Nexcess Blog

Ecommerce Trends for 2020: A Season Like We’ve Never Seen Before

2020 has been a whirlwind year for ecommerce. Ahead of the holiday shopping season, we’re already looking at an 18% spike in revenue for the industry this year, and ecommerce is expected to reach $4.13 trillion in 2020. The stampede of brick and mortar businesses into ecommerce has been astounding. Early predictions show that retail’s expected decline will be around 10.5% by the end of the year, more than QUADRUPLE earlier predictions. While the economic fallout from COVID-19 has been catastrophic, one thing’s for certain: ecommerce. Is. BOOMING. Online orders are up 80% since January, and even in a pandemic, the predictions look promising. Ahead of that growth are trends that are setting the stage for an online shopping experience that’s more immersive and personalized than ever before.  Let’s talk about the top 8 emerging trends. 1. Chatbots Are the New Virtual Shopping Concierges The rise of the chatbot is reaching its apex in 2020, with 80% of ecommerce businesses predicted to integrate some form of the tool by the end of the year – and they’ve come a long way. With the integration of AI and machine learning, chatbots are getting better at understanding language and providing helpful responses. With more than half of customers expecting 24/7 support, chatbots help make sales while support teams sleep, reducing costs by as much as 30% for ecommerce companies. 2. AI-Driven Product Recommendations Are Driving CRAZY Spikes In Revenue In addition to innovations with chatbots, artificial intelligence is being used to enhance product recommendations for retail marketplaces such as Amazon. On Amazon’s platform alone, product upselling through these recommendations accounts for an ASTOUNDING 35% of overall revenues. Early data shows that these types of recommendation enhancements can increase conversion rates for ecommerce sites by as much as 915%. 3. Buy Online Pick Up In Store Is Where It’s At  For order delivery time, the bar has never been higher. Ninety-percent of shoppers say that a delivery date of more than two days has deterred them from purchasing a product before (thanks, Amazon). BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In Store) is a type of shopping that allows a shopper to purchase something online, and then pick it up locally. Forty-eight percent of shoppers reportedly use BOPIS to counter expensive shipping costs, and over 40% use it to get items in time for the holidays. With such strong numbers, ecommerce companies are scrambling to adopt the practice. According to BigCommerce, 61% of retailers mark BOPIS as at the top of their list for investments in the next year. 4. Direct to Consumer Numbers Have Never Been Stronger When Amazon shuttered purchasing of nonessential goods in early 2020, consumer goods wholesalers were left in a panic as huge portions of their revenue disappeared overnight. Now to avoid the uncertainty of ebbing and flowing consumer demand, many B2B wholesalers are pivoting towards a direct to consumer, or DTC model. The industry’s growth initially had flatlined as investment capital began to dry up, but is now seeing a surge again, and is projected to hit $18 billion in 2020. Learn More About DTC Ecommerce 5. Livestream Ecommerce Is Making Its Debut in the US There are quiet stirrings of an ecommerce trend that’s done exceedingly well in China finally setting up shop in the United States. Called the QVC of Gen Z, live commerce platforms enable video viewers to watch product demonstrations in real-time and make purchases within the app, typically with no interruption in the video feed. The shopping and streaming experience is simultaneous, and is attracting the attention of American venture capitalists – and it’s no wonder. In 2019, live commerce hit a whopping $63 billion in China. 6. Smartphone Shopping Numbers Are Surging The move to mobile has seen a slower transition in ecommerce than it has for content consumption, but we’re finally reaching the tipping point. At this point, 51% of purchases are now happening on smartphones, leading developers to focus on progressive web apps for ecommerce customers. PWAs keep the UX consistent from desktop to mobile, reducing customer dropoff and keeping the UI consistent and easy to use. Statistics show that the use of PWAs in ecommerce has a dramatic impact on conversion and bounce rates, with some companies seeing an increase in the former of 30%. Learn More About PWAs 7. Incredible Front End Customization for Personalized Experiences Personalized ecommerce is at the forefront of innovation for 2020. A new trend known as “headless ecommerce” allows developers to fully offload the front end of their website from their platform to allow for fully custom coded personalization. This practice allows for unparalleled personalization not previously allowed within the constraints of most ecommerce applications, paving the way for a personalized shopping experience set to rival segmentation. Studies show that personalization has a unique impact on a shopper’s likelihood of purchasing a product, with more than 80% being more likely to purchase from personalized ecommerce sites. Looking for a Developer? Explore Our Partner Network 8. Virtual Showrooms Are Digitizing Retail Stores If virtual reality was on the rise before, COVID-19 has pushed it full force into deployment as a virtual shopping experience for ecommerce brands and retailers. In 2020, the rise in experiential ecommerce and the requirement for connection with a brand was the driving force behind such innovations as virtual showrooms and in-store experiences. With the capability to digitize their brick and mortar locations, high-end retailers are able to allow their customers to literally shop the store online through virtual reality. According to Obsess, a VR and AR firm specializing in digitized retail, 78% of millennial shoppers are in favor of a virtual reality experience in their shopping apps. “While the foot traffic is low to the stores, Obsess is enabling retailers to quickly make their retail stores shoppable ‘remotely’,” says Amrita Maria, champion of business development at Obsess. “With Obsess, our clients are showcasing their collections to their buyers globally, who are not travelling to fashion capitals this season by creating 3D 360 photorealistic virtual showrooms in which buyers can experience the collection and get the full brand experience.” With numbers this strong, ecommerce companies have never been more interested in investing in their websites. Find out how Nexcess can help you support ecommerce innovations like PWA with powerful hosting solutions. Explore everything Nexcess has to offer with our Managed WordPress or Managed WooCommerce 14 Day Free Trial. The post Ecommerce Trends for 2020: A Season Like We’ve Never Seen Before appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Deploying to Live and Staging with Deploybot

If you’ve been in web development for a while, you’ve probably screwed up a file transfer as you’re trying to update a site. In the best case scenario, you add a bunch of easily identifiable files to a directory and you remove them to fix the error. Yes it costs you time and it’s annoying, but no harm done.  In a worst case scenario, you transfer a bunch of theme files improperly. Then you have to figure out which ones were overwritten, which don’t belong at all, and how on earth will you recover your theme’s proper working state. Today we’re going to tackle solving this problem using Git and Deploybot to automate your deployment process. What is Automated Deployment? A basic automated deployment has four pieces as shown in this diagram. Most developers start with just their code and the server. They make changes to their working copy of the site, and then push those changes directly to the server via FTP. Tools like Coda or Dreamweaver have direct FTP integration so that you can do this from inside your coding environment. The next step many developers take is to add a staging site so that they’re not modifying the live server directly. You can do this with something like VVV or MAMP. Often this also means you’re using a version control system like Git to manage the changes you make to your local working site. When you add a staging site, you also add complexity. How do you get your code changes from your local working site to a staging site where your client can see the changes? Yes, as I already said, you can use a basic FTP client like FileZilla, Transmit or Forklift to move the files as you make changes, but this is error prone and this is where automating your deployment process will save you so much time. Instead of you taking the files you change and pushing them to your staging server, you use another system to automatically detect the changes in your Git repository and push only those changes to the staging site your client can use to check the work. That still leaves your live site as a manual deploy though, which is much scarier because it can mean the loss of real money if you take down a live working site. Instead, let’s assume that you’re going to set up your deployment system to automatically deploy to staging, and then your system will deploy with a single click to the live environment when you’re ready to go. So now you have a system that looks like this. Let’s dive in so I can show you how I set up this deployment process for every client I work with. These are the steps I take as soon as I start a new project. I always make sure that my deployment process is set up and working before I start doing any other work on a client project. How to Structure your Git Repository Your first choice to make is, which directory will you set up your automated deployment in? Unless my client specifically requests that full source control for their WordPress install, I use the wp-content directory to set up my automated deployment system. That starts in terminal by issuing this command that initializes a git repository. git init Now it’s time to ignore the files you won’t want to deploy all the time. These are files like backup files, images, and any of the custom project files that many code editors add to a directory. You can see my usual .gitignore file below. config/app_config.yml config/database.yml config/*.sphinx.conf config/s3_credentials.yml *~ *.cache *.log *.pid tmp/**/* .DS_Store db/cstore/** db/sphinx/** doc/api doc/app doc/plugins doc/*.dot coverage/* db/*.sqlite3 *.tmproj *.sw? *.esproj _notes* dwsync.xml podcast.xml *.kpf *uploads/* *.swp *.idea *.sublime-project *.sublime-workspace */node_modules/* tags *.bak cache/* managewp/* mu-plugins/* dp.php updraft/* languages/* db.php plugins/wp-rocket/cache.json Feel free to add or remove from this as needed. Almost every project I work on needs some sort of custom entry to ignore some file that is specific to my local working site for which the staging and live sites will have their own custom file I don’t want to overwrite. From here it’s time to set up the branches you’ll need to get your deployment system going. I use two main branches. First is the master branch which corresponds to my live production site. Second, is a branch I label staging and corresponds to the staging site I want my client to use as a way to check the changes we’re making. When you initialized your Git repository you already got your master branch, so use this command to add a staging branch and check it out. git checkout -b staging This command creates and checks out a new branch. If you’re new to git, you can find more information on the available commands in the Git documentation. Now you’ll need to push your project into your source control system. Github and Bitbucket are two popular choices which both work with the automated deployment system we’re going to use called Deploybot. When you create a new repository with either site they’ll give you further directions to add your local repository to your online version in Github or Bitbucket. Bitbucket repository setup documentationGithub repository setup documentation Setting up Deploybot When I was first getting into more complex work as a developer my friend Duane kept recommending Deploybot to me when I complained online about messing up manual FTP deployment. It took a number of recommendations before I finally did what I was told, but I’ve now been a happy Deploybot customer for years. While there are other ways to deploy your sites many of them involve interfacing with Git Webhooks or some automated deployment configuration files via your code editor. There is lots of power in those other tools, but if you’re just getting started with automated deployment, then going with something straight forward like Deploybot is the place to start. To get started sign up for a Deploybot account and connect Github or Bitbucket to your account. I’ll use my existing Bitbucket account today. Start by adding a new repository to your Deploybot account. Once you’ve found the repository you want to setup for automated deployment click the button labelled connect at the bottom of the page. This will send you back to your repository page while Deploybot finishes initializing your repository. Generally this is done in a minute or two so fill up your coffee and come back to finish setting up your deployment process. Once your repository is set up, click on it to get taken to its main page. Since we have no sFTP information set up yet it will have a big box on it telling you to set up a server. Click on the button to create an environment and server. Let’s start with deployment to our staging environment. So label your server as staging. Choose automatic deployment and make sure you set the branch to staging. When your done click the Save button on the bottom of the page to move to your server configuration. On the next page label it as a Staging server again and put in your sFTP information from your site. If you’re not sure where to find them, read this helpful guide. With your sFTP information entered you can scroll down to the bottom and save it. Deploybot will then test your connection to make sure that the information you provided works. Now it’s time to do our initial deploy for the site to make sure it all works. I often add a test.txt file to the deploy as an easy way to verify that the deploy worked properly. To start your deploy to your environment history and click deploy. Now you’ll see a page with your last git commit message on it as the note you’ll see inside Deploybot next to this deploy. For big changes I’ll change this, but if I’m just changing CSS or something minor the commit message can stay. Since this is staging, every single commit to our staging branch will be deployed automatically, which means your commit messages are what will show up. It’s only the initial commit that we need to do manually to our staging site. Now verify that your files have been published to the staging site and we can set up the live deployment. For your live deployment, make sure that you don’t choose automatic deployment and make sure that you choose the master branch as the source of your deployment. We want this to be a manual deployment when we’re ready to push changes to our live site. To do this you’ll need to check out your master branch then merge your changes from your staging branch into master. You can do that with these commands. git checkout master git merge staging git push origin master Now when you go to your Deploybot account you’ll be able to manually deploy your changes just like we did with our initial deployment to our staging environment. For your live environment, make sure you change the deployment message to suit the changes that are being pushed to your live site. You should also create a backup of your site. You can do this by accessing the backups navigation on your site and then creating a manual backup. That’s it, you’ve got your automated deployment system setup for both staging and live environments. Other Deployment Considerations While this system is a big step forward for most developers, it’s not without its issues. The biggest one being that if you have a bunch of changes you’re still waiting for FTP to finish transferring files that have changed. This can mean that someone visits your site and not all of the files your site needs to run are present.  For many clients this won’t be an issue, but if it is for your site then you’ll need to look at setting up an Atomic deployment system. This type of deployment system moves all the files, verifies that they are working correctly and then changes the file settings on your server so that the new directory is now the one that runs your site. The process of linking to a new folder takes such a short time that only a computer would notice. That also means if you find a problem later, you can change your system link back to the old version of the site to rollback to the version that was working. This again only takes a very short amount of time and reduces downtime. No matter what you choose to do, stop using an FTP client to deploy your client files today. The small monthly cost of Deploybot is recovered every time you don’t make a mistake deploying your files. The post Deploying to Live and Staging with Deploybot appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

