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Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Magento 1 vs Magento 2

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.

Contents

In Numbers
Security
Performance
Software and Extension Support
Functionality
Cost
If You Decide to Stay on Magento 1...

Magento 1 vs Magento 2 In Numbers

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.

Magento 1 vs Magento 2 number of sites currently live
The number of Magento 1 and Magento 2 sites currently live.

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.

Security

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.

Magento 1 security will be important with end of life

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.

Performance

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.

Magento 2 performance is better but Magento 1 isn't dead yet

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:

  • NginX 1.7+
  • Varnish 3.x+
  • Redis 2.x+
  • RequireJS / Knockout.js
  • Symfony
  • Composer
  • 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.

Functionality

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 offers improved functionality thanks to improved software support

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.

Cost

In terms of cost, there are three primary areas you’re going to have to invest in:

  • Development
  • Hosting
  • Support

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.

Magento pros and cons

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.

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An Introduction To Email Marketing For New eCommerce Retailers

An Introduction To Email Marketing For New eCommerce Retailers

An Introduction To Email Marketing For New eCommerce RetailersOnline 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.

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WordPress Terms New WordPress Users Need To Know

WordPress Terms New WordPress Users Need To Know

WordPress Glossary- WordPress Terms New WordPress Users Need To KnowIt’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.

Open Source

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.

User Roles

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

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.

Database

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.

Caching

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.

WordPress Hosting

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.

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May 2019’s Best WordPress, Magento, and CMS Content

May 2019’s Best WordPress, Magento, and CMS Content

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…

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What You Need to Know And 8 Sessions You Can’t Miss

What You Need to Know And 8 Sessions You Can’t Miss

IRCE 2019- What You Need to Know And 8 Sessions You Can’t MissIt’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 2018 Recap

Our #IRCE18 recap, including #NexcessLive at the Park, the exhibit hall, and our three biggest takeaways from the sessions regarding eCommerce and Magento.Don’t forget to grab a copy of our Magento 2 Optimization guide from nexc.es/2Knocc2

Posted by Hostdedi on Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Our recap video from IRCE 2018 provides a good summary of what you can expect.

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 Sessions

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.

Networking Events

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.

Before attending, read up on how important the customer journey currently is, and see how much you’re already doing to maximize the distance your customers will travel.

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.

Before listening to Mike and Lucas talk, read up on Timbuk2’s history and how they overcame some of the struggles of eCommerce success. This goes into more than just technology considerations and answers questions on building brand loyalty and virality. A good pre-IRCE listen.

Making Sense of Email Marketing Today

Tuesday 3:00pm Room S102A-D

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.

Before this session, play catch up by seeing what Walker Sands predicted last year, and see how much you think your experience has lined up.

Rules of the Road for Working with Influencers

Wednesday 1:00pm Room S100A

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.

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Miguel Balparda’s Magento Imagine 2019 Recap

Miguel Balparda’s Magento Imagine 2019 Recap

Magento Master Miguel Balparda shares his insights into the Magento ecosystem from 2019’s Magento Imagine event. See where this year took him and what he sees Imagine looking like next year.


After a week of rest, it’s time for our Magento Imagine recap. This was my fifth Imagine — and probably the last one as we currently know it…


Pre-game at the Git

This year the event started at 9 a.m. on Saturday with a 2-day contribution event organized by the Community Engineering team. Now in their second year, these contribution days have become an Imagine centerpiece, featuring community-created code for Magento 2 and a steady growth of +100% YoY.

This year, it was organized as a side event in the Country Club at the Wynn, where developers from around the globe gathered to code and contribute to Magento 2, DevDocs, graphQL, Multi-Source Inventory (MSI), among many other GitHub projects. As a maintainer, I love Contribution days because I meet people I had previously only known online and work with them to make Magento even better.

Work began with a new Adobe Stock + Magento 2
integration, a small project to kickstart the collaboration between Magento and
Adobe. See GitHub for details.

Contributing wrapped at 5 p.m. Sunday, and I headed to #preimagine at the Encore. Once again, WebShopApps and ShippersHQ organized an awesome community event with beverages and fun with friends, both old and new. See all the action at #preimagine.

