Should You Use CAPTCHA?

As more and more businesses enter the digital era, it has become increasingly important to find a way to keep spam traffic and bots out! For this reason, in the early 2000s, engineers at Carnegie Mellon came up with a clever way to get rid of bots:


Recognize this?


*Bonus points if you could guess the second word

What is a CAPTCHA?

CAPTCHA is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”. It is a series of scrambled letters and/or numbers that is assumed to be easy to decipher by a human, but hard to understand by a computer. This helps tell humans and computers apart.

Fun Fact: CAPTCHAs were used to digitize unreadable text in old versions of New York Times and several old books. In the first year, they were able to identify 440 million words, which is an equivalent of 17,600 books. In 2009, Google took over this technology and used it for their ambitious Google Books project. Every time you solve a CAPTCHA, you are helping Google identify an unreadable word in an old publication or unreadable street numbers from Google maps. Cool, right? Turns out we were all working towards a greater good!

Unfortunately, however, CAPTCHAs started failing at the one thing they were meant to do: stop bot traffic.

With technological advances in AI, it is now possible to crack even the most complex CAPTCHA codes with 99.8% accuracy, rendering them ineffective. Worse – an average human is not very good at solving CAPTCHAS. In fact, a study by Stanford University showed that, on average:

– Image CAPTCHAS take 9.8 seconds to view and solve, while audio CAPTCHAS take 28.4 seconds to hear and solve

– If three subjects were given the same CAPTCHAs, all three subjects would agree on a single answer for around 70% of all CAPTCHAs

– For Audio CAPTCHAs, all subjects would agree on a single answer for only 31.2% of all CAPTCHAs

– Audio CAPTCHA also has a 50% give up rate with only a 52% success rate for those who attempt it

PhD’s solve CAPTCHAs the quickest out of all the subjects

So, unless they have a PhD, your customers are pretty frustrated with not being able to do what they want to do, and instead being stuck solving CAPTCHAs.

3 alternatives to CAPTCHAs that are more user-friendly

Truth be told, even though CAPTCHAs are frustrating and have a significantly negative effect on conversion rates, there hasn’t been a drop in how many businesses are still using it.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 9.16.36 PM.png

Weekly CAPTCHA usage between January 2013 and January 2018

This is mostly because CAPTCHA, for the longest time, was the most efficient and popular way to block out spam traffic and a lot of businesses are not aware of the new and better ways that have replaced CAPTCHA.

Top three alternatives to CAPTCHA that are more efficient:

1) Solve a math problem

Through the Stanford study, researchers found that the CAPTCHAs that used real English words were solved far faster (up to 30%) by native English speakers. So if you weren’t a native English speaker, you were at a considerable disadvantage.

However, there is one language in this world that is the same in every country (more or less) – Mathematics!

So if your goal is improving user experience for your customers, replacing scrambled, unreadable text with math problems can be a good alternative.

math captcha.png

*Bonus points if you solved that equation

Cons of Math Problems:

Math problems don’t really eradicate the frustrating problem of having obstacles before conversions or blocking spam traffic. Although more efficient for users than scrambled words, math problems can be easily solved by computers and there still remains an extra step that your customers have to perform before they can finish their purchase or finish filling out a form.

Score: 5/10

2) The Honeypot Method

The Honeypot method is probably one of our favourites because it is super simple and does not interrupt the user flow at all.

The honey pot method involves using hidden form fields and fooling bots into filling them out (take that bots!). These fields are invisible to human users, so not much room for confusion.

Hide a field from your contact form.jpg

PS: If you would like to implement this method, here is a great blog post on how to do it.

Cons: If your customers are using browsers that auto-fill without prompting the user, there might be problems that arise with this method. Also, the honeypot method might not work very well for users that are visually impaired.

Score: 8/10


noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA is a much more sophisticated version of the CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA (the second version of CAPTCHA that was developed by Google) that works on the basis of hidden algorithms.

You have probably seen this before:

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 8.56.49 PM.png

Although it seems simple, there is a high level of sophistication behind that tick box. Google developed an Advanced Risk Analysis backend for reCAPTCHA that considers the user’s entire engagement with CAPTCHA to determine whether they are a bot or a human. Now, your customers can just check the box and, in most cases, they are through to the next page!

Cons: If the Google algorithm suspects that you might be a bot, it might still take you through another step and ask you to solve another CAPTCHA.

Score: 9.5/10

What do we recommend?

CAPTCHAs (and versions of CAPTCHA) are here to stay. They are one of the safest, quickest and (currently) most efficient and cost-friendly way to solve the problem of spam and bot traffic. However, CAPTCHAs are evolving and our recommendation is to make sure that your eCommerce platform is up to date with the newest versions of CAPTCHA.

