Archive for the ‘E-commerce’ Category
Artificial intelligence gives us more and more opportunities every day. Chatbots and their developing for client-communication are the hottest topics today. Many experts say that chatbots are the future. Let’s get a short review.
Who are they?
Chatbots are essentially programs pretending to be people that you can interact with through text or even voice. They are closely connected with a wide messenger’s distribution and I believe everyone has been already acquainted with them. It’s obvious that chat- bots’ popularity is starting to take off.
How can they enhance e-commerce?
1. First of all chat bot doesn’t get tired, being late or absent – it assists your clients 24/7 365 days per year and get significant workload on its shoulders. That is why they seem to be the best answer for e-commerce business owners to manage thousands of one-to-one conversations with customers.
2. The second point is that chat bots can understand natural language and communicate with people in the same manner making conversations realistic and trustworthy. So chat bots give online shop owners an opportunity to provide pleasant shopping experience for customers.
3. Chatbots are proactive. They can understand what the particular customer wants not only through a simple conversation, but also through analysis and collecting of personal and profile page data ( smartphone data, cookies and so on). All this information might help to improve the marketing strategy and provide customers with the best user experience.
4. Additionally, chatbots simply save customers’ time. You don’t need to waste time for searching the appropriate item, click on mass of characteristics, study a market and etc. You can simply say : Hey, I want to buy an efficient computer for my child. Bot does it for you with a great pleasure and at a quick pace.
5. Finally, all this points give more advantages for businesses: services become much more better and faster, the conversion becomes higher, sales increase, operational costs and salary charges reduce.
The most outstanding example is already occurring in China, where consumers are using WeChat to fulfill their daily living and commerce needs. Soon, this system will gain prominence in the United States.
Further more brands like Walmart and Hyatt are testing customer service and shopping within apps on the new Facebook Messenger for Business App. A free messaging app, called Kik, has a bot shop for companies such as Sephora, Vine, and H&M. So it can be said that the part of the technology is already there.
Amazon’s voice bot messaging has brought the idea of personal assistant to the next level. Customers can talk to the bot and ask it to order items through Amazon Prime, get a pizza, purchase flowers and call for an Uber. Voice commands are making shopping easier than ever, but there are still many issues to work out.
Voice-based AI and mobile chatbots are the dominant trend right now, but it’s not crazy to think that this could evolve into something more personal and user-based. E-commerce data is there to help you segment and automate email messaging to certain customers, so it’s not silly to assume that this data will eventually merge with bots.
Imagine a personalized bot that talks to you, and only you, when you shop on the Target website. They’d know the last items you bought, deliver the most relevant products and even stock your shopping cart with suggestions. The days of taking hours to shop online will soon knock the pad. In the near future, all the work will be done for you.
Are you ready for this?
Business Development Manager
Professional Software Development
Bitcoin: from idea to successful business
The idea of creating an international virtual currency was first described in 1998 when the messages from Wei Dai and Nick Szabo were published. The currency development began in 2007, the file with description of the principle of project’ operation «Bitcoin: Peer-To-Peer Electronic Cash System» was published in 2008. All in all, the network was launched in 2009, the project was developing quickly by its first founder, and by the end of 2010 it was presented to the online community for further tune-up by joint forces of software developers from around the world. Bitcoin is not just a replacement of actual money with their digital equivalent to speed up payments, but rather creation of countertype of actual money, or gold to be more precise.
Nowadays Bitcoin digital money is on the way to be officially acknowledged as a unit of monetary payments.
The difference between Bitcoin and other e-currency
- Bitcoin does not relate to the debt obligations of the issuer.
Bitcoins are not material. It’s enough to meet certain conditions for carrying out the operation of paying with Bitcoins: to use a Bitcoin address and Bitcoin system. The exchange rate is defined by the balance of supply and demand.
- The process of controlling is simply impossible.
Peer-to-peer communication takes place within the system that works as an organized community. Every participant interacts directly with others. There are no intermediate banks or any other form of a central server. Thanks to such principle one can receive transactions any time, regardless of the computer being turned on.
- The aggregate number of Bitcoins cannot be manipulated.
Transactions processing and emission of new money are done by mining, a process which uses users’ hardware resources that conduct mathematical calculations. Participation in such process earns users a reward in the form of newly created Bitcoins. Mining process becomes more and more complicated and resource-demanding over time, because data massive to be processed becomes larger.