The Importance of CDNs for Page Speed

Let’s talk about content delivery networks, or CDNs in the context of Managed WooCommerce hosting. A CDN is a crucial topic for a WooCommerce store owner to understand because a CDN is key to page speed, and as we know, page speed is everything right now. First, why page speed? Simply put, page speed is important for conversions. A conversion is when a visitor to a page — in the case of someone browsing a WooCommerce store, a shopper — takes the desired action we want them to take. In most ecommerce cases, that would be a sale. Sometimes, it can be something else such as: a lead on a contact form, adding an item to a cart, etc. But in general, it’s a sale. We have information that tells us that slow page load times cost merchants money. Perhaps the most notable and well-known metric is the 3 second metric: 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Namely, people don’t like to wait. We are not patient. After 3 seconds, we tend to look at another part of our screen, and sometimes click somewhere else.  In an ecommerce context, that is particularly worrisome because the longer a potential shopper browses, the more of a chance they’ll add something to the cart, and better yet, they will add multiple things to the cart. Then, to add to the human factor of page speed, in 2020, we also have to consider the algorithmic factor. The ranking factors today are all about usability and user-friendliness, so to Google, high page load times are considered a signal of poor experiences. So, not only will your slow sites lose the traffic you earn before the conversion, they will also increasingly be shown to new users less and less. With these key facts, page speeds starts to look like one of the most important considerations for your WooCommerce store, or any other type of site online. In Nexcess support, we have a saying: “our customers are addicted to speed.” And with good reason folks: slow pages create frustrating experiences and cost potential revenue.  My perspective when it comes to the development of WooCommerce stores is that while it is always a good thing when the store is beautiful, feature-rich, or anything else, ultimately, its goal is to process transactions and earn profit. This is why I want to focus in on the page speed aspect of CDNs. CDNs can help with many other items, but when it comes to business, they matter because page speed matters. If you are interested in the nuts and bolts of how CDNs work and the Nexcess CDN, I would recommend our knowledge base article on CDNs instead. One last note on page speed We’re not done talking about page speed yet.  While this article will cover CDNs, there are many other strategies for improving your page load times and using a CDN is only one of them. The Nexcess blog contains many resources on how to speed up your store.  A lot of the time our recommendations are simple: change hosts to a high-quality host, optimize your images, implement intelligent caching, etc. All of these components are important, and no single factor will make a page fast, but all of them together working in harmony will. These “how to speed up your store” lists almost always inevitably include activate a CDN. It is generally well-known and accepted, but do you fully understand how it works? So, we wanted to dig into what activating a CDN actually looks like for a store owner focused on growth. That way, store owners can start to see CDNs how I see them: an excellent tool for growing revenue and retaining customers. What is a content delivery network (CDN)? CDN stands for content delivery network. All that it is from a technical standpoint is a way to distribute the work of delivering content to your web browser, and therefore to your eyes, as the end-user. Think about it this way in a traditional method of content delivery: everything is coming from one source. Maybe you can compare it to a single stream of water. A stream is usually only a certain width — based on the robustness of the source — and that means that you’re going to get water at the rate that that one tube can deliver water. If you want to try to do something like fill up a tub, several factors could come into play. If the source is far away from the tub, it could take a long time for the water to begin filling up. And since you clear out your tub after every time you use it — like an incognito browser might — you have to repeat the filling process every time you want to use the tub again. And, if you’ve ever filled a pool, you know that a great way to speed up that process is to have several sources of water at once. Through a combination of optimizations that range from increasing the number of sources, their closeness, and caching what content is delivered for easy retrieval, CDNs make the process of delivering content online more efficient. This has become even more important as our modern web has become dominated by high resolution images and video, streaming audio and beautiful animations. In the most simple way, that is all a CDN in. There are other considerations when it comes to CDNs — due to the nature of the optimizations for content delivery, they can also be helpful with security and uptime concerns — but at its core, it’s simply an essential feature for the modern web. Most of the content you consume today is delivered via one.  That means that most hosting providers will include a CDN with their plans. If that is not the case, a provider like Cloudflare can be helpful. At Nexcess across our whole product catalog, but especially within the store owner-focused Managed WooCommerce platform, we specialize in reducing the number of vendors you have to wrangle. So, on our Nexcess product, your CDN setup is a toggle away.  Save on other costs by using a CDN In most cases, working more efficiently for your store’s visitors also means your technology is working smarter for you. Using a CDN not only improves page speeds, but it also uses your other most valuable resource outside of time better: your money. For example, consider bandwidth costs in relationship to CDNs. If, in the tub analogy, the CDN is adding more sources and managing the fill intelligently, you also know that you have to pay for every gallon of water you put through. You usually also a bandwidth recommendation on your hosting plan, and in the case of some hosts, a cap. By managing the delivery of the content better, your CDN also manages your bandwidth expenses better. Other best practices to consider about load times and content Think differently about video With a CDN and bandwidth considerations in mind, there are other content delivery-related items to consider. An important one we see frequently is video. Video files are big, and on most web hosting plans for your store, take up large percentages of storage space and bandwidth. While a CDN could handle delivering your videos, there’s probably even better ways to handle that problem to get that 3 second load time. We frequently recommend using a service like YouTube or Vimeo to host and stream your videos to maximize your efforts. For a more professional-looking option without these streaming services’ logos, something like Wistia is an excellent choice. You still have to optimize your images Before we were widely using CDNs on the modern web, we addressed some aspects of the process that CDNs streamlines by manually optimizing our images. This is still a good thing to do, although there’s no need to do it manually — lots of tools are out there to optimize images. On Managed WooCommerce on Nexcess, we include the Compress JPGs and PNGs plugin that creates multiple different size images from a single upload and then handles the right size image for the browser. That’s another way to make sure your CDN is working smartest for your WooCommerce store.  Especially within the modern web that we are creating within, there are more and more legitimate reasons to require large image file sizes. Consumers have increasingly growing expectations of how they can view and experience potential online purchases. Especially as more and more products are even available to be purchased online, potential buyers expect to be able to zoom in, view products in 360 degrees, and more. For example, clothes shopping online used to be considered high-risk and therefore online clothing retailers needed excellent return and try-on policies. Today, an advanced product listing that clearly indicates key information and allows for a detailed view of the product’s texture is reducing that barrier. Online furniture retailers are enabling augmented reality views of their products on a photo of the potential buyer’s space. As these expectations continue rise, it’s important to keep up with the features while also keeping up with performance and security. A CDN, used intelligently among other page optimization strategies, is a great way to get there. The post The Importance of CDNs for Page Speed appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Scheduling Sales & Marketing For Black Friday

5 things you need to start thinking about now, so you can implement before holiday shopping starts this fall. In February of 2019 I launched my first ever crowdfunding campaign where I was able to raise enough capital to manufacture goods in China and ship them to the US to start my board game company. While this took a lot of planning to pull off – it actually made the launch of my first game incredibly easy. So easy, I thought I was forgetting something the entire time but it turned out I could actually just relax and let my marketing automations do the work for me. Today I want to share how you can use the same strategies to automate your sales and marketing for the Black Friday/Holiday shopping weekend and make money without stressing yourself out. Design Landing Pages First things first: design any landing pages. Landing pages are a way to highlight products & content specific to a campaign, sale, or interest. Not all stores need landing pages but if you have certain products heavily discounted it’s worth putting them all on one page so visitors can view the best deals, get interested in your store, and then start adding things to their cart. Unless you only have one or two key products, landing pages are one of the best places to send your fans. And if you plan on doing any advertising or newsletter blasts (hint – you should be thinking about both of these) then a landing page is one of the best places to send them. And it’s why you should start with this a month or so before the sale. Create Tracking Links I’m a big fan of tracking & measuring everything possible so that I can figure out what worked and in future years double down on the strategies that made me money and ignore the ones that didn’t work. And since each industry is so different in ecommerce what makes perfect sense for one industry may not work at all in another so you will have to try various strategies and learn and improve each year. One of the ways to monitor this is with UTM parameters. You can create UTM parameters using a generator for any campaign you’re running and in tracking software like Google Analytics you can see where people are coming from. As an example I created custom links for all of the influencers who made videos about my products. And while many of them sent over dozens of people who ended up purchasing the product one of the influencers only had one confirmed sale. In future years I wouldn’t use this influencer again. Since my product is only $15 getting one sale isn’t worth all the admin time spent emailing back and forth and sending them a demo product. Here’s a few custom links you could create for your site: Links from TwitterLinks from FacebookLinks from your newsletterLinks from influencersLinks from forums / discussion groupsLinks from your email signatureEtc. Schedule Sale Prices Once you have all of your landing pages & links set up it is time to schedule the sale prices. Whether you use WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, or another online store just about all of them let you schedule both the start & end of sale prices. Here’s what it looks like in WooCommerce. If you’re doing a storewide discount, discount an entire category, or other more complicated setups, this isn’t typically included in the core software but there’s almost always apps, extensions, and modules that let you do this. Plan Your Ad Strategy Every retailer knows that Black Friday is one of the biggest sales opportunities of the year and many retailers go all out with advertising right before Black Friday. That means ad prices soar right before Black Friday so you’ll quickly find your self spending more than you make if you don’t plan in advance. Image from AdEspresso One of my favorite strategies is to come up with new ad concepts in spring, A/B test them throughout the summer, and wind them down in the fall. When Black Friday comes around you can retarget your existing audience which is far cheaper than targeting new people who are probably overwhelmed by the amount of ads and will be unlikely to trust a new company. If you haven’t started ads and you’re reading this today, there’s still plenty of time. Get some ads out there next week and start building your audience so you can retarget them down the line. Schedule Email Blasts You have landing pages, tracking links, and all of your products are discounted. Now comes arguably the most important piece. Letting people know! And yes, you can and should announce things on social media & on your website but today we’re going to talk about your #1 asset and that’s your email list. These are easy to schedule in any email marketing tool. And what you want to do is setup a bunch of emails and you can send them to segments of your email list based on how active & how much they spend on your store. Here’s what’s coming on Black Friday (7 days ahead)Here’s what’s coming tomorrow (1 day ahead) – For people who regularly open your emailsBlack Friday is here (Black Friday)Don’t Forget Black Friday (Saturday) – For people who didn’t open yesterdays emailDon’t Miss the Best Sale of the Year – For people who have made multiple purchases And you can create even more than this and if you have a large list with even more data you can continue segmenting your list and writing emails for those segments.  Preparation is Key At the end of the day it’s all about coming up with a plan. Almost all of the tools out there have scheduling functionality so once you make a plan, write a few emails or lines of ad copy go ahead and get it scheduled. I planned my crowdfunding campaign for 6 months and raised $10,000 off a non-existent product. With a few months to go you have plenty of time to build your audience, come up with attractive deals, and let your audience know about those deals. Good luck! The post Scheduling Sales & Marketing For Black Friday appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

The Best WooCommerce Themes You Need Today

WooCommerce powers a vast number of ecommerce stores and is a very popular WordPress plugin that allows users to easily add ecommerce features and functions to a WordPress site.  Picking the best theme for your WooCommerce store will make or break how the site looks and performs. Picking a bloated theme that will cause issues for the store is something that you really want to avoid. The two best theme options that work very well with WooCommerce are Astra and GeneratePress. Astra Astra theme is free and can be installed in wp-admin on your site, but the power for Astra comes with Astra Pro.  Astra Pro is provided at no cost on Managed WooCommerce plans on Nexcess.  Astra Pro is installed as a regular plugin which will unlock and extend the Astra theme. Astra Pro has a huge number of features and modules just for WooCommerce.  Also, the Astra theme is designed to work with a number of solid page builders like Beaver Builder and Elementor. Being able to use a solid and easy-to-use page builder will allow your store to look exactly as you like. Astra Pro options can be easily enabled from wp-admin by going to: Appearance > Astra Options Make sure that the WooCommerce Pro module is activated in the Astra options setting to be able to control WooCommerce using the Astra theme.  You can make the WooCommerce related changes in the Astra theme using the customizer in wp-admin. The Astra theme is designed to be a very clean starter theme which is feature rich but also one which is performance-based, and will not cause issues when using it with WooCommerce. GeneratePress The final theme recommended is GeneratePress, which is another very clean starter theme. GeneratePress theme is also designed to work with most page builders and contains a page builder container setting. GeneratePress can also be extended using the premium plugin, which is installed as a regular plugin on your site in wp-admin. GeneratePress premium includes a number of modules that will extend out the GeneratePress theme. GeneratePress will also work very well with WooCommerce which means you can use a very clean theme which is also designed to work with WooCommerce. Astra Pro for the Win While both of the two themes are solid choices, Astra with Astra Pro includes the most features and the most options to be able to extend the theme and control of how WooCommerce displays. Also, it works without having to use a lot of code snippets to control WooCommerce elements. Don’t rush when choosing your store theme, as that saves time and money later with potential plugin or layout issues that may appear later as your store grows. No amount of site optimization is going to fix root issues on your store being caused by the active theme. Managed WordPress with Nexcess Includes Astra Forget about researching themes and choose Managed WordPress with Nexcess, which includes Astra out of the box along with AffiliateWP, WP 101, iThemes Security Pro and WP All Import Pro with the WooCommerce add-on. The post The Best WooCommerce Themes You Need Today appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

When is it time to leave Shared Hosting & upgrade to Managed WordPress?

