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Showing posts with label E-commerce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label E-commerce. Show all posts

Monday, April 13, 2009

Did you miss out on "The Four Pieces of E-Commerce?"

In case you missed our latest webinar, "The Four Pieces of E-Commerce," or if you attended, and would like to listen in again, we've created a studio-recorded edition of the webinar, available for free.

The webinar provides a comprehensive overview of e-commerce best practices for people looking to implement or upgrade an e-commerce system, and features seven specialists in various aspects of e-commerce.

The one-hour session covers the technology, design principles, and traffic generation to an e-commerce Web site, as well as long-term customer retention.

All seven presentations from our specialists are available here, in under 10 minutes each. So if you have a few minutes, have a listen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't miss today's e-commerce webinar!

Just a reminder that our newest webinar, "The Four Pieces of E-Commerce" will take place today at 1 p.m. EDT. Hosted by several e-commerce and Web traffic experts, this free one-hour webinar was designed for anyone who wants to create or improve an e-commerce solution for their business.

You'll learn how to put together a world-class product or service catalog, what to look for in a shopping cart, and how to save money on payment processing (and how to avoid the "gotcha" fees). We'll also be covering how to attract qualified customers.

As of this morning, we were closing in on 600 attendees. So don't miss your chance and so sign up now!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One FREE e-commerce webinar, comin' up

As you probably noticed, this year we've been doing a big push towards education at Alpha Software with our ongoing webinar series. So far, the results have been more than positive, and we've had a ton of participants.

Our next webinar, entitled "The Four Pieces of E-Commerce" will take place next Wednesday, March 25 at 1 p.m. EDT. The free webinar will show businesses how to improve sales by adding e-commerce technology to their marketing mix, without breaking the bank. This knowledge is crucial for small and mid-sized businesses, who typically don't have the skills or financial resources required to compete effectively online.

For more information, have a look at our webinar page. Registration is open, so sign up now! Our webinars have been filling up quickly, so don't miss your chance.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Newton's Fourth Law: To attract and not convert is foolish

Last week we sent out a notice about the upcoming first installment of our new educational webinar series. The first session, "Newton's Fourth Law -- To attract and not convert is foolish," will take place this Thursday, Feb. 19 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST.

Panelists include Altaf Shaikh and Michael Won. Shaikh is Founder and CEO of ListEngage, an interactive firm that assists companies of all sizes in devising e-marketing strategies; designing branded content; creating powerful online surveys; and managing lists, databases, and customer responses using proprietary and industry leading technology. Won is the VP of Sales of NettSolutions, a leading Internet marketing and search engine placement companies.

"Newton's Fourth Law" will cover several techniques that will help businesses consistently generate new Web site leads, and show how proper execution and follow up can convert the leads into sales -- even when budgets and other resources are severely limited in an economy like today's.

We'll be covering how to:

  • Attract high-quality leads to your Web site.
  • Secure top listings on search engine rankings, with a guarantee to be in the top three positions on Google and Yahoo 24x7.
  • Guide prospects that visit your Web site through the entire sales process.
  • Engage existing customers to build loyalty and develop long-lasting relationships.

So far, we're thrilled with the number of registrants. For those who haven't signed up yet, don't miss this chance to learn some valuable lessons from our expert panel. Reserve your seat now.

There are also a number of other webinars planned, each covering a different topic, so be on the lookout for more information coming your way here on the blog and through the Alpha newsletter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shopping for a new shopping cart?

I've been doing some new things to my Web site with the help of Alpha Five, and wanted to share experience with you.

Recently, I created an updated shopping cart feature for my site, Liberty Manuals. The new shopping cart uses a MySQL database. For years, we entered orders into Alpha Five manually. The new cart gives us the capability of exporting the data to a .csv file.

I then developed a series of operations that imports, appends, and posts. I then attached those operations onto a button using Action Scripting.

Now, the daily office routine is a piece of cake, and that's what I think databases are all about. But be careful. Import first into a separate table, and then append to your main table. And check to be sure that the field types are the same in both tables.

For example, you might want the item ID to be a character field, but the import genie creates a numeric field. Then, when you go to append it to the main table, you get an error that the field types don't match.

Yuck. I hate that message! The problem is easily fixed, but I like it better when things work the first time around. (Okay, call me a dreamer.) The reward is pressing the final button that makes everything work. Heaven!

With Alpha's packaged e-commerce application, you can create a complete, fully functioning, "ready for business" online catalog, shopping cart, and e-commerce system. Or, it can be used as a framework for your own Web application. In either case, all you need is a copy of Alpha Five to edit the application, and the Alpha Five Application Server to deploy it.

