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How we help you to customize your site

Customization takes lots of time and efforts. Usually, we don’t suggest clients to make customizations unless asked to do so. Interestingly, only a few clients ask us to do this for them. And you can guess that, they are those who make continuous cash flow from their online Zen Cart stores.

General Procedures

1.       You submit your customization plan: range, expectations, budget of time and cost

2.       We quote with suggestions

3.       You review the quote

a)         If you agree, we make a deal

b)        If you have other ideas, we repeat step 1

Keys to Make Your High ROI Customization

Please make sure two things: 1. you do need this; 2. you do understand what you need. We can help you to make your idea a reality and give you suggestions to make it better, however, it’s up to you to make the blueprint.

Please focus on your business need. The more you talk about it, the more it will generate profits as you expect. Technical details can be solved when we have a mutual understanding of the customization.

Usually, we’ll have to communicate through at least 6 emails to settle a typical small project. A heavy project cost 209 emails in 2008 for a U.K. client.

Heavy Project Needs 30% Upfront Payment

What is a heavy project? Needs more than 2 days and costs more than $300.

Customization, How To

Quickest Way to solve Zen Cart technical headaches

If you have read my previous post “How to set up your own online store – overview“, you must know the quickest way to set up a store is “CLONE”. Okie, what’s the quickest way to solve your headaches of zen cart technical issues?

Don’t rush. Let us see what most people do!

Most People Do The Wrong Things

Among most zencarters, they go along the following routines to solve their problem:

  1. Search Google to find related topics
  2. If they found the answer, they try it on their sites
  3. If it works, they feel satisfied
  4. If it did not work, they have to go to step 1

How long does it take to solve a technical bug? It depends how tech wise the person is!

We can see too many new zencarters are spending days and nights in Zen Cart forums, reading each post to learn the secrets. Does that help? Maybe…but I am pretty sure that’s not the right solution to a online store owner.

A Few Savvy Store Owners Knows

Well, this may be the biggest secrets among those rich and idle store owners. They don’t search Google for answers, because it does not generate enough profits. They search Google for experts.

If you want to make money using Zen Cart, remember this. But if you want to be an expert in Zen Cart, forget it.

Is there a lighting in your head? I am expecting a “WOW”!

To new zencarters, study the knowledge of Zen Cart is helpful to start. However, you can never learn enough Zen Cart knowledge to be rich unless you want to be a coder, designer, or webmaster. When you knows how Zen Cart works, it’s better to find a team (no matter it’s virtual or physically touchable) to support your technical works.

Money Making Online Store Owners Knows

Why a team? As a zencarter for 6 years, supported more than 230 clients, I found there’s no company or personal has the entire knowledge to make Zen Cart working as exactly expected. Like me, I can deal with many stuff more than a newbie can imagine but still fails to do certain jobs. Have you ever heard of “Auction Lister Pro for Zen Cart”? In the past 6 years, 17 store owners asked me to install it for them, but I refused all of them! Aha? Because the author had never make it working, it’s not my fault…

How many team members do I need? WOW, you are asking the right questions now. The answer may sounds costly: a coder, a designer, a webmaster, and a backup copy of the them. Are you amazed? In fact, you don’t have to find 6 such people to work together. You only need to know where you can find such a team and call them for help when necessary, usually each at a time.

Finally, let me repeat what you may benefit mostly: find a technical team to support your online business. You can never learn enough technical knowledge, luckily, you don’t have to. Just kick the ball to those who can play it best.


Read the rest of this entry »

How To

How we install Add-ons on your site

Guess how many different Zen Cart add-ons we have installed on our clients sites over the last few years?

Around 670!

Each of these 670 add-ons have their own unique installation needs, code conflicts, and other technical fixes that needed to be addressed for proper integration into our clients stores. During those instalations we learned the ins and outs of each unique add-on. The amazing part of the story is that, in all that time, and with all those add-ons, we have had Zero Site Failures! How is that possible?

Backup, Backup, Backup!

It is typical that when a new client asks us to install new add-ons for them on a site that is live, they feel a bit nervous. Their concern is that if any unexpected errors occur, their site might become crippled and they could potentially lose significant sales. Though we understand that fear, we pride ourselves in our guarantee that with our installation services prolonged downtime is not a possibility. In fact, if an error occurs while we are updating your site, our advanced installation system alerts us immediately and we can restore your site to its previous working status in less than 2 minutes!

How is that possible?

We have an incredibly powerful backup system!Before each add-on is installed, our proprietary installation system will check to see if there’s any potential conflicts that may occur during the installation. Any files which might potentially conflict are backed up automatically.

