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Let’s Talk Security!

16 May
With the recent cyber attack that has hit numerous organizations in the UK, most noticeable the NHS, cyber security is on everyone’s lips. We briefly caught up with Simon, our security chief, to get some words of reassurance!

1. What kind of security measures do freewebstore take?

We monitor our systems, logs and firewalls constantly, scanning for malicious activity.  Automated systems are in place to block any bad actors, and do so regularly.  Keeping our store owners and their customers safe is the Security Team’s top priority.

 

2. Will the latest cyber attack impact our store owners?

Not at all.  Our servers use the latest operating systems and are kept fully patched.  We remain on High Alert for the time being though, just in case.

3. What can I, as a store owner, do to minimize an attack?

 As far as your store is concerned, you don’t need to do anything, that’s the beauty of freewebstore!  Leave the technical stuff to us, so you can focus on running your business. For the computers you use daily, I’d recommend that you keep them up to date with the latest patches (Windows Update, etc) and try to run the latest version of your operating System where possible – especially if it was released more than 5 years ago. You should also run a modern browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, which automatically keep themselves up to date.

Phew! Thank’s, Simon…

A little bit more information on our store security can be seen below!

Are freewebstore PCI compliant?

 Yes. Security is of paramount importance to us and we take PCI compliance very seriously. Freewebstore undergoes annual assessments to validate our compliance. Continuous evaluation and risk assessment ensures that PCI compliance is at the heart of what we do.

We’ve partnered up with Braintree to provide a secure environment that goes above and beyond industry standards and guidelines:

Braintree – https://www.braintreepayments.com/developers/security

Prohibited Data Storage

We never store raw magnetic stripe, card validation code (CAV2, CID, CVC2, CVV2), or PIN block data.

Data Encryption

Cardholder data is stored using one of the most advanced encryption methods available. Multiple encryption keys are stored on different physical servers. A data thief would not be able to make use of information stolen from a database without also having the key. The data store where cardholder data is kept cannot be connected to via the internet.

Authentication and Session Management

All users have to authenticate each time they use the application and inactive sessions time out after 2 hours. Passwords are never stored directly in the database. In addition, all communication between merchants and us is conducted in a secure fashion using TLS (Transport Layer Security).

Penetration Testing

At least quarterly, automated vulnerability scans are conducted on our Card Data Environment. In addition, at least once a year we have extended external penetration testing conducted by outside sources.

Securing Access

Our network has been set up in a secure fashion with minimal access to outside networks. Only VPN access is allowed to our servers from whitelisted IPS.

If you want any more information on this please contact our team at support@freewebstore.com.

A Guide: Getting Ready for Black Friday

19 Oct

According to Fortune, online shoppers spent a staggering $4.45 billion on Black Friday in 2015. This is predicted to increase further this year. All the savings encourages big spending and it’s important to recognize the impact that Black Friday and Cyber Monday can have on your online business.

So, what exactly is Black Friday…

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and is historically seen as the first day of the Christmas shopping period. Many retailers offer huge discounts for one day only. Black Friday is followed by ‘Cyber Monday‘.

You’ve probably seen the videos of Black Friday in the brick and mortar stores. Well, shoppers are increasingly shopping online to avoid the chaos that ensues.Black Friday has become a largely online event and this year will be all about the mobile. Freewebstore stores are all fully optimized on mobiles, so you can breathe easily.

Black Friday is a great chance for online retailers, like you, to increase your customer base!

Here are some useful tips  to help get your store ready for the two biggest sale events of the year.

Firstly, plan ahead!

Start promoting your Black Friday discounts early – lot’s of people will begin to scope out potential bargains well before the actual day itself. Communicate with your customers and let them know that there are some awesome deals to be had. Build the hype and get your customers excited!

Make a plan of which products you’re discounting IN ADVANCE, instead of waiting until the last minute. Create a list of the products you’re discounting and at what time you’re planning the discount. Bear in mind that your promotion will only last a day, or perhaps the weekend, so keep it simple.  

It’s likely your store will be busier than usual if you’re offering discounted products. Do you have enough stock to deal with the mass influx? Are you available to respond quickly to customers if any problems occur?

