Win $2,000 in Free Web Design Services!
Did you know that Pinnacle Cart offers in-house website design services? To showcase our skills, we are offering anyone a chance to win a brand new website design package, courtesy of our World Class Design team. Fill out this quick entry form to enter our design package contest. One lucky winner will be drawn at random on or about 6/1/2013. The winner will receive a Platinum design package valued at $2000. Complete the entry by clicking here or on the image below for a chance to win!
Small business owners are 100 percent responsible for their customers’ personal information and credit card data. One of the biggest myths is that security is tied solely to credit card information. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Council will be the first to point out that it is as much about the personal information of your customers as it is about their credit cards. At the end of the day, banks can be a safety net if someone were to get your customers’ credit card information. Unfortunately, there isn’t a safety net if personal information is stolen from an online business.
PCI compliance is still a misunderstood concept. While there is plenty of material available on the topic, a small group of people have most of the information. History shows us that when this type of situation occurs in the marketplace, a lot of people end up buying services that don’t help at all. If your credit card company, ecommerce provider, hosting company, bank or other provider offers you a new service to assist in maintaining PCI compliance, simply ask the following question. “By purchasing this service, are you guaranteeing that you will pay for any fines or loss of business I might suffer if my online store becomes compromised?”
More often than not, the answer will be no. So why would you pay money for something that won’t help you with the problem? The answer is lack of knowledge. Most small business owners don’t have enough time to run their stores, much less to keep up with the security requirements for maintaining an online business. As a result, when a service provider approaches an online businessperson about a new service to secure it customers, it scares many business owners into purchasing it.
The first step
The bottom line is this: online retailers must find the time and take responsibility for protecting their customers. For ecommerce, be sure you are using a PA DSS (Payment Application Data Security Standard) certified application or a business that is PCI DSS certified. That is the first step. After picking the right ecommerce provider, you must take control of the rest of your customers’ security. This can be achieved by going through the PCI DSS process to get your business certified.
Pinnacle Cart, for example, carries the PA DSS certification and works with hosting companies that are PCI DSS compliant. Still, it does not have control over its own destiny. If the company it uses decided to stop offering PCI DSS hosting, Pinnacle Cart would be forced to spend a lot of money moving customers to another data center. To gain control of its security, the company is working on becoming PCI DSS compliant. The process isn’t easy and it costs money, but the return on investment will come to any business that commits to the process. You can show your compliance on your website like a badge of honor, and you will likely see an increase in website conversions.
Mike Auger is president and CEO of Pinnacle Cart, a hosted shopping cart and ecommerce software application that allows you to create, manage and effectively market your business. www.pinnaclecart.com.
View article published in Independent Retailer: http://bit.ly/ecommercesecurity
As a general rule, when only a few people have all the knowledge everyone else stands to get ripped off. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is going on in the eCommerce industry today.
The bottom line for the small business owner is you need to be PCI compliant. Here is a great article about being compliant. When this process, which is driven by the credit card companies, changed from a “best practice” to a requirement, a lot of businesses saw it as an opportunity to fleece their customers who didn’t have any understanding. Raise your hand if you were one of the small businesses that was assessed a “PCI compliance” fee or new “PCI tools” were added to your account for a small monthly fee? I can tell you straight up that it was all bullshit and simply a way to make more money based upon the lack of knowledge on the topic.
I spoke on a panel a few years back about the impact of compliance on the small business world. My opinion at that time was the increase in costs to enter business will simply stifle small business growth. When you raise the cost to enter any market, fewer people will enter. In a time when we still have a lagging economy, it just doesn’t make sense. As infrastructure providers, I feel there is a global responsibility to keep the barriers to entry as low as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I run this business to make money, but there are a lot of ways to do so that are much more credible and have the same result. So when I heard about a new fee Volusion was “passing along” to customers it is time to pull back the curtain and see what the wizard is really up to.
Here is the statement from Volusion:
“Due to increasing Internet security risks and growing regulatory compliance demands, Volusion is making extensive investments to maintain industry-leading PCI security standards. In order to continue delivering this highest level of security for your business, we must pass on a portion of this monthly cost to you of $25.00″
Ok, let’s break this down.
