3 Tips for Last Minute Holiday Strategies

Remember retailers and eCommerce manager, it is not too late! Cyber Monday is quickly approaching and it is either an online retailer’s new best friend or worst nightmare. Why? It’s that one day out of the entire year where online retail is in the spotlight on the mainstage and has to perform. Sink or swim.

As all retailers know, there is a ton of prep that goes into Cyber Monday from staffing and logistics, to technology and merchandising. So instead of providing a list of the 850 things that you need to make decisions on and execute for a successful Cyber Monday, I am going to skip ahead and just give you three simple things to look at once you are ready(ish) to go.

1. Keep it simple, stupid

Simple sales. That’s right. DO NOT MAKE COMPLICATED PROMOTIONS. This means no fancy coupons, different discounting on different items, or extensive rules. You need to be remembered quickly and easily for what you are offering. Why? Your goal should be that anyone who sees even one ad can rattle off your Cyber Monday promotion, therefore you make the list of sites to visit on that frantic day.

Cyber Monday is not a browsing holiday. People shop with a plan to get the things on their list, and you want to make that list. The best way to do this is to keep your offers clear, simple and memorable. Once you get someone on your site, then you can start the other offers and the add-ons.

Here are some great examples of doing this well:

2. Leak your deals

Why is Black Friday and Cyber Monday such a thing? Some people might say it is tradition, or just a stir-crazy way to get out of holiday family time. The one thing that is not in question is that it is a “holiday” created by hype.

So with that said, do not promote your deals too early. You need a “leaking” strategy. This could be done by emailing your customers with a sneak peak, viral videos, or more traditional ways. You can also have outsiders “leak” it for you as the big box stores do by sending their ads two days before to well-known Cyber Monday and Black Friday websites.

Get creative, think outside the box.

3. Rake them in and then what? Set Up Automatic Retention Marketing

So Cyber Monday is all about acquisition. Getting new folks in the door and making their first purchase. That is why you see many places marking their TVs down even sometimes to a loss, just to get people in and then “hopefully” keep them coming back.

Tracking and setting up retention programs are extremely important for this time of year. Integrating your eCommerce customer data with software like Windsor Circle will enable you to track purchases that take place during these heavy acquisition times. Then you can automate retention programs that are relevant to the individual customer’s preferences directly through your email marketing provider. This gives retailers the ability to get the most out of the holiday traffic and make up margins on heavily discounted Cyber Sale products by offering related accessories, similar products and automatic replenishment.

It is not too late to get this up and running, we can show you here. If you cannot fathom getting this done before Cyber Monday, many of the programs can be implemented using past data so you get them working for you even after the holiday rush.   Focus on your customers, and you can re-market later.

To wrap up, there is no shortage of things to do and manage this time of year for retailers. Instead of giving you a huge list, this just sheds some light on three key things that can help take some of the stress out of the season. Good luck and happy selling!

10 Team Motivation Killers

It happens to everyone: sitting at your desk, you realize that you lack any motivation whatsoever to get any work done. Good luck being productive when this motivation slump hits hardcore, infecting your entire office.

The only long-term fix for a lack of motivation is to find the motivation killers in your workplace and eradicate them. Whether it is an awful office space, a micromanaging boss or a lack of clear goals, getting to the source of the problem can boost productivity for your entire team. Learn about the top 10 motivation killers and how to banish them from your office. Then, make the fixes and get back to work.

10 TEAM MOTIVATION KILLERS - Infographic

How To Stay on Google’s Good Side (Infographic)

In the event that the words “Google Algorithm Update” don’t strike dread into your heart, than the way you earn a living must not be in the digital or eCommerce industry.  If that is the case, I want to know why you are here and what you do?  But that’s beside the point.  Every time Google releases another algorithm update your business has to evolve and change.  If you aren’t quick to change your practices and follow suit, and by that I mean update your content to Google’s new requirements, you run the risk of Google’s penalizing your digital marketing efforts.

Stay away from the ensuing headache by following these tips collected by the team at Quick Sprout.  The main shift is the shift towards a more organic experience for end-users and ability to be a trusted website on the internet.  Some quick top level things to remember: keep guest posting to a minimum, focus on relevance (and honest information), make sure your site is well designed (preferably responsive), and build trust.  All of this is to say Google doesn’t purposefully make these updates to hurt your business, in fact it’s to help with improvements online and make the internet a more trustworthy and easy to use place.

How to stay on Googles good side - infographic

SEO Guide To Keyword Research For Beginners

In case you are new to the universe of ecommerce or digital marketing in general, you’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO). In our current reality where the lion’s share of online traffic stems from a string of text typed into a search box, search engine optimization can be the main factor in the fate of your business.

SEO incorporates numerous strategies yet the underlying principal is that you’re helping Google and internet search engines better understand what your ecommerce website is about and what it offers (fyi, it can be a static website too, it doesn’t have to sell anything). This consequently builds visibility by increasing the chance search engines will list your site in the search results when potential customers are looking for the products you sell.

