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eCommerce solutions for Sage 200 users

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

shutterstock_131950856Sage 200 Integrations for Improved Efficiency

In a short period of time, many companies with websites that include a retail or financial services aspect have been taking the plunge, integrating Sage 200 software into their accounts and eCommerce systems for improved efficiency. Accountancy and sales processes stand to become more streamlined and straightforward, as the software allows users to take a less hands on approach, as most of the legwork is taken care of automatically with minimal input from a user.

The Benefits of Sage Integration

Simply by having a system that has been automated to run any number of times or labour intensive financial tasks, the overhead costs of running accounts has been cut drastically. The software has the multi-purpose of not only increasing website sales conversion, but also handling accounts, increasing the Return on Investment, target marketing campaigns, controlling costs, optimising profits, and tax auditing. Sage 200 software can automatically perform many tasks such as invoicing, migrating data, emailing purchase orders, importing sales orders, stock transfers, and much more.

Improved Website Utility

The eCommerce aspect of Sage 200 can serve to greatly improve the utility and functionality of websites that include a store front end, as well as stock and financial service back ends. Within minimal inputs from the users, Sage will provide outputs in a fraction of the time that it would take to complete manually, allowing users to become more efficient and direct their efforts elsewhere. There is no risk of data being lost or corrupted while phasing in the Sage software, as there are import functions included in the form of Data Exchange. Data Exchange is handled by the system and reduces the risk of losing misrepresenting data while the IT infrastructure is being upgraded to accommodate Sage, promising a seamless transfer of financial services.

How to Adapt Your E-Commerce Strategy for a Changing World?

Friday, May 16th, 2014

shopping

The internet has revolutionised numerous aspects of our lives including shopping. Today, anyone with an internet connection is able to find just about any product he or she wishes to find online, all with a few simple key strokes and mouse clicks. However, for those selling items, its advent has also meant new ways of keeping up with the trends, enticing customers and re-considering search engine changes. That said, if you are an online trader looking to improve your eCommerce strategy, the following tips should help:

1. Streamline everything

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to eCommerce is getting bogged down with mundane work when they should be focusing on the bigger picture. For instance, if you need to update your product information, you don’t want to be going through the multiple data feeds trying to find the specific project. Instead, have one main data feed that can be easily edited. This will reduce the amount of work and time spent as well as minimise the risk of making an embarrassing error and then spending hours trying to find its specific location.

2. Stay up to date

ECommerce is a fast evolving field and the new information, techniques and opportunities created every week can be staggering. However, it’s important that as you free yourself up from the small things, do your research into the new trends and see if there’s anything that could improve your business. One of the best ways to do this is to keep tabs on your competitors and see if they’re making any changes, like expanding into new markets or using new tools to present their products in a more appealing way. You can also check out buyer forums and review sites to see what you may be doing wrong through clients’ comments. Forums are also great platforms for defusing complaints and related issues.

3. Make use of your sales data

Make sure that you are using all of the sales data to increase the sale of your products. This is because with this information, you can find out which products are in a great demand, the demographics and other marketing related data. This will help you optimise your eCommerce site to favour certain aspects that help boost product sales.

Boost your January Sales!

Monday, January 6th, 2014

shutterstock_91464686

Events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and January Sale encourage people to spend more money and search for bargains online. You can boost your sale numbers by optimizing your website and attracting more visitors.

SEO and email

For those that do not know, SEO stands for search engine optimisation. The engine works by searching out keywords on webpages and people will then find your site using search engines such as Google, and Yahoo. As a result, a good eCommerce site should have organic and optimised keywords to be able to come top on the various search engines. If you have a skilled SEO specialist, your problems are solved, but if not and don’t really have any experience in this, you should consider hiring someone. Believe me the money you spend on SEO will most likely generate a lot more in profit and ad revenue in the long-term. Same goes for email ad campaigns. Be more subtle and don’t spam your subscribers. Be informative, brief, and non-invasive, while still reminding them that Santa is coming early this year.

