2013: A Year in Review (with Infographic)

2013 has been a great year for Upshot Commerce, and to celebrate,  we put together an infographic to highlight some statistics and important milestones we achieved this past year.

2013

We’ve completed a lot of challenging projects this year. Here are the highlights from just a few of our favorite new features and extensions for 2013.

PCI Security

Security has always been a primary concern for our team at Upshot Commerce. This year, we made a number of improvements to our platform in order to increase security and obtain official certifications of compliance. Our official security improvements include:

  • PCI-DSS Level 1 Compliance
  • FIPS Compliant
  • PII encryption

The process for obtaining these certifications is complicated and extensive; so much so that not all ecommerce platforms are able to complete the process. As such, we are very proud to have reached this important milestone in our company’s development. To learn more about PCI Compliance, check out our blog here: Did You Know That Upshot Commerce is PCI Compliant?

Purchase Order Extension

Knowing what to order is a constant challenge for many retailers, which can consume entire departments and numerous man hours. The new Purchase Order Extension allows for queued ordering and receiving of purchase orders, as well as restocking statistics to let admins know what needs to be ordered. The system is fully integrated into the Upshot Commerce inventory system in real-time, which allows for greater stocking accuracy, with better visibility.

Backorder & Drop Ship Extension

Accurately managing backorders, pre-orders and drop ships is often a challenge for many retailers. The new backorder and drop ship management extension automates a large part of the backorder process, handling backorders and in stock items harmoniously under one system. Importantly, the extension can be adapted to work with many different business rules with regards to charging of backorders and drop ships, splitting shipping charges across packages, and combining backordered items with in stock and drop shipped items. When used in conjunction with the purchase order extension, the backorder & drop ship extension makes the entire ordering and fulfillment, alerting the administrator in real-time of any pending backorders or drop ships that need to be fulfilled. When items are received from the supplier, the extension automatically allocates stock into waiting orders, ensuring that customers receive backorders as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Design Feature Enhancements

We’re committed to offering all of the latest design and merchandising features to allow our clients to create fully modern and optimized sites to deliver the most conversions. New features include:

Express & One Page Checkout – speed up the checkout process and increase conversions by reducing the number of pages your customers need to pass through to complete an order. Repeat customers can place an order very quickly, bypassing the traditional checkout steps.

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Endless Scroll Category browsing & Lazy Image Loading – Create seamless long pages with minimal load times to reduce a customer’s need to navigate to other pages

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Solr Search Improvements – better search capabilities with full-text search, multilingual options, real-time auto suggestions and more

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Drag and Drop Category Sorting – organize categories dynamically with easy to use tools, aimed at the a more visual experience. Perfect for apparel retailers.

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For a full list of all our new features, enhancements and extensions, check out our What’s New List.

What’s on Tap for 2014

There are a number of features and projects that we will be working on for 2014. Here are just a few to look forward to:

Back Office Redesign

We’ve incorporated client feedback and best practice concepts to develop a host of new backend features that are more intuitive and more customer-friendly, yet still packed with all the functionality that Upshot Commerce clients have come to expect.

eCommerce Accelerator Theme

Start your new site off on the right foot; our new accelerator theme is designed out of the box to incorporate all the best practice concepts to give your site the ideal foundation to begin and build on.

Mobile Executive Dashboard

More than ever, business is 24/7 and extending outside of the office. Our new executive dashboard is designed to give admins and business managers a working view of the Upshot Commerce back office, allowing them to view and manage orders, access reports, inventory data, and other timely information, all from a mobile device.

Upgraded Reporting Dashboards

Reports are what make data actionable. Our new reporting dashboards will allow our clients to easily view reports to display the important information that they need, quickly accessible with the click of a button.

Data and Asset Scheduling

This feature will allow data managers to roll out site changes in an organized and fluid manner, by holding certain updates to all occur at a pre-scehduled time. This means no live products without images, or pages with partially filled in data; just seamless updates.

Detailed Auditing

Tracking issues and piecing together how a problem occurred can be have the work on the way to the resolution. This service will offer more detailed accounting of order, site and inventory changes over time. This will allow admins to see not only what specifically was changed, but also what representative made the changes.

