Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become powerful platforms in which ecommerce stores can utilize to generate interest and drive traffic to their site. Now imagine that you can create your own social network that is specific to your ecommerce store. A social network where your customers can interact with one another, and where you can also blog. Well, now you can because there’s a cool new plugin for WordPress called BuddyPress that will enable you to do all of that, and the best part, it’s free and easy to use!
What is BuddyPress?
From the makers of WordPress, BuddyPress is a free open source plugin that you install along with WordPress, which is also free. BuddyPress has all the functionality of WordPress so you can still create blog posts and readers can still make comments. However, what makes BuddyPress different are the cool features and functionality that it adds to your blog to kick it up a notch, turning it into a social networking site.
These extra features in BuddyPress allow it to function like a social network by allowing users to create profiles, create and join groups, upload and share images , update statuses, and even befriend one another. On the other hand it also functions like a forum so users can post topics and other users can comment on it. With these extra features it makes BuddyPress an all-in-one blog, social network, and forum which makes it a great addition to have for your ecommerce store.
Make BuddyPress work for your ecommerce store
Let’s say you have a high quality product that has received rave reviews from those who’ve purchased it. These customers can actually share their experiences on BuddyPress so that other potential customers can see it and comment. This opens up a whole new realm of customer interactions that will help spread the word on your company and products. Here’s another example, let’s say you have new products or specials to promote. You can actually post them on BuddyPress as a status update where users will automatically see it on their newsfeed and be the first to know about it.
All of this will benefit your store because it’ll keep users active and interested with things related to your store. When there are active users you have the opportunity to reach them in more ways than ever before. So if you have a blog or are thinking about adding a blog to your ecommerce store think about adding BuddyPress too.
BigCommerce is slowly becoming my personal favorite shopping cart. They’ve added more features to make your e-commerce platform even more powerful. Not only are these new additions wonderful, but they tend to add new features on a regular basis. Two things that they’ve added to the built-in software that I’m in love with are the Product QuickView and Automatic Product Review Reminders. Why do I love them so much?
The fewer clicks to add an item to cart, the more likely the sale will convert. By having this option built into their software, BigCommerce store owners have added value. From what I’ve seen thus far, you will see all the options and description and can easily purchase products to your heart’s content. Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Automatic Product Review Reminders
Another new built-in feature is that the BigCommerce system will send emails to customers a few days after they’ve made an order reminding them to review the products they ordered. The email and time frame are completely customization and if you play around with it, you can easily build this into your marketing strategy and help promote more orders.
Those are my two favorites, but BigCommerce also included an Import Preview Mode, Integration with PixIr Express, and WebDAV. So Go BigCommerce for being on top of the game and adding new features to help store owners grow their business.
Have you noticed that most Bigcommerce and Volusion websites have hundreds and hundreds of products within their store? Certainly creating each product one by one would take a life time, so how do they do it? Both Volusion and Bigcommerce has the option to import excel sheets in a .csv format. There has been arguments about which ecommerce import is easier and more efficient. I personally think Volusion has a better system than Bigcommerce. Below I’ve provided basic but important topics that you must notice before decided for yourself which import you like the best.
Product sheet headers
The first thing I would like to discuss is Product sheet headers because I feel that the product sheet headers are an important part in the product import process. When using Bigcommerce your able to have anything in those headers and still be able to import, the problem with this is that if you have any amount of headers you need to confirm that either Bigcommerce or you has placed them in the appropriate field in the second step. If there fields are not in the correct place your import may error and cause problems. Volusion on the other hand has unique id’s for each table, this doesn’t just help with the import, it helps with organization within your sheet.
Multiple .csv import sheets and tables
Bigcommerce uses two sheets, one for sku’s the other for everything else involving products. The down fall to system is there is no way to import product options, the only thing that is product related while importing is what option set is assigned to each product, this means if you have 100 products with different options it will take you a life time of preparation. Volusion has multiple tables that you can import into, each table has its own sheet and unique id’s that goes with it. This breaks the data up keeping everything clean and organized. The only downfall to volusions product import is that it all of the sheets could be overwhelming for a new user jumping into this with no knowledge what so ever.
Importing product images and thumbnails
Both Bigcommerce and Volusion have there own way to import product images and thumbnails using a style sheet. The only difference is that Bigcommerce does there import within the same sheet as there product sheet where as Volusion uses a program called Volusion thumbnail Generator. For Bigcommerce when you import the sheet, it is expecting that the maximum sized images are within an ‘import’ folder within the FTP. For Volusion you are using a separate excel sheet for the generator to read then when the process is completed you drop the generated thumbnails in Volusions FTP, and Volusion does the rest. Volusions thumbnail generator works great and keeps all your images neat and easy to change if you need to.
Options are one of the most important features within an Ecommerce store and the ability to create options using a table rather than importing each option manually saved you a lot of time and money. With Volusion they have multiple options list that connect to each other using IDs. This can get confusing for the first time but I highly recommend looking into this if you are still doing your options the old fashion way, I believe it takes a lot less time than creating your options manually. Bigcommerce allows you to create options within the same sheet that you created your products. In order to do this, each option is its own line on the excel sheet, with the Item Type set to SKU. Bigcommerce then allows you to add rules to these options which give you the availability to add or subtract weight or price when the option is selected on the product page.
Now that you have some basic knowledge on the import stye for these two stores you will have to decided for yourself, Volusion or Bigcommerce.