The Importance of Having a Blog

Posted by | SEO | No Comments

A blog is a great way to keep your audience engaged. If you are just starting up, you might be wondering: how important is having a blog on your website? Well, you would be surprised. Blogs are surprisingly simple to set-up and update. Having them on your website allows you to keep your customers or followers up to date, make a connection with the community around your website and promote your company in an easy and engaging way.

Setting Up Your Blog

When it comes to setting up your blog on your website, you have several options. They are all very easy and should not take you more than half an hour. Normally, you would want your blog to be a subpage for your website, so that people can go visit it after they have a look at your products – but, unless you are selling adspace, you probably should not make it the first thing people see when they click on your website.

After you have decided on the right look, you need to come up with a plan for your blog. Everyone has a different way to update their blogs – some write five posts during the weekend and have the system automatically publish them on the right days, some write a blog post every day, some write posts very sporadically but enough to keep their community interested.

Coming Up With Your Posts

Posts do not come out of nowhere. Giving people good advice does not just solidify your standing as a reputable company, it helps your search engine ranking and it is likely to improve how much word-of-mouth advertising you are going to get. This is why your posts should always be excellent, interesting and engaging, but it can be difficult when you are managing everything, and staring at a blank post page just makes you annoyed.

Come up with a strategy plan when it comes to your blog. If you sell products, then you might want to have a weekly offers post available for your customers. If you are in the business of technology, consider updating your blog bi-weekly with important news. If you are in entertainment, then you might be able to get away with television and film reviews – believe it or not, they bring the traffic rolling into your blog, which in turn exposes the rest of your business to your potential customer. Play with it – it is not a one size fits all.

The Little Things Matter

Adding images, having enough breaks, making sure that your font is easily readable over a clear background, making your URLs short – what do they have in common? They seem silly and insignificant, but they might make the difference between you gaining a customer and driving one away. Add an image to your blog posts and ensure your blog is always legible and attractive. An amateur-ish looking blog turns off potential customers very quickly, but getting the hang of it is simple.

Blogs are important because they allow you to both reach and communicative with a wider audience. They also allow you to keep your customers informed and promote your company.

eCommerce and SEO: Simple Tips To Get You Started

Posted by | SEO | One Comment

You hear about SEO everywhere and it can be difficult to gauge which bits of it are important and which bits of it are not.

Of course you want your online shop, blog or other venture to be successful, but reading all the resources take a long time and doing Search Engine Optimisation wrong might get your site blacklisted from certain search engines, something you definitely want to avoid.

There are some very basic ways to get around blocks without violating any SEO terms that you might not have heard of through no fault of yours. Here are some tips to ensure that you are doing SEO right when it comes to your eCommerce site.

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Tweet Ideas for Your eCommerce Business

Posted by | Social Media | No Comments

The past few years has seen Twitter transition from an obscure microblogging platform to a veritable powerhouse in the social media world that can prove extremely powerful for marketing purposes. eCommerce businesses routinely use Twitter to connect with both existing customers and potential clients alike, sharing messages that can help to build brand loyalty and drum up interest in the company’s products or services. In order to best take advantage of all that Twitter has to offer, it is important to understand what tweets carry the most impressive impact in the “Twitterverse,” as Twitter followers affectionately refer to the network.

Here are some types of tweets that can help your eCommerce business be more effective on Twitter:

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Choosing a Reliable Host and Platform

Posted by | General | No Comments
One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a new ecommerce seller is the hosting platform your site resides on.  Think of hosting as you would rental space in a shopping mall – instead of providing a physical space for your business, web hosting gives you the data storage and bandwidth needed to power your online store.
Since so much is riding on your web hosting account, it’s important to choose the most reliable, cost-effective plan you can.  Here’s what to look for:

  • Up-time – Up-time refers to the amount of time your website is live versus being down for repairs.  Obviously, you want this number to be as high as possible, as down-time means lost money for your web business.  Look for a web host – like the Media Temple hosting service that Lightcommerce and other major companies use – that provides at least 99.99% up-time.
  • Platform code – There are a number of different types of hosting platforms out there, but the most stable, secure accounts are those that are built on the PHP framework.  Facebook and other top websites use this platform (including all sites built through Lightcommerce) – and if it’s good enough for one of the web’s largest sites, it should be good enough for you as well.
  • Data storage space and bandwidth limits – Although your site won’t likely demand a lot of data storage space or bandwidth until it grows significantly, but it’s important to work with a provider that will allow your hosting plan to grow as your site does.  At Lightcommerce, we work closely with our customers to create custom hosting plans when necessary to ensure that the visitors to your site never see the dreaded, “Bandwidth Exceeded” error message.

