New Features

With the latest version, we now have an advanced option system that allows you to have unlimited options to a product.  Not only that, but you can now add check box systems, radio groups, file uploads, text input, text area, combo boxes, image swatches, or price changing grids to a product.  This provides virtually unlimited ability to customize a product and have customers the ability to add attributes to a product.

Several New Templates

All of our current templates have been upgraded to the latest version and feature list, plus we went a step further and added some new themes.  One of our latest great themes is the ‘Replete’ theme by kriesi.at.  This new theme is available at theme forest, and our store can be purchased with a completely matching theme to integrate for a uniform look.

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For a full list of our demos and themes, be sure to check out our demos section and view our feature list.

 

5 Helpful Tips for E-Commerce Startups

 

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We here at WP EasyCart have been in the business of online selling and e-commerce for many years.  And as a developer of a WordPress Shopping Cart system, we can tell you from experience we have seen it all.  We have seen start-ups struggle in the e-commerce world, and sometimes failing, because of unrealistic expectations, poor planning, or sometimes the lack of knowledge in what is available.  Often times a small tweak to what a business is doing can push them from struggle to success!

So we thought we would release some helpful e-commerce tips for those looking to make their mark in the world wide web of online selling.

Rule #1:  Sell something that people want

It seems like common sense.  It seems like something you have probably thought of already.  But many online business sell goods and services that just don’t have demand.  This is a hard question to answer, because deep down you know people want your goods, otherwise, you would not try to sell your goods online, right?  But take a deeper look at how large that pool of customers might be and see if the risk to reward is there.

Rule #2:  Customer or Consumer?

Do you know which is which?  Who is your website going to target?  Your customer might not always be the consumer, especially in the case of children.  We have seen many website owners build websites for children, when the actual customer will always be the adult purchasing the item.   Don’t confuse your consumers with the customers of your website.  If they are going to be the same, then you can design as such a shopping system that treats them as one.  If they are separate entities, be sure to cater to your online shoppers and customers in the shopping areas, while giving the consumers a good place to view and ‘Read-Up’ on your business.  Often the consumer is the one influencing the customer to buy the product, so both need space and both need to be impressed with information and flow.

Rule #3:  Keep it Simple

Yes, you have a wealth of knowledge to give on your store, website, blog, and social sites… but resist!  To much information is a turn-off for people visiting your site to look for goods and services.  If you must have a lot of information, technical or otherwise, make sure the site flows well to that information, rather than smothering your home page with 10 pages of information because it’s important.  Get a technical document repository somewhere in your site so IF people want to read it, they can.  A good rule of thumb is to write your home page as you would like it with all the text, graphics, bulleted lists, etc… Then cut it in half!

Rule #4: Market Competition

Be sure to analyze your market place competition.  If you sell goods in a neighborhood brick and mortar store and are looking to go online, be sure to compare the two market places.  You may have a complete monopoly on a local brick and mortar environment, but venture online, and you now compete against thousands of online shopping systems.  Will you stand out?  Will you have something unique to offer?  There certainly are ways to do this.  Will your loyal brick and mortar customers buy online?  will they continue to walk into your store?  So be realistic about your expectations when entering a larger arena like online commerce.  It is fair to say you can pick up some revenue streams, but it may not be fair to say you will dominate like a brick and mortar might.  Be objective and be clear what your goals are before you begin.

Rule #5: Analyze

The beauty of online shopping systems is you can analyze your traffic patterns much better than any other avenue of selling.  Be sure to tap into the Analytics market and study where traffic is going on your new start-up site.  Make sure you let traffic analysis run for several weeks before making decisions, then change one aspect and analyze again.  It is a long and repetitive process, but making small adjustments and looking for results is the only way to accurately tune your website or online e-commerce system.

In conclusion, be realistic, use good judgment, keep things simple, and analyze results periodically as you go forward in your new venture as a start-up.  Remember, nobody is an expert at everything, so don’t let someone sell you that they are!  We here at WP EasyCart try to follow our own rules as well, always rewriting, simplifying, analyzing, and adjusting to make the experience easier for customers and consumers.