2018 was the year data privacy concerns went mainstream. The media focus on Cambridge Analytica and Facebook brought the importance of data privacy home to the general public. The steady drip of data leaks from prominent companies, including leaks from eCommerce stores targeted by Magecart, cemented the risks in everyone’s minds. Businesses across the world tightened up security and privacy as the GDPR came into effect. And California, the US’s most populous state, home to the largest online economy in the world, passed the California Consumer Protection Act, which has been called California’s GDPR.
When the CCPA comes into effect on January 1, 2020, it will affect eCommerce retailers in California, the US, and the rest of the world, much as the GDPR has affected businesses beyond the EU. Many US retailers, especially midsized retailers, were able to disregard the GDPR because they don’t sell to EU residents. They are, however, unlikely to be able to avoid complying with the CCPA because most sell to the vast and lucrative California market. The CCPA does not require a retailer to have a physical presence in California, only that they do business in California. It is the strictest US data privacy law in history and will require many retailers to overhaul the way they store, process, and monetize data.
Although strict by US standards, the CCPA is not as stringent as the GDPR. It does not require that consumers opt-in to data processing, but does require businesses to provide an opt-out and mechanisms to allow California residents to find out which personal data a business stores and how it is used.
The CCPA also applies to a narrower set of businesses than the GDPR. To be affected, a retailer must conduct business in California and conform to at least one of the following criteria:
Have a gross revenue of more than $25 million.
Derive 50% of annual profits from selling personal data.
Buy, sell, or share for commercial purposes the personal data of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices.
These criteria are likely to capture a huge number of midsized retailers and apply to a much larger number of US businesses than the GDPR. Additionally, stricter rules apply to the data of minors. Consent for minors under the age of 13 must be given by their parents. Older children can opt-in themselves, but businesses must provide an age-verification system and track consent for all minors.
The CCPA has harsh penalties, with fines of up to $2,500 for each violation, rising to $7,500 if the violation is deemed to be deliberate. That might not seem like a lot, but fines can accumulate for each violation of an individual’s rights under the CCPA.
What do retailers need to do to prepare? Most importantly, they need to be able to identify and track the personal data they store and who they sell that data to or share it with. For many retailers, this will not be an easy change to make, and with less than a year before the CCPA comes into effect, they should begin preparations immediately.
BigCommerce has been an ecommerce SaaS platform for a number of years with great success. Merchants ranging from small mom-and-pop stores, to enterprise-level businesses doing millions of dollars in sales every month, depend on BigCommerce to keep their stores running securely.
Many of those merchants have also chosen to run the content part of their web presence on WordPress. It’s extremely powerful, and has a strong history of regular growth. Other merchants have chosen to use Drupal as their content manager, and still others have written custom presentation layers in React, Vue, or any other language of their choice.
To help those merchants merge their ecommerce storefronts and their content management systems, BigCommerce invested heavily in our API. This allows anyone with the proper credentials to write their own interface to BigCommerce, removing the requirement of running the presentation layer of their store on the BigCommerce platform. This is called headless ecommerce, and it provides practically unlimited flexibility and power to the storefront.
BigCommerce wanted to provide an example of what could be done with headless ecommerce, so they picked the most commonly used CMS in the world, WordPress. WordPress currently powers over one third of the entire web, so it was an easy choice to make WordPress our debut integration.
BigCommerce partnered with Modern Tribe, an elite WordPress development agency, to create the WordPress plugin. They wanted it built “the WordPress way” so that it would be easy for WordPress developers to extend it, and make new and interesting things with it. They also wanted to leave all of the security concerns on the BigCommerce servers as well as the CPU intensive functions. This would leave WordPress free to do what it does best: serve content.
They accomplished these goals with some key technological decisions:
Products are maintained on the BigCommerce servers and synchronized to the WordPress server on a schedule.
Products in WordPress are stored as a Custom Post Type, a very common data storage method in WordPress.
Product metadata is stored as WordPress metadata, making it as easily accessed as any other metadata.
The checkout page holds an embedded iframe. This means that all sensitive data is exchanged between the customer and the main BigCommerce servers, allowing the WordPress server to avoid the need for PCI compliance.
The consequences of these decisions are quite profound:
BC4WP tends to be much faster than other WordPress ecommerce platforms because all of the heavy lifting is on the BigCommerce servers.