Content

The psychological factor should never be underestimated, especially when adverts and sales are concerned. This is because even the most modest of price reductions can ultimately determine larger sales values. Although there isn’t a strict guideline, experimenting with different bonuses, discount can go a long way. The website must also have increased bandwidth in order to handle the large number of visitors, and the visual layout must be changed to suit the mood. Integrated settings such as discounts and the various payment methods should also be increased and tweaked to increase accessibility, thus leading to an increase in purchases.

Conclusion

Third party or not, SEO services may increase operating costs temporarily, but this will grant you a sizable return on the investment. Optimisation is a vital aspect that is necessary to gain visibility in the competitive eCommerce environment.

Virtual Branding Means Real Business

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

graphic design

As more and more of our trusted brands become wholly virtual enterprises, the importance of graphic design is quickly becoming apparent. Brands like Amazon and Ebay, without a real world store or shop to provide a real-world presence, rely solely on their online branding, with logos and advertising campaigns becoming their modern store front.

Big business has known the importance of this for a long time and it seems that now, small and medium size businesses are beginning to catch on. Many realise that a well designed website can mean the difference between engaging a customer in a particular product and losing a sale. This is even more important as the number of competing businesses continues to grow in an ultra competitive market place.

Great Websites Mean More Customers

We all know the discomfort we feel when searching for information from a poorly designed site that is difficult to look at. Well, unsurprisingly customers feel exactly the same about their shopping experience, and the easier you make it for your customers, the more business you are likely to receive. Websites that are designed well often leave the impression that they are not designed at all. The customer enjoys browsing and subsequently buying products from the site since it is easy to navigate and doesn’t give them a recurring migraine. This is the real importance of graphic design – giving the customer a fantastic shopping experience that leaves them wanting more.

Designing the Virtual World

The same can be said about the importance of branding in the virtual world. Millions of companies are jostling for your attention on the information super highway and a logo that has been designed well will attract the attention of potential customers without the effort of expensive marketing and ad campaigns. This is the very basis of our browsing experience and without it, your company is likely to fall into the category of also-rans. Give your company a much needed boost with well-thought-out website and an interesting logo from a professional graphic designer and you will begin to feel the benefits immediately.

Google Analytics Keyword: (Not Provided)

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Came across this post today, its got some nice tips to understand and also calculate an estimate of people coming to your site.

http://www.unilyzer.com/google-analytics-keyword-not-provided/

Online Reputation Management

Friday, April 13th, 2012

So the web is bigger than ever and you have access to so much information these days, rarely do people make impulse purchases without doing a little research first.

Id say it’s now more crucial than ever to manage your online reputation of your company, brand, product or service.

There are many companies out there that are experiencing some harsh criticism from disgruntled employees or customers and on the other hand there are many companies receiving the benefits of a good reputation from information posted online.

It’s now time to start managing that reputation and this can be done in a number of ways. We all know the main ones to communicate with fans, customers etc and that’s through social networks like Facebook etc. This is a great place to respond to any negative feedback you may be getting. It lets customers know that you care and you want to resolve any issues they have about your company, brand etc.

When we book a holiday these days we go online, check out the hotel, the restaurants and a number of other things within the area. You then start to look at a number of factors and you may use sites like trip advisor or Google places to find out reviews.

Its key to engage customers to leave good reviews on these mediums and if you approach them when you have them face to face you can address any problems they may have had. They may even leave a review that’s not perfect, but they will comment on how you handled it which could be a positive outcome if an issue was handled correctly.

So is there a value you can place on online reputation management, I’d say it’s pretty high. Think about it, many companies have spent years building their reputation as the best this or the best that and a few negative online posts can have a big effect on future sales.

So what should you look for?

I’d say there are three key areas.