The largest bucket of time spent in/on SEO is keyword research. Keyword research is the simple art of better understanding the terminology your potential customers are using to find the products you’re selling, then matching your website and marketing terminology.

In this article we’ll cover the basics of keyword research for ecommerce. The ultimate goal is to build a relevant list of keywords that you can refer back to and use as you build and optimize your site, write your product descriptions and craft your blog posts.

Over time, you’ll help search engines better understand what your site is about so they can better match your store as a result for relevant search terms, leading in increased traffic and sales.

Why Keyword Research Is Important

Every time someone does a search, the search engine must decide which handful of results to display from hundreds of thousands of possible pages. It’s up to the search engine algorithms to determine the best and most relevant matches for every single search. This is why it’s so important to choose your keywords carefully, so that the search engines can match and display your site in the search results to the most relevant keywords searches.

Not only is it important to rank on the first page of a search engine results page for relevant search terms, but it’s equally important to rank in the top positions of the first page. To understand how big of difference position can make consider the graph below which shows search result position and average traffic share:

From the graph we learn that the first page of search results receives over 90% of the traffic share and the first three search results receive over 60% of the traffic. Most significantly, the difference between position ten (first page) and position 11 (second page) means a decrease in traffic from that particular search term by over 100%.

In short, the closer you are to the top of Google for relevant search terms the more traffic (and potential sales) you’ll receive. Depending on the search term and the volume of searches per month being made for that search term, the difference in just a few positions can represent significant revenue loss in the long term.

Understanding Keywords

Before you jump into doing keyword research for your online store, there are a few basic terms you’ll come across that are important to know and understand.

These terms include:

Keywords – A keyword(s), in the context of search engine optimization, is a particular word or phrase describing the content of a web page or site. Keywords act as shortcuts to sum up the content of a page or site. Keywords are part of a web page’s metadata that helps search engines match a page to an appropriate search query.

Longtail Keywords – Longtail keywords are simply keywords that contain three or more words. Longtail keywords are important (hence them having their own name) because they make up over 70% of online searches according to SEOMoz and also tend to convert better as they catch people further along in the buying cycle. Someone searching for “hair extensions” is likely in the early information gathering stage, however, someone searching for “20 inch brown hair extensions price” is likely further along the buying cycle and much closer to purchasing.

Search Volume (Avg. Monthly Searches) – Search volume is usually measured in average monthly searches. This is the total number of searches each month for each particular search phrase (keyword). Ideally you’re looking for the keywords with the highest search volume. Ranking highly for search terms with higher search volumes means more potential traffic and conversion potential for you and your store.

Unfortunately, there is not a magic number that represents the perfect search volume for everyone. What constitutes the “right” search volume is going to be different for every site.

Competition – Search volume isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Competition is equally, if not more important. There’s no point in trying to rank for keywords you have no chance of ranking for. Competition refers to the difficulty of ranking for each particular keyword. In an ideal situation, your chosen keywords would have high search volume and low competition, however, these gold nuggets are difficult to find and will require some hard work, patience and maybe a little luck to find.

Keep in mind that the competition in Google’s Keyword Planner Tool refers to paid advertising competitiveness of keywords rather than organic search competition, however, this is many times representative of the organic search competition as well.

Brainstorming Your Initial List

Now that you understand why keyword research is important and some of the basic terminology, it’s time to do your own keyword research. To begin, you’ll need to brainstorm an initial list of search terms you believe your customers would search for to find your shop and the products you sell. Just grab a pen and paper and begin making a list of search terms you would use. At a minimum your brainstormed list of each keyword should be two words but you’ll want to think of longtail keywords as well, up to four to five words or even more.

The more words you brainstorm upfront, the more you’ll have to work with to uncover new search terms so don’t give up too easily. Try to build a list with as many relevant keywords as possible.

You may want to ask friends and family for their input as well but avoid asking them directly what they would search for and try to get them in front of a computer and ask them to search for your brand/products. Monitor what they search for and the links they click. This can provide some great, real-world insight into what an average person would search for.

Tools To Expand Your List

After you’ve done some initial brainstorming, you can consider a few tools to help expand your list. One of the simplest tools is Google’s own suggestion feature. To see some of Google’s suggestions, simply do a Google search and scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the related suggestions.

A great tool for help with your brainstorming is Keywordtool.io. Keywordtool scrapes Google for Google suggestion keywords by taking your keyword and adding every letter of the alphabet from A to Z capturing the most frequently searched permutations.

Don’t forget to consider keyword modifiers like “how to” or “where can I” etc. For example, someone may not be looking necessarily for “hair extensions” rather they may be looking for “how to get fuller, longer hair”.

Keyword Research Using The Google Keyword Planner Tool

Now that you have your initial list of brainstormed keywords, you can use these keywords to find more keywords using tools online. There are many tools you can use to conduct your keyword research, paid and free, however, one of the most popular tools for conducting keyword research is Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. The Google Keyword Planner Tool allows you to search for keywords to determine how many searches per month are being made for that term, how much competition there is competing for it and the related search terms.