If you have any questions about our new features, or about projects we have in development, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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Did You Know That Upshot Commerce is PCI Compliant?

Feature-PCI-1Today is an important milestone for Upshot Commerce. It has taken a lot of work, time, effort and expense, but it is all worth it. We can now proudly say that Upshot Commerce is not only PCI compliant, we are also FIPS compliant with PII encryption!  To many of you, that may not mean anything, so lets explain:

What is PCI-DSS Level 1 Compliance?

The Payment Card Industry Data Standard is a worldwide information standard created by the Payment Card Industry Security Council.  This standard was created to establish a series of increased controls surrounding data, with the intent of preventing credit card fraud online.  This standard applies to organizations that hold, process and exchange credit card data.

In order to achieve official PCI compliance from the Payment Card Industry Security Council, organizations need to pass a series of costly requirements and tests over a period of time. The entire process often takes 12 months or more to complete.  At the end of the process, approved organizations receive an Attestation of Compliance, which confirms and renews the certification as required. Level 1 is the highest level of compliance that an organization can currently achieve.

What is FIPS and PII Encryption?

Federal Information Processing Standards are publicly recognized technical standardizations developed by the US federal government for use by non-military government agencies and government contractors.  The purpose of FIPS is to ensure that these agencies follow the same guidelines regarding security and communication according to government standards.

These standards include requirements for encryption data encoding. Personal Identifiable Information (PII) encryption is a process for securing personal customer information according to required US privacy law and information security standards.

Upshot Commerce is one of the first ecommerce platforms to official meet FIPS and PII encryption, making the platform an industry first in government security requirements.

Why is it Important?

Breaches in data security can lead to direct financial losses through credit card fraud and fines.  Even more so however, these breaches can lead to a loss in consumer confidence, based on the belief that personal information is not being protected by the businesses they have come to patronize and trust.  Complying with PCI DSS standards lowers financial risks associated with account payment data compromises, and helps to boost consumer confidence and trust.

What Does this Mean for Existing Clients?

As an existing Upshot Commerce customer, there are no changes that you need to make to your platform or security settings.  It simply means that our data security and software meets the highest standards possible, giving you even greater peace of mind.

How Can I Prove to My Bank that Upshot Commerce is PCI Compliant?

Your bank will ask for a copy of our Attestation of Compliance. Simply request a copy of our AOC, and we’ll be happy to send it to you.  Then, just submit to your bank.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the security features that we offer, please visit our Security, Fraud and Chargeback Prevention page.

For more information about PCI and FIPS Compliance, check out these resources below:

https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/

http://www.pcicomplianceguide.org/pcifaqs.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Information_Processing_Standards

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Should You Be Upgrading Your Images?

Are your images good enough?

Most ecommerce retailers develop a bucket list over time of improvements they’d like to make to their sites—invest in an ERP system, improve meta tags, perhaps revamp merchandising efforts.  For the most part, these improvements can be done on your own schedule. However, for merchants selling on major sites such as Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping, the time to invest in improving image quality, is now.

Recently, Amazon and eBay sent out a list of new image requirements which they will apply to most retailers.  You can view the total list of Amazon requirements here and the list of eBay requirements here.  A few of the Amazon requirements include:

  • Images must accurately portray the product and show only the product for sale, with minimal or no propping.

  • Main image backgrounds must be pure white (RGB 255,255,255).

  • Main images must show the actual product (not a graphic or illustration), and must NOT show excluded accessories, or unnecessary props that may confuse the customer, additional text, graphics, or inset images.

  • The product must fill 85% or more of the image frame.

  • Images should be 1000 pixels or larger in either height or width.  The smallest your file should be is 500 pixels on the longest side.

The eBay requirements are similar.  In addition, Google is recommending that Shopping feed sellers make all images a minimum of 800 pixels— and they are likely to follow suit with requirements similar to eBay and Amazon soon.  For ecommerce merchants who have been getting by with low resolution images taken on a wood floors, this represents a major change and potentially a daunting expense.

