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Latest EPORIA News: EPORIA eCommerce redesigns Alaska Smokehouse gourmet food website in time for the holiday shopping season, resulting in rave reviews from customers and increased site traffic, conversion and sales.
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EPORIA Serves Up D’Artagnan Gourmet Food eCommerce Website with Unprecedented Results

EPORIA and leading gourmet food purveyor D’Artagnan announced that D’Artagnan’s eCommerce website, which was launched in October on the EPORIA platform, generated higher online sales for the months of December and January than the company has ever seen, with January seeing double digit sales growth over 2009.

“Launching in time for our busiest season was key for us, so we could capitalize on holiday traffic and convert visitors on the new platform,” said Katie Holler, Director of eCommerce for the 25-year-old gourmet food company. “EPORIA helped us every step of the way, from design to implementation, and met our tight timeframe with a week to spare!” The two companies collaborated closely to accomplish this feat. “As a result,” says Holler, “we had the best December online in the history of the business, and the month of January was up 17% over last year.”

Recognizing the desire for increased online sales and a richer online presence for its expanding clientele, D’Artagnan selected EPORIA for their focus on results, and for the platform’s robust feature set, which is perfectly suited to an elite gourmet food brand like D’Artagnan.

The website’s extraordinary results began immediately after launch. EPORIA’s search engine friendly platform and comprehensive SEO expertise led to rapid indexing of the new website’s pages–nearly 90% of the new pages were listed in search engines within just days after launch. “We were extremely impressed with the results,” says Holler. “Just two weeks after launch, our rankings on the first three pages of search returns increased 400%. I’ve never seen a site index so fast.”

“From the day we launched, our daily order volume and average order value have seen double digit increases and our conversion rate has already nearly tripled,” Holler reports. In the due diligence phase of researching potential eCommerce solutions and partners, Holler often told the EPORIA team that the EPORIA eCommerce solution sounded “too good to be true.” Since the launch, Holler confirms that “we can now see the results for ourselves, and it’s true—EPORIA really is that good. And on top of it, they offer a great value for your investment.”

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Despite a slowdown in the economy, leading research organizations including eMarketer are forecasting online shopping to grow at approximately 6% over the next year, while in-store retail sales continue to decline.

At a time when all businesses are trying to maximize every sales opportunity, it is amazing to find that nearly 40% of small businesses still do not have a website. However, for the other 60% that do have a website, most of them are planning to continue their online marketing efforts full speed ahead according to eMarketer. The main reasons cited where the costs of doing business online being significantly lower than traditional selling channels and greater sales opportunities.

If you happen to be one of 40% of small businesses without a website, here are some advantages to selling online for you to consider.

  • Cost savings. Websites do not require high overhead costs such as rent and staffing that a retail store location does.
  • Selling online reduces order processing costs – customer orders can be placed online without phone calls or in-store interactions with your sales staff.
  • Reaching a wider audience, thereby increasing sales opportunities. Even if you don’t have visions of selling nationwide, an effective web site can broaden your businesses reach throughout your geographical region.
  • Allowing your company to compete with larger businesses by being able to be found online and generating new business 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Attracting new customers who would not have found your business by using conventional methods such as the yellow pages for your city or driving by your business location.
  • Ability to use your website as an online catalog and marketing tool for your existing customers.

In today’s world, where the average consumer first begins the shopping process on the Internet to collect information or directly make a purchase, your business cannot afford not participating. If you’re seriously looking at growing your business and reducing costs, bringing your business into the Internet age isn’t only an option – it’s a necessity.

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The web is like everything else in life; it constantly changes. This being the case, what may have worked for your business online a few years ago, may no longer be working today. This is why it is critical to choose an ecommerce platform that is highly scalable that can continue to grow with your business as your needs evolve.

If you’re thinking it’s time you made the move to a new ecommerce website, or if you’re unsure of whether you’ve reached that point. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can my website be found in the major search engines?
  2. Do I have a high visitor-to-sales conversion rate?
  3. Is my website using the latest ecommerce technology?
  4. Is my website easy to manage and can I make immediate updates as needed?
  5. Can my website easily grow with my business overtime or is it already outdated?
  6. Is my website effectively competing against my major online competitors?

If you answered “No” to any of the above questions, you are most likely in need of a new ecommerce website for the following reasons:

If your website cannot be found in the major search engines this is often due to design and code issues, which can best be resolved with a new website. In today’s online consumer world, no business can afford not to be found in the search engines where potential customers are searching for your products and services. There is little point to having a website if no one can find it.

If your visitor-to-sales conversion rate is low, this can be due to many site related factors such as your site design, page load times, and shopping cart functionality.

If your website isn’t using the latest ecommerce technology, savvy online shoppers are aware of this and are likely to abandon making a purchase from a site that seems less than professional or outdated.

