A Green Card For A Green Cart

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“What an amazing moment to be able to take this picture with Viktor Falendysh!” Said Mike Auger, the CEO and Chairman of the Board for PinnacleCart2014-04-14-16.48. It has been a 11-year process since we first met him and this weekend he received his Green Card (and yes it is green!).

We first met Viktor through www.elance.com while he was living in Ukraine. He was the first Developer for Pinnacle Cart and has been the cornerstone and a tremendous asset to our company. It isn’t just the work he does, but Viktor makes all of us better people because of who he is. We sponsored his desire to come to America and he arrived in November of 2007 on a work visa. Over the next six years we filed a lot of paperwork to get us where we are today and it was a great moment within the company when he made the announcement.

In the end, the growth of our company and the hiring of all the local employees was the result of this “outsourced” resource.

From all of your comrades here at PinnacleCart, Viktor, thank you and congratulations!

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By admin

The Heartbleed Bug: Should You Be Worried?

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heartbleedPinnacle Cart clients can rest easy: We have you covered

You know when a computer virus hits late-night television, it’s a big deal. Such is the case with Heartbleed, the latest threat to computer users, which has found its way not only on to
computers across the world but also on to “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” In last night’s monologue, he shared: “There’s this computer virus called Heartbleed that’s affected two-thirdsall the websites on the Internet. Security experts are warning people that they need to change all of their Internet passwords. Then my mom said ‘No prob! I’ll just change my password to 1-2-3-4-5…..SEVEN!’”

It sounds funny, but your Internet security is no laughing matter. So now that you’ve been sufficiently frightened about Heartbleed, let’s talk about what it means for your business and if you need to worry that your security has been breached.

What Is Heartbleed?

Heartbleed is a programming flaw in OpenSSL, a widely used open-source cryptographic software library. It enables hackers (and anyone else on the Internet) to access a server’s memory and expose critical user information, including SSL site keys, user names and passwords, and user data. Systems potentially affected may include websites (specifically e- commerce sites), email, instant messaging, and some virtual private networks (VPNs). The flaw is limited to OpenSSL and has not caused any issues with sites using SSL encryption.

How Do You Know If You’ve Been Infected?

Pinnacle Cart’s #1 priority is protecting our customers and their vital information. The day we learned about the potential breaches caused by Heartbleed, we immediately scanned all of our systems and found none had been affected. In fact, we are currently in the midst of completing our PCI-DSS certification audit, which has security as its focal point. For us to be PCI compliant, we must use SIM/SIEM (security information management / security event manager) and HIDS (host intrusion detection systems); in addition, we follow a routing change-management procedure to ensure our systems are always up-to-date with changing security measures. The long and short is that, if your site is hosted by Pinnacle Cart, it has not been affected. You do not need to go in and change passwords or generate new key pairs for system access. You don’t have to worry about the integrity of your e-commerce website — because we have already ensured your security!

If your site is not hosted by Pinnacle Cart, Fixed OpenSSL has been released and must be installed on any sites running OpenSSL. Both service providers and users will need to install this fix on all operating systems, networked appliances, and software to ensure they have no problems moving forward.

It Takes a Village

Since we work primarily with e-commerce sites, we must remain in compliance with PCI regulations, which are pretty strict. Because we follow their guidelines, and work with our customers to maintain that compliance across all systems, you have not been using OpenSSL encryption; you’ve been using SSL, which makes your systems impenetrable by Heartbleed. We are also a Symantec Website Security partner, and earlier this week, they let us know that they immediately implemented best practices by patching their systems and rekeying all certificates on their Web servers. At no time were their systems at risk, and by association, neither were ours.

Rest Easy; You’re Covered

If you do have any questions about the security of your Pinnacle Cart-supported website, we’re here for you. Give us a call at 800-506-0398. As business owners ourselves, we understand how important your security is, so we put that first. You’re protected with Pinnacle Cart. We’ll always let you know of any potential threats and how we’re taking care of them on your behalf.

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Shopping Cart Software: Things To Consider Before Choosing

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PHP-shopping-cartOne of the most important things to customers when it comes to their online shopping experience is the check out experience. Much like in a traditional store, customers put the items that they want into a “shopping cart” and then complete their purchase when they are ready. Online business owners need shopping cart software in order to create this experience in the first place.