The related search terms are important because it’s going to expose you to other keywords that are similar but may have a greater number of searches, less competition or a combination of both.

To use the Google Keyword Planner Tool, you’ll need a Google Adwords account which is free and only take a few minutes to get set up.

Once you have a Google Adwords account you’ll need to login to your account and select Tools from the menu at the top, and then select Keyword Planner.

On the next screen, click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.

Next, enter the keywords you’ve brainstormed from the previous section, either one at a time or a few at a time by separating each with a comma. We would recommend starting with one at a time to keep things simple.

Double check your settings under Targeting to make sure you’re viewing search information that is relevant to you. For example, if you’re based and ship to USA and Canada, you should be looking at information results for the USA and Canada.

Under Customize your search and Keyword options, you should turn on Only show ideas closely related to my search terms. This will provide much more relevant keywords, however, if you feel the keywords are too closely related or you wish you expand your search, feel free to try a search with this option turned off.

On the next screen, it will default to the Ad Group Ideas tab. Change that to the tab labelled Keyword Ideas.

The first column will list the original keyword(s) you searched for as well as closely related keywords. The second column shows you the number of searches being performed each month in the geographic area you specified. The third column is the level of competition for each keyword.

It is this information you’ll now need to begin sifting through to begin building your keyword list. You can use the Keyword filters on the lefthand side of the screen to only show low and medium competition keywords and filter out the ones that would likely be too difficult to compete for.

This will leave you with a list of keywords related to your original search that have a low and medium level of competition. As an example, we have colour coded one such query below, the yellow highlighted keywords being medium competition and the green highlighted keywords being low.

With this list you’ll want to take the best terms that describe your site, pages and product offering, keeping in mind the search volume and competition, and record them, ideally in a spreadsheet. You’ll want to repeat this process for all the brainstormed keywords you came up with.

Refining Your List And Checking It Twice

Now that you’ve come up with a list of relevant keywords it’s time you double check your work. You may have got a little carried away and added in some keywords that were low competition, or high search volume but don’t accurately describe your store and offering. In this phase you’re going to look at each of your keywords and:

Ask yourself – Is the keyword relevant? If someone searches for that term and lands on an appropriate page on your site, will they find exactly what they are looking for?

Search for the keywords in Google and Bing – You’ve already looked at the competition strength in Google Keyword Planner but as mentioned prior, those levels represent paid search competition, which doesn’t always translate over to organic search. Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. If the top results are for major and well established brands, it’s going to be more difficult to rank highly for your keyword.

Will all the keyword information you have gathered, you’ll now want to really boil your list down. To start, you’ll really want to focus on a handful of keywords (5-7) but it’s a good idea to keep a bit of a broader list (15-20) to keep your options open and work on long term.

Conclusion

The good news is that after completing your keyword research and slowly implementing your chosen keywords throughout your site, Google should have a better understanding of what your online store is all about so it can better match you to the correct searches.

Keep in mind though that SEO and keyword research is an ongoing process. It takes time and patience to research and implement your keywords and more time for Google to pick up on these changes. Most importantly, over time, SEO changes, search engine algorithms change and the terms your customers use will change so make sure you routinely go over your keyword research to make sure it up-to-date and accurate.

eCommerce Sites From History – Old Screenshots

Online shopping began its steady growth in 1994 after new security measures allowed for safe ecommerce transactions to occur online. Surprisingly, Pizza Hut was one of the first major companies to adopt ecommerce by offering online ordering through their website.

As online shopping grew in popularity, brick-and-mortar stores began to offer their products online, and entire companies were created to facilitate web sales. In 1995 Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.comwhich is now the world’s largest online retailer – they brought in $48 billion in 2011 alone. Online auction site eBay also opened shop in 1995. Expedia was founded in 1996 as a small division of Microsoft, and Zappos.com opened it’s digital doors in 1999.

With today’s high-res photos and speedy shopping carts, it’s easy to forget how primitive most ecommerce stores used to be. Check out how these big brand-names sites looked before they became popular. Although they seem simplistic, unintuitive, and kind of ugly, at the time they were cutting-edge, and they paved the way for what ecommerce is today.

