Seller Release 14.1 – eBay Seller Update (UK & US)

March 11th, 2014

SellerRelease 2014

EBay have released their first seller release of 2014 they have outlined the changes that will be coming to eBay over the next year.

The changes are:

  • eBay Seller Standards
  • Holiday Returns
  • Category and item specific updates
  • New site experience
  • Picture standards Update

EBay Seller Standards

The biggest changes to eBay are all about Seller standards, the idea of the changes are to make it easier for buyers to determine who the best sellers are as well as showing sellers where they can improve.

  • The seller standard changes include:
  • A single combined score
  • Clearer thresholds for the combined score
  • Built in protection against a few buyers affecting a sellers business
  • A new seller dashboard to monitor performance

US read more: http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/springupdate2014/sellerstandards.html

UK Read More:

http://sellerupdate.ebay.ie/spring2014/new-seller-standards

Holiday Returns

EBay are introducing extended returns periods for the holiday period. Any transactions completed between November and December will need to offer an extended returns policy if they wish to obtain the eBay Premium Service benefits.

US read more: http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/springupdate2014/holidayreturns.html

Category and Item Specific Updates

EBay have made updates to certain categories find out what has changed:

US: http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/springupdate2014/categoryupdates.html

UK: http://sellerupdate.ebay.ie/spring2014/category-item-specific-changes

New Site Experience (UK)

EBay have announced to UK sellers the option to use new look stores from summer 14.

The new stores use a larger width header (billboard) and accommodate the new square store logos. The stores have larger product photos, follow buttons, social media buttons as well as introducing collections to buyers.

The new look stores are optional for sellers that don’t have a customized store.  Sellers with a customized store (including Frooition design customers) don’t need to do anything.

Sellers who do opt in to the new store layout can opt back out at anytime.

UK Read More: http://sellerupdate.ebay.ie/spring2014/new-look-shops

Picture standards now apply to Good ‘Til Cancelled listings (UK)

EBay have added to the picture standards policy (announced in March 2013) to include good ’til cancelled listings from May 2014.

UK Read more: http://sellerupdate.ebay.ie/spring2014/new-picture-standards

For the full story please refer to eBay’s news releases :

UK: http://sellerupdate.ebay.ie/spring2014/index

US: http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/springupdate2014/overview.html

Top eBay design features and trends

March 11th, 2014

topeBay

As a certified eBay provider specializing in design we have provided services for a lot of eBay sellers. Over the many years we have been crafting eBay designs we have seen many styles, trends and features come and go.

We used to see clients asking for very bright designs with lots of small product images and clients showing that they sold “a bit of everything”. The designs followed a more strict layout as the average desktop screen size was smaller than today.

There was a consensus that the more “stuff” you showed the more likely you were to make a sale; stores appeared crowded, jammed with promotional areas, and there were a lot of actions to click on.  There was a real ethos of more is more!

Trends and fashions have now changed, clients have specialized and there is a much bigger focus on an individual product type; this may be because there are now so many more of us shopping on eBay that it becomes worthwhile to focus on a particular product base.

OldvsNewDesign

It is no longer uncommon for us to design for a seller that only has a few products in their range; this means the whole store design can be tailored to one product range, making it more obvious to a customer what your business does.

There has also been more a move with the design imagery to show lifestyle imagery rather than flat product images.  For example: you aren’t selling a football, you are selling the experience of playing football with your family in the sun!

Our clients have moved towards useful functionality and away from flashy gimmicks, the easier and faster a customer can find a product; the more likely you are to convert a sale.

We have seen a lot more focus on navigation; customers are linking to custom pages to explain terms and conditions and displaying user friendly category structures.

Not all trends have been purely been fashionable crazes, advances in technology and other 3rd party technologies have shaped and influenced eBay design.

Video in listings

We often have sellers looking for the ability to integrate video (particularly YouTube) into their listings to create a richer experience. This became popular partly due to the increase in broadband/3g speeds, the ease of use of YouTube and the increasing quality of smart phone video capabilities.