- The maximum number of Bitcoins is limited.
Emission of new Bitcoins will continue until their total amount reaches 21 million Bitcoins, after which the emission will be stopped completely. Participants foresee this happening in 2030.
- The system is programmed at reducing their number by 2 times, about once every 4 years.
During its history since 2009 Cryptocurrency has seen several rapid growths and similarly unexpected losses of value. Currently 1 Bitcoin costs approximately $350. It is determined through trading on specialized exchanges.
- The absence of control on the part of any issuer, and no restrictions on the turnover of the currency.
- Bitcoin is one of the safest systems in the world.
System security is ensured by several key factors: irreversibility of transactions, impossibility to repeatedly spend money (making payments to two users simultaneously), cryptographic signature, procedure for transaction confirmation, private digital key for access to the wallet. Besides, system decentralization makes it impossible to compromise.
- Bitcoin wallet cannot be blocked as your bank account, and the currency is almost impossible to withdraw from the market due to the lack of the emission center.
- Transaction fees in the system are very small or equal zero. Miners receive their remuneration in the form of new Bitcoins, and there is no central intermediary in the system.
- The speed of the payment transaction is rather high: maximum – 1 minute. The system does not provide a chargeback, so you may be asked to provide your Bitcoin wallet for paying for the goods, and if the goods are not received, the funds will not come back.
- Both new user as well as new participant of e-commerce can easily start using Bitcoin system to make transactions. To do so, user simply needs to setup a wallet at his or her computer or mobile device. Installed wallet will generate a Bitcoin address. In the future one can create new addresses and transfer money as well as to pay for goods and services.
- The Payer’s data is not disclosed. Terrorists, drug mafia, and others take advantage of this – they can buy drugs, weapons, sell human organs and etc.
- With the help of Bitcoins money laundering and evading taxes may occur.
- No safety against thefts. It is impossible to prove the fact of theft and to return the stolen currency.
Successful businesses with Bitcoin currency
A few years ago almost no one knew about Bitcoins. Today, interest in this virtual currency is huge. In recent years, more attention is paid not on its instability, but opportunities. Now a number of interesting projects already operates on the basis of Cryptocurrency. Here are few of them.
- ATM machines: Robocoin
There are several reasons why people relate to Bitcoins apprehensively. The essence of one of them is the fact that Cryptocurrency has no physical expression, and the practical benefits of such money for laymen are equal to zero.
The founders of Robocoin solved this problem in an original way – with ATMs.
The new devices allow you to make instantaneous exchange of the currency with the current exchange rate and receive cash. Exchange is possible in both directions, i.e. one can not only buy dollars / euro for Bitcoins, but also – Cryptocurrency. Today such ATMs have been installed in 13 countries around the world and they may offer to exchange up to 12 currencies.
- The commercial YouTube: WatchMyBit
YouTube is the most popular video-hosting in the world. Thousands of people are using advertising to make money on it. But the founders of WatchMyBit project believe that you can do without advertising.
The startup idea is simple – you pay money and watch videos. The main problem is that very few people are willing to spend ten or more dollars to watch videos online. Small micropayments from one dollar or less is a good solution, but it is impossible to offer such payments under the traditional system – through the payment with credit cards and PayPal, because additional costs are too high.
That is why founders rely on Bitcoin payments for the implementation of this idea. This format allows you to pay for content with one click and without transaction costs.
- Play And Earn: Leetcoin
Hundreds of young people around the world spend hours playing computer games. Many of them dream to generate revenues with this. But not everybody can become a competitive cyber sportsman who really makes money.
Leetcoin developers have come up with the idea how to integrate e-sports and Cryptocurrency, giving people an opportunity to earn money with a game. After registering on the website of this project via Steam-account you need to select the server with suiting player bets and receive the agreed amount of Bitcoins to your wallet.
- Instant Lottery: Daily Bitcoins
The next project is notable not so much for its essence but for its geography location.
Instant Lottery DailyBitcoins is founded by the Russian company.
The principle of the lottery is simple: there is an opportunity to participate in the raffle of the prize fund for a fee, but even in case of failure, the “consolation prize” is transferred to user.