Dell – 1996

Pizza Hut – 1997

Expedia – 1997

Zappos – 2000

Netflix – 2002

Apple – 1997

American Apparel – 2001

GAP – 1996

Wal-Mart – 2001

Toys-R-Us – 2000

Diapers.com – 2001

Barnes & Noble – 1999

Best Buy – 1997

Zazzle – 2004

Amazon – 2006

Staples – 1997

J Crew – 1996

Buy.com – 1999

Sony – 1996

Macy’s – 1999

Nike – 1998

Target – 1997

Wine.com – 1997

American Eagle Outfitters – 1999

CD Baby – 1998

LL Bean – 1999

eBags – 1999

Ancestry – 1998

Coach – 2000

Overstock – 1999

Threadless – 2002

1-800 Flowers.com – 1999

Ashley Madison – 2002

CD Now – 1999

The Hudsons Bay Company – 2001

Art.com – 2000

Shopify – 2008

10 Things that Successful People Do Before Bed

1. They review their day

Steve Jobs was a strong proponent of living life to the fullest every day. He wonderfully explained this concept when he said: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”

All successful and wealthy people, before going to sleep, they think about if what are doing has meaning. At the end of each day, they think about how have positively contributed to the world and review if the goals achieved are in line with their overall vision. Thus, they make plans to track their progress and take notes to put the best in every single things they do.

So today, before going to sleep, review your day because it will force you to clarify what you want and motivate you to take action on your goals.

2. They write down their thoughts

Emmy-winning talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres used to write down her thoughts, feelings and emotions when she was younger:  “Writing is truly cathartic, because it just lets it all out and brings the best out of you”.

Super productive and successful people write down their thoughts,  sensations, feelings and emotions. They try to analyze when and why things went right and wrong. They write to improve their communication and thinking skills to be a better leader. So, by writing things down you can help yourself to sharpen your thinking, clear your mind, destroy negative self-talk and pay attention to your most dominant emotions through the day. Journaling may tell you something that you haven’t really paid much attention to about yourself or about your life.

People like Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Winston Churchill kept a diary, so why not giving a shot?

3. They stick their noses into books

This is the proof that readers are great leaders. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is an avid reader. Each night before bed, he spends an hour reading a book, ranging on a variety of topics.

Many successful people in the world are voracious readers. They read at least for 10-20 minutes before going to bed every day and they learn from what others talk about. They expand their know-how to be better prepared to lead and motivate their team and build multimillionaire businesses.

Another big benefit from sticking your nose into a good book on a nightly basis is because reading  improve the long term health of your brain.

4. They set priorities for the next morning

With so many things happening on a daily basis it can be really easy to lose focus on what you are trying to accomplish. That’s why, before bed time, productive people review their schedule and plan for the following day.

They make a list of everything they have to do and before they start working they set priorities on the list. This allow them to go into the next workday feeling better prepared, more confident, and less stressed. Include this life-changing tip in your daily routine by writing down your top 3 to 5 most important tasks you need to do the next day. If for any reason you don’t do this, it should be the first thing you do every morning. And remember, every minute spent in planning saves 10 minutes in execution.

5. They spend quality time with family

“A man should never neglect his family for business.” -Walt Disney

Totally true! You have to spend quality time with your family in order to get connected and stay connected. Life is really hectic, and whatever you are an entrepreneur or an employee it always feels like there are a million things to do and the clock is against you.

But it’s really important to treat time with your family as a priority. So spend more time having meaningful conversations with your children, siblings or parents. Turn off the TV, eat dinner with your family and talk. The more time you spend together, the better chance you have of sharing quality experiences.

6. They get things done

Super productive people use their skills, talents, energies, and knowledge to the fullest extent possible. They do the things that need to be done, not just the things they like to do. They are willing to work hard and to commit themselves to getting the job done by the end of the day.

Nobody knows this better than US President Barack Obama that start the day the night before. When he awakens at seven, he already has a jump on things. We all have 24 hours and you need to use your time wisely, that’s why successful people squeeze the most out of those 24 hours as they can.

7. They do a digital detox

After being collapsed to the floor from exhaustion and lack of sleep, Arianna Huffington has been an evangelist for “unplugging”. In her best-selling book Thrive, she shares the importance of disconnect from our hectic life, relax and take care of our body and soul, redefining what it means to be successful in today’s world.

So, every night before bed, put your phone in another room, turn off the Tv and spent some time in stillness. You will feel your energy soar and overall health improve. In addition, you will have more time for other activities you really enjoy.

8. They spend time in nature

There is no greater example than Sir Richard Branson. However as Branson has demonstrated throughout his hectic business career, that doesn’t mean you have to cut out the things you enjoy most in life. To be refreshed and ready for anything, you need to find time to go in nature and have fun.

If you can’t swim in the crystal clear water of the Caribbean, having a walk routine could be a perfect way to turn off your thoughts about work after a stressful day and reflect on different things that interest you or to just empty your mind and enjoy the silence.

9. They meditate

Russell Simmons, Tim Ferriss and Oprah Winfrey, just to name a few, all meditate in the morning and before bed to perform to their full potential throughout the day. In fact, when our mind is more relaxed we are more receptive to ideas and find even easier to focus on frustrating tasks.

So set aside 10 minutes each day before going to sleep to meditate and let your thoughts flow naturally. The next day you will be more energetic, focused and productive.

