Category: Ecommerce

Must-Have BigCommerce Apps for 2019

BigCommerce’s App Marketplace is one of the platform’s claims to fame. Their current selection of 650 apps across 15 categories and 65 subcategories is constantly expanding, and is second to none in the ecommerce universe.

Why invest in apps? “We’re now in a digital world where smaller and growing brands can take advantage of the same technologies that previously were only available as built-in integrations for companies with large development teams (and even larger wallets). Add-on apps are the key to scalable and lasting growth in online retail because they provide brands with the functionality and expertise that normally aren’t available in standalone teams.” — Corinne Watson, Partner Content Marketing Specialist, BigCommerce

With so many choices, where do you start? Here’s our list of must-have BigCommerce apps for 2019.

Note: This post contains affiliate links to products from one or more of our strategic partners. While we may receive compensation from purchases made through these links, these do not have any impact on our recommendations.

Avalara AvaTax

Category: Accounting & Tax/Tax

Description: Spend more time selling and less time calculating taxes when you activate AvaTax with your BigCommerce Account.

Price: Custom pricing

Top 5 Features:

  1. One-stop-shop service helps eliminates risk and saves time.
  2. Includes tax calculation on every order for all state and local tax jurisdictions.
  3. Allows access to thousands of product taxability codes.
  4. Includes Avalara tax compliance and audit reports.
  5. Offers full compatibility with Avalara Returns filing service.

What We Like About It:

By integrating completely with your BigCommerce store, this app helps your business get compliant fast and lowers your audit risk.

Justuno

Category: Marketing/Digital Marketing & Advertising

Description: Justuno is a conversion marketing and analytics platform that provides retailers with powerful tools to convert shoppers along with data insights to optimize marketing campaigns.

Price: 14-day free trial; $29/month

Top 5 Features:

  1. Customizable pop-ups to build your email list and generate sales.
  2. Cart and Checkout Abandonment offers helps convert shoppers into customers.
  3. Versatile targeting and segmentation to better understand shoppers’ behavior.
  4. A/B testing to optimize your conversion funnel.
  5. Drag-and-drop design canvas helps customize existing themes to your needs.

What We Like About It:

Not only is this app highly rated in the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace, Justuno is constantly adding new features to their app based on user feedback, BigCommerce updates, and industry trends.

Live Chat

Category: CRM & Customer Service/Customer Service & Helpdesks

Description: LiveChat is a BigCommerce-specific chat tool for customer support and online sales that can be used to manage communication and personal interactions with your customers.

Price: 30-Day Free Trial; $16/mo.

Top 5 Features:

  1. Live chat triggers allow you to initiate conversations with visitors on your site.
  2. Multi-channel communications enable you to reach out to your customers on Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, or email.
  3. Ticketing system enables communication with clients by storing their messages as tickets when you go offline.
  4. Customizable live chat widget allows you to customize its look and feel, position on the page, and welcome message for customers.
  5. Mobile live chat applications let you chat everywhere your customers are: in a car, at home, or while shopping.

What We Like About It:

Efficiency! Live Chat makes customer service more efficient by letting you hold multiple chat sessions at the same time and sending canned responses to frequently asked questions, as well as managing offline messages.

Printful

Category: Product Sourcing/Printing & Products-on-Demand

Description: Create custom products for your online store, from t-shirts to hats, while Printful handles the fulfillment, storage, and shipping.

Price: Free

Top 5 Features:

  1. Large catalog gives gives you lots of product choices.
  2. Warehousing and fulfillment services enables you to store your non-Printful products at their warehouse and they’ll fulfill all your orders.
  3. Customized branding: white labeling lets you add your personal touch.
  4. Dedicated customer support.
  5. Multiple fulfillment centers for faster service.

What We Like About It:

Printful offers on-demand printing, fulfillment, and warehousing services, making life easier for online store owners — nice!

Rewind

Category: Site Tools/Site Performance & Monitoring

Description: Automated, secure backups for stores of all sizes. Get peace of mind knowing your most important store data is always backed up.

Price: Custom pricing

Top 5 Features:

  1. Automatically backup and undo unwanted changes gives you peace of mind.
  2. Restore dozens, hundreds, or thousands of product in a few minutes.
  3. Secure and GDPR compliant, with encrypted storage.
  4. From products and product images to orders and blog posts, Rewind backs up everything you need.
  5. World-class support with live phone support.

What We Like About It:

Rewind performs vital functionality for any size store. Knowing your site’s contents are secure no matter what helps you sleep at night.

ShipStation

Category: Shipping & Fulfillment/Label Printing

Description: Save time and money with efficient shipping labels, wherever you sell, however you ship. 

Price: Custom Pricing

Top 5 Features:

  1. Import orders from all your selling channels into a single platform.
  2. Ship orders with the best carrier, service, and rates to fit your needs.
  3. Create a self-service Branded Returns Portal with your colors, logo, and social channels for an exceptional customer experience.
  4. Branded tracking pages, custom confirmation emails, and branded labels and custom packing slips available on paid plans.
  5. Great customer support.

What We Like About It:

ShipStation has more integrations than any other shipping platform, and the app is free up to 50 shipments per month. Plus, you can automate nearly every step of your shipping process with presets and automation rules — we love efficiency!

Shogun

Category: Merchandising/Visual Merchandising

Description: Customize your landing pages, blog and product pages with Shogun’s easy drag-and-drop page builder, optimized for SEO and marketing campaigns.

Price: 7-Day Free trial; $49/mo.

Top 5 Features:

  1. Easy-to-use editor that works with your existing theme.
  2. Pre-designed templates for landing, home, product, and blog pages.
  3. World class technical support with same-day email response for all plans.
  4. Awesome element library includes just about everything you need, Product Elements enables you to insert product data into any page.
  5. Create custom drag and drop elements for endless reuse.

What We Like About It:

Shogun is easy to use and enables anyone to create a custom web page with no coding experience necessary, saving time and money.

Swerve Redirects

Category: Site Tools/Site Performance & Monitoring

Description: Swerve helps you easily track/fix 404 Errors and quickly search/edit 301 Redirects. Efficiently maintains store health and improves site ranking.

