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Use AMP to Make Your WordPress Site Load Faster

February 7, 2018 - 17 Comments

It’s no secret that as a retailer, your mobile strategy has become more and more important to staying competitive. As much as 50% of eCommerce transactions come from mobile today. In the holiday season of 2017, mobile purchases (tablet + smartphone) set a new holiday record, generating 47% of visits and 33% of revenue.

Despite the quantity of mobile traffic, over 75% of sites take over 10 seconds to load on a 3G connection. A slow loading site results in content shifting around on the page as users are reading or interacting. Buttons are unresponsive resulting in seemingly broken pages and frustrated users. And worst of all, sometimes the page times out, leaving your customers in the no-man’s land of loading spinners.

Slow Loading Gif

It’s no wonder that 53% of mobile site visitors leave after 3 seconds. And this affects your bottom line – we’ve seen that just a one-second delay in load time can lead to a 7% decrease in conversions. As a customer, it’s easy to complain about a slow site, but as a retailer, creating a fast and functional mobile site often takes a lot of effort and requires constant updating.

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Understanding Automation for eCommerce Stores

February 6, 2018 - 1 Comment

“Automation” gets thrown around like a dirty word when used in relation to your business:

  • “I don’t want to automate customer service, I hate not talking to a real person.”
  • “I don’t want to automate emails, they’ll lose their personal feel.”
  • “I won’t automate these fulfillment workflows, I want to be sure they’re accurate.”

Too often, we equate automation with call menus — “press 4 if you want me to repeat these options…” — which can be frustrating to work with as a customer. But automation doesn’t have to be synonymous with poor quality and impersonality. It is an investment: automating parts of your business is a way for you to purchase attention, so you can focus on other parts of your company.

As a business owner, maximizing your time spent on innovation or high-impact tasks helps you dedicate time to improvement and growth. Most merchants need to focus on a niche or USP to compete in eCommerce, and hone in on building a brand around what makes them unique. Automating lower priority tasks means you and the people who work for you can spend your time focusing on the things that will really help you compete.

As a shop admin (or a developer helping shop admins!) there are several opportunities for automation to consider, and some strategies to uncover those opportunities.

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WooCommerce Design, Shipping, Payments, and Troubleshooting FAQs

February 2, 2018 - 6 Comments

Over in WooCommerce Customer Support, we get a pretty good overview of what people struggle with when getting started with WooCommerce based on recurring questions we receive.

We put our heads together and bundled these questions about WooCommerce into four topics: Design, shipping, payments, and troubleshooting.

Read on to fast-track your WooCommerce learning with our top 10 FAQs and their answers.

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What’s new in WooCommerce 3.3: Revamped Orders screen, shop display improvements, and stock management improvements.

January 30, 2018 - 60 Comments

Since our last minor release in October, we’ve been working on a variety of improvements to WooCommerce:

  • Redesigned Orders screen for easier order management.
  • Simpler and more intuitive stock management.
  • Image sizing and theme compatibility improvements.
  • Shop customization features.

To ensure this update is stable, we’ve been doing plenty of testing and QA on our side with an extended beta period, increased unit and integration test coverage, compatibility testing with our extensions, working with customers to do managed updates, and running 3.3 on WooCommerce.com.

WooCommerce 3.3 is a minor release, meaning it should be fully backwards compatible with all WooCommerce releases since 3.0. However, it’s still considered best practice, and recommended, to backup before updating.

We recommend viewing our documentation on how to updatemaking a backup, updating extensions, and finally updating WooCommerce via WP Admin.

Here are some more details about what’s new in 3.3

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Extending CRUD Data Stores in WooCommerce

January 25, 2018 - 5 Comments

Have you heard about CRUD? In programming it stands for Create, Read, Update, and Delete, basic operations we all perform with our data. With WooCommerce, that includes products, orders, customers, coupons, and other data stored in your database.

Recent changes to WooCommerce relating to CRUD mean that the platform is on its way to being more scalable. Note: This post does get technical and assumes a certain comfort level with PHP code.

Audio-learner? The points in this post are from my talk at WooConf 2017.