There are rare cases when add-ons are installed, but do not function properly. Most of the time these errors are due to the clients server configuration. In those cases, the backup is restored instantly, and the server resumes working status as if nothing ever happened. When there is a problem with the clients server we only have two (2) options:

    1. find the incorrect server configuration, fix it and then attempt to reinstall the add-ons;
    2. if we can’t solve the problem on your server we have to suspend work on the install until your hosting company can address it.

We take great care to ensure your site functions properly. In the event that we can’t install the add-ons successfully we make sure to return your site to its previous working order.

You Risk Nothing: No Upfront Payment Required

Our NO RISK POLICY is clear. You pay only for the successful completion of the installation. If you are not satisfied or we are unsuccessful, your site will be returned to its previous working state and you pay nothing… NOT A PENNY!

We risk everything!

There is no better deal than this. We are putting our years of experience and comprehensive set of installation tools at your disposal, with no upfront cost to you. Not to mention our prices are far lower than our competition’s… and they don’t have the advanced tools, technical ability, and no risk policy that we offer. We offer this straightforward no risk policy because we are confident that our installations are rock-solid and that after you use our services you will keep coming back to us for all your Zen Cart technical and customization needs. (and you will probably refer your friends too!)
Customization, How To

3 Stages of Zen Cart Store – Technical Overview

Zen Cart store owners often seek help from us about how to make a schedule of technical development of their shopping cart. They want to know what to do and how to do certain jobs in a specific stage. They don’t want to think too much on those topics since they are not their focus. They just want to do the right things on the right time.

We try our best to give you a guideline on this topic.

3 Stages: Starter, Growing, Mature

Let’s define the 3 stages:

  1. Starter Stage – you set up a zen cart store to see if it can bring you some customers and profits
  2. Growing Stage – you got some customers and profits, and want to make more
  3. Mature Stage – you have handsome customers and profits, everything is the best

For new zencarters, 3 stages above are inevitable experience you got to taste. To those veterans, you already experienced the whole processes. So what’s the key of them? What should store owners focus on each stage?

We are bold to say the secrets directly:

  1. Testing
  2. Marketing
  3. Keeping

Starters: Focus on Testing

Testing is the key of first stage. In this stage, you want to know only one thing: will there be anybody who actually buy my product? You don’t and you can’t care about your income, profits or anything else. When you found out “yep, some guys paid me real money”, you can go to next stage.

This sounds simple, right? All you need to do is setting up a zen cart store, upload products, and make sure checkout pages are working. So people can view your catalog, place orders, you can receive orders confirmation emails and deal with them in zen cart admin.

Let’s repeat it again: focus on testing whether it is a practical business; don’t focus on others. If people do buy from you, it’s good, you can go next step. If people don’t buy from you, it’s also okie, because you know this is not the business as you imagined, stop here.

Therefore, a very basic zen cart store is good enough: a simple catalog, all default checkout pages, no add-ons, no SEO, no content management system. People buy from you even your store looks ugly. They pay you because they need you, no matter what your store look like.

Growing Stage: Focus on Marketing

Lucky you are!

Once you came here, you have already attracted some clients and made profits. You know this business is practical, so you want to attract more clients and make more profits. Then you will have to focus on marketing, which help you to grow your customers database.

What should you do technically? You know you are selling online, so all you need to do is about online marketing. There are too many technical details in online marketing. We don’t want to make you confused, so we only tell you two basic aspects: attracting people to your site, convince them to buy.

How to attract people to your site? You can use 3 basic methods: SEO, buy traffic and affiliate.

How to convince people to buy? You also have 3 basic methods: lower price, higher guarantee, and tons of testimonials. You may think they are simple. Indeed they are. What we want to tell you is: these are golden principles proven by our clients.

Also, in this stage, you can pay some attention to make Zen Cart template more appealing. This is the right time.

Marture Stage: Keeping Stable Revenue

We assume your store is now making tons of money since you proved it’s a practical business and attracted lots of customers. Now, you would like to sustain the business as long as it could be. What do you need to do? Keeping customers buy from you.

How to do that? It’s basically the topics of Customer Relationship Management. You need to take care of what your customers think of, satisfy them in every aspect to prevent them embracing your competitors.

Technically, you’d better focus on Customers Experience Optimization. Here are a few clues you may need:

  1. Wish List, a reminding tool
  2. Fast checkout, make checkout processes easier in one page
  3. Back in stock notification, remind of customers new stock arrives
  4. Live chat to help people stay on shopping
  5. Reward and Points system
  6. Newsletter is powerful to remind people of your business. It also has been prove to be marketing effective, with unbelievable 10% conversion rate to some clients of ours.
  7. Makes sure your shipping and payment modules are working on the best level

If you have enough resources support, you can setup a community for your customers, like Forum and Blog. You have to think of every possible way to make your customers keeping satisfied. The key is more communication.