Now, I must get to those gifts I was telling you about this weekend. From my home in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina to wherever this finds you, I wish you a very happy holiday. And happy shopping!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Security 101: When e-commerce sites make epic flubs

See this Computerworld article about how credit card thieves have been helped by "well designed" software? Jeez Louise.

The Department of Justice is charging 11 people with fraud in what is considered one of the largest and most organized credit card theft operations ever, targeted at BJ's Wholesale Club, TJX, DSW Shoe Warehouse, OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Boston Market, Sports Authority, and Forever 21.

The process these thieves used was a "packet sniffer" on wireless networks, which let them see customer logins or intercept transactions when they broke into the companies' wireless network. Once they were logged in with the right access, they could probably see everything, including any stored credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, etc.

Since many login process don't use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), they're easy targets, and the obvious weak link. Even with encrypted passwords, if the login isn't across SSL, the password is sent as clear text on the login request! Trying to encrypt on the client side is worthless, since the code is exposed and easy to crack. It's even easier to capture real-time transaction requests with sensitive data that are made outside of SSL.

Once the thieves had the information, they decrypted PINs, made new cards, and then got cash from ATMs. The Department of Justice says the thieves sold credit card data on Web sites that specialize in trading that information. Millions of dollars were lost. And they operated globally, using offshore banks and other methods to turn stolen data into cash.

The solutions here are obvious. Most advanced e-commerce sites complete all of their checkouts across SSL to block that avenue of attack, but few run all logins across SSL. Even if the system doesn't store credit card numbers or other sensitive data, getting login information could expose other valuable data a thief could use.

From my standpoint, it's hard to believe that this stupid stuff is still going on. We're talking absolute Security 101 here. But, then again, after the Wall Street shenanigans, anything is possible in the Wide World of Dumb.

There's no question that it’s time for some of these negligent IT people -- and their CEOs -- to do the perp walk. The only way to get their attention is by gently squeezing their cajones ... for three to five years.

Jeff Kalwerisky discusses the U.S. government's IT woes with E-Commerce Times

Our own Jeff Kalwerisky chatted with Erika Morphy of E-Commerce Times to discuss the state of our government's IT problems. It seems the U.S. can't get its IT ducks in a row, which is causing some problems in both the public and private sectors. But why can't they get it in order?

According to Jeff, one of the major reasons is the lack of continuity of management. But like I said, that's just one of the reasons. Take a look at the article to get the full story.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

BusinessWeek pops some smart questions

Karen Klein covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues for BusinessWeek. She rang me up to talk about the FTC's recently updated CAN-SPAM regs.

Why interview me on CAN-SPAM? It's simple, really. We have to be up to speed on all aspects of CAN-SPAM, because our AlphaMailer product (built in Alpha Five, 'natch) is used by legitimate e-marketers to manage massive e-mail marketing campaigns.

My conversation with Karen is now posted as a podcast on the BusinessWeek Web site. If you tune in, I think you'll find some good insight into CAN-SPAM and e-mail marketing in general.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ground zero for Alpha Five documentation

We're working on a redesign of our Web site, to make it easier to find the information and resources you're after. I've just seen some of the mockups, and they look great.

While we're waiting for the new site to launch, it occurred to me that a good stop-gap measure would be to publish a section that addresses the most common issues. That section is now live at

Here's what you'll find there.

Alpha Five Help System

The help system built into Alpha Five, in an on-demand HTML flavor.

FREE Alpha Five Made Easy V8 Abridged Book
An abridged version of the book, Alpha Five Made Easy. The complete book is available for sale in our online shop, as well as from Liberty Manuals. This abridged version includes several chapters to help you get started using Alpha Five. It's an especially good resource if you are evaluating the software. It includes a PDF and sample files packaged as a self-extracting EXE.

Deploying the Alpha Five Application Server

Put your Alpha Five Web applications on the Internet using your office or home office PC.

Import from Microsoft Office Excel
There are a variety of methods to get your data from Excel to Alpha Five. This one is quick, easy, and reliable.

Barcoding Article 1
Barcoding Article 2
Barcoding Article 3
A series discussing the use of barcodes in Alpha Five.

Hidden Treasure of Action Scripting
A tutorial with tips and advice on how to use Action Scripting in your Alpha Five applications. (This PDF is also included in the bundle below.) Based on a tutorial given by Frances Peake at the Alpha Software Conference.

Hidden Treasure of Action Scripting (sample files)
This ZIP file contains the above PDF above, and the Alpha Five sample files used in the tutorial.

Alpha Five vs ASP/PHP
A white paper that compares Alpha Five Web development with ASP and PHP.

