7 Ways to Improve Your WordPress Website Speed

“Page abandonment increases with every second longer it takes for your website to load”

 

You just created the sleekest website on WordPress that has a super responsive user interface and killer content, but you’re not getting any conversions! It all boils down to page load time at the end of the day. No matter how wonderfully you craft your website, if your page loads slowly, your visitor will navigate away. They’ll navigate to an uglier website with terrible content but that loads quicker. You don’t want that.

Page abandonment increases with every second longer it takes your website to load. All hope is not lost, however. With just a few simple and easy to implement ideas, take your tortoise of a webpage and give it a turbo boost.

First of all, test your website’s load time with this handy tool from Pingdom or pagespeed from Google. Does your website pass the 2-second rule? According to several surveys that a Kissmetric article researched, most web users look for a website that loads within 2 seconds. The longest they’ll wait is 3 seconds! Any longer than that and your page needs heavy optimizing.

Before reading any further make sure you have a good server and has servers based in India (if you are targetting the Indian market. We would recommend Bluehost for a shared Linux hosting or a WordPress optimised hosting if your site is on WordPress.

So you’ve run the test for your website and it’s pretty slow. What next? Check out these scientifically-backed tips to improve your website’s speed.

1. Be lazy

Yes, implement LazyLoad into your website design to improve the amount of time it takes for your site to load. With LazyLoad, you can cut back on the page load time, and allow users to save their bandwidth. Win-win for all!

2. Compress images

Images (in sizes) are indirectly proportional to any website speed. Bigger the image, slower the loading, best solution is to compress images without losing quality. You can use free image compression tools like Caesium to compress images without losing much of its sharpness & clarity. In wordpress, there are plugins like Smush.It or Ewww Image Optimizer which use lossless/lossy method to optimize the images. The great thing about these plugins is that they work in the background every time you upload a new image you can also run it retrospectively on all of the images uploaded to your media library. They come with limitations that the base image should not be more than 1mb in size (so Caesium can be used to compress initially).

3. Free it Up

The WP-Optimize plugin allows you the freedom to optimize your MySQL database with just a click!

4. Cache them all

Want to be a cache-all master? With the W3 Total Cache, make caching a breeze. This will let your website load at blazing hot speeds, and ultimately lead to better conversions and leads. It can take care of elements like browser caching, Javascript, CSS & HTML Minification, setting expiry headers etc. Be careful in using the tool as it can affect your design & CSS files too.

5. Divide and conquer

Are your images, content, Javascript code and CSS in the same location? Consider having them on external files via a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare for the same.

6. No cookies for you

Want a winning idea for speeding up your website? Reduce or get rid of cookies altogether. Your visitor will also be thankful that cookies don’t bog their system down.

7. Don’t Send them away

Don’t redirect. When you redirect your visitor to another page, you’re only adding an additional HTTP which makes your page load slower.

Go all out and give your visitor a faster website today!

Top-5 Content Management Systems for your website

If you are planning to build a website in the near future, you might be confused on which platform to use. While there is a whole bunch of content management systems (CMS) in the market, you might want to use the platform that allows you to do it without worrying too much about the technical aspects like coding.

What is a Content Management System?

In simple terms, a Content Management System is a software tool that allows you to create, edit, publish and manage web content. The main objective of a CMS is to provide an intuitive interface to manage your content on the web.

There are many good content management systems like WordPress and Drupal; and they are all fantastic. But choosing one among them can be difficult because you do not know if the website is suited for the needs of your website. The server can sometimes be a challenge in having an effective CMS and we usually recommend the Linux based servers being provided by Bluehost or Amazon Web Services.

This article shall make you aware of the different aspects of the Top-5 Content Management Systems in the market and help you make an informed decision.

  1. WordPress

Homepage: www.wordpress.org

One of the world’s most popular content management systems, WordPress started out as a blogging platform, but has grown and advanced significantly over the years. Based on PHP & MySQL, WordPress is used by almost 23% of the top 10 million websites around the world. Examples of WordPress websites are Social Beat, ithought, etc.

Advantages:

  • It’s free and the easy installation offered does not require complex technical know how to maintain the website
  • User friendly dashboard for managing content
  • Multi-user and multi-blogging support
  • Wide number of plug-ins and themes, both paid and unpaid, for customizing your website
  • A large developer community and plenty of tutorials and documentation available for support
  • Easy linkage to your email platforms such as Mailchimp to allow you to keep in touch with customers

Disadvantages:

  • Standard installation can have security issues and is vulnerable to attacks. Needs to be addressed with continuous updates and monitoring of the website

 

  1. Drupal

Homepage: www.drupal.org

Drupal is the 2nd most popular PHP-based content management system. It’s a powerful, developer friendly platform that can be easily used for building complex websites. In the latest releases, database management modules have been added that allow managing SQL operations without writing SQL queries. Many big companies like General Electric, Time Warner and Sony Music, are using Drupal.

