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Preparing WooCommerce for the arrival of Gutenberg

November 15, 2017 - 9 Comments

Dedicated WordPress users have probably heard about Gutenberg, the revolutionary new editor currently in development as a feature plugin and scheduled for inclusion in WordPress version 5.0. It transforms the way we edit content of our WordPress websites by providing a richer “block”-based experience.

Put simply, a block is any single element of content – an image, a paragraph or a YouTube video – and blocks can be quickly configured and built into immersive page layouts and designs. This is a comprehensive maturation of the visual editor as we know it and creates a truer WYSIWYG experience.

Gutenberg will transform the way we edit the content of our WordPress websites by providing a richer “block”-based experience.

One thing that isn’t yet 100% clear is how complex plugins like WooCommerce will work with Gutenberg.

Our design team has explored and experimented with adding product Blocks (recent products, featured products, etc.) to posts and pages. But as you’re well aware, publishing products should be a very different experience to authoring a blog post.

How adding a product block in Gutenberg might look
How adding a product block in Gutenberg might look.

As a release candidate approaches, Gutenberg will enable us to mimic that rich blog authoring experience for products. How might that look?

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Three things we hope you take away from WooConf 2017

October 30, 2017 - 8 Comments

A little over a week ago, I traveled to Seattle along with designers and developers, freelancers and agencies from across the wide world of Woo, for WooCommerce’s annual gathering at WooConf.

For me, it was the culmination of 10 months of work that started early in January, when I came on board to plan the content. From 15 Skype calls to chat about what different people wanted from a conference to two days of talks, demos, and workshops, I hope that together we delivered on what I heard our community ask for.

Read on for three things we hope those who joined us onsite or via the live stream took away from WooConf 2017.

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What’s new in WooCommerce 3.2: Improved coupons and extension management

October 11, 2017 - 36 Comments

Since our last minor release back in June, we’ve been working on a multitude of improvements to improve the WooCommerce admin experience:

  • Apply discounts to orders using coupons, without the chore of doing manual calculations.
  • See which versions of extensions are tested with new WooCommerce updates, before updating.
  • Improved management features for WooCommerce.com extensions.
  • A simpler, unified shortcode for listing multiple products on pages.

To ensure this update is indeed stable, we’ve been doing plenty of testing on our side; releasing beta versions, testing our own library of extensions and themes, working with customers to do managed updates, and running 3.2 on WooCommerce.com. 👏

WooCommerce 3.2 is also a minor release, meaning it should be fully backwards compatible with 3.1 and 3.0. However, it’s still considered best practice, and recommended, to backup before updating.

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

Here are some more details on what’s new in 3.2!

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Responding To #Mobilegeddon: Google Rankings Boost for Mobile eCommerce Sites

March 30, 2015 - 5 Comments

Over 50% of all Google searches come from mobile devices, and Google has taken this into consideration — they’ve tried to improve the search environment for those browsing on tablets and smartphones.

In fact, Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji announced that this mobile change on 21 April 2015 will exert a stronger effect on search engine results than the past Panda and Penguin updates did.

All this means that your eCommerce store needs change — immediate change. Why? If you can’t reach people through their mobile devices, you’re leaving out a huge portion of your customers and potentially losing them forever. Any online stores that don’t address the new mobile update will see its search engine rankings fall, with sales likely faltering as a result.

In this post, I’ll run through what you need to do to take advantage of the Google rankings boost for mobile e-commerce sites.

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How the Twitter Buy Button Could Revolutionize Your Online Store

March 7, 2015 - 5 Comments

Last year, Twitter announced that they would be releasing a feature that allows businesses to post tweets about products and services that include a “Buy Now” button. The button would include an image, description, and link to your payment processor. Snazzy.

The program has already started, but only a few companies have had the privilege to try the system out. It sounds like the program is going well with the initial testers, but I still think that more small businesses and online shops need to get their hands on it to really see how powerful it is.

That, of course, is the problem: you can’t access the Twitter Buy button for your online store right now, but I wanted to outline some of the ways this new button could help revolutionize your online business — so that you’re ready to get in the game as soon as it’s open to the wider public. The key is obviously to make more sales, and I truly believe that the Twitter Buy button is a way for smaller to mid-size businesses to compete with the big dogs. Let’s take a look at how the Twitter Buy button could revolutionize your online store.