PCI DSS is a compliance standard for Volusion’s business. This requires very specific ways in which the company handles credit cards, account information, logins & passwords, etc. PCI DSS is also applicable to the hosting environment for their customers. In Contrast, we certified PA DSS and work with hosting companies that have their data centers PCI compliant. Additionally, we are also going to have Pinnacle Cart become PCI DSS as a business. We will meet the exact same standards that Volusion touts. I personally know the investment it will take to become certified and it is less than $50,000.
Now let’s check that against what Volusion said. Volusion advertises 40,000 active stores and those customers will be responsible for paying “a portion” of the monthly fee PCI DSS cost that Volusion pay. It is worth noting that PCI DSS compliance is an annual fee and process. $25 x 40,000 customers is $1,000,000 month. Hmmmm, so Volusion is telling their customers that the $12,000,000 they will collect this year will partially pay for the compliance? Even though Volusion does have more customers than Pinnacle Cart, I’m pretty comfortable in stating their costs for PCI DSS isn’t 240x OURS! Plus that is only “a portion” of the costs? Seriously? Marketing can’t come up with a better spin on raising rates than this? Sorry, but this doesn’t pass the bullshit meter. In fact, it actually breaks the meter.
Now, as a business owner, I applaud Volusion for sticking their neck out that far to make money. That is the job we are all in business to do. I know there are spreadsheets in the CFO‘s office that says – even if we lost x% of our customers, we still gain x% in revenue, and that is the bottom line. I also think that when you make money in ways that are less than truthful, Karma will find you.
So, if you’re interested in a company that gives you PCI compliance for no cost, give us a call at
1-800-506-0398, we would love to have an opportunity to earn your business. I will kick in free data migration costs as a welcome packet to a new eCommerce family. Pinnacle Cart, a good karma company :)
President & CEO
Pinnacle Cart now features new financing tools that may boost sales and inflate the average order size for your eCommerce website. If you’re already using PayPal’s checkout to accept credit card payments online, you may now offer customers financing through PayPal’s BillMeLater®.
How it works
You may now offer your customers the ability to checkout with PayPal using Bill Me Later. This provides them with 6 months1 of financing on all qualifying purchases. The greatest thing about this is that there is no extra cost to you. That’s right, you already have it included in your PayPal checkout.
- Regardless of when your customers make payments, you collect the entire payment without delay.
- Offering financing on your eCommerce website can increase your online sales by up to 20%
To make it easy, Paypal is helping you promote financing on your website by providing various graphic banners. Just access the PayPal Financing Portal to:
- Select a Banner & obtain necessary copy+paste code
- Paste the code on your shopping cart
- Watch your sales suddenly increase at no additional cost to you
You decide where to place banners and which size to use. For the best results, place the financing banners on:
- Above the fold on your homepage
- Within close proximity to your products “Add to Cart” buttons
- Your shopping cart and/or order summary page
Start now and watch your sales explode!
1Applicable for qualifying purchases of $99 or more if paid in full within 6 months. Customers check out with PayPal and use Bill Me Later. Bill Me Later is a line of credit provided by WebBank, an FDIC-insured and Utah-chartered industrial bank located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
2Based on a PayPal internal study, November-December 2012, of comparable year-over-year online sales of 118 small and mid-size businesses who placed Bill Me Later promotional financing banners on their site, starting October 2012.
Social media is fairly new and is much different compared to traditional media in that it’s not just a one-way communication channel. Social media works on layers of complex human behavior. It’s not just based on providing information about a product or service; it’s about conversation and engaging in conversation. For a business to use social media to its advantage, it’s takes a lot more than pure hustle. Social media requires the use of engagement to provide useful and meaningful information.
Here are six ways you can make social media work for your business:
Follow the Measured “Giving” approach
Social media forces businesses and business owner to get generous about information. Consumers get online primarily to get informed. People want to make smart decisions and information they gather off the Internet provides them the knowledge and insights to make better buying decisions. As a brand or business, be at the forefront of this information sharing. Don’t talk about your brand, but share with potential consumers the information they need to buy, even if they might not buy your products or services. Why? Because doing so puts you in a favorable light and you become an expert. And guess what? People listen to experts.
That’s tough, isn’t it? Why spend copious amount of resources just to give it all away? Does it make any business sense?
Yes, it does.
It builds traction and more importantly trust. It pulls people towards you. This principle is true not just for business, but for all aspects of life including building wealth, making friends, and building ever-lasting relationships.