Day 1: Yoga, Secrets, and Clubs

Monday marked the official start of the
conference and I attended MageYoga with Wagento, Hostdedi-supplied mats, and our
fearless instructor Vijay. After practicing the basics, Vijay led us into some
Laughing Therapy to kickstart the conference experience.

After Yoga, I headed to the super-secret
Magento Masters Breakfast, where we had the chance to talk with Adobe and
Magento executives and managers over omelettes and coffee. This is one of the
side events I enjoy most: a quiet place to talk with industry leaders about
topics affecting the future of our community. The ever-present progressive web
app (PWA) discussion made an appearance. However, most of the talk revolved
around Adobe’s interest in feedback from the open source community and the
possibilities of integrating Magento with Adobe products.

Afterward, the Sponsor marketplace opened to a
flurry of presentations. While these are often worthwhile, I stayed on the
“hallway track” to meet colleagues and talk about the present and future of
Magento 2 development. This was by far the biggest Imagine (in attendees), and
I didn’t want to miss my chance to exchange knowledge with both new and
familiar faces.

This year saw the adoption of Labs track from
other Adobe events, where people can get their hands dirty with some of the new
products. Magento and Adobe employees together played host. 

As the sun began to set on Monday, I headed to Topgolf for #NexcessLive. There are no words to describe this incredible event, so here’s a video!

Day 2: Masters of the Universe

Tuesday morning, I headed to the Keynote to
hear Philip Jackson again as well as attend the 
Magento Masters award ceremony. I had the honor of standing on stage with
19 other Masters, and in lieu of a theme this year, we rolled with capes.

I spent the rest of Tuesday afternoon meeting
with our clients and partners in our suite, and again PWA was a hot topic.
Since the release of PWA studio, plus some community initiatives like Deity
Falcon and VueStorefront, the Magento community has continued to see a rise in
early adopters. As we heard during one of the keynotes, multiple developers and
agencies (Inchoo, JH, and others) have been working on PWAs. Our own system
operations team has been creating an PWA-optimized hosting environment while working
in close collaboration with other Hostdedi teams.

Tuesday night, I attended the annual Legendary
Party at The Encore, giving us another chance to interact with developers from
everywhere over drinks and music. Once again, I was grateful for the chance to
attach faces and voices to the pixels on Twitter and GitHub. If you have ever
have the chance to attend, don’t pass it up!

Day 3: Imagine Reborn

Wednesday started slowly, but the event wasn’t
over just yet. Marketplace was open again with the final swag giveaways and
people buzzing the corridors. After a healing breakfast, we headed to the last
keynote, where they announced Magento Imagine will continue as part of Adobe
Summit, just like Marketing Nation from Marketo was included in this year’s
Summit.

We also got a look at Sneaks, where Magento
shares short demos of future technology. This year’s lot included AR, VR, and
customer-engagement tools, among many other cool glimpses of tomorrow’s
commerce.

After the announcements. only DevExchange
remained before lunch and the goodbyes. Now in its fourth year, DevExchange is
a space to exchange opinions on various topics around the Magento community.
This year’s all-around attendance was record-breaking — beer and nachos
probably didn’t hurt — and I was fortunate enough to lead a discussion about
working remote.

DevExchange soon wrapped. Like every Imagine,
I left Vegas exhausted and slightly dehydrated, but cozy after meeting again
with our extended Magento (and now Adobe) family.

Hope to see you all again next year at Adobe
Summit, and may you never miss a step in 2019! 

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Which CMS Is Content King?

Which CMS Is Content King?

Craft CMS vs WordPressA content-heavy site is about more than just creating content. It’s about managing it. Site owners need to ask themselves what type of user experience they want to deliver. This article will look at two distinct options on the market: Craft CMS and WordPress.

WordPress, the most popular CMS around, is free and open source. Originally forked from b2/cafelog in 2003, WordPress quickly saw large adoption from the blogging community. Over time, the platform has grown and increased its functionality and accessibility. However, at its core, it is still a blogging tool.