However, these major sellers aren’t enacting these requirements simply to make the lives of merchants more difficult.  They are doing this because time and again, studies have shown that good images SELL.  With the creation of visually-focused sites like Pinterest, and new image-oriented operating systems on the rise, showing your product has become just as, if not more important than describing it accurately.

So where do you start?  Upgrading all of your images may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are a few tips for improving your site imagery:

Make an Assessment

Before you go deleting all the images on your website and starting from scratch, take an assessment of all of your product images.  For Upshot Commerce retailers, an easy way to do this is to view your image gallery.  All of our websites have this feature; it is simply an easy way to see one searchable listing of all the product images on your site, along with a few pieces of important information.

If you want to see all the product images that are under the required file size, for example, you can simply filter results by that file size.

Work with Manufacturers

Many retailers rely on product manufacturers for images– which often will not meet the requirements of Amazon or eBay.  Does this mean that the retailer’s only recourse is to create new images themselves? Of course not! Work with the manufacturer, and see if they are willing improve their images.  After all, it is in their best interest to give you high quality assets so that you can sell their product as effectively as possible.

Outsource Image Cropping

If your images don’t meet the pure white background requirement, doing manual cropping in Photoshop might be the best option for you. However, employing a graphic designer to crop all of your images professionally can be time consuming and expensive.  Fortunately, there are a number of companies out there that crop images for you very inexpensively— because that is all they do! A few of these services include: Clipping Path and Remove the Background

Take Advantage of Technology

Just because you haven’t updated hundreds of images in 5 years doesn’t mean its going to take as much work to update them as it did the first time around.  Technology has advanced, and many of the processes of taking good quality images, editing and implementing them has improved.

The Upshot Commerce Platform takes a lot of the busy work out of image management, cutting down the amount of time needed for image preparation considerably.  Capabilities include:

  • Automatic image resizing:Upload one image for detail images, thumbnails and category page images. We resize automatically for you!

  • Watermarks: Don’t waste time applying watermarks to every image– just upload your watermark once, and we’ll take care of the rest.

  • Batch FTP uploads: No need to manually assign images to each product; just give the file the correct name, send it to the upload folder, and we’ll put it exactly where it needs to go.

  • Lossless image compression: We automatically reduce the size of your images without compromising on quality. This means improved site speed and SEO ranking.

  • Caching framework with updates via CDN: This means your updates process faster and more efficiently.

Simple, easy, done.

 

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Case Study: NuGlow Cosmaceuticals

NuGlow Cosmaceuticals is a specialty skincare company focused on providing only the highest quality products to improve the appearance of skin. Established in 2003 in La Jolla, California, NuGlow was founded on the principle of providing high quality products and service at the lowest possible price using a direct to consumer model. Their skincare products, including their lead product line containing patented Copper Peptide Complex with more than 17 U.S. patents and 80 foreign patents, are designed to enhance skin appearance, reduce signs of aging and provide other skincare benefits.

The Challenge

When NuGlow CEO Steven Sheiner and his staff began looking for an ecommerce solution to distribute their growing product line to online customers, he knew immediately that he didn’t want to reinvent the wheel.

“I was looking for an SAAS platform that was feature rich and easy to operate,” says Sheiner.  In the past, Sheiner had explored many other ecommerce platforms that, while functional, lacked the full spread of features that he knew his new site would require.  ”It really wasn’t so much about cost savings, it was more about not having to worry about building new features and having to worry if the site is down and my developer is out of town.”

NuGlow needed not only a robust ecommerce platform loaded with features, they also needed an ecommerce partner with knowledgable developers, capable of customizing their platform to their needs and providing them with ongoing support to resolve issues and ensure security.

The Solution

In Upshot Commerce, Sheiner found the feature-packed, service-oriented platform he was looking for. “What attracted me to Upshot was the fact that they’d already developed most of the features that I would have had to have developed if I’d chosen to go with a different solution.” says Sheiner.

