In our 13 years of business, we have found that the same questions often get asked by business owners.  If you have a  question that is not addressed below and that you beleive can benefit others, please email us and we will be happy to provide an answer.

  • Why retailers need to invest in their website

    Everyone knows that in retail, the most important ingredient is location, location, location!

    Why? Convenience, of course! Aside from wealth, most people value time more than any other resource. and they routinely search for conveniences that enable them to save time. Think about it: How many time in an average day do you decide how to get things done faster or easier?

    That's why the more convenient you make your business, the more customers it will attract. Today, the Internet sets a new benchmark for convenience. When retailers create an extension of their physical stores on the Web, they provide locations that are open 24 hours a day and that consumers can access in seconds from their home, office, or on the go with mobile devices.

    Many retailers mistakenly assume consumers would use their websites as a one-stop shopping experience. They assumed that adding a retail website would place them in the mail-order business and might even detract from their in-store sales. But, to their surprise and delight, the actual results are just the opposite. Retail websites drive more in-store sales than online sales. Depending on the product, consumers are primarily using retail websites to research, consider and decide which products they want to buy, and are making the actual purchases in the retailers store!

    Overwhelming numbers of consumers already embrace this convenience by routinely visiting retail websites on their mobile devices which requires that your website be just as functional and informative on smaller screens.

    There's no better way to harness the power of location than by providing consumers with both a retail store and a website. This way, you meet all of their needs with local, personal assistance and 24/7 convenience online.

  • What do I need to get online?

    A website gives you 24/7/365 presence in the 'no sleep' zone of the Internet hightway. It is the first impression you make on potential clients. This is where you generate the trust factor that has visitors calling the next morning. But it is more, much more.

    There are 3 components to being online. You need: A
    domain name that identifies your web space and website name;
    hosting space that will house your content and make it accessible to the internet community; and
    website - pages that hold your content.

    if you want to sell online you will also need
    A merchant account
    An SSL Certificate which requires Dedicated IP from your hosting provider
    PCI compliance

  • What is an Internet Merchant Account?

    It’s an account with a bank that allows you to process credit cards online. Most businesses have a merchant account with their banks that provide Point Of Sale (POS) systems for debit cards and credit card processing. But most banks do not process payments received through the internet.

    An Internet merchant account lets you to:
    Utilize their payment gateway to securely process credit card payments online;
    view past transactions, create reports, and process refunds;
    transfer funds to your financial institution;
    download monthly statement to your accounting software or download a CSV file

    How it works

    online payment process
    Your customer inputs credit card information in Your Online Store.
    The Payment Gateway encrypts data and securely sends it to your Internet Merchant Account.
    The transaction is reviewed for authorization by the customer’s issuing bank.
    The result is encrypted and sent back through the gateway.
    You get the results and decide whether or not to fulfill the order.

  • What is PCI compliance?

    As a consumer, you will have received replacement credit cards with the new chip technology. As a merchant of a brick and mortar store, you will no doubt have heard of PCI compliance from your bank or merchant account provider. If not, you should find out or risk getting fined.

    The credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, Amex, JCB, Discover) have developed the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard to ensure that merchants and service providers meet minimum standards of security when storing, processing and transmitting cardholder data. PCI requires you to demonstrate that you comply with these stricter security requirements. Using self-assessments and security scans available through a PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) you can ensure PCI compliance by June 2010.

    There are only three methods of processing a credit card payment through a shopping cart in an automated fashion. These are:

    • The integrated method, where a site collects the cc data for transmission ONLY through a merchant gateway. To use this, the site must be PCI compliant – this means you must have an SSL certificate with a dedicated IP and comply with security scans. In addition, to continue using this method past June 2010, the cart software needs to be PA-DSS certified as well even if it doesn’t actually store the cc data.
    • The gateway method, whereby a site collects the shopping cart quantities & pricing and then upon requesting 'checkout' redirects the user to a compliant 3rd party payment gateway who then collects all of the cc details mentioned above. This method still requires the site to be PCI compliant, however, excludes the cart software from the PA-DSS certified requirement. Given the $20,000 price tag per version, you can well imagine that Open Source software may have a tough time with this one.
    • The manual method via IVR or PCI-compliant POS or at a PCI-compliant online terminal.

    This means that the shopping cart software must either meet PA-DSS requirements to process credit cards on the vendor’s site or employ a means of bridging the vendor’s site with the payment processor using a PCI compliant method. There are only 4 shopping cart software that will meet this requirement by July 2010 and none of them are Free.

    Zen Cart v2.0 proclaims that it will meet that standard. However, most of you have upgraded to v1.3.8a with all security patches applied. osCommerce users also do NOT meet standards. However, there is a work around for this that may or may not require that you alter your merchant account provider. creSecure is a PA-DSS and PCI compliant method of bridging the gap between Open Source (Free) software and your payment gateway. We would install it as a replacement for your current payment module. When you create an account with creSecure, you can choose the payment gateway from those available. Limitation on payment gateways may apply. The creSecure payment module will then transmit the cc information via their hosted pay page (HTML Clone) to your payment gateway (see process diagram). Additional fees may apply.

    Depending on which payment gateway you are using, you may need to consider creSecure. Regardless of which method you use, you must fill out the QSA form appropriate to you and pay for a 3rd party to ensure you maintain compliance.

  • How do I improve page rank for my site?

    Lack of content is the major issue if your site is not getting good search engine rankings.

    Search engines will index all of your pages. Build your pages to have proper text, meaning significant text, to increase their content value for search engines.

    While meta tags are helpful, they are not the end all and be all. The content is more significant and the content relative to the meta tags is king.

    Notice the custom meta tags for each Category and Product. Notice the categories_description and products_description — these are highly important. Your descriptions need to be content-rich and keyword-rich.