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Chance

How to Make an Awesome osCommerce Site

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Geat Stuff!! Even for people like me, who has been using OSC for a number of years... it's a nice refresher!!

Thanks for the effort

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Agreed on the checkout process (oh and we redid the product category template in CSS instead :thumbsup: ) but the checkout process we redesigned was based on the old look, just revamped the stylesheet for steps 1-4. Check out the process at sparklingcards . Also note that the registration page is breaking from the table and moving it down the page a bit so bear with them as they fix that.

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Chance,

 

From recent experience, and from going through the contributions support forums, etc., I'd like to advise caution in recommending BTS or any other contribution that has very little in the way of documentation or support.

 

For the uninitiate, BTS changes the structure of OSC. Unless you have experience in php and css, I advise against using it.

 

Your comment of how BTS 'skins' all your pages after dabbling in a single page of HTML is, to my experience, incorrect.

 

Other than that, this is a wonderful post and I've gotten good mileage from it. Thank you.

 

 

Joseph

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I am a newbee in webdesigning stuff but you realy done a very wonderful job especially to me becouse i had to almost R2500 thats $350 to learn how to manage amd make money with osCommerce but you saved ma bucks. Thank you; Thank you ; Thank you very much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a companion to my earlier �How to Make a Horrible osCommerce Website� post. While I have received countless emails and personal messages about how great that post is, and the obvious humor inside it, I understand that there are a few members of this forum who might take personal offense to some of my points raised.

 

This was never my intention. So, without further introduction, here is the�

 

How to Make an Awesome osCommerce Site:

And by awesome, I mean "Totally Sweet"

 

1. Refresh the Stock Layout.

 

Ok guys, nobody says you have to go buck wild with the layout, change the layouts of the columns and headers, and try to switch osC over to a pure CSS XHTML Valid masterpiece. However, I think everyone will agree that the osCommerce stock blue-gray color info boxes just don�t work with every product. So what can you do?

 

Edit the Stylesheet! It's called stylesheet.css, and its right in your catalog root folder. The cool thing is, you can change colors just by replacing their hex code (like #FFFFFF) with a word like "blue" if you don't know color hex codes! This is the most drop dead simple way of getting away from stock without design changes. Change your colors! Please!

 

Want to change it even more but don't know how? Download and install a Template System contribution.

 

There will be purists who will say �Template systems are bad� and �Template systems break compatibility with future versions� and �Template systems are the devil�. It does not matter- pound for pound, a template system like STS or BTS is going to improve the visual layout of your store and make it more pleasing to the customers eyes if you have little or no design or php experience. What both of these systems do is give you just one page to edit plain HTML in, and it �skins� the entire osC site.

There are two main ones out there:

 

BTS contribution: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...ystem+structure

 

STS contribution: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...ystem+structure

 

The great thing about the template systems is that there are numerous free templates that other community members have made available in the contributions section. Just search the contributions for �template� and I am sure you will find them.

 

Changing the stock buttons is another quick and easy way to update the look of your cart. In the contributions section there is a variable cornucopia of free button sets that community members have uploaded for your use. Just check the �Image Contributions� section for button sets.

 

Another option is to purchase a commercial template, but for this forum we will stick to what�s free and available on this site in the contribution section.

2. Add a thumbnail contribution

 

Thumbnail contributions are the bee�s knees. They rock, and you are going to love them. They improve load times, they make your images look better, and a site with thumbnails projects an overall more professional appearance to the customer than one with browser-resized images.

 

There are quite a few thumbnail contributions out there. Some allow you to upload small, medium and large pictures, some allow additional product images to go along with your main image, and some automatically resize large images into multiple sizes using image libraries like GD, GD2, and ImageMagick installed on your server (contact your host). The point is, you can get an image contribution that will work with your hosting plan even if you don�t have the advanced image library features.

 

A couple I have checked out and liked (I am sure there are more):

 

UltraPics: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...l/search,MoPics

 

Allows multiple images, multiple file sizes, optional automatic resize using php libraries.

 

On the Fly Auto Thumbnailer: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...,auto+thumbnail

 

Simple, automatic thumbnail generation for your single product image. Not as much cool added stuff like multiple images, but easier to install. Requires GD2 or ImageMagick libraries to function.