No longer do you need to buy an expensive digital camcorder and a computer powerful enough to edit your product videos; you can simply snap a 2 minute video and upload directly to the web ready to add to your listings.

The Frooition eBay design management software allows sellers to easily add a YouTube video into listings using the YouTube embed code.

Clean, flat single column design  

There is a definite trend towards a clean, white store and listing with flat, understated design. Many TopSeller and signature customers opt for a single column layout with simplified header navigation.

The single column layout showcases products logically and encourages customers to scroll without being distracted. With internet speeds increasing it is also possible to use bigger beautiful images that utilize the extra width of a 1 column layout and really make an impact.

The clean white design trend means anything with color really stands out from the page, on an eCommerce site this is usually going to be images of your product or the call to action – making it easier and faster for a customer to navigate your store.

There has also been a move towards flatter design with larger buttons and clearer text.  This is partly fashion based but also has the benefit of faster load times and easier navigation – especially for mobile users.

For examples see:

Fading interactive imagery

One of the most popular features of our TopSeller and Signature eBay design services is the fading interactive imagery.  The motion of the fading imagery draws customer’s attention to read your important points or to take in exactly what you sell.

The ability to show several images in one place means you can cram in more information without lengthening the page or overcrowding. Because you are in control of the fading imagery you can use it to tell a story, whether it shows all the elements of an outfit from head to toe or explains how your product works. The fading imagery can almost be used as an online slideshow to really explain what your business is all about.

Improved navigation

Sellers are realising that the faster a customer gets to the correct product the more likely they are to buy, this means that you need to get a customer to a product in as little clicks as possible but also through specific enough terms that only the correct product is returned.

There are a few ways to combat this challenge including: Graphical category boxes, drop down searches and brand search boxes.

These allow buyers to click on a picture of a category or the name of a brand and go straight to that category or brand without the risk of misspelling the keyword.

In the case of the drop-down searches these can be built to be specific to the sellers product; for example we often create drop down searches that narrow car parts down into make model and part – meaning a customer can see the exact parts that fit their vehicle.

Mobile compatible listings

EBay are constantly releasing data about how important mobile is for eBay sellers, currently 30% of all eBay sales are “touched” by mobile so it is vital that your listings work on mobile devices. Old flash based templates do not work on all mobile devices so you may be jeopardizing your sales with if you use flash in a template. The majority of none-mobile templates will initially appear small on a mobile device and require the user to pinch and zoom the listing, they will then need to swipe around to read the description – these are all barriers to a sale.

With this in mind, Frooition have developed a new service for mobile eBay templates. The templates have been optimized to display correctly on all mobile devices, the load times are even smaller and the text and buttons are all optimized specifically for mobile.

Find out more about mobile templates here.

We have collected all of our most popular features together and added them to our eBay Top Seller design service.

Why do you need a good server infrastructure?

March 4th, 2014

whyyouneedagoodserver

Whatever you do online you rely on a provider’s server infrastructure, whether you’re updating Facebook, sending a tweet, reading your emails or running your online store. When these services don’t work it is frustrating, if your eCommerce store fails to function it affects your business and can affect your bottom line.

Even if you don’t have your own website good hosting can help boost your eBay listings if you host your product images or design online.

It is vital to invest in your server setup but there are a number of factors that are often overlooked that can affect your business:

Downtime

This is the most obvious issue that people look at, what is the server down time? Often hosting providers quote figures such as 99% uptime but what does that actually mean?

Uptime Downtime Per Month Downtime per year
98% 14h 24m 7d 7h 12m
99% 7h 12m 3d 15h 36m
99.9% 43m 8h 46m
99.99% 4m 52m
99.999% 0.4m 5m

Note: Often service providers do not count planned maintenance as downtime.

Hosting providers apply a number of methods to combat down time:

Backup power, Uninterruptible Power supplies and backup generators

- these cover short power outages however they are not fool proof – batteries run out, fuses blow and generators run out of fuel. These also do not cover hardware failure such as a hard drive failing.