Craft CMS, while having a basic free version, is not open source. Similar to WordPress, it was originally forked from another CMS: ExpressionEngine. It has since seen good adoption by users, but requires a knowledgeable developer to take full advantage of its functionality.

As we consider the differences between the two CMS, this article will answer:

  • Why use Craft CMS?
  • What makes WordPress a powerful blogging tool?
  • How much does Craft CMS cost?
  • Where can I find WordPress templates and themes?
  • Which CMS offers the most in terms of functionality?
  • Is Craft CMS popular?
  • What are the Craft CMS plugins?
  • Does Craft CMS or WordPress have eCommerce functionality?
  • How can you check Craft CMS and WordPress performance?

Contents

Craft CMS vs WordPress in Numbers
Craft CMS vs WordPress: Pros and Cons
Design and Themes
Ease of Use
Functionality
Plugins
Performance
SEO
Security
Pricing

Craft CMS vs WordPress in Numbers

In terms of numbers, there is a significant divide between Craft CMS and WordPress. This isn’t surprising when you consider that WordPress is known to hold over 32.5% of the CMS market.

A quick comparison of the number of sites shows that Craft CMS does not even amount to 1% of WordPress sites globally. For many Craft CMS users this is actually an advantage.

As we’ll explore in more depth throughout this article, there is a distinct reason why Craft CMS sees a much smaller percentage of the CMS market. That reason translates into unique sites and valuable functionality you can’t achieve with WordPress.



* Requires a hosting solution, which normally starts at around $29 per month.

Craft CMS vs WordPress: Pros and Cons

Craft CMS Pros

It’s lightweight

As we’ll talk about in the performance section of this article, Craft CMS is incredibly lightweight due to a set of coding standards enforced by the Craft CMS team.

It offers great commercial features

Due to it being both lightweight and packed with functionality, Craft CMS is the perfect platform for running a commercial site.

Everything is tailored by the developer

Due to the way Craft CMS is set up, everything created is often custom made by the developer. This means access to a truly unique site that will stand out from the crowd.

Craft CMS Cons

High barrier to entry

While Craft CMS offers incredible customization options, it also has a high barrier to entry. It lacks 1-click installs and requires a knowledgeable developer to get a site off the ground.

It can be expensive

If using advanced functionality, Craft CMS sites can become expensive. While a free version is available, if you’re creating a professional site for a client, you’ll need to use the pro version, which starts at $299.

WordPress Pros

It’s free

WordPress is a free, open source CMS. This includes the vast majority of plugins and a large selection of themes.

It has a huge developer community

Because WordPress powers over 32% of the internet, it has built up a huge developer community. If you end up needing something custom designed for your site, it’s not that hard to find someone to help.

It comes with a 1-click install

You can easily install WordPress with just a click of a button. This means you can get started in as soon as 5 minutes.

WordPress Cons

It is frequently targeted by attacks

This is not to say that WordPress itself is any more vulnerable, but rather the sheer size of its user base is so large it’s targeted more than other CMS.

It’s bloated

From its core up, WordPress is more bloated than some alternatives; especially once you start installing multiple plugins.

It lacks some page customization

WordPress was built as a blogging platform, and in that area it excels. However, when it comes to designing pages, page builders are often needed to create unique designs.


Design and Themes

“Themes are for wussies”: so says Craft CMS. If there was ever a bolder statement with regard to the lack of support for out-of-the-box functionality, we would like to hear it.

Despite this, Craft CMS does offer some awesome design features, including: 

  • Custom fields
  • Section types
  • Categories and tags
  • Matrix fields
  • Simple localization

As we will dive into later, the lack of theme support by Craft CMS does have its advantages. It can mean better performance, unique site designs, and improved functionality. However, it limits the time it takes to get a site off the ground.

That being said, if you’re looking to quickly set up a blog on Craft CMS, the Instablog Github repository can help. In addition, there are numerous tutorials and courses available online for developers to learn how to create Craft sites quickly and efficiently.

WordPress, on the other hand, offers a huge number of themes and templates in both free and paid forms. If opting for a paid WordPress plugin, on average, you can expect to pay $40.

The number of WordPress themes available means that it’s easy for site owners of all knowledge levels to create sites that match their design requirements, and to do so quickly.