One of these features included an advanced auto ship extension. The advanced auto ship extension was applied to NuGlow’s platform to allows their clients to sign up for automatic monthly deliveries of their specialized skincare kits.  Not only does this auto ship system allow customers to receive automatic shipments of needed products, it also allows for a wide array of members only benefits.   “The auto ship extension allows retailers to offer exclusive pricing and discounts to members that is separate from advertised on site pricing.,” says Upshot Commerce CEO Neal Kaiser.  “It also allows them to offer all sorts of promotional discounts and offerings only available to members as well.”

In order to ship these lotions, creams, cleansers and specialized skincare kits, NuGlow also employed a third party fulfillment center to get orders out fast and efficiently.  Upshot Commerce also was able to create an integration to allow a seamless flow between their online shopping cart and their fulfillment center.  “Working with a separate shopping cart and fulfillment system can mean all sorts of difficulties and headaches for ecommerce retailers,” says Milanie Cleere, Chief Strategy Officer of Upshot Commerce.  “Their fulfillment center integration took away a lot of those headaches and drastically reduced the potential for errors.”

Success

With the new site recently launched, Steve Sheiner sees a bright future developing for Nuglow, with better customer features than ever before, and an ecommerce team behind him to help achieve his goals.

I’ve worked with a lot of developers and programmers over the years and I’ve never had as positive an experience as I had working with Upshot.” Say Sheiner.  ”From the first day the project started I’ve always felt confident that they knew what they were doing, cared about the outcome and were vested in the process.  The Upshot team worked with me to create the milestones and in every case they met them. ”

“I would most definitely recommend them to other companies.”

Services and Extensions

Upshot Commerce Core Platform

Auto Ship Extension

Shipping & Fulfillment Management

 

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Secrets to Great Customer Service

We’ve discussed before how one of the best ways that smaller retailers can distinguish themselves from big box stores and ecommerce giants is by offering superior services.  Enterprise retailers may not be able to afford to offer product discounts at a loss, but what they can offer is a better user experience, and more personal customer service options.

Think customer service doesn’t matter that much? Famed shoe seller and customer service trendsetter Zappos.com certainly does, and cites it as a key reason to their success and continuing motivator.  Apple, notably has similar policies aimed at customer satisfaction and superior IT services.  Not only do these companies believe that good customer service is key to their success, customers also frequently cite positive company interactions as a reason for their continued patronage.

Fortunately, good customer service isn’t something that requires huge investments in warehouse machinery or website overhaul.  Often, it just requires a few dedicated, knowledgeable representatives, and a basic infrastructure of policy and systems to support them effectively.

Fast response times

Even if you can’t afford a 24/7 call center, small ecommerce businesses can still strive to maintain consistently responsive customer service.  Answer every email and determine what a fast response time means to your company—perhaps 5 minutes, perhaps an hour.  And then make sure that you are sticking to it!

No Hassle Returns

In the ecommerce environment, returns are nearly inevitable.  For this reason, it is important that your customer service department maintains a clear and hassle-free policy that will allow customers to buy with confidence, and encourage them to continue to patronize your business, even if the first purchase may not have been their cup of tea.  Offering free shipping on future purchases, store credit, or simply a fast, efficient return process can go a long way.

Reward loyal customers

Everyone appreciates being treated well, and customers are more likely to continue shopping with you if they are rewarded for their loyalty.  This can be done with exclusive sales, rewards programs, and even occasional shipping upgrades.

A robust, integrated help desk

Understandably, dealing with a wide variety of customer service issues in a fast, effective and also personal manner can often be very challenging.  For this reason, good customer service is about more than good policy, it is also about maintaining a system that works with representatives to maintain best practices.

This is where a system like the new Upshot Commerce Help Desk comes in.  Designed with your business infrastructure in mind, the application is fully integrated into the Upshot Commerce platform, allowing you to easily create help tickets that are connected into your database of customers, orders, and products.  Because all of your information is in one place, this means that issues are easier to resolve and easier track, ensuring that problems are followed through until they reach a resolution— and beyond!

We’re very excited to unveil this new, and fully integrated Upshot Commerce extension to our ecommerce retailers.  To find out more about the Help Desk Extension and how it can be customized to work with your platform, just contact us!