Advantages:

  • Less resource intensive than WordPress
  • Technically advanced in comparison to peers like WordPress and Joomla
  • Very flexible; has the feature to even edit the root files of the program
  • Easily customizable with numerous plug-ins & 6000+ modules available for easy extension of functionality
  • Powerful taxonomy & ability to tag and organize complex content
  • Faster load and response time
  • Powerful use cases available

Disadvantages:

  • Basic knowledge of HTML, PHP and other common programming languages is required
  • Theming system is complex along with a lack of high-quality plug-ins
  • Site complexity beyond a simple website or a blog requires technical know-how to keep it running

 

  1. Joomla

Homepage: www.joomla.org

Joomla is quite often, an intermediate choice between WordPress and Drupal, having the power of a Drupal website and at the same time managing the user-friendly nature of a WordPress website. Joomla has a lot of plug-ins and themes available to choose from, so you can easily customize your website based on your requirements. It’s suitable for creating back-end networks for a wide range of purposes like inventory control and reservation systems to online commerce websites.

Advantages:

  • Faster and easier to setup an online store; has more native support online commerce
  • A great platform to create social networks
  • Long history of development and an active developer community
  • Tons of plugins and add-on tools available
  • 7000+ plus extensions and an extensive help portal

Disadvantages:

  • Not easy for beginners
  • Modularity & expendability puts greater demand on server parameters
  • Lack of high-quality themes when compared to WordPress

 

  1. SilverStripe

Website: www.silverstripe.org

SilverStripe is another open source content management system, best serving the needs of developers slightly comfortable with coding. Built on an object-oriented framework called Sapphire, it has multiple platform modules allowing it to support a content formats like blogs as well as forums / communities. SilverStripe code is bound together through independent frameworks; thus providing it the capability to support any CSS Style Sheets and HTML codes.

Advantages:

  • Open standards for development leading to high development versatility
  • Easy back-end functions
  • Powerful content authoring tool with ability to publish/unpublish content on specific dates
  • Differential permission levels for different parts of the site to manage your own editor/author network
  • Strong developer community SilverStripe LTD to fall back for technical support

Disadvantages:

  • Less intuitive back-end in comparison to peers like WordPress
  • Less than 200 extension modules and not many high-quality themes available
  • Lack of documentation support

 

  1. TextPattern

Website: www.textpattern.com

A highly flexible content management system, TextPattern is a free, PHP based CMS that is more often skipped when looking at the top CMSs for websites. It leverages Textile to quickly convert plain text to XHTML, making it user-friendly for beginners.

Advantages:

  • User-friendly for non-technical users
  • Suitable for websites of varied sizes
  • Great documentation; complete manual available online

Disadvantages:

  • Minimal variety of themes (~120 front end themes available)
  • Fewer plugins
  • Small developer community

Top 10 live chat softwares for your website

Live Chat is an efficient communication medium for proactively engaging customers and converting them into leads. This can be done at ease with the help of well trained agents using some of the many Live Chat tools avalable. However, deciding which one to pick be a bit confusing. Hence, we have put together a list of the 10 best live chat softwares for your website that can help boost sales and service your customers.

Before we go into the details and the USPs of each of the live chat softwares available, here’s a quick comparison of the features these platforms have to offer and their pricing:

Top live chat options Social Beat

 

SNAP ENGAGE

USP: Social Discovery to help better understand the customer

Facebook ,Twitter and LinkedIn icons are bound with the chat option and if the agent feels that he/she can connect with the potential customer through social networking sites the customer can give a friend request or follow the customer directly from the chat area. This feature is called as ‘social discovery’, which is a unique feature and it also helps the agent to know about the customers better and further chats can be made more customisable. The details of the customers can be seen only after accepting the chat requests. Apart fom this, Snap Engage also allows the agents to remotely control the user’s browser and help them navigate to the right pages quickly. Also, tthere are blogs written in their website which helps the agent to enhance his/her skill to be a star agent. Unlimited access to sites is provided by Snap Engage. CRM and help desk can be integrated.

PRICING

The basic price is $60 in which 4 agents can be employed.

ZOPIM

USP: Competitive Pricing

Zopim is an affordable, easy to use Live Chat option. When you engage with a customer, a separate pop up doesn’t appear on the screen for every customer, instead all the windows and controls are integrated with the dash board they offer, unlike many other chat options. Automated chats are possible so that you can reach out to customers, before they complete their conversation. Integrating with Zen Desk can help in multi-channel support like emails and social media. Chat history is available by which it becomes easy for the agent to know the customer.

PRICING

Free version is available and the basic version costs for $11 (single agent) per month.

OLARK

USP: Customizable GUI 

The customisable graphical user interface GUI makes Olark stand out from the rest. When it is Christmas time, it gets updated to the Christmas theme. Every celebration can be more fun with the GUI it offers. The logo of the organisation can also be incorporated in the paid versions of Olark. After every chat, rating can be given for the chat from which instant feedback of the conversation through live chat can be noted. Another noteworthy component of Olark is ‘savethecart’ feature by which the agent can know what is the product that is stored in the cart and based upon this the chat can be done and targeting becomes easy.

PRICING

The basic version costs $15 (single agent) whereas the free version limits in the number of chats.