- Exchanging Bitcoins: Coinbase
There is a great variety of services for exchanging Cryptocurrency. But this project was able to attract investors as a “classic” business usually does.
Coinbase company from San Francisco became the most popular service for exchange Bitcoin in the United States. The project has received the largest amount of investments ($ 31 million) among the start-ups in this sector in 2013. Today, the company provides services to 16,000 stores, including OkCupid and Reddit.
Bitcoin is a new concept, but it’s in the process of being understood and adopted by a growing number of consumers, merchants, and investors around the world. As this process continues, the reasons to start using Bitcoins are becoming more compelling.
Recently, as we see at Altabel Group, projects related to Bitcoin (like purchasing goods from an e-commerce site or auction) are among the hottest and most discussable topics with the clients, and judging by the current currencies situation in the world Bitcoins may become a viable solution that opens new opportunities.
Are you thinking of implementing Bitcoin into your project? Do you foresee bright future for Bitcoin and will they gain extensive usage soon, and why yes or no? Feel free to share your thoughts about this subject and leave your comments here or send me a message.
E-commerce sector has been in fashion and on boost for a while now. That’s why there are many debates over choosing the right open source solution for it. Let’s try to figure out why nopCommerce could become your choice. If you are an ASP.Net developer, you might want to graciously add and/or argue with something. In any case, welcome aboard 🙂 and let’s get to the point.
“NopCommerce is among the top 5 featured e-commerce apps on Microsoft Web Matrix, downloaded more than 395,000 times from there and witnessed more than 883,142 source code downloads from Codeplex.”
The main feature of this software is that it is very easy to manage and quite user-friendly. This was the reason why nopCommerce created a buzz in the market soon after it was launched. Unlike others, nopCommerce is not written in PHP or Pearl rather, it is completely written in ASP.Net 4.0 and nopCommerce developers have provided the backend of SQL 2005 which even today is considered as very powerful database management platform.
NopCommerce is an open source e-commerce solution that contains both a catalog front-end and an administration tool back-end which is easy to work with for anyone with basic computing and administrative skills.
The various features that have made nopCommerce so popular are notification via sms, live chat, multiple language support, one page checkout procedure which ensures a low bounce rate, billing and shipping detail, mapping the products in the appropriate categories and sub categories. You have control over features such as discounts, coupons, wish lists, tax options, shipping methods and much more.
Speaking about other Nopcommerce features that seems quite prominent to me, they are:
• availability of exchange rate system that is based on the real time prices and multicurrency support (this has greatly helped the shoppers across the globe to shop freely irrespective of their current location);
• multi-store and multi-vendor support (this also allows online store owners to sell their products without the need to stock inventory and ship orders);
• drop shipping (enables the assignment of vendor details to a product).
Additionally NopCommerce is one of those few open source solutions that have been built keeping Search Engine Strategies in consideration with the use of friendly URLs, properly structured content and products to enable potential customers to find your store.
And last but not least nopCommerce is supported by fastest growing user community which has increased the technical as well as informative aspect of the solution.
With so many advantages listed, inadvertently a question arises if there are any pitfalls with this solution. And for sure there should be some. For instance it appears to have heavy server requirements and tends to require more design and development expertise than other shopping carts.
And what are your thoughts about nopCommerce? Please share your experience of using this e-commerce solution. Many thanks in advance!
If you follow our blog regularly you probably remember that my last post was dedicated to Sitecore CMS. This time I decided to represent for your review one more powerful at the same time arguable CMS – Magento. Magento as well as Sitecore CMS is meant to build big things but this time in the world of ecommerce: helps to create online stores.
As the field of ecommerce is tending to grow and develop continuously IT solutions try to meet the needs and offer the best solutions to make it extremely innovative, make the managing process easier for holders and of course attract as many customers as it is possible. There are many CMSs for this purpose like PrestaShop, OpenCart, osCommerce, phpShop, Spree, nopCommerce and others. The choice of CMS depends on what kind of eCommerce/business you intend to go on. You need to take into account such aspects as the size of your firm, whether you haveB2B, B2C or you’re retail, what management system you use or you will use ecommerce platform for that, connection of you websites with other sales channels, your programming skills: PHP, .NET, etc.
So as you may see there are many CMS available today, the choice depends on what type of business you have and type of software you use. Nevertheless, beyond the rich variety Magento is considered to be one of the front runners.