 

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How Saying “No” Wins More Work

January 19, 2018 - 14 Comments

Winning more work is what every company wants. They want to stop wasting time on proposals that don’t put money in the bank.

Unfortunately, far too many freelancers and agencies enter talks with a prospect from the wrong angle. They default to saying yes, and only bother with anything getting close to a no when pressed hard.

Your prospects can see this. They hear yes from everyone about every idea, and they know you’re saying yes to win work. That’s not what awesome clients want. They want someone who will tell them the boundaries of their project inside the budget they have.

This post is going to look at the way you should be using no to show your expertise and win more work. Some prospects will drop out part way through the process, but they were unlikely to be awesome clients anyway, so you just saved yourself time writing a proposal that would have been declined.

When you use no to set boundaries with prospects about how to work with you, and what you can do for them, they’ll respect you for the professional you are.

This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from WooConf. Watch the video or keep scrolling to read the points below.

 

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How Passion and Innovation Became a Profitable Business and Online Store

January 11, 2018 - 6 Comments

It’s a one-of-a-kind tool that Drake producer, Noah “40” Shebib, raves about and Diplo can’t live without.

Fans of Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Kanye West, Coldplay, and Justin Bieber have already heard Output’s work, whether they know it or not.

So what is Output? Think innovative software and tools created for musicians, composers, producers, and sound designers across all genres. The user base is large, and their products are so pervasive that it’s hard to believe the company is only four years old.

It all started because composer and music producer Gregg Lehrman wanted a reverse-sound engine he could use in his own musical compositions.

We sat down with Gregg, founder and CEO of Output, to discover how he turned his passion project into a thriving company that is simultaneously punching well above its weight and revolutionizing the recording industry.

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What’s new in WooCommerce Stripe 4.0: European payment gateways and a new credit card form

January 9, 2018 - 84 Comments

Stripe is a popular payment service provider for eCommerce stores worldwide, and we’re pleased to announce we’ve shipped a major release with a multitude of new features to enhance your experience of working with WooCommerce and Stripe.

  • Payment acceptance using European and other non-U.S. payment gateways
  • Fully PCI compliant credit card form on your checkout
  • Improved support for Apple Pay and the Web Payment Requests API
  • Simpler way to connect your WooCommerce store to Stripe

To ensure this update is stable, we’ve done a lot of testing on our side: Releasing beta versions, testing with our own library of extensions and themes, and testing with the most popular extensions used alongside WooCommerce Stripe. 👏

WooCommerce Stripe 4.0 includes lots of code improvements and should be fully backwards compatible with 3.1 and 3.0, but it’s still best to perform a backup before updating.

We recommend viewing our documentation on how to update, making a backup, and updating extensions before upgrading WooCommerce Stripe via WP Admin.

Read on for full details of what’s new in WooCommerce Stripe 4.0!

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How to Price Your WooCommerce Projects

January 4, 2018 - 7 Comments

Everything starts with the story you’re telling.

One of the most overlooked aspects of pricing is the fact that it never happens in a vacuum. Pricing is always contextual. And to that end, the context for a WooCommerce project isn’t just the work that needs to be done. It’s about the customer, how they define success, the freelancer or agency doing the work, and their experience. Context drives the pricing discussion.

And context is driven by the story you’re telling.

Stories can take a lot of forms, but just imagine the following three opening lines:

  1. I’m so excited to finally work on an eCommerce project.
  2. If this project is anything like the last 40 I’ve worked on, we could be done in 8 weeks.
  3. We have a team of 30 people we bring onto every project. We’re excited to get started.

Each statement tells us something different. In one case, we’re aware that the person will be learning on the job. In another, we know about experience and even some sense of timeline (and maybe cost). And in the last statement we might feel extra confident or extra worried, depending on whether we think we need 30 people on the project – a small store might freak out, and an enterprise organization may feel thrilled.

Use the first meeting to anchor context

When we meet with a prospect, we get the chance to create a first impression or reinforce what they may have already heard about us. That first phone call or meeting allows us to make sure that we set the right context.

