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How to Charge Your Customers the Correct Sales Tax Rates

December 28, 2015 - 4 Comments

So you get that as a store owner, you need to be sales tax compliant. This means that in the United States specifically, you have to charge sales tax to buyers in states where you have sales tax nexus.

But how much do you charge? Does it vary from customer to customer? And why does this have to be so complicated?

And more importantly, is there a solution that can automate everything so WooCommerce customers don’t have to deal with any of this? The good news is, Yes there is!
First, we’ll explain a bit about how sales tax works, and then we’ll show you how you can use TaxJar to automate the entire process so you never have to stress about sales tax again.

While determining the right rates to charge can be tricky, a little reading will help you wrap your head around it in no time. Today, we’ll explain the different sales tax rates in the United States, and help you figure out which rates to charge your customers.

tl;dr: Enable free, automated, sales tax tax calculations for your store in a single state with WooCommerce Tax. Or for additional locations, multiple sales channels (Amazon, Walmart, etc), and to take advantage of fully automated filing services, we recommend you choose TaxJar.

Let’s get started.

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An Introduction to SSL Certificates For WooCommerce

December 23, 2015 - 24 Comments

Part of the process of starting an online store is finding a way to secure the experience for your shoppers. You want your potential customers to feel safe, of course, and to know that their data isn’t going to fall into the wrong hands.

If you’re new to eCommerce, you might have heard some chatter about SSL certificates or HTTPS as part of this security process. And you might be utterly confused by it. Relax — that’s normal, and we can help.

SSL sounds like a complicated topic, but once you understand the premise and why your store might need it, it’s not something you’ll have to spend any time worrying about. In fact, for most store owners, you can get a certificate to add SSL to your store in just a few minutes.

Let’s go over what SSL is, why you might need it, and how you can go about getting a certificate for your store. At the end of this post, your confusion should be gone, and you should be even more prepared to start selling online.

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An Introduction to Sales Tax for WooCommerce

December 16, 2015 - 7 Comments

When I talk to store owners, the reasons they give me for starting their businesses are as varied as their personalities. They seek the freedom of self-employment, control of the future, a legacy to leave family, or a way to get their awesome products out there to the masses.

One thing that never makes that list is dealing with administrative hassles like sales tax. No one wants to deal with that.

Collecting, reporting, and filing sales tax returns is one of the less fun sides of selling products online. If you don’t have a handle on sales tax, it can be a confusing mess every time a filing deadline rolls up. But it doesn’t have to be!

This introduction to sales tax for WooCommerce store owners will explain all the basics you need to know. It will walk you through the five steps of sales tax compliance for sellers based in the United States, and give you some things to think about before you reach your first tax deadline.

Let’s dig in.

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How to make packaging part of your brand experience

December 14, 2015 - 2 Comments

How far does your brand experience go? Does it end at your website, or does it continue further, all the way out into your customers’ hands?

We’ve written in the past about how important it is to extend your branding into every touchpoint that customers have with you, like email receipts and copywriting. These small elements, often overlooked, convey important messages — they say that you are you, and no one else.

If you sell and ship physical goods, your packaging is another one of these crucial, yet typically overlooked, touchpoints with your brand. Could you be overlooking the possibility of using it to connect with your customers?

Today, we’re going to take a look at how you can make your products’ outer “shells,” from your shipping box to the one it’s stored in, part of the overall experience with your brand. We’ll explain why this matters, offer some ideas you can use, and tie in packaging with the other brand touchpoints we’ve already talked about.

Let’s get to work.

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Optimizing your store’s “no products found” page

December 3, 2015 - 1 Comment

A question for you: what happens when a customer searches for something in your store that doesn’t exist?

The default message returned by WooCommerce (and in fact, most other eCommerce platforms) is “no products found.” And the page that follows is empty, a barren wasteland that offers little direction for what to do next.

It’s as if your customers asked you, in person, for the location of something — only to be greeted with a blank stare and a shrug. It’s a bit unhelpful.

As you’ve likely already guessed, it doesn’t have to be this way. A shopper’s journey shouldn’t end when their search returns no results. With a little optimization, you can ensure that it’s only just beginning.

Let’s take a look at a few ways that you (perhaps with the help of a trusted developer) can make the most of your “nothing found” page, transforming this barren wasteland into a lush paradise full of potential.

