Magento 2 demo screenshot

Business-to-business ecommerce considerations

If you’re considering entering your business-to-business market with an ecommerce website, there are a number of key areas to consider.

As a long-established web design agency with our fair share of business-to-business ecommerce experience, here’s our introductory guide to B2B ecommerce.

1. Chose your platform – and B2B agency – carefully

There are many ecommerce platforms available to businesses entering the ecommerce arena, but they are not all made equal. Peacock Carter work a lot with Magento Commerce and its licensed sister version, Magento Enterprise. Both can be readily adapted for use as a business-to-business ecommerce system. Oro Commerce is also worth consideration as an open source ecommerce platform specifically aimed at the B2B market.

You may also want to consider services such as Shopify (a hosted ecommerce platform with a monthly fee) though we find these are not typically suited well to B2B use. WooCommerce, WordPress’ most popular ecommerce offering, is also available, though we find this platform lacks many of the features of more developed ecommerce offerings such as Magento.

Finding the right B2B agency for your organisation is also key: it could well be a long partnership, so finding a web design agency who have the right approach. Sector experience isn’t necessarily key if the agency has the right technical approaches and the ability to research and adapt to your industry.

2. Niche can work well

As with “offline” business, niche offerings can greatly enhance your appeal and selling power to customers in ecommerce.

If you’re looking to test the water in your B2B sector, selecting a small product range to launch with and test the water can be a good way to mitigate some of the risk. In particular, large product catalogues can take a great deal of time and money to digitise, as content designed for offline brochures and marketing collateral often doesn’t translate well for online use.

Once you have the formula for success with the initial range of products, you can try enlarging your product catalogue online.

3. Integrate ecommerce in to your business processes

A key point missed by many entering the B2B ecommerce market is integrating existing business systems with your ecommerce systems. For example, if you’re using a CRM such as Salesforce in your other sales operations, integrate Salesforce in to your ecommerce store.

Most popular ecommerce platforms have significantly well developed integrations with common accountancy packages such as Xero and Sage, too, and platforms such as Brightpearl can be used to centralise stock control between multiple warehouses, amongst other tasks. Integrating your ecommerce website with existing processes not only saves you time and reduces errors and redundant data, but can streamline your processes and provide your customers with a smoother experience all round, too.

4. Consider your ecommerce audience

It’s worth considering that the type of customer who you interact with in offline and other sales channels may not be your typical ecommerce customer. For example, whilst you may deal with CEOs, procurement officers and managing directors through offline sales channels, your online sales channel may attract a different role from within the company. This is partly because a B2B ecommerce offering allows the task of purchasing to be delegated to another department within the customer’s company, even for larger purchases such as specialist equipment and machinery.

As such, ensuring that any technical specification and industry jargon used is likely to be known by the audience is key.

5. Provide your ecommerce customers with the right information

Businesses can be reluctant to share information with their customers online for fear of revealing too much to competitors. Whilst this is understandable in a competitive industry, not providing your customers with the information they need to make a purchase decision could well cause your entry in to B2B ecommerce to fail before your website has even launched.

Sharing carefully selected insights in to your industry in the form of blog posts can be a great tactic for digital marketing, establishing your company as the industry leader.

If you would like to discuss your next B2B ecommerce project with Peacock Carter, please contact us for an initial consultation.

 

Filter Magento payment options by shipping address

We’re really pleased to be able to announce the release of a free module for Magento today: the rather catchily named “Filter Magento payment options by shipping address” module.

Peacock Carter have developed a Magento’s module to allow you to filter the payment options available by shipping address (what we’d call “delivery address” in the UK!); This module allows you to restrict how a customer pays by country. The module is available for free download and use from our Github account.

Development of “filter payment options by shipping address” module for Magento

Screenshot of Magento module to restrict payment by shipping address

A Magento Enterprise client based in the Middle East required that the “Cash on delivery” payment method be made available to any billing address but limited to just one shipping country.

Cash on delivery is a very popular payment method in the Middle East. Cash on delivery operates as you would expect: you check out from your Magento store as usual, selecting “Cash on delivery” as your payment method (rather than delivery method). A courier then delivers your purchases, and collects payment for the order at the same time.