Basic Principle: Put Customers Above Your Need

If you feel tired reading all those things, we have a simple conclusion for you to remember: think more need of your customers. This is a principle you have to follow. For example, don’t install any add-on unless you are certain your customers will need it. Don’t make any customization unless that is meaningful to your clients.

In stage one, before you know whether your business idea is practical, a nice template is not meaningful to your customers, right? It will be good to install a better template in stage two or three.

We have to apologize that we can’t talk too much in detail. If you need more specific help on this topic, please reply to the post below or contact us for a quote.

How To, Solution

The Spirit of GNU License

Introduction

Being a open source member for more than 6 years, we receive questioning about why their contributions are listed on our site for sale. It’s almost the same question: I spent the time to develop it, how dare you sell it without my agreement?

Well, it may sound harsh, but we do dare.

Here’s my reply below:

Thanks for your contacting us. We are very happy to cooperate on anything that’s legal and reasonable.

Spirit of GUN License – Open Source

Most mods listed on our site is the exact same copy like zen-cart.com, and we are not SELLING the mods, but the installation service. We believe our motivation is legal and reasonable, because we follow Zen Cart license, which is based on GNU. If you have read GNU, you should know the following rules it requires:

  1. If your module obeys GUN, then it’s free. Any people can obtain the source code and re-distribute the software. Any people including the author can’t not hamper the freedom of any other people to get the source code. This is the core spirit of GNU license.
  2. Free does not necessarily mean people can get it without being charged of money. Anybody can sell it. However, if people can get it for free, like download from zen-cart.com, then they don’t have to pay for it. Even paying for the module to download source code is legal but it does look unwise.
  3. The author owns the copyright. Anybody distributes the software must contain complete copyright information (if it exists), and can not change it. Therefore, you do own the copyright, we don’t.

Our Business Applies GNU Spirit

Based on the 3 rules listed above, we believe our business is doing the right things:

  1. Since you uploaded the module to zen-cart, if you did not claim a commercial license in your module, then it obeys GNU by default. That means we have the rights to obtain its source code and re-distribute it.
  2. We can sell it, as I said above, it’s legal. We are not sure if it contains a commercial license or not, because there are about 730 more modules listed, we don’t have enough time to check every module. If it does contain a commercial license, we’ll remove it ASAP and being very glad to do this.
  3. You own the copyright, again, we don’t own it. As you see, we copied exact each word of your email address and how it’s developed. We understand you spent lots of time to perfectly it. Therefore, we respect your copyright. We protect it and if there’s any one requires this module, we do re-distribute the license it contains.

You are the third who ask us to remove a module. A Japanese coder received our email and said he learned the GNU license and feel better. Another South Africa company requires us to remove its commercial software. We talked about the same things, but they insisted to remove it. We did it and requires them to remove it from zen-cart.com, they also did it.

As far as we know, Zen Cart obeys GUN license, and most modules it listed also obeys GNU license. Only a few modules are uploaded there with commercial license, but this is not allowed, because commercial license hampers people to obtain the source code and make modifications. That will stop the spread of freeware.

What Do We Do?

Thanks for reading so much. Not all people understand how open source software works. It takes time to explain and help people to understand it, enjoy it, finally become a part of it. We are also a part of the open source software world.

We do charge people for certain fees. This is mainly based on services we provided, like installation, debug, customization and upgrading. All these service take lots of time to complete. In other words, we are selling knowledge, skills and time. We don’t sell for modules (a few modules we own copyrights are sold with commercial license).

You may wonder why people need our service? Well, that’s why we are living in the open source software world. Here are our clients:

  1. They downloaded a zen cart module, and don’t know how to install it.
  2. They know how to install it, but they don’t have much time on it.
  3. They have time to install it, but they found some problems that can’t be solved by their own or seeking the help of zen-cart forum.
  4. They do find the answers to the problem, but they don’t find any one who can implement the solution.
  5. They find a coder to implement the solution but failed (we also fail sometimes).

Therefore, those people who come to us are not coming to buy the source code (the most unbelievable behavior in open source campaign), but for the last resort. Now, you should understand, we are not selling your module, but selling our skills and time to solve client’s headache. That’s what we charged for.

Why Commercial Power Helps Open Source Movement

If you are still reading, we’d like to say lots of “thank you”. When I was a college students, it confuses me why there are people who charges other people for help in open source areas. It does not make sense. It is immoral. It is guilty. If I become a open source contributor, I will not charge anything.

Now, I grow up and understand open source better. Open Source focus on OPEN SOURCE, not free of charge. The ability to get the source code is the biggest freedom you can ever dream of. There people who want to spent thousands of dollars to know how to add a new function to a commercial software but rejected. Then those bad luck guys have to spent half a year to develop their own software with the new function and 98% replica of existing Closed Source software.