However, we have found that WordPress does have some restrictions with regard to design choices that you won’t find with Craft.

Overall, while WordPress is certainly the easier platform to get started with, and offers a huge number of themes for beginners, Craft has the edge with regards to design. Craft’s very nature means that customization lies at the core of site development.

If opting for a paid WordPress plugin, on average, you can expect to pay $40.

We’re calling this a draw, with WordPress winning with regard to themes, and Craft winning with regard to design.

Winner: Draw

Ease of Use

WordPress is known for its out of the box simplicity. It offers an easy to navigate admin panel and an even easier editing interface. Craft, on the other hand, takes a competent developer and some serious knowledge to create professional sites.

In recent years, Automattic (the group behind WordPress) have continued to ramp up their dedication to accessibility. One of the ways they have done this is through the Gutenberg editor. This editor takes a content block approach to creating posts and pages, and has been seen as an improvement by many beginners over the old WYSIWYG editor.

WordPress plugins also make the application easier to use. There are over 55,000 of them available on the WordPress plugin directory, and more elsewhere. These allow site owners to add functionality to their site with just a few clicks.

That being said, the number of WordPress plugins available means that installing them on a WordPress site can easily get out of hand. This can lead to noticeable slowdowns and performance issues. Moreover, each of those plugins needs to be updated regularly so you do not compromise site security.

Comparatively, there are only a limited number of plugins available for Craft, with the bulk of functionality requirements often coded by a developer. This is good for a lot of sites and contributes to the lightweight nature of Craft CMS. Benefiting performance.

The chart below shows a comparison of the main points regarding WordPress and Craft ease of use.


WordPress Advantages

Craft CMS Advantages

Lots of themes

Lightweight

Lots of plugins

Small, easy to navigate plugin store


Despite some issues, WordPress wins here because it is a better CMS for beginners. Craft CMS requires more experience and/or a developer to get the best results.

Winner: WordPress

Functionality

Despite WordPress having the edge when it comes to ease of use, Craft CMS manages to take the lead in terms of functionality. Part of the reason for this is the development expertise required by Craft CMS developers.

With WordPress, there is a large community of developers. Yet due to WordPress being easy to customize, it can be hit or miss with regards to how far their expertise extends. Not only can this lead to you running unoptimized code, it can mean that some of the functionality you’re looking for won’t materialize.

Craft CMS comes with basic functionality out of the box. This includes:

  • Custom fields, section types, and relations
  • Localization
  • Tight Integration
  • Custom order and checkout flows
  • Built-in headless capability

You can also purchase Craft Commerce, with the intention of running an eCommerce site. This will automatically add Products, Subscriptions, Custom Payment Gateways, and more.

Craft doesn’t assume how content should look. One of the big criticisms of WordPress by advanced developers is that it is less of a content management system, and more of a page organizer.

For this reason, Craft CMS is excellent for creating content that integrates across channels. With Craft, it’s possible to show content from multiple categories on a landing page. With WordPress, this requires much more in-depth edits to the site’s code.

Craft CMS is the winner here, as it holds it own as a true content management system.

Winner: Craft CMS

Plugins

WordPress has over 55,000 plugins, much more than Craft CMS – in part because Craft has a much smaller development community.

And it’s these 55,000+ plugins that give WordPress so much of its functionality and flexibility. Looking to create a news site? Download a news plugin. Looking to increase the functionality of your WordPress forms? Download a form plugin. Looking to create unique page design? Download a page builder plugin.

Moreover, the bulk of plugins available for WordPress come with basic versions for free. If you really like what a plugin can do, you can upgrade to the pro version for a small fee. The access to expanded functionality with WordPress plugins is incredible, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

Yes, there are 55,000 plugins, but a lot of them do the same thing in slightly different ways. There are also a lot of plugins that are no longer supported. Either they haven’t been updated, or they didn’t make the cut when a new version of WordPress was released.

This can lead to security exploits and performance issues. It’s important that you keep an eye on the plugins you have installed to make sure that they are both maintained and supported.

The Craft CMS plugin store is limited but powerful

The Craft CMS plugin store is limited but powerful.