Our Magento client only wanted to offer this option in the UAE, and none of the surrounding countries they operate in. The client’s website sells computer games and a large proportion of their clients are under 18 years old, and don’t have their own credit cards. Our client found that this customer group would therefore often use their parents’ work address as the billing address, and this meant that the payment address was often outside the UAE itself.

Compatibility with Magento Community and Magento Enterprise

The development of the Magento module allows the client to control which payment methods are displayed for which products, and is tested on Magento Community versions 1.9.0.1+ and Magento Enterprise 1.14.0.1+.

Web event at Campus North (not Ecommerce North East!)

Proud to be organising North East Ecommerce

Peacock Carter are really proud to be the new organisers of the North East Ecommerce meetup group.

Tony, the previous organiser of the group, did a superb job of organising the group, providing plenty of food for thought for ecommerce store owners. Both Peacock Carter and Alex Goodacre, our meetup co-organiser and long term member of the group, are keen to do the same!

What is North East Ecommerce?

The North East Ecommerce group is a free-to-attend meetup held on a monthly basis in Newcastle upon Tyne. The aim of the group is to help share knowledge and experience for merchants running online stores. Previous talk topics at North East Ecommerce have included:

  • Optimising eBay listings
  • FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon)
  • Search engine marketing for your ecommerce website
  • An introduction to Magento – by us!

We will be keeping the event free of charge, of course – partially thanks to the brilliant Campus North. The timing of the event will also remain as it was, in the first Wednesday of each month evening slot.

As a leading ecommerce agency in the North East, we feel very lucky to be able to support the meet up and bring our experience of running other website events such as WordPress North East and Magento North East. Organising North East Ecommerce will also be a fantastic opportunity from us to hear from owners of ecommerce websites of all sizes and fine tune our knowledge to be able to best help them.

If you have any suggestions of topics you would like to see covered at a future event, please let us know via hello@peacockcarter.com, and we’ll do our best to find a suitable speaker.

 

Magento ecommerce training in Glasgow

Speaking on Magento and ecommerce at Darlington Expo

We’re really pleased to be speaking at DLExpo this week on Smashing Your Competition Online. The talk is full of tips and tricks to help your website succeed online, developed from our years of experience.

As a leading North East ecommerce agency, we’ve been working with clients throughout the world to develop profitable, successful websites since 2006, and our talk will reflect this, from our experience in optimising small business websites to building high performance ecommerce websites using Magento.

Learn from web design and Magento specialist Richard Carter

Web design and Magento consultant Richard Carter

The speaker for our DLExpo seminar is our director Richard Carter, who has over 10 years of experience in the web design field, and has been working with leading ecommerce platform Magento (and its paid, licensed sister, Magento Enterprise) since its launch 2008.

Attendees will benefit from our years of experience applicable to every business with an online presence, as well as a chance to ask us questions they have about their own websites. We’ll also have an exhibition stand at the event to allow you to pop in and ask your queries to our web experts, and undertake a free audit of your existing website.

DLExpo is on Thursday, 14th April, at the Northern Echo Arena in Darlington.

Magento 2 demo screenshot

Ensure your Magento store is ready for search engines

At Peacock Carter, we inherit our fair share of Magento websites built by other developers. Sadly, we see the same basic SEO mistakes again and again when undertaking our Magento search engine audits, so this article is here to help you avoid simple mistakes and improve your store’s search engine friendliness.

So, here is our list of 5 simple checks to ensure your Magento store is ready for search engines.

1. Ensure your default Magento page title isn’t “Home Page”

Magento SEO - change your homepage title!

The most common search engine mistake we see in Magento stores is that the homepage has the default page title of “Home Page”. This is bad for search engines for a few reasons:

  • Your page title for the homepage should contain your brand name (e.g., “Peacock Carter”)
  • Your homepage’s title should contain some relevant text about your business or organisation (e.g., “Designer Blue Widgets”)
  • So, a good example of a full homepage title should be something like “Designer Blue Widgets – Peacock Carter”

By leaving the default page title for your store in place, you’re missing a big chance to strengthen your visibility in search engines, so this is definitely worth changing!

You can correct this by editing the homepage for your store in Magento’s administration panel at CMS > Pages. If you’re unsure about what you need to do, you can always ask your Magento developers (or, if you don’t have one, we can recommend a great Magento agency for you!).