VELARO CHAT

USP: Geo targeting and content targeting

The geographical location of the website visitor can be tracked along with the content what they are looking for so that even the greeting by the agent can be of the language which the viewer  follows which gives a personal connect to the user and the user is more likely to buy the product. Keeping track of the content can also help in product that can be promoted through chat as a follow up.  Unlimited access to sites and can be managed centrally. There are three versions like other chats that include basic business, smart business and enterprise Omni.

PRICING

The basic price is $29.95 and free version is available with limited features

OGG CHAT

USP: Integration with G-talk and Instant Messenger

Ogg Chat can be integrated with G-Talk and Instant messenger. Separate desired departments can be created and operators can be added to the chat. Every operator can include a schedule chart to keep a track on the pending schedule. Some data are available that can be used to analyse like brief chat history but however real time monitoring of the viewers, usage of canned messages is a considerable setback.

PRICING

The basic version of the product costs $9.95 and all plans include a 14-day free trial

LIVE HELP NOW

USP: Real time translation

Internationalisation is possible as it offers real time translation feature. Languages are translated instantly which makes it easy to use in non-English speaking nations. The admin interface isn’t much cluttered. It is a simple, user friendly admin which the consumer may like to use. Prioritising the mails become easy with the email management system that is offered. All the information about the clients can be viewed in one click, but a separate window opens up every time which may be tough to view for a series of clients.

PRICING

A 30 day free trial is available with constraints and the basic version of LiveHelpNow chat costs $21 per month

KAYAKO

USP: Quick response through the Mobile application

Users find the mobile application very useful as the agents can respond to the queries from any place. However, the user interface doesn’t support any other language other than English which is seen as a drawback. Live Chat tickets can be administered through e-mail. Service Level Agreements are complex when compared to other chat options. Kayako allows the user to create a macro which enables automatic response to some of the basic and repeated queries as it reduces the response time of the agent.

PRICING: The basic version of the Kayako Live Chat costs $24 and three versions of Kayako are called as Case, Fusion and Engage

CASENGO

USP: Ease of file sharing

Casengo has one inbox for all the chats, emails and social media posts. The cloud based application allows the responders to post their answers in a quicker phase than other options. The customers of online retailers and other small businesses have the response in a very fast time period.  Most of the live chats, attachments can be sent only through downloadable links, where as the file itself can be sent as an attachment, however sending multiple attachments is not an easy task using Casengo.

PRICING:

The basic version costs $9.65 (9Euros), Free version can be used in which enables only the chat option

COMM100LIVECHAT

USP: Guaranteed 100 percent uptime

Comm100livechat, as the name suggests this live chat claims to produce 100 percent uptime. A typing indicator allows agents to see what their customers are typing before they submit their message. With ‘MaximumOn’ technology, the software also ensures that your live chat program runs continuously without interruptions, despite failures at both server and data center levels. Chats can also be extended onto mobile platforms; including on iOS and Android devices.A drag-and-drop file transfer feature allows agents to share a file that provides all the requested information. However, no real time translation is available and no co-browsing option is available.

PRICING

The basic version of the live chat costs $29 and there are different versions based on the Shared Server and dedicated Server

WEBSITE ALIVE CHAT

USP: An all in one live chat with email integration

If your business is a small firm and is looking for a one stop solution that integrates e-mail with your live chat options, website live chat can serve your business. It supports till 20 multiple chats with quick tabs to enable swift performance.  The user interface helps to edit the interface without coding. Internal operator chat that helps to interact internally when a query hard to manage by an agent can be used to clear his doubts.

PRICING

The basic version of the live chat costs $20 and there are different versions available with different pricing.

 

Are you going to be hit by Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

Almost a year back we had created a list of top Indian Websites that were not responsive. A lot has changed since then. Myntra has moved to an App Only approach and closed down their mobile site. In the same context, Google’s next update is expected to be rolled out on April 21, 2015 and will concentrate largely on positively impacting sites that are mobile responsive. There will also be a marginal negative impact on mobile search results for websites that are not responsive.

So the question to ask here is, whether you site is mobile friendly? Google has its Mobile Friendly Testing Tool which can help you check. If you get a message “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.”, then you have little to worry as you will most likely be on the safer side of the line.

However, for those who haven’t made their site responsive this Google update is going to put in jeopardy the search traffic and eventually ranking. Here are some tips to help you get started on this front.

  1. How to Ensure You Site Is Mobile Friendly 

Creating a mobile responsive site will be the key step towards being in tandem with the Google update. This was Google’s announcement earlier this year which clearly indicates Google’s focus on mobile friendliness. “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” 

The main reason behind the update taking this path is Google’s consistent stand on giving users the best online experience. With mobile traffic having significantly overtaken PC traffic in the past two years this update seems all the more relevant. Google even has an extensive guide on creating mobile friendly sites. If you have Google Webmaster they have a new Mobile Usability feature to showcase if there are usability issues that still exist.