 

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The Tax Man Cometh

Despite how many years Upshot Commerce has been in the business of online retail, it is still a relatively new economy.  As such, the rules that govern and define it have been fluctuating and changing since we very first began this business in 1994.  We’ve had the pleasure of witnessing many of these changes, including technological advances, expanding definitions of intellectual property, and increasingly novel ways of marketing products and services in an online environment.

One particular shift that we’ve been following for at least the past 10 years is the growing concern over the taxation of online goods.  The online environment has long enjoyed the unique position of advancing technologies ahead of the progress of regulations; no advance has possibly been more lucrative than the head start may ecommerce retailers have enjoyed ahead of tax policy.

As all retailers will certainly be aware, the sale of online goods has long been exempt from sales tax.  As online sales have come to dominate the retail market more and more over the years, states have increasingly been looking for ways to effectively tax this marketplace.

The most recent movement in this arena is the Marketplace Fairness Act.  The main purpose of this bill is to allow states to collect sales tax from more online retailers than is currently required— and the bill is up for a vote in the Senate and House of Representatives very soon.

The bill will not come as a surprise for most online retailers, but it does present many logistical challenges, especially for smaller retailers and start ups.  As Bill McClellan of the Electronic Retailing Association said in a recent article for NPR, “There are 9,600 taxing jurisdictions in the country and for a small remote retailer to go out and be responsible to collect and remit sales tax is an administrative nightmare.”

Fortunately even in this instance, technology wins again and is one step ahead of tax policy once more. Upshot Commerce offers a number of different tax management integration services that are designed to help you stay in compliance with current tax codes, no matter how complicated. Our most popular options include:

Zip2Tax

An affordable and streamlined service that is integrated with your shopping cart to always charge the appropriate sales tax for every transaction.  The Zip2Tax system constantly monitors tax codes and updates accordingly to ensure that you always in adherence. Also highly configurable, Zip2Tax integrates with most ERPs

SpeedTax

A great tax management solution for small and medium sized retailers.  This solution is design to work seamlessly with any accounting solution, from shopping carts to POS systems. Tax calculations as well as automatic filing and remittance included!

Avalara

An easy to use and elegant solution for higher volume retailers. Includes real-time sales tax calculations for each transaction as well as automatic filing and remittance of sales tax returns and accessible storage of exemption certificates.  Also works with most ERPs.

Both of these options are easily integrated with the Upshot Commerce shopping cart to ensure that ecommerce retailers are prepared to address the constantly fluctuating nature of tax law, no matter how varied and contradictory.  To find out more about how you can take advantage of our tax management services, and to discover what options are right for your ecommerce site, simply contact us.

 

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Learn more from your analytics

Now that the Holidays are winding down, your mind may be turning to the coming new year, looking ahead to expectations and plans for the next retail season.  There is a lot to be learned from each holiday season and a number of improvements that you may want to make as a result, whether it is modifications to shipping, or adjustments to the store inventory.  However, one of the most important changes retailers can make post holidays is to invest in analytics.

At Upshot Commerce, we offer a variety of comprehensive services that allow our customers to turn basic numbers into something actionable.  From recommendations for site optimizations, to email efficacy reviews and online ad spending recommendations, our technical marketing team can provide valuable insight into often complex data and help you stay well ahead of the competition.

Measuring The Value of a Customer

Being able to determine who your most valuable customers are can help you to market your products and services smartly, to just the audience that will be most receptive.  However, figuring out who exactly these valuable customers are can be a time consuming hassle. What parameters determine who is valuable, and who is not?  How do we compile this information in a way that is easily accessible and actionable?

Luckily, Upshot Commerce can do this work for you.  We compile a number of custom variables to calculate the value of each customer. Then, we can use this information to determine:

  • general and user-specific buying patterns
  • profitability
  • buy vs return of merchandise ratio
  • engagement value (referrals, reviews, etc)

Once calculated, this information can be used to create special targeted promotions for highly valuable customers.

SEO Optimization

Whether or not anyone likes it, getting organic traffic to your site is all about playing by Google’s search engine parameters and requirements.  However, as anyone who has worked in ecommerce for any length of time is well aware, these requirements are constantly changing and being modified.  Search parameters are refined and web crawlers are made more intelligent in order to create better results for users, while site creators are constantly attempting to find ways to optimize their sites to appease the search engine.  The grand hope is that in the end we will all have a better, more refined internet experience that makes it easier and easier for customers and retailers to connect.