One of the best things about shared hosting is the low monthly price. One of the worst things about shared hosting is the low monthly price. The reality that both statements are correct presents a constant challenge to customers who are slowly outgrowing their initial decision to use shared hosting.  Before we start talking about when it makes sense to leave shared hosting and upgrade to a Managed WordPress solution, let’s highlight why so many people start off with shared hosting. The 3 reasons people start with shared hosting While there may be many reasons why people choose shared hosting for their first WordPress and WooCommerce sites, there are three that rise to the surface anytime you find yourself talking about hosting. First, the low price can’t be beat.  Ask anyone and they’ll tell you they’re looking for lower prices. This isn’t anything new.  In the days before wireless phones, where people paid for phone lines, there was a constant desire to look for lower prices for both local and long distance calls. That’s partly because no one understood the complexity that was hidden from them.  Hosting is very similar. Since everything technical has been abstracted away, it all seems easy and therefore, it shouldn’t cost that much. Shared hosting offers monthly hosting at prices lower than a complicated Starbucks order.  Second, no one knows what resources they’ll eventually need.  Another dynamic when it comes to hosting is that few people can predict how well their site will do (in terms of traffic) and how that relates to the resources they’ll need.  Homeowners face a similar challenge when considering solar panels. They’re often asked by professionals to evaluate how many kilowatts of energy they’ll consume in a day or month. Most of us have no idea because it’s a resource that we don’t measure directly or need to keep track of. When it comes to hosting, it’s hard to know if you’ll need a lot of CPU or a little, whether you will see consistently high RAM utilization or whether it will peak at random intervals. When you don’t know, sometimes it’s just easier to buy an inexpensive plan to start with and see how it goes. Third, most of us underestimate the need for advanced support.  The third and final reason most people get their start with shared hosting is that they don’t place a high value on advanced support. If you’ve never hosted anything before, it’s especially easy to hope that everything will work out and you’ll never need to make a phone call. Most customers of shared hosting assume that support will be there when they need it and rarely test to see if that’s actually true. Then, when they really need support, it’s somewhat shocking to discover that it doesn’t perform the way we assumed it would. Signs that it’s time to shift to Managed WordPress Hosting As you can imagine, the signs that it’s time to shift to managed hosting are the very reasons why someone may have chosen shared hosting to begin with: Low prices create slow performance Those low monthly prices are available because your website was placed on a shared infrastructure that houses thousands of other sites. The assumption is that you won’t get enough traffic to create a problem, and when you have a problem you won’t notice it. Often you’ll notice your site getting slower over time. That simply means the server your site is on is getting more and more packed. That’s what high density shared hosting is all about – packing the most sites on a set of servers. Slow performance is a sure sign that it’s time to think about making a move.  Slow performance and connection errors require more resources Even worse than a site that gets slower and slower over time is a site that stops loading or presents 502 errors (or 503, 504, etc.). Even if you don’t see these errors, your customers will. More importantly, your website will be “down” for those customers, which can impact your brand or revenue. These errors tell you that you need more server resources and likely a different configuration of your setup, but that isn’t available for $4/month. Poor support experiences mean you need better expertise The third way to figure out you need to shift from shared hosting to managed WordPress hosting is potentially the easiest one to spot. If you submit a ticket and the majority of the work is put back on your plate, you know it’s potentially time to make a change. Hosting companies that offer managed WordPress plans staff their support with experts who understand what you’re going thru and can help you. Shared hosting often doesn’t want you getting on the phone at all, redirects you to their knowledge base articles, and invites you to solve your own problem. When is it time to make the move to Managed WordPress? The answer to the question is rather simple – the time to make the move from shared hosting to Managed WordPress is whenever you experience any of the following: A site that is so slow that customers leave before the page loadsA site that seems to consistently get slower, month over monthA site that gets connection errors / becomes unavailable for othersWhen support organizations want you to do most of the work yourself When you experience any of these situations, you may want to check out Nexcess Managed WordPress or WooCommerce hosting. The post When is it time to leave Shared Hosting & upgrade to Managed WordPress? appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Why DTC Ecommerce Matters More Than Ever Today

In 2020, DTC ecommerce has proven to be another sensible way to reach your customers, and many brands are looking at starting from B2B and transitioning to direct to consumer. Those of us working in ecommerce have been seeing the shift for a while now. As more and more stores transitioned their inventory online, the ecommerce boom wasn’t just happening – it was inevitable. Fast forward to spring of 2020 though, and NOBODY could have predicted what happened next.  Massive store closures triggered the single largest exodus from brick and mortar the world has ever seen, with more than 100,000 small businesses in the US alone closing for good as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns. But small businesses weren’t the only ones to take a hit. Larger retailers like Neiman Marcus have filed for bankruptcy in the last few months, and that list continues to grow. All things considered though, the pandemic has thrown into sharper relief the need for a stronger ecommerce presence for many of these retailers. Record-breaking numbers are rolling in for ecommerce for 2020, including a growth spurt that put the industry four to six years ahead of schedule. The Problem With Wholesaling During COVID-19 Even in spite of many shoppers setting their sights online, manufacturers saw major hits to their B2B sales as brick and mortar stores shut down. Those relying on wholesale relationships to float their revenue took devastating hits in the midst of the shutdowns. As consumers turned to ecommerce sites like Amazon though, the fallout continued. In mid-March, Amazon restricted their B2B purchasing of nonessential goods in the wake of unprecedented demand for household staples. As Amazon made room in their warehouses for hand sanitizer and toilet paper, purchase orders for nonessential goods rolled to a trickle or stopped completely, and manufacturers saw B2B sales plummet. In the scramble to recover these revenue losses and brace for a potential second wave of retail shutdowns, many manufacturers are turning to DTC ecommerce models. What Is DTC and a DNVB? DTC stands for direct-to-consumer. It’s an ecommerce model wherein the brand sells directly to consumers, rather than through retailers, essentially cutting out the middleman. Some DTC evangelists will tell you the goal is to handle production, sales, distribution, and marketing under one roof and never go wholesale, but in 2020, it’s proven to just be another sensible way to reach your customers, and many brands are looking at starting from B2B and transitioning to DTC. A DNVB is a digitally native vertical brand that starts this way. Best typified by brands like Avocado Green Mattress and Allbirds, DNVBs typically start with a simple product line (typically one or two options), clear, crisp branding, and a strong mission-driven component. With brick and mortar sales remaining unstable and manufacturers now dealing with the fallout from their Amazon backlogs, DTC ecommerce is looking more attractive all the time – and consumers are taking notice, too. Mission-Driven Shoppers Are Fueling the Fire Interestingly, DTC brands are creating evangelical customers and devoted fan bases centered around two things: Amazing productsA unifying brand mission Consumer data shows that millennials now make up the majority of buying power in the US, and are 63% more likely to purchase from a brand because of their mission and values.  This data, coupled with the boom the DTC sector has seen from innovative consumer goods startups has created a replicable business model that’s looking all the more attractive to manufacturers who entered the industry through wholesaling. Four Components of a Successful DTC Ecommerce Site Over and over again, we see brands killing the game in DTC ecommerce, and the best of them have a few things in common: Clean branding. Visually-driven shoppers respond to powerful messaging and clean logos. Brands like Tushy and Anese are leading the pack with memorable branding that leaves a mark in a saturated market. Smooth UX. At Nexcess, we know that an ecommerce site’s performance is directly linked to its ability to generate revenue. The best DTC ecommerce sites have an intuitive layout, load fast, and have a smooth interaction with their shoppers. Simple product lines. They say simplicity sells, and that’s certainly the name of the game in DTC ecommerce. Strong DTC brands typically have one or two flagship products they make their mark with and expand on. Strong missions. The data supports that today’s consumers are more conscious of their purchasing decisions than ever. Making your mission clear and building your brand around it (instead of as an afterthought) will literally win you more sales, and good karma. Is It Time for You to Go DTC? If COVID-19 has taught us anything in ecommerce, it’s that you can’t have enough backup plans. Diversifying how and where you sell your products makes all the sense in the world. Those high-volume retail POs may seem nice for a while – until they vanish, and your revenue vanishes with it. Build resiliency, connect with your customer base, and get in on the thrill that is DTC ecommerce. Talk to one of our experts today about what it would take to get your brand online and selling DTC. The post Why DTC Ecommerce Matters More Than Ever Today appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Managed WordPress vs DIY vs cPanel: Which Is Best?

BACKUPS cPanel: You can connect to cPanel’s backup tools, but know that it will save the files onto the source destination by default. This might be acceptable, but it should be noted that, in the unfortunate event that your server ever crashed, your backups would go along with it. DIY: To ensure you have proper backups, you’ll need to configure what you want backed up and when. This will involve continuously testing your backups, verifying them, and manually removing them so as not to overload your space. It’s a continuous and complex process, but it’s better than losing a backup before you really need it.Managed WordPress: We take care of the boring and time-consuming work for you here, backing up every site on your account and removing old backups as needed. You can set up a daily schedule that suits your needs and run one-offs in between as desired. You can also rest easy knowing your backups are saved for 30 days on a separate server, eliminating risks and increasing security overall.  PLUGINS AND CORE UPDATES cPanel: cPanel offers the ability to install WordPress onto a website. The process involves downloading it, uploading it, and verifying it. It’s work for certain, but it gets the job done. Plugins can be added through the WordPress repo, but updates must be done on a manual basis, backing up the site (as previously mentioned), confirming the details, and agreeing to the update. Once it’s live, you can check your site to make sure everything worked as expected. DIY: There are many plugins and services that can assist with general updates, but nothing can automate the process for you for all. This leaves you in the driver’s seat to confirm updates for the many plugins you use on every WordPress site you manage. You’ll also need to spend some time after the updates to make sure everything still works right on your site — it’s not something that happens often, but plugin updates can adjust all sorts of functions and features you expect to be safe.Managed WordPress: Nothing is left to chance with the managed approach. We run checks before any given plugin is automatically updated using our visual comparison tool, confirming your site will still look the same after the update as it did before.  MANAGING MORE THAN ONE SITE cPanel and DIY: Everything required for regular upkeep is done on a per-site basis. Multiple third-party tools are needed to simplify the process, which often comes with additional expenses and management tasks.Managed WordPress: Every Managed WordPress account comes standard with iThemes Sync, giving you the ability to manage all of your sites in one beautiful dashboard at no additional cost. You’re also able to set up reporting and notifications as needed, tailored to your portfolio’s needs.  CACHE + PERFORMANCE cPanel: If you want to keep your individual sites running fast and smooth, you’ll need to investigate what plugins are available based on your specific capabilities. The best of these will not be free, but the alternative is too expensive. The management of these will all be on you, though some automation may be included with more premium options.DIY: There are many things that require configuration and this will be necessary for every site you manage. All costs associated with the services employed are added to your monthly investment and obtaining support may be challenging, as each service is separate and solely focused on their product alone. The DIY hosting approach will also require regular tests and verifications, because setting these things up wrong is worse than not using any at all! Managed WordPress: From Varnish to Memcache to Redis and more, we take care of the licenses and support for you, pre-configuring all of it to help you run the fastest, most stable site possible.  OVERALL CONTROL There’s a common misconception that Managed WordPress is really just about giving up control to the host, but that couldn’t be further from the truth…  In reality, you’re gaining MORE control! With more free time to focus on things that matter and access to SSH, phpMyAdmin, and your database, you can do everything you could with the DIY approach and more with Managed WordPress.  The post Managed WordPress vs DIY vs cPanel: Which Is Best? appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