If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) To make your site mobile friendly here are a few essential tips:

For Word Press Sites: If you own a word press site you can simply use a plugins available online. The three best plugins available are 

  • WP Touch: This plugin converts your website automatically for mobile devices. The admin panel of the plugin allows you to modify various aspects of the site’s appearance enabling you to provide a simpler yet stylish version of your website. They have a free theme which works wonders but they also have premium mobile themes if you are looking at something more specific. It essentially takes your existing content on wordpress and embeds it into the mobile theme.
  • WP Mobile Detector: This plugin works by automatically detecting whether the browser being used is from a normal phone or smartphone. Once detected it loads a compatible version that suits the particular browser.
  • Mobile Press: Renders a mobile friendly version of the site when accessed via a phone. It also provides options to use other custom themes for better user experience. 

For Magento Sites: Using existing mobile responsive themes is one option that many are considering. If you have an existing theme which is non-responsive then there are plugins to help with this.

  • ShopGate: This plugin allows you to launch your own mobile website or native app with your existing magento installation. The look and feel may not be identical to your existing desktop design but its a quick fix.
  • SimiCart: Another way to handle this issue on Magento is to have a native Mobile App connected with your existing Magento installation. Simicart is an amazing tool to accomplish this.

The last option would be to adapt the existing theme to being responsive, but it requires extensive changes to be made at the code level.

  1. Increase Speed of your Mobile Site

The time your site takes to load plays a strong role in improving your page rankings. Despite the best mobile data connection, sites sometimes take a while to load and the reason behind it could be due to complex codes, slow server and other factors. Analyzing these problems and addressing them quickly can help give your site an advantage.

Using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Speed Test tool can help give you an insight into the changes you can make in your site to make it speedier.

Once these changes have been made appropriate modifications have to be made in the Google Webmaster Tool as mentioned in the steps below.

  • Sign into your Google Webmaster account and add your site if you haven’t already.
  • Once done click on the crawl option in the sidebar and then click on the ‘Fetch as Google option’
  • Select the mobile and desktop options one by one and click ‘fetch and render’.
  • Once rendered you will then have to click on the ‘submit to index’ button to let google crawl your updated site.

With the update coming out today, it would be prudent to make these changes to your site as early as possible. Making changes sooner will help your traffic remain higher after the update. If you are having difficulties in making these changes, hiring good developers to make them is always a recommended option.

We would love to hear from you if you have seen any positive or negative mobile traffic from today. Please do share it in the comments below.

How to sell across multiple E-Commerce marketplaces

SingleDashboard_1200by628

As the growing digital population is all set to rock India’s economy and business landscape, it has become vital for businesses to go online as well. A budding entrepreneur who is looking at selling his products online can create his own e-commerce website or sell products on other online marketplaces such as Flipkart, eBay, Amazon, etc.

After registering with these online marketplaces that allow you to sell products for a commission, managing different dashboards, stock list & inventories becomes difficult. In order to simplify the online selling process, tools have been developed to integrate all of these into one single dashboard.

Tools like Browntape, ecomdash, boostmysale, etc provide one common dashboard to manage all your orders and inventories across e-commerce platforms. Let’s take a look at what each of these softwares have to offer:

Selling across multiple ecommerce marketplaces in India

If Indian market is your main business focus, the below mentioned tools are some of the key players in providing inventory and order management solutions:

1. Unicommerce

Unicommerce, recently acquired by Snapdeal has an inventory management software for e-commerce, integrated with some of the world’s leading online marketplaces and cart solutions.

It helps in complete order fulfillment life-cycle through real-time maintenance of inventory, orders and shipping process. One can also view key metrics and insights with respect to sales and performance using a single dashboard.

2. Browntape

Browntape lets you sell your products across 8 platforms which includes eBay, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Rediff Shopping, Tradus, Naaptol, shopclues, etc.

It provides a centralised inventory management system that keeps track of the stocks and orders that come in on a real-time basis. One can also print out the shipping labels and send out automated emails to the customer about purchase order status.

Browntape

3. Boost My Sale

This easy to use e-commerce solutions provider integrates inventories, sales and other management factors in one single window. It not only streamlines and automates the processes but also provides insights on scaling up your business and visibility. With real-time inventory and sales figures, Boost My Sale helps in quick decision making and growing the business without having to worry about everyday challenges in sales & supply chain management.

Boost My Sale

Selling across multiple ecommerce marketplaces globally

Businesses that operate on a large scale and have tie-ups with global online marketplaces can make use of these tools for hassle-free sales and operations:

4. Ecomdash

ecomdash is yet another inventory management & order fulfillment software for multi-channel e-commerce sellers. It provides a single view of all e-commerce operations using a single dashboard. Sales, shipping & inventory management is all automated and also lets us monitor sales & supply chain through effective data management.

5. Orderhive

Orderhive is a multichannel order & inventory management system that is integrated with leading marketplaces and businesses. It cuts down on the additional infrastructure and maintenance cost for online sellers through its simplified back-end process management. It also provides customised offerings to suit your business needs, in terms of having a dedicated server (such as Bluehost) and managing it efficiently.

