Trademark Hardware leads the door hardware industry with new e-commerce B2B website.

We would like to congratulate Trademark Hardware on the recent launch of their upgraded website, managed by FinestShops. Trademark Hardware is the industry leader in commercial door hardware and continues to rapidly grow by working with clients like Google, Tesla, NASA and many others.

Trademark Hardware’s mission has always been to “provide the largest selection, best pricing and outstanding customer service in the hardware industry”. Their mission has propelled them to surpassing 2 million dollars in sales in just their second year of launching, to the present where they are the industry leader and running on the most advanced e-commerce website among commercial door hardware suppliers.

The new Trademark Hardware website at https://www.tmhardware.com is powered by the X-Cart shopping cart software. The website has received a big performance boost, a new modern responsive design as well as additional functionality to provide better browsing and purchasing experience for their customers.

“With our new site you will enjoy a faster and snappier browsing experience, responsive web design, redesigned product pages and user-friendly checkout,” wrote the Trademark Hardware Team in their official press release.

Some of the highlights of the new functionality added by Finestshops include:

 

  Quick Order

Allows a customer to fill out a simple form with the products required and the customer service team will do the rest.

Contractor Corner

Members with a Contractor’s Account will enjoy benefits such as additional discounts as well as a special and simplified ordering process by sending POs or plans.

 
  Automatic PO/PS submission system

New backend module streamlines the process of submitting purchase orders and packing slips to the distributors for dropshipping.

Quotation module

Allows store staff to prepare a quotation with the list of items, custom price and delivery cost and email that quote to a customer. A customer can simply click a button to add all those items with custom prices and shipping rates to the shopping cart and complete an order.

 
  Save/Share shopping cart
New button in the shopping cart allows any customer to build the shopping cart and send its content by email(s) to retrieve later using any computer.

Shop by Brand

New section allows customers to browse products by their favorite manufacturer

 

 

  • E-commerce platform: X-Cart Classic shopping cart version 4.7
  • Add-on modules: Point of Sale (POS) system v3 from and Authorize.Net DPM from BCSE Engineering; Abandoned Cart Reminder, Refine Filters and X-PDF from X-Cart.com
  • Third party services: CloudSearch, MailChimp, Bazaarvoice/PowerReviews

These new features make up just a fraction of the hundreds of adjustments and improvements made over the years by Finestshops which have continued to increase performance, accessibility and the store’s overall conversion rate.

About FinesShops

FinestShops is among the best and most complete e-commerce solution providers in the world.  We use Magento 2, X-Cart or WooCommerce e-commerce systems for new store deployments and re-platforming as well as state of the art Rackspace or Google Cloud data centers that serve 60% of Fortune 500 companies. Our account managers are knowledgeable and innovative; our support engineers and developers are outstanding and customer satisfaction is second to none.

Whether you are looking to upgrade your current online store or create your first, Finestshops has you covered! Visit www.finestshops.com to request a complimentary performance test of your current store or to sign up for a free trial and create your new online store completely free of charge with no commitment.

To upgrade, or not to upgrade: that is the question

You have a Magento 1.x (or any other older system) online store which runs okay. It is a bit on the slow side, the interface is a little outdated, but it takes orders, your staff is used to the process, and you have many customizations and extensions. Why change something that is still working? Below are a couple of reasons:

  1. Magento previously announced the end of life for version 1.x will be in November 2018, but later stated that support would continue for at least 18 months after that date. In any case, Magento would stop releasing critical security updates for the old system over the next two years. Do you really want to rush into upgrading and risk running an unpatched store?
  2. The best extension providers assigned their best talent to Magento 2 projects. I have not seen many new extensions released for Magento 1 for some time now, but I do see this being done for Magento 2 all the time. We all know, in any business, if you are not constantly improving and going up, you are going… you know. If you will not use the new and improved customer interface, checkout flow, B2B capabilities, and all the other core improvements of Magento 2, your competitors will.

Do you have to upgrade right now? No. You can keep running it while it keeps processing orders.
Do you need to consider an upgrade? I guess you already are because you have read this far.