4 Best WordPress Page Builders for 2020

If you’re using WordPress, you already understand how important good page builders are. They allow you to take full control of page layouts, manage site elements as drag and drop modules, and even tweak the website’s header and footer.  Without a good builder, you can only edit the rows and columns in the page body of your WordPress website and make minimal adjustments to its header and footer.  With them, you can create great websites without any coding skills or design knowledge. Depending on your needs, this will either save you time or money. Let’s explain how.  Normally it takes website developers hundreds of hours to learn the basics of website development, but with page builders, you can build a complete website from scratch in just a couple of hours. Maybe you’re a small business owner and just want to hire someone to create a custom website for you? In that case, it’s good to know that great website builders can cost as low as $50. That’s quite a bargain since getting a custom small business website usually starts at $3,000, with many custom sites reaching $50k or more. Taking all of this into account, it’s safe to conclude that WordPress page builder plugins are essential for creating custom designs and filling them with wonderfully styled content. For this article, we made sure to test and research all the popular WordPress page builders. Keep in mind, once you choose a page builder, you may want to stick with that one, since switching could cause pages to bread or slower speeds. Read on to see our choices for the Top 4 page builders of 2020. Beaver Builder Features listed on the official website Live Front End Editing, Shortcode and Widget Support, Mobile Friendly / Responsive, Developer Friendly, Translation Ready, Supports Posts, Pages, and Custom Post Types, WooCommerce Support, Hand Off Sites to Clients with Editor Mode, Tuned & Optimized for SEO, Multisite Capable, Reusable Templates, Save and Reuse Rows & Modules, Import/Export, and much more. Pricing information Beaver Builder comes with 3 pricing plans and they are:  StandardProAgency The Standard plan costs $99 one-time. It can be used on unlimited websites, and it includes all premium modules and templates. The Pro plan costs $199 one-time and includes the same features as the Standard Plan, with the addition of the Beaver Builder Theme and multisite capability. The Agency plan costs $399 one-time and includes all of the features of the Standard and Pro Plans, plus advanced multisite management and white labeling. There is a free version available, and all three plans come with one year of support as well. Divi Builder Features listed on the official website Drag & Drop Building, True Visual Editing, Custom CSS Control, Responsive Editing, Design Options Galore, Inline Text Editing, Save & Manage Your Designs, Global Elements & Styles, Undo, Redo, & Revisions, Multi-Select & Bulk Editing, Find & Replace Styles, Built-In Split-Testing, WooCommerce Modules, Global Website Styles, and much more. Pricing information Divi Builder, made by Elegant Themes, comes with just two pricing plans:  Yearly AccessLifetime Access The Yearly Access plan costs $89/year and includes these features: Access to Divi, Extra, Bloom & Monarch, hundreds of website layouts, support, and it can be used on an unlimited number of websites.  The Lifetime Access plan is priced at $249 one-time and includes the addition of lifetime updates and lifetime support.  No free version is available, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. Elementor Features listed on the official website Drag & Drop Editor, 300+ Designer Made Templates, 90+ Widgets, Responsive Editing, Popup Builder, Theme Builder, WooCommerce Builder, In-line Editing, Full Site Editor, Global Widget, Motion Effects, Global Custom CSS, Popup Builder, TypeKit Integration, 100% Responsive, 24/7 Premium Support, and much more.  Pricing information Elementor Pro offers three pricing plans:  PersonalPlusExpert The Personal plan, which is priced at $49/year for one site, includes 50+ widgets, 300+ templates, Theme Builder, WooCommerce Builder, and one year of support.  The Plus plan costs $99/year, comes with the same features as the Personal Plan, and allows you to use Elementor on 3 different websites. The Expert plan costs $199/year, comes with the same features as the Personal Plan, and it can be used on 1,000 different websites. There is a free plugin version available as well, and all paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Thrive Architect Features listed on the official website Instant Drag & Drop Editing, Landing Page Templates, Pre-Built Conversion Elements, Ultra-Flexible Column Layouts, Total Font Customization, Style Every Detail, Perfect Mobile Experience, Mobile Responsive Editing, Dynamic Animations & Actions, Inline Text Editing, and much more. Pricing information Thrive Architect comes in three tiers: Single License5 License PackThrive Membership The Single License plan costs $67 one-time and it’s intended for one website only. The 5 License Pack plan costs $97 one-time and, as the name says, it can be used on five websites. The Thrive Membership plan costs $228/year for up to 25 websites and includes access to all plugins and themes from ThriveThemes. All plans include 334 landing page templates and come with unlimited free updates and one year of support. No free version is available, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. Feature Comparison It takes time and practice to learn which features you need. Some will be immediately obvious and fit your current need, but it’s good to plan for the future as well.  Using the table below, you can quickly see what may be a great fit for your needs. Beaver BuilderDivi BuilderElementorThrive ArchitectLive demoYESYESNONOFree versionYESNOYESNOPricing starts from$99 one-time$89/year$49/year$67 one-timeWebsite usage at this priceUnlimited websitesUnlimited websites1 website1 websiteUser friendlyYESYESYESYESIn-line editingYESYESYESYESNumber of templatesNot stated1198300+334Product support1 yearWhile subscribedWhile subscribed1 yearUpdatesNot statedWhile subscribedWhile subscribedUnlimited Understanding Important Features Having a cursory understanding of the lingo used across the page builders will go a long way to helping decide which you need, and which you can go without. Responsive Editing means that the website you are building will automatically adjust itself for different devices and screen sizes. It also means that the builder includes additional options for customizing each version of the website separately. Multisite is a feature that guarantees compatibility with WordPress Multisite and allows you to make changes to several websites from a single WordPress administration panel. Live demos and free versions are very important because they allow you to test the builder before making an investment. Especially important for tight budgets. Pricing per website should be considered if you think there is a reasonable chance you will need to use the builder to create several websites. Some of these builders come with a license that allows you to use them without any limits.  User friendly means that the page builder is easy and quick to learn, doesn’t require specialized knowledge, and allows for a pleasant and intuitive workflow. In-line Editing is a feature that allows you to add content like text to the live site in real time, without opening additional windows and moving away from the full-page preview. All of our recommendations include this feature, as we believe it is an essential part of a user-friendly workflow. Templates are pre-built page layouts made from existing page builder elements. The more the better, since this allows you to quickly access dozens of page designs and just fill them with site content or tweak them to your heart’s desire. Product support shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to page builders. As you get familiar with a page builder, you will want to set some advanced settings like custom CSS, which might require a developer to get involved. This is where good support comes in, and helps you avoid additional expenses whenever possible. Other Noteworthy Page Builder Mentions Here are some other great page builders for WordPress that didn’t make our Top Four list: BrizyThemify BuilderOxygenVisual ComposerWPBakery Page BuilderSiteOrigin Page Builder All of the above page builders are great candidates and we highly recommend checking them out as well. Save Time and Money Using the Right Page Builder for You Testing Page Builders and picking the one that works best for you can take some time, but there is an enormous return on investment. We hope that this article will serve its purpose and save you the energy and money required to test out dozens of them. We made sure to highlight the important features so that you don’t settle for the wrong one.  It is our firm belief that if you try out these four page builders in their paid form, you will get the best experience of features and overall satisfaction of use. This is the best way to find the one that fits you and to, finally, make an informed buying decision. The post 4 Best WordPress Page Builders for 2020 appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

The eCommerce Guide to International Shipping Costs

If a product in your ecommerce store has global appeal, start thinking about a plan for shipping internationally. Shipping overseas isn’t the same as shipping within the country.  Here’s a primer on the customs issues, international shipping costs, and other logistics you’ll manage as you begin shipping around the globe. Keep in mind that there’s rarely universal truth in international shipping. Get individualized quotes for your own products so you know how much it’ll really cost.  What is international freight and what is the cheapest international shipping?  Since shipping overseas is usually more complicated than domestic shipping, international freight logistics can present some unique challenges for eCommerce businesses. Some companies specialize in international freight and handle the logistical challenges for you.  For small orders sent to your customers, you probably won’t have to think too much about customs issues. Even if you do outsource this process entirely, however, it’s worthwhile to learn more about how international shipping works for your products. You’ll be more adept at troubleshooting and improving your shipping processes.  Shipping domestically can be very straightforward. You pay a single amount and your package gets delivered. But costs associated with international shipping may include the following:  Customs charges Customs brokerage costsGround transportationMaritime transportationAir transportation  When you ship, you’ll need to choose a carrier to transport your package for you. There are three different types of carriers, and they all work a bit differently. They also frequently work together. Even if you choose one of these, it’s possible that your carrier will contract out part or all of the shipping to another one on this list.  International Carrier  If you choose an international shipping carrier such as FedEx or DHL for the entire route, some or all of your shipping costs may be rolled into your postage. International carriers are responsible end-to-end for shipments and generally permit more visibility across the entire process than a national carrier working with a shipping partner would.  This option may be more expensive than the other two and doesn’t necessarily allow you as much flexibility, but it’s likely a simpler and less time-consuming choice.  National Carrier A national carrier handles your packages within a specific country. They may not provide service outside that nation’s borders, or they may contract with local carriers to transport packages through other countries. You can work directly with a national carrier, but you’ll need to ensure that someone is still transporting the packages once they leave national borders.  One example of a national carrier is the United States Postal Service (USPS). USPS has international reach by working with local partners to transport your packages. When a partner is delivering a package, USPS may not allow as much visibility into the shipping process which means you may not have access to much information when you ship internationally.  For a small package that only weighs a few pounds, choosing a national carrier might be cheaper than your other options. Larger or heavier packages may be better off with an international carrier or freight forwarder.  International Freight Forwarder A third party can organize the handoff between USPS and the final carrier while also handling any customs issues. This is what an international freight forwarder does. They have permission from you to take on freight and have their own agents handle the customs and shipping logistics along the way.  You could use multiple carriers and arrange the logistics yourself but in practice, this may be too complicated and time-consuming. That’s where outsourcing can make sense. For example, you may decide to ship a package from within the U.S. to the Canadian border through USPS, then have another carrier take it from there.  Cheapest Way to Ship Internationally Shipping to other countries is not just one process. There’s so much that depends on the country. To send your products overseas, consider the end country destination and plan accordingly.  Consider these country-specific sections for more information. This is just a starting point, so be sure to do your own research just to be safe.  Cheapest Way to Ship to Canada Shipping to Canadian consumers can be complex. Although you generally shouldn’t have a problem shipping to most Canadians, Canada is a diverse country with a variety of different shipping arrangements and options. Some Canadians live in very isolated, rural areas that may make shipping a more expensive process while others are in urban areas with an abundance of affordable shipping options.  Retailers must be prepared to work hard in order to win Canadian customers. Having convenient shipping is a good start. Whatever you can do to make purchasing from you easier is probably worthwhile.  Online purchases made by Canadians do incur customs duties and other taxes, and paying these is the responsibility of the buyer. Although these costs are not coming out of your own pocket, you should know that these expenses do directly impact how much your shoppers can spend with your business. By keeping costs for your customers low, you could even offset some of these expenses and make it more likely that you’ll win their business.  Besides import costs, Canadians also pay sales taxes for their province and a Goods and Services Tax (GST) to their federal government. GST represents 5%  of the total. Local sales taxes bring this amount higher.  If your products are relatively cheap, you probably won’t lose business because of import duties. Recent updates to customs processes and costs mean that Canadian customers ordering from American businesses are exempt from paying customs costs on purchases up to $150 CAD, with some exceptions. This is up from the previous $20 CAD limit set in 1985. The old $20 rules still apply with items shipped through Canada Post, so keep in mind the larger limit only applies to private carriers such as FedEx.  When you ship to Canadians, you have a lot of options.  Shipping Options for Sending Items to Canadian Buyers Canada Post, the national postal service, is one great option for retailers. You can also use FedEx, UPS, DHL or Purolator. Here’s where you may also want to consider Canadian geography when you’re shipping. Some of your customers may live in isolated communities and you may need to account for longer shipping times. As a result, some carriers such as FedEx, have different policies within Canada. FedEx Ground ships in four days or less within the US, but in Canada, takes up to seven days for shipments.  You can use an individual carrier or use a multi-carrier shipping option that hands off packages to a new carrier at the border. Although the usual U.S. carriers you’re probably familiar with are available, the additional choices you gain within the Canadian border may be worth it. Purolator, for example, is known for reliable next-day shipping by 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to Canadian addresses. When shipping packages, having this option available to customers may be a helpful selling point.  Cheapest Way to Ship to the U.K. In the U.K., eCommerce businesses have several options for shipping within the country such as the Royal Mail and DHL. You also have UPS international, FedEx, and even USPS international shipping. Shipping to the U.K. can be an expensive venture with a USPS Small Priority Mail Flat Rate box costing $36 and a Large Flat Rate box costing $94. Your costs will certainly be higher than shipping domestically, but that doesn’t mean shipping to the U.K. is completely cost-prohibitive for retailers.  Imported goods need to follow the U.K. guidelines. Some of this may involve more work and recordkeeping on your part unless you outsource part or all of this process.  You should find out if you’ll owe Value Added Tax (VAT) and have to collect it for your customers. Many eCommerce sellers are required to create their own VAT registration and request information from customers to help with location verification and tax reporting — even if you’re not based in the U.K.  These rules may change. At time of writing, the U.K. was planning to leave the European Union which could result in different policies.  Cheapest Way to Ship to Australia When you’re shipping to Australia, you have several options. You can use an international carrier such as UPS, FedEx, or DHL. You could also use USPS. With Flat Rate International options available, you can reduce your costs for shipping a package to Australia.  Customs costs may not be as much of an issue for you if your products are valued at less than $700 — which is about the minimum taxable amount for Australians who are buying products online and having their purchases shipped. GST imposed by the Australian government applies for more expensive purchases.  If you use a freight forwarder or shipper, they’ll provide a Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) Declaration for the Australian government when your package arrives at the border. Otherwise, you’ll be responsible for providing the SAC.  Cheapest Options for International Shipping You can streamline your international shipping and save money by creating a process. If you want a game plan for how you’ll ship internationally when orders arrive, take the time to decide in advance which countries you’ll be selling to, and create a system for taking care of shipping. As your business operations grow, you may need a more formal internal process for packaging and shipping including designated job descriptions for team members you have in charge of the process. For automated or outsourced shipping, plan how you’ll transport packages to the carrier, or sign up for a pick-up service.  Your cheapest overall option may be outsourcing your shipping to a service such as Parcel Monkey or Easyship. These services can take advantage of volume discounts on international shipping and pass the savings along to you. In some instances, this can cut half of your shipping costs.  Before you make any shipping decisions, carefully consider your options and find out what every shipping service has to offer for your business and your customers.  Choosing the Best International Shipping Service Business owners should shop around and consider several important factors when looking for the right shipping service. Start with an example order and calculate the cost and options offered by several different carriers.  Before you make a list of carriers to compare, you may want to consider what you’ll need in a package shipping service. Specifically:  Product categories you shipCountries you ship to Countries you plan to ship to later as your business grows How much of the regulations and customs process you need to outsource  See how every option stacks up against the others and note any questions or concerns you have for further research. Of course, you’ll also want to compare:  PriceArrival time Convenience for your customersShipping experience for you  Every time you ship internationally, you have the option of using one single carrier or using a multi-carrier shipping option.  Automating Your Shipping with the WooCommerce Shipping Plugin  If you’re using WooCommerce, a shipping plugin can help you ship more efficiently. Balance multiple carriers along with a busy array of incoming orders and have costs calculated for you. A variety of different plugins are available with various features designed to make shipping calculations easier and enable quick comparisons among carriers.  With a plugin, your site can calculate shipping rates accurately and provide customers with multiple choices. This feature allows you to provide different price points and shipping times so buyers can make their own decisions.  Once you’ve automated your shipping, your online store can run with less guesswork and greater simplicity for both you and your customers.  The post The eCommerce Guide to International Shipping Costs appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

