Using Transactional Email Service for Your E-Commerce Platform

First of all, do not get it wrong. “Transaction email” here does not refer to only financial transactions. Quoting from MailChimp blog post:

…think of it as “anything that isn’t bulk“. Basically, it is email sent to an individual based on some action.

In my own words related to e-commerce, transaction emails are all notification emails sent out by your e-commerce/shopping cart platform related with a customer’s account or order activities such as:

  • Account creation welcome email
  • Password reminder/reset instructions
  • Order confirmation/invoice
  • Order status update
  • Shipping tracking number
  • Order review request, etc

By default, if you host your e-commerce platform on your own server, most likely these emails are sent directly using the server’s built-in mail application like sendmail on Apache/PHP environment. If you have this running then all is good, but what if you can make it even better? By using 3rd-party transaction email provider, you send out these emails through their server. Usually communication between your server and theirs is done through APIs or SMTP.
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Remote Backup your VPS/Dedicated Server

There is no such thing as being too safe in terms of managing web server. Your hosting provider may have provided complimentary daily backup to your VPS or Dedicated Server, you do weekly and monthly backup of your FTP files and database, but still worse thing can happen which you do not expect. The consequences can be fatal: permanently loose some or all of your data.

If you already do the regular backup then you can probably restore everything with the cost of your time, or the hosting support team may assist you to restore their daily backup. Then again, there is a possibility their backup is on the same node that is having the problem.

Having a remote backup is one of the most simple precaution you can do to add another layer to your disaster recovery plan. One of the reasons web/IT people hesitate to do this is because it means doubling the cost of the web server since you need to host a new one in preferably different location. Well, in my case this obstacle has been solved as I managed to find a couple of companies that offer special product only for this purpose. Continue reading

ScribeFire: Fire up your blogging

The year is coming to an end. How many real posts I published in 2010? Only about ten, and the last one was almost 7 months ago. Where is my motivation to publish more stuff? Well now I just found a new web service / browser extension called Scribefire. The Idea is I can publish post more easily right from my browser and start writing right that minute. Will this encourage me to post more often? We’ll see….

By the way, ScribeFire works in Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

My Favorite Coda Plug-Ins

Coda

Panic Coda

I have to admit it, Coda by Panic is really one of the best Mac apps ever. Not only it has finally given me the better direction in developing HTML/CSS correctly, it also makes it more fun! It is quite a shame that Panic has not been updating it for a few months now, but that does not make it less powerful.

Why? Because Coda supports third-party plug-ins to enable you add more functions on top on the ones that come with the application itself. No, those plug-ins will not automatically create a website for you.. Consider them like as WordPress plug-ins or widgets, simple and small functions but if collected and used properly can save you hours of development time. Continue reading

Tools to Build Your Contact Form in Less Than 5 Minutes

When you go to a really cool website and want to contact the person or company who runs it, what is your most preferred method? Email, instant message, social media (Twitter, Facebook), or via the contact form? Either one is good, but for most people contact form would probably the most convenient one. Continue reading

Choosing The Right Web Hosting

I decided to write this post to remember my early years as a web developer when I only wanted to offer the best price for the client, including to suggest the cheapest web hosting provider without having a slightest clue how to qualify it as a ‘good’ or ‘better’ service. It might be just me back then, but web server was probably the last thing I would decide or search in the whole development process. They are just servers that are contantly connected to the Internet and host your websites so they are all pretty much the same, right?

Wrong. If you have the principle that a web project does not end after you launch a website and get the final payment, you should realize the extra work you need to do if you chose or suggested wrong hosting provider. You want your client to be happy with the website you built, not to get frustrated because it goes down every now and then while you can do nothing about it.

So, what makes the differences between the right providers with the rest? To me it would be quality, support and transparency. Put prices in consideration after you are confident with those three first. Remember, web hosting is a very competitive business. It is rarely a company is trying to overcharge you unless it has much better quality than the rest. Continue reading

Sendloop

Sendloop by Octech

Sendloop is a promising email marketing service with simple and easy user interface. It is developed by the guys from Octech who created Oempro, a popular email marketing software.

If you have been wanting to promote or manage an email marketing for your website or business, I would recommend to try it. With sleek web 2.0 look & feel, you can easily adjust yourself with the system. I dare to say this because the first email marketing software I used years ago just so hard to adapt, although it worked.

Clean User Interface

A screenshot of Sendloop's clean user interface

Now with Sendloop and other similar services, everyone can create and manage their own mailing lists for regular newsletter or occasional email blast. This is a hosted service, which means you do not need to install and set it up on your own server. You just need to manage your lists, create your campaigns and send them.

They only charge you when you send email to your list(s). For 1 cent per recipient, this is quite a bargain. If you have 1,000 of subscribed email addresses, you only need to budget $10 for your monthly newsletter. Of course if you have more than 10,000 addresses and you need to send them weekly, considering to install your own newsletter system is a good idea.

One last highlight why I have been following their news recently, because they have this one feature that integrates with Shopify’s webhooks. It will enable you to automatically import your customers email addresses to Sendloop.

More information can be found their website.