2. No <h1> heading on the homepage, or too many!

Magento SEO mistakes: add a h1 to your homepage

Another common error we see in Magento stores is the lack of a <h1> heading on the page. A <h1> is the most important heading in a page, and helps to tell search engines what your page is about. A good heading for this if your store sells designer blue widgets might then be:

Designer blue widgets by Peacock Carter

Again, you can correct this via CMS > Pages in your Magento store’s administration, and editing the Content panel. And be aware of Magento themes that use more than one h1 element (some popular Magento slideshow extensions do this), as this can dilute their value. More than one <h1> can be OK, but check with your SEO or digital marketing agency, or your Magento agency!

3. Magento’s default meta descriptions are still set

The next common SEO mistake we see in Magento stores is that the default meta description hasn’t been changed. The meta description is typically used in search engine listings, rather than shown on your website, and can be a key factor in converting users searching for phrases on your store.

The default meta description will be used in your Magento store every time a page doesn’t have a custom meta description set, so changing this to something more relevant to your store. A good meta description should be:

  • Written in full sentences
  • Contain a mention of a relevant key word or key phrase
  • Be between 150 and 160 characters in length

You can change your Magento store’s default meta description by navigating to the System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head page, and editing the Default Description panel.

Magento search engine optimisation - meta descriptions

4. Magento’s default page title is still set

Similar to the default meta description above, the default value for page titles in Magento is “Magento Commerce”, which is very unlikely to be relevant to your business!

You can change the default title description for your Magento store in the System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head section of Magento’s administration panel and looking for the Default Title field:

Magento SEO - default page title

5. Does your site’s XML sitemap exist?

An XML sitemap is one way you can tell search engines about all of the content on your website. Magento has a great tool built in to generate XML sitemaps automatically for you, so it’s a quick way to ensure all of your website is being indexed (seen) by search engines such as Google and Bing.

To generate your Magento XML sitemap, navigate to Catalogue > Google Sitemap in Magento’s admin panel, and follow this guide by Alan Storm.

If you use a custom address for your sitemap file (which is not something like http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml), be sure to use your site’s robot.txt file to tell search engines where they can find it – this is something you should ask your Magento developer or agency about.

Depending on your Magento set up, your sitemap may be automatically regenerated on a daily or weekly basis, or it may need to be manually updated; again, this is a question best asked to your Magento development agency.

Taking care of the SEO basics

By taking care of these SEO basics on your Magento store, you’re providing a better footing for search engines to explore, index and list your website, and therefore help to find you new customers.

If you’d like any help analysing your website’s search engine friendliness, we’d love to help you: please contact us to arrange a Magento SEO audit for your store.

 

Magento North East event in Newcastle upon Tyne

Looking for a Magento agency in Newcastle?

We often receive enquiries from businesses large and small in and around the North East (and further afield!). Magento agencies in Newcastle and the North East are hard to come by, and finding an experienced, trusted Magento agency is even harder.

Clients come to us with all sorts of Magento projects, from simple fixes and security patches, Magento training courses, to brand new website design projects and migrations of existing ecommerce stores to the Magento platform.

A Magento agency with experience

Responsive Magento themes book by Richard Carter

We’re the oldest Magento agency in the Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne area, having worked with the Magento platform since its launch in 2008.

Our director, Richard Carter, is author of 4 books on the Magento platform (including Magento Responsive Theme Design, pictured) , and has acted as technical reviewer on many more

In addition, we’re actively involved in the Magento community worldwide, attending events conferences throughout the UK & abroad. We organise our local meetup, Magento North East, a free monthly event for developers and merchants to learn and share their knowledge of Magento.

How an agency can help your business

Our ideal Magento clients are:

  • Businesses who are serious about selling online, and want to succeed with help from true ecommerce veterans
  • Businesses already using Magento, who have run in to problems with Magento or their current web design agency
  • People keen to learn Magento from our experts in training courses and workshops designed to maximise return on investment
  • Clients wanting to develop a long term relationship with Magento professionals who can help them maintain and grow their business

If you’d like to work with the established North East Magento agency, please do get in touch on 0191 375 5713, or email us at hello@peacockcarter.com.