Price: 7-day free trial; $9.99/month

Top 5 Features:

  1. Finds new 404 Errors and allows you to fix them on the spot.
  2. Allows you to search and edit your 301 Redirects, saving you tons of time.
  3. Improves user experience, reducing customer frustration and keeping happy shoppers on your site.
  4. Reduces bounce rate, improving sales and SEO.
  5. Helps maintain your link power by helping search engines find your content and preserving the link juice you worked to hard to earn.

What We Like About It:

This new app adds much-needed 404 Error tracking and 301 Redirect search functionality to your BigCommerce store, a unique feature not available in any other BigCommerce application.

Yotpo

Category: Merchandising/Ratings & Reviews

Description: Generate tons of reviews and use them to drive qualified traffic and more sales for your store.

Price: Custom pricing; free plan available

Top 5 Features:

  1. Increases conversion rate on product pages.
  2. Optimized for mobile.
  3. Full social integration (premium plans)
  4. Rich snippets, Google Seller Ratings, and Product Listing Ads increase SEO success (premium plans)
  5. User-generated photos create unique visual marketing opportunities (premium plans). 

What We Like About It:

Letting customers see what other customers love about your company and products creates trust and drives sales.

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Investing in apps to augment your store’s functionality is not only vital for your success in ecommerce, but helps you focus more on improving your business, not just your website.

Larger, big-box retailers have built out technology for years — often with a high price tag, and lasting issues with development and security. With more and more apps becoming available to store owners of any size, businesses can now compete against and stand above their competition.

Whether you’re a new or veteran store owner, we hope this list is a good starting point for helping grow your business efficiently.

New BigCommerce App Helps Manage Broken Links Quickly & Easily

swerve-redirects-logo

Dealing with your BigCommerce store’s 301 Redirects and 404 Errors can be a real hassle. Swerve Redirects makes your 301 Redirects searchable, saving time as you edit and/or delete redirects. It also makes your 404 Errors easy to identify and fix, keeping your online store in tip-top shape.

How Can Swerve Help Me?

Improves User Experience & Reduces Bounce Rate

Converting 404 Errors to 301 Redirects is vital for good user experience on your site. Redirects done right can help reduce bounce rate, keeping happy customers shopping on your site.

swerve-redirects-dashboard

Finds New 404 Errors

Google has announced that Google Search Console will soon only track index coverage errors for URLs submitted for indexing (generally via your sitemap). But what about broken inbound links? Or broken internal links? Swerve tracks 404 Errors and allows you to fix them immediately.

Swerve-redirects-fix-404-errors page

Saves Time & Frustration

Stop scrolling through page after page! Swerve’s in-demand Search feature enables you to search through hundreds or thousands of redirects quickly
when you want to edit or delete a 301 Redirect. Bulk Edit allows you to perform changes or deletions on multiple records all at once with just a few keystrokes.

Helps You Maintain Link Power for SEO

When a 404 Error is encountered, you want search engines to understand that content has been moved and can be found elsewhere. Swerve maximizes SEO by helping search engines find your content and ensure that link value you worked so hard to earn is passed through.

Swerve-redirects-create-redirect-popup

Generates Site Health Reports

Swerve keeps you in the loop with periodic reports emailed to you so you can be aware of the health of your links.

7-Day Free Trial

We think Swerve is perfect for every BigCommerce store, but don’t take our word for it. Our 7-day free trial gives you plenty of time to love it as much as we do. Check out Swerve Redirects in the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace today.

Improving Your BigCommerce Store in 2019

As we close out yet another trip around the sun, you may be starting to wonder “What’s next for my online store?” A new year is a great time to stop and take stock of what worked, what didn’t, and what you can do to improve the bottom line on your BigCommerce store.

In ecommerce, as in life, continuous improvement should always be top of mind. Consider the following when planning your next course of action.

Improve Your Store

If you’re not intentionally working on making your ecommerce store better, you’re allowing it to get worse. Everything is constantly changing. Focused, strategic effort on your part is necessary to make your store the best it can be.

Don’t let that scare you! Avoid overwhelm. If you don’t know where to begin, small changes made consistently over time are a good way to start making progress … but don’t delay. Start now.

Master Your Analytics

If you don’t know where you are now, how will you know how to get to where you want to go next? If you’re not in the habit of getting regular updates on your store’s current status, this should be a priority on your to-do list. What critical information can you learn from your store’s analytics?

  • Audience: Where are you buyers located? How old are they? Are they men or women?
  • Acquisition: Where is the majority of your traffic coming from? What ad campaigns are working?
  • Behavior: Are your buyers first time or repeat visitors? How much traffic is from mobile?
  • Conversions: What’s your conversion rate? What pages on your site convert best? How many didn’t make it to checkout?

… and much, much more.

If you’re not knowledgeable or comfortable using Google Analytics, you’re not alone. Check out The Best of the Best eCommerce Analytics Tools to Grow Your Business.

Hot tip: If you have a BigCommerce store with a large product catalog of unique fitment products (like Year/Make/Model), PartFinder features Data Insights, real-time data generated by customer behavior on your site. Customer searches on your site generate unique data that you can use to improve both your marketing and inventory efforts.

5 Quick Fixes

I look at a wide variety of ecommerce websites every day, offering constructive criticism and our development services on BigCommerce’s Community Forum. Here are the top five areas of improvement I regularly comment on:

  1. Make sure your site is secure

I’ve been seeing this a lot lately. If customers don’t feel that their payment method is secure, they won’t buy from you. Period. Get an SSL certificate for your site pronto.

2. Feature an eye-catching banner with concise messaging

Your site’s banner is prime real estate, and is usually the thing your customer notices first. It can either inform and engage them or turn them off completely. This is the space where you identify your product offering with clear, targeted messaging and sharp photos. I cannot overstate the importance of high-quality images here. The banner sets the tone for the rest of the site, so you should pay especially close attention to this area. Make sure your aspect ratios are on point so you don’t get the dreaded s t r e t c h e d photo effect.