BC4WP is more secure than other WordPress ecommerce platforms because if WordPress gets hacked the intruder still doesn’t have access to sensitive customer and sales data.
The average WordPress developer has very little work to do to get ecommerce functionality working, leaving them both time and budget to focus on solving business needs and building the best possible website.
The overall footprint of BC4WP is very light, both from a performance and security standpoint. Many of the integrations you might find in WordPress with WooCommerce, like CRM connectors or shipping settings are maintained on the BigCommerce servers, which allows them to be standardized, vetted, and maintained by BigCommerce.
Topher DeRosia is a web developer with over 25 years of experience, 9 years of which as a WordPress developer ranging from small personal sites to enterprise level. He currently works for BigCommerce as WordPress Developer Evangelist.
For the average American living in Chicago, being able to tell the time in New York is easy. Simply take the time in Chicago and add one hour: 10am becomes 11am.
Yet timezones becomes more complicated when geopolitics are involved, and for any tasks that involve time processing, knowledge of the correct timezone is vital.
Keep reading to find out three of our top ways a server’s timezone can go wrong and how you can fix it.
How Do Timezones go Wrong?
So you know what time zones are and you’ve configured each and every one of your servers to reflect them correctly. For one client in the UK you’ve set the server to GMT +0, for another in Russia you’ve set it to UTC +4, and for another in California you’ve set it to GMT -8 (you think).
Congratulations, you’ve managed to set up time zones that reflect where your clients are based. But you’ve made a mistake… a few, in fact. You’re clients are quickly back on the phone asking why you selected that timezone and telling you that it needs to change ASAP.
So, where did you go wrong?
You Forgot Daylight Savings
Imagine you’re setting up a server and you get to a point where you need to set a timezone. “Well Michigan is (almost completely) in the eastern timezone”, you think to yourself, “and it’s March 27th, so I’ll set the timezone to EDT.” If you set the timezone to ‘EDT’, this would work fine… Until November 4th.
That’s because this is when Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends. At this point, your server would be off by 1 hour until DST starts again. If you had instead set your timezone to ‘America/Detroit’, it would have switched for DST at the right time and would switch back again too. This is why operating system installers often have you choose a location instead of a timezone directly.
Some Timezones Aren’t What They Appear
A client requests the timezone be set to ‘GMT-8’, which means 8 hours behind UTC/GMT. (Roughly corresponds to British Columbia, California, most of Nevada, some of Mexico.) You happily go off and set the time zone to the IANA time zone database special administrative zone (wow, what a mouthful) of ‘Etc/GMT-8’. You then happily go about your day.
That is until the client frantically rushes to tell you you’ve completely goofed up and set the timezone to GMT+8, the opposite of what they wanted. (This roughly corresponds to east Asia, and Fun fact: this is the most populous timezone in the world).
You double check and see to which file /etc/localtime is a symbolic link. You see /usr/share/zoneinfo/Etc/GMT-8, which appears correct. You scratch your head for a while.
Eventually you venture far enough down the rabbit hole that you find out that the ‘Etc/GMT’ time zones in the IANA timezone database have their sign switched due to legacy POSIX reasons, just like every weird thing in the wonderful world of Linux. You switch the timezone to ‘Etc/GMT+8’ and update. All is good with the world.
Timezones Reflect Geopolitics
The year is 2013. In between frequent bouts of the harlem shake, you field a client request to update the server to the same timezone as Moscow. Being very geopolitically savvy, you knew right off the bat that Russia switched to “permanent daylight saving time” in 2011 and the timezone of Moscow would be UTC+4. Permanent sure does sound like forever to you, so you pat yourself on the back and call it good.
BUT YOU’RE WRONG.
Russia switched to, ahem, permanent non-daylight saving time (?) in October 2014, making the correct timezone for Moscow UTC+3 “permanently” from that point on. Since you used UTC+4, the servers time became off in 2014 and the client had to put in a new ticket to adjust it.
If you had used ‘Europe/Moscow’ instead, the timezone would have been correctly adjusted in 2014 due to updates to the ‘tzdata’ package. This package contains the IANA timezone database and is updated for administrative and geopolitical changes as time goes on.