A Beginners Guide to WordPress CSS

You want your WordPress website to look great on every device and for every visitor but your out-of-the-box WordPress theme only gets you about 90% of the way there. There are still a few things you’re concerned about — things that CSS could help you fix. This beginner’s guide to WordPress CSS will give you a walk-through on how to edit CSS in WordPress to help you build a more beautiful, intuitive, and better-performing website. Most CSS classes for WordPress would take you through these same steps. An Introduction to WordPress Editing When using WordPress, you can customize CSS using one of three different editors that the service provides.  Visual Editor The visual editor is a post and page edit feature of the platform. It has been described as WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). That means everything on the page, as you can see it, is exactly the way it will look to a website visitor. This is an editor that will allow you to create content without coding. There is a toolbar at the top of the page that is similar to familiar programs like Microsoft Word. You can use the tools found there to alter your text and the appearance of the site.  There is also an Add Media button which enables you to include images or videos in your post. WordPress plugin developers can also add buttons on your visual editor toolbar to help you create more features and styles for your live site.  Drag-and-Drop Editor A Drag-and-Drop Editor is one of the simplest ways to edit your site. It uses an elementary concept as the basis of its platform. You grab something, you pick it up, and you place it somewhere else.  While drag-and-drop is not a standard WordPress feature, there are several editors that can be installed that will give you this easy-to-use editing platform.  When using the Drag-and-Drop Editor, you can select an element of your site and drag it to a new location. You effectively drop the element in the desired location. If you’re unhappy with how that looks, you can start over again and move it somewhere else.  Theme Editing Theme editing refers to your ability to edit the theme or template of your WordPress website.  There are two different kinds of themes that you would edit: Parent Theme and Child Theme. The Parent Theme is a full and complete WordPress theme, with all of the proper elements in place. A Child Theme has the look and feel of its Parent Theme, but it can be modified.  The way you will edit your CSS WordPress theme differs based on which theme you’re using. Visual themes use the Visual Editor while drag-and-drop themes use the Drag-and-Drop Editor.  For more on editing your WordPress theme, check out “Understanding the WordPress Theme Editor.” What Does CSS Mean in WordPress? Your WordPress website is built with a variety of languages including HTML, PHP, CSS, and MySQL.  For now, we’re going to focus on HTML/CSS. HTML acts as the content structure for your website (text, images and other media, hyperlinks, etc.) and CSS dictates how that content looks (e.g., colors, fonts, positioning of elements, margin, and padding).  Let’s use a quick example.  A simple line of text in HTML might use a <span> tag. But to change the visual characteristics you must use CSS. The <span> only defines the content, not how it should look.  Here are some examples of visual properties we could change with CSS. Font colorFont sizeFont familyBackground colors Imagine it like a house. HTML represents the rooms, layout, and architecture. CSS represents the paint, choice of trim, and flooring.  CSS gives the house its “look.” Every house has floors, rooms, and walls, but how you paint and arrange those floors, rooms, and walls is what makes the house uniquely yours. CSS can be used to add elements or take others away. You can hide page titles on WordPress with CSS. Where Do I Find CSS in WordPress? To find the CSS files for your WordPress theme, look under Appearance then select Editor and select the file marked style.css.  From this window, you can edit the files directly and then Save.  An Introduction to CSS Syntax and Selectors CSS is comprised of style rules that are interpreted by the browser, and then applied to the elements of your document.  The Parts of a Style Rule Selector − A selector is an HTML tag at which a style will be applied. This could be any tag like <h1> or <table>.Property − A property is a particular characteristic of an HTML tag that can be changed. An example of this might be “color” for text elements. Value − Values are assigned to properties. For example, color property can have value either red or #F1F1F1. View the complete Mozilla CSS reference to view all properties and possible values for each property. Syntax The syntax of CSS is a series of rules consisting of a selector and a declaration block.  The selector block points the code toward an HTML element. The declaration block changes the property of that selector based on a series of values.  selector { property: value } To add more rules (as many as you want), it is standard practice to give each property, value, and declaration its own line. That would look something like selector { property1: value; property2: value; } Selectors There are many different selectors you can identify through syntax in order to change the properties of an HTML element.  Some of them include: Type selectorsUniversal selectorsDescendant selectorsClass selectorsID selectorsChild selectorsAttribute selectors How Do I Use CSS in WordPress? You can use CSS in WordPress to control Color, size, and style of text,Spacing between paragraphs and headers,How images and other media look,How your site looks on different screen sizes, and more.  1. Control the Color, Size and Style of Text First, you would want to decide on a HEX or an RGB color value that matches the color you want. You can use a free tool like Canva to see a number of different values for colors on the spectrum. To target all paragraph tags (<p>) we need to write the CSS rule so that the selector targets those <p> elements. p { color: value-will-go-here; } Let’s pick a nice red out from a color wheel. We’ll use #ea1520.  That would mean the rule is p { color: #ea1520; } And we’re good to go!  Add that to your theme stylesheet (style.css) and all the <p> tags should be red once you reload the page. Now, what if we also want to change the size and the font style adding elements like bold or italics? We just need to write rules for all of those properties on their own lines in the same target above.  p { color: #ea1520; font-size: 26px; font-style: bold; } The documentation for the font-size and font-style CSS rules can be found on their appropriate documentation pages at developer.mozilla.org 2. Control Spacing Between Paragraphs, Headers, and More The colors and sizes all look great — but what about the spacing?  Is everything too cluttered? Or worse, is everything way too far apart and making the website hard for people to navigate? This is where you want to embrace the use of the margin property.  The margin is the space around an element, including the top, bottom, left and right.  If you want more space between headings and the paragraph that comes after them, you would want to increase the bottom margin on that heading tag. The Mozilla documentation for the margin property has an interactive example that lets you test several margin rules on a particular element to see how it reacts on the page.  Once you understand the margin property well, let’s write a rule that adds margin-bottoms to every heading. h3 { margin-bottom: 25px; } Now our H3 headings should have at least 25 pixels (px) of empty space below them for all screen sizes. 3. Control How Your Images Look Through CSS you can affect the placement of your images along with the borders around them, how tall and wide they are, and more.  Here are some examples of coding that you can use for the borders, scaling, and centering of your images.   Border: img { border: 1px solid #ddd; border-radius: 4px; padding: 5px; width: 150px; } <img src="paris.jpg" alt="Paris"> Image scaling: img { max-width: 100%; height: auto; } Image centering: img { display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; width: 50%; } 4. Control How Your Site Looks on Different Devices and Screen Sizes You’re able to control the look of your site across various devices. That’s important in today’s climate with users accessing web content through their computers, cell phones, and tablets.  Below is an example of CSS code that can rearrange your page for a device with a maximum page width of 480 pixels.  @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { div#wrapper { width: 400px; } div#header { background-image: url(media-queries-phone.jpg); height: 93px; position: relative; } div#header h1 { font-size: 140%; } #content { float: none; width: 100%; } #navigation { float:none; width: auto; } } How Do I Edit CSS in WordPress? You can edit CSS in WordPress manually via an FTP client or with the assistance of a plugin. Adding CSS to WordPress Manually In order to manually add CSS to WordPress, you’d have to be using a Child Theme which is more malleable than a Parent Theme and can be changed easily. Custom CSS that you add to a Child Theme will override the styles set down by the parent.  Here’s how to add custom CSS to a Child Theme: Use an FTP client like FileZilla to connect to the site. Locate the root folder. Usually, it’s called “www” or features your site’s nameOnce there, navigate to the wp-content/themes directory where you’ll find folders for all of your themes. Select the Child Theme you set up. Right-click on the file and select View/Edit. The file will open with your text editor. Add your WordPress custom CSS directly to the theme. Save the changes and close the editor. Adding CSS to WordPress With a Plugin There are a number of plugins that you can use to add additional CSS to your WordPress site or defer unused CSS from WordPress.  The Top 5 CSS Plugins for WordPress Yellow PencilSiteOrigin CSSSimple CSSTheme Junkie Custom CSSCustom CSS Pro Using any of these options, you’ll be able to gain access to the backend of your site and add your custom CSS WordPress code. Other plugins are able to complete advanced functions like optimize CSS delivery on WordPress using style.css files.  In Conclusion This walk-through to CSS for WordPress provides a simple guide for beginners much like early WordPress CSS classes would.  With CSS, there’s always more to learn and more exciting ways you can use it. Our recommendation is to start small. For instance, make a simple change to your WordPress theme which defines the color of your footer’s background. If you find your WordPress CSS not updating, go back and re-read these sections to get a better handle on what went wrong.  If you have any questions along the way, feel free to reach out to our CSS experts! The post A Beginners Guide to WordPress CSS appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Nexcess Magento Cloud vs. Magento Commerce Cloud