It never fails.
Adapting to new media is an art: Do what social media demands
Once upon a time, all you had to do was publish ads, flyers, brochures, and make incessant pitches to anyone who cares to listen. Following that, prospects became customers because the information they had access too was limited and there wasn’t too much of it out there for them to dwell on before they decide.
Today, it’s a different story. People will share information about your business, the products you sell, and their experiences. They fire away related questions in forums mentioning your brand and what you offer. In short, there’s an unprecedented outreach for conversations about your business so you need to be aware that having a good product offering or services really isn’t enough anymore. It’s about the total experience with your brand.
Social media demands listening. It requires businesses to tune-in, stay vigilant, respond to questions, manage conversations, and manage any possible damage to your brand.
Your ability to spark new discussions, engage with audiences and manage conversations that already exist determines what you get out of your social media efforts.
Consider this: you sell dog food from your eCommerce store. Automatically, it’s assumed that you are an expert on “dog food”. When community discussions sprout up where people have questions about their inability to decide what type of dog food is best for their puppies, how this diet should change with their pets’ age, etc., it’s time for you to pitch in with your expertise. It’s important to understand your job isn’t to sell, you simply solving their issue will do that for you. Of course, you need to make sure your profile or signature has a link to your store but don’t hard sell. Don’t pitch products unless relevant and don’t talk about your business; just solve their problems.
Show up. Where are you?
Sererra.com – an IT, web services, and end-to-end consulting company — has a post on the strategic use of social media buttons. I suggest you give it a read. Why? Cause sharing is what social media is all about. There are a number of social media networks you need to include to be relevant and attract a large audience. Depending on the type of your business, FourSquare and Yelp are good ones if your business has a local presence. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter are more global in reach and should be included regardless if your local or global.
Suggest. Ask. Insinuate
Having a business presence, a relentless quest to engage, generosity, supporting others by sharing their content or ideas, a flair for connecting with key network members, etc., will all work in your favor. The impact will be minimal until you learn the fine art of insinuation. Be sure to create a balance in your social media activity. Remember your goal is to inform as much as possible, but feel free to suggest your product offerings. When doing so, don’t sell, just inform.
Do you have the itch to pitch? Use the 15: 1 method
Of course, if you are a hardwired business owner or a marketer, you’d find that social media is something of a change. You own a business and you want to sell your products right? Well if you have to pitch, follow the 15: 1 method (we just coined it that way): for every fifteen completely unbiased, general posts you publish on social media (such as Tweets, Facebook Page Content, Google+ updates, or images on Interest), try making one soft-pitch.
Remember your goal is to be an expert, not a sales person. Once you position yourself as that, the sales will start rolling in. I promise.
Pinnacle Cart has selected Oxfam America, an organization that helps people overcome poverty, as the beneficiary of a special holiday fundraising offer. From now until December 31, 2012, EVERY new Pinnacle Cart customer will have a goat donated in their name to a community in need. For every three new 14 day trials created on our servers, Pinnacle Cart will donate manure to families in need through Oxfam America’s Unwrapped program.
You can learn more about the program at https://www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com.
So why goats? Goats can feed hungry children and families with healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt. Goats also act as an additional revenue source providing families with much needed income through milk and off spring which can be sold at market.
The green gift of manure transforms waste into power – agriculture power. Organic manure increases crop yields and is cheaper, greener, and safer than chemical fertilizers.
These things are extremely valuable and in demand.
We hope that using a little humor will help to increase awareness of a very serious issue. Rather than provide short-term aid, Oxfam America works with local communities to create lasting solutions to poverty by helping people address the root causes themselves. While providing relief assistance can help in the short term, donations like goats and manure have longer lasting effects.
With every trial or order, you’ll receive a free personalized gift card with an image of your charitable gift.
To get started, visit http://www.pinnaclecart.com and lets all help out the less fortunate this holiday season.
All the best!
Today we are going to get a chance to interview @alexmcarthur. Alex currently runs his own small Utah SEO firm: MidScape, and leads online efforts for a top health and wellness brand. He was previously VP of R&D at SEO.com, VP of Search at Orangesoda and VP of Marketing for Tech Media Network, which includes Space.com and one of the biggest review sites online: TopTenReviews.com.