Changing Timezone to Location
Instead of changing the servers to a specific named time zone, we recommend setting time to a specific location. This helps to avoid the pitfalls and issues outlined above.
One of the most popular timezone databases is called the tz database. Within the database, different locations have different names depending on Area/Location. For instance, America/Detroit, Europe/London, etc.
Instead of going to a UTC/GMT offset such as GMT+8, databases like the tz database account for geopolitical and other changes around the world which allows you to set the timezone to a location. This means that as long as you’ve set your location correctly, then your timezone will never go wrong… probably.
With just a year until Magento 1 reaches end of life, merchants still on the platform are facing a lot of tough decisions; including whether they should stay on Magento 1 (M1), replatform to Magento 2 (M2), or start using an alternate CMS.
Magento 1 was released March 31, 2008 – over 10 years ago. Since then, over 900,000 sites have gone live, and over 200,000 of those are still delivering excellent eCommerce experiences.
Yet for those still on M1, June 2020 will be a decisive date. As the platform stops receiving official support, merchants will have to decide whether to stay or leave. As we’ll look at in this article, while Magento 2 does offer benefits over Magento 1, making the move does not necessarily benefit everyone. So if it doesn’t benefit you, what are your options?
To help merchants make the right choice, this article will look at the differences between Magento 1 and Magento 2 and explore how those differences should be affecting what you do before next June.
Magento 2 was released November 17, 2015. Since then, adoption has grown steadily, but still hasn’t overtaken the number of live Magento 1 stores.
For many merchants the issue is one of resources. Changes to the core design of Magento have made replatforming to version 2 a significant challenge. Costs associated with replatforming include development, hosting, and adapting to the new platform.
Maintaining security is important when running an eCommerce store. Not only will vulnerabilities lead to breaches and customers not purchasing products, it can also have a widespread SEO impact.
The core differences between Magento 1 and Magento 2 in terms of security are relatively small. Two major changes include that Magento 2 supports a strengthened hashing algorithm for passwords, and that admins can enable only one person to be logged in at any one time.
The good news is that if you’re an M1 site owner and you’re worried about not having this functionality, it’s possible to add it to your store through extensions. The bad news is that there’s a much larger security threat looming.
The largest threat to M1 security is the fact that the platform will be officially deprecated in June 2020. This means that Adobe and Magento will stop supporting security updates and patches. Normally, this would leave merchants still on the platform exposed to vulnerabilities and attacks. However, some members of the Magento community have come together to try and prevent this.
Already, several developers and agencies have indicated that they will continue to support the Magento 1 platform after its official end of life. This provides a welcome safety net for M1 merchants so they can stay on Magento 1 after June 2020.
However, it’s still important for Magento 1 merchants to future proof their store. This means updating as much as they can without having to replatform.
It’s also important to work with a hosting provider that provides a monitored and regularly updated web application firewall (WAF). A good WAF will prevent the majority of attacks from being able to reach your store.
Magento 2 is the faster, more performant CMS. Some developers estimate by around 20%. This is not only because it’s newer, but also because of the range of technologies it supports.
Some of the main performance boosting tech is caching technologies such as Varnish and NGINX. These allow for sites to store frequently used files to memory, allowing them to be delivered to customers faster. Considering that a 1 second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions, caching plugins can easily give a popular Magento store an edge in terms of performance.
However, Magento 1 performance can still hold its own – especially when Varnish is enabled in conjunction with the Turpentine extension. Turpentine is a very-fast caching reverse-proxy. When first released, it saw significant performance improvements for Magento 1 sites. Turpentine is currently only compatible with Magento 1, so it’s also not something that can be activated on Magento 2 installs.
If you plan to stay on Magento 1, we recommend installing and using the Turpentine plugin as it will enable you to run a much faster store. Despite noticeable performance gains from Turpentine, your site’s code is still going to be one of the main factors in determining site performance.
Software and Extension Support
Until late last year, one of the main concerns for Magento 1 merchants was the lack of support for PHP versions beyond 5.6. This changed in September 2018 when Magento released an official M1 patch supporting up to PHP 7.2.
The main reason for this was that PHP 5.6 was deprecated in December 2018. With official M1 support still available until June 2020, it was important that the platform was still able to run on an up to date PHP version. Supporting only up to PHP 5.6 support would have meant merchants would have an increased vulnerability to PHP attacks.