6. Seller Active

It’s a cloud based inventory management application that consolidates and processes orders from multiple marketplaces. It removes the clutter out of multichannel selling and gives real-time updates on competitor’s pricing as well. It also analyses shipping rates and gets the most cost-efficient rates from leading delivery companies to process the orders.

Online selling across various marketplaces means having to oversee and manage different channels and processes. As and when the business grows in terms of more online marketplaces and product orders, resorting to such tools & solutions providers becomes inevitable. They greatly help in streamlining processes, reducing the infrastructure cost and provide great insights, which might otherwise go unnoticed in a daily tracking routine.

Do try out the trial versions or subscribe for the above mentioned tools for your business and share your experience with us in the ‘Comments’ section. And in case we have missed out on other important channel & inventory management tools, do write to us.

10 Best E-commerce platforms for your online store

With the global & Indian ecommerce market growing at a rapid pace, we are seeing a lot of new trends. When starting out a new ecommerce venture, there are a lot of elements that need to be figured out – right from the ecommerce platform (which this post explains in detail), payment gateway to integrate with your ecommerce site, product photography, social media strategy, customer acquisition, customer retention, search engine optimisation & a whole lot more. There are a whole lot of specialists out there who can help you with each of these elements. There are a lot of digital marketing courses and if you are looking at getting a holistic view on digital marketing & analytics for ecommerce then ISB Hyderabad has an interesting programme.

The first step when starting out is the ecommerce platform and the number of such platforms and content management systems available has grown over the years. In such a scenario, figuring out which platform to use when you’re looking to build your online store can be a fairly confusing task – especially if you aren’t from a technical/ecommerce background.  This post intends to make your research work easier by helping you choose the platform best suited for your needs.

Managed e-commerce platforms vs. Content Management Systems (CMS)
There are two options available for building an ecommerce website – one can either use managed (hosted) ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce or open-source Content Management Systems (CMS) like Magento.

As the name indicates, a hosted ecommerce platform is hosted on a server that you will not have access to, while CMS-based websites are self-hosted on server space (such as Bluehost) you will have to purchase. Which option to choose will depend a lot on your specific needs as well as your level of technical involvement. Below is a list of benefits of both which could help you make a choice between the two based on your business’ current requirements:

Benefits of using Hosted ecommerce platforms

  • Lower development and maintenance – There is no coding expertise required, thereby eliminating the need for a development team. Also, the hosting is shared, which lowers the server costs.
  • Better technical support – Most online store creators have a strong tech-support team to assist users with any issues that may arise.
  • Less complex to work with – The back-end for most of these platforms is user-friendly and is built for ease of use keeping in mind users with limited technical knowledge.

Benefits of using a CMS

  • Better functionality – Multitude of plugins, add-ons and themes available for content management systems allow the addition of advanced functionalities that would not be possible in the case of self-hosted platforms.
  • Better customizability – Content management systems allow the freedom of adding/modifying features as well as building a customized design unique to one’s brand. They also allow for constant improvements and enhancements to the user experience on the site, which plays a major role in today’s highly competitive ecommerce space.
  • Can support large stores and sophisticated websites – Content Management Systems, being self-hosted do not have a limit to the number of products or categories allowed, so they can handle much larger stores as well as sophisticated websites.

The server can also be an important aspect of how your ecommerce site is built and we usually use the Linux based servers being provided by Bluehost or Amazon Web Services. We usually refrain from using Windows based servers.

You could use this flowchart below (Click on the flowchart to enlarge) to help you arrive at a decision on whether you should go ahead with a hosted ecommerce platform or with a CMS, based on your requirements:

Hosted-ecommerce-platforms-vs-open-source-Content-Management-Systems

Once you’ve made your choice on going ahead with either of the two platforms, here is a list of the 5 best options you could explore in each niche:

 

5 Best Content Management Systems
If you’ve decided that a CMS is what will suit your needs best, then below are the 5 best ecommerce CMS available in the market at the moment. The most important factors which will come into consideration when zeroing in on the CMS would be the availability of extensions, availability of support, functionality, customizability and the cost of development and maintenance. All of them are open source and have free community versions and paid enterprise versions.

 

Top 100,000 websites using Ecommerce technologie
Top 100,000 websites using Ecommerce technologies – Source: Builtwith.com

 

Magento:
With nearly 21% of the world’s top 100,000 ecommerce sites built on the Magento platform*, it is by far the most popular and one of the best ecommerce CMS’ being used today. Its biggest advantages are the large number of plugins and extensions available which allow the addition of any new functionality, the ease of availability of experienced developers as well as a lower overall development and maintenance cost.

Pros:

  • Robust platform with a high level of functionality and customizability
  • Large number of marketplace extensions available
  • Highly active community for assistance with tutorials and troubleshooting options
  • More SEO-friendly as compared to most other platforms
  • It is highly-scalable – no need would arise to upgrade to another platform while scaling up in future
  • Easy Integration with emailing platforms such as Mailchimp so that you can stay in touch with your customers

Cons:

  • It requires sufficient server space to operate efficiently at high speeds. Smaller servers may cause speed and other related issues
  • Might be too complex for businesses that are too small

 

WooCommerce:
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin used for building ecommerce websites on the WordPress platform. A large number of WordPress themes have the WooCommerce functionality built-in. The plugin provides almost all the features that are available in the other open-sources CMS’ listed here. WooCommerce might work out more user-friendly and cost-effective for smaller businesses as well as for those familiar with WordPress.

