Is PayPal Occasionally Failing because of TLS Testing?

PayPal has announced that they will require the secure communications protocol — TLS 1.2 — by June 2018.  However, they will be periodically testing on live stores starting in March* and continuing until the switch over.  Here’s part of the message they are sending to their merchants:

Please note, over the next few months, PayPal will conduct several rounds of testing to emulate the upgraded security experience so merchants can understand the areas of their integration that still requiring security protocol upgrades.  If you have already made the required upgrades as outlined on the 2017-2018 Merchant Security Microsite, your PayPal integrations will not be impacted.  If you have not made the required upgrades, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible to avoid service interruption that may occur during our security upgrade testing activities.

Dates for these tests and full deployment will be published on our Merchant Security Upgrade Testing page at least two weeks prior to implementation so please bookmark and return frequently for the most up to date information.

Typically the requirement to only accept TLS 1.2 will last for about an hour.  However, the timing of that hour can be during your busiest hours! 

Am I Affected?

If you are using ShopSite version 12 sp2 r4 or greater (12 sp3 for Windows Servers) you are good to go.

The current release of ShopSite at the time of this post is version 14.0.  Here’s what it looks like in version 12 at the bottom lower left of the screen.

This store would need to upgrade since it is running version 12 sp2 r2.3

In addition, PayPal is also emailing its merchants based on what their servers see when an order comes from your site.  The emails typically have this information:

Our records indicate that you still need to make some critical security upgrades to your systems as well. If you see a “YES” next to a security change, your integration must be updated to accept these new security measures by the date specified:

• TLS 1.2 and HTTP/1.1 Upgrade – Complete by June 2018
Update Needed: No

• IPN Verification Postback to HTTPS – Complete by June 2018
Update Needed: No

• Discontinue Use of GET Method for Classic NVP/SOAP API’s – Complete by June 2018
Update Needed: No

• Merchant API Certificate Credentials Upgrade – Complete by September 2018
• Please note that this may be completed earlier based on the expiration date of your certificate.
Update Needed: Yes

In the above message, everything is good except for the API Certificate Credentials.  The API Certificate is actually something that you need to do every 3 years (for PayPal Express or PayPal Payments Pro).  You generate your cert on PayPal’s site and then copy it into ShopSite’s configuration screen for PayPal.

Because they do expire, we recommend that you switch to the API Signature Credentials instead.  If you do switch you will need to delete the certificate on PayPal, generate the signature and then update the configuration in ShopSite.  Either method can be used for validating your account.

Other Services Affected by TLS 1.2?

Authorize.Net, First Data, and UPS have recently made the switch over.  View this kbase article to see what other service providers have announced switchover dates.  Since the PCI (Payment Card Industry) deadline is June 30, 2018, everyone will be requiring TLS 1.1 or 1.2 by then.

For more on TLS and why it is being required and by whom, see this blog post.

*PayPal now says that testing will begin in April.

Authorize.Net Will Stop Working on Feb 28, 2018 in Older ShopSite Versions

Another service provider (Authorize.Net) will be “flipping the switch” to require TLS v1.2 on Feb 28, 2018.  When that occurs, older versions of ShopSite (v12 sp2 r3 and earlier) will no longer be able to communicate with Authorize.Net for credit card processing.  Authorize.Net is one of the larger payment gateways so this switchover could affect a number of merchants.

What Version Am I Running?

To see what version of ShopSite you are running, log in to ShopSite and look at the footer. If you see “12 sp2 r4” or greater, you are good to go.  The current release of ShopSite at the time of this post is version 14.0.  Here’s what it looks like in version 12 at the bottom lower left of the screen.

This store would need to upgrade since it is running version 12 sp2 r2.3

Other Services Affected by TLS 1.2?

Beside Authorize.Net, First Data and UPS have recently made the switch over.  The next big payment gateway to make the switch is probably PayPal.  They are currently scheduled to switch on June 30, 2018.  View this kbase article to see what other service providers have announced switchover dates.  Since the PCI (Payment Card Industry) deadline is June 30, 2018, everyone will be requiring TLS 1.1 or 1.2 by then.

For more on TLS and why it is being required and by whom, see this blog post.



5 Simple Tweaks to Increase Your eCommerce Sales (Today)

This is a guest post by Bill Widmer 

The eCommerce market is insanely saturated. But think about it this way:

The less competitive industries are probably lagging in terms of growth, or are less profitable. Which means that, with a little innovation, there is a lot of money to be made.

In fact, there are plenty of simple tweaks you can implement to give your eCommerce revenue a nice boost – today!  Read on to find out the 5 tweaks you should make on your store to increase your sales.