 

3. Optimize your Images in Photoshop

There are many image editing programs out there, and I can�t cover each and every one. However, the process is the same. You need to either �Save for Web� in Photoshop or �Export > JPEG/GIF Optimizer� in Paint Shop Pro. What this does is allow you to compress your images in quality and color depth so that they download quicker. Quicker loading images means happier customers that spend more time looking at your products and not waiting for the page to load. Happier customers mean more sales and higher conversion rates.

 

You will find that some images save smaller in GIF (ones with fewer colors, and smaller image sizes) and some save smaller in JPEG (photos, product images, larger images, headers). Play around, and try to find the best mix of quality and size.

 

Remember: To pop the page up in less than 8 seconds on 56k, you need to have less than 30k of images. This is probably impossible with an ecommerce site, but it gives you a measuring stick of how long your images are going to take to load.

4. Smooth out the Checkout Process

 

There are numerous industry studies and reports that say shorter, fewer page checkouts improve conversion rates. I personally think the ideal is a two page checkout- Enter your stuff, confirm, you�re done.

 

There is a long and active thread on this forum with many code hints, tips, and tricks on the forums here. It covers checkout, account creation, making the customer log in, etc. It�s a great read, and I would say a requirement for anyone wanting to run an osC shop.

5. Do some market research and find a USP.

 

For the uninitiated, a USP is a Unique Selling Proposition. In layman�s terms, it�s what makes your website special for the customer. It�s why customers would buy from you instead of the big guys, and it�s probably the single most important thing for your sales.

 

You may want to make a website that sells computer parts, but you have to understand that there are 50,000 companies selling computer parts. What is going to set your site apart? Great shipping deals? Lower prices? Advanced configurations? Whatever it is, you need to do your market research, find out what your USP is going to be, and implement it successfully to make money.

 

I deal with the �Business� side of ecommerce more than the technical aspect, and my company sells hundreds of thousands of dollars of product a year online. Trust me; this is the most important item on this list.

6. Gosh darn it, add an SSL certificate.

 

It does not matter if you plan on using Paypal, Authorize.net, or some other provider. Your site is going to be collecting personal identifiable information in the form of shipping addresses, phone numbers, and customer names. You need an SSL certificate. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

 

SSL certificates vary in price from $20-$400 a year. Make sure you get a minimum 128 bit security certificate- the rest of the price variation is in name brand recognition of the certificate issuer. I personally think that Geotrust is the best balance of value for price, but there are many others much cheaper and more expensive. Do your research, and buy the one that would make YOU must comfortable as a consumer.

 

7. Add Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Conditions of Sale statements.

 

Its easy to forget to add these- You spend 10 weeks tweaking your sites visuals, two months adding products, and you just want to launch that puppy and let it fly. However, these are the documents that people are going to read when deciding if they want to give you their email address or their credit card number.

 

Statistics show that while more and more people are buying online, an increasing number of them are even more wary about privacy policies, if they can return an item, and what making a purchase consents them to.

 

Do your customers a favor and put these policies in place, even if it�s only to cover your own butt. That way if there ever is a problem at least you have a published, established policy you can point the customer to and not come off like you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes and take advantage of them.

 

8. Get descriptive with your products.

 

Tell all about your products. Tell what they are made of, how they fit (Loose? Tight?), what colors they come in, who is their intended user group, what they do, how they do it, why the customer wants to buy it.

 

In a brick-and-mortar store, customers can read the box. They can pick up the item and hold it in their hands, check out all the angles, and try it on. On your website, they can�t. This is why a comprehensive product description is a must.

 

Not only is a customer going to base their purchasing decision off your description (or lack thereof), search engines are going to index your site and position your listings based on the quality of your content. Now which site do you think is going to get the better listing for a given product- The one that says �Boot� or the one that has two paragraphs about an awesome mid-thigh leather boot with rhinestones, fit and quality of the materials, and care instructions?

 

9. Skip Rich-Media files.

 

Flash, Java, and all that other �stuff that moves� has no place on a productive website. Adding a flash intro only adds another layer of �junk� between the customer and the product info page where the action happens. Flash headers only make low bandwidth connections slower to your site. Java image switchers literally crash half the browsers on the planet, and moving junk all over your site makes it look like some AOL homepage.