Pros:

  • Easy setup – WordPress requires very little time to get familiar
  • Runs on Wordpess – so does not have powerful servers requirements
  • Good number of lower-priced add-ons and themes available
  • Huge WordPress support community
  • Easy Integration with emailing platforms such as Mailchimp so that you can stay in touch with your customers

Cons:

  • Might not work for mid and large size businesses or for businesses looking to scale up soon

osCommerce:
osCommerce is a fairly popular platform as well, with about 11% of the top 100,000 sites built on open source technologies using osCommerce. Being one of the earliest open-source platforms available, it has a huge support base and a very active forum, though some users find that updates to the platform have not kept up with the times.

Pros:

  • Easy installation and an easy-to-use interface
  • Active forum with a large support base
  • Large number of plugins and add-ons allowing the addition of most functionalities

Cons:

  • Some users find that the software updates and designs have not kept up with times and remain slightly outdated

 

Top 100,000 ecommerce websites using Open Source technologies
Top 100,000 ecommerce websites using Open Source technologies – Source – Builtwith.com

 

Drupal Commerce:
Drupal is the second most-used open source website content management system after WordPress and Drupal commerce is the plugin for ecommerce sites built on this platform. Its seamless integration with Drupal makes creating a blog or forum much more convenient than most other ecommerce content management systems.

Pros:

  • Seamless integration with the Drupal CMS framework gives it an edge over other platforms when it comes to blog integration and content marketing
  • Allows for easy implementation of SEO strategy

Cons:

  • The support community/forum is not as large or active as Magento or osCommerce.

 

Opencart:
Opencart is another open source CMS for ecommerce. Though it has one of the easiest to use backends, its support systems are not as comprehensive as compared to the other platforms listed.

Pros:

  • Easy to use back-end
  • Feature rich with large number of plug-ins
  • CSS can be edited from within the admin

Cons:

  • Some users report difficulty in installation of some themes
  • Support documentation is not comprehensive enough

 

Magento vs Woocommerce vs Drupal Commerce vs Opencart vs osCommerce
Magento vs Woocommerce vs Drupal Commerce vs Opencart vs osCommerce

 

5 Best hosted ecommerce platforms
If you’ve decided that an online store creator would better suit your business, then below are the 5 best platforms available for you to choose from. Two of these – Zepo and Kartrocket have been chosen with the Indian market in mind, as being mostly domestic players, they might have a better understanding and feel of the local market.

Shopify:
Shopify is one of the first names that comes to mind when one thinks of an online commerce platform. With 74,418 sites using Shopify*, it is one of the most popular as well.

Pros:

  • Large number of add-ons as well as beautiful and professional templates to choose from for a beautiful storefront
  • 24/7 customer support – Can be reached by phone, online live chat or email.
  • SEO Compliant

Cons:

  • May work out slightly more expensive as compared to other platforms
  • The back-end UX is slightly complex to understand in the beginning

Pricing**: Starter – $14/month, Basic – $29/month, Professional- $79/month, Unlimited – $179/month.

 

BigCommerce:
Bigcommerce is another popular platform, with 17% of the top 100,000 sites using hosted ecommerce solutions; and 51,977 sites overall*, being built on Bigcommerce.

Pros:

  • A large knowledge base – The Bigcommerce university provides extensive help resources
  • Easy-to-use interface

Cons:

  • Some users claim that customer support is a little unreliable at times

Pricing**: Silver – $29.95/month, Gold – $79.95/month, Platinum – $199.95/month

 

Volusion:
Volusion also has nearly as big a share of the top 100,000 sites using hosted ecommerce solutions – nearly 17%*; with over 90% of its market share is in the United States

Pros:

  • Wide variety of features
  • Personalized service from account specialists
  • Easy to use interface

Cons:

  • Volution stores use a mobile site as against a responsive design
  • Add-on store is not as large as Shopify or BigCommerce
  • No Blog setup available

Pricing**: Mini – $15/month, Gold – $35/month, Platinum – $75/month, Pro – $135/month

 

Zepo:
Mumbai-based Zepo supports more than 1200 ecommerce stores at the moment and has also raised an undisclosed amount of funding in December 2014 to drive its expansion plans.

Pros:

  • Local brand – local support as well as a better understanding and feel of local market
  • An easy interface, especially for newbies
  • Hosted on Rackspace servers – so you can expect a better speed as compared to most platforms.