  1. Keep an eye online and monitor what’s being said
  2. Build your good reputation actively
  3. Engage your customers and your audience

So where can you monitor these things

  •     Google Alerts – google.com/alerts
  •     Yahoo Alerts – alerts.yahoo.com
  •     RSS feed subscriptions to search results Technorati, Feedster, Yahoo & Google News, BlogPulse
  •     Social Media via tags: tagbulb.com, tagfetch.com, keotag.com

Don’t wait for negative comments to be posted online, actively build your reputation and make it one that people know. This makes managing negative information a lot easier.

Engage Customers

The best way to deal with bad feedback is to tackle it head on, so find out when these negatives are being broadcast online and then counter it. Having a two way conversation is much better to get to the bottom of a problem and show people you care.

Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you deal with a mistake that makes you different from your competitors and people buy people so all you need to do is get the appropriate facts and you will generally find most negatives can be overcome.

Who knows by doing this the person leaving the negative comments might just become an evangelist for your brand.

An example of this was a friend of mine went in to the Apple store and had clearly damaged his iPhone by getting it wet, the first time he went to Apple they wanted to charge for repair. He decided to hold off and he wanted to look at other options, but ended up going back to pay for the repair, this time though they decided to give him a replacement for free. He actually walked out the door and told random people in the street about his experience. That’s priceless in terms of building a good reputation for Apple.

Feel free to post any examples of how you have engaged your online reputation management.

Facebook Timeline Checklist for your Business Page

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

So not long now until March 30th when Facebook roll out the timeline update to the business pages.

As you may have seen some brands and companies have updated theirs already and you can find some examples here.

http://www.facebook.com/adeogroup our own

http://www.facebook.com/cocacola

http://www.facebook.com/manchesterunited

Here is a checklist of some things you may want to consider:

Facebook’s new guidelines can be found here http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

Some points to highlight:

  • Don’t use a cover image you don’t have the copyright for or permission to use (more on the cover image later in this post)
  • Don’t use pricing or calls to action in cover image. I suspect we’re going to see a lot of people get creative in “breaking” the spirit of this rule while staying within the actual rule itself
  • Don’t try to incentivize liking or sharing in your cover image. Again, I suspect people will get pretty creative playing within the rules here
  • The contact information, such as physical address, telephone, email and web address, should only be in the “about” area of your profile

Cover Image

What you will probably notice right away on the new format is the main image which acts more like a banner. The image size is 851px X 350px (that’s 851 pixels wide by 350 pixels high) and based on the guidelines you shouldn’t use an image you don’t have permission to use along with showing pricing, sell and calls to action to get users to do something.

Make sure the image makes a good impression and gives an oversight to your brand visually. You can view a free Photoshop template for Facebook timelines here. http://designfiles.net/blog/free-photoshop-template-facebook-timelines/

If you can choose and image that has an impact, something that people will relate to in reference to your brand and create the impression that you are looking for about your business. Sites like Shutterstock can provide images if you don’t have anything suitable and you possibly may be able to use these for free for business pages, but you best check that with Shutterstock before going ahead.

Communicating with your fans or followers

In my opinion this update is trying to make companies engage with their followers more, giving updates, posting comments, images and videos and anything else that may be relevant to the social aspect of marketing your business.

Many of our clients have commented on the fact that having a Facebook or Twitter account could be bad as people can post negative things on your wall, but for me that’s just part of the course with any business as you can’t get it right 100% of the time all the time and I would rather someone communicated that directly with me through my social network so that I can deal with it and put it right. Once followers see how you dealt with the issue then they can see you are a good company and you take notice of your customers and their issues, alternatively instead of doing customer service in public on their Facebook wall, brands can now have private messages with customers/fans. Hopefully this will remove some organization’s concerns about getting involved on Facebook and social media in general.

Loss of Landing Pages

We have had a number of clients complaining about the default landing page being removed, however it was heavily abused with like-gating and tricking people in sharing or linking you. The new timeline will only have one default landing page.

Only 4 Tabs are Available on Homepage

On your landing page you now have four visible tabs, the first being photos, you can move the others around after this and you can add more which can be accessed by the little arrow to the right hand site of the boxes, you can control the three other tabs’ names and icons, so use them to your advantage.