Understands that? With open source license, you will never be blackmailed. It will not be a problem of whether you can, but how you can. You don’t have to be desperate to beg for a peek of the source code, you can modify it as you wish (if you know how to do that).

The problem becomes How You Can Do It. Like you, an excellent coder who contributed a module to the open source community, can learn the code and change it. Like most of clients, they just want to have their own software, they are floweriest, cake maker, watches seller, pet food suppliers, how can you expect them to learn so much IT skills? That does not make sense. Then we come out to help them. We benefit them in the following ways:

  1. They enjoy a cheaper price than commercial software. A typical commercial shopping cart, charges around $600 annually, without any customization support. Zen Cart only cost you half of that with customization support.
  2. They can have their own software without any limitation. Buying a commercial software will finally have to face the problem of customization to meet your own business rules. But in most case it’s a mission impossible, or you have to pay tons of money to get it. Why? It’s closed source code. In open source code world, you can always get what you want at a reasonable price. If we charges high, you can find alternations from the community.
  3. They can focus on their own business. Florist won’t care of cake making, why should they pay too much attention to coding? We care, because we love this industry. Without us, their life will be much harder.

Therefore, we are also helping open source campaign in a special way. That’s why most of our clients would say lots of thanks. If you can’t find anybody to help you to achieve your dream, then we said “yep, we can help”, doesn’t that sounds like a angel from heaven? You guys who made testimonials know it, right?

Welcome To Open Source World

Finally, I would send our best greeting to you for your contributing the module to zen cart community. You can contribute to the open source community or not. Contributing is a final stage of any open source member. You can choose to contribute when you are aware how great it is to be a part of the open source community, or you choose not to contribute your code until you realize which is better.

How To

How You Sell Online

Selling online obeys the general marketing laws: Find your customers, Ask what they need, Satisfy them (FAS). Does this sound easy enough? Well, you need to practice a lot to master the keys.

Find Your Customers

Hey, focus the word “YOUR”. It’s your customers, not other person’s customers. Your customers are equal to the marketing term NICHE. If you already know what niche is, jump to next section.

Niche market is very tricky. If you want to find your niche market, you have to define it firstly. For example, you are a coffee supplier in a small city, and you are only selling to local citizens. Who are your niche? You can choose officers, house wives, or coffee bars. They are different, right? Find the one that fits you best (make sure it’s profitable). Unlike general marketing target, you focus on your niche share, which is more likely to produce cash flows.

Then you will face two questions: 1. where to find customers; 2. what to find out.

Where to. It depends on the type of your business. You may pay attention to these places: club, salon, parties, forum, and mailing list. With the boom of internet, almost every noticeable niche market has a series of websites like blog, forum or mailing list. You can search them, join them and learn in it.

What to. This is critical important. Successful online business relies heavily on customer base. You have to build your customer base in all practical ways. Why? The more customers you have, the more likely you are going to be rich. So far as I know, those promising retails websites have more than 2000 customers. That’s huge to a new business.

How to achieve that? You can build your customer base by your own, like write blogs to attract interested potential customer, or you can rent a list. If you don’t have much money, write blog; if you have some fund, rent a list. Once, you have a list of customers, you are already a rich person even money is not coming out yet.

Ask What Your Customers Need

When you find your customers, ask what they need most, what they need next, how they want to get satisfied. You can call this marketing research. The motivation is to draw a map of customers need.

Remember this, because it’s very important for you to run your business. With this map, you can easily satisfy your customers.

The map should include the following things:

1. Items of customers need

2. Sort order of the items

3. Relations of each item

Are you confused? Let me explain more clearly.

You need to how many kinds of need your customers have, right? So you need “items of customer need”. Write down them one by one until you can not write any new items. Now you have a raw map of customer need.

Do you know what items are the most wanted by customers? Check the how many times you have repeat to write some times. The more times you write, the more important it may be. Sort it out, and you will know the sequence of customers need.

Don’t be thrilled, here’s another master skill you will enjoy most: connect the items to make a Customers Need Network Map. Let’s say, if your customer bought a printer, then you will know he also need ink jet, if he/she bought a baby toddler, you will know his/her baby will also need baby food, clothing, books and toys. I call this Money Mapping. When you have a clear mind of these clues, you can sell easily.

Tell me, are you confident to run a online store now? You know where to find customers, you know what you want to ask from them, and you know what they need mostly and sequentially, WOW! I know you are pretty thrilling now.

Satisfy Your Customers

The two above steps are the fundamentals to run a successful online store, which enables you to dare asking money from your customer. However, you have to make your customers satisfied before you get the money.