Remember, if your web hosting account goes down for any reason, your site goes down as well.  So take the time to analyze your different options and select a web hosting and ecommerce provider that’s as dedicated to your success as you are.

Choosing the Right Payment Method for Your Ecommerce Site

Posted by | General | One Comment
You’re thinking of building an ecommerce store in order to make some money, right?  So don’t drop the ball when it comes to choosing the right payment method for your target customers!  Consider the following factors when analyzing all of the different payment processing system:
  1. Accessibility – One of the most important things to keep in mind when selecting the system your site will use to process payments is its accessibility to customers in the geographic region you’re targeting.  If your customers are based primarily in the UK or the US, you’ll have plenty of different options to choose from.  But if you plan to target customers in areas like Nigeria (notorious for its payment scams), you’ll want to confirm that your payment system will allow transactions to occur from these regions.
  2. Functionality – Not all payment systems are created the same, so if there are any vital features you must have for your ecommerce store, be sure the payment method you’re considering supports them.  For example, if you want advanced shopping cart functionalities that allow you to contact customers that have abandoned items in their carts, ensure that your chosen payment method offers these features before you sign up.
  3. Security – With the ever-present threat of identity theft, web payment security is vitally important to customers and web business owners alike.  Check to be sure your chosen payment processor has implemented the latest security protocols, including the HTTPS protocol, signed requests, IP request verification and the newest Virtual Payer Authentication (VPA) technology.

Currently, Lightcommerce supports Google Checkout, Sagepay, Worldpay, Cardsave and Paypal, although we’re also able to integrate other payment processors depending on your preferences.  Contact us today to learn more about the payment methods we recommend and support!

Plans are under way to shake things up

Posted by | Feature updates, General | No Comments

Hello,

It’s been a while since I posted a feature update, or even a general lightcommerce update.

That’s simply because we’ve been very, very hard at work on some big plans for the lightcommerce e-commerce software that will take the e-commerce world by storm.

I can’t give away too much, but the plans include a complete administration area overhaul with a completely new design, a new bespoke content management system, integrated image editing and a little something for all you visitor analytics lovers out there ;)

If all goes well more details will be released soon, but until then know that this is going to take lightcommerce to a new level within the competitive e-commerce software world.

Stephen.

Why Work with an Ecommerce Platform Developer?

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Think you can handle setting up your online store by yourself, or that working with an ecommerce platform developer is too expensive?  Consider this cautionary tale of Bobby and Sue…

Bobby and Sue are brother and sister, and both of them have decided to start their own online stores with the dream of quitting their day jobs within a few months.

Bobby does a few quick internet searches for ecommerce website templates and, to his excitement, finds a free HTML template to use for his store.  It isn’t quite what he had in mind (and he doesn’t really know how to program HTML), but he presses forward anyways.  “Hey Sue,” Bobby says.  “I’m already more profitable than you are – I got my website template for free!”

Sue takes a look at Bobby’s template and laughs to herself.  It doesn’t look professional and she knows that neither she nor Bobby know a thing about how to code websites.  Instead, she decides to enlist the help of a professional bespoke ecommerce platform developer who is able to start work on her site after a few phone consultations to determine exactly what she’s looking for and what type of features she’ll need now and in the future.

With her site development out of the way, Sue gets back to what she’s good at – finding and negotiating with the suppliers who will stock her inventory at the best possible prices.  For good measure, she spends a little time brushing up on website promotion strategies so that she’ll be ready to go as soon as her site is finished.

Bobby, on the other hand, has been spending 16 hour days staring at his computer, trying to understand the foreign language on his screen.  He’s starting to get the hang of it, but a few mistakes at the beginning caused him to have to go back and start from scratch several times.