Almost all claims that Magento is rather complicated system as it is built on Zend framework; however has a lot positive aspects. Generally it is characterized as big, complicated and powerful CMS/platform that provide excellent and multiply options to grow you website.
Magento is also very serious CMS and there is no doubt that it is not for everybody. It is tool for professional rather than for amateur.
-It rather complicated to use and work on it for its coding style, so be prepared to spend/charge from your development team twice more hours than usual. Also if you’re not experienced in coding or working with this CMS we would offer to hire skillful developer/development team with proven past experience to help you with that. Based on our experience working with Magento you should be prepared that the development process could take much more time as you will need to learn all the curves that CMS has.
– Magento is extremely powerful offering a wide range of customization options. It is easy-editable gives an opportunity to improve the code regularly by making updates and fixing bugs. And what is important here is that code itself doesn’t require any changes!
– One more aspect is the rich variety of features that makes Magento so flexible. Let’s now review the key features of Magento:
- International support – multiple languages and currencies, list of allowed countries for registration, purchasing and shipping, localization;
- Site Management – control of multiple web sites, multiple languages.
- Catalog Browsing – easy navigation, advanced product filtering system, product comparison.
- Catalog Management – inventory management, batch import and export of products, different tax rates per location, additional product attributes.
- Analytics and Reporting – integration with Google Analytics and offers different reports.
- Payment – different payment methods: credit cards, PayPal, Authorize.net, Google Checkout, ePay, etc.
- Marketing Promotions and Tools – – coupons, discounts and different promotion options.
- Encryption Key – security storage of the sensitive data in the script’s database.
It is also scalable and it grows with your business. That’s the point why it is mostly recommended for mid to large size vendors.
Additionally it should be said that Magento team offers 24/7 live support. Of course it is not super fast but at least it works and you never know when you will need immediate help. Moreover it has video tutorials, good knowledge base, webimars, user guides and support forum. As Magento has three versions the opportunities of each version differs: Community Edition (downloadable version, you will need to find hosting and security for your store), Magento Go (cloud based of hosted Magento CE, preferably for small retailers) and Enterprise one, the last is complete ecommerce solution, fully supported and it is not cheap. Here it should be noted about technical support: Community version has an access only to the forums that are not so active mainly because Magento is relatively new and don’t have yet many followers. So there is no guarantee that you get an advice you need.
And at last as Magento is open source CMS it is free and you don’t spend your money to download it. But you will need to invest if you want to have store live.
At the same time (there is always the other sideJ) there are gaps (that make this platform a bit vulnerable and look unfinished) that need to be improved too. We have a made a short list of them:
- Slow – Many reports that the software is clunky and suffers from slow load times.
- Expensive – Even it is open source and free it will end up costing you after you add up hosting, security, and developer fees.
- No Customer Support – Magento CE users have no access to technical assistance with the exception of a forum.
- Requires Coding Experience – it requires users to have technical skills and experience in order create and launch stores. It is not for amateurs or hobbyists.
Some more aspects to consider:
- Confusing and hard to learn.
- Difficult to implement templates.
- Not much themes to choose.
- Software updates don’t work always properly.
To use Magento or not?
In my opinion Magento is proved to take one of the leading positions and has potential to save it. It has many positive aspects and if your business is well developed and you have large list of items to put online, you need to consider Magento and invest money in it. But of course be prepared for serious work with all the curves if you don’t have much knowledge in programming or take care to choose the development team wisely. And certainly don’t forget about tech support, Magento CE don’t have it.
In case you still considering whether adopt Magento for your business or not, feel free to share your personal experience with us leaving your comments below or contact me directly if you need assistance with your ecommerce shop to discuss the details.
Thank you for your attention!
Business Development Manager
Professional Software Development
Stories are told about the greatness of the free and mighty Magento e-commerce platform. There is much talking about Magento in comparison with other eCommerce platforms but in this article we thought it would be a good time to talk about Magento on its own. Now we’ll talk about the pros of Magento and some great ,positive things to expect while using it. Later on we’ll discuss another side of the medal which of course is there as well 🙂
The Pros of Magento:
Out of the box features: Magento boasts some of the most impressive features straight out of the box, including:
– Marketing / promotional tools
– Search engine optimization
– Catalog management
– International support
– Shipping (multiple addresses, multiple shipments, free shipping, etc.)