When to get serious

At this time, June 2017, Magento 2.2 is in the final stages of development and will be released soon. This release brings significant new functionality to the market, including a full suite of B2B features, performance and deployment enhancements, and advanced reporting with a new Business Intelligence module. A good time to strike is after 2.2 is released. Starting with the latest version will give you and your SI all the latest features to play with, even though it will probably have some issues. That does not mean you will go live with 2.2. It will probably be 2.2.5 or something like that, but if implementation was done properly, Magento will have made it easy enough to update.

How to start

This is the easy part – just ask your web developer, SI, or whoever takes care of your store (you do not do all of this yourself, do you?) to install Magento version 2.2 for you on a development server and migrate some of your data so that you have your own products in the dev store. If they quote more than 1 or 2 hours of work for this – get somebody else. We do this service for our clients at no charge because it does not take much time to install and do a test migration.
Login to this new development store and look around – it is different from the old version but you will love it! They did a good job on the admin interface.

Now, get together with your team and start planning because you are on your way to a new and improved store, which will take your e-commerce business to the next level. Do not have a team? Talk to us.

Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day is the national day of Canada. It celebrates the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (British North America Act, 1867), which united the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.

Just a friendly reminder that our office will be closed until July 4 as we celebrate with fellow Canadians Canada’s 150th anniversary.
We are monitoring all the servers 24/7 so you can enjoy your weekend. If you require an emergency support, please submit an urgent priority ticket at https://www.mystorehelp.com

HAPPY CANADA DAY everyone!

New Magento Security Releases (May 31, 2017)

On May 31, 2017, Magento released new updates which contain over 15 security enhancements.

The most important are security patches to be installed as soon as possible:

  1. SUPEE-9767, Enterprise Edition 1.14.3.3 and Community Edition 1.9.3.3 which addresses several security issues.
  2. Magento 2.0.14 and 2.1.7 Security Update which contains multiple security enhancements.

If you are one of our lucky clients, we’ve got you covered and we are installing those patches in all stores hosted with us. If you need an update for your store, please contact support.

To Your success!

Your FinestShops Team

You’ve got an online store. What’s next?

You’ve got an online store. Checkout, shipping, and taxes all work correctly. Your store is easy to use and fast (it is fast, right? see the last paragraph on how to make sure). Your online conversion rate is OK. All your managers are happy, employees are excited. Business is good.

What’s next?
How about taking it to the next level?

Check few upgrades below which will provide an amazing ROI for your business.

Advanced Site Search


If you do not use it yet in your store, consider this as a priority upgrade. Advanced site search will provide the accurate and intelligent search results with auto-correction and auto-suggestions that will increase sales and reduce bounce rate by helping customers find what they are looking for.
Integrates with Magento, X-Cart, Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, 3Dcart, Netsuite
Used by Bikini.com, Tie Bar, Paul Fredrick, Noritake, Jimmy Jazz, DC Shoes, Craftsy and many others.
Expected increase in conversion rate: 20%-100%
Cloud search provider: NextopiaAlgolia
Server based: Sphinx Search Ultimate

Personalization service


Personalization service delivers personalized shopping experiences to your customers – wherever they are. This service analyzes your customers’ behavior, learning their likes and dislikes and delivers automated, personalized recommendations in real-time via in-store recommendations, facebook ads and personalized emails.
Integrates with Magento, X-Cart, Shopify, PrestaShop, BigCommerce
Used by Office Depot, North Face, J.Crew, Newegg, Pura Vida, OKA, Babyshop, The Iconic, Volcom, Negative
Average increase in revenue: 10-30%
Provider: Nosto.comMonetate.com

Where is My Order? WISMO experience

Do you still send your customers to the carrier’s tracking page and hope for the best? This service will utilize the post-purchase process to provide your customers with exceptional order tracking experience, boost repeat customer conversion rate, and practically eliminate “Where Is My Order?” calls.
Integrates with Magento, X-Cart, Shopify, BigCommerce and other
Used by Capezio, Curlz, Gentleman’s Box, VapeWorld
Expected increase in conversion rate: 70%
Expected ROI: 5-10x
Provider: WismoLabs.com