This is one of the main benefits of replatforming to M2. Due to official support from Adobe and Magento, M2 will continue to support emerging technologies where M1 will rely on the community to build out this support.
A brief list of software Magento 2 supports that Magento 1 does not includes:
RequireJS / Knockout.js
PSR – 0 / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
This level of software compatibility lends itself to a number of functionality improvements. By leveraging a more advanced tech stack, extensions are also able to offer more to merchants.
That being said, for those on M1 looking to replatform, compatibility can be a problem. While it’s true that more than 80% of the most popular M1 extensions have received updates, this doesn’t account for extensions customized for individual stores.
One of the big performance and functionality gains of Magento 2 was the addition of Ajax Add-To-Cart. In Magneto 1, when a product is added to the cart the page needs to reload. With Magento 2, cart updates can happen without the need for the page to reload. This has obvious UX and performance benefits.
Magento 2 takes this further and also offers improved checkout functionality by automatically recognizing inputted card types and users that are already registered by analyzing their email address. Again, this offers an improved user experience and for registered customers, it is up to 29% faster.
Finally, one of the big benefits of Magento 2 is dependency injection. This provides a solution to class files which are so large that it makes it hard to determine what their core functionality is. Dependency injection abstracts a class’s dependencies to make the process faster and easier.
If you’re looking for functionality, Magento 2 is the better option. As a newer platform with improved software and extension support, it’s going to offer a lot more than an M1 store. That being said, due to the nature of the platform, M1 developers are often able to implement solutions similar to M2’s functionality for you. If you don’t want to move but would like some of the functionality listed above, talk with your developer to see if they can help.
In terms of cost, there are three primary areas you’re going to have to invest in:
The largest of these expenses will probably be development. This can easily eat up your entire budget if you’re not careful, and leave you with little room for other essentials.
For many M1 merchants, this is the primary barrier to entry for replatforming. That being said, it’s always good to know the potential cost of replatforming. For some merchants with relatively simple stores, it may be a lot less than they think.
Hosting is also going to take up some of your budget. Depending on the size of your store, this can vary from $50 to thousands every month. We recommend working with a hosting provider that offers an optimized Magento environment. This will help improve performance, security, and scalability, even if you’re staying on M1.
The final cost you’re looking at is support. Many hosting providers offer this as standard. Development agencies also often provide continued support for your Magento site. Otherwise, support can cost a lot, especially in the case of serious vulnerabilities due to falling behind with updates. Check that your site has regular backups and that someone will be available if your store goes offline.
If You Decide to Stay on Magento 1…
If you’ve decided that staying on M1 sounds like the right choice, it’s still important for you to take steps to future proof your store.
Firstly, update as much as you can. That means bring your PHP version up to 7.2, bring your Magento version up to 1.9, and ensure that any extensions you have are also running the latest version.
It’s also going to be important to figure out where you’re going to get security updates from after June 2020. With official support disappearing, you’ll need access to a developer or agency that can help you to address security vulnerabilities as they are discovered.
In many cases, running a secure hosting environment with a well-configured Web Application Firewall can help to protect against threats by stopping dangerous traffic in its tracks. So it’s also important to host with a provider that keeps up to date with the latest threats to Magento sites.
In addition to keeping your site secure, these updates will also help increase site performance.
Online retailers can bet on two facts. First, every customer has an email account. Second, they receive hundreds of marketing emails every week, most of which go unread. The first fact makes email a perfect marketing channel for eCommerce. The second fact means retailers have to work hard to get their customers to open marketing emails, read them, and take action.
There are over 3 billion email users in the world. According to Marketing Week, email generates almost $40 billion of retail sales each year. Three-quarters of marketers think email is the marketing channel with the most significant ROI. Over half of millennials prefer to receive marketing messages by email. Email should be central to your eCommerce marketing strategy.
Effective email marketing isn’t sending a monthly newsletter with a random promotion — although that might work to increase sales a little. The best email marketers build a coherent strategy, create content that meshes with that strategy, and relentlessly test the performance of content to discover opportunities for optimization.
Email Marketing: What Is It Good For?