3.  Create a one-line navigation bar with clear product categories

Is your navigation bar product-focused? Things like Shipping and Returns don’t belong in your nav. Have large, well-defined product categories with dropdowns to keep the nav tidy. We recommend 6-8 navigation items, tops.

4. Keep your Home page product-focused too

Your potential customers come to your site to buy from you. They don’t need to read a long story about you or your products on the Home page. While an About Us or Our Story page can be quite compelling, it does not need to take up valuable Home page real estate. Share your story, your philosophy, and interesting details about your quality craftsmanship (if applicable) with appropriate keywords, on a dedicated page they can get to from the main navigation bar.

5. Standardize your product images and create unique product descriptions

This is another area that can sabotage your Home page experience. Make sure the sizing and aspect ratios of your product images are consistent. When image boxes vary in size, they not only look sloppy, but can throw off the alignment of product names and pricing info. Create unique product descriptions rather than using ones supplied by a manufacturer (if you’re a reseller). If you have a product that comes in five colors, it’s best to create one product with five variations than five separate products. Writing creative, compelling product descriptions isn’t always easy. Work on them over time if necessary, but avoid duplicate content whenever possible.

Invest in New Apps

So many apps, so little time …

It’s very likely that you’ve purchased a number of apps to help you with marketing, inventory, shipping, and so on. But when was the last time you took a stroll through the BigCommerce app store to see what’s new? Are you up on all the latest technologies? Small investments can pay off big. Check out this list, BigCommerce Must-Haves to see what you’ve been missing.

 

Refine Your Product Offering

Is your current product offering too narrow … or too broad? I am always amazed to see online stores selling everything from soup to nuts with no sense of cohesiveness. It’s one thing to sell “gifts” and have a wide range of items, but when you’re primarily selling phone cases but also baby bibs, women’s underwear, and garden hoses, you achieve what I call “the garage sale effect.” It’s very difficult to market stores like this because there’s no direction or target market you can aim for. You really can’t compete in Amazon’s “sell everything” space, so make sure your products are related and can be categorized so that anyone visiting your store knows immediately what you’re selling and why they should buy from you.

Improve Yourself

As Stephen Covey wrote in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (a must-read for all humans), the seventh habit he references is “Sharpen the Saw.” Entrepreneurship is hard. You must take the time to invest in yourself if you’re going to have the energy and motivation to continue.

Remember: You’re the goose laying the golden eggs. If you’re not continually improving yourself, you’re continually decreasing your effectiveness and putting yourself on the fast track to burnout.

STOP: Take a Break

When was the last time you took a vacation? Remember, taking a break doesn’t have to mean two weeks in Europe. It could be a weekend getaway, an overnight trip, an afternoon doing something you love, or even a 10-minute meditation. If you don’t make yourself a priority, no one else will.

LOOK: Read & Learn

We all struggle with information overload. The key is being selective. Read blogs and follow business experts on Twitter, or take online courses from sites like Lynda.com or Udemy to enhance your skill set.

I also recommend checking out online forums to stay current on your platform’s features and improvements. BigCommerce’s Community Forum and Facebook page are great ways to learn from other store owners, development partners, and platform experts.

LISTEN: Find Your Podcast Nirvana

If you don’t think you have time to listen to podcasts, you’re doing it wrong. Podcasts are a great way to stay informed while you multitask. Next time you’re eating, exercising, or driving, fire up a podcast see how fast the time goes. If you’re not sure which ones are best, check out 42 Top Ecommerce Podcasts That Will Make You an Ecommerce Magnate and get inspired.

Driving while looking in the rearview mirror is never a good idea. But taking the time to reflect and assess your goals always helps determine your road map for the future. Wishing you a healthy and prosperous new year, and happy selling.

PartFinder: The Most Advanced Fitment Search App for BigCommerce

If you wanted even more functionality from our BigCommerce fitment match app, you got it! PartFinder not only helps your customers find the right product match via custom search filters (like Year/Make/Model, or YMM), it’s now a valuable marketing tool. PartFinder is the only fitment search app that uses search results from your store to generate real-time graphs and data. Create unique marketing opportunities based on actual customer behavior on your site — with no coding! It’s like getting three apps in one.

We’ve found more ways to harness the power of PartFinder into new utilities that make your customer’s search and marketing efforts better than ever. Plus, take your pick of three different service plans to suit your needs.

 

PartFinder’s New Marketing Tools

Fitment Capture (available on Premium plans)

PartFinder exclusive!  Fitment Capture enables you to reach out to customers with updates on products they’re interested in. Shoppers can submit name, email, and phone for follow up, and their fitment data is automatically captured. Contact and fitment data can then be dowloaded for use in marketing campaigns and follow-up emails.


 
 

MailChimp Integration (available on Premium plans)

Our new MailChimp integration allows you to connect to your MailChimp account to create drip campaigns and email marketing newsletters from customer data. Reaching out to customers in personalized ways can help drive sales.
 

PartFinder’s Other New Features

Bulk Export (available on ALL plans)

Want to save time when making mass product or mapping changes? Use your exported data file to make the desired changes and then use Bulk Import to update your store. Automated Part Mappings Backup is also now available on Pro and Premium plans.


 

Fitment Match (available on Pro and Premium plans)

Fitment Match confirms that the search criteria a customer has chosen is an exact match to the product they want. The year/make/model (or applicable search fields) is displayed on the top of the product page when the product is selected.


 

Fitment Compatibility Chart (available on Premium plans)

Would you like your customers to see other matches for their product search at a glance? PartFinder’s Fitment Compatibility Chart is an optional display, designed to show all product matches for a given search result. It appears on the location of your choosing on product pages.
 

 

Link to Variant IDs (available on Pro and Premium plans) 

Want to link to an exact SKU rather than a product, like an item sized small? Map to a very specific item via the Link to Variant ID feature.


 

New Plan Pricing

PartFinder is now available in three service packages to fit your usage needs: Standard, Pro, and Premium. Each level offers new and improved benefits to help you get the most from your online store.

PartFinder’s Standard plan continues to have all the functionality you’re used to, with the additional benefit of Part Mappings Export added in. Higher plans handle more mappings, products, fields, and searches.