Shoppable content


Shoppable content creates visually engaging, curated product sets to inspire and upsell customers, whether it’s a back-to-school outfit or an Easter gift basket.
Integrates with Magento, X-Cart, Shopify, BigCommerce
Used by Nautica, Godiva, New York & Company, Tibi, Murad, Deborah Lippmann, Kate Somerville, All Things BBQ and other big players.
Expected increase in conversion rate: 200%
Provider: Zmags.com

Chatbots

This is a new way for interaction between a customer and a business which is becoming a part of everyday life for millions of people (think Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Siri).  Chatbot is a computer program which simulates a conversation with human users and can provide instant answers to many of the common questions customers may have, re-engage customers by sending messages, provide 24/7 support. At this time, artificial intelligence is not evolved enough to completely replace human customer service but chatbots bring automation to deliver a more personal customer experience through messaging apps.
Integrates with any shopping cart
Used by H&M, 1-800-Flowers, Uniqlo, Burberry and others
Expected increase in conversion rate: unlisted
Provider: Chatfuel.comWit.ai, Api.ai

 

The above services will improve your store’s conversion rate by as much as 20% to 100% and postponing to plan those implementations would be foolish. But, before you spend thousands of dollars on advertising, marketing, and extra services, do not forget to run few scans for your store to make sure there are no more pressing issues. You will find the list of the basic e-commerce scans you can run here:  8 Free e-Commerce Scans for a Healthy Online Store.

Let us know if you need help with any of the above, contact FinestShops – your e-commerce optimization partner.

chatbot-for-e-commerce

Our first chatbot is alive! and how to employ a chatbot in your e-commerce store

This is the feature we were considering for some time and after a few clients expressed interest in this technology we did the research, selected the platform and implemented our first chatbot on www.finestshops.com website. You are welcome to stop by and give it a try. It can help visitors with some simple tasks like finding a link to their billing account, search the knowledge base and submit a support request. Our chatbot is a work in progress so do not be too hard on him. Many new scenarios will need to be added to catch more requests as well as the knowledge base to be updated to make results more relevant. The exercise was mostly a research on how to create and use chatbots in e-commerce stores.

What is a Chatbot?

A “chatbot” is a new way for interaction between a customer and a business which is becoming a part of everyday life for millions of people (think Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Siri).  Chatbot is a computer program which simulates a conversation with human users and can provide instant answers to many of the common questions customers may have, re-engage customers by sending messages, provide 24/7 support. Currently, chatbots are used by companies like Sephora, Macy’s, H&M, 1-800-Flowers, Uniqlo, Burberry and most brands from Barbie to the Washington Post seems to be working on a chatbot implementation.

Some companies are trying hard to emulate the real human in a chatbot, so a customer does not even know he/she is talking to a bot which is possible to a certain extent but not recommended. In our chatbot we decided to tell the customers right away this is a bot and it will ask if a customer wants to get connected to a human on almost every step.

Why use a chatbot in your store?

Chris Messina, a former Uber developer, labeled this technology as ‘conversational commerce’ which delivers convenience, personalization, and decision support.

Advantages of using a chatbot:

  • Enhance customer service 24/7 to hundreds or even thousands of customers simultaneously
  • Provide personalized assistance with product recommendations
  • Share updates
  • Offer promotions based on location
  • Process orders and provide delivery updates on request or push updates to a messenger application
  • Automate processes and enable discovery

Chatbots can gather data about the user, and use it to offer a more personalized service. They can check the history of conversations with that user and see previous orders, learn customer’s preferences and provide a quick response any time of the day or night when your staff is not available.

For many online business owners who do not manage hundreds of conversations at the same time, outsourcing all customer support to a chatbot may not be the best option. At this time, Artificial Intelligence is not evolved enough to completely replace human customer service, but chatbots bring automation to deliver a more personal customer experience through the online chat or messaging apps, eliminate the need to create your own app and utilize something like Facebook Messanger with 1.2 billion monthly active users.

Do you need a chatbot for your online store?

If you have around the clock live operators available to your customers – kudos! This is the best way to provide live support and, if your operators are not overloaded with inquiries, you probably do not need a chatbot.