This is not easy. Since I am generous today, you can have my secrets. Here are my principles that proved to be working:

1. You know better that your customers

2. You think one step earlier than your customers

3. You give more than your customer expect

Take my business as an example: most of my clients are store owners who does not have enough Zen Cart knowledge or online business skills, I know better than them; before my clients want something, I already called them, like security updates, new add-ons, or site improvement plans, it’s just like a scheduled task; I do a bit more than customer want, like installing certain add-ons for free and giving them the best guidelines to market or manage their sites.

You understand that customers love this, right? Then do it.

Advertisement: We have mature solutions to build your customer base, automate sales procedures, and make your customers highly satisfied. Contact us for more details.

How To

MySQL Backup

Dear Zen Cart store owners, you are lucky with this add-on. It saves your headache to backup your database. This is a must have add-on of your site if you don’t want to cry for help when your server is down due to all kinds of reasons. The author is a genius. Why it’s not me?

Backup On The Fly

If you have installed it, you will know how fast it is. A zipped file will be generated on the fly. You can choose any backup to restore later.

Linux and GZIP Are Required

Only a few clients complains this modules does not work for them. Well, we found the unfortunate clients are facing the same problems: Windows Server.

It does not work for Windows Server, only for Unix or Linux. If your site is built on Godaddy Windows Server, switch it. Zen Cart works best with Linux server.

Some old servers don’t support GZIP, then your Zen Cart can not generate zipped backup files. It will swallow your disk space. Luckily, most servers have enough space for your database backup.

Sometimes It Is Slow…

We have only a few clients have this problem. Their sites have many customers, like 4,000+ or 20,000+ (if we have so many clients, we’d like to suffer their pain). In this case, their MySQL database must be carefully configured.

Please check the total size of your database. If it’s more than 50 Mb, you must pay attention. If it’s over 200 Mb, there must be something wrong. A client was desperate on his database, it’s around 500 Mb and increasing every day. We solved this problem in 5 minutes: disable newsletter archive in admin, It’s not wise when you have 7,000 customers and save each mailed newsletter in database. Other configuration issues will be discussed later. If you can’t find it, remind us.

Backup Automation

Currently, this module does not support Backup Automation like on daily basis. However, we provide the solution to make it work. You can contact us for this feature for free. [Click Here]

Add-ons

Security Patch v138 20090619

Read it here:

http://www.zen-cart.com/forum/showthread.php?t=130161

It seems Dr.Byte was really scared about this security issues. And some of my clients reported that their site have been affected. Do install this even your site seems to be safe.

The key is “rename admin folder”.

Some Zen Cart users reported that they can’t login to admin after renaming. That’s usually caused by wrong procedures. It’s not a big problem, but if you still can’t figure it out, contact us for help.

For more security issues, please read my later post.

Add-ons

20 Most important Add-ons of Zen Cart

If you are a Zen Cart store owner, and has some basic knowledge of Add-ons, do you know how many add-ons are there? In mid 2009, the number is around 730.

However, there are only less than 60 add-ons are really critical to most users. Today we would to introduce “20 most important add-ons of zen cart”. Later we will bring more information on this.

Here’s the simple list (still adding):

Security Issues

[view] [buy] Security Patch v138 20090619

[view] [buy] MySQL Backup

Admin Tools

[view] [buy] Super Orders

[view] [buy] TY Shipping Tracker

[view] [buy] Admin Login As customer

[view] [buy] Monthly Sales and Tax Report

[view] [buy] Easy Populate

[view] [buy] Quick Update

[view] [buy] HTML Editor

SEO Packages

[view] [buy] Basic SEO Pacakge (includes the 3 mods listed below)

[view] [buy] Ultimate SEO URLs

[view] [buy] Images Name SEO

[view] [buy] Bookmarks and Metatag

Google Family

[view] [buy] Google Analytics

[view] [buy] Google XML map

[view] [buy] Froogle Base Feeder

[view] [buy] Google Map Store Locator

Marketing

[view] [buy] Newsletter Subscription Sidebox

[view] [buy] Pricing Strategies: Dual Price, MAP, MSRP

[view] [buy] Upsell Cross sell

[view] [buy] Live Chat

User Experience

[view] [buy] Zen Light Box

[view] [buy] Fast Checkout

[view] [buy] Wish List

[view] [buy] Back In Stock Notification

 

Add-ons, Solution

SEO Package

This package only offers to our existing clients who had already bought something (add-ons, customization service, etc.) from us. If you understand SEO, please read the following email, which is a typical in explaining how this package works.

Yes, that sounds fine Hao.

 

Chelsea

www.scrapboutique.com.au

 


From: Hao
Sent: Thursday, 10 December 2009 3:10 PM
To: ScrapBoutique
Subject: Re: RE: RE: RE: FW: Welcome to Webcity Australia

 

Hi, Chelsea!

 

I remeber the site transfer is done several months ago. Now you have nearly unlimited traffic and space room. The more images will double the space for images you have. Just check the file space you have used, that may increase about 1/3, which should be practical.