We would also recommend to choose the method that improves your on-site user experience the most:

1) If you have to use CAPTCHA, try to make sure that you are improving user experience in other ways. For example, if a user gets the CAPTCHA wrong, try not to erase all the information they had previously entered and only refresh the CAPTCHA.

2) If the personality of your brand is fun and playful, we would also recommend checking out Game CAPTCHAs (play tic tac toe or drag all the items into the cart). They are a much more fun way of screening the bots out and improve your user experience.

3) Test! We always say this but testing is crucial. Try different methods for 2-3 weeks each and keep a close eye on the conversion rates. Are they increasing/decreasing? Make a decision based on data and you will never be sorry!

At the end of the day, it’s all about making sure that your customers have a positive experience and are able to finish the action they intended to finish.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s #TipThursday – see you next week!

If you would like to learn more about commercebuild or are looking for an eCommerce solution, let’s chat!

5 Ways to Improve Your Contact Us Page

The ultimate job of a website is to get you leads. So today, we thought we would talk about how to increase your visitor-to-lead conversion ratio!

In most online scenarios, the last opportunity to convert a visitor to a lead is the ‘Contact Us’ page. If your visitor has navigated to the ‘Contact Us’ page, they come with some inclination to, well, contact you! However, having a poor functioning and aesthetically displeasing ‘Contact Us’ page can deter them away fairly quickly.

5 ways to increase your conversion rates

1) Make sure it works

Sounds silly right?

Yet, you would be surprised as to how many ‘Contact Us’ forms don’t actually work!

a) Right department and right inbox: Ensure that your ‘Contact Us’ form is functional and is sending leads to the right department as well as to an inbox that is not overflowing. Following up with leads after two weeks can cost you a great opportunity and reflects poorly on your a customer experience.

b) Make it mobile-friendly: Make sure that your ‘Contact Us’ page is mobile-friendly. Filling out a form on a desktop and a mobile are two very different experiences. For example, if you would like to include the “country” field in your contact us form, you might want to make it more mobile friendly by allowing the users to type the country and suggesting the right country from your list. Providing users with a drop down list of 195 countries to scroll through is painstakingly horrifying.

Drop down contact us forms.jpg

2) Less is more

Understandably, you want as much information from your leads as possible. This helps you refine your follow up approach as well as tailor your marketing efforts. However, a study by Hubspot has shown that the highest conversion rates were with forms that had no more than 3 form fields. Check out the graph below:

conversion rate by number of fields

So the question is: Would you like less leads with more information or more leads with less information?

We understand that the amount of information needed can be relative and is a subjective topic. For more on this, we would ask you to read point number 5. However, for now, we would just like to say, try keeping the contact form fields to as few as possible.

3) So, don’t call me maybe?

Studies have shown that asking for a phone number reduces the conversion rate significantly. People are not comfortable divulging that information. Here are some more facts from an infographic by Quicksprout on 4 factors that reduce conversion rates:


Instead of asking for a phone number, get a dedicated line that people can call if they prefer speaking to a human. Another tip is to make the phone number field optional so that you are not losing out on leads!

4) Don’t leave your leads in the dark!

Explaining your follow up process is crucial to lead conversion and nurturing. If you have the capability of picking up the phone and contacting them right then and there, then ignore this. However, we seriously doubt that that’s the case. Hence, it is important you explain what is going to happen next.

We would recommend having a pop up window right after the the contact form is filled out, explaining what the first step of the follow up process is.

Confirmation dialogues bs confirmation messages

A quick tip: Confirmation dialogues or redirects to ‘Thank-you’ pages are easier to track via Google Analytics than confirmation messages. If you are savvy with Google Tag Manager, then either of them would work fine for you!

Next, call or email the lead within the time frame to answer their questions! It’s extremely simple and can make a huge difference to the overall customer experience.


Every ‘Contact Us’ page is unique and will work differently based on the users, the industry and the information required from the lead. It is crucial to test all of the above tips independently.

We would recommend taking one of the tips above, putting it into action, checking the results over (at least) 2 weeks and then implementing another tip. This way, if something is working, you know exactly what is making it work – no guessing games!

Here are a few more things that you could A/B test on your ‘Contact Us’ page that have helped our clients improve their visitor-to-lead conversion rates:

a) Fewer visual distractions on the page or more content on the page?

Test whether having maps, phone numbers and addresses right beside the form help improve lead conversions or reduce it.

b) Green and Red ticks

A small visual aid and a validator such as green ticks can help improve conversion rates. Not only does it help your lead in identifying mistakes in real time, it also helps you in avoiding spam email addresses.

c) Call it what it is

What would you like your lead to do? Would you like them to book a consultation, a demo of your product or request a quote? Calling all of your forms ‘Contact Us’ can be confusing and misleading. Test whether having a separate ‘Contact us’ form for general inquiries and a dedicated ‘Book a Consultation/Demo’ form makes a difference in visitor-to-lead conversions!