We had a chance to catch up with Alex to see what the word on the street is for a small business these days. In the best interest of respecting his time, we wanted to keep it brief but sweet. Hopefully this Q&A can be a cheat sheet for marketing your small business online.
1) How how did you get your start in marketing?
My first college classes were actually in computer science, while my minor was communications. It quickly became clear to me that I wanted to do something with a little of both. There weren’t many job descriptions geared towards online marketing at the time, but I wanted to be involved in the web.
2) What are the first three things you would do to promote your website online?
a) Provide clear call(s) to action. Far too many SMB websites ramble about whatever the owner is interested in. Your website can provide all kinds of great content and features, but if it doesn’t easily tell them what you’re selling and how to buy it then it isn’t serving it’s purpose.
b) Ensure sound website architecture and markup so the almighty Google drives traffic. Basically, you need to get traffic from search engine optimization, paid advertising and learn how to understand your website visitors with analytics.
c) Create a relevant, ongoing content marketing campaign. If you can create compelling content and share it through social media, local/community websites, etc you can build a very powerful, cost effective marketing channel.
3) What setback have you experienced that you learned from the most?
Take whatever time necessary to educate all stakeholders that still don’t understand the web and it’s users. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up when a business partner doesn’t see the value in all of the different aspects of online marketing for a small business. All of those little things add up online just like they do with any other part of your business.
4) What is the most important business advice you could give an SMB starting out in 2012?
Too many small businesses rely on a friend or family member to handle online marketing for them. I don’t think I can recall an instance where this worked out for the SMB owner (although a lot of neighbors and cousins show up the following week with a sweet new ipod). SMB online marketing has become much more affordable in the last few years. Because content marketing is so important, it is becoming increasingly important to possess a level of subject matter expertise to get the results to sustain a business.”
We believe Alex’s assessment of these principles of marketing on the web to be factual. Content, site structure, and working with real professionals are the best ways to get the desired results from your marketing and viability as a business.
Jordan Foutz is the Director of Marketing for Pinnacle Cart and loves eCommerce, the web, and helping Pinnacle Cart merchants sell the lights out with Pinnacle Cart eCommerce Software. You can also follow Jordan on Google+
I just wanted to address the Pinnacle Cart user base, blog readers, and Facebook fans to announce that I couldn’t be more proud of the Pinnacle Cart family than I was yesterday when the news broke about Pinnacle Cart software being ranked as the #1 shopping cart software on Zippy Cart!
We are in one of the most competitive software categories, and to be at the top of the rankings is really an amazing achievement.
Our growth keeps us moving and changing all the time and I believe it is a core factor in our overall success. When you have a team that embraces change on a regular basis, it creates such a unique dynamic and you never have to worry about someone not being on the same page. This industry has a few large players, but we are proof positive that by focusing on the customer we continue to thrive and grow like a weed. Here is a link to the full ecommerce software review.
If you haven’t tried us already, give the #1 ranked ecommerce software company at chance – you won’t be disappointed!
President & CEO – Pinnacle Cart
Using Purchasing Data More Effectively
Purchasing data helps businesses gain insight into tracking and understanding customer purchases. In turn, you want to use that information to predict future purchases. Predicting future sales can help companies utilize resources efficiently, boost sales, and encourage loyalty.
Your point of sale system, whether through your eCommerce website or in a retail store, will have this information for you, and there are several ways you can use it to make your business more effective. From analyzing your marketing campaigns, to identifying opportunities and gaining more customers, you can predict the future needs of both your customers and your business.
Analyze Your Marketing Campaigns
Advertising campaigns can cost your company time, money and effort, so you need to know that they’re effective. Purchasing data can help identify ways in which your campaigns are successful and where they fall flat; helping you tailor future marketing plans to fit your company’s needs.
- Examining before-and-after purchasing rates helps you analyze how effective each element of your campaign was. You can track how many customers came to you through email, social media, and online advertisements to help you tailor future campaigns to the most prolific traffic sources.
- Detailed purchasing data can tell you how well customer purchases aligned with the goal of your campaign. If you advertised a variety of lawn care equipment, but only saw a surge in the sale of weed whackers, purchasing data can help you analyze this phenomenon and help you make future marketing efforts more personalized to your customers.
Tracking your customer purchase data can help you optimize your customers’ experience and lead them toward making more purchases with your company.
