Ecommerce Templates > Newsletter > March 2009

Ecommerce Templates Newsletter March 2009

Welcome to the first Ecommerce Templates newsletter of 2009!

This year, at Ecommerce Templates, we are more committed than ever to offering you the service and support you need to drive your e-commerce solution to success. Now is the perfect time to find smart, new ways to boost your sales and grow your business. Remember, being smart isn’t just about your IQ these days, it’s about knowing when to spend, and when to save – economizing, not compromising!

For only $39.95, you can obtain an updater license which immediately provides you with all you need to update your site with the latest user-friendly features, sure to give you a quick and guaranteed high return on investment.
So go on, be smart, maximize your earnings potential, and beat the recession today with your new Ecommerce Template updater. Get yours today at
Find out more below in our What’s New this Month section.

In our Top Tips of the Month section, we have included some business-boosting initiatives for you to carry out to help keep your business busy over the next few months and beat the recession!

You can also spice up your Minicart this month with our easy-to-follow tips to improve the design and make it more appealing and user-friendly for your customers.

What’s New this Month?

Version 5.7 has gone live

We’ve been thrilled with the response to the release of our Ecommerce Plus Template Version 5.7 which first came out as a beta version at the beginning of February. It is now out of beta, available as Version 5.7.2 and ready to go live! Find out more below.

Get your updater today!

Many of the great new features available in V5.7 were added in response to popular demand from many of our customers and includes the following goodies:

Admin Home Page Indicators
By turning your control panel home page into a one stop dashboard, you can view alerts of new orders, new affiliate signups, mailing list signups, new product ratings, new gift certificate purchases and new customer login accounts.

Optional Split First and Last Name
You can now choose to split the order name entry into firstname / lastname in the cart checkout section, should your accounting software require two fields to be completed.

Capture HTTP Referrer
Find out how your customers found your site when they make a purchase on your store. The HTTP referrer shows up in the admin orders page when the buyer comes from a different site, telling you what that site was, and in the case of a search engine referral, what keywords were used in the original search.

Use Category Name as a Category Identifier
The search engine friendly features keep on coming. We have added to the ECT offerings with a more friendly category URL, replacing products.asp?cat=26 with products.asp?cat=Childrens+Books, for example.

More Powerful and Useable Alternate Product ID System
Possibly one of the most under-used of ECT features, the Alternate Product ID system (Alt Prod ID), has had a complete overhaul so that now it pulls pricing, stock and alternate image information directly from the products database. See how it can benefit your store with the help file here

Additional Search Parameters
You can now associate keywords (not included in the product name or product description) so that when searched for on the store, the results will display the products in question without the keywords being necessarily visible to the customer anywhere on the page – thus broadening your products’ visibility.

Previous and Next Buttons on the Admin Orders Page
You can now view previous and next orders in the database with a simple click of a button.

Optionally Hide Shipping Address
Streamline your checkout page by hiding the shipping portion of the address on checkout unless the customer clicks to say it is different from the billing address.

Optional Automatic Billing Address to Shipping Address
The billing address can now be automatically copied to the shipping address if a shipping address is not entered. This is useful for situations where a shipping address is always required such as in your accounts program and invoicing.

Ability to Send Emails to Affiliates
If you have an active affiliate community, you’ll want to keep in touch with them to keep them abreast of developments on your store. The mailing list software will now allow you to send emails to your affiliate list.

Mailing List Using Customers Name
Get closer to your customers and make your mails more personal by addressing your customers by name.

Elect Which Order Status Receive Update Emails
You might not want to send out an order status email each time the status is changed as very often it’ll be for internal use only. You can now select the recipient(s) of "Order Status Updated" emails.

E-mail Friend Page Rewrite
The “e-mail a friend” page has been completely reworked so that it validates and the design fits in with the rest of your store as it uses the same css classes as the cart and search pages.

Better Stock Management Control in Admin Orders
When editing orders in the admin orders page you will now be alerted of out of stock conditions before proceeding so as to avoid complete order fulfillment assumptions.

More Powerful Customer Login Admin
The customer login admin section has been greatly enhanced so you now have the ability to edit addresses, view orders etc.

Affiliate Program Admin Rewrite
The affiliate program has been completely rewritten making it faster and giving you more control over reports and search filters.

Extra Order and Checkout Fields Rewrite
The Extra Order and Checkout fields now allow for easier set-up, validation of non-text controls, and ability to remember previous values for non-text controls.

Optionally Force Customers to Select Payment Method
By forcing the user to select a payment method rather than choosing the first in the list from the drop down options, your customers can now better view all different payment options available.

Payment Provider Radio Buttons
Show the payment methods offered on your store with radio buttons as opposed to drop down list boxes, making it much clearer for your customers to view all options and select their preferred method of payment.

Better Admin Section HTML Validation
Following on from the validation of the Ecommerce Template front end, work has also been done with the control panel from a HTML validation admin perspective.

Specify Category by Name in CSV Uploads
In inventory uploads, you can now specify a name as well as a category ID for easy identification thanks to the new CSV file upload rather than just going through the store’s admin page.

Give your Mini Cart a Face Lift!

Changing the look of your mini cart is really quite simple and should only take about 5 minutes to spice up. Your customers will love it and you will notice the difference too!

We’ve added the following to the css file:

td.mincart {
font-size: 11px;
font-family : Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
background-color: #fdedc9;
p.mincart {
font-size: 11px;
font-family : Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
border: 1px dotted #e69d01;
background-color: #FFF;
width: 180px;

A note from the Design Team
As you can see, you can set the width of the mini cart table to fit the side bar (width: 180px;), give it a background color (background-color: #fdedc9;), a nice border (border: 1px dotted #e69d01;) and some white space between the cells (background-color: #FFF;).

What I do is use the Developer Toolbar extension for Firefox and use the Edit CSS feature so I can see what the changes look like on a page without having to upload the css file to the server each time I make a tweak. This is pretty cool in conjunction with the CSS Viewer so I can see what classes are available on the page.

Top Tips – 6 business-boosting initiatives to do this month

Here are some suggestions to help your store stay a step ahead of the rest and beat the recession.

Diversify your payment methods – give your users the choice on checkout. ECT can handle multiple payment providers so take advantage of it. Offer phone orders for those who don’t like paying with plastic on the net.

Create new content regularly– adding a new page of unique content each week will help keep your site fresh and keep your customers interested and coming back. It will also give you keyword-rich internal linking opportunities and help lengthen your tail in the search engines – resulting in increased traffic and potential sales.

Newsletters – get closer to your customers. Try making your newsletters more practical and include top tips on using your widgets.

Video – put a video up on YouTube showing how your widget works.

Reviews and ratings – start the ball rolling by writing your own reviews, not the typical one liner but an in-depth discussion of the products’ merits.

Revisit your product descriptions – Get the news out about your products and sell them better by using the right e-commerce language. Ask yourself the following questions:
Could your product descriptions be made more unique and search engine friendly?
Does your text show up on 100 other widget sites that have also copied and pasted from the manufacturer’s blurb?
Can they be made more read-friendly with shorter paragraphs and line spacing?
Are you showing enough product images and can they be improved?

Additional Top Tips
Just as a little reminder – Last year, we dedicated a whole newsletter to increasing traffic and working with search engines. Find out more here on how you can maximize traffic on your sites and increase your sales