Inventory In And Out

The very minimum thing that your shopping cart software should do is track the inventory that you have versus what was sold. Zippycart.com puts it this way,

What good is your site if you can’t accurately track your inventory, or collect payments through a shopping cart? At a minimum, shopping cart solutions provide powerful inventory tracking and payment management functionality, allowing you to better report on and manage your product.

All that the software is doing here is telling you what you have in stock, what you have sold, and the price that you got for it. Just knowing these few basic things will come in handy when you are doing your accounting.

Ease Of Use For Customers

While you want the software to track all of the inventory in and out for you, it is also important to make the process seamless for the customers. Those customers want to locate the items that they wish to purchase and check out with as little time and effort expended as possible. Having a software program that can provide this to them is important.

Costs

Obviously small business owners of all stripes are always interested in what the costs of the services they provide will be. If you don’t know what the costs are, you need to find out. Finding an appropriate match between cost and the level of service received is highly important.

Contact us if you have questions about what more to look for when comparing shopping cart software.

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By admin

The Value of Developing Web Store Taxonomy

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With a small shop just keeping track of inventory and stocking your web store can take up 90% of all the time you have available- considering taxonomy for your web store might sound like another task for the ‘to-do later’ list. However, managing and reviewing your web store taxonomy can help you develop content, optimize for SEO, develop a merchandising plan, and create natural cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

So what is taxonomy? Taxonomy is a technical term that refers to classification of item or items.  In a general web site this would be considered grouping content for your site map; for eCommerce it means identifying natural and store-specific groupings of products into categories.

If you sell shoes online natural categories might be:web store taxonomy

  • Sports Shoes
  • Dress Shoes
  • Casual Shoes
  • Boots

These categories would be further divided into sub-categories depending on your knowledge of your audience. One version could be:

  • Dress Shoes
    • Women’s Dress Shoes
    • Men’s Dress Shoes
    • Children’s Dress Shoes

Or maybe your web store only caters to women and you’d create your sub-categories like this:

  • Dress Shoes
    • Heels
    • Pumps
    • Wedges
    • Sandals

Or perhaps you want to start by materials – leather, suede, fabric; or by season – summer, fall, winter, spring. It all depends on your knowledge of your customers’ shopping preferences, which you can identify by previous sales data, search terms from your analytics software, or even surveying your shoppers.

Web store specific groupings of products might be taxonomies that you create to support a specific sale or customer group – such as “Summer Sandals”, “On Trend Basics”, or “Most Popular Styles for Wide Feet”. These are collections you’ll curate manually based on your product knowledge or actual sales data and customer buying patterns that you can pull from your web store platform.

Once you’ve created a logical taxonomy based on customer information you can begin to work optimize your category pages for organic SEO by identifying the top keyword terms for that group that should appear on the page. Use your keyword research to guide how you name the page, how you structure your url, and the content you’ll create for the page including copy, imagery and video.

As you create your categories and populate them with the appropriate products you will start to see the patterns of natural gaps or overstock in certain categories. Let this inform your merchandising plan – look for new products to fill out seasonal categories or popular categories and scale back on those that aren’t selling well, or move some items to a clearance section. If you struggle with managing cross-sells and up-sells, your organized taxonomy will make selecting the appropriate base products a snap. Until you have time to review your sales data to determine common sales patterns, you can use the product groups in your categories to fill in the blanks.

Have questions about the best php web store to make your own? Contact us, we’re happy to help.

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By admin

How to use Social Media for eCommerce

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socialmediablogSmall online store owners are continually faced with the challenge of finding and developing new marketing tools for their products and services. Unfortunately, many fall into the trap of trying this idea or that idea, not having sufficient time to use these tools to full effect. One popular tool that falls into this category is social media. A lot of businesses try it, but fail to achieve the desired result.

While it’s great to have a Facebook fan page or a Twitter feed, or both; just having them is not enough. Like other inbound marketing tools, they require fresh content. The reason is simple. People who use social media do so to stay up to date on the lives and times of those they follow. That’s true whether they’re following friends and family, or some business’s fan page.

If you’ve gotten someone to “like” your Facebook fan page, or follow you on Twitter, that’s an important first step. But that alone won’t do you any good. Without frequent, fresh, and relevant content, you won’t show up on their Facebook News Feed or Twitter Timeline. And, if they don’t regularly see you, you be absent from their consciousness.

So a logical question is; how do you provide frequent, fresh, and relevant content when you already have more to do than there’s time for? The answer is leverage.