 

Look at your 10 favorite shopping sites online. Count how many moving, annoying things they have blinking and flashing and scrolling around. Now look at yours. You might want to reassess if that neat Flash header with the annoying SWOOOOSH! Noise every time a page is loaded is really worth it.

 

10. Post your address and phone number on the site

 

Just because people shop online does not mean they don�t want to know who they are dealing with. Make sure you post an address (even if it�s just a PO box- its better than nothing) and a phone number where people can call and at least leave you a message. This is all about customer service, and this is what turns single customers into repeat customers and word-of-mouth advocates of your site (that�s the best advertising money CAN�T buy).

 

Think about getting an 800 number. 800 numbers go a long way toward establishing yourself as a legitimate business. There are some very affordable plans, and if you can�t answer it all day make sure it has some sort of voice mail or machine attached to it. Call your customers back when they call. They will appreciate the personal service.

 

Invest in some nice company mailing labels for your packages- It build brand recognition, makes you look more professional, and lets the customer know that you are a real company that can be trusted.

 

11. Remove that counter thing from the bottom of osCommerce

 

There is not a single successful ecommerce site that broadcasts the number of visitors to their site. Yes, statistics are a powerful tool, and you should always install some sort of statistics package like AWStats (search Google) or similar on your web server. However, counters visible on your website will only show a) your customers how little traffic you are getting and B) your competitors how big of a threat you are.

 

From a technical standpoint- The osCommerce counter is a �Requests� counter, and does not count visitors anyway. It counts requests created by the includes and database calls in your store, so this number will never be accurate for any statistical purpose.

 

12. Change your page titles

 

We all know osCommerce rocks- That�s why we use it! However, leaving it your page title on your Custom Hand Painted Dishrag store is not the best business move. The easiest way to change your page title is to edit the /includes/languages/English/English.php file. The better alternative is to check the contributions section and download one of the awesome meta-tag controller contributions that allow you to have custom page titles on every page, improving the SEO aspect of your site. One of the template systems even has this built in.

 

13. Stay away from all sorts of cheesy logos

 

There are about a bazillion little �certified� logos you can put on your site. There are logos from your payment processor, there are logos from eBay, and there are third party logos from about a million companies hawking everything from �Hacker Safe� to �Billy Bob�s Best Site of this Week� award.

 

The fact is, the only logos you need to display on your site is your SSL certificate logo, maybe credit card logos for what cards you accept, and that�s it. All that other stuff is just clutter- nobody reads that junk, and it just makes your site look bad.

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i am SO SORRY, but, how on earth do you download those files?!

 

Darren,

First off; there are several ways to look at this situation.

 

1) you don't have to download existing files if you have, or can get, a fresh copy from some other source. All of your OS Commerce files are like that. You can get a fresh copy from the "Solutions" link above. Then modify these files as needed and upload the revised copies to your server.

 

2) How did your website end up on the server to start with? Whatever program moved your HTML files from your computer to the server will also move the files revised in step 1.

 

3) If a directory does not have an index.* file, a web browser will display a listing of the files in it instead. You can then right-click on them and download a copy ... but you'll still need to figure out how to upload the files after editing. Likely you can also use your web browser to surf to the file by name and then use the web browser to save a copy. This is somewhat awkward and requires a better than average knowledge of how your browser works ... but, generally speaking, it can usually be done. (Note my generous use of 'wiggle words' to leave myself room to wiggle back out of that statement -- it is definitely on the 'iffy' side and only included for completeness. It is NOT my first choice. #4, below, is.)

 

4) Best bet is to get an FTP client. Do a Google search (DAGS) for "FTP Client" and browse through the list. On Windows, I use SmartFTP. CuteFTP is also well spoken of. Coffee Cup software makes a suite of programs that includes an FTP client. Most such programs have a 30 day trial period in which to try before buying. You will need to know the user name and password for your site.