  • We can reinforce our experience by telling stories of past projects.
  • We can build trust by predicting common challenges and how we overcome them.
  • We can shape our conversation by hearing what they think are success criteria.

And when it comes to pricing, there’s one other thing we can do. We can create some price anchors by articulating various projects of different complexities (features, sizes, etc.) and the prices associated with each.

As we do that, we’re helping them get grounded in the context of what it might cost to work with us, and it helps set some of their expectations.

The bottom line is that the better you get at listening, the better you’ll get at knowing which stories to tell, which projects to highlight, which risks to articulate and mitigate, and which price points to anchor to.

This is what separates folks that are great at pricing discussions and those who are just getting started. Thankfully, it’s something that you can practice and get good at.

Below we’ll look at several factors that go into the pricing calculus and ways you can use this information to help you in initial and further pricing discussions.

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The Future of eCommerce is Inclusion

December 29, 2017 - 12 Comments

In the ’90s we’d talk a lot about eCommerce, but it seemed a bit unlikely to matter because not enough consumers had computers back then. Similar to what Guy Kawasaki points out in his “Lessons of Steve Jobs” talk,

There was a time in the last century when folks like Thomas J. Watson of IBM considered in the 1940s that:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

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Top-Selling WooCommerce.com Extensions in 2017

December 28, 2017 - 9 Comments

We’ve had quite a year at WooCommerce, including three major core releases, launching new extensions such as Facebook and Fulfillment by Amazon, kick-starting WooCommerce Services, upgrading WooCommerce.com account management, hosting WooConf in Seattle, re-igniting our Affiliate Network, and more!

Also this year, we shared more about the customers that typically find their way to WooCommerce.com. They are:

  • Building sites for themselves
  • Creating complex stores with multiple product types
  • Residing all over the world, across industries.
What does a WooCommerce developer look like?

Developers choose WooCommerce.com for its openness and the option to customize to their heart’s content, often with stable and well-supported extensions. We’re grateful to everyone who put their trust in our platform this year and continue to make the journey alongside us.

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An Introduction to GDPR Compliance for WooCommerce Stores

December 20, 2017 - 10 Comments

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on 25 May 2018 – is your shop ready?

What is GDPR and what does it have to do with you?

I attended WordCamp Manchester and WordCamp Stockholm in the last few months, and they had one thing in common: lots of questions about GDPR. I heard a number of discussions around what WooCommerce site owners needed to do, and if they were ready for GDPR.

To help our WooCommerce site owners get ready for the GDPR, we wanted to provide some information about the regulation, along with our GDPR plans at WooCommerce.

On 25th May 2018, the GDPR enacted by the EU will come into effect.

Source: GDPR Countdown Clock

Stronger rules on data protection from May 2018 mean citizens have more control over their data.

There’s a great infographic breaking down the different components. The GDPR for WordPress site includes a summary of site owners’ obligations in regards to collecting data related to EU citizens, which we’ve listed below:

  • Tell the user who you are, why you collect the data, for how long, and who receives it.
  • Get a clear consent [when required] before collecting any data.
  • Let users access their data, and take it with them.
  • Let users delete their data.
  • Let users know if data breaches occur.

Each of these bullet points is subject to many caveats, exceptions, and degrees of how much you need to do, but they do serve as a good starting point.

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The Three-Headed WooCommerce Project: Your Agency, The Freelancer, and Your Client’s Developer

December 19, 2017 - Leave a comment

With predictions of online shopping phasing out retail outlets in the next decade, people are increasingly jumping on the online store’s bandwagon. Developing a WooCommerce project requires time and expertise that sometimes might not be available at your agency when you need it, forcing you to look for help elsewhere, like freelance developers.

If you have come to the stage where you need to call in a specialist, what are the things to consider? How do you make the new “additions” as smooth as possible? But also: what if your client has already some in-house developers available?

If things aren’t planned and executed very thoroughly, it could be a real mess with so many people involved.

Let’s dive into how you can manage such a tricky working scenario and turn it into your advantage!