10. They envision their future

Many successful people take a few minutes before bed to envision a positive outcome unfolding for the projects they’re working on. Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s super productive people who use visualization techniques to picture tomorrow’s success and get clarity on challenges and obstacles. So, spend a few minutes each night visualizing yourself as successful the next day. This will help motivate you to make it happen because you’ve already seen it in your mind’s eye.

If you can develop these 10 habits of successful people you will increase your productivity overnight and your life will be a lot better. So, what successful habits do you practice before going to bed?

Top 7 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

“Build it and they will come,” goes the line, but with so many options for online shoppers, how do you get them to come? Selling online means the world is your customer, but that can also mean more competition for those online dollars.  If you are looking for immediate traffic, and have set aside some funds for promotional use, paying for online ads is a fast way to build a customer base. You generally don’t pay based on how often your ad is displayed, but rather only when someone clicks on it, which makes online advertising a good way to get customers, and reinforce your brand. When you have more time and are looking for a long term strategy, there are a number of great ways such as SEO, social media and email to get the public’s attention; they just take some time and a bit of elbow grease. Done well, this is where you might have an edge over some of your competition since many stores often overlook these strategies as being too time-intensive, or not possibly relatable to their industry. Here are a few ways to lead those shoppers to your virtual door.

1. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Ads

There are a lot of “pay-per-click” options out there, but PPC generally refers to the text-only ads that appear at the top of your search results. These text ads may not be as eye-catching as other types of online ads, but they do allow you an opportunity to describe unique benefits of your store and products: easy returns, non-stick, made in the USA.

Best for… broad categories of similar products that have an average to above-average profit margin (shower curtains, car parts) and for services (accounting, wedding planners)

2. Comparison Shopping Engines

These are the product images you might see while searching for products. Examples of comparison shopping engines include Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, Amazon Product Ads and Shopzilla.   These increasingly popular product ads run based upon a feed that is uploaded from your store to the shopping engine before being displayed. Should you change a product price, if an item is out of stock, or you add new products, those changes will appear in the shopping feed results almost immediately. These ads also display the product image you have in your store, so searchers literally have a clear picture of the product you are offering, increasing your conversion rate (the number of people who click on an ad and continue on to purchase) and discouraging unwanted clicks.

Best for… products with good pictures, product titles/descriptions and competitive pricing/shipping – since the price is displayed with the product for all ads for customers to compare.

3. Banner Ads

These are the rectangular graphic ads that appear on individual websites as opposed to in the results of search engine query. You can pick which participating websites you want to advertise on, but a more recent use of banner ads is called Remarketing or Retargeting Advertising, where you target customers who have already visited your store. Since they have already visited once, you have a higher likelihood of getting them to make a purchase in the future. You can create different messaging to target visitors who just perused your store, to those that added something to the shopping cart and left, or your customers that bought something and you want to encourage them to make future purchases. Remarketing ads are a good way of reinforcing your brand, and driving traffic to your store.

Best for… stores with a longer buying cycle (furniture, real estate, auto) or with frequent, returning sales (food, clothing). It is also best if you have the ability to design your own ads, or have access to someone who can.

4. Dynamic Shopping Feeds

Similar to remarketing, dynamic shopping ads populate a banner ad with a picture of a product your customer recently viewed. It’s basically an advertisement tailored for that customer! No design expertise required – just pick a format and color scheme, upload a logo, and the search engine will populate it with the appropriate products from your store.

5. SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has evolved along with the search engines’ algorithms. There are dozens of techniques and tactics when it comes to optimizing your site, but many of the current strategies can be boiled down to creating unique, relevant content for every category and product page of your site. Many of your competitors are using the same manufacturer-provided product information, or repeating the basic description for every product in a category. Writing detailed descriptions for each of your categories and products will help you stand out to the search engines. It’s a daunting task, so prioritize and update your site as you have time.

Best for…every online store!

6. Social Media

This is a great place to demonstrate your expertise in your industry and create a loyal group of customers. Best of all, you can create a community around just about any industry. If you sell air filters you can create a forum for allergy suffers to get advice from each other. Sell seasonal items like pool supplies? Keep your audience thinking of your through the off-season by posting dreamy, vacation-spot pool photos in the winter time. The goal here is to stay top of mind, so that when they are ready to buy, they visit your store first.
We have written much on this blog about the different flavors of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc. They all have their audience, and one or more of them should work for your brand.

Best for…every store owner who has a finger on the pulse of their audience, and the time to post several times a week

7. Email

Don’t overlook email marketing for incentivizing your visitors to return to your store. Use targeted promotions, discounts, coupons, and articles relevant to your audience’s interest to keep them coming back.

Best for…stores that want to promote a design style, or service, and have the potential for frequently returning customers.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the passion you have for your own business, and put that into your marketing. Make people sit up and take notice, and turn them into customers for life.

Magento 2.0 Overview, Features, Demo and Rollout Plan

The leading online business solution, Magento, has existed for more than 5 years now. Magento has been downloaded over 4 million times and is the leading platform in the eCommerce space having more than 27% market share, and now Magento 2.0 is on the way! In this article, you can find information about most exciting features, a demo of Magento 2 and more.

