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Zen Cart TIPS

Your Own Zen Cart Ecommerce Checklist

So you're now running an eCommerce online business! Congratulations, it's finally setup and readyand waiting for orders to be placed. Well just before you start celebrating you may want to ensure you read through these eCommerce suggestion and they may help you a lot more to meet your sales targets!

1. Your websites' Look'n'Feel and Usability

Research has long shown that the leading factor in persuading shoppers to buy from an e-commerce Web site is ease of navigation -- In other words, customers are saying - "make your site easy-to-use, and you'll earn our sale".

Your website may look great to you, but how does it look and operate to your potential customers? Have you had friends, family or 3rd parties perform a review? What we mean by that is, don't show them how to purchase, but just watch them instead.

  • If they are in the same room, then sit behind them and just watch (yes sit on your hands and close your mouth!) to see how they interact with your website;

  • If they are in a different location ask them to review your website and provide as much feedback as possible (which part of your website and the online order process did they find difficult to use?)

  • You will quickly find out some things that need to be changed!

If you are not currently happy with your web sites look'n'feel and think it could be improved then visit our eCommerce Design Services section to find out how we can help!

2. Your Website's Shipping setup

Make sure your shipping and return info is clearly marked on your product pages

  • Shipping and return issues will be top of mind for your customers and one of the first places to seek answers to these questions is on the product page. Be sure you display or link to your shipping and returns pages from your product pages.
  • A favorite way I like of doing this is to provide a "tabbed" experience as is the case with many big online retailers and providing tabs for the product description, shipping info, returns info etc.. This is a super way to keep the user on the product page and still provide them with the information they seek.

Offer Shipping Options

  • If you are going to get the customer to pay for shipping them ensure the process is EASY (even given them options such as Normal, Fast Post or Courier). For this we suggest you use the Zen Cart Advanced Shipper Module which puts you in CONTROL!

Determine shipping cut-off dates.

  • This is probably one of the most important pieces of information to communicate to customers during the holidays. Check with your shipping carriers to determine what the cutoff days are for the various methods of shipping. Ensure you add a "guaranteed arrival in time for (name your holiday here) if ordered before (name your date here.)"

Enable customers to ship to alternate locations than the one they are buying from

  • If a customer is buying a gift for someone that does not live near them they may want to have it simply shipped to to the recipient's address as a holiday gift surprise.

Consumers want it and merchants are increasingly offering free shipping.

  • But, of course, shipping is not truly free. An ecommerce merchant has to pay for it. He or she has to decide whether it's worth it to factor shipping into the cost of doing business.
  • "Free shipping is interesting when it comes to comparison shopping. Prices listed lower enjoy higher rankings and draw more attention because of it. More clicks mean a better chance of the sale, especially if the overall price paid is not more then those bundling in." Richard
  • If you are thinking about offer FREE SHIPPING for some products (depending on their location) then we suggest you use the Zen Cart Advanced Shipper Module which puts you in CONTROL!

3. Your Website's Payment Options.

You may already be accepting payments through your ecommerce store, and you may be thinking PayPal accepts your credit and debit cards so why change now?

Lets take a look at why every ecommerce business should switch to Sage Pay.

  • Keep the customer close - With Sage Pay Direct you won't need to send your customer off to a dull 3rd party payment page, keep them in the ecommerce mood
  • Receive ALL the payment - No percentage fees, no annual charges and lots of complementary extras, which means you'll know exactly what your costs are up front. Only £20 per month for merchants processing up to 1,000 transactions per quarter
  • Free Fraud Screening Tools - Fraud prevention is an essential part of a payment service, which is why we Sage Pay don't charge you extra for standard fraud screening tools. They're included as part of your £20 per month package, enabling you to trade successfully and responsibly.
  • Always available - You and your customers will benefit from 24/7 UK-based telephone and email support, so whenever you need Sage Pay, they are available to help. Sage Pay systems also run 24-hours a day and there aim is to never let up-time drop below 99.99% - because we want your customers to buy from you when it suits them.

    Those are just some of the benefits from switching to SagePay.For more information please visit our ecommerce payments page

Running Sage accounting software?
If you are running Sage accounting software you can now connect your Zen Cart store and Sage Pay account to maximise your online business! Click the image below for more information.


4. Your Websites Checkout

Ensure your checkout process is stable and the shopping cart is streamlined.