 

At the same time as you make a change to a file, add a comment explaining it at the top of the changed line or section. If the line is based on a contrib, note the name & version of the contrib and also the names of other files the contrib changed so that you will be reminded to edit them too, if ever you need to back the contrib out again. If the change spans more than a single line, I like to add a comment at the end of it, too. Each language (HTML, PHP, CSS and so on, uses a different syntax to identify comments. Make certain that you use the correct one for the text being edited.) One VERY useful side benefit of such copious commenting is that, when you apply another contrib in the future, you are alerted to the possibility that it might be breaking one you are already using.

 

Hey ... stuff happens. Nobody needs suspenders until their belt breaks. But when it does, those suspenders can really save the day!

 

Apparently you are new to this whole process. There is a lot to learn. If you get swamped, the least expensive way out may well be to hire a pro because (s)he will get the sales moving faster ... offsetting their fees and then some.

 

Hope this helps. I know I went WAAAY beyond your original question, but I thought that you (and others) might benefit from a fuller discussion of the process.

 

Bill


Wooden stuff.

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Does anyone know of a quick and dirty way to get GD into OSC without having to install any of the current thumbnail contribs?

 

searching for thumbnail contribs means the original has been posted, 2dozen people has added on different bits and all of them seem to name it different versions, not one of them include the full version and no-one has taken in to consideration mentioning which of the previous versions they have used. those that post vanilla installs dont tell you which fixes they included, which the last version was they based it on... its a total mess!


Riaan

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Hi there

Great article.

Quick question about the title, in my english.php file it says the following: define('TITLE', STORE_NAME); that is not the name of my store. Any ideas?

 

Thanks a lot.

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Been searching on here for a few hours now and havent come across what I need.

 

I thought I'd ask in here as you know what your talking about and most stores might appreciate the advice.

 

I want to extend the 'new product of the month' box so that it shows at least another 3 or 4 lines of products. I'm pretty sure I can rename it and get the products to show that I want in there, but its the adding more items in it thats got me stumped!

 

Maybe I'm just using the wrong keywords, as I have looked at contibs and the forum.

 

By the way this is a fantastic thread! Deffiatley one to add to my favorites list!

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I've found the piece of code to modify in includes/new_products and have had a play around with it but I obviously dont have that magc touch - lol

 

Can anyone please tell me how I can modify this:

 

$col ++;

if ($col > 5) {

$col = 4;

$row ++;

}

}

 

to give me extra rows of products in my new product of the month box?

 

Very, very much appreciated if you can!

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I've found the piece of code to modify in includes/new_products and have had a play around with it but I obviously dont have that magc touch - lol

 

Can anyone please tell me how I can modify this:

 

$col ++;

if ($col > 5) {

$col = 4;

$row ++;

}

}

 

to give me extra rows of products in my new product of the month box?

 

Very, very much appreciated if you can!

 

Don't know your code but I believe you may need to reset the columns counter. Something like:

 

$col ++;

if ($col > 5) {

$col = 0;

$row ++;

}

}

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Also here is a link that I'm trying to get pics to be seen and with no success. I’ve uploaded the pics inside the images folder and the path I get when I right click on the image goes to store then images (http://resourcesonline.us/osCommerce3/catalog/images/store/Audio%20Cables/FUL1_BE112234-10.jpg) I’m very clueless as t how t get these pictures to view.

 

Here is the link to my ecommerce page: http://resourcesonline.us/osCommerce3/catalog/

 

I have even went as far as creating a folder named store in the images folder to see if the path would fall into place. But for some reason no luck.

 

I have a huge project that is coming up that will require about 5000 products and I do not want to take that on without knowing how to get thee picture viewable.

 

PLEASE HELP ANYONE!

 

I would certainly appreciate it.

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shubbert

 

I found that renaming the file to something without the "%" sign in it will fix the issue. I belive that the "%" is automaticlly inserted if there is a space in the file name. Try fixing this and see if that helps.

 

Jason

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Chance:

 

I've read both your os commerce threads and I thought they were both genius, you have a great flair for making easy and fun to read articles.

 

Thanks!!