 

Installing those modules will take some time, it can be completely installed before Sunday. Let me know if the schedule is okie.

 

Regards,

Hao

 


From: ScrapBoutique

Sent: 2009-12-10  05:10:06

To: ‘Hao’

Copy To

Title RE: RE: RE: FW: Welcome to Webcity Australia

 

Hi Hao,

Oh OK, that makes sense. Just a question – will adding more images take up too much more server room?

 

Yes to everything else If you can implement those changes to the website, that would be great.

I like the slidebox effect too.

 

So$B!D(J.

1. increase site traffic by:

1.1 adding more images – ???

1.2 add keywords to image names – yes

1.3 use W3C standard URL format – yes

1.4 add keywords to URL names – yes

 

2. give customers better shopping experience by:

2.1 viewing product image using a Slide Show effect, no need to wait the pop up window – yes

2.2 add wish list function, so customers may buy it later when they come back without searching the product again – yes

2.3 merge Checkout Shipping and Checkout Payment page together to save time – yes

 

 

Thanks

 

 

 

Chelsea

www.scrapboutique.com.au

 


From: Hao
Sent: Wednesday, 9 December 2009 5:09 PM
To: ScrapBoutique
Subject: Re: RE: RE: FW: Welcome to Webcity Australia

 

Hi, Chelsea!

 


Customers reach your site by searching keywords from Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. You may noticed those customers account for more than 60% of your site traffic. The more contents of your site listed by search engines, the more possibility visitors will pay attention to your site. The higher ranks (listed on the top of search results) of your site contents, the more customers will click and go to your site.

 

Search Engine is in fact a keywords business. The more bigger your “keywords pool” is, the more likely you will be awarded by search engines.

 

Contents can be URL, text in web page, images, or files like PDF. All of them have words in the title, description or file name. To customers, the more meaningful those words are, the more likely customers will use them to make searches. Like searching “photo album, family party, jewlery wholesale”, if your products have those keywords in the contents, it’s high likely your products will be listed on the top of result.

 

Then you must wonder how to increase the contents listed in searching result and make your pages listed on higher rank. Well, we go two steps:

 

1. increase the contents quantity, that means increasing your “keywords pool”

2. add keywords to contents, like add keywords to URL, Image Names

 

Here are 3 modules I have enhanced to support SEO:

 

#1. Ultimate SEO URLs (W3C standard)

 

Normally, the url of product page is like:

http://www.zencarter.com/shop/index…php?main_page=product_info&cPath=10&products_id=454

 

But seach engine doesn’t understands what “products_id=454″ means. However, if the words was added to the URL, then it will be more meaningful. Check the URL below:

http://www.zencarter.com/shop/other-modules/ultimate-seo-urls-p-454.html

 

Don’t your think this makes more sense? Yep, that adds keywors to URL.

 

But that’s not good enough. Now compare the following URL with the one above:

http://www.zencarter.com/shop/other-modules/ultimate-seo-urls-p-454/

 

Any difference? Yes, the last one has a “/” at end, but the previous one has “.html”. In W3C standard, all URL should be end with “/”, but “.html” is allowed. You may have a straight feeling that “/” means a folder, but “.html” means a webpage. That’s also what search engines believes. In the page rank algorithom, a folder has more importance than a webpage. That’s why I said it supports W3C standard. (Well, I didn’t realize it until one day a picky client asked for this).

 

The default SEO URL modules of zen cart site does not support W3C standard, which is prefered by google and yahoo. My enahanced module does, which means with the URL changed with “keywords and W3C” standard, it’s more likely your site will be more competitive than others. The best part is “the more products you have, the much bigger your keywords pool will be”.

 

#2. Image names SEO

 

This works exactly like URL does. We have developed a module to add “product title” to product image name. For example: DSC2038223.jpg is a default image name. It has no meaning to search engines. But if it was renamed as “baby-photo-album-DSC2038223.jpg”, it makes more sense, right?

 

Just think about this: each product at least has one image, if you can increase the keywords pool by adding keywords to URL, why can’t you do the same to images? Wow, this modules just does this like a magic.

 

#3 Image thumbnail

 

Then you may wonder is there any simple way to add more contents with keywords to your site? Here’s another module that works greatly: it create two additional image beyond the original product image. We’ve got “baby-photo-album-DSC2038223.jpg” already, then we have:

1.“baby-photo-album-DSC2038223-thumnail.jpg”

2.“baby-photo-album-DSC2038223-medium.jpg”

 

This helps to increase the keywords pool. (It also helps to reduce the loading time of those images, even this looks like a cookie)

 

Okie, now you should understand what I mean by. There are other ways to make your site favourable to search engines, but I believe the 3 modules above are the simplest way to do it and they have been proved to be useful to my other clients.