If such setup is not feasible, even a simple chatbot will give your business a 24/7 concierge with an instant response to an inquiry and will convey a feeling of presence that your customers will appreciate. If you have a little free time or an employee with some brains, consider setting up a chatbot – most of them are free to setup and charge a very reasonable monthly fee if your usage volume will exceed a threshold (in which case you probably needed one anyway).

If you have some extra money to invest in a new technology, a more sophisticated setup with integration to your store’s product catalog, order history, and your WISMO system can do wonders for your customers’ satisfaction, loyalty and the number of repeat orders. And integration of your chatbot into Amazon Echo or Google Home can simply take your business to the next level.

Where can I get one?

There two major types of chatbot building platforms:

1. Scripting platforms

  • Powerful way to model large and complex flows
  • Use of AI (Artificial Intelligence)
  • Extensive API libraries to integrate into multiple platforms
  • Support text and voice interactions
  • Complex and expensive to build and implement
  • If done correctly offers a huge potential with self-learning AI working around the clock over multiple platforms

Popular platforms: WatsonWit.ai, Api.ai

2. Non-scripting platforms

  • Easy to setup, integrate and manage without any programming
  • Does not use AI (Artificial Intelligence)
  • Usually, can integrate with only one system at a time

Popular platforms: Chatfuel, OctaneAi, Motion.ai, Flowxo.com, Chattypeople.com

We tested Chatfuel first, but it was hard to understand and manage, integrates only with Facebook Messenger and extremely slow to reply (some replies took over 2 minutes to receive) – I would stay away. We also tried OctaneAI which seems to be easy to work with and is focused on using a chatbot for Facebook marketing. If this is your primary goal, definitely give it a try but we needed a chatbot for our website, not just Facebook, and Motion.ai hit the spot. Easy and fun to manage and integrate, very fast and flexible. One we will test next is Flowxo.com – it’s advertised as a cross-platform setup (build a chatbot once and it runs on all supported platforms) and has almost 100 integrations available which sounds awesome but will see how it will do in the real life application.

I hope you found some useful information in this article and any comments or questions are welcome. You can contact me from FinestShops.com Chatbot (just type “Can I talk to Anton?”, Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook. And let us know if you need any help to setup, upgrade or manage your e-commerce store.

Meet FinestShops at Magento Imagine 2017 Conference in Las Vegas!

Imagine started six years ago with a vision to connect the international e-commerce ecosystem. The event brings together over 2500 e-commerce experts including merchants, agencies, and technology providers from over 45 countries. Get inspired and educated, while collaborating and having fun.

This year, Magento Imagine takes place on 3-5th April at the Wynn, Las Vegas, USA. If you are attending this event, just drop us a note  to schedule a meeting!

 

Fully Secure Store is not Optional Anymore. Will new Chrome and Firefox updates affect your conversion rate?

In case you did not know, starting Feb 1 2017, Firefox and Chrome browsers are listing websites loading from HTTP (vs HTTPS) as “Not Secure”. To see if your store is affected, click on the (!) icon, which is left of the URL and you will see the message below:

warning

Thousands of eCommerce owners previously ignored the warnings that Firefox and Chrome would implement such form of security and if visitors to your site see such warnings, it may negatively affect your conversion rate and sales. Which can be pretty disastrous for business.

Below are 3 ways to fix it:

1) Remove the login form (username and password fields) from all unsecured pages in your store or replace that form with a link to a secure login page.

This will require the minimum changes to the templates but will not prevent browsers from showing a warning sign beside your URL. Not as scary as “Logins entered on this page could be compromised” but still not ideal. It will still say “Connection is not secure”.

not-secured
2) Switch your store to run everything from HTTPS.

This will require a bit more changes to the store and maybe to the templates, descriptions and static pages to adjust the store configuration and path of loading media, test all the pages so everything is loading from secure (HTTPS) URLs. After this, the browsers will show a green icon with “Secure” text or your company name (depending on the type of SSL certificate you are using):

secure12

This is better, but, if your server does not support HTTP/2 connection, the store will run slower on HTTPS compare to HTTP and nobody likes slow stores which take us to the 3rd option.