However, this is still the free market we are talking about. You don’t just want to be relevant; you want to be the best.  At Upshot Commerce, we work to keep your site always up-to-date, with SEO-optimized URLs and meta-data, semantic and optimized HTML markup, rich snippets, easily crawlable pages, duplicate content prevention, canonicals, minification and minimal page load times.

We also offer consulting services, to help you determine the best structure for site content and keyword optimization. When coupled with an easily navigable site and a constant vigilance towards SEO best practices, this can result in vast improvements in organic search results and increased traffic for your site.

Vanity URLs

Keeping consistent, SEO-friendly URLs on your site is important in maintaining an organized site structure.  It is also one of the easiest ways to increase your ranking in Google search results.  URLs should concisely and predictably indicate in natural language what page they are directing customers towards, in a readable manner that is optimized with SEO-friendly keywords.
However, these requirements don’t always fit with the logical structure of your site, or the manner in which it may have been created.  Furthermore, the standards for what constitutes a truly optimized URL are always changing; what might have been considered best practice five years ago is not necessarily the same today.  How is the intrepid ecommerce store owner supposed to keep up?

With Vanity URLs, of course.  Our system of vanity URLs allows ecommerce owners to easily create SEO-optimized redirected addresses for pages on their site, turning a long cumbersome string of numbers, letters and partial words into a concise phrasing that is optimized for users and search engines.

Integration with Google Analytics

While Google Analytics makes it fairly easily to begin gathering basic analytic data about your website, there is only so much information that it can pull about your site simply by putting a string of code onto a page of your website. All sorts of aspects of website activity, such as newsletter sign ups, shipping costs, abandoned carts and product activity are difficult to track and even more difficult to turn into actionable data.

However, with our Google Analytics Integration Services, we can create custom data feeds that incorporate all the information you need to get a truly accurate analysis of your website activity.  We assist customers in setting up the funnels, goals and tracking that will give the information that they require, providing a collection of insights that go beyond the out-of-the-box standard.
Important daily sales information from Google Analytics is incorporated into the customer’s Upshot Commerce internal system reports, and is also available from the the Google Analytics dashboard, to allow the retailer to view the information in whatever medium is most useful.  This means that data analysis is always right at your fingertips.

Consulting Services

Finally, developing a strategy of accurate reporting and site optimization can be highly daunting for many retailers.  When it comes right down to it, many ecommerce owners simply do not have the time to spend reading up on the current SEO best practices and messing with a lot of reporting tools.  However, most retailers will also acknowledge that these are vitally important aspects to maintaining a growing, healthy site.

Upshot Commerce offers all sorts of different levels of consulting services, depending on what your needs are.  So, whether your marketing manager just wants a little help with SEO, or you are in need a complete analytic overhaul, we have the tools to assist you in achieving your goals. We custom design plans based on the needs of each client, and will work with you to develop a strategy designed to achieve long term growth and success.

Ready to get started?  Contact us today— we will work to develop a technical marketing and analytic strategy to achieve your goals.

 

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Sandy’s Lessons in Scalability

Traffic levels on ecommerce sites vary naturally, by season, week and even day.  As a retailer it’s your job to prepare your site for fluctuations and ensure that no matter the circumstances, your site will remain up and running, ensuring customers can continue to process orders with minimal lag time.

Sometimes variances in traffic are predictable and expected.  Everyone anticipates order volume to increase around Christmas and allocate resources accordingly.  Most ecommerce retailers also learn to get a feel for the unique ordering trends of their industry, as well as what days of the week tend to result in higher order volumes.