 

PartFinder as You Want It

Whether your needs are basic, advanced, or somewhere in between, PartFinder makes your fitment match dreams come true. Questions? Feel free to reach out to us at support@partfinder.com.

Already a PartFinder subscriber? If so, how has PartFinder helped your business? If you’d like to share your experience, we’d love to hear it! A review in the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace would help get the word out and be greatly appreciated. Thank you supporting PartFinder! 

Updates to PartFinder: Must-Have Fitment App for BigCommerce YMM Stores

PartFinder for BigCommerce is rapidly becoming a must-have app for stores that sell fitment matched (i.e., Year/Make/Model) products. More than just a search bar, PartFinder helps customers find exactly the right part through a series of choices, reducing frustration, product returns, and improving user experience.

We’re excited to announce two major upgrades to PartFinder’s features: an embedded search widget and Insights — one-of-a-kind data extracted in real time from users’ actual search data.

 

Embedded Search Widget Makes Fitment Search Even Easier

 

PartFinder now has two kinds of search widgets to choose from: floating and embedded. The existing floating widget can be placed almost anywhere on your site and appears when a tab is clicked, revealing either a stacked box or nearly full-screen, branded search experience.

The new embedded search widget keeps your fitment search feature front and center for ease of use. If you want to further increase customer engagement, the embedded search widget is a way of displaying PartFinder’s fitment search functionality on your site so that it feels more integrated. You can display it full screen width or in a stacked sidebar.

Customize It!

As with the current floating widget, you can choose your background color, title names, and fields just like before. All you have to do is activate the embedded widget and place the code where you want the window to display and you’re all set. Complete instructions are available in PartFinder’s support documentation.

Your Search, Your Way

Whether you want your search tool front and center for added visibility, off to the side on a pull-out widget, or both, PartFinder provides fitment search the way you want it. Want both types? No problem. Embedded and floating widgets can operate on the same page. Also, visibility for mobile and desktop can be toggled on and off on both kinds of widgets. For example, you could decide to show the floating widget on mobile for optimal experience and the embedded widget on desktop.

 

PartFinder Insights: Invaluable Data at Your Fingertips

We are especially excited about PartFinder Insights. Insights is an amazing free tool that uses real-time customer search data to improve your store’s marketing and inventory strategies. This precise data is unique to PartFinder and almost like getting two apps in one, at no extra cost.

How does Insights help your store? Insights complements Google Analytics data and provides additional, unique data that cannot be tracked by GA. The data that Insights offers is specifically tied to fitment search on your website. Want to make your advertising efforts more effective based on what shoppers are looking for? Get to know your customers and how you can better anticipate their needs by knowing what they need and when. How about running a promotion to focus on popular (or even unpopular) fitments? PartFinder utilizes your shopper’s search data to help you analyze your business and make key marketing and/or inventory decisions quickly.

Here’s some of the search data that is available to you in Insights. (Note: we used sample data taken from our own test store in these examples.)

 

Top Searches:

What searches are coming up most frequently?

 

Most Popular Filter Choices:

Don’t just glance at your completed search data — do something with it! You can analyze what shoppers are looking for at the field level and tweak your marketing campaigns and inventory strategies for maximum effectiveness.

 

Search Requests by Time of Day & Day of Week:

Knowing when your customers are online can help with targeted marketing campaigns or customer support planning.

Other Insights

 

Daily Search Counts:

See the volume of filter requests and search results for a period of time.

Least Popular Filter Choices:

The least commonly utilized filters (with at least one request). Being informed about what is unpopular can be as valuable as knowing what is popular.

Top Search Pages:

See where on your store shoppers are searching from. How can this help you improve engagement?

Shopper Screen Sizes:

See the device screen sizes are shoppers searching from.

 

Very impressed with this app, it was very easy and painless to implement. It is very quick and responsive when searching for a part. Scott & the team at PartFinder have been great to work with as well, quick responses to questions & issues. We are very happy to have found this app.

— BigCommerce Store Owner & PartFinder Enthusiast
 

Coming soon to PartFinder …

PartFinder is setting itself apart in the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace with its unique set of tools for your ecommerce store. In addition to our great customer service and superior features, we know that adding PartFinder to your ecommerce arsenal can’t help but improve your customers’ experience and your bottom line. Additional Insights are on the way as well as other exciting features, so stay tuned for more updates.

Want to learn more? Check out the PartFinder website PartFinder site, or visit the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace for a free 7-day trial.

6 Quick & Dirty Tips to Improve Your BigCommerce Automotive Store

If you have an automotive store on BigCommerce, you know that the process of continuous improvement is a must to thrive in a fiercely competitive market. In addition to the challenges that most online stores experience (marketing, inventory, shipping, etc.), stores selling automotive parts have some unique issues. Not only do their customers have technical questions, they often don’t know what parts or tools they need to be the Weekend Warrior of their dreams. If they manage to find your website, they might be confused by the multitude of parts and fitments required to do the job they need to do.

Ready for some good news? According to an article in Forbes, Passing The Test Of Time: Cars Owners Keep For A Decade Or Longer, people are keeping their cars longer than ever. While the average marriage in the U.S. lasts just 8.8 years (wow), 12.9% of all new car buyers hold onto their purchases for a decade or longer. As vehicles on the road continue to age, there will be an ever-growing demand for parts and services — which is where your online automotive parts store comes in.

So how do you make the most of your online store and increase the chances of ecommerce success? Have you every heard the phrase “simple but not easy”? The answers aren’t always complicated. Here are three key areas to focus on to improve the effectiveness of your store …

Form and Function

Make your site pretty functional … I mean pretty and functional. If you have a great looking site that’s hard to navigate or get to checkout or a fully functioning site that looks terrible and scares customers away (or worse yet, a bad site that also looks terrible!) you’re shooting yourself in the foot. It’s vital to have both beauty and brains to make your site viable in the competitive ecommerce world.

1. Form: The Eye Buys

Opt 7 is killing it with their site images.