Quick Navigation:

  1. Important links to help you with Magento 2
  2. Functioning demos for Magento 2 from Uber Theme and Firebear
  3. Magento 2 rollout plan and Magento 2 availability schedule
  4. Magento 2 features and enhancements
  5. Magento 2 key updates from Magento’s Wiki
  6. Exciting features of Magento 2.0
  7. Magento 2 key updates

Functioning Demos for Magento 2 from Uber Theme and Firebear

MAGENTO 2 ROLLOUT PLAN AND MAGENTO 2 AVAILABILITY SCHEDULE

MAGENTO 2.0 OVERVIEW, FEATURES, DEMO AND ROLLOUT PLAN - Platform Enhancements

MAGENTO 2.0 OVERVIEW, FEATURES, DEMO AND ROLLOUT PLAN - Release Approach

Magento 2 Features And Enhancements

Magento is a leading e-commerce solution,  that exists during last 5 years. The platform has more than 4 million downloads worldwide. And now we can witness the dawn of Magento 2. The new version of the platform promises a lot of new features that have all the chances to play a key role in the growth of e-commerce market. In this post you can find 10 most important features of Magento 2.

1.  Better compatibility with other platforms

Magento 2 is compatible with Zend Framework and PHP 5.3, it also extends support forMSSQL, Oracle,  and other databases.

2.  The new level of flexibility

With a new structure of modules (component-based), the new Magento has a much better flexibility in terms of development. The high code coupling in combination with a component oriented structure allows developers to different components including CMS, customer, checkout, sales, catalog, and a lot more. In Magento 2, it is possible to disable or enable every component and at the same time to keep the code base clean.

3.  Testing-friendly environment

Magento 2 is 100% testing-friendly. It includes a flawless testing framework designed to perform: Static Tests, Performance Tests, Unit Tests, Legacy and Migration Tests, Integration Tests and JavaScript Unit Tests.

4.  Service Contracts

Service Contracts is another important feature of Magento 2, which is based on a set of different PHP Interfaces. The feature improves and simplifies the use of APIs for various modules. With Service Contracts, developers will get a new way of working with public API endpoints.

5.  The new file structure

Magento 2 comes with a completely new file structure. There is no base theme anymore and all the base views are in the module structure. Developers now face much less issues while developing custom Magento themes.

6.  Hassle-free upgrades and installation

Composer makes Magento 2 more friendly for an installation and updates. It is also possible to use a convenient format to upgrade to the latest Magento 2 version.

7.  Elimination of components and modules

Magento 2.0 provides advanced payment options. The new version of config.xml file is reduced by over 20%, as a result developers are able to offer customizable solutions within less amount of time.

8.  The concept of view

The complexity and overall development time in Magento 2 has been considerably reduced thanks to ‘the concept of view in the module’. The feature also enables developers to create the working view within no time.

9.  Better Security

Thanks to the changed directory structure, Magento 2 is more secure. There is a new directory – ‘pub’, which enables developers to protect the code from different security breaches.

10.  The Magento Community

The Magento development team is opened to the community of Magento coders and can receive a seamless support for any issues with Magento 2.

Magento 2 Key Updates From Magento’s Wiki

  1. The new technology stack
  2. Improved customization process
  3. Easier frontend development
  4. Lower upgrade costs and efforts
  5. Better scalability and performance
  6. New level of quality, documentation and testing resources
  7. Increased engagement with the community

1. The new technology stack

The new technology stack includes the latest versions of PHP, JQuery, CSS3, etc.

With JQuery Magento 2 is more accessible, as a result, developers are able to use a JavaScript libraries they already know. The supports for additional plugins is also provided.

  • Magento 2 is fully responsive and based on HTML5. Customers get a great shopping experience on every device, and developers are able to use powerful APIs and features from HTML5.
  • CSS3 improves page load speed of Magento 2. It also provides a bunch of new visual effects: reflections, multiple backgrounds, shadows, etc.
  • Another great feature of Magento 2 is a RequireJS library. It helps load JS resources asynchronously. As a result you get improved page load time and encourage modular design for front end components.
  • The second Magento also supports PHP 5.5 (5.4.11 is the minimum requirement). As a result, Magento 2 provides better overall performance.
  • There is also a support for MySQL 5.6 in Magento 2. This version of MySQL can essentially improve MySQL engine performance.
  • With the addition of PSR compliance, Magento 2 is easier to learn. In addition, it standardizes the use of PHP, as a result, you get the ability to use different sets of code libraries.

2. Improved customization process

With improved customization process, developers are now able to extend Magento to meet specific merchant needs faster and easier.

  • The modular code of Magento 2 reduces cross-module dependencies and allows developers to make targeted changes without any impact on other areas of code. This also leads to  cleaner interfaces among multiple extensions with higher flexibility and better customization.
  • There are a layered navigation and modularized search interface in Magento 2. As a result, search functions are more customizable.
  • Magento 2 provides enhanced APIs for better integrations with external systems.
  • Another significant addition to the new Magento is XML validation. It checks that XML code follows specific structures and rules.