However, sometimes the unexpected occurs.  Sometimes, the unexpected is a happy accident — perhaps a promotion you expected to give your site a slight bump in traffic gets picked up by your local news station, causing traffic and product demand to far surpass your expectations.

photo courtesy of the Washington Post

Preparing for the Unthinkable

At other times, unfortunately, the unexpected can be a potential disaster.  When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in October of this year, many e-retailers based in the New England region saw their databases and ecommerce platforms put to the test, according to an article by Internet Retailer Assistant Editor, Amy Dusto.  Some sites experienced outages as e-retailers struggled to deal with servers and call centers submerged in water.  While many businesses chose to close their doors for hours or days due to safety concerns, all in all, it must be said that ecommerce bounced back admirably.  Even though the headquarters and main warehouses of e-retailer Fab.com were based within the flood zone, causing them to suspend processing orders temporarily, the site itself remained active, and Fab.com staffers at remote locations continued to field calls and manage the site.

According to Dusto’s article, even though Sandy did manage to knock out one of the servers of display advertiser MyBuys.com, network redundancy with additional servers managed to keep the service up and running without any down times.

A Scalable Business Model

All of these ecommerce merchants managed to meet these challenges while keeping their websites as functional as possible because they were prepared with more than just flood insurance– they were prepared with scalability.

Your site needs to be prepared for whatever variables the world throws at it, whether it is dealing with sudden spikes in traffic or unexpected world disasters.  Here at Upshot Commerce, we offer a cloud-based, fully scalable platform that is made to easily handle growing and expanding convergent commerce enterprises, as well as withstand the hazards of complex retail environments.  This means that even if a server is down, or a sudden spike in traffic occurs, our system is designed to compensate with fault tolerance and a redundant infrastructure.  This allows your website to remain up and running with consistently fast load times, powerful monitoring tools, and low maintenance costs.

As your site grows and expands, this also means that your platform capabilities are able to easily expand to meet the needs of your company, so that success does not mean you outgrow the capabilities of your platform.

Highlights of the Upshot Commerce Platform Include:

  • Automatically scales to handle traffic spikes
  • High availability and fault tolerance
  • Resilient and redundant infrastructure
  • Faster load times, site speed and performance
  • 24/7 security monitoring
  • Lower maintenance and IT costs
  • Faster delivery of features, updates and patches

We also offer a host of tools to keep your site secure, streamlined, and optimized with features designed for the ecommerce experience.  To find out more, contact us today!

 

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Get More Out of Social Media

While no one these days would likely doubt the importance of integrating their ecommerce business with the world of social media, there is endless debate over how to turn that involvement into increased ROI.  How do you measure profit through likes, and conversions through followers?

Many retailers, who seem to strive for brand awareness above all else, even question whether ROI is the goal marketers should be after. For a long time, it has been widely accepted that social media is little more than a vehicle of awareness, from which conversions cannot be accurately tracked, and ROI is little more than a broad expanse of good will among the community.

While brand awareness is an important goal and one that social media is well suited to tackle, it is certainly not the the only way that ecommerce businesses can leverage social media to improve the usability of their websites—and yes, even increase conversions.

Here at Upshot Commerce, we’ve created four useful extensions that integrate your website with social media in unique and useful ways that go beyond the standard marketing strategies.

Simplified Sign-Ups

Sure, having followers and likes on your Facebook page is useful, but in order to turn them into customers, they need to become users on your website.  Fortunately, a plug in with Facebook makes that a breeze.  Our Social Log In Extension makes it easy for new users to create accounts with your site by allowing them to sign in using their already existing Facebook username and password. This means there will be less log-ins for your customer to remember, and less lost sales for you due to what we call “sign-up fatigue.”

Social-Driven Pricing

Coming up with new and different ways to engage social media users can be a real challenge.  By Christmas, most online consumers have probably seen just about every coupon and discount out there, so it can sometimes be difficult to create conversions without offering increasingly steep discounts.

How about engaging customers in a different way, turning their interest and excitement in your products directly into deals and discounts?  Our Social Pricing Plug In does just that.  This extension give retailers the ability to tie the price of their product directly to the number of likes it receives on Facebook.  When a predetermined number of likes is achieved, the price of the product automatically falls to the promotional price.  This causes users to feel more engaged in the deal they are attempting to gain, encourages them to share the deal with others, and makes everyone more likely to take advantage of the deal when it becomes available.