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9 Things You Should Know In Advance To Estimate On A WooCommerce Project

December 12, 2017 - 10 Comments

It’s probably one of the most common questions you’ve been asked in your professional life: “How much would a new WooCommerce store cost us?”. Any of its variants count as well: “how much will you guys charge us to build that extension?”. If you’ve worked on a WooCommerce project, you get the gist.

9 Things You Should Know In Advance To Estimate On A WooCommerce Project
Credit: Sticker Mule

As someone who’s making a living delivering code, and web solutions, you’re often faced with clients who think that coming up with a price is the easiest thing for you to do. Many have product-oriented minds so that they fail to see what’s behind a price for a new WooCommerce store or anything that relates to code. Because of this, many clients reach out to WooCommerce specialists with loose project briefs, or just without having put some additional thoughts into why they’re even embarking in that new project.

That’s why I sat down and dug deep into this key topic with WooExpert and Codeable expert Mitchell Callahan of SAU/CAL who walks us through nine key elements to both gather insights from the client’s mindset and allow the hired developers to chalk out a correct estimate of a project with not fully specified requirements.

Ready to know them? Let’s dive in!

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Join the WooCommerce Affiliate Program and start earning for all referrals

November 30, 2017 - 72 Comments

We’re pleased to announce that WooCommerce has now been added to the affiliate program on refer.wordpress.com!

Earn 20% on all referrals by recommending the platform and extensions available on WooCommerce.com to your audience.

Keep reading to find out more, then create a refer.wordpress.com account, and pick WooCommerce to start collecting cash.

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Myths, strengths, and weaknesses of open eCommerce

November 29, 2017 - 3 Comments

This is part of a series of posts highlighting talks from WooConf. Watch the video or read the points below.

 

 

It can be daunting to know where to get started, if you’ve not worked with or used open source software before: “Where do I turn when I have questions? How do I go about setting up this software? Who is building it?” When you’re looking to build a business on top of this software, you want to have confidence that the tools you’re choosing will last, and will be the right fit for your store.

While it may seem like the path towards using open eCommerce platforms is less transparent for a new merchant, open platforms like WooCommerce give merchants unparalleled flexibility, freedom, and sustainability while powering their business.

Let’s take a look at some of the myths of open eCommerce, and its strengths and weaknesses, to learn more about how it can be a huge win for merchants.

But first, a story: In a world…okay, so I don’t have a great movie voiceover impersonation, but I hope the one you heard in your head was good! Let’s start with a story, imagining your very own movie trailer: In a world where you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve built your own successful business selling laptop stands. It’s taken four years to get here, much of which was spent:

  • Designing your laptop stands and building prototypes of the product
  • Sourcing production materials and determining manufacturing cost per unit
  • Figuring out where and how you’d manufacture your product
  • Determining how much inventory you need on hand and replenishment strategies

…all before you could even think about how you’d sell this product and make money from it. Only then you could talk about sales and distribution strategies. You decided to sell via your own online store and Amazon, and now you’ve finally passed a milestone after a year and a half of sales: your company generated $1.5 million in revenue this year.

You’re a model seller on Amazon, with 98% positive feedback, 99% on-time delivery for all orders, and a 0.11% defective product rate. Amazon now generates 80% of your revenue.

However, since you sell laptop stands, your customers are a bit more tech-savvy than most. They know that if they want to try out a different stand, there are two ways to get free return shipping on Amazon: say the product was defective or “not as advertised”, and the seller pays for return shipping. Despite your wonderful track record, it only takes a small amount of negative feedback like this (5-10 instances) to be completely removed from Amazon.

That means that, overnight, your business of nine people must lay off four employees or more, and you have over $350,000 in inventory you can’t sell and are paying to store. Your effective business has been effectively squashed. And by the way, this really happened — you can read about it (different product, same situation).

Based on a True Story

While we could look at this as a cautionary tale about selling in a marketplace, I see this more as a larger concern: Merchants should evaluate their reliance on a platform that can shut down or remove them at any time in terms of acceptable risk factors for their business.

The beauty of open source eCommerce and WooCommerce is they can empower merchants to start their own businesses without relying on the whims of their platform.

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