3. Easier frontend development

Frontend development is also more accessible in Magento 2 with LESS CSS preprocessor and modern HTML5 themes.

  • Developers now have more opportunities for an easier customization of the look and feel without changing core site functionality. As a result, they can pay more attention to user experience, formats and styles. Frontend coding in Magento 2 is less complex and more autonomous.
  • Magento 2 also provides features that make CSS more extendable and maintainable in a theme-friendly way. CSS-preprocessor speeds up frontend development and improves multilevel theme inheritance – developers can recompile CSS for all dependent themes with the dedicated updated parent themes. Instead of LESS CSS preprocessor, developers can also use Sass/Compass.
  • Magento 2 also includes a Blank Theme, which allows developers to start with a stripped down the theme and all the necessary features and customizations.
  • The Magento UI Library includes a lot of different components (typography, tables, forms, etc.) and specific patterns (messages, navigation, ratings). It provides the ability to change almost all elements of Magento 2 front end. With UI patterns defined within the library, developers can create new themes or modify existing much faster.

4. Lower upgrade costs and efforts

With lower upgrade costs and efforts, it is easier to upgrade all core Magento software and install extensions in Magento 2.

  • Upgrading Magento to a newer versions is now easier, because Magento 2 includes information on versioning policies. In addition, you can get all the necessary information about  compatibility of upgrades with the current version.
  • Magento 2 includes a standalone installer, which is a separate and independent script.
  • Upgrading to Magento 2 is possible by exporting all standard records and importing them into Magento 2.

5. Better scalability and performance

Performance Improvements include improved indexers, the new Magento performance toolkit and integration with Varnish Cache. Scalability improvements include full page caching and support for multiple admin users.

6. New level of quality, documentation and testing resources

Magento 2 includes tests for units, integration, static environments, performance criteria, and functional areas. To enable faster development, the testing framework of Magento 2 supports continuous integration and testing practices. In addition, the new version of Magento includes all the necessary documentation.

7. Increased engagement with the community

Increased engagement with the community is another a strong point of Magento 2. Updates on Github, Magento 2 webinars and special events make the platform more opened to the community.

—————————————-

It is predicted that Magento 2.0 will be released at the end of 2015, perhaps the beginning of 2016.

I. Exciting Features of Magento 2.0

1. Compatible more Popular Platforms

Magento 2.0 will use PHP 5.3 and  Zend Framwork for managing performances of cache engine, database access layer and translations. At the same time, it supports MSSQL and Oracle that is great for Windows Platform Server.

2. jQuery Library

Jquery is the most popular lightweight to use JavaScript Library. In Magento 2.0, jQuery library is the default JavaScript library. The migration from prototype to Jquery is one of the most important changes in Magento 2.0.

3. Performance Enhancement

Previously, speed and performance always is a problem Magento has to confront. But everything has changed in Magento 2.0. In this latest version, speed will be 20% faster than the old versions. This will be very dramatic change in the Magento performance.

4. Component Oriented Architecture

Such module as customer, catalog, checkout, sales, CMS and others will exist as components. If you don’t need to them, you can always disable it and replace with your own; especially, you don’t have to hack the existing code base for that. Hence, site performance and flexibility will be inhanced incredibly.

5. Directories Structure

There are significant changes in the structure of directory. New directory called “pub” is introduced. The aim of this change is to provide a better a clear view structure for developer.

6. Automated Testing

Magento 2.0 allows developer to setup automated test easily.

7. Better security

This latest Magento version supports some steps to deal with serve validation. Thanks to this, you online site will get better security.

8. Jquery Javascript Framework

Magento 2.0 supports only one Javascript framework – Jquery. Thus, it will have much less Javascript conflicts the new version Magento 2.0 compared to Magento version 1.x.

II. Magento 2 Key Updates

MAGENTO 2.0 OVERVIEW, FEATURES, DEMO AND ROLLOUT PLAN - Goals

1. The New included technologies

The new technologies consist of the latest versions of PHP, JQuery, CSS3, etc. you can see the difference between Magento 2.0 and Magento 1.x in the below table.

MAGENTO 2.0 OVERVIEW, FEATURES, DEMO AND ROLLOUT PLAN - Comparison

2. Improved customization process

With the introduction of Visual Design Editor, it is easy to use” drop and drag” interface for editing Magento layout. Thanks to, the appearance of Visual design editor, modifying containers and blocks will not require specialized technical knowledge. Hence, you can make many changes in the admin panel at ease.

3. Easier frontend development

With less CSS preprocessor and modern HTML5 themes, developer now can find it easy to new look& feel of the site without changing site functionality.

4. Reduced upgrade costs and efforts.

In Magento 2.0, upgrading core Magento software and extensions will be easier than with lower upgrade costs and efforts.