Cons:

  • Limited Images per product on the lower priced plans

Pricing**: Basic – Rs. 949/month, Starter – Rs. 1899/month, Pro – Rs. 2849/month, Unlimited – Rs. 4749/month

 

Kartrocket:
Delhi-based KartRocket has powered over 1900 stores via its platform and snapped up close to $2 million investment in January 2015 to fund its expansion as well as develop innovative and India-focused product solutions

Pros:

  • Good choice of storefront templates
  • Usability – Clean backend interface
  • Local brand – better understanding and feel of local market

Cons:

  • Comparatively new player in the market as compared to the others above

Pricing**: Studio – Free (5% Transaction fee), Starter – Rs. 1500/month, Pro – Rs. 3000/month, Unlimited – Rs. 7000/month

 

Top 100000 websites using Hosted Solution technologies - Builtwith.com
Top 100000 websites using Hosted Solution technologies – Builtwith.com

 

 

Conclusion
Every platform and CMS has its plus and minus points and choosing the right one depends on your business model and requirements. If you are going in for a hosted platform, Shopify or Zepo (if you prefer a local player) might be the best options, while if you are looking for a Content Mangement System, then Magento would most definitely work best. This, however, is based on our experince and we would love to hear what your experience says.

As a last word, switching platforms or content management systems after a store is up and running is not really a straightforward process and can truly be a nightmare. So, make sure you take a prudent and informed decision with a good amount of foresight.

If you’re a retailer looking to get onto the ecommerce bandwagon, please feel free to contact us and we would be glad to assist you.

Once you’ve zeroed in on the right platform for your ecommerce business and need to decide on the best payments solution you could use, you can check out our blog on the top payment gateways for ecommerce websites.

*Statistics from builtwith.com
** All price data is from the respective websites as on 12th January, 2015

Google PageSpeed Insights to make your website mobile & SEO friendly

Mobile responsive design

The Internet Era has now given way to the Mobile Internet Era, with 15% to 35% of traffic coming from mobile devices, and this is only slated to grow. Inspite of the fact that already about 1/4th traffic is from mobile, many top Indian websites are not mobile compatible (read our article on 10 Indian websites that are not mobile responsive). If your website is not optimized for the mobile, you are definitely losing out on leads and customers and also on search engine rankings.

So how do you go about optimizing your website for the mobile? Google PageSpeed Insights is a useful tool that helps you identify issues, rectify them and make your website mobile friendly. Below is a summary of the key recommendations to make your website mobile friendly:

  • Object Scaling

It can be really frustrating to click or tap on a link / button on a phone or tablet and accidently, hitting on the wrong button because your finger pad is larger than a desktop mouse cursor. The tap targets should be scaled such that they are large enough to press / click easily.

  • Viewports

If your webpage does not have a meta-viewport tag, mobile browsers will consider you page to be not mobile friendly and hence, fall back on a desktop viewport. Moreover, it might apply font-boosting which can interfere with your intended page layout. The first step in configuration should be width = device – width. It should be kept in mind that not all mobile devices have the same width. Also, users prefer mobile sites scrolling vertically rather than horizontally.

  • Fonts

Check the font sizes. They should be legible to mobile users across devices. Google PageSpeed Insights checks the font sizes on whether it is enough to be read comfortably by most users.

  • Plugins

If you want to attract users who are using their mobile, avoid plugins, as most smartphones do not support flash and other plugins.

If you have a website already and are thinking of making it mobile friendly, it’s possible. But in many cases, a complete redesign, factoring in user experience and website analytics will help increase your website’s conversion rate and boost web and mobile traffic. If you are using WordPress or a CMS then there are quick fixes to make your site compatible – for example in WordPress there is a mobile solution called WP Touch.

We would love to hear your thoughts on mobile/tablet compatibility and how do you see it evolving.

Mobile Responsive Web Design: 10 Indian websites that are not mobile responsive

 

Mobile Responsive Web Design: 10 Indian websites that are not mobile responsive

 

At a networking meet last week, I was not surprised to hear a couple of interesting questions thrown around. Some of them which I got hold of, are as follows:

  • Does your company have a mobile website?
  • Do we need a responsive website as we already have a mobile website in place?
  • We are not an e-commerce company so is a mobile responsive website critical for us?

Firstly, let me start off with the difference between the mobile website and a mobile responsive website.

A mobile responsive website design means that no matter what the screen size is, the content always optimizes for the corresponding screen size. Thus, the website can be viewed using any device with any screen size like mobile, tablet, etc. This eliminates the need for cumbersome panning or resizing the website when viewing on different devices.

Alternatively, a mobile website means that you have a separate entity built for a specific devices’ screen size only. Try opening it in a differently-sized device and you would immediately want to check out other competitors in the industry with a better user-friendly website rather than suffering anxiety, eye-strain and blood pressure trying to work your way through the website.

This inspired me to have a look at the Indian companies that do not have a mobile-responsive website and I was pretty surprised to see that a lot of the big names also, do not have an optimized mobile web strategy. Some of them are discussed below:

  1. Pantaloons
    Pantaloons Pantaloons
  2. Mom & Me Mom & Me Mom & Me
  3. Groffr Groffr Groffr
  4. Apple India Apple India Apple India
  5. Tata Docomo Tata Docomo Tata Docomo
  6. Shoppers Stop Shoppers Stop Shoppers Stop
  7. Café Coffee Day ccd Ccd
  8. TCStcs Tcs
  9. Reliance Communications RCom RCom
  10. Groupon Groupon Groupon

The advantages of moving to a responsive web design are many, right from getting mobile traffic to your website to making the website adaptive to the future devices. There are companies that do have dedicated apps but again, not everyone is expected to have the app installed on their device. Instead, a responsive website can allow them to browse without frills. Companies can either opt to brace up for the future or be ready to lose up to half of their traffic in the future in the absence of a mobile responsive web design.