Tips to get your store ready…

When it comes to the Black Friday sales, it’s a perfect way to show your customers that your store is current and that you’re doing well. It’s also the perfect chance to get rid of old stock. Avoid discounting products that you have no problem selling at full price.

Set up special offers, showcasing the savings available to the consumer. For current freewebstore users, this can easily be done by following [Control Panel] > [Manage] > [Product] > [Price Details] > [Offer Price].

Make sure you have appropriate stock levels! If you’ve informed your customers that you’re discounting a product and got them excited, only to have limited products – it won’t look great for your business! 

Freewebstore users, you should enable stock management on your store by [Control Panel] > [Settings] > [Stock Settings] > [Stock Management Status: Enabled]. This can then be controlled through [Control Panel] > [Manage] > [Stock].

A lot of new customers may choose to purchase from your shop for the first time. Make a good impression. Make an effort with packaging, make sure you communicate efficiently at each stage of the buying process. This is your chance to retain new customers! 

Get Creative! 

Run a marketing campaign before the sale itself. Get the shoppers excited. You can give away little snippets of what you’re offering – without giving too much away.Promote your sale with banners that can be easily shared across the social media platforms and via email. This would entice the curious folk out there to visit your site on sale day!

black-friday

If you’re not keen on reducing any of your product prices, consider offering free delivery for one day only.

Customers see the word ‘free’ and are drawn to this. You can advertise this on social media and via email to get people excited!

Post Black Friday Strategy…

Track your progress, see how successful your sale has been – set up Google analytics. This can be done [Control Panel] > [Google Tools] > [Google Analytics].

Google analytics allows you, amongst a lot of other things, to see how your customers found your site, the keywords that worked best.

You can monitor how successful your marketing campaign has been, by analyzing how many users have been directed to your store via social media, for example. You’ll be able to see what worked and what didn’t work – and learn for the next time.

Additionally, you can see how many of your customers are returning customers and how many new customers you’ve gained. Collecting email address of Allowing you to follow up with the new users by a targeted email campaign.

This is a great feature to utilize, the best part about it – it’s free! 

Happy selling! 

UK E-cigarette Law Change

3 Feb

As you may or may not know, the UK government is planning to increase the legal age for the sale of e-cigarettes to over eighteens only. There are a number of easy steps that you can follow to get your store prepared for this.

  1. Make it explicit to your customers that the products you are selling are age restricted. This can be as simple as having a banner image on your webstore or a message in your homepage’s description, or even both together. These images are widely available on the internet however here is a basic one to get you started which you are free to use.
    under 18
  2. Enable a popup window on your webstore via the Settings > Store Settings section of your Freewebstore Control Panel asking your customers to confirm that they are above the legal age for your products.
    age_verification
    This allows you to have your customers confirm that they are over 18 before accessing your webstore. If not, your customer is simply redirected to Google. This message can be changed to anything you wish in the Settings > Store Settings section of your Freewebstore Control Panel.

  3. Use checkout forms asking your customers to confirm their date of birth.
    What are checkout forms?

    Checkout forms are a feature available upon request which allows you to attach custom forms to your products. So when a customer attempts to purchase one of these products, they will be required to complete the form before being able to add the product to their basket and proceed through the checkout process. You can have this feature activated on your webstore by contacting our support team.

Completing all of these steps will get your webstore ready for the change in the UK law.

If you need help with setting up any of this or need help with something else. You are always welcome to contact our Support Team via the “Support” section of your Freewebstore Control Panel and we will be more than happy to help.

Also, although this post is primarily directed to our store-owners who sell e-cigarettes products. The contents can be applied to any store-owner who plan to sell age restricted products on their webstore.

Responsive Web Design

2 Oct

responsive2

A different approach to Web Design

Designing for the web is changing dramatically within the industry and here at FreeWebstore we are proud to be at the forefront of these technological changes and trends.

Mobile ecommerce has exploded this year and Tablet sales have overtaken Desktop sales.  Mobile internet usage is predicted to overtake desktop internet usage by 2014. This suggests that more people are becoming comfortable with purchasing products on tablets and smartphones, so providing a mobile solution for these customers will ultimately increase online sales.