Before embarking on an email marketing, ask yourself what you want to achieve. Increased sales throughout your store are the ultimate goal, but the aim of a marketing campaign should be more specific. You might consider:
Introducing customers to a new line of products.
Increasing sales of a subset of products.
Promoting discounts, product bundles, or cross-sells.
Asking shoppers to leave a review.
Informing customers about events, promotions, special occasions.
Increasing mindshare for your brand and advertising its unique selling points.
Promoting content, such as blog posts or white papers.
Asking customers to take part in a survey.
All of these are good uses of an email marketing campaign. Once you have decided what you want to achieve, it’s time to think about the best way to achieve it.
Types of Marketing Emails
There are several types of marketing email you might send a customer, each with a specific purpose and type of content.
The newsletter. The role of an email newsletter is to provide useful and engaging content to customers. The content should relate to products, but it should not be primarily focused on sales. Typical content for email newsletters includes news about the company, promotion for blog posts, product guides and introductions, original content (like a blog post but delivered over email).
Newsletters are all about engaging customers without the hard sell. If you push sales too vigorously, people are likely to unsubscribe. The email newsletter is the heart of your email marketing campaign.
Welcome emails. When a customer gives you their email or makes their first purchase, send them a brief welcome note, highlighting information about your brand, products, and services that may be useful to them.
Abandoned cart emails. Around 70% of carts are abandoned. Some customers fill carts as the online equivalent of window shopping — they had no intention of making a purchase. But a small percentage welcome a reminder of their incomplete shopping trip and will complete the transaction if prompted.
Leading eCommerce platforms, including Magento and WooCommerce, provide tools to automatically send emails to users who abandon their carts.
Promotional emails. Promotional emails, as the name suggests, promote products, events, sales, and special occasions. For example, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to send users promotional emails that focus on products relevant to the holiday, along with other related content.
Devise An Email Marketing Strategy
A coherent strategy will help you to focus on what you want to achieve and the best way to achieve it. There are several frameworks around which you might design an email marketing strategy. One of the most common is the purchase funnel — an idealized journey that moves customers ever closer to making a purchase.
The purchase funnel is divided into stages: awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase. Content is created to move customers from one stage to the next. To put customers in at the top of the funnel — the awareness phase — a retailer might create interesting and valuable email content about a topic related to their products, but they wouldn’t target customers at this stage with hard-sell content about specific products.
The purchase funnel concept is handy when building an email marketing strategy. Track Maven has an excellent blog post that examines in detail each of the stages.
Time To Write
Once you have a goal, a strategy, and have decided what sort of email you want to create, it’s time to start writing. It is difficult to offer concrete advice because every retailer is different, but the following will prove useful:
Focus on the subject line. The subject line determines the success or failure of a marketing email. It is as — if not more — important than the content of an email. An unopened email is a waste of marketing money, and it’s the subject that influences customers to open. The subject line should be short, concise, and attention-grabbing. Good subject lines make customers curious about the content of the email.
Don’t forget about the preview text. The preview text is a snippet drawn from the body of your email, usually the first few words. It is displayed adjacent to the subject line in email clients. The preview text should support, expand, or respond to the subject line, strengthening the curiosity of the recipient.
Keep it simple. You have a fraction of a second to grab the recipient’s attention. Don’t try to be overly elaborate, funny, or clever.
Limit the sales patter. If your subject line reads “SUPER CHEAP CUPCAKES. BEST YOU’VE EVER TASTED!!!!” recipients will reject your email as spam. We all know what spammy subject lines look like, and you want to avoid pattern matching for spam at all costs.
We started this article with some statistics that showed why every retailer should invest in eCommerce email marketing. But we left the best until last: every dollar spent on email generates a $38 return — making it three times more effective than social media marketing.
It’s easier to get started with WordPress than any other leading content management system, deliberately so because WordPress was designed to make publishing on the web as intuitive as possible. However, your introduction to WordPress will go more smoothly if you understand a handful of key concepts. In this short glossary, we’re going to look at nine concepts that are important to understanding how WordPress works, concepts that will prove useful to you as you write, publish, and manage your WordPress site.
Posts And Pages
WordPress organizes web pages into two groups: posts and pages. Posts are, essentially, blog posts, although they might be used to publish videos, podcasts, or other media. The most important thing to know about Posts is that they are displayed in reverse chronological order on the posts page, which is often the homepage of the site.