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Creating smart discounts for holiday shoppers

November 10, 2015 - Leave a comment

With the holiday season almost upon us, finding ways to appeal to shoppers is likely at the top of your to-do list. This probably means creating a discount or two, or sending out a coupon code to your email subscribers.

Holiday deals take work, though, and quite a bit of time to maintain. If your time or resources are limited, you might be dreading the process of setting up, monitoring, and discontinuing these offers.

The good news? There’s a way to make your customers happy and save yourself some time. This involves setting up and advertising “smart” holiday discounts that automatically apply to products or purchases based on specific criteria.

Today we’ll explore how you can use a solution like Dynamic Pricing to automatically offer discounts or special deals to customers during the holiday season — no maintenance required.

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Four Ways to Identify and Encourage Rituals in your Customer’s Journey

November 6, 2015 - 4 Comments

Since the beginning of time, rituals have been a part of how we live and make sense of the world. They help us remember important happenings, we know where we are in the calendar by them, and like little compasses they guide us. There is comfort to be found in the familiar.

In older days, rituals were prompted by things like the seasons, local happenings, the rhythms of your neighborhood and your family. But the rituals that make up our modern lives are different: they’re quicker, global, automated and often influenced by the products, services or apps we choose.

Brands have been part of our lives for decades, but never to the extent that the internet and smartphones have allowed. It is now near impossible to escape brand messaging. Some moments with brands we begrudge, some we love, some we barely notice.

What does all this mean for your online store? There are a string of moments that make up a customer’s journey, and paying closer attention to these can do great things for your brand. And if you can create a ritual out of one or two? Bingo.

In this post we’ll look at four ways you can both identify existing rituals in your customer journey and create new ones, and why it’s all worth it. But first, a bit of background on how social media has changed brand-building, and a case study of a brand knocking the customization and ritualizing of their customer’s journey out of the park.

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10 WooCommerce extensions for holiday success

October 30, 2015 - 1 Comment

We’ve been talking about the holidays quite a lot lately. We’ve stressed the importance of being prepared, how to find out what your customers want, and the actions you should take to have a stress-free season.

Having said all that, if you don’t already have the wheels in motion for some holiday sales or events on your WooCommerce store, it’s not too late! In fact, you’ve still got plenty of time to come up with some stellar holiday tactics, thanks in part to WooCommerce’s flexibility and hundreds of easy-to-add extensions.

To give you the push you need to start your planning — or just to help you along, if your plans are well underway — we’ve collected ten of our favorite extensions for holiday success. From shipping add-ons to kind gestures, these extensions will help you attract more shoppers, ship more packages, and have the best holiday ever.

Interested? Have a look at what we’ve picked out just for you.

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Why and how to pitch your clients packages for the holidays

October 28, 2015 - 1 Comment

The holidays are a busy time for everyone. If you’re a developer, you’re not exempt from this — your clients are likely more in need of your services than ever, leading to long hours that make it difficult to get away.

For some of your clients, the best way to handle their unique, holiday-only needs, or the increase in working hours this time of year brings, is to create custom packages. Custom holiday packages can help you better anticipate each client’s needs, drum up more business, and also make it easier for you to take a break.

Let’s have a look at why you might want to consider creating special plans just for the holiday season. We’ll also cover how you can convey the value of these plans to your clients, and what to do once the holidays have ended and everything is back to normal (or as normal as it gets).

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How to ensure smooth holiday shipments

October 20, 2015 - 1 Comment

Store owners, take note: the National Retail Federation has forecasted total sales in the range of $105 billion USD during the 2015 holiday season.

Getting a piece of this enormous pie depends on a lot of things. You need to have a great selection of products, timely and convincing marketing, and a committed team.

You also need to think about how to keep that piece of the pie — that is, how to prevent your newly convinced customers from feeling frustrated with any part of the purchasing process and sending their products right back to where they came from.

Shipments are one of the most crucial parts of the holiday shopping season, and if handled well, they can help you secure repeat customers and prevent returns or other complaints. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can ensure smooth shipments during this busy time, and keep the piece of the pie you’re working so hard to earn.

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How to communicate holiday deadlines in your store

October 8, 2015 - Leave a comment

The holidays are often an incredible time for store owners. Sales are up, and with them your profits.

But they are the holidays, after all. You’ve got to rest sometime. Which means finding a way to kindly tell your customers “you’ve got until this date to buy, and after that I’m out of here.”

Not always the easiest thing to do. Especially when about 15% of shoppers wait until the last two weeks of December to start buying gifts.