One of the nicest things about social media is you don’t have to provide original content, unlike blogs and theme-based content websites. To provide content on your social media pages, you can simply leverage content that already exists.

When you see an interesting article that relates in any way to your business, or the products and services you sell, you can post a link to that article on your social media pages. You can write a brief comment along with the link. Using mobile technology, this can easily be done in a matter of a minute or two.

Another way to leverage social media content is to simply “share” or “re-tweet” items that others have posted on your news feed or timeline, if it’s relevant to your business, products, or services.

Finally, if you do publish your own blog or theme-based website, you can leverage that content by copying a brief quote from your newest post or article, and pasting it into your social media with a link to the entire article.

Posting content on your social media pages on a regular basis keeps you and your business in front of existing and prospective customers continually. The fact that you can do so with minimal time and effort by leveraging existing content should place social media at or near the top of your “must do” list.

For expert help with your e-commerce business, contact us online, or call 800-506-0398.

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What Can a Pop Star Teach Us About Choosing Shopping Cart Software?

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What can a pop star teach us about ecommerceAt midnight on December 12th, pop star Beyoncé posted a video on Instagram that featured a few pics of herself and the cover of her new album. The caption simply read, “Surprise!” Immediately following that, she posted her new album and its corresponding music videos on iTunes. Within 24 hours, her album sold 430,000 at $16 a pop.

As if the industry experts haven’t been saying it enough, Beyoncé had to sing it beautifully from the roof tops.

Social media is now a marketing priority.

In addition, this is not just because social media is trendy, or because social media sites run their own sleek marketing promotions either. The reason social media is so powerful is because social media is what the people want. In an interview for NPR, Jason King, a professor and musician at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music said:

“This is very much in line with what’s happening right now in marketing, which is this idea of marketing without marketing, or anti-marketing, where you appear to be just delivering your product directly to the consumer without any mediation…This seems like a direct gift from the celebrity to the consumer.”

Social Media works because people are important. Social media acknowledges the public before the star. What do your neighbors think? What did she wear to the party? Where will you celebrate Christmas? Was the book any good? It’s not just about one person. It’s about everybody.

Because of this, social media can be a powerful marketing tool if you use it right. The best way to use social media properly is to build your ecommerce site using shopping cart software that gives you the tools to build a community around your brand; integrating all the different social media sites.

This is because, social media allows you to:

  • Tell your company story
  • Be a real person, or a company of real people
  • Take a grassroots, almost campaign-like approach to meeting new customers online, and
  • Really listen to and get to know your customers

All of these things are crucial when you want to attract the type of customers that care about your brand and can’t see living without it in their lives. In fact, building a community around a brand is something that most wildly successful corporations naturally do, (like Harley Davidson, and Apple, for example). Heck, even Beyoncé goes on that list now.

To learn more about how to build and promote your own social media friendly store, contact us.

 

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By admin

Paid Search – Your Most Profitable Inbound Marketing Channel

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The ideal eCommerce marketing channel involves being found when your customers are searching for your product. This is the ‘inbound way’ – no interruption, just showcasing that you have what they’re looking for. Proven true over the years, pay per click (PPC) marketing holds a substantial advantage over other channels such as search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing. It can support company goals like generating revenue or profit, and keyword bidding can be fine-tuned to bring more qualified prospects to your site.

Advantages of PPC Over SEO

SEO is a start for generating web traffic, but it is not as commerce-friendly or as effective as a PPC campaign. It’s difficult to get editorial links to product pages and outrank retail giants such as Amazon, eBay, Overstock, and Walmart. In contrast, Google has a vested interest in the success of your PPC campaign, and has thus created a multitude of tools that exceed the current functionality of SEO. In fact you can’t even see what specific organic keywords send traffic to your site anymore, due to the ‘Not Provided’ update.

Googles’ AdWords platform allows you to determine high-traffic keywords, the level of competition, and how well those keywords convert. Optimistically, a PPC campaign can be used to hone your SEO strategy, trailblazing the way with what keywords you should target.

The Social Media Paradox

Social media marketing can be a powerful tool in its own rite, as it targets likely prospects based upon their browsing activity.  However, although social media marketing can target users potentially interested in your product, it can still be considered interruption advertising, as it is interspersed in users’ news feeds.

Ask yourself this:  When you’re scrolling through your Facebook news feed and an ad interferes, how likely are you to be interested in the product?  Even if it’s a product you may buy in the future, you’re likely to simply ignore this interruption and go on about your business.