3) Switch your store to run everything from HTTPS and upgrade to a server with HTTP/2 support.

This is the best solution because your store will be fast and secure so your customers will be happy and search engines will rank you higher than your competitors.

If you were busy running your business and did not follow the latest developments in the Internet networking, here is a short introduction: HTTP/2 is a major revision of the HTTP network protocol used by the World Wide Web (aka WWW). Most major browsers already added HTTP/2 support by the end of 2015 so the majority of your customers will enjoy the benefits.

According to W3Techs, as of December 2016, only 10.8% of the top 10 million websites supported HTTP/2 so you can get ahead of your competition by implementing that technology for your store. The major advantage of HTTP/2 is improved page load speed, especially improved page load speed over secure HTTPS connections. Below are the speed test results of one of our clients we recently switched to HTTPS on a server with HTTP/2 support:

speed-result-http

speed-result-https

As you can see, we cut the full page loading speed in half from 12 seconds to 6 seconds without any changes to the store’s code. Plus, in the second test, store is running everything from secure HTTPS which would be 30% slower without HTTP/2

If you want a competitive advantage right now without any major investments, consider switching your store to run securely on a server with HTTP/2 support. Talk to your hosting company or if you need help, send us a note at www.finestshops.com regarding this upgrade.

7 Free e-Commerce Scans for a Healthy Online Store

Do not wait until you get complaints from your customers or sales will decline because of the technical issues in your store. Use online scans and test below to check your store regularly to keep it in top shape.

1) Mobile-Friendly Test by Google

This one is a major test - if Google does not see your store as mobile-friendly, your SEO ranking is downgraded. In addition, around 60% of your customers are visiting from the mobile devices, and if your store is not optimized for mobile, you will not get those orders. Not mobile-friendly? It's time to upgrade!

Click here to run this test​ ...

2) PageSpeed Insights by Google

This test will analyze the content of a web page and generates suggestions on how to make that page faster. First, look for "Should Fix" section which will list the major issues.

The most common issue we see is "Reduce server response time" which Google wants to be under 0.5 second and "Optimize images" which is easy to fix by compressing your images.

One problem you will probably see in any online store is "Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content" and, unfortunately, it's the hardest to fix.

Click here to run this test​ ...

3) Website Speed test by Webpagetest.org

This speed test will show you more details on which elements are slowing down your store and will give you suggestions on what to fix. 

First thing you need to look ​at is First Byte time - it has to be around 0.5 second. Second parameter to check is Start Render time which has to be under 2-3 seconds for your store to feel fast to your visitors. See if your store is taking advantage of browser caching and CDN and, if not, talk to us about setting it up.

Click here to run this test​ ...

4) SSL Certificate Checker by digicert.com

This diagnostics tool will help you locate any problem and verify your SSL Certificate installation.

Looks for any red marks - usual problems are missing chain certificates may not be noticed on desktop browsers but will show SSL certificate warning error on mobile browsers and prevent customers from checking out on mobile devices.

Make sure to enable option to check the server for the common vulnerabilities as well.

Click here to run this test​ ...

5) DNS/Firewall test by Geopeeker.com

Can your store be loaded from multiple locations around the world? 

You can also use GeoPeeker to ensure that your site is displaying region-specific content properly.

Click here to run this test​ ...

6) DNS Checker by Intodns.com

This is a very fast DNS diagnostics tool will show you any problems with your DNS and report all your DNS related data.

Click here to run this test​ ...

7) Server Load test by Loadimpact.com

This test will show you if your server can handle a set number of visitors. Free option will allow you to test with 25 visitors because even this can overload a server if it's too small for your store or you are using a shared hosting package on already overloaded server. A visual graph will show you at what number of simultaneous visitors your store will start slowing down. Paid account is able to load test your store with up to 1.2 million concurrent users.

If you expect a huge serge of visitors due to a promotion or an upcoming article in a major publication, ​talk to us about upgrading to a load balanced multi-server cluster which can handle an unlimited traffic.

Click here to run this test​ ...

Need Help? Just let us know:

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