Break to Renew Shop Front Page
The new shop front page finally got started today, after being a low priority for several weeks. I decided to take a break from the tedious work of capturing today to do something about the front page of the website, which was looking tacky after changing the layout width.
First off a new sliding banner got set up with 1080 pixel wide images, 100 px wider than the old slider. The banner is also lower in height by 80. The change of the catalogue from WPOnlineStore to CartPress resulted in an increase to the width of the site pages, and the old banner looked very untidy.
Googlebot Error with WPOnlineStore Plugin
Googlebot triggers a PHP Fatal Error ‘function.require‘ error causing the bot to receive a “500” internal server error when trying to crawl the pages created by the WordPress WPOnlineStore plugin. In my previous post I mentioned this ongoing problem. Today I can provide some additional information.
The problem is not unique to my shop site; initial searches of the internet found only a few references to this problem. for the past two days the hosting company server engineers have been looking into the problem, unfortunately without any success. After disabling Apache mod_secure settings, which appeared to be causing the error, Googlebot still triggered this error. As previously mentioned in Googlebot has Problems with WPOnlineStore, it is only Googlebot – and there lies the first clue.
Googlebot has Problems with WPOnlineStore
There’s a few problems Googlebot (Google’s search engine spider) has with sites using the WPOnlineStore osCommerce plugin for WordPress. These problems result in WPOnlineStore website catalogue listings ranking badly in Google SERP, or not being indexed at all.
One of these only affects a few sites, the another is common to all standard self hosted WordPress sites using the WPOnlineStore plugin for e-commerce websites. Both these problems are extremely serious, but neither is a fault or bug in the plugin. The third problem Google has with WPOnlineStore e-commerce sites is the store XML sitemap – there isn’t one!
Online Payment Problem for South African SME’s
South African SME’s are hampered by lack of economical online payment facilities for their customers. Small enterprises in SA came across a big stumbling block when trying to trade online in South Africa; Normal credit card methods of online payment are simply too expensive for most small traders, taking around 8.5 percent in transaction fees. Many operate at low margins in order to be competitive.
Low cost online payment methods are not available, e.g. the well-known PayPal service cannot be integrated successfully with e-commerce application using local SA Rand as the base currency. Direct transfer by online banking is not a realistic payment method for cash strapped customers, most will need to pay using a credit card for all except small item purchases.
Talking Shop – My New Blog
Today I posted my first articles on Talking Shop. Talking Shop or Shop Talk is the blog for my new newly opened PC Technology Store. It is not about reviews, at least this is not the intention. Product reviews are published using web site pages instead of posts…
Talking Shop is more about general computer industry related topics, possibly occasional announcements of special offers and new product releases worthy of mention. The first posts discuss the current time being a good time to upgrade a PC, and why I think it is better to ‘buy up’ when purchasing a PC system.
Talking Less can be More:
Right now, I intend to keep most of the posts on Talking Shop short and sharp, limiting content to between 300 and 400 hundred words. I consider fewer than 300 bad for search engine ranking. More than 400 hundred words detracts from the purpose of ‘Talking shop’ – brief quick articles that may be remembered by shoppers for PC equipment. Read the rest of this entry
WP Online Store Plugin Review
WP Online Store Plugin: The FREE WordPress e-commerce plugin integrating the osCommerce online store system with a WordPress website. WP Online Store is the WordPress integration of the Open Source osCommerce e-commerce platform.
The WP Online Store Plugin brings a full featured osCommerce site into a WordPress website framework. The plugin is not theme dependent like so many other WordPress e-commerce solutions. Some of the other solutions only work properly with themes specially designed for the plugin/system. This feature allows a store owner to create a great looking website for their online store.
WP Online Store Site Optimisation
The excellent SEO aspect of WordPress allows for a very strong website. E-commerce website are notoriously hard to get rated by search engines. With Google so content driven, any site needs a lot of good content. Short product descriptions and so on are not Google friendly. Strong, original product features however can be content rich, exactly what Google looks for.
While highly detailed content may added to an osCommerce store, too much of this makes the shopping experience somewhat clumsy. In my opinion, a well written and optimised page describing a product, winked to the product in the store catalogue is an ideal, if work intensive, option. Product descriptions in the store catalogue can be concise and to the point, a brief overview of the main features and the most important specifications, with links to the description page for more detailed information.
WP Online Store for Large Catalogues
The WP Online Store Plugin integration of osCommerce is ideally suited to large product catalogues. In the case of my store, a comprehensive range of computer products will be available aimed at Southern African buyers. The structure of the WP Online Store osCommerce solution permits products to be categorised by type e.g. motherboards, graphic cards and so on, placed in sub categories within these categories, as well as by manufacturer. Further Product Attributes (providing product options) can also be used, e.g. differentiating between different motherboard CPU sockets and chip-sets.
New Computer E-Store Launches
I am happy to announce I am launching a new e-commerce website in January 2012. Otgaar Computer Technology will trade in a range of PC hardware components and software, and will build custom PC systems for gamers, graphic design and power users.
Otgaar Technology joins Graphicline among my group of business interests. Graphicline will be the branded site builder and site-manager.
The online shop will complement our re-launch of our expanded Information Technology division also in 2012. After considering the work required to produce an on-line catalogue of products, there was no reason not to take the further step and produce a combined catalogue and e-shop.
Focus on Southern Africa
The e-store will focus mainly on servicing Southern Africa; South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Angola, while the local trading division will focus mainly on the Johannesburg Metro, and a subsidiary outlet in Cape Town later in the year.
Delivery of goods will be via a reputable courier and small-freight company, rather than the Postal Service.
Otgaar Technology and e-store will initially be offering a selected range of product from the following stables; Gigabyte, Intel, AMD, Powercom, Pinnacle, Sony, Epson, Seagate, Zyxel, Leadtek, Samsung, Transcend, Microsoft, and Adobe.
The brands were selected for their reputation for quality, performance and reliability. We also decided to rationalise our supply line, and are able to source the bulk of these products from a single distributor.
The IT Division will offer custom built PCs for mid to high end users, Laptops, and Servers, along with support and backup for our products.
Our Product Guaranty
Otgaar Technology provides the full warranty we receive from the manufacturer/distributor of the equipment; 3 years on motherboards and other items covered, and 2 years or 1 year where components carry a lesser warranty. (Terms and Conditions)
Our own workmanship is guaranteed for up to 12 months, depending on the work category.
A Good Time to Build E-store
The Christmas Holiday season will be a good time to create the website. The several slow weeks when most of our customers are on holiday will allow us the time to test several e-store options before committing to a live build. First decision will be the system; sadly from my point of view I don’t think it will be Drupal – too many version 7 plugins are still in Alpha, Beta or RC versions… The most concerning are the powerful ‘Views’ modules, that are required for so many Drupal functions. When are the contributors going to get stable releases – after version 8 is released in a stable production version? So I think WordPress or Joomla will be the CMS used.
I am very pleased to have this project at this time of the year – It has always been a good time for me to embark on major new projects. Time can be found to resolve basic teething problems, and make changes should these be required