In order to make your site look legit and trustworthy, it’s vital to invest in eye-catching, quality images whenever possible. If your product photos are grainy, stretched, shot in bad light, or not uniformly sized, you have a big problem. Stores like Opt 7 set a high bar in site photo quality. We especially like the image on their Home page that turns lights on and off as you hover over different areas. How cool is that?

To slide or not to slide: that is the question. Many clients and BigCommerce Forum participants wonder if they should have carousel sliders on their site. The answer? It depends on whom you ask. Most conversion optimization experts are on the side of “no sliders!” but should you choose to use them, make sure you time them to ensure that the concise messaging you include on each slide gives the viewer enough time to read your very important content. In other words, if you’re going to do it, do it right.

Pro Tip: Make sure your images are the same size/aspect ratio to maintain continuity and alignment throughout your site. This is especially important in your carousel to prevent image “jumps” as the sliders scroll.

2. Function: Choose the Right Theme

Parts Warehouse Theme

If you have thousands (or tens of thousands) of products, you need to start with a template that is optimized for large product catalogs. One theme that several of our BigCommerce clients in the automotive space have found successful is Parts Warehouse. Its left navigation with dropdowns makes it easy to organize products in multiple categories, and its simple home page design directs customers to where they want to go.

Pro Tip: Not using Parts Warehouse? Keep in mind that template designers aren’t always experts in conversion optimization. You may need to add, tweak, or remove elements to help show your products in their best light. Using available page real estate (especially above the fold) to convey the right messaging is also key to creating the right image and identity for your products and your brand. If you need help customizing your store’s features or functionality, contact us for help.

3. Fine-Tune Your Navigation

Make sure your nav is product-focused and that your categories and products are well organized. Never have a multi-line nav bar! This is an issue I see a lot, especially in big stores. Keep it simple and streamlined. Products have got to remain front and center to get the customer where they need to go, quickly and easily. Try consolidating your products into broad categories and offer a dropdown or mega menu experience to drive customers to subcategories.

Pro Tip: Items like Shipping, Returns, and Privacy Policies are better located in the footer than the main navigation bar.

Use Tools

Many new store owners get frustrated at the lack of functionality in their storefront. As I always say, shopping platforms cannot be all things to all people. Apps are an easy way to expand your site’s functionality both front end and back end. There are hundreds of tools in BigCommerce’s app marketplace in many price points. Here are a few to check out:

4. Frontend Tools

    • Shogun (Page Builder)
      Build beautiful custom landing pages and blog pages with a powerful drag and drop page builder that uses your theme’s styling. Landing pages are a great way to promote specific parts or product lines in your store, independent of your website. Having used Shogun on client projects, we can attest to its ease of use and overall awesomeness.

  • PartFinder (YMM/Fitment Search)
    “I already have a search bar — what’s fitment search?” Many auto parts stores have products that have an exact match or fitment to another product or part (like a headlight for a particular Year/Make/Model of car). If you’re spending too much time fielding phone calls or chatting with customers online about what part they need, offering customers the ability to find precisely what they need on their own just got easier. PartFinder’s handy widget tool enables a customer to enter specific search criteria that points them to the part(s) they need.

Real-world example: Want to see a store using the PartFinder widget and the Parts Warehouse theme? Check out Tuner Experts.

5. Backend Tools

    • Skubana (Inventory Management)
      Do you have overselling or underselling issues? Skubana offers real-time inventory updates, along with integrating and managing inventory from multiple warehouses and shipping from BigCommerce and a variety of other shipping channels. It supports single products, bundles and kits for managing your listings. Different storage options for your inventory include third party logistics warehouses and dropshippers.

  • Signifyd (Fraud protection)
    Signifyd solves the challenges that growing e-commerce businesses persistently face: billions of dollars lost in chargebacks, customer dissatisfaction from mistaken declines, and operational costs due to tedious, manual transaction investigation. Signifyd’s guaranteed fraud protection is supported by a full-service cloud platform that automates fraud prevention allowing businesses to increase sales and open new markets while reducing risk. When a customer places an order with your BigCommerce store, Signifyd automatically reviews the order and tells you whether to ship it or not.

Expand Your Reach with Social Proof

6. Build Trust & Connection, and Establish Authority

Have you ever stopped to think about the real value of social media marketing? Beyond likes, follows, and retweets, social engagement extends your reach past your static website. This enables you to establish your business as an authority in your industry, and presents your site as providing great products and advice to customers and potential customers in your niche.

Besides the channels you normally think of when you hear “social” (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), customer reviews and testimonials are great ways of communicating trust and value from others who have done business with you.

    • Yotpo (Product Reviews)Yotpo helps BigCommerce businesses generate tons of reviews, photos, and other user-generated content and use them to drive qualified traffic, increase conversion rate & boost sales. It collects, manages, analyzes, and distributes your customer content in a single platform, with AI-powered solutions designed to scale with you.
  • Elfsight Testimonials Slider (Testimonials)

    A new app in the BigCommerce app marketplace, the Testimonials Slider plugin is a simple tool to display customers’ testimonials on your website in a vivid and attractive way. You can use any type of feedback to make a trustworthy testimonial with author’s name, photo, company logo, and even a URL to the client’s website. Increase credibility of your product showing user experience of your clients and strengthen your reputation with real and sincere testimonials.

Bonus: Tips Grab Bag

Want more? Check out “7 Critical SEO Errors of E-Commerce Websites” from Neil Patel’s blog for some extra cool tips on making your online auto parts store awesome. While not strictly automotive related, the timeless best practices noticed in this article are great references for any online store. Good luck, and happy selling!

PartFinder: The BigCommerce Targeted Search App Just Got Better

PartFinder product cards

We Heard You! Announcing Big Updates to PartFinder

Does your BigCommerce store sell parts that are an exact match to another product (like a car battery for a specific year/make/model, or toner for a printer)? Finding the right part can be complicated, and a standard search bar may not be enough. If you need to help your customers find the specific item they need — and fast — then you need our PartFinder app for BigCommerce.