One of the misconceptions about the Enterprise version of Magento 2 is that you have to use Magento Commerce Cloud for hosting. Or that Magento Commerce and the AWS-based Cloud solution are one and the same thing. Magento Commerce Cloud hosting for your Magento store is built by Adobe and includes powerful features (modules) like page building progressive web applications (PWAs). Nexcess Magento Cloud is hosting for your Enterprise Magento Commerce store, or your Magento Open Source Store with features for professionals like high scalability, development/staging environments, and PCI compliance. In this post we’re going to clear up the misconceptions between these two very different platforms. Magento Commerce Cloud was created about two years ago after Magento was sold to Adobe. It’s their official solution for hosting Magento and it has a lot of good things going for it: Magento Commerce Cloud includes common functionality for your Magento storeThey allow progressive web apps (PWA)They have a cloud based infrastructure for scalability But it’s important to remember that Adobe, even though they own Magento, is the new kid on the block. They’re still learning how to build & optimize the infrastructure needed to power a Magento site. Building a Solid Infrastructure Magento Commerce Cloud is great at including product features. But they’re still building their entire stack on someone else’s infrastructure. What does that mean? It means, if you have a problem with your website, you first have to bring it to Magento Commerce Cloud team. And they have their standard Service Level Agreement (SLA) to respond to you. If in that time, they discover a problem with the underlying infrastructure, they’ll submit a ticket to Platform.sh – the company that maintains their infrastructure. So your SLA is built on top of the SLA from another company. That means solving any potential problems could take twice as long. Not great if you have a problem that negatively impacts your store and you lose money every minute it’s not fixed. Nexcess Magento Cloud is built on our own infrastructure. Nexcess has one SLA, and because we own the infrastructure, we can solve all of the problems ourselves and we don’t need to rely on any other companies. This means less finger pointing, more informed support, and faster resolution. Experience The other big difference between Nexcess Magento Cloud and Magento Commerce Cloud is that we aren’t brand new to this space. Magento was literally built on our servers back in 2007 – before Magento v1 was even released (Magento v1 was officially released March 2008).  We saw the opportunity of Magento back in 2008 when brick & mortar stores first started moving online to avoid the worst of the Great Recession. We helped brand new stores get started with Magento and we learned a lot about it in the process, like exactly how many PHP workers were needed, what caching systems were most effective, and which Magento settings are worth enabling. We distilled everything we knew to create the very first Magento specific hosting solution.  We also wrote the book on Magento Best Practices and shaped the Magento community by siege testing Nginx vs Apache and settling that debate. We’ve improved and continued optimizing and put out a new book for Optimizing Magento 2. Contributing Open Source Libraries Besides optimizing hosting for lightning fast websites, Nexcess also created Turpentine which was the first varnish cache for Magento. You can take advantage of this on any hosting that uses varnish.  We also created security extensions and continue to contribute to Magento core. Plan for Exploding Growth  Most hosts, including Magento Commerce Cloud, give you a certain number of resources that you must remain within. If you go over a bandwidth threshold you might have to pay more – or if you have too many people on your site at a time, it slows down to a crawl.  Nexcess created our first Magento plan during a time when everyone was getting online and then immediately started outgrowing their small plans. We’ve also been around for over a dozen Black Fridays so we’re used to seeing retailers needing extra resources on demand. That’s why we built auto scaling into all of our plans. If you have a post that goes viral or your Black Friday sales really take off, we have you covered with additional PHP workers which keep your website snappy and your visitors happy. Conclusion Adobe Magento Commerce includes a lot of nice product features and it can be easily managed in the cloud. Nexcess Magento Cloud is both more established and leads the way with the most efficient & affordable infrastructure you can find. The post Nexcess Magento Cloud vs. Magento Commerce Cloud appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Magento 1 End of Life: It’s July. Is your store safe?

We made it to July. Congratulations. I’m guessing your online store, if you’re running Magento 1, is still standing – even if companies large and small were telling you that the “end of life” situation with Magento 1 was dire. If you’ve been reading things we’ve written already about it, you know we were big fans of being honest without creating alarm and stress. But now we’re here – past Magento 1’s end of life, and we need to ask the question, the one you’re likely asking yourself already. Is your store safe? I think there are four ways to answer that question. Is your store’s code safe? The good news is that nothing about the code that was running on your site last month has changed this month. What worked last quarter will work this quarter. Files didn’t suddenly go bad or corrupt. And there weren’t any special protections on your files or code that expired. The End of Life declaration for Magento 1 code from Adobe/Magento means that if some new bug were found, they wouldn’t be creating patches any longer. But that is a statement about the future, not about the code that has been running your store up until now. So the answer to this version of the question, is yes, as of right now, your code is safe. Is your store safe to handle financial transactions? Another way to ask the question is whether the code itself is good to handle financial transactions. In other words, will your store remain PCI compliant? And the good news again is that there hasn’t been any sudden change that would make your store out of compliance simply because Adobe has said they want you to move to Magento 2 now. That said, we’re not answering this question flippantly. The reality is that PCI compliance is a constant and ongoing dynamic that requires that everyone stay vigilant with compliance scans. If a scan comes back with a gap or issue, the only way to stay compliant is to address the issues. But if Adobe / Magento aren’t publishing patches and your scan comes back with a vulnerability, how do you handle it? It’s a great question and the driver behind our creation of the Nexcess Safe Harbor program. We have your back. Nevertheless, at this point, shy of something changing, you’re good to go with handling transactions unless your payment gateway decides to stop supporting their Magento 1 module. If that happens, we strongly suggest you check out Stripe, who has a commitment to keeping their Magento 1 module going for their customers. Is your store safe from external attack? Another way to ask the safety question is to wonder about external attacks – malicious players who know that we’ve reach the end of life for Magento 1 and they want to take advantage of the situation. Most hosts have some level of protection against bad actors. This kind of question is something you should ask them directly about. What I can tell you about Nexcess is that we’ve been hosting and supporting Magento 1 merchants since Magento was created. We know the codebase and we’ve created dedicated hosting solutions for stores of every size. Along with that, we’ve created a best-in-class security infrastructure that supports Magento 1 stores. But if your current host doesn’t give you some great answers, or if they tell you that your only answer is to migrate your store to Magento 2, then I’d love to introduce you to our Safe Harbor program, which provides malware detection, firewalls and IP protection, and so much more. Will your store continue to stay safe? The last way I think about this question of safety is about the condition of your store as things continue to evolve and change. One of the things we talk about here a lot is the evaluation and transition that many merchants have been considering to other platforms – like Magento 2, WooCommerce, Shopify and BigCommerce. Every one of those transitions, if they happen, take time. So what do you do if you want to start that kind of transition but still want to keep your Magento 1 store safe? Some of these migrations take months, others can take quarters. The good news, and you’ve seen me reference it multiple times already, is our Nexcess Safe Harbor product that isn’t a long-term contract. It’s a month-to-month solution that provides protection even as you consider and potentially begin a migration of your store. No matter what, there’s a way to keep your store safe As you can see, any way you ask the question, the answer remains the same. With Nexcess as your hosting partner, we’re here to help you feel confident about running your Magento 1 store. No matter what, there’s a way to keep your store safe. The post Magento 1 End of Life: It’s July. Is your store safe? appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Financial Health for Your eCommerce Business

So you’ve got a great product, and a great website to sell it, but does your eCommerce business have the right financial processes in place to survive?  According to a recent survey by Small Business Trends, about 90% of eCommerce businesses fail in their first 4 months. Process-related issues like “running out of cash,” and/or “price and costing issues” were cited by at least a third of their respondents – circumstances that are often preventable by developing & sticking with business procedures. These processes and procedures are often collectively referred to as “financial hygiene.” Just like our personal hygiene keeps us healthy, we need to maintain good financial habits to preserve our financial health.  Hire a CPA When Launching Your BusinessOpen Your Mail Maintain Accounting ControlsReconcile All Financial AccountsAnticipate ExpensesKeep an Eye on Debt Hire a CPA When Launching Your Business A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can help you set your business up correctly. If you’ve already launched, he or she can still get your bookkeeping going in the right direction before costly problems arise.  It’s true that software like Sage and Quickbooks make it easy to do your own bookkeeping. In fact, most CPAs are happy to help you learn how to work with accounting software. But failing to properly set up your chart of accounts can leave you in the dark, with a setup that’s poorly designed for your particular industry or situation. As an example, I once served on a board where the accounting software wasn’t telling us anything about our financial position. All of our revenue went into one account called “general revenue,” and all of our expenses came out of one account called “general expenses.” Sure enough, our reports were pretty meaningless.  The Meaningless Company’s income statement only shows general revenue and general expense. It tells you nothing. Establishing a few accounts that captured how our funds were coming in and going out made our finances come alive. The Meaningful Company’s chart of accounts allows much more information to flow to the income statement. Same bottom line, but just a few minutes spent looking at it could tell you: Left handed widgets are far less profitable than the regular ones (compare sales and the cost of making them)Even though you took in more money than you spent, you lost money selling widgets. Selling a piece of equipment masked a serious shortfall. Proper bookkeeping throughout the year allows you and your CPA to anticipate your tax liabilities and plan ahead. It also makes the process of creating your tax return relatively simple, because your business expenses are already properly allocated to the right categories, like automotive expense, travel expenses, meals, and so on.  Without proper bookkeeping, your expenses must be figured out after the fact (if you still can). Many deductions are lost because a business owner did not keep adequate records and receipts to attest to them. A CPA or a qualified business consultant should also help you develop realistic budgets and goals for your business, so that you can develop forecasts and know how much capital you need to launch your business. Open Your Mail You might be surprised how many business owners neglect to open their mail (whether electronic or postal) and take care of it. Sure, much of it will be junk, But taking care of your bank statements, government notices, and customer correspondence will keep your business on track and keep small problems from turning into bigger ones.  For example, a government notice that your sales tax payment is missing generally comes with a small penalty and interest charge – if you catch it the first time – but these costs soar if you ignore the initial notices. Set aside a time at least once a week (preferably more often) to go through everything and process it: Pay billsDeposit checks Respond to customer complaints or concerns (even the difficult ones)Respond to vendor, bank and government notifications You may think the advice to “deposit checks” above is unnecessary. But I was once asked to shred a number of old documents for a client, and found almost a dozen unopened envelopes with checks in them totaling over a thousand dollars – checks that were now long out of date. If something comes in that you simply don’t understand how to handle, talk to your CPA or another trusted advisor. One of my college instructors gave my class simple advice that has always stuck with me:  “Bad news doesn’t get better with time” Maintain Accounting Controls As your business grows, the items mentioned above are often the first things a business owner wants to delegate. However, maintaining good accounting controls dictate that you, the business owner, personally perform certain tasks whenever possible.  If you have someone else writing your paper checks, you should still sign them. You may have someone else reconciling your bank statements, but you should still read them. The mundane task of checking the PO box has saved more than one business owner from continued fraud or theft within their organization, because they noticed an invoice or other document that didn’t make sense and tracked it down. Reconcile All Financial Accounts Reconciling bank and credit card statements should be performed monthly. Reconciling statements means comparing them to your records to ensure the totals are the same. Online banking and the daily transaction download to your accounting software is a good thing, but reconciling keeps your records accurate and provides a check on whether the amounts being stated are going where you believe they’re going.  For example, Quickbooks may assume that a downloaded transaction for $100 matches a transaction you’ve already entered for $100. But those amounts may just happen to match, and in fact the transaction you entered may still be outstanding.  Reconciling accounts forces you to track down all of these transactions, and is also a second chance to notice where payments have been made. For example, you may have thought you put Google AdWords on hold, but find that it’s still being charged to a credit card. Taking inventory of your finished goods, work in progress, and raw materials periodically also helps you to keep your business records on point – and can help you discover it if things are going missing. Anticipate Expenses Some expenses, like ordering inventory and paying shipping bills, are predictable. Others, like payroll, taxes, and loan payments, come in at different times (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annually).  It may be tough to keep track of how much you will owe at different times. To make it even more tricky, payroll expenses are often automatically deducted from your account, ready or not! One solution for this is to maintain a cash flow forecast that accounts for all anticipated future expenses in the next few months. Another approach that many business owners use, especially for payroll expenses, is to maintain a separate bank account. By transferring the gross (i.e. total) amount of payroll expense to it each pay period, the business owner can effectively save up for monthly and quarterly payroll taxes as they come due.  Dedicated checking accounts are also sometimes used for significant business expenses like inventory. Depositing a portion of the money from all sales into an inventory checking account means you are always financially ready to order more inventory. For expenses that are predictable, but that will be realized at somewhat unpredictable intervals (like the payroll and inventory examples), the additional bank accounts are preferred by many business owners because they provide a clearer picture of where they stand, without having to make calculations on the fly.  For example, if you need a new $2,000 computer in a hurry, you have $6,000 in the main bank account, and you know that your next payroll is already transferred to the payroll account, you know you’re able to buy the computer.  You’ll still need to do cash flow forecasting, but having a few dedicated checking accounts for those critical functions described above will help you stay organized, and your business should have money for your priorities. Keep an Eye on Debt A certain amount of debt may be inevitable in a business, especially when it’s starting up and/or growing. But unless you carefully monitor debt, your access to credit may mask serious issues with cash flow and profitability in your business. You may simply wake up one day and find that your credit cards and/or business line of credit are tapped out.  To avoid this, you should monitor your debt – check your balances at least once a month to make sure they’re heading down, not up. Keep a spreadsheet so that you see how these balances are changing over time. Creeping debt is much easier to correct before it gets completely out of hand than it will be later when you’re running out of credit and paying a lot of interest. Financial Hygiene – It’s Good for You! You went into business because you had a great idea, not because you love accounting. Bookkeeping chores, reading emails, and other administrative tasks may feel like nothing but distractions from reaching your goals. But staying on top of them is the best way to control the risks you run in business! The post Financial Health for Your eCommerce Business appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Second Half of the Year Day