Backup servers/ multiple servers -

Additional servers that either run in tandem with the main server or kick in if the main server fails. These cover one off machine failures but fail if the entire data center fails.

Multi-location data centres

- this is a technology Frooition employ it maximizes uptime as there are multiple servers running in multiple locations across the globe. If one center goes down then another data center takes over seamlessly.

Dedicated servers -

a lot of cheaper hosting shares your server with other users, this increases the chance of a virus or configuration bug taking your site down. Using shared hosting can also slow your site down due to “noisy neighbors” – this is where a user sharing your server has a lot of traffic or does a lot of processing uses the majority of the server’s capability leaving you with a slow site.

Backup’s, Data Integrity and Security-

If your hosting company does suffer downtime it is important that your data is backed up so it can be fully restored.

Multiple servers limit the chance of downtime and should create multiple copies of your data so loss is minimized.  Hosting companies should also create regular backups of your data; the best hosting services create a snapshot of the entire server including operating systems and configuration files so your entire server infrastructure could be replicated in a different location without hassle.

Your hosting company also needs to be secure; if your data is stolen from the server you may be liable so it is important to ensure you are covered against this. Many website and payment providers require PCI compliance which is a certification that the server has been tested for security weaknesses.

Frooition’s multiple server infrastructure uses the latest encryption technologies to keep data safe; servers have full snapshots several times a day to ensure no data is lost. Frooition’s servers are also frequently subjected to strict penetration tests by a third party company to ensure the security is cutting edge.

It is always advisable that you keep a local copy of any files in case the worst should happen.

Bandwidth/Data Transfer restrictions -

Cheaper hosting providers often enforce restrictions to limit their costs.

The bandwidth or data transfer is the size of the page/image loaded multiplied by the number of times it is loaded – for example a 1mb image that is loaded 100 times in a month would use up 100mb of data transfer.

If your hosting has a bandwidth cap of 1 GB (1,000mb) then it can easily be used up in a month, if it is used up the site will cease to function and you will lose sales. In terms of eBay listings your bandwidth will run out at your busiest time resulting in a bad listing without images.

Frooition do not enforce data transfer restrictions on any hosting services.

Site speed -

Cheaper hosting tends to provide slower site loading speeds, this is due to the number of people connecting with a server, the capacity of the outgoing connection and the specification of the actual server.

The distance to the server also makes a difference for site load speed, the closer to a server you are, in theory, the faster the site will load, however a user in Scotland loading a page on a server in London may actually go via Europe and the United States before receiving the data.

Frooition use Multi-location data centers and edge technology to ensure that your data is sent from the closest server using the most direct route. Frooition also leverage site caching so you aren’t reloading the same files unnecessarily.

Latency -

latency is slightly different to site speed although it does affect site speed. Latency is the delay in the server fetching the information and sending it to the client. This is less about connection speeds and more about server specification.

In short a faster processor and more ram will shorten the latency of the site.

Auto-scaling means that if the server load grows the infrastructure automatically activates an additional server to help share the load. Once the load reduces the servers are reduced to save energy and costs.

Frooition also use a Content delivery network with caching to again reduce latency.

In Summary

There are a lot of hosting providers available with a number of different specifications so it is important to shop around and get the right balance of performance, reliability and cost.

Frooition continually reinvest in the latest technology to ensure a top level service.

For more information about Frooition services visit http://www.frooition.com today!

Introducing new multi-channel design package

February 28th, 2014

caDesignPackageblog

ChannelAdvisor have recently announced they now support Bigcommerce as an ecommerce platform through its Webstores Amplifier.

This is great news for sellers as it opens up the powerful ChannelAdvisor solution to SME businesses as well as allowing for greater customisation of the ecommerce website channel.

The addition of the Bigcommerce platform is great news for many sellers as it allows for far greater customisation of the store as well as lower overheads for managing the store.

CA_Package

In response to this great news Frooition have developed a design package especially for ChannelAdvisor customers with 3 levels available for all sizes of seller.