AlphaStore 2007 Web E-Commerce Appplication FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) about AlphaStore 2007, the Alpha Five E-commerce application.

How to Update Data in an Alpha Five Web Application via a Desktop Application

If you have data on a remote Alpha Five Application Server and want to update it via a desktop application, this article shows you how.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Catching up with the Cart Blog

We caught the attention of the Cart Blog last week when we announced our AlphaStore 2007. Take a look at their coverage, and keep watching this space. We invited Scott from the Cart Blog to join us here for an upcoming podcast. We'll likely post that in January.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Selling smarts mentioned AlphaStore 2007 in today's post. Have a look!

Another reason to DIY

It's the most wonderful time of the year for merchants -- holiday shopping season. More than a week after Black Friday's record sales, shoppers are still going strong, and cash register bells are jingling.

Last week's "Cyber Monday" sales were so strong, Yahoo Checkout Services crashed. They blamed a surge in online shopping traffic, but whatever the reason, small businesses around the world were shut out of a once-a-year opportunity to sell their goods to millions of eager customers.

The day Yahoo Checkout Services crashed also happened to be the day we released the newest version of AlphaStore 2007. Coincidence? I'll just say that nobody at Alpha Software had anything to do with Yahoo's crash.

If you're using Yahoo Checkout Services, I urge you to give AlphaStore 2007 a look, and a try. It lets you take control of your e-commerce fortunes. You can better compete with large retailers by building and managing your own online stores, on your own servers, with no reliance on third-party providers like Yahoo.

In fact, we have not had a single report of an Alpha Store failure over the Xmas shopping season. The new release is equally robust, and easier than ever to use. Give it a try.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An e-commerce Xmas

Holiday Web traffic jumped 10 percent on Black Friday, according to market researcher Nielson Online. In one day, 21.2 million unique visitors shopped at over 120 representative online retailers. That's up from 19.2 million uniques last year.

E-tailing has been winning ever-larger slices of the commerce pie for over a decade. And yet, many companies (mostly small and mid-sized businesses) struggle to do business online. The reason is simple. Building and maintaining an e-commerce site is STILL a daunting technical challenge.

We decided to do something about it. Today we released a turnkey e-commerce system easy enough for any marketer to use. AlphaStore 2007 provides everything an organization needs to do business online.

Built on the Alpha Five database, Alpha Store 2007 is a ready-to-run online shop, complete with shopping cart, payment system, and full reporting. It's easily customized to market any products or services. You can get it for only $199.00 through December 7, after which the price jumps to $299.00.

For more information, visit our AlphaStore 2007 page, or take a look at the press release that hit the wire today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

If you build it, will they come?

OK, so we all know (I hope) that the latest and greatest version of Alpha Five ever -- that would be version 8 -- makes building commercial Web sites easy.

Now, instead of having to learn Java or PHP or dot-whatever, you can visually build world-class online stores, e-commerce services, Web applications, on-demand solutions, and so on.

And build you did.

That's when Web developers and businesses discover that creating their own Web application is only half the battle. In Web development, "if you build it" doesn't guarantee "they will come."

So now that you've gone through all the work of building your (what I'm sure is a sophisticated/exciting/rapid/secure/powerful/innovative/breakthrough) site with Alpha Five, how do you drive the traffic there?

In 2006, I was invited to the Online Marketing Summit's annual conference in Boston (for those interested, this year's conference will be taking place in San Diego).

One topic discussed throughout the conference was the use of blogging and podcasting (i.e., social media) as important e-marketing techniques.

My opinion: While blogging and podcasting are attractive marketing mediums, they don't live up to the promises conference speakers associated with them.

Worse, the speakers failed to emphasize the importance of good ol' fashioned, meat-and-potatoes marketing.

I've devoted much of my career to planning and executing marketing campaigns for clients. I've seen firsthand how results are generated by classic pull techniques, such as SEO and PPC, and supported by good public relations and advertising campaigns.

In addition, push techniques -- such as opt-in e-mail marketing and even direct mail -- also continue to prove their worth.

Before you run off and chase a blog or podcast, consider laying the groundwork with push- and pull-marketing basics to rev up your new site's traffic.

Moreover, don't overlook the value of the world's oldest marketing technique: network, network, network. Find the right venues and the right audiences, present and press the flesh, and then let word-of-mouth marketing work for you.

Then think about blogging.

Blogging and podcasting have a place in the online marketing puzzle, and I almost always recommend clients allocate some of their marketing budget for them. But blogs and podcasts can't do it alone.

So ... if you build it, and THEN you market it -- with push, pull, and social media --- they will come.

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