It’s July.  Wait, Whaaaat? Although March and April seemed to crawl along as we all learned to navigate brand new economic and personal landscapes, it’s somehow suddenly summer.  The goals we set for ourselves and our businesses back in January seem a distant memory now. Wednesday, July 1st is precisely half-way through the year 2020.  The 182nd day of the year, it is the perfect time to take stock of the past six months. In so many ways, the first half of this year has been challenging for businesses and organizations. There’s a reason that nearly every email we exchange lately contains words like “unprecedented” and “uncertainty.” But we know that times of upheaval can also be times of tremendous positive change—if we are intentional about the ways we engage with our business, with our employees, and with ourselves. 2020 thus far has been tumultuous. And in six months, it will be behind us.  It’s never been more important to take the time to pause, reflect, reevaluate, and recognize how to move forward in ways that recognize that the current state of the world may be the norm for some time.  So, how can we advance our businesses, given the circumstances in which we find ourselves? Take stock.  Reassess how the year has gone so far. Look back on your goals for the year.  When originally setting objectives and targets to measure the success of ongoing projects at the start of 2020, no organizations could foresee what our lives and companies and work would look like in a few short months. Now is a great time to examine those objectives and targets and re-prioritize.  What should you start doing, stop doing, and keep doing?  What goals have been reached and which ones just aren’t realistic anymore?  Which projects need attention, what new opportunities have presented themselves, and which efforts are simply not adding value anymore?  Be ruthless.   If understandable delays have occurred in your business, think of July 1st as a time to get back on track. Consider July 1st as a restart – a New Mid-Year’s day, if you will. It’s a clean slate on which to adjust goals and come up with cohesive action plans that take our new “normal” into account. Make an action plan for forward movement. Do you need to take a different approach? Recognize the ways you can continue to make progress in the midst of uncertain times. If there are aspects of your business that need attention or adjustment, think about trying a different approach if you’re falling short of some of the goalposts you’ve set. Think about new methods and actionable steps that could help you and your team find new and positive ways of working for the latter half of the year. Try setting SMART goals—ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Keeping security up to date. Take some time at the beginning of July to ensure that your online security is up to par. As most companies continue working remotely, cybersecurity protection is more important than ever. Make sure that your cybersecurity is up-to-date and that any necessary updates have been installed. Prevent security issues and make sure the second half of the year is as smooth as possible.  Security is complex and can be viewed as “just another thing to worry about.”  But mitigating risk is a critical component of any successful business and you owe it to your customers to protect them – and to yourself to protect what you’ve worked so hard to achieve.  Don’t make a hard year worse by succumbing to a security breach that could have been prevented.  If you need help, here’s a few good resources. 3 Sign Your Staff Don’t Take Security SeriouslyWooCommerce Security: How Secure Is Your Customer’s Data?End Point Security for Magento Ecommerce Stores Holidays! Think ahead. Planning ahead for the holiday season will be essential for eCommerce stores. From your website optimization to products, July is the perfect time to plan out what your strategy should be for the 2020 holiday season. It is also a good time to get in touch with suppliers and distributors to understand about any potential delays and restrictions due to the pandemic. Online business will be the order of the day.  Is your digital commerce strategy and site ready to go?  No? Let’s get on it.  Here’s how we can help.  Prepare Your Site for Potential Spikes in Traffic: Nexcess offers infrastructure that can scale quickly, ensuring server resources can meet demands. Don’t leave customers unable to check out with your products due to slow load times, or worse, a crashing site.Mitigating a Malicious Attack on Your Server: Handling legitimate traffic can be quite enough without adding on a DDoS attack or code injection. Nexcess offers basic and advanced DDoS protection to help, along with other add-ons such as firewalls, load balancing, or ServerSecurePlus for server hardening. Get creative about “events.”   At the beginning of 2020, I approved a Marketing plan that invested heavily in events, in-person Partner Summits, and travel to clients.  Well, that’s not our world anymore. As conferences, face to face meetings, and business-related travel continues to stay motionless, getting creative about ways to connect with your customers and employees is important. We’ve all had to make adjustments to our event planning for this year. While we are unable to come together for in-person conferences, consider using this time to completely rethink the way your business approaches these gatherings. Using a webinar format is a great option for the time being, give thought to how you can make them fun and interesting.  But also consider brainstorming about how best to revamp in-person events when the time comes. Connect with employees. It is vital to find ways to connect with employees who are working remotely. Outside of whatever sort of mid-year performance review you may do, consider reaching out to remote employees to have separate, open discussions about their professional goals. Though many things in our businesses have shifted and changed, our employees still have ambitions. Ask them about their hopes and think about ways you can support them. Many people are using this time to think about personal development. Perhaps there are training resources or seminars that you can offer remotely to help employees build skill sets or try new things. Celebrate success. Finally, be sure to celebrate your successes. What have you done well in these challenging times? How have you shown up for your employees and reminded them of their value? It is essential to look back at all you have accomplished during the first half of the year.  Be sure to celebrate and congratulate yourselves and your colleagues as we continue working through this pandemic.  The post Second Half of the Year Day appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

WordCamps Are Going Virtual – Here’s What Happened at WordCamp Denver

If you’ve never been to a WordCamp before you’re missing the best part of the WordPress world. While the software is great – it’s the size and giving nature of the community that makes it special. I sat down with my friend Nathan Ingram – who has been to 50-60 WordCamps – to discuss what virtual WordCamps are like, some of the advantages of WordCamps going virtual, some of the things to watch out for, and our best advice to get the most out of attending a WordCamp. Maximize Your Screen Size Virtual WordCamps are great but there’s a few things you might not expect. One of the first is what they actually look like. For WordCamp Denver, we tried to show the speaker, their title, and their slides.  Nathan’s presentation at WordCamp Denver All of this is great as long as you have a big enough screen to make sure their slides are legible. Tip: make sure you watch virtual WordCamps on a laptop or desktop. Attend the “Soft” Sessions For WordCamp Denver we added a few “soft” sessions like yoga on Friday and How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee Saturday morning. While these aren’t strictly WordPress related, they’re a great way to connect with your community. The chat was very active during both sessions and people happily shared non-WordPress things with each other. Tip: You’ll always have another email to answer. Instead, take the opportunity to connect with your community both before, after, and during the event. Bookmark Your Favorite Sessions For WordCamp Denver we had three tracks going on both days. There is always a ton of great content and you won’t be able to watch it all. I’ll admit it – I’m lazy and if I don’t have to prepare for an event I won’t. But if you can spend even 10 minutes reviewing the schedule & speakers ahead of time, you should be able to find the sessions most relevant to you. And since this is a virtual event you don’t have to go all day. You can conserve your energy and pop in for the sessions most relevant for you and then go back to regular work or life. Tip: Bookmark your favorite sessions and schedule your day around them. Ask Your Questions As They Come Up One thing you might not realize is that there’s a 20-30 second delay between the speaker talking and you seeing the video on your end. That means it can be really hard to come up with good questions when the speaker asks. Instead you can ask questions throughout the talk by dropping them in the chat. A moderator will collect them, prioritize them, and ask them at the end. This makes asking questions really efficient and you won’t forget a great question if you drop it in the chat immediately. As a side benefit sometimes the attendees will answer your questions or help you elaborate.  Tip: Ask questions as soon as they come up. It helps the dialogue in the chat & will make sure those questions won’t be forgotten. Feel Free to Check Different Tracks One thing that’s hard to do at a physical event is to switch tracks. I don’t want to step over someone, open doors, or maybe even step in front of the camera. I kept three tabs open almost all day and had all three live streams running and I flipped back and forth muting & unmuting the different tracks. It let me hear a little bit from each speaker and then join the session that made the most sense for me. Tip: You’re allowed to watch all of the tracks and pick your favorite. You won’t hurt any speakers’ feelings by switching tracks and you won’t disturb anyone – so do it! Focus on One Or Two Changes There’s a lot of really good sessions at a WordCamp and I think Nathan sums it up perfectly: “WordCamps are like a firehose…” People often leave WordCamps with notebooks full of ideas. But those exciting ideas can easily turn into procrastination because you don’t know where to start. Tip: After you’ve finished watching a WordCamp, focus on implementing just 1 or 2 things. If you focus on 1 or 2 things you’ll be able to get them done. Getting The Most out of a Virtual WordCamp Virtual WordCamps are still sorting themselves out and the format will likely change as we move forward. While some things aren’t as easy to do as they were before – there are also a ton of benefits for virtual events. With these tips we hope you can get the most out of the WordCamp near you! The post WordCamps Are Going Virtual – Here’s What Happened at WordCamp Denver appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

How Your WordPress Blog Can Benefit From Custom Taxonomies

When you think about blogging, it’s easy to pick a theme and immediately focus on creating content. Unfortunately, because the newest content is typically displayed first, as a blog post gets older, it slowly disappears into the archives—and very few people think about their blog archives. Here’s the problem: Most of those older blog posts still have value! They are evergreen content that visitors would find helpful, it’s just hard to find them. Lucky for us, WordPress has default taxonomies—categories and tags—that are used to classify and organize blog posts with relevant terms. Each category and tag creates an archive of all content assigned to it. This is how many websites organize their blog posts. What is a taxonomy? “Taxonomy” is just a fancy way of describing whichever system you use to organize and classify information.  While categories and tags work great for most sites, if you’re a content creator, chances are, you can do better. You can create custom taxonomies in WordPress that use terms relevant to what your blog is about. For example, if you have a podcast, instead of using categories and tags to sort episodes, you might want to use taxonomies like guest, topic, industry, or type. How does it work? Clear taxonomies sort your content, create high-value archives, and improve site search results, especially when paired with solutions like Search WP or ElasticPress. Here are a few examples to show you how it works: Example 1: Recipe Blogs And Food Blogs Food bloggers are a perfect use case for custom taxonomies, as they write about and share recipes for specific meal types, diet types, and ingredients. With custom taxonomies, instead of generic categories and tags, you can use classifications relevant to food-related content. Three sample custom taxonomies for food bloggers would be: Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dessert, drinksDiets: vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, keto, Whole30Ingredients: eggs, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, sausage, cheddar cheese Example 2: Travel Blogs Travel sites can also benefit from custom taxonomies by using them to classify content with travel-specific terms. From city, state, county, and country, to types of trips like road trips or resort vacations, there are a plethora of classifications to choose from. Three sample custom taxonomies for travel bloggers would be: Activities: hiking, biking, camping, fishing, rock climbing, dining, beach combingPlaces: restaurant, museum, national park, state park, beach, hotel, amusement parkType: road trip, day trip, resort vacation, weekend getaway, week-long vacation Example 3: Fashion Blogs Like food blogs and travel blogs, another type of blog that should be using custom taxonomies are fashion blogs. From brands and retail stores, to pieces of clothing and accessories, fashion bloggers are already classifying their content. Custom taxonomies just make it even easier. Four sample custom taxonomies for fashion bloggers would be: Clothing: pants, blouse, tank top, maxi skirt, shorts, skirt, cocktail dress, sundressAccessories: necklace, earrings, bracelet, handbag, hat, sunglassesBrands: Prada, Old Navy, Forever 21, H&M, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Gucci, ExpressOccasion: business, casual, cocktail, formal, on the town, athleisure, workout Custom Taxonomies Classify Content With Relevant Terms As you can see, categories and tags are perfectly fine general form of content classification, but when you leverage custom taxonomies, you can sort and organize your blog content with relevant tags that are specific to the content you are creating, which will in turn, improve your visitors’ on site experience and help them find the content they are looking for quickly. If you publish new blog posts regularly and you have a good amount of traffic, you know that site speed and performance are critical to your long-term success and search engine rankings. With Nexcess Managed WordPress hosting, your blog will run lightning fast so users & search robots can access your content quickly. The post How Your WordPress Blog Can Benefit From Custom Taxonomies appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