  • Upgrade to new version: To support developer upgrade new version easier, Magento 2includes information on versioning policies. Moreover, you will be provided all necessary information about compatibility of upgrades.
  • Install Magento: With the support of new standalone installer, installing Magento 2 will be much faster. This tool will check for prerequisites before starting installation.

5. Improved scalability and performance

Improved scalability consists of improved indexers, new Magento performance toolkit, Varnish Cache. Meanwhile the new indexers in Magento 2 come with more efficient updates to speed up performance, Magento performance toolkits support to verify and optimize system performance and Varnish Cache helps reducing server load and speed up the page load.

6. New level of quality, documentation and testing resources

The newest version of Magento includes all the necessary documentation. Also, it consists of tests to enable faster development. This testing framework supports continuous integration and testing practices.

7. Better engagement with the community

Another good point of Magento 2 is better engagement with the community. Through Magento 2 webinars and special events, the platform more opened to the community.

What Does SEO Stand For Anyways?

As I had a few awesome conversations on twitter this last week I realized that some of you that are reading my content are very young, or even brand new, in the web space.  For that reason I want to take a full step backwards and make sure people understand some of the terminology and buzzwords.  If you are anywhere in the internet or tech world you will hear “SEO, SEM, CPC” and more.  Other digital marketing strategies, for example, email marketing, paid search and search retargeting have very clear, undisputed definitions. The definition of SEO, on the other hand, seems to be just as unclear as the practice itself. I’ll define SEO for you now and it should help you know what SEO stands for.

Current Definitions of SEO

Even when you Google the expression, “definition of SEO”, nothing really solid is returned, just loads of sites that vaguely talk about it as a ‘static’ thing.

Wikipedia’s official definition is, “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page.”

Search engine optimization is about way more than this.

Webopedia’s definition is, “a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.”

Search Engine Optimization is more than this as well.

So what is an accurate description of SEO given the changes to the industry over the last few years and many algorithm changes?

SEO is currently a widely inclusive methodology to optimizing an entire web presence for organic search including the website, social channels, articles, editoral content on blogs, and even press releases. Additionally, “by the book” systems, strategies, techniques, and tactics are still used, but content marketing and social media are more firmly rooted to what ranks well.

 

“Content is King” and also while content is the King, it doesn’t mean anything unless the King has a strong castle.  What this means is you must optimize your on-site experience for A+ usability.  Your site should have great content but should also be easy to navigate, responsive (works on all devices), and allow customers to easily digest your content.  Again, what good is Content (the King) if he doesn’t have a strong Castle to keep him safe.  While 5 years ago SEO used to be about meta information and keyword research it is now about engagement, content, and user experience.

Now, What’s Your Definition of SEO?

Here are some new meanings of SEO to consider, and I welcome you to comment on this post with your own thoughts and definitions.

  1. SEO is the continuous methodology of uncovering and finding non-branded keywords that are driving organic search traffic and conversions, then distributing content optimized for those specific keywords or phrases.
  2. SEO is the process of creating optimized content that is discoverable by the intended audience as they progress/advance through the buying cycle.  (This is after you define where and what your buying cycle actually is)
  3. SEO is about a prospect discovering a brand’s content and web presence through search and social, and the manager of that content having the capacity to understand who consumed the content and the impact, or impact, of the content across the business.
  4. SEO is the results of a content marketing strategy that makes utilization of highly converting keywords that your target audience is searching on.  We call those “magic beans”.
  5. SEO is the methodology of promoting the visibility of a brand in organic search results.

SEO in the digital marketing mix is, and has been, a great way to grow your business naturally as people seek out your content and products. Institutionalizing a definition of SEO will help purchasers or visitors better understand the importance of it, the reason for spending time on it, and the short and long-term impact an SEO strategy has on success maintenance and growth of your brand online. It might not be an over night thing (actually it takes a year(s) to get solid traction) but it should be something to invest your time and energy in.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts about the definition of SEO.

2015 Benchmark Ecommerce Growth

2015_ecommerce-growth

Hey Community! I got an email today that featured a really interesting set of metrics and overall great content and I wanted to forward it along to you.

OriginallyFrom RJ Metrics

We analyzed the data of 200+ ecommerce retailers with over $25 billion in transaction revenue to answer this question: what are the indicators of breakout ecommerce success? 

Our research included companies with less than $1 million in annual revenue to some of the fastest growing companies in the IR 500. By studying the key metrics of best-in-class companies, we were able to gain insight on how growth patterns differ for companies achieving breakout success.

Here are a few of the highlights we found:

  • Companies are getting smarter about growth — those founded in 2013 grew faster than companies founded in earlier years
  • By month six in business, top performing companies are generating nearly $450k in monthly revenue
  • Top performing companies have an Average Order Value 36% higher than other companies

Open PDF – 2015 Ecommerce Growth Benchmark Report RJMetrics