If your website isn’t easy to manage from anywhere, at anytime, you’re missing out on opportunity. Successful ecommerce companies are able to adapt and react to market changes and update site content on the fly. If your ecommerce platform doesn’t allow you to easily do this, you’re at a competitive disadvantage to your competitors that can.

If your ecommerce website cannot easily grow with your business as your needs evolve, you will either be in a position to stick with a website that is outdated, or change to a completely different platform each time you outgrow your existing website. If your current site isn’t highly scalable to grow as your needs change, it is a hindrance to your business.

If your website cannot effectively compete with your competitors, you’re doing your competitors a favor. Think of it this way, if you go to website “A” and are impressed, and then you go to website “B” which looks less than professional (and outdated), more than likely you will hit the back button on your browser and contact the company at website “A”. This being the case, if your website isn’t presenting your business in the best possible light, it is more than likely doing more harm to your business than good.

These six questions are just a small example of the many questions that should be asked in determining if it’s time for you to take action on establishing a new website. In today’s hyper-competitive world of the internet, and the state of the current economy, you cannot afford to have a website that isn’t reinforcing your brand and producing measurable bottom line results.

If you think it’s time to take your ecommerce site to next level let us know. You will be amazed by the capabilities of our ecommerce solutions and how they can help your business sell more both online and in-store.

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Your web site’s primary and secondary navigation is important to users, search engines, and the overall success of your site. User-friendly site navigation is important to help both search engine crawlers and visitors find their way through your site. Therefore, the easier you make this process, the more pages search engines will index – and the more pages your site visitors will view.

The following are key areas to consider in establishing or reviewing the navigation structure of your web site:

  • Top or Top-Left: A sites primary navigation should be found at the top and bottom of the page, or along the top left side and bottom of the page. This is how users expect to find navigation.
  • Consistency: Your site navigation should be consistent on every page of your site.
  • Simple: Your navigation shouldn’t require much thought to use. Try to keep it as simple as possible.
  • Links to Home Page: Every page of your site should link back to your home page through your logo, top/left navigation and the bottom of each page.
  • Links to Contact Us Page: Every page of your site must contain a contact us link. There harder you make it to find your contact information, the less credible your site will be perceived.
  • Links to About Us Page: This is another page that should be part of your navigation structure site wide. Like your contact page, the About Us page also adds to your credibility. Make sure you’re sharing your story.
  • Links to All Main Sections: Your main navigation structure should link to all of your site’s primary areas.
  • Indicate Current Page: Through the use of breadcrumb navigation or other means, make sure the current page is easily identified in the navigation.
  • Proper Categories/Departments: If navigation is a big job for your site, take some time to think about dividing your navigation into sensible categories or product departments.
  • Accurate Descriptions: Link text (or image text links) should adequately describe the destination page that the link will take your visitor to. Very few people will click on a link that doesn’t make sense to them.
  • Use Alt Tags in Images: If using image-based navigation, make sure you’re using image alt text.
  • Link for Experts and Newbies: Your site navigation should be just as understandable by newbies as well as experts in your industry.

Keep in mind, that the better your site navigation is thought out and implemented. The more likely search engines and visitors will access more pages of your site. How’s your navigation looking? Is it clear and easy to understand? If not, make it a priority to improve it.

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Consider the following 11 SEO strategies the next time you plan to sit down and take a good look at your SEO efforts. Keep in mind that SEO is both an art and a science and you want to keep a careful balance in the implementation process. In other words, you don’t want to get too carried away in any one area – and you don’t want your site to reek of SEO to your visitors or the search engines.

11 SEO Basics

1. Page Title Tags: This is the information you see in the bar at the top left corner of your browser when you visit a web site. Make sure your page title has your most important keyword phrase as the first words of your title, such as “Internet Marketing…”. Not, “We Offer Internet Marketing…”.

2. URL Extensions/File Names: This is the URL address information that follows the forward slash after your domain name, i.e., http://www.yoursite.com/internet-marketing. Include keywords in the names of your web page files as shown. If the most important keywords for the page are “Internet Marketing”, then the file name should be “internet-marketing”.

3. Meta Tags: Meta tags include description and keyword tags that are placed into your code to help the search engines and they are not visible to your visitors unless they look at the code of your web page. As with your page titles, your most important keywords should be right upfront in these tags. As a general rule, keep both your keyword tags and your description tags to about 150 characters.

4. Header Tags: These are the HTML codes that indicate a headline, such as H1, H2, and H3, and display as bold headlines on your web page. H1 tags can be a benefit to your SEO by placing your most important keywords within an H1 headline. Beyond that, don’t get too carried away with header tags since excessive use can trigger search engine SPAM filters. If your primary keywords are in an H1 tag at the top of your page, and within the content of your site, you’re usually good.