Websites now have to be suitable for a myriad of devices with differing screen sizes.  Building a different website for every device is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with and the need for a new strategy for web development has emerged.  As a consequence creating different versions of a website is fast becoming a thing of the past and web developers and designers are now creating a single responsive website that works equally well on every device.

What is Responsive Web Design?

With Responsive Web Design the website will detect the screen size and display the most compatible front end design for that size.  It’s fluid structure will adapt to a change in screen size or orientation in order to fill the screen.  Basically, a combination of media queries and CSS is used to amend the style and layout of the website depending on the available space.  Therefore on a mobile the website may look different than on a tablet and again different on a monitor. This could also mean that the website will look different whether the device is in portrait or landscape view.

Responsive websites have one URL  which users find easy to share and interact with.  Responsive websites also share the same HTML which makes it more efficient to keep the website up to date.  This also makes it quicker for search engines to crawl and index the website.  Google has stated that responsive web design is its recommended mobile configuration, and suggests that responsive web design is the industry best practice.

FreeWebstore Design Templates

We have been working hard over the last 6 months to create Responsive Web Design Templates together with flexible images and media so that they respond to their environment.  All of our template designs have been re-coded so that they provide a better user experience on mobile devices thus generating more sales for our customers.  It was imperative we implemented these changes otherwise we would risk our customers not benefiting from the growing number of Smartphone and Tablet users.

We have recently released two new design templates based on the “Mobile First” approach.  These are  named “Foundation” and “Brimstone” and can be previewed via the FreeWebstore signup page.   The “Mobile First” approach is the best practice for a designing a responsive website and ensures designers start by targeting smaller screens, and then expands components for larger screens.  We will be introducing more “Mobile First” design templates in the future and this will soon become standard across all our websites within the company.

This is the start of new era in world of web design and we will continuously evolve and keep to be up to date with the next generation of responsive web design.

Google Launch “Hummingbird”

27 Sep

Google announced this week that they have launched a new search algorithm called “Hummingbird”.

Search algorithms are used to try and return the most relevant results when people type in queries in Google.  There are millions of sites out there so Google will try and fetch back the most relevant results they think should be displayed.  Google are constantly tweaking their algorithms, but this latest change is a bit different as they have completely overhauled their system.

What has changed ?

The primary change with the new algorithm is that it should display more relevant results for conversational queries.   This is especially useful with the number of people using mobile devices for their searches !

“Remember what it was like to search in 1998? You’d sit down and boot up your bulky computer dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words,”  wrote Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

“The world has changed so much since then: billions of people have come online, the Web has grown exponentially, and now you can ask any question on the powerful little device in your pocket.”

Specifically, Google has said that Hummingbird will not just take into account individual words but will pay more attention to each word within a query, ensuring that the whole sentence  is taken into account.  The idea is that matching sentences or conversations will naturally appear above only partial word matches in the search results.

What does this mean for me and my store ?

It is impossible to say at this early stage.  Hummingbird was launched a month ago, so you should check your traffic to see if you can see any  noticeable changes.  For most people the traffic will remain the same.   Some of you may see an increase or decrease.

Google say there is nothing new or different in regards to the SEO you should add to your store so our advise, as always, is to make sure your SEO on your store is the best it can be.  Check out our blog post on Search Engine Optimisation.

It is also an opportunity to look at other traffic streams for your store.  The old adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket also applies to your free traffic sources.

Where else can I get free traffic ? 

With the explosion of social media channels available to you this is an area that you should look at using to generate free traffic outside of Google.  Here at FreeWebstore we are always looking at ways of making your store integrate with these social media channels in functional and easy ways.  That is why we have launched a number of social media tools for you.

With the FreeWebstore Facebook StoreFront App you can easily  add your products to Facebook for Free directly from your FreeWebstore Control Panel.  You can also Tweet to tell your followers when you add an exciting new product or tell your followers about a special offer you may have on.  All from your FreeWebstore Control Panel !  How cool is that ?

You can also use the Marketing > Product Feeds section of your FreeWebstore Control Panel to access a range of Product Feed URLs. These URLs allow you to submit your products to certain shopping platforms, like ShopMania & Amazon which allows you an even bigger marketplace to showcase your products.

As always, our support team is on hand to help you with any questions you may have with this or any other subject!