All levels of the ChannelAdvisor package include:

  • eBay Store Design
  • eBay Listing Design
  • eBay Mobile Template
  • Frooition eBay Design Management software
  • eBay Design Hosting & Delivery
  • Matching Bigcommerce store
  • Rakuten (Play.com or Buy.com) store

When purchased together ChannelAdvisor customers will enjoy a 15% saving compared to purchasing each element separately.

Consistent branding is important for any online business, it allows you to: create a memorable brand, appear to be a larger organisation, build trust around your brand and ultimately increases customer retention and sales.

Read More

Frooition announce new eBay mobile design service

February 25th, 2014

LaunchBlogGfxFlat

Frooition are proud to announce today that they have just launched a brand new service - Mobile listing templates for eBay sellers.

Click here to see examples of our eBay Mobile design.

Working directly with eBay and sellers, we have developed the optimal layout for mobile devices improving buyer experience and ultimately better conversions.

Mobile commerce is growing at an amazing rate for eBay: eBay generated $22 Billion in 2013 through mobile devices. And with up to 30% of all listings being viewed on mobile devices, it is more important than ever to ensure your listings are mobile optimised. With a mobile optimized template you will increase the conversion rate of your listings.

How do Mobile optimised listings increase sales?

  • Mobile specific layout
  • Increased readability
  • Optimised for a touch experience
  • More obvious call to action
  • Cross promote additional items
  • Larger imagery
  • Richer user experience
  • Tried & tested arrangement
  • All delivered using Frooition’s global content delivery network for best load times.

What does the Frooition Mobile service include?

  • A separate listing layout and style specifically engineered for mobile devices
  • Faster load times
  • Designed for mobile displays
  • Mobile enhanced image gallery
  • Responsive layout for all sizes and orientations
  • Automatically switches between desktop and mobile
  • Mobile ready seller info tabs
  • Product Cross Promotion
  • Works with all popular smart phones and 3rd party browsers as well as the eBay Mobile App
  • Automatically works with existing listings – no additional work required by the seller

Mobile vs Desktop listing:

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How do you get a Frooition Mobile template?

Read more about eBay mobile design and contact us today to discuss your requirements

Creating Conversions in a Changing World

February 21st, 2014

CA Guest Blog Post

In an ever-evolving e-commerce landscape — marked by constant innovation, new frontiers and tech one-upmanship — the future of your online business lies with your product data. It’s your company’s lifeblood. And it defines who you are.

What’s imperative is that you have the ability to stay versatile with that data, so whatever new channels or platforms arise, you can harness them to achieve maximum sales.

At ChannelAdvisor, we’ve recently announced a strategic alliance with one of the industry’s leading webstore platforms, Bigcommerce, which is a vital step toward making this goal a reality.

As you take control of your inventory data and try to maximize your conversions, keep these four best practices in mind:

1. Make sure your product data is clean, comprehensive and agile.

The key here is a single, clean, error-free data feed. The fewer data streams you have to maintain, the less likely you are to make a mistake. And in the e-commerce business, mistakes lose customers. To prevent that from happening to you, we’ve launched the ChannelAdvisor Webstores Amplifier. The Webstores Amplifier takes your single data feed and sends it simultaneously to all of your channels, including your webstore and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Instead of entering your data multiple times for each channel, you enter your data just once, limiting the opportunity for error.

  • Need to release a new line of products immediately across numerous channels? Not a problem.
  • Interested in experimenting with cross-border trade (CBT)? It’s easy.
  • Worried about overselling? Everything is synced.
  • Using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to store products? The process is streamlined.

Once your inventory feed is integrated with the Webstores Amplifier, your data can go anywhere you want it to go and adapt to what you want it to. It’s that easy.

2. Make sure your webstore is robust and syncs with your data.

With most of the advanced functionality already built in to Bigcommerce webstores from launch, it only made sense for ChannelAdvisor to extend Webstores Amplifier support to include them. In addition to the high functionality, another immediate advantage of the Bigcommerce platform is its flexibility. A storefront can be launched in a matter of hours.