In response to customer feedback, we’ve added new functionality and customization options to make your customers’ targeted search experience better than ever. If you’re new to PartFinder, you’re here just in time! Here are five recent improvements that we’ve made to our PartFinder app:

 

1. Company Branding Option on Search Preview Screen

PartFinder branded search page

When you choose the full-screen search display option, you can make better use of search window real estate by displaying your company’s logo and/or messaging on the search window prior to search results appearing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2. Results by Product Card

PartFinder product cards

Remember, the eye buys …

This is our favorite addition! By popular demand, you can now choose to show search results with a thumbnail photo, product name, pricing, and call to action — what we call a Product Card. As with the bulleted list display (which is still an option), a customer clicks on the CTA to go to the product page..

 
 
 
 
 

3. Modify Button to Refine Search Criteria

PartFinder modify & reset buttons

The new Modify button will allow customers to change one or more search fields rather than starting from scratch. The Reset button clears all search fields for new search.

 

4. Part Mappings Search (in Dashboard)

PartFinder part mappings search

Several subscribers asked if we could make back end part mapping searches easier … so we did! If you’re not sure if an item has been mapped in your store, you can search through your PartFinder dashboard to find the product and its mappings.

To find the part mappings search feature, go to the PartFinder dashboard, select Part Mappings from the top navigation, then click the Search Mappings button. Enter the Product ID you’re looking for and click the Search button.

 
 
 
 
 
 

5. Open Products in New Tab

When a product is selected from search, that product will be opened in a new tab, which enables your customers to toggle back and forth among open windows rather than creating a new search result.

 

Suggestion Box?

We are always looking for ways to improve PartFinder. What’s on your wish list? If you have any suggestions, please contact us — we’re all ears. We’ll keep you posted on new features as they become available.

We recently got a 5-Star review in the BigCommerce app store after our recent changes went into effect — woo hoo!

PartFinder Five Star Review
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

PartFinder provides robust search options along with best-in-class documentation and support. Check out the PartFinder website for more information, or find the app in the BigCommerce App Store.

Happy searching, and happy selling!

New BigCommerce Apps for May, 2018

Are you too busy running your BigCommerce store to get over and see what’s new in the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace? Here’s a rundown of apps making their debut in the first quarter of 2018*. Have you tried any of these out in your store? If so, what did you think?

 

Shogun Landing Page Builder

Category: Merchandising

Description: Powerful drag and drop landing page builder. Create completely custom page layouts that use your theme’s styling.

Price: Starting at $29/month

Top 5 Features/Benefits:

  1. Limitless styling options allows for completely custom landing page and blog page creation.
  2. Expansive library of drag & drop elements, including image and video backgrounds, parallax, social and much more.
  3. Import and edit existing landing pages with the click of a button.
  4. Mobile responsive.
  5. Developer friendly: custom elements can be built by those who know HTML/Stencil, CSS, and JavaScript.

What We Like About It:

Having spent some time playing with Shogun, we can attest to how easy it is to use this app. Whether you need a landing page or a blog page, Shogun allows you to design on the fly — with no coding!

 

Elfsight Testimonials Slider

Category: Site Tools

Description: Want to display testimonials on your store? Testimonials Slider is a simple and easy-to-use tool to display customer testimonials how you want them.

Price: Free

Top 5 Features/Benefits:

  1. Shows testimonials written by both individuals and other businesses. Lists author data: name, position and company, photo, and link to author’s profile and/or website.
  2. Automatically chooses how many testimonials are displayed based on widget settings and positioning.
  3. Multiple display settings for sliders and grids.
  4. Single page and tiled templates available in three display styles.
  5. Support team available to answer questions and/or install the widget for you.

What We Like About It:

What’s more powerful than customer proof that your products are awesome? Testimonials Slider seems like a great way to format and display testimonials on your site that attract attention and add credence to your business.

 

123FormBuilder

Category: Marketing

Description: Create any type of web form for your store. Collect payments, generate leads and interact with your customers.

Price: Free

Top 5 Features/Benefits:

  1. Build any type of web form you want within minutes with no coding needed; advanced styling options.
  2. Adapt forms to your users’ responses with conditional logic.
  3. Process orders and collect payments by adding PayPal, Stripe, Square and more.
  4. Have your form translated in multiple languages.
  5. Powerful security measures such as IP limitation, country filters, password protection and SSL encryption.

What We Like About It:

If there are three words we like, they are “no coding needed”! Designing forms isn’t always fun, but this app helps makes it easy. For more info, visit 123 Form Builder’s website.

 

JivoChat

Category: CRM & Customer Service

Description: Engage with customers on your websites, social networks and messaging apps. Chat on the go, increase conversion and double up your sales.

Price: Free

Top 5 Features/Benefits:

  1. Connect your Facebook Page, Viber and Telegram accounts, and receive all the incoming messages into your Jivo app.
  2. Talk to your visitors anytime, anywhere via Android, iOS, Mac or Windows apps.
  3. See who is on your website, get their detailed info and proactively contact them.
  4. Offer calls to your clients via chat widget, be able to close deals on phone.
  5. 24/7 live support.

What We Like About It:

JivoChat helps business owners connect with customers where they are, and creates a hub for multiple social accounts, which is a real timesaver. For more information, visit JivoChat’s website.

 

Hubmetrix

Category: CRM & Customer Service

Description: Helps you get actionable insight from your BigCommerce order data into HubSpot

Price: $79/month. 14 day free trial.

 

Top 5 Features/Benefits:

  1. Real time sales metrics and contact syncing.
  2. No data storage.
  3. Single-click install.
  4. Automatic lifecycle stage advancement.
  5. Creates properties automatically.

What We Like About It:

Analytics can be a real pain, but they’re a necessary evil if you want to get important insights into your business. Hubmetrix harnesses the power of HubSpot in an easy, accessible way.

 

Price2Spy

Category: Analytics & Reporting

Description: Reduce shopping cart abandonment, increase conversions, and recover lost sales by remarketing to customers through Facebook Messenger.

Price: $19.95/month. 30 day free trial.

Top 3 Features/Benefits:

  1. Monitors competitor prices, provides price change alerts, pricing analytics, and semi-automated repricing features.
  2. Monitors complex B2B sites, in-cart price capturing, and monitors prices on sites that do not want to be monitored.
  3. Define your own pricing strategies, identifying which products can go up/down in price, and get these prices changed in your BigCommerce store.