 

#1 sells $50 on my site, #2 at $45 and #3 sells $30.

 

But I only charge your $95, because you have give me lots of works to do and I know we can be valuable to each other if we work together to make site working better. That’s a long relationship, right? It takes you to read so much technical details, hopes you don’t feel dizzy on it.

 


About SlideBox effect, you can view this page:

http://www.zencarter.com/shop/payment-modules/westpac-payway-net-p-745/

 

Clicking on a product image, you will see the popup instantly (not another window). Impressive? Just a $30 module, but very helpful to customers if you have more than one product image.

 


 

Let me know if I made myself clear? Thanks for your time!

 

Regards,

Hao

 


From: ScrapBoutique

Sent: 2009-12-08  14:51:37

To: ‘Hao’

Copy To$B!’(J

Title$B!’(J RE: RE: FW: Welcome to Webcity Australia

 

Hi Hao,

These suggestions look great  J

 

I$B!G(Jm very interested in List number 2$B!D(J.. give customers better shopping experience. All of those sound great.  How does the slide show work??

 

In list number 1$B!D!D(J Can you please explain each point a bit more for me?

How do you add keywords to images and url names?

What is W3C URL format?

 

Thanks J

 

 

Chelsea

www.scrapboutique.com.au

 


From: Hao
Sent: Saturday, 5 December 2009 2:00 PM
To: ScrapBoutique
Subject: Re: RE: FW: Welcome to Webcity Australia

 

Hi, Chelsea!

 

How are you doing those days? It’s near Christmas, you must be very busy now. I am too.

 

Last time you did ask me to provide some suggestions to imrove your site. Sorry to make you wait so long. Are you still interested to make some improvements? I recommend a working solution to you.

 

1. increase site traffic by:

1.1 adding more images

1.2 add keywords to image names

1.3 use W3C standard URL format

1.4 add keywords to URL names

 

2. give customers better shopping experience by:

2.1 viewing product image using a Slide Show effect, no need to wait the pop up window

2.2 add wish list function, so customers may buy it later when they come back without searching the product again

2.3 merge Checkout Shipping and Checkout Payment page together to save time

 

If you are interested, I will send you more details about how it works and the demo of my other clients (some in AU).

 

Well, I am also collecting ideas to help you increase site traffic and sales. If you have any good idea, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Thanks for your time!

 

Regards,

Hao

 


From: ScrapBoutique

Sent: 2009-10-24  05:07:28

To: ‘Hao’

Copy To$B!’(J

Title$B!’(J RE: FW: Welcome to Webcity Australia

 

Thanks Hao$B!D(J..will fix that up for you now.

 

Yes, I would be interested in hearing your suggestions.

 

Chelsea

www.scrapboutique.com.au

 


From: Hao
Sent: Saturday, 24 October 2009 12:31 AM
To: ScrapBoutique
Subject: Re: FW: Welcome to Webcity Australia

 

Hi, Chelsea!

 

Sorry for the delay to send the bill, got some hard works done this week.

 

About the site transfer, we agreed on $60 at starting, then phpbb3, gallery and wordpress were found. I think additional $30 is reasonable. And then whosonline problem is fixed…that should be charged $30 since it takes long time, but I decide to give it to you for free. Therefore, totally $90.

 

I have made this a product, you can compare the price I give you: http://www.zencarter.com/shop/general-support/site-transfer-to-another-hosting-provider-p-739/

 

 

Later I have some suggestions to improve your site just like what I have suggested my other Australian clients. Will you be interested…anyway, have good weekend.

 

 

Regards,

Hao

 


From: ScrapBoutique

Sent: 2009-10-09  20:00:45

To: ‘Hao’

Copy To$B!’(J

Title$B!’(J FW: Welcome to Webcity Australia

 

OK. Thanks Hao, that will be great!

…… I signed up at Webcity earlier today. How excellent……. they had  a 30% off sale starting today……..so I actually only paid $10.50 per month. :)

 

This is the welcome email from them below.

Solution

Julia’s Jewelry Store

You may be amazed the first two show cases in our blog are all about women’ stores. You can read another story here: Jazzah’s Party Suppliers Store

Profitable Online Jewelry Store

Julia and her jewelry store is another successful story. I know you guys love this kind of stories.

Unlike Jazzah, Julia had long time experience in jewelry and when she firstly started her online store, she had already been ready for Business knowledge and Initial Fund. The only handicap is technology.

I don’t know how she exactly build her first online shop, but I am pretty sure it was not Zen Cart. She once told me that her first store was developed by an ASP programmer, and later when Zen Cart became popular, she switched right away.