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9 Conventions and Events For eCommerce Business Owners in 2015

January 9, 2015 - 7 Comments

There happen to be hundreds to thousands of e-business conventions, conferences, and events that occur every year, each of them pushing ticket sales to hopeful entrepreneurs and e-business owners who are looking for the next tip or trick to take their business to a new level.

With so many options it may seem overwhelming, and even take your focus off important tweaks and changes you can simply make with a few modifications to your site like building an email list or improving your overall customer retention.

Regardless, these e-business events and conventions are essential for connecting with people who have weathered the storms of online business and battled through some of the troubles you are currently going through.

These events offer training exercises and in-depth tutorials on which tools to use and which to drop.

The only problem is you certainly don’t have time to go sifting through giant lists of e-business conventions and events to figure out which ones you should invest more time and money into.

That’s why we checked some of the top options out for you and compiled a nice little list of the best conventions that give you a return on your efforts. Keep in mind that some of these events might be a little far for you to travel to, so don’t stretch it.

Pro-tip: Look for one of the events that occasionally stops by a location near you in order to save cash on that international plane ticket you’re about to book.

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Understanding Bounce Rate (And How to Keep it Down)

January 8, 2015 - 7 Comments

The bounce rate. You see this stat in Google Analytics, but what exactly does it mean? Well, it’s quite simple actually. It’s the percentage of people that come to your site and then navigate away from it after viewing only one page.

Every single time a visitor does this it increases your bounce rate, in turn affecting your search engine rankings a little bit. High bounce rates are bad, but you must understand that every industry has its own average benchmark for bounce rates, so sometimes comparing to other companies is not always the best thing.

Go Rocket Fuel explains that bounce rates have an even deeper meaning where they include all single interactions such as transactions and single events such as clicks. They explain that the average bounce rate usually sits somewhere in between 26 and 70 percent, but this is a rather large range, so what should you shoot for?

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The 6 Best Free Tools for Building eCommerce Landing Pages

January 7, 2015 - 9 Comments

It’s essential that your website has a strong landing page for each goal action that you want your visitors to take. However, that can quickly get expensive…

…if you go with the immediately available options, that is. With a little inventiveness and some research, you can find plenty of ways to build one for free.

Today, I’ve done some of that research for you. Here are some tools that you can use to design, build, and track a perfectly competent landing page with no money out of your pocket.

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How to Build a Brand Image That Pulls Customers to Your Online Store

January 2, 2015 - 3 Comments

I’m going to name a few design elements. Tell me what companies come to mind.

  • A red and white color scheme.
  • A smiley face.
  • Two black circles overlapping a larger black circle.
  • Product names beginning with the letter “i.”

I’m willing to bet that you can figure out at least two well-known brands from those elements alone.

It’s no coincidence that the biggest, most influential companies often have the most iconic brands. That’s the reason why branding is universally considered one of the most important parts of running a business, and why people who can create iconic brands are often the biggest influencers in the business world.

Your brand is comprised of a story and an image, so before we get into the “image” part, we really recommend this post we’ve previously done on how to write the story. Your brand image is directly tied to your brand story, in fact, you could say it’s a visual complement to it, and it’s very important that you have one worked out if you’re going to work on the other.

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How to Drive Customers to Engage with Your eCommerce Blog

December 31, 2014 - 1 Comment

customer-blog-engagementSometimes, it seems like there are more blogs out there than readers.

This has gotten to be even more of a problem with the rise of community content sites like Tumblr and Reddit that give blog readers one-stop shops for information on specialty topics that interest them.

Only a small percentage of blogs have a regular readership. The high rates of abandonment among new bloggers is part of the reason why, but a much larger part is that too many of them are taking Field of Dreams literally and assuming that simply writing quality content will magically draw viewers.

So, if building it doesn’t ensure they’ll come, what will?

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How to Promote a Service E-Commerce Business

December 23, 2014 - 2 Comments

promote-service-ecommerceFor the purposes of this article, there are three categories of online service business:

  1. Businesses offering services that can only be delivered within a certain range (e.g. startup ISPs)
  2. Businesses offering services where distance isn’t a factor (e.g. freelance coders)
  3. Businesses that offer both types of services (e.g. design firms)

This article focuses mostly on the first type, but there’s some advice in here for everyone.