Craft, on the other hand, has a smaller selection of plugins, but they are all maintained and supported. When plugins are no longer relevant or maintained, they are removed from the Craft plugin store.

Yet despite Craft plugins not having the issues found with the WordPress directory, we have to give this round to WordPress due to the number of plugins available.

Winner: WordPress

Performance

In terms of performance, both Craft CMS and WordPress are great. With the right hosting provider behind them, both CMS provide performant experiences.

However, once you start diving into the development of core and the way in which each CMS handles additional functionality, you start to see a significant divide.

Craft CMS adheres to MCV coding practices when developing core. MCV stands for Model-View-Controller, and means that all coding has to follow a specific pathway to achieve a result.

Imagine you are a painter. In the MCV model, you would be the Controller, your paintbrush and paints the Model, and the resulting picture the View. This coding model streamlines the process of creating and rendering content by only pulling out the tools it needs.

WordPress, on the other hand, has been accused of being bloated; especially with regards to community developed plugins. While efforts are being made to optimize the codebase, and several plugins exist to improve performance (such as W3 Cache), WordPress just doesn’t have the same development team behind it that Craft CMS does.

W3 Cache is a useful plugin for improving WordPress performance

W3 Cache is a useful plugin for improving WordPress performance (if you know the right settings).

If you opt for the enterprise version of Craft CMS, you can see further performance enhancements. This is especially true when you bring on a dedicated Craft developer or development team. They are easily able to leverage the lightweight nature of the application to create incredible, performant content experiences.

Once you start looking to build out functionality through plugins, WordPress continues to suffer performance loss. Too many or outdated plugins are often the cause of a bloated WordPress install. Remember that even a 1 second delay in page load time can result in a 7% decrease in conversions.

Craft is the winner here due to its lightweight nature.

Winner: Craft CMS

SEO

WordPress is often known as the king of SEO, and with 32.5% of sites running it, it’s not a statistic that’s hard to believe. It’s also not true.

The CMS you use does not necessarily have a direct impact on the SEO value of a site. However, a number of factors can influence to what degree search engines place you in the top results.

The first of these is the ability to easily create and edit SEO-specific content such a meta titles and descriptions. WordPress has a huge number of plugins available that can help you do this (Yoast). Craft CMS also has a plugin that does much of the same thing (SEOmatic). In this area, both CMS are evenly matched.

Where the two start to divide is with regards to performance.

In recent years, performance has become a major factor in the ability for sites to rank. The faster your site loads, the better your chances. Google Lighthouse a good tool for testing how a site racks up against the competition in terms of speed.

As covered in the previous section, depending on the developer you have on hand, Craft CMS is a better option for performance. It can make a site perform faster and, as a result, have a higher chance of ranking number 1.

The winner here is Craft, although it was incredibly close.

Winner: Craft CMS

Security

Security is one area where having a smaller community and being closed source is an advantage.

WordPress, due to the size of its user base, is frequently targeted by cyber attacks. While the community works around the clock to keep the application up to date and secure, it can be hard to keep up.

Moreover, while WordPress relies on its community to help identify and resolve security breaches, it is the Craft CMS team themselves that work with their CMS. Because of this dedicated team of developers – and the smaller user base – security breaches are often identified and resolved quickly.

However, WordPress does offer some great plugins for locking down a site, and the right hosting provider will often make sure that the CMS environment is locked down: for both Craft and WordPress.

For security, we’re going to have to give it to Craft CMS. While the difference is very small, Craft’s development team gives it the edge.

Winner: Craft CMS

Pricing

WordPress, minus any paid plugins, is free.

Craft CMS also offers a free, basic version. However, this is not suitable for creating professional sites for clients. If you are making more than a personal blog, you’ll need to purchase a license. This starts from $299 per project, plus $59 a year for continued support.

If you decide to use Craft Commerce, you’re looking at a minimum payment of $199 per project, and $39 per year for support.

If you want to use eCommerce for WordPress, you can install the free WooCommerce plugin.

Winner: WordPress

Craft CMS vs WordPress: The Winner

When it comes to deciding which CMS is right for you, it’s going to come down to a handful of  factors regarding the resources you have at your disposal.