Have a look at http://www.facebook.com/cocacola and you will see their four boxes, but the arrow shows a further eight.

Pin Featured Content

If your company has an important post, message, or or offer, you can now “pin” that to the top. It won’t be displaced when you post new updates or upload new photos. Just keep in mind that you can only pin something for 7 days. When you’ve pinned it, you’ll see a little ribbon in the upper right corner.

Milestones

Like personal pages, brand pages can now have milestones. This should be used for things that are important to you customers, not for letting them know how much you paid for your lunch.

Brand Name Changes and Vanity URL

If you are new to brand pages then you should choose wisely: once you pass 100 fans/followers, you can’t change it. If you are over 100, you can force people to unsubscribe to get yourself below that threshold and change your name. If you’ve got a good size following, though, that’s not a viable solution, and you’re stuck with the name you chose when you started. One good thing is Facebook has also removed the minimum of 25 fans/followers to get a vanity URL.

Having a vanity URL is great as when you advertise your Facebook page its simpler for people to remember and search.

Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope you find some of these points useful.

European Cookie Law, will your site pass the test?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

So the countdown is on and on 26th May 2012 all UK websites must offer users opt-in consent tools to allow cookies that pass information about your browsing activities to 3rd parties.

What does this mean for your website?

Well it’s been a very grey area and getting the correct answer as to what will make your site legal or not has been tough.

We still think it’s not entirely clear, but what we do know is that 3rd party cookies must be declared, so if you use the likes of Google analytics, Facebook plugins, Twitter plugins, any analytics programs or anything else out with your site then you need to let your visitor know what you are using.

Then you need to offer them the option to accept these or reject them.

This is going to bring a whole host of issues and the following will explain the process of what could happen.

The user arrives at your site and is presented with a message, possibly at the top of the screen like this site

http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/privacy_and_electronic_communications/the_guide/cookies.aspx

so you have two options here.

  1. Do Nothing or
  2. Click Accept

So choosing option A will stop any 3rd party cookies running, this means if you use analytics for example to track users, this won’t work and the figures will be skewed essentially meaning you won’t have that valuable data you rely on to make decisions about your website.

Choosing B, well this will let things happen in the normal way, but you will notice that people can select cookies for individual elements, so they may say yes to Facebook, but no to analytics.

The consequences could be high.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) is the body responsible for enforcing the UK law, with powers to fine website owners up to £500,000 for serious breaches in the law.

I think the next year is going to prove very interesting to see how the larger ecommerce sites battle this.

There are companies out there offering solutions to make your site compliant, but that’s only one element, you could still miss out on that valuable analytics data.

I’d say one of the most important elements in any website is being able to track visitors and what they do while on your site. Fortunately Adeo have integrated an analytics platform that doesn’t include 3rd party cookies and this means we don’t have to ask for permission, so our own analytics won’t be skewed.

If you would like any more info, feel free to contact us as we will be integrating this in to our CMS and Ecommerce platforms.

The Future for Fashion Retail

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

If you aren’t already selling online you are missing out on a huge opportunity to reach a wider audience, but also an audience that is shopping more and more from a computer.

Retail clothes stores are reporting their worst performance in three years and the balance of 2% of these retailers reported that sales were lower than the previous year.

However it’s not all doom and gloom and as you will find internet retailers are bucking the trend with sales through their ecommerce stores.

There is a growing trend that consumers are buying a lot more of what they need on a day to day basis rather than big ticket purchases.

Disposable incomes are little under pressure and if you aren’t looking at ways to market your business online then you could be left behind.

Do you currently have a website or does your website meet the challenges of today’s online shopping?

Migrating your site to a new Ecommerce Platform

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I’ve been asked by a number of clients who already have a trading website how best to tackle the migration to our RedBack Ecommerce platform so thought id write up some tips for a successful migration which pretty much applies to any migration.

It’s a pretty big decision to move on to a new platform and generally means the company has outgrown their current platform. For start-up businesses you tend to opt for a cheaper platform and then as the site grows you eventually have to move on to something that’s more suitable.