What We Like About It:

Taking the legwork — and the guesswork — out of product pricing helps online retailers stay competitive. For more information, visit Price2Spy’s website.

 

Copilot

Category: Marketing

Description: Reduce shopping cart abandonment, increase conversions, and recover lost sales by remarketing to customers through Facebook Messenger.

Price: From $20/month. 10 day free trial.

Top 5 Features/Benefits:

  1. Helps simplify customer acquisition and support by providing a direct, conversational way for people to connect with your brand.
  2. Increases sales, conversion rates, and ad spend ROI with an abandoned cart reminder Facebook Messenger campaign.
  3. Gets your business, product or service in front of more people.
  4. Generates more leads and turns your conversations into conversions.
  5. Creates a scalable, real-time customer service experience that feels personal.

What We Like About It:

Find your customers where they are and go there. This app uses Facebook’s messenger to capture people at just the right time.

 

Handshake

Category: B2B/Wholesale

Description: The leading B2B commerce platform for BigCommerce merchants selling to retailers and businesses. Transform your in-person and online sales.

Price: $79.95/month. 15 day free trial.

Top 5 Features/Benefits:

  1. Dedicated apps for sales reps in the field
  2. Advanced pricing management for B2B needs
  3. Bulk order entry workflows
  4. Robust inventory support
  5. Territory management

What We Like About It:

Handshake looks to be a great solution for sales teams on the go, especially those who do a lot of business at tradeshows. For more information, visit Handshake’s website.

 

PartFinder

Category: Merchandising

Description: Targeted product search tool helps customers find the right part fast via customizable search filters (like year/make/model).

Price: From $49.95/month. 7 day free trial.

Top 5 Features/Benefits:

  1. Reduces product returns
  2. Increases customer confidence
  3. Reduces support effort & staffing
  4. Increases conversion
  5. Quick and easy setup

What We Like About It:

We couldn’t resist including our new app for BigCommerce. PartFinder’s search widget makes it easy for customers to find part matches for any product, and it can be easily customized and positioned on your page. For more information, visit PartFinder’s website.

 

Gamify

Category: Marketing

Description: Create a fun interactive slide-out with Gamify to help you get your store traffic into your mailing list and then to your checkout.

Price: Free

Top 4 Features/Benefits:

  1. Customers are incentivized to provide their email address in exchange to win something.
  2. Provides a customized, branded game experience (currently three games available, with more to come).
  3. “Prize” can be a coupon code or a physical prize — your choice.
  4. Games and prizes can be changed at any time to keep promotions fresh.

What We Like About It:

Gamification is an increasingly popular method of attracting customers. You control how the slide-out looks, how it’s triggered, and how the prizes are awarded.

 

Do you have a BigCommerce app that you’d like us to highlight? Please send us an email at info@inkblotdigital.com and a link to the page in the Apps Marketplace. While we cannot guarantee your inclusion in this blog, a good detailed app page will give you a much better chance of being considered.

*Note: This list was compiled from public data on BigCommerce’s App Marketplace. Selections were chosen at random to represent a variety of categories and is not intended to be an endorsement of any app (except our PartFinder app, that is :).

PartFinder: New BigCommerce App Features Targeted Search

Find the Right Product Fast

Sometimes a standard search bar just isn’t enough. Does your BigCommerce store sell hundreds (or thousands) of parts that have exact specifications or fitments (like a filter for a particular refridgerator, or a car battery for a specific year/make/model)? If so, then you need more sophisticated search criteria to help your customer find what they’re looking for. A single-field search may provide an initial filter but would ultimately lead to further searches, more clicks, and more mistakes, increasing user frustration and bounce rate.

 

Introducing PartFinder for BigCommerce Stores

PartFinder, our new app for BigCommerce, helps customers find the right product via a series of choices, reducing frustration and improving user experience.

  • Boosts sales by helping customers find exactly what they’re looking for — fast
  • Eases your customer support efforts, which saves you time and money
  • Reduces product returns

 

What Kinds of Stores Could Use PartFinder?

Here are a few usage ideas for our PartFinder app. Does your BigCommerce store sell any products like the following?

Get creative! You could even use PartFinder to help someone find the perfect gift by age/occasion/gender. The possibilities are endless.

 
 
 
 
 

Super Cool Features

  • Includes easy design editor; no coding experience necessary
  • Handles hundreds of thousands of records quickly
  • Predicts search criteria with autofill text feature
  • Includes mobile responsive design for great customer experience

 

Quick & Easy Setup

Using Partfinder’s step-by-step setup makes offering your customers a customized product search experience a cinch — with no coding! There are four components to getting PartFinder up and running:

  • Creating your search fields
  • Adding your part mappings
  • Designing your widget with our helpful design tool
  • Adding the PartFinder search widget to your BigCommerce store

 

7 Day Free Trial!

You’ll find that your investment in PartFinder is easily offset by increased conversions, reduced product returns, and happy customers. There’s no credit card required for our 7-day free trial, so give PartFinder a spin today! 

For more information, visit partfinderapp.com, or find us in BigCommerce Marketplace.

Twitter Won’t Show My WordPress Thumbnail!

gray-box-of-death

Have you ever had one of those days when technology doesn’t make sense? When something you’ve done many times suddenly doesn’t seem to work and you don’t know why?

I’m not gonna lie. I was really pissed off at Twitter last week. I had tweeted a blog post and it appeared on Twitter without a thumbnail image. The article was there, but the Twitter Card displayed this:

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

No, no, no. No.

Sure, I could’ve left it up like that, but I’m not that kind of girl. I kind of have a perfectionist problem. Plus, I’m just really stubborn. If you tell my husband I said that, I’ll deny it.

It turns out that I had tweeted the post but had forgotten to set the Featured Image in WordPress. So I deleted the tweet, went back and set the Featured Image, saved it, retweeted, and … nothing. Same placeholder appeared.

After checking and testing everything I could think to check and test, retweeting and deleting after each time, it still didn’t work. I did this three or four or nine times. I looked online for the answer, but all I could see was how to set the initial image in the “Featured Image” box, which I had done. If you’re not picturing smoke coming out of my ears at this point, please do so now.