Primarily, what is your budget. Craft CMS will require you to invest in a developer. Even if you have development expertise, to create a professional site you’ll need to pay for a license.

With WordPress you won’t have to pay anything (except for hosting) but you’ll also be limited in terms of design and functionality.

Another factor you need to consider is the time frame you have to work with. WordPress sites are able to be created and go live a lot sooner than Craft sites.

If you’re able to invest in a Craft CMS site, we recommend doing so. WordPress is a great CMS but it lacks some of the advanced, commercial features you get with a paid, closed source application like Craft.

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Five Tactics To Increase Conversions On Your WooCommerce Store

Five Tactics To Increase Conversions On Your WooCommerce Store

Five Tactics To Increase Conversions On Your WooCommerce StoreHave you ever visited an eCommerce store to buy a product only to change your mind at the last minute? The answer is almost certainly yes. Most visitors to eCommerce stores don’t buy anything. The eCommerce industry’s average conversion rate is three percent at best. For every hundred people who visit an eCommerce store, ninety-seven buy nothing.

Conversion rate optimization focuses on improving that metric. Retailers work to discover why visitors don’t buy and then make changes that remove obstacles or give visitors an incentive to make a purchase.

The most effective conversion rate optimization tactics differ from store to store because each has a distinctive brand and caters to its market with a unique mix of products. CRO techniques that work on one store may not work on others, but there are proven conversion rate optimizations that are effective on the vast majority of stores.

Simplify The Checkout

Checkouts are a necessary evil. You can’t have an eCommerce store without a checkout, but it’s also the point at which many customers abandon their purchase. Checkouts ask a lot of the customer, and any doubt or hesitation they have about buying a product is amplified when they’re faced with an unwieldy multi-page form to complete.

A fast and straightforward checkout reduces friction and lowers the barrier to making a purchase. WooCommerce’s native checkout is well-optimized, but it is possible to reduce its complexity still further with a couple of plugins.

WooCommerce One-Page Checkout displays product selection and checkout features on a single page, allowing customers to check out without navigating a series of pages. The plugin can be used to embed a one-page checkout on any page in your WooCommerce store, giving users the option to check out quickly and easily.

The Checkout Field Editor gives retailers more control over what appears on their store’s checkout forms. It adds a menu to WooCommerce which can be used to rename, remove, or edit checkout fields for a minimalist checkout experience.

Use Social Media Logins

First-time customers have an onerous task ahead of them. In addition to completing the usual checkout, they have to register, completing a set of forms with authentication, delivery, and payment details, a task that is even less appealing on mobile.

Social logins allow users to bypass that process by authenticating via a platform that already knows who they are and where they live. Retailers benefit from accurate data taken from the authentication platform — a majority of web users put inaccurate details into web forms, causing authentication and fulfillment problems. Social media logins also provide richer information than most customers are willing to enter into a form on a WooCommerce store.

The WooCommerce Social Logins extension adds login options for a large number of authentication providers, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, PayPal, and more.

Provide Social Proof

Human beings are social animals. We look to other people to confirm that we’re making the right decision in the absence of other evidence. Customers are less likely to look positively on an empty brick-and-mortar store than a busy store with a line of people waiting to get in.

It’s harder for an eCommerce store to demonstrate the social proof that can persuade customers that their purchase is a wise decision. Online retailers rely mainly on reviews to generate social proof.

WooCommerce includes review functionality which can be activated in the “General” section of the “Products” menu. The YITH WooCommerce Advanced Reviews extension enhances WooCommerce’s built-in reviews system, displaying star-rating histograms and giving reviewers the ability to upload attachments such as images.

Further social proof can be provided by showing how many users bought a product in the past and how many are looking at it right now. The Social Proof Notifications extension integrates WooCommerce with Proof Factor, a cloud social proof platform that also includes exit intent triggers

Let Customers Talk To A Real Person

Doubt is the biggest killer of eCommerce conversions. Customers wonder if a product is right for them, if it does what they want it to, if they will be able to return it if it isn’t suitable. Reviews and well-written on-page content go some way to satisfy customer doubts, but it’s impossible to predict every issue and customers won’t hunt through large FAQ pages to find answers.