What is PWA? Using Progressive Web Apps for your Magento Store

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)? Let’s begin by answering the question – what is PWA? PWA stands for Progressive Web Apps. Progressive Web Apps are a pattern for building web applications using HTML, CSS, JS and modern web browser APIs to bring a native-like experience. PWAs combine the best of 2 worlds: web and native apps. Like other mobile applications, PWAs are easily installable and make development work simpler for any merchant trying to reach as many customers as possible. While the feature parity between Progressive Web Apps and native apps is not 1:1 just yet, PWAs have come a long way since inception. Features like instant loading, push notifications and offline navigation/purchase are now widely available no matter which PWA implementation you choose.  They won’t be the right approach in every case – for example, if you need a feature that’s not available on a Web browser or through an API, you will likely need to go the native route. But PWA capabilities are continuing to expand and what may require a native app today, might be PWA-worthy tomorrow. Project Fugu is a good place to see what’s coming and what’s being worked on right now. Why are PWAs such a big deal? PWAs come with an incredible set of features that were once reserved for native mobile apps alone. While regular web apps have tremendous reach in every device with a browser, at the end of the day these apps are just a webpage in a browser.  Native apps are another way to reach mobile users but they must be developed for one platform / operating system at a time. PWAs enable development of a single app for multiple platforms. This streamlined approach is something mobile developers have been anxiously waiting for – easily reaching every potential customer no matter what operating system they are using.  They also solve one of the most challenging issues developers face: distribution. Since you don’t need to publish these apps in a marketplace, you can just add a few lines to your manifest and make PWAs easily installable with a couple of clicks. Results drive a consistent customer experience that they expect through a native application but with PWA, they get a standalone experience, completely separated from the Web browser.  This means a full-screen experience with no URL bar, the ability to install the PWA and dock it to your device home screen instead of visiting a regular webpage plus everything a Service Worker has to offer.  Instead of the legacy way of updating via form submission and waiting for approval and publishing of the new version to the App Marketplace, changes made into any PWA are immediately available the next time you are connected to the Internet and open the app. PWA installation is now a standard feature available in all major mobile browsers, as well as Chrome and Edge on desktop. How does PWA help Magento merchants? Let’s face it: the Magento 2 frontend was already old when it was released and we’ve seen how that plays with frameworks like Prototype.js and Knockout.js.  The JavaScript ecosystem evolves quickly and constantly following the hottest frameworks, developer trends, and updated best practices. This makes it challenging to keep up when having to maintain separated codebases.  PWAs are particularly attractive to merchants using Magento 2 because it reduces front-end development complexity, giving you flexibility, extensibility, and opportunity to deploy resources to develop new features. Developers can implement almost everything in the regular Magento 2 frontend at a fraction of the cost and time by using any of the available APIs. How can customers run a PWA on Nexcess? We’ve made it easy to run PWA on the Nexcess platform. We’ve created a step-by-step guide for how to install Magento’s official PWA PoC, Venia storefront. This resource outlines how to build, compile and transfer this PoC to one of our servers without the need to start and maintain middleware services. The post What is PWA? Using Progressive Web Apps for your Magento Store appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

What is WordCamp?

If you’ve never heard of  WordCamp before you might think it involves playing lots of Scrabble in tents in the woods. But WordCamps actually have nothing to do with camping & nothing specific to do with words or spelling. So, what is WordCamp? A WordCamp is (in non-pandemic times) an in-person gathering of WordPress fans in a specific geographic region with the goal to learn more about WordPress. Who is WordCamp For? WordCamps are for anyone who wants to learn more about WordPress. You could be a blogger looking for the best ways to edit, schedule, and update your posts. Or you could be a plugin or theme developer seeking information on security, performance, and best practices. Or you could be interested in starting a business on WordPress – like someone who wants to start their own WooCommerce store. In short: if you want to use WordPress, you can go to a WordCamp. There’s no secret handshake and no entry test. Just come to a WordCamp and mingle with fellow WordPress fans! What Topics are Covered at WordCamps? WordCamps truly cover anything and everything related to WordPress. If you want to browse some of the content yourself, you can check out WordPress.tv where most WordCamps upload their videos. But to give you just a taste, here are talks you might see at your local WordCamp: Beginner Topics WordPress.org vs WordPress.com by Tim CovellBuilding Your Privacy Policy by Ronnie Burt Blogging / Writing / Content Marketing Why You Should Own Your Own Voice by David WolfpawCreating a Content Calendar by April Wier Business Growing Your Business While You’re Busy with Client Work by Nathan IngramSteps for Dealing with Difficult Clients by Kathy DrewienBig Mistakes in Life by our very own Chris Lema Development Find That Bug You Made Months Ago with Git Bisect by David NeedhamThe WordPress Developer’s Guide to Caching by Micah Wood Design The Ethics of Web Design by Morten Rand-HendriksenSquash and Stretch and Good UX- Using Animation To Enhance User Experience by Michelle Schulp WordCamps are Locally Organized Every WordCamp is a little different and can have a different focus. That’s because they’re locally organized by volunteers. Each local community will have a different focus. So your local WordCamp will focus on issues that matter in that community. Meet Your Local Community WordCamps also feature speakers from your local community. You won’t be learning from a plugin developer from New York City or San Francisco. You’ll be learning from someone who lives down the street. That way, it’s much easier to reach out to them, partner with them, or even hire them. To share a personal story, I met Brian Richards at WordCamp Chicago in 2013. We kept in touch for years, shared advice back and forth, and in 2018 when the stars aligned, we launched a collaborative project called WooSesh which we’re still running today. How Much Does It Cost To Attend WordCamp? If you’ve been to other tech conferences you know they can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Tech conferences are great but incredibly expensive. Something that sets WordCamps apart from other events is that it’s organized by volunteers and there’s no corporation trying to make a ton of money. That means they’re incredibly cheap for attendees. WordCamps are limited to $25 per day, so if you have a three day WordCamp the maximum it costs is $75. One of my first technology conferences was three days and it cost $2,000! Clearly, you get incredible value from a WordCamp. WordCamps in a Pandemic Up until this point I’ve focused on what WordCamps are like in typical times, but we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, so WordCamps have become virtual. Obviously, an online conference feels different. You don’t have those hallway chats like you do at an in-person event. But they’re also more flexible. You can view the schedule, and jump in for just a session or two if you like.  And of course you don’t have to drive or reserve a hotel room. This means they’re a lot cheaper. And virtual WordCamps are entirely free. That’s right – a big fat zero dollars. Find Your Local WordCamp Are you ready to try a WordCamp? You can find a schedule of WordCamps on the WordCamp Central website. You can also try WordCamp Denver which is virtual (and free) June 26-27. The post What is WordCamp? appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

How to import WooCommerce Products with WP All Import

Ready to add new products to your WooCommerce store? You can import WooCommerce products from any CSV or XML file with any file structure. Here are the steps to import any product with WP All Import: Create an import with WP All Import and select WooCommerce Products.Drag & drop the data from your import file.Choose to import new WooCommerce products, update existing ones, or both.Run the import to create products, import images, categories, etc. WP All Import is a powerful tool that allows you to import any XML, CSV, or spreadsheet into WordPress. Read on for an in-depth guide to importing WooCommerce Products, including price, stock, categories, and product image galleries.  Importing Products with WP All Import Follow along in your own testing install of WordPress: http://www.wpallimport.com/try/ Here’s the share URL for the import file used in this example: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15vSspWyfqyvtox3faDpsfHUdzGgwrxDuH8SN5BWlZCU/edit?usp=sharing. Let’s get started! Create a new WooCommerce Product Import Create a new import and choose your import file. You can either upload a file from your computer, download an import feed via URL, or you can use a file that already exists on your server.  Google Sheets is readily available, so we’ll use the share URL of our sheet in the “Download from URL” field and select “WooCommerce Products” from the drop-down: Filtering Options WP All Import has the ability to filter imported products based on pretty much any criteria. For example, only products with a sale price, products with a certain brand, or anything else. This is all done using drop-downs and pre-built rules. We don’t need to filter anything from this feed, so let’s continue. Drag & drop to import WooCommerce product data Now we need to map the data from our import file to our WooCommerce Products. The data from your import file is displayed on the right, and the import template is displayed on the left. To set up your import drag & drop your data from right to left. First, we’ll map the product name, product description, and product short description. Next, we can populate the product information inside the “WooCommerce Add-On” section. Import WooCommerce Product Prices In the “General” tab, the first thing you’ll want to do is decide which product type to import. WP All Import supports all of the built-in product types in WooCommerce: Simple Products, External/Affiliate Products, Subscriptions, Grouped Products, and Variable Products. If you’re importing Variable Products into WooCommerce, WP All Import has several different options to connect parent products and their variations. We’ll go over those options in a separate guide. First, drag in your SKU and Prices. If you do not have a SKU, WP All Import will create one for you. In this section, there are some options that give you complete control over your pricing: Click the “Adjust Prices” text to open a section where you can adjust your prices on-the-fly by a percentage or a set amount. Next to the Sale Price field, you can click “schedule” to schedule sale prices.And, you can use the options below “Adjust Prices” to attempt to automatically reformat your prices to match WooCommerce’s requirements. Import WooCommerce Product Stock In the inventory tab, you have full control over the stock settings for your imported products. You can choose to manage just the stock status, or to set the stock amount and let WP All Import set the stock status automatically. You can also decide to set a low stock threshold, whether to allow backorders, and more. These settings can be applied to all products in your import, or you can set them on a per-product basis depending on the data in your import file. WooCommerce Shipping Class Next we’ll import the weight and the dimensions of your products, as well as the shipping class. Like everything else, you can choose to apply the shipping class option to all products in this import, or you can set them individually for each product. Product Up-sells and Cross-sells In the linked products tab, you can import the up-sells and cross-sells for each product. You can match up-sells and cross-sells by SKU, ID, or Product Name. WP All Import will search for the products in your WooCommerce shop and automatically add their IDs to these fields for you. If you’re importing multiple up-sells and cross-sells you just need to separate them with commas. WooCommerce Product Attributes WP All Import has full support for Global Attributes and Custom Attributes in WooCommerce. You can choose to use these attributes for variations, and determine if they should be visible on the product page or not. For Global Attributes, WP All Import will avoid duplicates by using existing attributes when possible. If no existing attributes are found, new ones will be created for you. If you’re importing products with a different amount of attributes per-product, that’s fine – WP All Import will only import attributes that have attribute values for the products and ignore the rest. Importing WooCommerce Product Images and Galleries Next, decide how we want to import our product images. You can download images from an external host via URL, use images that already exist in the Media Library, or use existing images from your server. WP All Import has a wide range of options to cover pretty much any scenario. If your images are hosted somewhere else and your import file has URLs linking to each image, WP All Import can download those images directly into WordPress and add them to your imported posts and image galleries. You can also match your imported data to images that are already in the WordPress Media Library, or those that have been uploaded to wp-content/uploads/wpallimport/files/.  You can also choose to have WP All Import scan through the post content of each product and import images that are wrapped in <img> tags. They’ll be imported into the Media Library and their old URLs will be replaced by the new ones in the post content. In the “SEO & Advanced Options” section, you can choose to import image metadata, including the Title, Caption, Alt Text, Description, including the file name and extension. Custom Fields WP All Import can auto-detect custom fields in your products that have been added by your theme or other plugins. You can import data to these custom fields, or define new ones here in the import. WooCommerce Product Categories and Tags WP All Import offers full support for Product Categories, Product Tags and custom taxonomies in WordPress. There are a few different ways to import nested categories to WordPress. No matter the settings you choose, WP All Import will always search for and use existing categories and tags to prevent duplicates from being created. New categories and tags will be created only when no match is found. You can also use the mapping tool to translate category or tag values from your file to whatever you need them to be. That means you can convert your suppliers categories and tags to the ones on your site and avoid a bunch of redundant ones getting created in your shop. Import Settings Any time you use WP All Import to import data to your WordPress site, the settings on this page will determine exactly what’s done with the data as it’s being imported. You can create new products, delete products that you remove from your file in subsequent runs, and update existing products on subsequent runs. You can also enable the “Choose which data to update” option if you only want to update specific fields for existing products. For example, you can use these settings to limit your import to only update the prices and stock for existing products. Scheduled WooCommerce Product Imports Imports can be set to run automatically on a schedule. At the scheduled time a fresh version of your import file will be downloaded and the import will run to create, delete, and update products based on your import settings. Schedules can be created manually using cron jobs, or automatically using WP All Import’s Automatic Scheduling service. Running the Import Now it’s time to run the import. Finishing Up After the import is complete, go over and take a look at the products that have been imported. In just a few minutes we’ve imported hundreds of products, including their product images, attributes and taxonomies into our WooCommerce Shop. WP All Import is a powerful tool that allows you to import any XML, CSV, or spreadsheet into WordPress. The post How to import WooCommerce Products with WP All Import appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

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