We have a ton more of these but we don’t want this blog post to go on for pages – so keep a look out on our Twitter and LinkedIn profiles for more tips!

If you would like to learn more about commercebuild or are looking for an eCommerce solution, let’s chat!

What are Backorders?

What are Backorders?

Backorders are a great way to sell products when you are out of stock. When you enable the ‘backorder’ feature, it allows your customers to place an order for a product that is temporarily out of stock. Once the stock is in, the order is then fulfilled!

Here are two benefits of Backorders:

1) You don’t lose sales to competitors

2) You don’t disappoint your customers


1) Do allow backorders for products that are easy to restock

Think of it like a T-shirt and antique store. While T-shirts are easy to get more of, antiques are one of a kind and are harder to find. Although there is an equal possibility of both running out of stock, you want to allow your customers to backorder a product that you can easily and reliably fulfill in time.

Since a customer has paid in advance, it is crucial that there be no more delay in fulfilling that order than required. This ensures a positive customer experience without which, this process will not work!

Wake up

2) Do look into ERP Integration and Landing Pages

Whether you are a small eCommerce store or a million transaction store, managing backorders is simple process only if a number of components fall into place perfectly. Here are two ways to make sure everything works in sync:

a) Make sure that your eCommerce store is integrated with your accounting software so that all of your orders are updated consistently, and without any errors. Remember, your customers have paid in advance – the last thing they want is an error and a further delay in their order.

b) You could entertain the idea of having a dedicated landing page for backorders. This way you can manage all backorders separately, collect the right information and have an email nurturing campaign in place specifically for your backorder customers. 

Constant Updates + Positive Customer Experience = Less Anxious, Happy Customers!


1) Don’t forget Customer Service!!

We cannot stress this enough. A backorder is a temporary order, that can (and will) be cancelled if your customer does not get the service they expect. There is not much stopping them from cancelling the order with you and getting it from a competitor that has that product in stock. They even get it earlier!

Don’t have zero process internally. Don’t ‘take care of it, when it comes to it’.

Make sure you have a process for your internal team and your suppliers to follow when you open a product up for backorders. Your backorder customers might be anxious and might have more questions than usual about the status of their order. It is important to ensure that customer service is ready for this. Also, make sure your suppliers can, and are prepared to restock as and when necessary.

2) Don’t anger your suppliers

Yes, you might miss some sales but the relationship with your suppliers is important. Too many sporadically spread out backorders will drive your suppliers crazy!

Instead, it might be wise to collect a certain number of backorders per week and send them over to your suppliers in a timely manner. This way everyone, including your team, customers and suppliers, know what to expect.

Backorders are a great feature, and if done right, can help you build a great, trusted community around your brand. Increase conversion rates and keep your customers happy with Backorders!

With commercebuild, you can enable backorders for your entire site, specifically for B2B or B2C customers, and even for a certain set of products (going back to the T-shirt and antique store example).

A Guide to Product Image Optimization

Product Image Optimization

17.93% of consumers consider visual appearance to be the key deciding factor in a purchasing decision and 78% of online shoppers want more images from eCommerce sites.

1) At least 3 images

Our first tip is to have at-least three images for every product on your eCommerce site, taken from different viewing angles:

– In Package

– Out of Package

– Close Up (Zoom feature)

Here is an example from Batteries Expert, a commercebuild client:

In package

Also, make sure you have one image, with colors, for each variant you sell.

#TT - Variant Products with colours.png

2) Image dimensions

Small, blurry images just don’t cut it anymore. The web is a visual medium and in this age of consumerization, your buyers expect high quality images.

We recommend uploading two styles of images:

Thumbnail: Upload a thumbnail image for catalog and category listings that can be up to 400 x 400 pixels. This image can also be used for product recommendations.

Main Image: The main image will be used on the product page and should be anywhere between 1000 x 1000 pixels to 2000 x 2000 pixels. We recommend using images that are a maximum of 1000 x 1000 pixels for faster loading times.

3) Image Ratio

We recommend maintaining a consistent height to width ratio in order to have clear, non-distorted images. Having a consistent height to width ratio does not mean that all images should be 1:1 – it just means that all product images should product images and sizes.pnghave the same ratio (whether that be 1:1, 4:3 or 2:1). This makes a huge difference on the product pages when the images are displayed side by side. 

A neat trick is to have a white background for your product images. This minimizes in the visible differences between two images making it look more consistent and more professional!