A page is any other webpage on your site: the About page, or a landing page, for instance. Pages are not displayed in blog listings, but they typically appear in navigation menus.
WordPress is open source software. That means WordPress is distributed with its source code, which can be modified by anyone. WordPress development is a collaborative effort between developers working in the open. Because WordPress is open source, it is also free, and it will remain free forever.
Each WordPress user has a user role. User roles control what the user has permission to do on the site. The site owner and perhaps other trusted accounts are assigned the Administrator user role. They have permission to change settings, publish and unpublish content, install plugins and themes, and more. Other roles include Editor, Author, and Contributor. An account assigned the Author user role can publish and manage their posts, but they can’t manage other people’s posts or install plugins.
User roles are a key security feature: account holders should be given a user role that grants only the permissions they require. A writer shouldn’t be given admin privileges, and the number of administrator accounts should be as small as possible.
Taxonomies organize the content on a WordPress site. There are two types of taxonomy, categories, and tags. Categories organize content into groups, often by subject matter. A post can belong to one category. A food blog might have categories for recipes, tool reviews, and tutorials. Categories are frequently used in a WordPress site’s navigation menu, and each category has an associated category page that displays all posts in that category. You can see the categories for this blog in the sidebar, or beneath the article list on mobile browsers.
Tags are a little different. There is no limit to the number of tags a post can have. They are more flexible than categories and are often used to group posts with similar topics. Our example food blog has a “recipes” category, but a recipe for guacamole might also have tags for avocado, dip, salad, and Mexican.
The way a site uses taxonomies affects its information architecture, search engine optimization, and user experience, so it is worth taking the time to devise a logical and coherent category and tag structure.
WordPress is a dynamic content management system. Rather than storing web pages ready-made on a hard drive, WordPress generates them on the fly, running code that gathers data to construct an HTML page the browser understands. The data is stored in a database, a program that organizes and indexes data so that it can be retrieved efficiently. On your Hostdedi WordPress hosting account, the database is a performance-optimized variant of MySQL, the most popular open source database on the web.
As a WordPress site owner, you rarely interact with the database directly, but it is useful to know that content, plugin and theme data, configuration data, and information about users are stored in the database. When you backup a WordPress site, both the files and the database should be copied; it is a common mistake to copy only the files, and that is only a fraction of what makes a WordPress site.
Static Front Page
WordPress started life as a blogging engine, and, although it has since developed into a full-featured content management system, it retains some of the qualities of a platform intended primarily for publishing blog posts. This can be seen in the default configuration for the homepage, which displays a reverse chronological list of posts. That’s good for a blog, but not for a business site, where a landing page or traditional homepage is more appropriate.
The Static Front Page setting, which can be found in the Reading Settings section of the Admin menu, replaces the blog listing with a page of the site owner’s choice. In WordPress parlance, a Static Front Page is just a homepage that doesn’t display the blog listing.
Plugins and Themes
WordPress is a modular system: it has a central core that can be augmented with the addition of software packages. These come in two varieties, plugins and themes. Plugins add extra features and enhancements to WordPress. A plugin may make a small tweak to an existing feature; it may introduce a set of related features, such as with a caching or security plugin; or it might transform a large swath of WordPress’ functionality and user experience, as with a plugin like WooCommerce. There are tens of thousands of free plugins to choose from as well as premium plugins with advanced features and support.
Themes govern how WordPress looks and features related to its appearance. Every WordPress site has a theme that determines its front-end color schemes, typography, and page layouts. Basic themes provide a simple set of appearance configurations whereas more complex themes are packed with features such as sliders and drag-and-drop page builders. As with plugins, there are thousands of free themes and a large market for premium themes.
As we discussed in the database entry, WordPress is a dynamic content management system: it generates pages as they are requested. Dynamic content generation is key to WordPress’ ability to show different content to users, but it is slower than serving pre-generated content. Caching allows content that was generated in response to a previous request to be served more than once; if the content doesn’t change, it is a waste of resources to generate it for every request. Caching can make WordPress site much faster while consuming fewer server resources.
Caching can occur at many points during the process of serving pages. At Hostdedi, we equip WordPress sites with the W3 Total Cache plugin and install Memcached on all WordPress hosting plans.