But all this comes down to finding ways to effectively communicate holiday deadlines in your online store. Whether it’s through a homepage banner, an in-cart notice, or even a dedicated email, you can let your customers know that their time is almost up, and set clear expectations for the arrivals of their purchases on top of that.

Read on to learn how to master the art of holiday communication, and — as a bonus — to get first dibs on a spot at our upcoming holiday webinar.

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Site search: what your customers are looking for (and what to do about it)

October 1, 2015 - Leave a comment

Running an online store would be far easier if you could read the minds of your customers, wouldn’t it? It would at least take much of the guesswork out of your decision-making.

Well, there’s one function already built into your site that lets you come close to reading minds. It can provide valuable insight on what your customers want, what you’re delivering… or where you might be falling short.

As you might have already guessed, this magical-sounding feature is the site search.

Your site search isn’t just a convenient gateway for your customers to get what they want — it’s also a way for you to understand what they’re looking for, what they expect from you, and how you can improve your online store to better serve their needs. By regularly evaluating these searches, you’ll be able to not only have a better understanding of your customers, but also — potentially — make needed improvements to your store that will help grow your business.

Let’s go over how your site search can play a bigger role in your growth, starting with a closer look at its value for you, the store owner.

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How to increase sales with updates to your navigation

September 28, 2015 - 5 Comments

There are a number of ways you can convert more of your store’s visitors into paying customers. You can update your store’s design, convince them with compelling copywriting, experiment with in-cart messages, try coupons… the sky’s not even the limit.

But sometimes we overlook the simple things when we’re thinking about ways to boost sales. And your store’s navigation — the menus and links that visitors use to get from place to place — is a really simple element that has an enormous amount of potential.

Small updates to your online store’s navigation can have a huge impact on your ability to convince visitors to make a purchase. Whether it’s making the path to your shopping cart easier or using basic psychology to motivate conversions, even tiny tweaks or five minute fixes can sometimes deliver amazing results.

Keen for some ideas? Let’s take a look at how you might be able to increase your own store’s sales with some updates to your navigation.

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How developers can take a vacation over the holidays

September 17, 2015 - Leave a comment

The holidays are coming. You’ve no doubt considered using that time to take a vacation. But if you’re a developer with eCommerce clients, you’re probably wondering if a vacation is even possible during this busy time.

November and December alone drive 30% more revenue for online stores than other months. This increase in sales often corresponds with an increase in activity for you — a push to get new features launched, redesigns completed, or products added. It might seem impossible to take time off when you have so much going on.

Time away from your job is important, though, and with a little planning, it’s definitely possible. Today, we’re going to share some steps you can take to give yourself a break during the holiday season. We’ll show you how you can do it without stress, and without upsetting your clients.

Craving a break? Read on.

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When should you start your store’s holiday promotions?

September 8, 2015 - 7 Comments

September is underway, and now is the right time to prepare your store for the holiday shopping season. We know it seems premature, but we like how Think With Google summed it up:

Any way you look at the calendar, September is a big month for holiday shopping preparation. If it seems a little too early for Bing Crosby and warmed chestnuts, that probably means you’re right on schedule.

One of the biggest aspects of your holiday shopping season will be promotions — what to offer, how much to offer, and when to offer it. It seems like the “when” is the hardest part to figure out, because even if you start planning now, it’s often hard to know when your customers will be shopping and acting on your offers.

Today, we’re here to help you decide when to start your online store’s holiday promotions, including discounted products, coupon codes, and free shipping offers. We’ll explain why timing matters so much, and give you a few ways you can use common sense, research, and information on your audience to determine the best timing for your store’s promotions.

Keep reading to get ahead on your store’s promotional planning.

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How your store’s content should change for the holidays

September 4, 2015 - 4 Comments

A lot of things change around the holiday season. Stores are busier, shoppers are more active, and we all work long hours just to keep up.

It’s likely that you adjust your store’s marketing to match some of these changing demands. But have you given any thought to adjusting your content as well?

The blog posts, copywriting, and even the policies you present on your site are all content that should be given careful thought during the holiday season. Because so much changes during this busy time, even if only temporarily, having ill-fitting content can create a poor customer experience and result in lost sales.

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It’s never too early to start thinking about how you can make sure your store’s content serves its purpose for all those holiday shoppers. Read on to find out how you should update your site during the holiday season, starting with a clearer explanation of why it matters so much.

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