The most effective way to allay doubts is to give customers someone to talk to. There is no substitute for asking a direct question and getting an answer from someone who knows what they are talking about.

Phone sales support is an option, but it may be too expensive for retailers that don’t sell high-value items. Aspect Software, a multinational call center technology provider, estimates that the average customer phone interaction costs $35 – $50.

Instant chat is more economical than phone support and faster than email support. Sales support staff can respond to multiple queries in parallel and chats can be routed to anyone in the company, including to remote workers. There are several solutions for adding instant chat into a WooCommerce store. The LiveChat for WooCommerce extension integrates stores with the LiveChat service, which is designed for customer support and online sales.

Reach Out To Customers Who Abandon Carts

As we discussed at the top of this article, most visitors to an eCommerce store don’t make a purchase, and that includes visitors who have added products to their cart. The industry-average cart-abandonment rate is about 70%. Customers often use carts for online window shopping, reminders, or wish lists — they may never have intended to make a purchase. But that’s not the case with all abandoned carts, some of which can be “recovered.”

We wrote about how to reduce abandoned carts on WooCommerce stores in a previous article. Check it out for several solutions, including remarketing and abandoned cart emails.

Conclusion

Conversion rate optimization is an intricate and continuous effort to optimize a WooCommerce store with three main goals:

  • Remove obstacles that might prevent a customer from making a purchase.
  • Transform aspects of the store to exert a positive influence on customer’s purchase intent.
  • Reduce doubt by providing the reassurance and information that customers need to be confident in their decision to buy.

In this article, we’ve tackled some low-hanging fruit to help WooCommerce retailers meet their conversion rate optimization goals. In a future article, we’ll take a deeper dive into the details of conversion rate optimization, including A/B testing for WooCommerce and more subtle optimizations.

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Three Tools That Test WordPress Themes For Code Quality and Accessibility

Three Tools That Test WordPress Themes For Code Quality and Accessibility

Three Tools That Test WordPress Themes For Code Quality and AccessibilityWordPress contributor teams recently released Theme Sniffer and WP Theme Auditor, tools that help developers to create themes that adhere to coding and accessibility best practices.

There are thousands of free WordPress themes and thousands more premium themes. Some are excellent, and some are terrible, but most are somewhere in-between on the quality scale. Installing a theme that isn’t coded correctly can cause security or user experience problems, which is why the WordPress project is careful what it lets onto the theme repository.

However, the most diligent theme checkers can’t catch every problematic theme, so lower-quality themes sometimes make it through, especially on premium theme marketplaces that may not be as careful as the WordPress Repository team.

Developers don’t set out to make themes that cause problems. Most want to create a theme that is useful, beautiful, and secure. Problem themes are the result of less experienced developers who don’t understand what is required of a WordPress theme or don’t have the WordPress and PHP skills to create a theme that ticks all the boxes.

Poor-quality themes create a negative user experience, and that’s not good for the WordPress project, which wants interactions with WordPress to be as pleasant as possible. One way to achieve the goal of theme excellence is to provide high-quality documentation for developers. Another is to create tools to help developers spot issues and fix them before they become a problem to users.

Theme Sniffer was recently released by the Theme Review Team. It analyzes a theme’s code to see whether it adheres to WordPress coding conventions, a set of rules the WordPress project believes should be followed by anyone who develops a WordPress theme.

Image: https://ps.w.org/theme-sniffer/assets/screenshot–1.png?rev=2045224

The rules say how PHP files should be indented, whether single or double quotes should be used, how database queries should be formatted, and more. This might seem trivial, but coding standards help developers to maintain consistency throughout their projects, provide guidance about how to handle certain coding dilemmas, and make it easier for developers to collaborate — something that is particularly important for open source projects.

Accessibility is a particular problem for WordPress themes. Many themes that appear to be well-made pose problems for users with accessibility issues because the developer doesn’t follow accessibility best practices.

WP Theme Auditor is an NPM tool that examines WordPress themes with the aXe API, which includes tests to make sure a theme doesn’t provide a negative experience to people who have accessibility issues, including people who use WordPress via the keyboard or a screen reader.

