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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.

6 Essential Tips to Improve Sales

26 Aug

“I’ve got my mind on my money & money on my mind” – we all know Snoop Dogg has money on his mind. Equally, for most of you when setting up an online store, the main motivator is making yourself some extra cash. We know it can be disheartening if your business is not doing as well as you expected – so we’ve compiled a few little tips for you to consider.

First up…

1. Plan and Set Realistic Targets

Before you start building your web-store, it is important to devise a strategy and set yourself REALISTIC targets.

Set yourself a long-term objective (500 sales by the end of the year). Break these down into manageable daily, weekly and monthly targets (10 sales by the end of the week). This can help to monitor the success and provides you with a clear direction for your business.

2. Attach an appropriate domain to your site

This seems like a given, right?! There are stores who haven’t and it’s been proven to affect sales. 92% of freewebstore sales come from those with a domain name attached. Attaching a domain name adds credibility to your online store and increases the trust of the visitor. Additionally, it’s important that you choose a suitable domain name, that’s not too wordy or inappropriate, however unintentional it may have been.

You can set up a domain name directly from your control panel > marketing > domain name.

3.Your web-store needs to be visually appealing and easy to navigate 

93% of consumers judge the website aesthetics above anything else.

First impressions count! If your web-store is unappealing to your audience and difficult to navigate, then it’s likely to increase the bounce rate – that’s one less consumer who may have been willing to spend! So…

  • Keep categories clear and use a different color for your background!
  • Use logical navigation layouts – don’t have your links the same color as your background color.
  • Blurry, oversized images make your website look unprofessional. Use the correct dimensions. If possible, use unique images.
  • Keep your content fresh. Returning customers  may think you’re not offering anything different if you have the same rolling image after 40 days. Add a blog and update weekly!

shite website edited

Although I’m pretty sure this is ‘intentionally bad’ – it’s still a big no, no. Don’t install too many widgets, don’t have too many contrasting colours, don’t make it too cluttered and make the navigation tabs clear and easy to read – it’s painful on the eyes!

4. Don’t give up after a few days! SEO can take a while to kick in

You’ve got a plan in place, made a cool looking website, however, you’ve not made as many sales as you’d expected. Fear not, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau once stated, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet”.

93% of all online experiences start with a search engine. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a cost effective way of getting new customers to visit your store. However, the lucrative rewards from SEO (branding, an increase in website traffic etc.) can take a while to come forth. The Google spiders (don’t worry, you can’t see them :p) have become more sophisticated, with Google favouring websites that deliver what people actually want to see; natural wording and not keyword after keyword.

Freewebstore does plenty of automatic SEO to help all of their businesses (such as mobile-optimized sites). Here are some tips for you to improve your SEO ranking:

  • Content – make sure your content is filled with relevant information about your products. Longer, interesting articles seem to perform better by increasing dwell time. It’s important to do this in a manner that is easy to read for the user – small sentences, bullet points etc. Meta Tags are also important, although not as influential as they once were.
  • Use your own images – Unique pictures will help your website stand out.
  • Fix those broken links!! This not only improves your SEO ranking but also reduces the amount of hair your customers pull out after clicking on a dead link!

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO then check out this helpful video.

5. Get to know your audience through analytics

Visitors will leave a trail of information behind every time they access your site. Use it to your advantage. Get to know your audience through analytics.

google analytics

 Some of the key benefits of analytics are:

  • Help measure and track the progress of your business.
  • Provides you with information on where your visitors are located, so you can focus your marketing on those areas.
  • Understand the demographics: Which age range of your users have the higher conversion rates? Target those users with appropriate content.
  •  View the pages with the highest, bounce rates. These pages spell trouble – it’s likely that changes are needed!

Last but not least…

6. Interact with your customers

Let your customers know you’re there, that you exist. Answer their Facebook messages, tweet them, and respond to their e-mails and blog comments. You can respond with a personalised message. This helps with customer retention and shows that the customer is valued and important. Fantastic customer service and a great product = success.

Remember that customer retention is as important as customer acquisition, if not more so. It’s easier to convert sales from current customers than it is new customers – so don’t forget about existing customers! 

Hopefully, this has helped you out a little bit and allows you to get the most out of your freewebstore hosted web-store – and set you on the path to entrepreneurial success! Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint! Happy selling   🙂

 

Edge Caching and Content Distribution Networks

13 Nov

Where is my store hosted, and will it perform quickly for customers in country XYZ ?

Our support team get asked that question a lot, and the answer to the first part is that stores are hosted in the UK (at the moment)  The answer to the second part isn’t quite so simple, but the great news is that we’ve ensured that it will perform quickly for customers all over the world.  Lets take a look at how we’ve managed to achieve this.

Latency is a problem as old as the internet itself.  The internet has no international boundaries as far as your customers are concerned, so where do you choose to host your site ?  Thankfully, there are some pretty cool solutions to this problem, and at FreeWebstore we’re using a global Content Distribution Network (CDN) to ensure that your customers can access your content on a server hosted as near to them as possible.  Here’s a brief overview of how it works;

A client accesses your store using their browser, which grabs all of the elements necessary to render that page in their browser.  These elements are generally the following;

  1. HTML
  2. Images
  3. CSS
  4. Javascript

There can be more, but let’s focus on these for now.  Usually the way these things are setup, all of the above elements are on the same server, in the same country, in the same location.  This works fine if you’re near to that location, but what if you’re on the other side of the world ?  Surely that’s going to be slow, as the data has further to travel, with more routers and switches to pass through until it gets to it’s destination.  This is true, and the solution we’ve deployed is to cache all of the high bandwidth, static elements of your store really close to your customers, so that they only have to make those long round trips for small, dynamic elements.  In most cases, this means that elements 2, 3 and 4 of the list above are being grabbed from servers in the same country as the client.  In a lot of cases, they’ll even be in the same region.

So those big images, that CSS that doesn’t really change all that much, and all of those lovely JavaScript widgets you’ve installed on your store load in a snap.  All the browser has to do then is grab the relatively small chunks of HTML, that our systems have dynamically generated and put it all back together, resulting in a very snappy experience all round.

There is essentially a global network of servers that we use, in locations almost everywhere you can think of.  When the browser in a country requests a particular file, it’s automatically routed to it’s closest server location.  If that server doesn’t have the file yet, then it puts a request in back to our origin servers, gets the file from there, and keeps hold of it.  The next time somebody from a similar location requests the same file, from the same server, it already has it and gives it to them at lightning speed.  If you know how the cache or “Temporary Internet Files” in your browser works, it’s a bit like that … on a global scale !

Hang on a sec, you said it keeps it for a while.  What if I want to change that file ?

That’s a very good point.  One of the downsides of such a system, is that cached files, while providing great performance, can get out of date.  We do cache files for a long time so that we can focus on performance, but they will eventually expire, even if it takes a week, and the cache will grab the latest version from the origin.

Luckily, this is pretty easy to work around using versions in file names.  With an image, for example, if you want to change it, you just upload it with a different file name.  If you then update the links to the old image and change them to the new image name, the cache doesn’t know anything about this new file, so it will come back to the origin to get it and boom !  It’s updated, and cached for the next user who wants it.  As far as CSS and JavaScript goes, we take care of most of that for you, but it works in a similar fashion.  Whenever you make a tweak to your store via your FreeWebstore Control Panel, we will automatically re-version the file for you, so that the caches come back for the latest files and your brilliant new design change, widget or small tweak will be shown to your customers instantly.