Hosting puts a WordPress site on the web. It provides the server that runs WordPress’ code and that supports the database. It also provides a network connection to the internet. There are many different types of WordPress hosting, from shared hosting to dedicated server hosting and cloud hosting.
WordPress hosting providers offer the same basic service, but they are not the same where performance, reliability, and security are concerned. To learn more about what makes a great WordPress host, take a look at how we optimize our WordPress hosting platform.
It’s time for our monthly roundup! If you’re looking for the same great articles the rest of the year, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy and let us know if we missed anything important in the comment section. WordPress and WooCommerce Prospress Joins Automattic to Jointly Develop WooCommerce Subscriptions – Prospress is joining Automattic…
It’s less than a month until one of the biggest marketing and retail conferences kicks off in Chicago. This year, the conference will take on a new form as it combines with GlobalShop and RFID Journal LIVE! Retail to form the colocation event Retail X.
Once again, we’ll be back to deliver the facts on eCommerce hosting and performance, with two booths in the exhibit hall and one of the most exclusive after parties to take place during IRCE 2019.
Whether it’s your first time or you’ve attended IRCE for years, we’ve put together this article to help you know what to expect. Keep reading to see what IRCE is, when it takes place, what you can expect, and eight sessions we think you should attend.
What and When Is IRCE?
IRCE is short for the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. This year, the event will take place on June 25th – 28th at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Whereas in past years IRCE was a standalone event, this year it will be colocating with GlobalShop and RFID Journal LIVE! Retail under the combined banner of RetailX.
This will open the conference up to more than just eCommerce and marketing talks. Expect conversations this year to revolve around omnichannel business, integrating eCommerce and marketing technologies, and understanding the finer points of ROI reporting in an age where attribution continues to elude many.
With over 1,200 exhibitors and countless sessions dedicated to commerce, the over 20,000 attendees predicted to show are going to need to make some tough choices when it comes to deciding what they do at the conference. Keep reading for a handful of suggestions.
Why Attend IRCE?
IRCE is an annual meeting of the biggest and best in eCommerce. This year, the conference expects to see over 20,000 attendees from all around the world walk through the McCormick convention center during the four day event.
Besides the great networking opportunities available, the four days also provide a chance to learn. A huge number of sessions have been scheduled, with a full list available here.
In addition, some big names in eCommerce will be delivering insights into their retail experiences, and advice on how you can improve yours. Some of the major keynote speakers this year include retail prophet Doug Stephens, Chip Conley of AirBNB, and Susan Tynan of Framebridge.
IRCE 2019 Rooftop After Party
We’ll be running one of the most exclusive after parties during IRCE: The NexcessLive Rooftop Party.
Midwest culinary legend chef Nolan Narut will join world-renowned DJ Madrid to help IRCE attendees party through the night in style. All while 22 stories up and overlooking Chicago’s famous skyline.
Join other eCommerce professionals for free drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and some of the best networking opportunities of the week.
Get your tickets now before they all run out! Visit nexc.es/irce19 to register.
What to Know Before You Go
As with any conference, there is always a list of best practices for getting the most out of the four day event.
The first of these is that it’s vital to plan what sessions you want to prioritize.
Take a look at the agenda before you go to see if there are any speakers or talks that really stand out. Try to identify any areas you want to improve in and place those at the top of your list. IRCE is one of the best events for learning about changes in the online retail space. By prioritizing, you’ll guarantee walking away with a list of actionable points to integrate into your store.
The Exhibit Hall
The second area you need to pay attention to is the exhibit hall. With over 700 vendors this year, there will be no shortage of interesting proposals. Try to break up your time in the exhibit hall as much as possible. While it’s a great chance to talk to vendors and understand new technologies, it’s important to balance vendor discussions with the other opportunities at IRCE.
Don’t forget, Hostdedi will be on the show floor at two booth locations. If you’re interested in understanding how the right eCommerce technology foundation can lead to net growth in performance, scalability, and more, speak to a member of our team at either booth #534 or #173.
Finally, the party doesn’t stop once the exhibition hall is closed down. Many of the sponsors will run parties and events during the evening. Take the chance to go and have some fun in Chicago, while also meeting and networking with other professionals from your industry.
