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When Not To Push the Panic Button

These are times of authentic fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The last thing any of us – or any of our bottom lines – need is the dissemination of falsehoods or false choices intended to drive panicked business decisions. Unfortunately, shamefully, and near daily, we come across such messages relating to the Magento 1 platform (M1) end of life next month.

Disruption? Yes, absolutely. Despair? Absolutely not. 

Deep breath. 

Some vendors would have you believe that maintaining PCI compliance is incompatible with staying on Magento 1. From multinational financial services to “solopreneurs in ecommerce,” businesses that rely on the M1 platform are NOT tethered to an expensive migration to Magento 2 at the end of June 2020. We know this because Hostdedi has been the leading hosting provider for Magento stores for more than ten years. 

We also know – now more than ever – that uninterrupted sales and services are top of mind. Thus, we designed Hostdedi Safe Harbor for those who cannot afford to – or need more time to strategize – or do not wish to migrate to M2. Stay with Magento 1, and our Safe Harbor product provides security and technology updates for an extended period of time. 

Hostdedi is a PCI DSS Level 1 provider across all hosting solutions. Our platform is aligned with PCI compliance requirements, offering your customers the secure buying experience they expect. Hostdedi Safe Harbor offers security procedures and safeguards that exceed compliance requirements.

You can also connect with us about alternative platforms that can meet the needs of ecommerce enterprises large and small, from high-paced to mid-level to newly launched. 

As previously shared in this space by my amazing colleagues and by me (please see below), you have options. Even 60 days out. Interim or otherwise, Hostdedi Safe Harbor may be the place and the space you need as you consider the following: 

  • The customizable flexibility, stability, and security of M1’s open source platform
  • Cost and time relating to re-platforming/migrating
  • Magento 1 is incredibly stable as it’s already been vetted by the entire Magento community.
  • Patches, patches, patches
  • Customization on the back end can mean replatforming costs upwards of 100k 

Here at Hostdedi, we are a big tent provider and love helping companies of all sizes – those who use the open-source version of Magento or those who use the enterprise version. We don’t champion doomsday either/or scenarios. Nor do we believe that adversity mandates an adversarial approach. History has shown that when people work together to put forth thoughtful solutions, we can collectively meet any challenge – today or tomorrow. The same holds true for all of us at Hostdedi and in our work with customers. Side by side, site by site, store by store. Let us show you how. 

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Always Own Your eCommerce Store

Last year, we sold my late father-in-law’s pocket knife collection on eBay. It was the right platform for a project like that. He had collected an impressive number of knives over his long life, but the total amount we were able to sell online was about $5,000 over the course of a few months.

EBay works for selling a few knives but if I were actually going into the knife business, there is no way I would have entrusted my livelihood to a third-party platform. As recent events have shown, there are a number of risk factors that you can’t control when you take that approach. 

Here’s a few things that you should think about when deciding whether to set up your own online store vs. using a platform or marketplace.

Control and Analyze Your Data

Amazon gave testimony to Congress last year that it uses “‘aggregate customer data’ to inform its private label brands”. This means they use 3rd party sellers information to create their own version of everything from data cables to clothing. They’ve learned what types, lengths, colors, and sizes sell best – by letting their resellers figure it out for them while giving them the data in real-time.

Direct access to your analytics data is also important. As your site traffic grows, you (or an agency you hire) can analyze data from Google, Yahoo, Glew and other sources to find out where your marketing is succeeding or failing, and where your site converts well and where it doesn’t. As your business matures, you can even personalize your product recommendations, customer experience, and even pricing based on who is visiting your site.   

Control Your Reputation (and Refunds)

Your reputation as a seller is important. If you treat customers badly, word will get around, and that’s as it should be, but the major marketplaces are sometimes buyer-friendly to a fault. Before choosing to open up online on someone else’s store, read their forums to find out what experiences other sellers have had. A 2019 eBay scam forced a seller to spend a lot of time disputing a refund with eBay, and it’s likely that thousands of other sellers were affected. 

Decide What Products You’re Willing to Sell

There are a number of legal products that are nevertheless banned from different platforms. We actually found that one of my father-in-laws knives was considered a gravity knife – legal in most states but not sellable on eBay. CBD products, firearms and related items, vaping products – the list goes on and on. What’s worse, it’s subject to change. Shopify once welcomed firearms-related products, but changed course in 2018, leaving merchants scrambling to find a new solution.

When you own your own ecommerce store you’ll never have to replatform because someone in an office somewhere decides it’s no longer appropriate.

Decide What Payment Processor to Use

Controversial products like the ones mentioned above are sometimes not allowed because of the preference of the platform or the marketplace owner. But sometimes they are not allowed because they are considered higher risk credit card transactions. That’s fair enough, but when your platform of choice doesn’t work with the card processor you need, the effect is the same – you’re out of business. 

Having a choice about your card processor is also important because card processors vary widely in the fees and percentages they charge for each transaction. Some SaaS platforms charge transaction fees if you DON’T use their in-house payment processor, on top of the fees charged by your merchant bank. If you do enough volume, these fees can really add up.

Decide How (and When) You Will Do Fulfillment and Shipping

Amazon again made the news recently when it announced that it would restrict shipping of items it deemed “nonessential” during the COVID-19 crisis. While this action may be necessary during these unprecedented times, it illustrates the power that Amazon has over their customers who have opted for Amazon fulfillment and shipping. If you’re a seller on Amazon you literally can’t make money since Amazon isn’t fulfilling those non-essential orders.

Setting up your own fulfillment operation is easy enough for most small businesses, and as you scale you can either grow your own fulfillment operation or negotiate with other fulfillment centers that operate worldwide – unless you’re locked in to a platform that determines this for you.

Operating a small online business requires you to make a number of hard choices – being locked into a platform or marketplace that dictates these choices for you can make it difficult to succeed. Look at WooCommerce or Magento open-source platforms which preserve your ability to grow and adapt your business.

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