This will also help if you are using the same images for marketing and advertising. Facebook re-adjusts images to a 1:1 format for advertising and will distort the image if not resized.

4) Image Format

The majority of commercebuild clients use JPEG images for their product pages. JPEG images offer a little more compression than other image formats allowing your product pages to load faster,  increasing overall site-speed. We recommend using JPEGs unless you have a need for transparencies or vectored images. If that is the case then we recommend using PNGs.

Here is a chart comparing the most popular image formats for product images:


5) Image Name

We recommend adding ALT tags (an HTML attribute applied to images to provide a text alternative for search engines OR the little text that pops up when you hover over an image on a website) to all of your images. This is great for Search Engine Optimization. ALT tags are an effective way to insert long-tail keywords or product names onto your product page without keyword stuffing (adding in too many keywords – as Google penalizes websites that do that).


If you are a commercebuild customer, or have your eCommerce platform integrated to your ERP, we recommend adding in product names that relate back to the same item in your ERP. Make sure these are alpha-numeric and don’t have dashes or slashes (ERP’s don’t read this information correctly).

These four tips should get you started on uploading more efficient, high quality product images to boost your online sales!

Have questions? Give us a shout at and we would be happy to help!

To Integrate or Not to Integrate?

In today’s fast moving eCommerce space, there are a few giants that are capturing mind share. In nearly every conversation a company has about implementing eCommerce, the first question that the eCommerce selection team often asks is, “What big name eCommerce platform should we use?”

That’s the wrong question.

The right first question is, “What eCommerce platform best integrates into our accounting system?” Having a big-name eCommerce platform is slightly better than useless if there is no integration or if the integration is simply band-aided together. So, if big name platforms have captured some of your staff’s mind-share, but can’t capture orders, customer pricing, contract pricing or stock availability, maybe it is time to expand your search.

How Much Money Would You Save?

One question I always ask our clients is, “How much money did you save since your customers started doing your order entry for you?” The numbers were huge. One client told me the savings were $52.00 per order on a volume of 1,200 orders per month. That is a saving of a staggering $748,800 per year!

Another client told me they saved $109,500 in year one, but they noticed something far more valuable: the positive relationship that started developing between their staff and customers. In the past, with their non-integrated eCommerce platform, when customers placed an order, the staff would have to re-key it into the accounting system. Inevitably mistakes would happen. This would cause the customer to call up and share their displeasure (and not in a shy way). Only then would the right product be ordered. This usually meant our client had to incur the additional costs of shipping the correct product to their customer as well as paying for shipping the incorrect product back.

Enter the integrated eCommerce solution! Now when the customer places the order online it is directly captured into the client’s Sage ERP. No more rekeying. No more data entry errors. No more disgruntled customer calls.

Integration is easy, right?

“I’ll buy one of the big boys and just integrate it to my accounting system.”  You won’t believe how many times we’ve heard that line! The problem is that integration is just not THAT easy.

commercebuild is purpose built to integrate seamlessly with Sage 300 and Sage X3. We have invested significant time and money to make sure that integration is as seamless as possible for our clients. That investment is why commercebuild is the only Sage certified eCommerce solution. So, when a non-Sage certified eCommerce vendor tells you, “We can do that integration into Sage – it’s easy,” you need to understand it is going to be a very expensive project that will only get you a fraction of the integration you need to run your eCommerce business efficiently. And then there is the cost. We have had too many clients that went down the “We can integrate to that” path with a non-Sage certified eCommerce vendor only to find that after hundreds of thousands of dollars spent and months wasted…they can’t integrate into your Sage system.

Now, they have to start all over again with most of your eCommerce implementation budget shot.

So, what is different about commercebuild’s integration?

Well, to start with, we replicate over 40 tables from the accounting system to the commercebuild platform. Using standard MSSQL technology, we ensure that those tables are kept in sync. When you change a price in your Sage X3 or Sage 300 system or change a customer’s discount level or do any number of things, your eCommerce platform will be updated with the new information.

Due to the deep integration between Sage ERP and the commercebuild platform, the web store knows everything about your customer – their currency, their discount level, their taxes, the items they are allowed to buy, their contract price, their preferred warehouse, etc. When a customer places an order on the eCommerce platform, it is written into the accounting system in two to three seconds. All of your customer’s transaction history is displayed as well – not just web orders. They can see debit notes, credit notes, payments, paid and open invoices, quotes and orders. They can even pay open invoices online with our integrated credit card payment module.

Therefore, as a business owner, looking at eCommerce for your business; start the conversation with, “What eCommerce platforms integrate to my accounting system?” 

Choose intelligent eCommerce, choose commercebuild.