In contrast, paid search marketing draws in prospects actively seeking out your products and ready to make a purchase, rather than future consumers who are really more interested in Facebook-stalking their exes than buying your product when they encounter your ad.

PPC: Pinpointing Your Target Audience

PPC confers many advantages over traditional “interruption” marketing such as pop-ups or mass marketing emails, as it targets interested prospects only. You can tailor your ads, landing pages, and nurturing campaigns based on various customer profiles. The more specific you understand your customers and their needs, the more precise you can be with a solution.

PPC Done Right

If you’re looking to give PPC a try, you’re on the right track.  However, PPC is only as effective as you make it. It’s all about the outcome. You could start tracking conversions by applying code to ‘thank-you’ or ‘check-out’ pages, but with so many different products, a ‘conversion’ does not have a set value for you. You need to take it a step further by tracking the revenue each keyword brings via value tracking with Google analytics.

 

Set aside a budget, identify your target keywords, and start testing. Find out why so many online retailers choose to invest in paid search. In the next article of this series, we’ll explain why targeting profit instead of revenue brings the greatest ROI.

 

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Brad Hintze leads marketing at Finch.com, PPC for eCommerce, and has extensive experience with demand generation for startups and online retailers.

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By admin

Pintrest In 5 Minutes A Day

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Untitled-3You probably already know that Pinterest can be an excellent way to promote your brand, but may feel as though you do not have time to navigate it properly. The good news is that you can do Pinterest in 5 minutes a day or less, leaving you plenty of time to take care of all your other marketing tasks.

In order to streamline your efforts, you’ll need to have a pretty good idea as to what you would like to accomplish. Are you wanting to grow your followers or increase the number of repins you have? Having a clear focus will allow to you concentrate on achieving your goals rather than wasting time once you log into the site.

After logging into Pinterest, take one or two minutes to respond to any comments you may have received. If you have a significant number of comments, limit them to two or three at a time in order to avoid having your account flagged.

Once you have addressed your comments, take another minute or so to repin and like some interesting pins. You can also schedule your pins to be posted at times when they are more likely to be repinned by others. The best hours for repinning are between 2 pm and 4 pm and 8 pm and 1 am.

Share your pins on other social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. This should take you only another minute or so, after which time you will be done!

It may take you a little longer than five minutes to manage your Pinterest account at first. In time, you’ll find you can easily take care of managing this site in five minutes or less each day, and will also see your efforts become more productive as well. For more marketing tips for small business owners, contact us.

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By admin

5 Email Marketing Tools You Can Use to Energize Your Marketing Campaign

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5 Email Marketing ToolsAccording to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) more than 245 million people in the United States use the internet, which accounts for over 78 percent of the United States population. While traditional marketing programs, such as billboards and radio/television commercials are still useful, any business that is serious about harnessing the power of the internet, and its +245 million users, needs an online marketing program.

Electronic-mail (E-mail) marketing is one of the key elements of an online marketing program. E-mails create an instantaneous method of delivering content to both prospects and regular customers at the same time.

Responses to marketing e-mails can also be instantaneously tracked and responded to; this provides the business owner with information that can be used to refine further the marketing program for future use.

Email marketing has opened the door to many companies specialized in optimizing email market campaigns.

The following outlines 5 Email Marketing Tools You Can Use to energize your marketing campaign:

1. iContact

This company provides you with the tools to create an e-mail marketing campaign whether you know have no web-design experience or you have your own experienced design team.

2. Benchmark Email

This e-mail marketing service allows the creation of newsletters, surveys, event information and even coupons, quickly. Even include your company logo, specific color schemes and videos and/or still pictures.

3. Constant Contact

This service, itself, is highly marketed through traditional and internet sources. Constant Contact combines your e-mail campaign as well as social media into one place, making efforts easier to publish to multiple platforms at once. The addition of videos, blogs, images and surveys allows for quick and easy feedback from your customers.

4. Pinpointe

This service contains many tracking features that allow your company to track the results and effectiveness of your e-mail marketing campaigns. The use of auto-responders, split testing and triggers assist you in presenting customers with messages that specifically match their needs and interests.

5. GetResponse

This service allows customization to e-mail contact lists. You can add custom fields to assist marketing and sales members quickly find ready customers as well as exclude people from receiving certain messages that do not specifically target them.

To find out more about email marketing tools, contact us.

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110mb has partnered with pinnaclecart.com

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