Feel free to reach out to us in case of any feedback or comments at [email protected].

 

Infographic: Digital Marketing by Real Estate StartUps

Digital Marketing Perspective on Indian Real Estate StartUps

 

As per the Indian Brand Equity Foundation report on the Indian Real Estate industry, Real Estate is India’s second largest employment generation sector after agriculture and contributes about 6.3 per cent to India’s gross domestic product (GDP). Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Indian Real Estate is expected to touch US$ 25 billion in the next 10 years from its current US$ 4 billion while the sector’s projected annual revenues is expected to be US$ 180 billion by 2020. This enormous growth potential seems to have lured a good number of startups to the industry.

Web Design and User Experience Perspective:

Most of the startups in the space seem to have invested a lot of time and attention in Web Design and User Experience to differentiate themselves from the bigger and more established players.

Housing.com, for instance, has an excellent interface with the property-search button in the centre. The interface is map-based and all property-search results turn out as places on a map. It also has a Shortlist button enabling the user to shortlist options and come back to them later to take a final call. While they have scored well with their interface, what sets them back is the fact they have yet to garner a large number of listings, leaving the user with very few options to choose from.

PropTiger differentiates itself by providing a portfolio tracking tool which enables the end user to know the status of their property investment in terms of pricing, construction progress, project and locality updates, price trends and market talk, which is intended to help them decide the right time to sell their property.

HomeShikari, a TTK services company started in 2011 and currently operating only for properties in Bangalore, is trying to crack the real estate problem by shunning the brokerage model and embracing complete transparency. HomeShikari too allows the user to search for properties via a map-based interface and has worked on a neat ad-free website with a good user Experience.

RealtyCompass claims to be a consumer centric property portal focused on providing the consumer with the information of every new project in the city. Started in July this year and based out of Chennai with a presence in 4 cities in South India, they are looking to expand rapidly to 10 cities pan-India.

Metroplots, also started out of Chennai in 2009, has witnessed good success in 3 major markets of Chennai, Bangalore and NCR where it currently operates and is on an ambitious expansion spree to 20 more cities. They have a strong online interface which offers investors an array of options to choose from while looking for deals and have also created a proprietary SAAS tool called Sales Desk to enable builders & agents grow their business.

Social Media Strategy Perspective:

All startups in the space have been actively using social media platforms to build their brands and engage and acquire customers in an attempt to revamp the industry.

Facebook seems to be the favorite tool with all startups to interact with their customers and promote their services. Housing.co.in, now Housing.com has over 236,000 likes, Commonfloor over 115,000 while HomeShikari, RealtyCompass and PropTiger have about 25,000, 22,600 and 10,000 each.

Amongst the other platforms, Twitter seems to be used more than the rest with Commonfloor being the most active of this pack with over 6500 Tweets and 3500 followers. Metroplots with over 3000 tweets and Proptiger with over 2800 seem to be catching up.

The use of Google+ and LinkedIn as social media platforms is just beginning to catch up while YouTube as a marketing platform has not been used much by either of these startups, with PropTiger being the lone exception. PropTiger has begun uploading videos of the projects listed with them on YouTube and currently has over 40 videos.

With big players such as Magicbricks and 99acres already established in the space, these startups are taking their Web Design, User Experience and social marketing strategy seriously and working on capturing a big chunk of this growing market.

Are you taking your Web Design, User Experience and Social marketing strategy seriously? Call us for a discussion.

Why your website is not delivering results?

An interesting article written on this subject highlights why many small and medium businesses have not been able to leverage their websites and online presence.

The first and most important thing is that the websites are not responsive or compatible across platforms (PC, tablet, smartphones, mobile etc). Consumers are increasingly browsing the internet on the go even in India. This means the websites should be accessible and viewable on any device.

The second finding from the study is even more revealing. Almost 80% of businesses do not feature their social media properties on their website. Social virality starts only when there is a critical mass in social media. Only if website users and traffic from the website is targeted towards social media, the critical mass can be reached.

The study also shows that not all websites call out the email address, phone number or contact form (if necessary for the business)  clearly on the homepage or header/footer. Print and TV advertising have already shown us that a strong call for action is required and the same is true for the web as well.

Finally, websites seem to be lacking Search Engine Optimisation. Most websites have over 35-40% traffic coming from search engines and now increasingly from social media, emails and affiliate marketing. This means search engines and Google in particular should be the first place to start for building traffic to the website. Its not just off page SEO that is missing, but basic onpage SEO that is lacking in many websites.

So when are you going to move to a a search engine optimised responsive website with a clear call to action?