Hopefully the next few tips will help and aid your migration process.

1. Domain Name Problems

One of the main problems I come up against is transferring the domain or pointing the domain to a new server. In many cases the client doesn’t control the domain themselves and they generally have to involve other people to make this happen. So firstly you need to make sure you have control of the domain or if you don’t have then start planning to have this brought under your control.

A useful tool for this is http://whois.domaintools.com/

You can search your domain, find out what registrar hosts your domain and who owns the domain.

2. SSL Certificates

If your current site uses an SSL certificate then you will have to have this moved to the new server. Generally most SSL vendors will have instructions how to carry this out and your web developer should have a pretty good idea.

You can check if your site uses an SSL certificate by going to https://domainname

In the address bar on IE for example it has a padlock; click the padlock to find out if there is a certificate in your domains name, if not then this may be a shared certificate if the web server has any at all.

3. Organic Search Listings

So probably one of the biggest concerns is what about my organic listings, generally most existing successful sites will have good organic listings. I would say this is one of the most important things to consider. Generally the new site that’s being created will have different url’s for products, categories etc if you can have the same then that’s great, but generally that doesn’t happen so time must be spent mapping the old url’s to the new ones which improves the chances of your site losing any ranking at all. The handy 301 redirect will sort this out for you and let Google etc know where the new url’s are.

below shows how this may be laid out

redirect 301 www.domain.com/oldurl.html    -  -   www.domain.com/newurl.html

This is handled different ways between apache servers and windows servers but if you get an excel sheet or something similar and have one column for old url’s and one for new then your new web developer should be able sort this.

4. Moving Data

Data is hugely important and you have to go out your way to get as much data transferred over to the new platform as possible, not only will this save a huge amount of time, but will also maintain order history etc which is invaluable information.

The main things you need to consider here is how easy is it to access the database on your existing site and then get an export of this in a suitable format to be imported in to your new system. Generally if you can export in a CSV format then your new developers should be able to create an import script and get this up and running on the new site.

If there is information that’s not required for the new platform then this could speed up the process of the build and also the costs may be kept down.

5. Email

Email is highly important so any loss on this service could be hugely detrimental. The fact of the matter is that moving your website shouldn’t really interfere with email unless email is hosted by the existing web company. If you are moving to a new web platform you have probably reached a size that pop3 email isn’t suitable and you should possibly be looking to a hosted exchange service, in house exchange server or what we recommend if you don’t require a huge amount of email functionality then Google apps is a great way to set up your email and very portable with a lot of good features.

If your web company hosts your email, it may be a good time to consider doing a move to another type of email hosting service and any good web company should have suggestions on this.

6. Activating the New Site

When you decide to go live on your new site, you need to allow some time. Even up to 48hrs in some cases, but over the years I have noticed that this has come down and sometimes the action can take effect pretty much immediately, but there is no guarantees of this so make sure you allow for this. Also it’s a good idea to put up a maintenance page on the old site so you don’t get orders on the old site from users who’s DNS hasn’t updated. We have also found launching a site on a Friday as a bad idea as generally the support team on at the weekend are reduced and you may find some minor issues after the new site going live.

7. Full Testing

I can’t stress how important this is, you have to try come up with every imaginable combination of ordering, returning, setting up a new account and testing new features. Usually a major fault may lie in cross browser testing, where it works fine in IE, but not in Firefox, so make sure all tests are completed before launching. Generally you won’t find everything but make sure you iron out all the major bugs.

8. New Features

Migrating to a new platform is a great time to implement some new features, its important to take note of your competitors and what they may have and listening to the needs of your customers who may have identified something that could make the site run smoother. However make sure these are planned out properly and that the developers understand exactly what’s required.

9. Don’t delete the old site

Its worth while keeping the old site running on the old server for a few weeks just in case there is data missing or you need to refer back to something. If you require longer don’t be worried about keeping it on longer until you are completely happy the new site is running correctly.

Hopefully some of these tips should help with a smooth transition to your new platform.