After almost two years of running Php Works almost single-handedly, I'm very pleased to announce that the company has expanded to meet demand.
Andrew Cargill, a recent University graduate has recently joined company in the capacity of Php Developer and has immediately been thrown in at the deep end, delivering osCommerce and Content Managed sites for a variety of customers. I'm very pleased to report that Andrew has survived this experience and has come out on the other side relatively unscathed.
As well as adding to the energy here at Php Works, Andrew also brings graphic design talent to the team, further strengthening our skills base and meaning that all graphic design is now also completed in-house where required
Just when you thought you had everything under control, along came the EV (Extended Validation) SSL Certificate. What's that then I hear you cry?...
The succinct explanation is that that if you are using a lower-end SSL certificate to secure your SSL pages, you may soon notice the address bar in the browser turning red, or warning messages about the SSL certificate appearing (in newer browsers). This is because the cheaper SSL certificates will be reported as "not supplying identity information" and therefore are deemed to be less trustworthy than those for which additional identity checks have been carried out before issue.
In other words, the verification process is slightly more rigorous for EV SSL certificates and you really have to prove your business identity before you can get one. This in turn, is meant to improve customer confidence. We can expect marketing campaigns urging us to "look for the green" bar in much the same way that we were urged to look for padlocks in the past.
So, it is a gimmick? Well, yes and no... what it is clear is that not having EV SSL in the long term is:
- Likely to erode customer confidence; not what you want for an eCommerce site
- Going to be very visible to the end customer, thanks to the newer browsers providing lots of visual cues
- Going to cost you much more than you may be used to
Whether you think that this is just a gimmick, some slight of hand to give online customer confidence a little boost, or just the SSL certificate companies looking to cash in on the increase in online business, one thing is sure; EV SSL looks like the future, so it looks on more overhead of doing business online we all need to bear from here on in.
Php Works has for some time been working in partnership with Real Business Applications and has produced an interface between the RBA Retailer EPOS system and osCommerce.
This allows an osCommerce web-based e-commerce shop to be populated with categories and products directly from the Retailer EPOS application in a one-click operation. Stock information can also be synchronised on a regular basis and sales information can also now be downloaded from the website, allowing all invoicing and accounting to be done within the EPOS application.
To find out more about the Retailer system and how it could help you build a web presence with the usual fuss, please visit http://www.rbauk.com
Well, that was a heck of a break, though I do say so myself! The thing about going full-time in any business, is that you just don't know how it will perform when you're doing it "properly" until you actually go for it, and mine took off so dramatically, that I hadn't time any more to write pearls of wisdom here.
Thankfully, I've started to expand the business now, so there's more than just me burning the midnight oil and working hard to deliver customer's projects and so I'm hoping to find more opportunities to start writing here again.
Of course, these days the dreaded fragile state of the UK economy is grabbing a lot of our attention for one reason or another. In my day-to-day occupation, I get to work with a lot of different kinds of businesses, and overall I would say we've yet to see any real impacts on the sorts of businesses that are selling their products online through osCommerce stores.
There is a real probability that as the probable impacts of rising prices and increasing credit card balances begins to eat into consumers wallets, osCommerce store owners should be ready with an armoury of tools to attempt to limit such effects.
So, here are my top 5 credit crunch tips for keeping the customers at your osCommerce store and spending their money:
1. You've worked hard to get your customer base going, so remind previous customers regularly that they should be spending money with you to get that latest "must have" item. Send out newsletters containing details of special offers and new products regularly. To do this, I'd personally recommend using something like e-campaign and have your developer provide you with an easy way to export newsletter subscriber data from your database - it's a lot simpler and easier to manage than using the built in osCommerce Newsletter facility.
2. Your homepage is prime real-estate. Are you making best use of it to promote your latest offers and hot products? Stand back and take a good look at it, from the perspective of a new customer. This is your main chance to tempt them to buy and first impressions count, so maybe now is the time for a tweak or two to your layout.
3. Get some special offers going and make them obvious to customers. Nothing ties up money, and hence cashflow more than old stock sat on a shelf! Mark down items items falling into this category and customers will more than likely buy other items whilst shopping on your osCommerce site.
4. If you haven't already done so, get your products listed on Google Base. It's free and can help boost you in the search engine rankings. There are some ready-made contributions for osCommerce that make this a simple thing to do.
5. Consider offering incentives for existing customers that refer their friends. Offering a gift voucher for each referral that results in a sale can be a good way of increasing your customer base.
That's all for now - a bit of a departure from previous postings, but no doubt I'll be back onto the tech talk again soon, as I'm such a geek, it's hard to resist!
Good News. Php Works will become a full-time operation from the 4th June. This will mean that as well as having much more time to devote to doing quality work for my customers, I should also have more time to devote to this blog, with lots more hints, tips and tricks of the trade coming your way.
This site is also going to get a major makeover (design is almost off the drawing board), and will be updated to reflect the changing nature of the capabilities I offer. Although I still major on osCommerce, I also offer off-the-shelf content management and property management applications...more on this is due course.