 

~FOX~

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Hi chance,

 

I have read your post regarding the Awesome help and link to download STS;

 

Could you help me please. :blink:

 

I have uploaded all of the contents successfully although when i go to this link;

http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...ystem+structure - also for instructions it says i need to edit the file (/includes/sts_template.html) but that file isnt there? it only is in the folder there when i uploaded all to the folders alocated here: ( /public_html/includes/sts_templates/full/sts_template.html) do i have to move it to that location, actually as a test I moved it to that location and it didnt make a difference? I understand that when I open it in dreamweaver I can see where it is I need to edit, but as I say I dont know how to activate it etc? It all seems fine and clear in the Admin also? any suggestions please?

 

Thanks.

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Great post :thumbsup:

I just tried changing the colour scheme and all the rounded corners of the tables stay the same, are they all images? Is it easier to change their colour or to delete them? If I did delete them, would the table just have squared corners?

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Hi chance,

 

I have read your post regarding the Awesome help and link to download STS;

 

Could you help me please. :blink:

 

I have uploaded all of the contents successfully although when i go to this link;

http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...ystem+structure - also for instructions it says i need to edit the file (/includes/sts_template.html) but that file isnt there? it only is in the folder there when i uploaded all to the folders alocated here: ( /public_html/includes/sts_templates/full/sts_template.html) do i have to move it to that location, actually as a test I moved it to that location and it didnt make a difference? I understand that when I open it in dreamweaver I can see where it is I need to edit, but as I say I dont know how to activate it etc? It all seems fine and clear in the Admin also? any suggestions please?

 

Thanks.

 

Dan,

 

It does not appear that you have installed STS completely.

 

You would be better assisted asking STS related questions in the STSv4 Forum (see link in my signature below).

Also, for the most up to date STS version, go to: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contributions,1524

 

Hope this helps you out,


Bill Kellum

 

Sounds Good Productions

STS Tutorials & more: STSv4.6, STS Add-ons (STS Power Pack), STS V4 Forum STS Forum FREE TEMPLATE

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:-" :-"

 

You seem to know a lot about Hooking up a site. Any advice for a new comer with no computer literacy skills what so ever? I downloaded the Manual and it is GREEK to me. Some phrase sound familiar but I would not know where to go. Do you know of a more user friendly web site I can view to help me?

 

 

:-"

This is a companion to my earlier ?How to Make a Horrible osCommerce Website? post. While I have received countless emails and personal messages about how great that post is, and the obvious humor inside it, I understand that there are a few members of this forum who might take personal offense to some of my points raised.

 

This was never my intention. So, without further introduction, here is the?

 

How to Make an Awesome osCommerce Site:

And by awesome, I mean "Totally Sweet"

 

1. Refresh the Stock Layout.

 

Ok guys, nobody says you have to go buck wild with the layout, change the layouts of the columns and headers, and try to switch osC over to a pure CSS XHTML Valid masterpiece. However, I think everyone will agree that the osCommerce stock blue-gray color info boxes just don?t work with every product. So what can you do?

 

Edit the Stylesheet! It's called stylesheet.css, and its right in your catalog root folder. The cool thing is, you can change colors just by replacing their hex code (like #FFFFFF) with a word like "blue" if you don't know color hex codes! This is the most drop dead simple way of getting away from stock without design changes. Change your colors! Please!

 

Want to change it even more but don't know how? Download and install a Template System contribution.

 

There will be purists who will say ?Template systems are bad? and ?Template systems break compatibility with future versions? and ?Template systems are the devil?. It does not matter- pound for pound, a template system like STS or BTS is going to improve the visual layout of your store and make it more pleasing to the customers eyes if you have little or no design or php experience. What both of these systems do is give you just one page to edit plain HTML in, and it ?skins? the entire osC site.

There are two main ones out there:

 

BTS contribution: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...ystem+structure

 

STS contribution: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...ystem+structure

 

The great thing about the template systems is that there are numerous free templates that other community members have made available in the contributions section. Just search the contributions for ?template? and I am sure you will find them.

 

Changing the stock buttons is another quick and easy way to update the look of your cart. In the contributions section there is a variable cornucopia of free button sets that community members have uploaded for your use. Just check the ?Image Contributions? section for button sets.

 

Another option is to purchase a commercial template, but for this forum we will stick to what?s free and available on this site in the contribution section.

2. Add a thumbnail contribution

 

Thumbnail contributions are the bee?s knees. They rock, and you are going to love them. They improve load times, they make your images look better, and a site with thumbnails projects an overall more professional appearance to the customer than one with browser-resized images.

