Just a quick update to let you know we’ve added a new “Store Login” link to the top menu on the BigCommerce website. Clicking the link takes you to a login page for your store. After you’ve logged in once, you can come back to the same page (bookmarking the login page is recommended) and your store URL and username will be remembered. Simply type in your password and you’ll be logged into your store’s control panel.
Please note: If you created your BigCommerce store on or after 16th December 2009 then you’re already running version 5.5 so please ignore this post. It only applies to stores which were setup before 16th December 2009.
Hi everyone. Over the last few days we’ve been rolling out the BigCommerce 5.5 software update to all existing stores. If you login to your store’s control panel you’ll see a notice at the top of the page which looks something like this:
When you click the link you’ll be asked to schedule a date for when the upgrade will take place:
The upgrade process is automatic, takes around 30 minutes to complete and because some files will be changed, your store may down for all or part of the upgrade process.
If you’ve modified your template or CSS files either using the browser-based QuickEdit tool or via FTP, you will need to make some small changes to maintain compatibility with the 5.5 update, but don’t worry – the upgrade guide PDF steps you through everything, complete with screenshots. If you’ve only used design mode to change your store’s layout or text then you don’t need to make any changes after you’ve upgraded.
Just to recap, the 5.5 software update is a major release. It was specifically built to give you more merchandising tools so you can increase your conversion rate and increase the number of people who buy from you. For me the stand out features are SuperZoom photo zoom, YouTube search and embed as well as Google Website Optimizer integration.
I know from experience that GWO can significantly boost your conversion rates and that seemingly small changes (such as changing the color of your checkout button from blue to green) can have a massive impact on your bottom line, so I’d love to hear your experience with GWO once you’ve upgraded.
This blog post talks more about the 5.5 software update in detail, but here are the new features you’ll be able to enjoy once you upgrade:
- Google Website Optimizer Support – Test different versions of site-wide items to see which results in more sales. For example, test different “Add to Cart” buttons while also testing different checkout buttons, product names, category descriptions and more. In total there are 18 different tests you can run – more than any other e-commerce platform provides.
- Image Thumbnails, Zoom and Custom Sizes – We know from your feedback that images are the most important part of your online store, so we’ve added the ability to display thumbnails on the product page. There’s also image zoom on rollover and custom (configurable) image sizes for different sections of your online store.
- YouTube Search and Embed – Search for videos on YouTube right from your “Add a Product” page and have them display in a beautiful video player on your product pages. Easily find (or upload) video reviews for products you sell, add them to your product page and watch your order rate increase.
- QuickBooks and StoneEdge Two Way Sync – Easily sync your orders, products, customers and more to/from Intuit QuickBooks or StoneEdge Order Manager with just a few clicks.
- Change the Store’s Header Graphic – You can make changes to the existing header graphic in your store’s design or even download a plain version of the header graphic to modify as required.
- Auto-Generated HTML and XML Sitemaps – The HTML sitemap will allow the search engines to crawl and index all pages in your online store, while the XML sitemap can be submitted using Google Webmaster Tools to get more details on crawling/indexing problems which you can then correct to improve how your online store ranks in the search engines.
- Search Products, Categories, Brands, News and Web Pages – Your customers will be able to search more than just products in your store. They can search categories and brands by name and even content in news items and web pages you’ve created. Search results are separated into easily-accessible tabs and are fully configurable.
- Accept and Process Payments When Taking a Phone Order – You’ll be able to take payment then-and-there when adding a phone order through your store’s control panel. No more processing payments manually after you take the order.
- More Varied Store Designs – We’ve crafted over 15 additional store designs for a wide range of industries, bringing the total of over 60 store designs available to all BigCommerce store owners absolutely free.
- Embed Videos Into Product Descriptions – Just paste in a link from YouTube, Vimeo, Metacafe or Megavideo and we’ll automatically create the HTML code and add the video to your product’s description.
- Photo Gallery – All uploaded images are accessible from the new photo gallery, so if you want to use the same photos for multiple products you only have to upload them once. You can even use photos that have already been uploaded to other websites.
- An AddThis Button on Product Pages – Take advantage of product recommendations with the AddThis button. In one click shoppers can easily share a link to a product in your store with their friends via email, Twitter, FaceBook and dozens of other social media services.
- Abandoned Order Report – See a list of all incomplete orders along with shopper details so you can follow up and see why they didn’t complete their order. You can choose how many days these orders remain in your store’s control panel before they’re removed.
- Sales Tax Report - Easily create a sales tax report filtered by date range which you can export into Microsoft Excel for further processing or to send directly to your accountant.
- Various Improvements – Along with new features we’ve also improved existing functionality. A complete list of improvements will be included with the change log upon release.
In early December while in Los Angeles I was interviewed by Jon Silvers from Atlassian, the popular Australian company that makes a range of development tools that we happen to use to assist with building BigCommerce and our other products.
In the interview we discuss how our engineering teams have shifted from an ad-hoc development methodology to an agile (scrum) based one over the last few months. We also discussed the processes and methods we’ve used to build software updates in what are considered to be fast development cycles (2-3 months).
You can read the entire interview, which is published on Atlassian’s website as a case study here.