Theme Check is a plugin that automatically tests themes for compliance with the official theme review standards. This one is particularly important because theme reviewers use it before allowing themes onto the official WordPress theme repository. If your theme doesn’t pass these tests, it may be rejected.

We’ve discussed the Theme Check plugin before, so take a look at our earlier post for a more in-depth discussion.

Automated testing helps developers to find coding and design mistakes before they’re released into the wild. The tools we’ve discussed make it easier for developers to create themes that are delightful to use.

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Evaluating eCommerce Product Ideas: Is There A Market?

Evaluating eCommerce Product Ideas: Is There A Market?

Evaluating eCommerce Product Ideas- Is There A MarketEvery product starts with an idea, but good ideas are rare. There is a long road between a spark of inspiration and a profitable product. Investing in a product idea that goes nowhere is dangerous. Few retailers can afford to manufacture or buy products that sit on warehouse shelves for months. For every dud product, there is a product which might have sold well if only the retailer hadn’t wasted their time and money on an idea that didn’t work out.

Product evaluation tries to sort the winners from the duds early enough to avoid a wasted investment.

Is The Product Idea Feasible?

Ideas may fall at the first hurdle because there is a challenge that is too difficult or expensive to overcome. It’s better to find these challenges in the early stages of planning, rather than later when money has been spent.

For example, you are inspired to build an eCommerce business around direct-from-the-farm strawberry delivery. There may be a market for fresh strawberries, but there are also challenges. Sourcing strawberries from farms is a complex logistical operation. Strawberries spoil quickly, so short delivery timelines are essential. They should be stored in chilled warehouses and transported on chilled trucks, which is expensive. It’s not a bad idea, but it may involve a substantial capital investment that makes it impractical.

Regulations can be a challenge to the feasibility of an idea. In some parts of the world, fireworks are heavily regulated. To sell fireworks, you have to carry out identity checks on buyers, apply for licenses to buy and sell commercially, pay for expensive liability insurance, and use secure storage. Compliance may make it difficult to sell fireworks at a cost that is competitive compared to industry incumbents.

When developing a product idea, it’s essential to establish that there is a market, but you should also ask whether you are best placed to serve that market.

Is Anyone Interested?

A product idea may not find a market. Perhaps it addresses a need, but customers aren’t prepared to pay enough to build a profitable or sustainable business. More likely, there is little interest. There are several ways to establish whether a market for a product exists. For a preliminary survey, Google Trends and the Google Keyword Tool are useful.

Interest over time in Strawberry delivery

Google Trends tracks the interest in search queries over time. Consider our strawberry retail idea. Google Trends shows that there is some interest in strawberry delivery, but it is generally low with a large spike. The spike occurs in February around Valentine’s Day.

Queries related to strawberry delivery

If we look at the related queries section of Google Trends, we discover that people are likely to be looking for “chocolate strawberry delivery” and “chocolate covered strawberry delivery.” That’s not our product, so some care has to be taken to understand what Google Trends is telling you.

Other strawberry delivery queries

Google Keyword Planner can help you to discover how many searches there are for a product keyword and what the competition is for that keyword. If we look at strawberries deliveries again, we see that there is a low number of searches, but competition for the phrase is high. Again, most of these searches relate to chocolate strawberries, not to our idea.

Let’s refine our keywords. If we look at “fresh strawberry delivery” in Google Trends, we see that there isn’t enough search volume to tell us anything.

strawberry delivery queries don't always work out

Google Keyword Planner tells a similar story. The number of average monthly searches for “fresh strawberry delivery” is low, but competition for those keywords is high. Google suggests alternative keywords that include “fresh fruit delivery,” which has a lot of searches and high competition. Perhaps an eCommerce business that focuses on delivering strawberries from the farm to the door isn’t such a good idea.

Keyword by relevance

It’s worth taking the time to try many different keywords to work out if anyone wants a product and what the competitive market looks like. Once you have established that you can implement your product idea and that there is interest in the product you want to sell, it’s time to consider its potential profitability and the competition. We will take an in-depth look at both in a future article.

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