- Analyze patterns in your customers’ purchases to predict what they will need in the future and when. Identify key or recurrent purchases, and look for increased growth over time.
- Focus your sales and marketing efforts towards those purchases your customers are likely to make, to keep them coming back to your business.
Predict Future Needs
By anticipating what your customers are likely to buy in the future, you can prepare your company to make the most of those trends.
- Analyzing purchasing trends can help your company prepare for its future needs. When sales are likely to increase, you can ensure that you have enough staff on hand to manage the extra business and enough product stocked so that you won’t run out and end up losing customers.
- You can also predict the times when sales are likely to slow, so that you can set aside money in advance, change your business processes, or adapt your marketing campaigns accordingly.
Using purchasing data more effectively can help your business maintain profitable customer relationships, optimize its marketing campaigns for maximum efficiency, and prepare for times when sales will surge or drop off dramatically. By taking advantage of this data, you can predict your customers’ behavior and act accordingly to make your business more productive.
Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for Resource Nation. She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as credit card processing.
More and more, we transact and interact online, and nowhere does this shift become more evident than in eCommerce. As new social media and eCommerce platforms make advancements and transform the lives of businesses and consumers, our approach to brands and the purchases we make online will change in ways from the obvious to the surprising. Here are four emerging e-commerce innovations, and how they’ll change the way you do business.
1. Collaborative Commerce
Increasingly, companies are finding themselves working together more closely, often unexpectedly. No sooner do you sign a contract than you find yourself working with a suite of different businesses with large suites of apps. Groupware — software designed to facilitate collaboration can help, but if a single-person business signs up to work with a 60-person company, it might not be a workable solution. So websites are springing up allowing anybody from a project manager down to a small shop owner to work together to create and buy the best possible product.
What this will do is much more closely involve everyone, even the customer. Imagine a world where a customer downloads an app that allows him to hire a designer, commission a custom manufacturing house, and then pay for the finished product. Believe it or not, it’s already happening.
2. Smart Kiosks
We’ve all been to a grocery store and used the self-checkout lane. But in a few short years, we’ll be using kiosks to do everything from pay library fines to buy a few magazines from a stand in an airport. The problem was that in previous implementations, smart kiosks were intended to replace cashiers, but it was quickly discovered that people preferred talking to and interacting with a person. So instead, these kiosks will be used to cut down on lines so cashiers can work with customers who need to return an item or have a question. They will speed up times and improve customer service. Mobile payments will be a huge driver for this form of electronic payment tech.
3. Mobile Payments
Mobile payments are still in their infancy: Google, Facebook, Apple, and other companies are building the infrastructure and trying to get customers more comfortable with the idea of using their phones to buy items in the store. But once the general public gets over that reluctance, allowing a customer to pay for something can be as simple as having him send you a text message or scan a QR code, thus triggering an automated system that fulfills the order and gets it to his door as quickly as possible. The day is not so far away when many customers will use mobile payments exclusively. Instead of a five-step process, it will be a simple “Pay” button, making purchases easier and customers happier in less time.
4. Same-Day Fulfillment
Some of the biggest problems e-commerce currently faces are the laws of time and space. True, shipping networks have becoming stunningly efficient, but websites still lose business to other companies, simply due to convenience. This is why Redbox still holds a slight advantage over Netflix (in my book).
That may not be true for long. Amazon.com recently chose to stop fighting attempts to collect sales tax on its transactions. This is because it’s seeking to build a network of warehouses that will erase any sort of delay in order fulfillment. Instead of buying something and waiting, you’ll buy something and it will be waiting at your house when you get home, or delivered right to your hands. (Read about this ambitious effort here.)
This subtle change might be the most disruptive one in e-commerce. Imagine a moment when your product is sitting in an enormous network of warehouses, and the minute a customer pays on your site, the product rockets out the door and heads straight to him: truly a Jetson’s like experience
This would level the playing field, and even if you couldn’t take advantage of the warehouse network, it would still speed up fulfillment: After all, fewer packages can mean quicker package runs. It won’t happen tomorrow, but it’s coming soon. That’s the way it is with the future: eCommerce revolutions are much closer than you think.
Jordan Foutz is the Director of Marketing for Pinnacle Cart and loves eCommerce, the web, and helping Pinnacle Cart merchants sell the lights out with Pinnacle’s shopping cart hosting. You can also follow Jordan on Google+