– Analytics and reporting
– Site management
– Catalog browsing
– Mobile commerce
– Payment (multiple payment options, payment extensions available, etc.)
– Customer accounts
Open Source: We think it’s common knowledge how much software developers love open source software. Magento Community is completely free to download, plus every version of Magento is able to be built upon and tailored to the specific needs of developers.
Administrative Interface: As we suppose Magento has the best administrative interface of any open source eCommerce platform. Magento provides a customer-friendly interface that is also a very flexible solution. The out of the box features go hand in hand with the power of the administrative interface, namely the features of order and customer management, catalog management, and analytics and reporting data.
Community and Updates: Magento has continued to thrive as a community with their number of users increasing dramatically over the past few years. Magento likely has the largest and fastest growing community of developers of any eCommerce platform. Magento also has continued to release new updates and versions of all three Magento editions on schedule.
Extensions: The extensions available for Magento help set it apart from all of the other eCommerce platforms. Magento’s core development team set out to create Magento as one of the most extendable eCommerce platforms available. Magento has the architecture necessary to allow its functionality to be extended while still remaining stable and maintaining its elegant looks.
The Cons of Magento:
While there are hundreds of the Magento-lovers, I am also willing to provide an objective view of the eCommerce platform which has some negative sides as well. Now I would love to cover the cons since we discussed the pros of Magento earlier above in the article. Below each con, we also provide the best solution, so don’t get too worried about getting scared off by the information below.
Speed: One of the main complaints people have about Magento is its speed. Magento has been known to be quite slow. Magento was designed to be the most extendable eCommerce system available, which is still the case today. In order for the system to work efficiently despite the extensions added to it, the system was created in such a way that isolates each feature so that changing that feature (via an extension) does not affect any other part of the system. The result of which is an immense number of files in many different folders.
The solution: Get a good host that specializes in Magento eCommerce sites. As would be expected, if you try to use Magento on an incapable server, of course it will be slow. If you have a dedicated server and your site still runs slowly, the problem is likely due to a custom theme, a custom query, or your extensions.
Documentation: Magento, as an open source platform, falls victim to the typical issue of not being well-documented. There are manuals for Magento available for purchase, but may not be of much use because the system is full of unique terminology.
The solution: If you’re having trouble with the administration side of running your site, you should look into Magento-specific training. Find a firm or developer group that has extensive experience with all the versions of Magento that can help you get the most out of Magento.
Updates: We talked about the large community and the timely and on-schedule release of updates earlier. While this can be a definite pro of Magento, it can also be a downfall because of how often updates are released since an update will sometimes cause something that was functioning just fine to have a glitch after installing the update.
The solution: Hire an experienced development team to make sure that your Magento site is always using appropriate extensions and is developed using Magento-suitable practices. Also, if you’re worried, go through your upgrade process in a separate development environment with a Magento expert available to make sure the glitches are fixed before your site goes live.
Complexity / Cost: One of the other complaints we hear about Magento is that it can be too complex for people who don’t have much development experience. In addition, if you’re interested in creating a more extensive online store, you’ll likely need to use Magento Professional (starting at $2,995 per year) or Magento Enterprise (starting at $12,990 per year). If you need a large store and you don’t have any development experience, using Magento would require you to spend money on the yearly costs, as well as on the web development firm you hire to create your store.
The solution: Make Altabel your go-to Magento developers. With our dedicated developers and experienced project managers, we’ll keep your costs as low as possible by giving you exactly what you need and nothing you don’t.
Please don’t misunderstand me here. I am not saying Magento is bad ecommerce platform. What I am saying, is that Magento does not have a place for every level of ecommerce store and that users require training. Our advice to consult a professional with Magento experience, if you’re considering Magento for you platform and take note of the following:
• Don’t get caught up in the sales speak and try to ignore the shiny default template
• Remember you’ll need to set aside a great deal of time to learn the administration area – you may need training here
• Magento is not for every niche/business. The feature set and size of Magento implies you have a high volume of and complicated product variations
• Remember that due to the complexity of Magento, you’ll no doubt pay a premium for updates where a plugin will not suffice
Let us know What are your views on this matter in the comments section below. We are looking forward to a discussion on this important topic.