In a way, Bigcommerce levels the playing field for retailers. It makes it easy for small- and medium-size businesses to have the tools and capabilities of the big stores. Now, couple that high-functioning webstore with the ability to synchronize your inventory data throughout every other channel you desire and, suddenly, you have options.

  • Need to add an additional webstore or spin up a specialty store for the holidays? It can be done in a matter of minutes.
  • Want Frooition to revamp your Bigcommerce site to accommodate your growing business? Your data is ready to sync with it immediately.

3. Drive traffic to your webstore.

We could write an entire blog series on the topics of paid search and comparison shopping engines. However, for the purposes of this blog, we urge you to stay organized and continue trying new ways to drive traffic to your webstore.

Find keywords that convert, whether through trial and error or studying what’s worked in the past. Optimize keyword term bids based on the profitability of the keyword. Keep your ads up to date and keep track of what’s working. Follow your competitors and see what they’re doing.

With careful organization and study, you’ll be able to spot trends faster, seize opportunities first and, ultimately, get consumers to click on your product.

Which brings us to…

4. Optimize your webstore to enhance shoppers’ purchase path and drive conversions.

When consumers show up at your webstore, the last thing you want is for them to take a quick look around and click for the door. You want a webstore that encourages the consumer to stay and convert.

Again, this subject could be expanded into an entire series, but many of the things you need to worry about are common sense.

  • Keep the shopping cart experience smooth and easy.
  • Use site search on your website to learn what customers are shopping for on your site and use that information to create new content.
  • Create a plan for the next steps after a purchase. Do you want to set up a “thank you” page, a “Feedback” page or offer upsells and discounts?

It’s up to you to figure out what works best for your site and your potential customers. But most important, the customers should enjoy coming to your site and converting.

So there you have it. As you stare in wide-eyed amazement at the technological breakthroughs happening around you, remember what’s most important to your online business: maintaining control of your product data. Keep your data clean and versatile, make sure it’s synced with your high-functioning webstore, drive traffic to that webstore and then maintain a smooth path to purchase for your shoppers.

With these four things in mind, you will no doubt see a steady rise in conversions.

Frooition sponsoring ChannelAdvisor Catalyst 2014 Las Vegas

February 18th, 2014

CA_CatalystBlogImage

We are proud to announce we are attending and sponsoring ChannelAdvisor Catalyst in Las Vegas

From the 10th to the 12th of March Frooition will be attending and sponsoring the annual ChannelAdvisor Catalyst event at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

The ChannelAdvisor Catalyst events always provide great information to help sellers grow their business to the next level. Catalyst provides a unique insight into the future of ecommerce from industry visionaries and retailers.

The experts at the event explore how to add new channels, improve your SEO and SEM, make use of shopping feeds and hone your ecommerce strategy to be as successful as possible.

ChannelAdvisor have recently announced they now integrate with Bigcommerce websites which further enhances their offering.

Frooition are delighted to attend and support ChannelAdvisor and will be launching some new products and services specifically for ChannelAdvisor customers.

Register today for Catalyst Americas 2014, the leading e-commerce industry conference of the year.

Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to network and discuss current trends and best practices with leading online executives, analysts, solution providers, top online retailers and other thought leaders in Las Vegas.

Use the promo code FrooitionVIP to save $50 of the current registration rate.  Register 3 people or more and save $225 off each registration in addition to the VIP savings.  Register today!

Register For Catalyst

Frooition will also be attending the European Catalyst event at the Hilton Metropole, London on the 10th April 2014.

 

 

Top features for an ecommerce platform

February 10th, 2014

topecommerce

Frooition provide design services for many ecommerce platforms, including; Amazon, Magento Go, Bigcommerce and Channel Advisor Premium stores.

In our many years of experience we have seen trends come and go, highlighting what customers require in the world of design today.

We have detailed the top features our customers ask for in an ecommerce platform.