#1: Create An Awesome “About Us” Page

People are always surprised when I tell them a great “About Us” page is a must-have, not a nice-to-have.  Why are About Us pages so dang important?  Chew on this:

52% of website visitors head over to About Us pages before doing anything else.

This means your About Us page is prime real estate, and you’ll want to milk it for all its worth.  Here’s what your About Us page should do:

  • Tell your visitors who you are, and what you do
  • Explain to your visitors why your product or service is preferable over your competitors’
  • Include a Call To Action (subscribe to a newsletter, check out your New Arrivals… it’s your call!)

Here are two things to consider when creating your “About Us” page:

  1. Clarity over cleverness.

You wouldn’t want to pack your page full of obscure references and puns – unless you’re selling to a super niche target audience who you know will get your jokes.

  1. Be authentic.

Your About Us page, ideally, should build trust with your visitors. Don’t mislead, don’t misrepresent, and make sure you’re honest and authentic.  

To get a template that you can use to write a kickass About Us page for your eCommerce store, check out this guide.


#2: Redesign Your Product Page

Your Product Page is another place where the magic happens.  This page needs to convince your visitor to make a purchase…

…so don’t hold back.  We’re talking search engine optimization.  We’re talking amazing product photos (and if you can feature videos too, that’s a huge bonus).  We’re talking clear Call To Action buttons, placed above the fold.  We’re talking price anchoring and countdown timers.  To learn more about redesigning your Product Page, hop on over to this guide.

Pro Tip: Don’t go crazy and implement ten different changes at once. Change only one element at a time, so you can run A/B tests and figure out what’s working for you and what isn’t.


#3: Launch A Facebook Store

You’re probably already running Facebook ads, but how about actually selling your products on Facebook?  Here’s the good news:

It’s super easy to get started.


Most online store builders offer a handy feature or plugin which allows you to connect your existing eCommerce store to a new Facebook store.  All you need to do is to select the products that you want to sell on Facebook, and your product details, images, and inventory will automatically start syncing.  Once your store is fully set up, here’s the next step:

Start running ads for your Facebook store, like how you’d do for your eCommerce store.  After seeing your ads, consumers can purchase your products in-app, which is a lot more convenient than leaving Facebook and being redirected to separate website.  This reduces the friction associated with a purchase, which means that your conversion rates and sales should go up!


#4: Accumulate Product Reviews

If you didn’t already know, product reviews have a direct impact on your sales figures.

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63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews…  

And 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision.  There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to product reviews for eCommerce stores, though.  I know of some eCommerce store owners who will run intensive, month-long campaigns to accumulate 50 reviews per product, then call it a day once they hit their quota.  But that’s not the best strategy, and here’s why:

Given that 44% of consumers say that reviews have to be written within one month to be relevant, it’s important to ensure that your reviews are coming in consistently.  Also, don’t even think about buying reviews.  Shoppers these days are pretty savvy, and statistics show that 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are zero negative reviews.   For tips on how to get more product reviews, read this guide to user-generated content!


#5: Spend More Budget On Retargeting Customers

For many eCommerce store owners, this will seem counter-intuitive.   I want to reach out to new customers so that more people can learn about my brand. How does it makes sense to retarget my existing customers?  This is why:

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It’s not just cheaper to retarget your existing customers, it’s also more profitable.  Talk about a win-win!  Of course, in most situations, it’s not feasible to put 100% of your budget into retargeting and not spend a single cent on acquiring new customers.  But here’s what I’m saying:

Acquiring new customers is more expensive, and in terms of sales generation, it might be hit or miss.  You’ll still want to focus some of your efforts on customer acquisition (regardless of whether you do it via Facebook ads, influencer marketing, or content marketing campaigns)…

…but if your immediate goal is to get those sales figures up, then retargeting is definitely the way to go!


A Final Word On Increasing eCommerce Sales

At the start of this article, we were talking about eCommerce being a highly saturated industry.  Yup, it sucks that there are about a million businesses vying (with you!) for a share of the pie…  

…but this also means there are tons of resources you can use to give your sales figures a nice boost.  Once you’re done implementing the tweaks I’ve mentioned in this article, go ahead and Google for more best practices.  There are a lot of awesome case studies written by entrepreneurs who have valuable insights about the eCommerce industry…

…all you have to do is to test each suggestion, measure your results, fine-tune your strategy, and rinse and repeat.

That’s all there is to it!

If you found this article useful, please take a second to share it so we can spread the wealth!


Bill Widmer is a content marketing and SEO expert who specializes in eCommerce and digital marketing.”

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