Keep an eye on social media or your inbox for invites from multiple vendors. We’ve already issued our first email invite and will continue to offer invites through our social media channels.
8 Sessions You Should Definitely Attend at IRCE 2019
The choice of sessions is incredible this year. To help you out, we’ve chosen 8 sessions we think you should try to attend.
Usability: Keeping Shoppers on the Road to Checkout, Step by Step
Tuesday 10:00am, Room S102A-D
Conversations surrounding eCommerce for the past several years have often touched on the customer journey and keeping it going. In this session, Salesforce UX researcher, Scott Kincaid, will team up with Jason McClintlock, the President of Desert Steel, to talk about how to find and fix roadblocks in that journey.
The Marketing Stack: Demystify the Array of Solutions to Build and Optimize
Tuesday 10:00am Room S100BC
What marketing technology do you use? Are you sure that you’ve picked the right solutions? That’s what Marta Dalton, the Global Director of eCommerce at Unilever, will ask in this session.
Not only will she ask these questions, she’ll also be providing marketers with the tools and metrics they need to evaluate the marketing stack they’re already running. With over 7,000 marketing solutions available, this session should help everyone in attendance to optimize their stack at least a little.
Before attending, we recommend you review you own marketing solutions. What do you use for email, landing pages, form building, content management, etc? Come with a good idea of why you’ve chosen those solutions and see if Marta can’t change your mind.
Selling B2B or B2C: What B2B and Brands Must Get Right on Technology
Tuesday 11:50am Room S100BC
In this session, Mike Earl, the senior director of Timbuk2, and Lucas Robinson, the CEO of Weblife Stores, will come together to present the pros and cons of technology considerations. With a special focus on B2B and B2C, this talk should provide a number of actionable insights for merchants and developers alike.
If there is one thing that marketers still struggle with, it’s email marketing. We were recently at a show in which a speaker told the audience that he had sent email blasts with click through rates upward of 90%. They gasped.
In this session, Cindy white, the Senior E-Commerce Marketing Manager at Plow & Hearth, will talk about how to close gaps and cut through the noise to find the right tools and strategies to improve your email marketing.
Before attending, check out this article for some background insight into the Plow & Hearth email marketing strategy.
What You Need to Know About Behavioral Metrics
Tuesday 3:30pm Room S102A-D
Behavioral metrics refer to data that allow for merchants and businesses to track the user experience of their customers. This data indicates where customers visit, how the interact, and the best ways to improve conversion rate, traffic, and ROI.
In this session, Ashlee Colliver from Classy Llama, and Brittany Graham from Tombow will discuss how you can leverage this data for your own store, to match the latest in Google and Facebook algorithm shifts. The actionable strategies and information you’ll find here should be enough to help you identify and improve on almost all areas of your marketing that involve engagement.
Before attending, we recommend you read up on some of the main metrics you could (or should) be following. Semrush offer a good summary.
The Future of Retail is More Than Retail
Wednesday 10:30am Room S103A-D
Yes, another future talk, predicting where eCommerce is going. A pretty ingenious way to kick off the second day is to have a good understanding of some of the key research and results that have been published already this year.
And that’s exactly what this session from Erin Jordan, VP & Partner at Walker Sands Communications, is all about. Get yourself ready for the day ahead with a look at Walker Sands Future of Retail report and see what direction they are recommending eCommerce retailers go in.
Influencers have become a mainstay of retail marketing. They offer brands the chance to connect and build trust with their customers through multiple channels. However, over the last few years, regulations have been tightening, with the list of things influencers can and can’t do shrinking quickly.
In this session, Joe Gagliese of Viral Nation and Taylor Offer of Feat Socks will walk through best practices for finding, negotiating with, and managing influencers for your brand. Also learn how to measure ROI from influencer efforts, and see if it’s something that’s really helping your brand to grow.
The Supply Chain Tactics That Push Retailers to the Top
Wednesday 4:15pm Room S102A-D
It’s not all about marketing. It’s important to also focus on the user experience with regards to logistics.
In this session, George Lawrie from Forrester Research will explore some of the top retailers and how they have used unrivalled supply chain tactics to push their business to the top. Whether you’re a brand selling in B2C or B2B, this session should give you some valuable insights into how to get the most out of your supply chain.