 

There are quite a few thumbnail contributions out there. Some allow you to upload small, medium and large pictures, some allow additional product images to go along with your main image, and some automatically resize large images into multiple sizes using image libraries like GD, GD2, and ImageMagick installed on your server (contact your host). The point is, you can get an image contribution that will work with your hosting plan even if you don?t have the advanced image library features.

 

A couple I have checked out and liked (I am sure there are more):

 

UltraPics: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...l/search,MoPics

 

Allows multiple images, multiple file sizes, optional automatic resize using php libraries.

 

On the Fly Auto Thumbnailer: http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contri...,auto+thumbnail

 

Simple, automatic thumbnail generation for your single product image. Not as much cool added stuff like multiple images, but easier to install. Requires GD2 or ImageMagick libraries to function.

 

3. Optimize your Images in Photoshop

There are many image editing programs out there, and I can?t cover each and every one. However, the process is the same. You need to either ?Save for Web? in Photoshop or ?Export > JPEG/GIF Optimizer? in Paint Shop Pro. What this does is allow you to compress your images in quality and color depth so that they download quicker. Quicker loading images means happier customers that spend more time looking at your products and not waiting for the page to load. Happier customers mean more sales and higher conversion rates.

 

You will find that some images save smaller in GIF (ones with fewer colors, and smaller image sizes) and some save smaller in JPEG (photos, product images, larger images, headers). Play around, and try to find the best mix of quality and size.

 

Remember: To pop the page up in less than 8 seconds on 56k, you need to have less than 30k of images. This is probably impossible with an ecommerce site, but it gives you a measuring stick of how long your images are going to take to load.

4. Smooth out the Checkout Process

 

There are numerous industry studies and reports that say shorter, fewer page checkouts improve conversion rates. I personally think the ideal is a two page checkout- Enter your stuff, confirm, you?re done.

 

There is a long and active thread on this forum with many code hints, tips, and tricks on the forums here. It covers checkout, account creation, making the customer log in, etc. It?s a great read, and I would say a requirement for anyone wanting to run an osC shop.

5. Do some market research and find a USP.

 

For the uninitiated, a USP is a Unique Selling Proposition. In layman?s terms, it?s what makes your website special for the customer. It?s why customers would buy from you instead of the big guys, and it?s probably the single most important thing for your sales.

 

You may want to make a website that sells computer parts, but you have to understand that there are 50,000 companies selling computer parts. What is going to set your site apart? Great shipping deals? Lower prices? Advanced configurations? Whatever it is, you need to do your market research, find out what your USP is going to be, and implement it successfully to make money.

 

I deal with the ?Business? side of ecommerce more than the technical aspect, and my company sells hundreds of thousands of dollars of product a year online. Trust me; this is the most important item on this list.

6. Gosh darn it, add an SSL certificate.

 

It does not matter if you plan on using Paypal, Authorize.net, or some other provider. Your site is going to be collecting personal identifiable information in the form of shipping addresses, phone numbers, and customer names. You need an SSL certificate. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

 

SSL certificates vary in price from $20-$400 a year. Make sure you get a minimum 128 bit security certificate- the rest of the price variation is in name brand recognition of the certificate issuer. I personally think that Geotrust is the best balance of value for price, but there are many others much cheaper and more expensive. Do your research, and buy the one that would make YOU must comfortable as a consumer.

 

7. Add Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Conditions of Sale statements.

 

Its easy to forget to add these- You spend 10 weeks tweaking your sites visuals, two months adding products, and you just want to launch that puppy and let it fly. However, these are the documents that people are going to read when deciding if they want to give you their email address or their credit card number.

 

Statistics show that while more and more people are buying online, an increasing number of them are even more wary about privacy policies, if they can return an item, and what making a purchase consents them to.

 

Do your customers a favor and put these policies in place, even if it?s only to cover your own butt. That way if there ever is a problem at least you have a published, established policy you can point the customer to and not come off like you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes and take advantage of them.

 

8. Get descriptive with your products.

 

Tell all about your products. Tell what they are made of, how they fit (Loose? Tight?), what colors they come in, who is their intended user group, what they do, how they do it, why the customer wants to buy it.