  • You should be aware of this part of your site all the time, but take one good look at it and make sure it is working (and across multiple browsers) before the holiday shopping season hits big. It does you no good to get an customer who is interested in your product(s) put items into their cart and then abandon due to circumstances that could have been avoided.
  • Has your site got the Zen Cart FAST'n'EASY checkout module?

Consider offering gift wrapping.

  • If your business can do it, consider offer gift wrapping services to your customers. You can add this as an "upsell" on the product page (and remember to cross sell it on the shopping cart page in case they missed it) but be sure to add enough additional charge to cover any labor and materials associated with this
  • Has your site got the Zen Cart Gift Wrap Module?

5. General eCommerce Website Tips

Make your customers feel safe

  • Whether you are accepting payments directly on your site using SagePay or through a 3rd party system such as PayPal, it is VITAL to purchase an SSL certificate for your online shop.

    For the majority of your customers before they do anything on your store they must create an account. Signing up for an account requires them to insert details such as:

    * Full name
    * Address
    * Telephone Number
    * Email

    Without an SSL certificate to secure this page for your customers this information could fall into the wrong hands!

    Not only does an SSL certificate add a layer of security to your store, it will also ATTRACT CUSTOMERS.

    For more information on SSL and to watch a video of what SSL means visit


Create product bundles.

  • Product bundles are a great way of increasing average order value and sales across the board. Consider taking several related products and grouping them into a "gift package" at a discounted rate than if the items were purchased separately (this too will encourage sales.) Gift selection is much easier when related items are grouped together in some sort of gift basket or bundle.
  • Has your site got the Better Together Module?

Consider gift messages.

  • If you r cart enables you to do so let your customers add a personal message to their gift. For simplicity, you can have the message appear on the packing list which will already be included in the box. If your cart doesn't enable that, consider using the "Additional Comments" box (which many carts have by default) as an opportunity for them to add their gift message. Just ensure this message appears on the packing slip as well.

Prominently display your return policy.

  • As mentioned above, your return policy should be easy to find. Consider re-wording it as a "no hassle" policy in order to calm the fears of first time buyers (if you are not already doing so). If your current policy is stiff, consider loosening it up during the holiday season. While a 30 day return policy is commonplace for the rest of the year, it may scare off early shoppers during the holidays. Make it clear to your visitors that you will accept returns and exchanges on all Christmas (or name your own holiday) gift purchases. This ensures them that they can expect total satisfaction. QVC always does a super job of wording their return policy during the holidays-Why? because it works.

Consider offering gift certificates.

  • Even if you do not offer gift certificates any other time of the year, consider offering them during the holiday season. These often provide an added option for shoppers who may not have a "wish list" but know someone they are buying for likes to shop at your store. These might also be a way to get "last minute" shoppers to buy-that is, providing your cart offers the ability to generate "digital gift certificates" that are sent and redeemed online (rather than printed or sent in a traditional "gift card".

6. Marketing

Ensure your search marketing and adverts reflect the things people are looking for

  • Free shipping, big discounts, buy one get one free, etc.. are all big items people consider during the holidays especially. Also consider running ads during the holiday season only that reflect products people are looking for (that you offer). With the major engines you can easily schedule your ads to run during a given period.
  • Has your site got the Google Analytics module?

Ensure your email campaigns promote the holiday offers and your website backs those up.

  • If you are running any email campaigns you need to ensure that offers presented in the emails are easily found and similarly presented on your website. Consider using similar graphics and pushing the traffic to specific landing pages on your website that are setup to convert that traffic. It's all about relevancy here. The more relevant the site is in comparison to the email offer, the more success you'll have generating sales.
  • If you are not YET sending out regular newsletters to your customers then ACT NOW Constant Contact Newsletters?

7. For your own peace of mind:

Making YOUR website safe

Ensure your website is running the latest version of Zen Cart as Security is KEY! (You can check via your Zen Cart admin > Tools > Server/Version Info)

Is your website being Backed up on a daily basis? Keeping a backup is SO important as you never know what is around the corner and you would hate to loose all of your data over night!

  • Why not get JSWeb to backup your Zen Cat on a daily basis (think of it as Insurance, just in case!) = Read more at JSWEB BACKUP
JSWeb are here to help
Feel free to contact a member of the JSWeb team who will be able to provide support or a FREE quote for required work to get your site running perfectly - Contact Us