After a few weeks, Sue’s site has launched, and she’s already making sales.  She’s pleased that the developer she worked with (LightCommerce, of course!) put in the extra effort to create a good experience for her visitors, and she’s already begun to recoup the investment she made in having a strong site built.  Bobby has his site up as well, but instead of making sales, he’s fielding angry emails from visitors who weren’t able to complete the checkout process due to technical glitches.

As he heads to bed after yet another late night of trying to get his site working correctly, he sighs to himself, “If only I had enlisted the help of qualified professionals like lightCommerce from the very start…”

What Should You Look for in an Ecommerce Platform?

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Making the decision to start selling products online is huge!  Whether you plan to sell a few of your own handmade creations or want to grow a mega-market to rival Amazon, it’s important to get started out on the right foot by choosing the best ecommerce platform for your needs.

By building your web store on a bespoke ecommerce platform, you’ll avoid the costly “per transaction” fees levied by sites like eBay, Etsy or Amazon, while also retaining complete control over the way your site is run.  And since each bespoke platform installation is tailored to your specific needs, you can rest assured that your site is providing the best possible buying environment for your visitors.

But with so many different ecommerce platforms available today, how do you determine which one is right for you?  Consider the following questions:

  • What kind of support will I receive?  As a beginning ecommerce seller, support is crucial – just ask the thousands of business owners who have had to scramble to learn code when an unexpected bug caused their self-hosted websites to crash, resulting in lost time and lost money!
  • What is the technical background of the platform developers?  Don’t put the success of your web store in the hands of some fresh-out-of-college coder who doesn’t have the real world experience necessary to support you and your growing business!  Instead, look for developers with extensive real-world experience handling ecommerce websites and transactions.
  • What features will the platform provide me?  Every ecommerce seller’s needs are different, which is why looking for a bespoke ecommerce platform with the specific features you’ll need now and in the future to support your business’s growth is critical.

Obviously, we’re pretty confident that the LightCommerce platform will meet these needs and more.  But whether you’re looking for a bespoke ecommerce platform or not, it’s still a good idea to think through these questions in order to give your online store the best possible odds of succeeding.

How a Bespoke Ecommerce Platform Saves You Money

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There’s no arguing with the fact that a bespoke ecommerce platform (aka – one that’s built exclusively for your unique needs) is more expensive than an out-of-the-box web store template.   While you can pick up a generic ecommerce store template for under £100, your initial investment in a custom ecommerce site will likely be much more than that.

However, when you consider the other factors that make a bespoke ecommerce platform so powerful, you’ll find that this price comparison simply isn’t relevant.  For example, will your one-off template purchase update itself?  Will it provide you with the kind of powerful CMS you need to respond to the ever-changing needs of your market?

If you’re planning ahead for your ecommerce website (or if you aren’t satisfied with your current set-up), consider the following lightcommerce features that make this bespoke platform a much better investment – dollar-for-dollar – for your business:

  • Ongoing security management.  As a website owner, reliability is key.  If your site is hacked, you stand to lose thousands of dollars (or more) and damage your reputation.  At lightcommerce, we’re constantly updating our platform to guard against new security threats, meaning that your site and your data will always be safe and secure. Savings to you: £1,000+ if your site is ever hacked.
  • Frequent new features upgrades.  Unless you’re a skilled web developer in addition to an ecommerce merchant, you’ll likely find that making necessary updates to your store-bought website template is time-consuming and cost-prohibitive.  But as a lightcommerce customer, free updates are part of your initial purchase price, so you’ll never have to worry about the added cost of ongoing site upkeep.Savings to you: £100+/hour to hire a qualified web developer.
  • Flexible content management system.  The ability to update your web store is critical, as product lines and inventory change from day-to-day.  Unfortunately, you’ll find that updating an HTML web store template can be difficult, making the powerful lightcommerce CMS (which allows you to add and update pages on your own) a welcome relief from needing to hire a web designer for every little tweak.Savings to you: £70+/hour to hire a talented web designer.

So before you write off bespoke ecommerce platforms as being too expensive for your business, be sure to look at the bigger picture.  A larger investment up front in the lightcommerce platform could make the difference between an easy launch and hassle-free site operation, and a series of frustrating and costly changes.