Share the Love

After making a purchase with their favorite store, lots of shoppers want to tell the world—why not make it easy for them? Share-a-Sale allows customers to easily share items that they have purchased from your ecommerce store directly with their social media community.  After placing an order with your site, customers are prompted with the option to let others know about the products they purchased via Facebook.  If the customer opts to do so, an easy to post link is created, which displays the product as well as including a link back to your own site.

Boost Your SEO

Many ecommerce retailers have discovered the ease and benefits of using Facebook Social to integrate reviews onto their site.  Users tend to be more familiar with the format, and many find the process much simpler than on-site review interfaces.

However, this is only getting at half of the benefits you can achieve with our Social Comments Extension; it can also be used to help improve your SEO ranking.  Using our Smart API technology, we integrate Facebook Social right into your ecommerce platform, which allows the review content to be indexed and crawlable along with all of your website content. Reviews are full of all sorts of important keywords and content that is important to consumers searching for products online, and even more important to googlebots that crawl websites looking for relevant information to create organic searches. This makes having lots of unique, dynamic product content incredibly important; it can be the difference between putting your site on page five to page one of search results.

All of these extensions make an excellent addition to any retailer’s ecommerce platform. In fact we are so convinced that these extensions will help boost sales on your website that we are offering them for the first time in one discounted social bundle!  The Social Bundle includes:

  • Social Log In Extension
  • Social Pricing Extension
  • Share-a-Sale
  • Social Comments

All of these extensions can be integrated into any Upshot Commerce Platform for just $500 set up and a $150 monthly fee. Don’t wait—start getting more out of social media today!

Posted in Checkout Management, Customer Management, Inventory Management, SEO and Marketing | Tagged | Comments Off

Black Friday Breakdown: The New Enterprise Revolution

I am writing this on Black Friday, right in the middle of the busiest day in retail.  It’s around midday, so we’re coming down from perhaps the peak of the insanity, and pundits and polesters are already starting to comment on and speculate over what this shopping weekend has meant and will mean for retail stores and ecommerce retailers in the future.

One trend that we are seeing is a growing realization of the limits of big box ecommerce solutions.  Already, retailers such as Best Buy have experienced extended site delays due to errors and unexpected levels of site traffic. Issues similar to this continue to occur and cost retailers thousands, if not sometimes millions of dollars in lost revenue and karma with frustrated customers.

While errors and miscalculations will always occur at some level, this sort of poorly-timed mishap simply points to the pressing need for responsive and intelligently designed ecommerce solutions that can quickly and efficiently handle all of the complications, variance and unforseen obstacles of online retail.

Many retailers, it seems, are recognizing this need and turning to smaller and more agile enterprise solutions, such as Upshot Commerce, to meet these needs. In a recent article Readwrite Enterprise, Dan Lyons points to what he calls a potential “trillion-dollar transfer of wealth.” According to Lyons;

…If you add up the market valuation of the old-guard companies selling to the enterprise — Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Cisco and so on — you’re looking at about $1 trillion in total. And those companies are about to get hit with a tsunami of competition as smaller, more nimble rivals rush into the market offering solutions that outperform the old guys at a fraction of the price.

It is not enough anymore for ecommerce solutions out there to be the biggest or possess the highest market share; retailers and B2B wholesalers alike are demanding customizable ecommerce solutions that work specifically for their unique business models.  Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all generic platforms with limited features; in order to compete in this economy, you need to be more than average, more than basic; you need to be extraordinary.

Here are Upshot Commerce, there is a reason that we say we are the most customizable, on-demand solution EVER–it’s because it’s true.  We customize each ecommerce site on our platform to meet the needs of our merchants, and work constantly to adapt and improve solutions to create better, more integrated websites that work with your business model and not against it.  Our platform includes tons of features that other ecommerce platforms do not offer, such as;

These are just a few of the features available on our dynamic ecommerce platform, and we are adding new services and integrations constantly.  To find out how we can build you a site custom designed for your business needs, simply contact us.

Posted in Checkout Management, Finance, Tax and ERP Tools, Merchandising Manager, Mobile eCommerce | Tagged | Comments Off