For example, no matter what type of service you offer, the first step to marketing it is to identify your target audience as precisely as possible, whether it’s through a buyer profile or just careful analysis of your analytics data. This will dictate where you should be looking for them and what methods work best to find them.

The second step is to register your business with Google Places. Yahoo Local and Bing will also help. Why? That brings us to our first step…

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How To Complement Your Online Store With a Powerful Social Media Strategy

December 22, 2014 - 3 Comments

Social Media StrategyCustomers have more opportunities than ever to engage with stores they love, and you’d do well encouraging your customers to take full advantage of all the opportunities they have to talk to you.

However, most retail stores are missing the boat when it comes to connecting online shoppers with offline information. They display their locations and hours on their websites, but less than 4 out of 10 provide information on their products and services on social media.

It’s a shame, since the e-store owners who do effectively use social networking have found that it is a very efficient way of discovering what their customers want. They also enjoy more control over their businesses’ reputations, as they can respond to complaints and controversies instantly.

So today, we’ll show you how to leave the first category and enter the second.

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Top 10 Things You Need to Do to Have a Successful eCommerce Holiday Season

December 8, 2014 - 5 Comments

Consumers spend around $52 billion on holiday shopping, and 90 percent of people will complete at least some of their shopping online. Those are some huge numbers, potentially bringing holiday cheer for all eCommerce website owners and businesses that are preparing for that holiday rush.

In short, the holidays are a good curse. As an eCommerce business you are pushed to your limit and have to prepare like no other time throughout the year. And mistakes do occur. Websites slow down, and customers get frustrated when the slightest mishap strikes during their shopping experience.

You can’t really blame them either, since the holidays are stressful and they just want to get their shopping done—until next year, of course.

There are two types of eCommerce sites during the holiday season: Those that are prepared and those that are unprepared. Your preparation creates your fate as to whether or not that eggnog goes down well. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 things you need to do to have a successful eCommerce holiday season.

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When Upselling Hurts: How Too Much Cross-Promotion Can Kill Conversions

December 3, 2014 - 1 Comment

First of all, don’t get me wrong: cross-selling and upselling, employed in moderation, are extremely useful. As you may know, it’s six to seven times easier, and cheaper, to sell more to an existing customer than to hook in a new one.

But it’s crucial that it be done right.

For example, most eCommerce retailers believe that product recommendations will always increase the number of sales and the profits from them. But that’s not always true. According to an e-tailing group merchant survey, 6 out of 10 retailers don’t actually know how recommendations affect their business. It goes without saying that relatively few retailers are testing and optimizing their performance, as well.

The truth is that product recommendations’ performance depends on how and when you display them. And not everyone gets this right. Cross-selling and upselling are the bane of many customers just because they’re so often done poorly, with the focus put on the business’s aim of selling extra stuff instead of the customer’s aim of making sure the extra stuff will actually benefit them.

Here are some ways that tends to happen and how to avoid them, to boot.

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How to Create a High-Converting Email Opt-in Form

December 2, 2014 - 1 Comment

Not everyone who looks at your site will buy something the first time. In fact, 98.5% won’t. However, most people who visit your site without a reason to come back probably won’t do that either.

How do you remind them, then? Well, you could get them to like your Facebook page, but the chances they’ll see any particular status update are negligibly small. You could use an RSS feed, but they’re not that effective, either. Yes, even after twenty years of development in technology, the most effective way is still good old email.

That’s why, in order to retain a significant number of customers, you need to get their email addresses. The form that viewers input their email into is called, straightforwardly enough, the opt-in form.

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6 Tips To Improve eCommerce Customer Retention

November 28, 2014 - 2 Comments

It’s always been cheaper to get your previous customers to make additional purchases than it is to find new customers. This is especially true in eCommerce, where there are more and more sites competing for a finite number of internet users.

Customer profits also tend to increase the longer a customer spends shopping with you. However, retaining customers is also one of the most difficult jobs for an online store owner, so in order to tackle it, let’s look at it from a few angles.

Let’s start with why customers leave.

68% of customers go because they’re unhappy with the customer service. Compared to that, the rest of the reasons seem minuscule with 14% finding the products unsatisfactory and 9% finding a better deal from a competitor. So naturally, the first step would be to…

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