 

In a brick-and-mortar store, customers can read the box. They can pick up the item and hold it in their hands, check out all the angles, and try it on. On your website, they can?t. This is why a comprehensive product description is a must.

 

Not only is a customer going to base their purchasing decision off your description (or lack thereof), search engines are going to index your site and position your listings based on the quality of your content. Now which site do you think is going to get the better listing for a given product- The one that says ?Boot? or the one that has two paragraphs about an awesome mid-thigh leather boot with rhinestones, fit and quality of the materials, and care instructions?

 

9. Skip Rich-Media files.

 

Flash, Java, and all that other ?stuff that moves? has no place on a productive website. Adding a flash intro only adds another layer of ?junk? between the customer and the product info page where the action happens. Flash headers only make low bandwidth connections slower to your site. Java image switchers literally crash half the browsers on the planet, and moving junk all over your site makes it look like some AOL homepage.

 

Look at your 10 favorite shopping sites online. Count how many moving, annoying things they have blinking and flashing and scrolling around. Now look at yours. You might want to reassess if that neat Flash header with the annoying SWOOOOSH! Noise every time a page is loaded is really worth it.

 

10. Post your address and phone number on the site

 

Just because people shop online does not mean they don?t want to know who they are dealing with. Make sure you post an address (even if it?s just a PO box- its better than nothing) and a phone number where people can call and at least leave you a message. This is all about customer service, and this is what turns single customers into repeat customers and word-of-mouth advocates of your site (that?s the best advertising money CAN?T buy).

 

Think about getting an 800 number. 800 numbers go a long way toward establishing yourself as a legitimate business. There are some very affordable plans, and if you can?t answer it all day make sure it has some sort of voice mail or machine attached to it. Call your customers back when they call. They will appreciate the personal service.

 

Invest in some nice company mailing labels for your packages- It build brand recognition, makes you look more professional, and lets the customer know that you are a real company that can be trusted.

 

11. Remove that counter thing from the bottom of osCommerce

 

There is not a single successful ecommerce site that broadcasts the number of visitors to their site. Yes, statistics are a powerful tool, and you should always install some sort of statistics package like AWStats (search Google) or similar on your web server. However, counters visible on your website will only show a) your customers how little traffic you are getting and B) your competitors how big of a threat you are.

 

From a technical standpoint- The osCommerce counter is a ?Requests? counter, and does not count visitors anyway. It counts requests created by the includes and database calls in your store, so this number will never be accurate for any statistical purpose.

 

12. Change your page titles

 

We all know osCommerce rocks- That?s why we use it! However, leaving it your page title on your Custom Hand Painted Dishrag store is not the best business move. The easiest way to change your page title is to edit the /includes/languages/English/English.php file. The better alternative is to check the contributions section and download one of the awesome meta-tag controller contributions that allow you to have custom page titles on every page, improving the SEO aspect of your site. One of the template systems even has this built in.

 

13. Stay away from all sorts of cheesy logos

 

There are about a bazillion little ?certified? logos you can put on your site. There are logos from your payment processor, there are logos from eBay, and there are third party logos from about a million companies hawking everything from ?Hacker Safe? to ?Billy Bob?s Best Site of this Week? award.

 

The fact is, the only logos you need to display on your site is your SSL certificate logo, maybe credit card logos for what cards you accept, and that?s it. All that other stuff is just clutter- nobody reads that junk, and it just makes your site look bad.

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When you are4 adding images- drop images in imgages folder.Alter the links to that images, but do not put a ful;l path; instead /images/*.gif put images/*gif(or jpg).no backslash in a frot of images in path.

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Great post :thumbsup:

I just tried changing the colour scheme and all the rounded corners of the tables stay the same, are they all images? Is it easier to change their colour or to delete them? If I did delete them, would the table just have squared corners?

 

They are a graphic so you have to change them by hand. You can use something simple like paint but the hex colors you used to change the lines do not correspond so you have to make them match by trial and error. Yes, if you telete them they will just have square corners. I think it is easier to delete them but I liked them enough to go through the work. I bet if you used photoshop or something like it rather than paint it would work out much easier. Hope it helps.

Stacy

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