Successful Business People Focus On Business

Julia has the necessary characters of money making online store owners: she focus on her business but not Zen Cart. Hey, don’t laugh, that’s the biggest secrets I have found in my 6 years experience.  Click here.

She is always passionate to improve her jewelry store. The only problem is sometimes, her passion overrides my capability and I have to make her await. I was always stunning to see her requested task list, which are creative in management and marketing. Here are some excerpts you may be interested in:

list of 11 changes required by Julia

list of 11 changes required by Julia

This list has 11 tasks, which took me 2 days to finish. It cost her $195, and I believe she must be very happy to pay it because it solved her multi $195 headaches and may return more than $1,000 in less than a month. Don’t forget she already has a profitable business!

Remember this, if you want to be a rich store owner, focus on your business and kick your troublesome ball to those who play it best. Julia and Jazzah all did well.

Let me know what you think about this? If you want to list your site on our Show Case, please contact us here.

Live Stores

Jazzah’s Party Suppliers Store

Imagine a mother of 3 children, without enough Zen Cart knowledge and business experience, how long can she survive in her first online business trip?

A Tough Start

If you think that’s not tough enough, here is something that may upset you:

Database always can’t connect

Orders lost when server is down

Hosting company forced her to migrate

The supporter disappears

She is a common house wife with an uncommon personality. She did not have enough technical skills, business knowledge and plenty fund to start her business, but she just did it.

She grows with her store day by day even I did not think it will last long.

Now, 5 years passed. She has a busy online store selling children party products to more than 4000 Australia customers. And the customer database is still growing.

A Common Woman with Uncommon Characters

She is Junelle Rhodes (I am used to call her Jazzah), my longest client since 2007. A strong impulse forced me to write something about her. If you are considering of setting up your first online store, her story is a must read.

I also learned a lot from her:

1.       if you want to be involved in online business, you don’t have to be tech guru, nerds may live longer

2.       you don’t have to a MBA to start business, constant learning and a strong will is the best certification

3.       you don’t have to rich when starting, online business don’t cost much money

4.       if you don’t have tech skills, business knowledge, enough money, you must have something to build your dream, Jazzah had all of them.

You may be wondering what did she have. Well, that’s quite uncommon to a business woman. She knows how to find the right people to do the right things ( I was once the cheapest coder when she found me as she could not pay for costly ones). She has enough patience to grow her store, 5 years and 4000+ customers. She never give up her dreams even there was a time she had only 1 order in 2 weeks.

Start Your Adventure Now

Now, tell me if you are touched by this? Yes, you can do the same thing. It’s not flying a rocket in the outer space, it’s just a store selling online. All you need is the passion to start.

Don’t hesitate one second more!

Live Stores

Admin Tools – improve your management efficiency

Wow, you are an admin now!

It must be rather excited to upload your first product and harvest the first order. Then you want to be quicker and easier just as many store owners did.

Frankly speaking, Zen Cart admin management is must better than osCommerce. If you have been working on osCommerce shopping cart like we did, you will have less complaining on Zen Cart.

However, there are plenty space left to improve Zen Cart admin management efficiency. Here are several clues you can think of:

Catalog Management

With less than 50 products, you can update catalog manually. If you have more than 200 products, how long can you update the new stock level of the catalog? Maybe an entire exhausted day.

Luckily, some lazy pioneers solved this headache. You can use Easy Populate to update massive catalogs. All you need to do is “Edit CSV file in EXCEL and upload” it. It takes only 30 minutes to update 200 products stock level. That’s 8 times efficiency improvement.

Now, you don’t want to do massive update, but only change a few products. You can do this by finding those products in Admin->Catalog->Categories/Products, click on each of them and then update. This tedious process can cost you 2 minutes to update one product. However, if you use Quick Update to do the same job, you only need 30 seconds. Check the details here.

Orders Management

We suppose you have a mature online store, and deal with more than 20 orders per day. You need to check each order to see the following things:

1. Payment Status

2. Stock level

3. Customer Comment

Before you finally delivery the package, you will update order status several times and add tracking numbers. Oh, there can be more things you can think of, like print shipping label, invoice and packing slip.

If you are using USPS or AustPost, you may also need to go to their websites to submit shipping addresses to get the shipping label.

All of these activities are necessary. However, they are costing time and money! You can use Super Orders to do a batch of jobs together (update status, print shipping label, packing slip, invoice and add tracking number). You can also use integrated solutions, like USPS Total Solution to maximize the automation.

However, if you want to improve your order management to 5 stars level, you have to build your own order management software. We are glad to help you on this. It may be troublesome, but we love the challenge. Save 2 minutes on each order, equals $2,000 to $5,000 if you have a busy store.

Other admin management activities like “Newsletter, Coupon” will be discussed later. If you want to know the tips on release, you can subscribe our RSS or newsletter.

Customization
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