I went into the Social tab under Yoast SEO in WordPress and made sure the image for Twitter was set. Fixed that too. I changed the image dimensions. I checked other blog posts that had tweeted without issue to see if there were differences. I changed the image to a square instead of a rectangle. I took a walk around the parking lot and thought about life.

If you’ve ever had this happen, take heart. It’s not you, it’s Twitter.

 

Clearing Twitter Image Cache

Grab that cache with both hands and make a stash …

My apologies to Roger Waters.

When you tweet a link to a post, Twitter saves a copy of the original source in its cache. Once you’ve done that, there’s no turning back. The only way you can get Twitter to use a revised source is to clear its cache (not your cache, Twitter’s cache). In this case, since I had not set a Featured Image and the image-free version was cached, I had to add a parameter to the post’s URL. I renamed the URL by adding a parameter (see below) and it was all good.

If you wish to change an image you’ve already set, you can simply change the Featured Image name. You can do this by going into your Media Library, selecting the image, and renaming it by adding a parameter to the image name. This is done by adding a question mark (“?”) and characters to the end of the image like “?ver2”).

You can double-check how the post will display by using the Twitter Card Validator. Insert your post’s URL and click the Preview Card button.

Voila!

Have you ever had this happen to you? Did you come up with a different solution? If so, do tell — we’re all ears.

P.S. After all that buildup, you’re probably dying to read the post that inspired so much frustration. Here it is …
.”Ecommerce Store Mods Save Time & Money.” Enjoy!

Ecommerce Store Mods Save Time & Money

Time is money

Need a custom ecommerce website without the custom price?

Let’s face it: your ecommerce store doesn’t function exactly the way you want it to. The bells and whistles you were counting on from your shopping platform or template didn’t quite materialize, you can’t fix it yourself, and you often feel frustrated and helpless. But who can afford a fully custom site like Amazon or Target? [Answer: Amazon and Target.] For a small business or startup, investing in improvements and resources is difficult, as your focus is often on money going out rather than the benefits coming back. We get it. But rather than “making do” and endlessly multitasking, what’s vital to your long term success is investing in customization and/or automation wherever you can. The ability to free up your time for more important things becomes invaluable — not to mention providing a good user experience for your customers.

 

Time vs. Money

time is money

Time and money: what do you have more of … or less of? If you’d like to make improvements to your store without breaking the bank, buying pre-built, custom add-ons (or Store Mods, as we call them) can enhance your ecommerce site tremendously. Not only do they make your life easier, good functioning sites make happy customers and happy customers buy more, so focusing on good UX is great for your bottom line.

Not convinced? If Store Mods don’t sound like necessities, it’s probably because you think they are already available through your shopping platform, but guess what? They’re not. Every business is different, and shopping platforms cannot be all things to all people. Our Store Mods were built to meet the expressed needs of our clients and they work.

 

What is your time worth?

what_is_your_time_worth

Is free time and sanity important to you? Would you agree that good user experience pays off in increased sales? Is a small investment now worth long-term gains? We say yes (especially to that first one!). No need to track down a developer and pay for many hours’ work to start from scratch. We’ve created a variety of mods that can be tailored to fit your ecommerce store. You’ll get cool new tools that will enable your online store to do more than you ever thought possible, making your business and your customers’ shopping experience better than ever.

 

Check out our Store Mod Marketplace

It’s like Inkblot Digital’s very own App Store!

  • Store Locator: help customers find your retail locations based on a radius of their address
  • Part Finder: enable customers to find a specific product quickly using a series of filters
  • Countdown Timer: display a sales timer to create sales urgency and get people to checkout
  • Auto Add-to-Cart: add a free gift to promote sales and encourage repeat business

You might also like:

 

Experience status WHOA!

Do you have a need that’s not addressed here? We can also create custom code to fix just about any problem you’re trying to solve. Stop settling for the status quo and experience status WHOA! Just contact us and we’d be happy to brainstorm the perfect solution with you.

 

Inkblot Digital is your go-to source for useful tools and services that make your ecommerce store easier to manage — and make your life less stressful. Check out our Store Mod Marketplace for details and pricing on all our mod choices.

Helpful Resources for BigCommerce Stores

Link Me Up!

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. — John F. Kennedy

If you’re a BigCommerce store owner (especially a new one), you may be so involved in day-to-day operations that you’ve forgotten that they offers a lot of online support for their clients. Before you start going down the Google rabbit trail for the answers to your questions, here are some helpful links to keep you educated, up to date, and sane!

 

BigCommerce Webinars

Participating in BigCommerce Webinars is a great way to get a high-level look at their key features in a live format. You’ll also have a chance to get answers to questions that are specific to your business. Couldn’t watch the live segment? Check out their archive of webinars to watch at your leisure.

They currently have a weekly product tour every Tuesday at 4pm CT, and Thursday at 11am CT, hosted by BigCommerce Sales Engineers.

 

BigCommerce Community

The BigCommerce Community (formerly called Forum) is a place where store owners can ask questions, join discussions, or submit ideas to partners and fellow store owners. Inkblot Digital actively participates in discussions, often offering free solutions for common issues. Come visit us!

 

 
 
 

 BigCommerce University

Want a bit more in-depth knowledge but don’t want the hassle of reading documentation? BigCommerce University has a library of video courses designed to get you up to speed on a variety of topics covering store launch, store management, and growth.

We find that the use of quality product photos continues to be a challenge for many websites we’ve seen. Check out this video on Product Photos that Convert.

 

BigCommerce Blog

Get the latest ecommerce news from the BigCommerce Blog, including real-life examples from store owners and industry experts. Most articles can be read in 10-12 minutes.

Here’s a great article called “The 8 Must-Follow Business Principles That Drove 832% Growth and $5M in Revenue” by Brent Mauriello of Flexfire LEDs, a BigCommerce business.

 

Change is the end result of all true learning. — Leo Buscaglia

Still need help but don’t have the time to DIY? Reach out to us on our website — we’re happy to help solve your ecommerce challenges.