5. Alt Image Tags: The alt tag is a floating text window that appears when you hover your mouse over an image. These tags can be of benefit for associating relevant keywords with your images, i.e., to help text readers for the visually impaired read your page and for being found through image search. The key here is relevant, don’t stuff your alt tags with a lot of irrelevant words in an attempt to trick the search engines. Keep them on target and to the point.

6. Content Formatting: Search engines pay attention to text content that’s formatted in bold, italics, and underlined. Tactfully bolding and italicizing your keywords in your content is a great way to point these words out to the search engines. However, keep away from the underlining since most people consider underlines to be links.

7. Keyword Density: Keyword density refers to the number of times your keyword or keyword phrase appears within a web page. Keyword density should range between 2% to 7%, and it is best to evenly weave your important keywords throughout the content of your page.

8. Anchor Text: Anchor text refers to the text of links on a web page that link to another page. If you’re linking to a page on your site about Internet marketing, don’t use a link that says, “Click Here”, have the anchor text of the link as “Internet Marketing” instead.

9. Inbound Links: Inbound links are critical to achieving high rankings in the major search engines, especially Google. However, the days of simply exchanging links with others no longer holds the value it once did, since search engines now pay attention to both the quality and popularity of the site linking to yours. Some of the best ways to gain quality inbound links include developing links from quality directory sites and press releases. These methods are also easier to employ than hunting for link exchange partners.

10. Fresh Content: Search engines have always loved fresh, quality content, and have a tendency to rank such content higher (hence the large number of eBay and CraigsList listings found in search results). The search engines are always looking for quality content to provide their users, so you should make it a goal to provide the search engines with what they’re looking for.

11. Site Maps: Site maps are of benefit in helping search engines to better crawl your web site. All sites should have both an HTML site map page and an XML site map such as a Google Sitemap to help the crawling and indexing process.

Optimizing a web site for better search engine rankings takes a lot of time and work. Whether it’s conducting keyword research, or implementing unique Meta tags throughout a 6,000 page site, nothing happens by itself. However, the hard work, or costs of hiring a professional SEO to do the work for you, can be well worth it in comparison to paying for all of your traffic via pay-per-click programs. Make it your New Year’s resolution to optimize your site to rank higher in the search engines – better yet, do something about it today!

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Consistency

In this final post of our series on Guidelines for Good Web Design, we’re wrapping it up with the element that ties all of the other pieces together – consistency.

Consistency is critical to good web design to ensure everything matches. Heading sizes, fonts, colors, spacing, navigation, etc. Good web design should be consistently themed to be coherent from one page to the next and within a single page. Consistency is the most important factor that separates websites that are taken seriously and those that are not. Therefore, if you’re in the business of selling online, consistency in your design should be at the top of your priority list.

Consistency in your site design is about being professional. Inconsistencies in your web design are like spelling mistakes – they lower the perception of your professionalism. Whether your design is simple or complex, keeping it consistent will make it appear more professional and trustworthy in the eyes of your visitors.

The simplest way to produce a consistent web design is to do a lot of thinking and second guessing about how your visitors will use your site before it is ever taken live. Also, having good CSS stylesheets can be of a tremendous help in ensuring a consistent and visually appealing design.

Putting it All Together

As previously posted, the Guidelines for Good Web Site Design include the following elements:

  • Design for Scanning – Your site should be easy for your visitors to scan to find the information they’re looking for.
  • White Space – Effective use of white space makes your design look cleaner and helps to keep visitors on the path you want them to take with less distractions.
  • Site Navigation – Your site navigation should be obvious and provide your visitors with a clear sense of where they are on your site.
  • Design to Build – Out of this world web design is great, so long as it isn’t complex to the point of being a barrier to building your site.
  • Text and Formatting – The text you choose for your web site is among the most important design elements you need to consider. Put serious thought into fonts, text colors, font sizes, spacing, etc.
  • Usability – Think about who will be visiting your site, what they want, and what you want them to do. If your site is challenged from a usability perspective – it will also be challenged in creating significant conversion rates.
  • Alignment – Think of the alignment of a site’s design as a grid, with everything fitting squarely in place. The effective use of alignment can also have a positive effect on your conversion rates.
  • Crisp and Sharp Design – Think at the pixel level like a professional web designer would to ensure your design elements look as crisp and professional as possible. Fuzzy graphics, or poorly done text as images, only take away from the professionalism and trustworthiness of your site.
  • Consistency – As addressed in this post. Consistency can be considered as the glue that binds. Regardless of the elements you chose for your site design, consistency is among the most critical.

Click on any of the above links to read the previous posts in this series.

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