1.       Single column storefront

A single column store front creates a logical flow for buyers, there is no confusion about where to look and how to browse the site – you simply read from top to bottom. This format is becoming more popular with the influx of tablets and other devices that do not have traditional screen sizes. Without side columns it is a lot easier to re-size the whole site to fit a smaller display.

There is also a shift towards simple design with obvious navigation.

2.       Fading lifestyle image Hero:

Many store owners are opting for a large, fading central hero on their stores. Used correctly, this is a great feature as it can say exactly what your store is about within a few seconds – after all a picture paints a thousand words!  As it is animated it also creates intrigue and draws the eye in.

It is a great place to re-style and refresh your store – you can easily replace the 3-4 images seasonally to completely change the essence of your store.

It is important to make sure the fading hero isn’t too tall as this pushes the main content of your site lower down and can affect conversions.

3.       Search / Browse the store by product features

Search is great if you know what you are looking for, however if you are just in the mood to browse then searching by product feature is a great marketing tool. If buyers can narrow products down by size and color (for example) then they will see products that appeal to them that they would not have seen by a simple keyword search.

Not all platforms support full filtering however the effect can be replicated through clever categorisation (put a product in the category Mens > Tshirt but also in the category Color > Red).

Frooition also do a lot of work creating drop-down searches that run keyword searches – the benefit of these are that you can specify the exact search term without the worry of spelling mistakes.

4.       Clean white layout with flat design

We are seeing more and more customers asking for clean plain design with minimal effects (such as bevel and shadow).  This tends to create a more timeless design as well as making the product photographs the star of the show. This can also be a good thing for brand marketing as your logo will stand out from the design.

Clean design makes navigation obvious  as the navigation really contrasts against the flatter background.

5.       On page shopping cart

The majority of platforms we design for feature an on page shopping cart, it’s not a new feature by any means but it is an important one. If you keep the cart in a familiar place (top right) the buyer feels comfortable with the layout but also it becomes very obvious what the call to action is for the site: CHECKOUT!

6.       Drop Down, multi-level categories

Drop down multi-level categories are becoming the norm for the majority of web stores. It creates an intuitive navigation experience, start with a handful of high level categories (such as Men’s, Women’s, Children’s) and then distil down through different layers.

The beauty of drop down, descending, categories is even if you have a broad product range your category list isn’t daunting.

It also ensures that your categories aren’t taking up precious real estate and pushing your products below the page fold.

7.       Image based category navigation

Image based category navigation is great for the homepage or landing pages as people make a connection with the photograph and the products – just make sure you have great quality images that evoke the good feeling your customers will get when they receive your product.

Image based categories can also be helpful if you have obscure product ranges or categories that can be confused with others.

8.       Mobile friendly template

Mobile internet and mobile shopping is rapidly chomping at the heels of traditional desktop PC shopping so it is important to have some aspect of mobile site to please mobile shoppers.

There are a number of ways to categorise a store:

  • Mobile incompatible – this means the site just doesn’t load on a mobile device – usually sites that depend on flash for functionality.
  • Mobile compatible – these sites load on mobile and all functions work correctly however the visibility and layout of the site isn’t altered for the mobile device.
  • Mobile Friendly – these are sites that either change the existing layout of the site specifically for mobile (responsive) or they load an alternate version of the site just for mobile devices (None-responsive)

Bigcommerce and Magento Go both have Mobile Friendly templates available as standard.

9.       Product variations that adjust pricing information

Buyers want choice, everyone has different requirements and you can help them to get their perfect product easily using product variations.

These can be as simple as selecting the size and color of a t-shirt to selecting the specification of a laptop. Changing the options can also alter the price (this can be great to hook buyers in with a cheaper item and allowing them to increase the value themselves).

The more advanced products can even allow for customised text and even photograph uploads!

In Summary

The above features are a great recipe for a functional site, however it is important to use them correctly and use them when they are needed rather than having them for the sake of filling a gap.

If you would like to build a store that has the above features, or would like to discuss any of the above features; then contact us today and speak to one of our design consultants!