May 2, 2019 – We’re proud to announce the addition of a new hosting solution to our lineup for merchants: BigCommerce. This new addition allows us to provide merchants with multiple options for creating, customizing, and delivering their online stores.
As a powerful, headless eCommerce solution, BigCommerce allows merchants to employ a powerful product catalog while maintaining the simple front-end capabilities of WordPress. To this end, BigCommerce accounts with Hostdedi will include a WordPress environment with the BigCommerce plugin pre-installed and pre-configured.
In additional to the same great optimizations you’ll find across all of our plans, you’ll also have access to our support team and auto scaling functionality.
Keep reading to find out more about how Hostdedi and BigCommerce can work together to power your eCommerce needs.
By 2021, eCommerce will hold 17.5% of the commerce market share. In 2018 it was 11.9%. Part of the reason for this growth is the number of options available to different merchants. More and more, merchants that lack technical knowledge and access to a developer are being provided with accessible eCommerce platforms.
In 2018, we already saw a significant rise in the number of eCommerce solutions leveraging the ease-of-use associated with WordPress. During this time, WooCommerce, another eCommerce plugin that runs on WordPress, saw an 86% increase in the number of services.
With BigCommerce, we hope to support these merchants, by providing them with the functionality and ease of use of WordPress, as well as the powerful product and SKU management tools of BigCommerce. Together, we hope to empower merchants to create the professional, personalized eCommerce experiences they want.
The Same Great Support
BigCommerce merchants will still have access to the same great Hostdedi support they would with any other application. However, in addition to this, they’ll also have access to BigCommerce support ninjas.
Available 24/7/365, support for the new eCommerce solution is designed so merchants are never left in the dark regarding any part of their implementation. Key channels of communication have been set up to enable the best support possible for both the BigCommerce API, and the WordPress front-end.
The new BigCommerce solutions come in several different forms, with three primary plans on the BigCommerce side: standard, plus, and pro. Each of these plans offer merchants an increased set of functionality.
All plans will include access to multiple sales channels such as Amazon, eBay, and social channels. Merchants will also have access to coupons, discounts, and gift cards, along with professional reporting tools, and multiple payment processor options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Amazon Pay.
Once upgraded to the plus plan, merchants will have access to advanced marketing tools for segmenting and targeting customers. Merchants will also be able to store credit card information within the BigCommerce API, and implement abandoned cart campaigns through their store.
For those that select a higher-tier solution from Hostdedi, they’ll have access to the benefits of the Pro plan. This includes an unlimited number of API calls. In conjunction with Hostdedi Cloud auto scaling, this means that merchants won’t have to worry about sales events and periods of high traffic. Merchants will also be able to implement advanced search, allowing customers to find products faster and more easily.
Commerce With a 0% Transaction Fee
One of the big benefits to using BigCommerce is that the eCommece platform has 0% transaction fees. This beats a huge range of other eCommerce platforms, and gives merchants a clear fee at the start of each month.
Similar to all other Hostdedi services, features such as auto scaling and dev sites will also be available at an additional price. A vital part of your move to Hostdedi is going through appropriate sizing with our team of experts. Get in touch to find out what size commerce is best for your store.
A Simple Migration Process
Making the move to BigCommerce is simple. As with all migrations to or between Hostdedi accounts, we provide full support from start to finish. However, from a preparation perspective, there are a few things you can go over prior to making the move.
Consider what vendors you want to use for different aspects of the commerce experience. Who will be your shipping provider, who will be your validation provider? If you’re content with the ones you have, that’s great, but see if there is anything you’re going to need to do to make the move as easy as possible.
We also recommend taking a look into the different options available for manual migration. BigCommerce offers a great tool for catalog transfer from Magento. Note that if you’re running a heavily customized storefront on your previous eCommerce platform, the migration may require more work.
Get Started with BigCommerce
Interested in seeing if BigCommerce is the right eCommerce platform for you? Solutions start from $58.95 for the XS cloud package with the standard BigCommerce plan, and scale with merchants depending on their store requirements.
When it comes to selecting the right eCommerce platform, merchants have a lot to consider: Store size and number of products, payment and shipping options, and how they want the store to actually work.
At the center of these questions is an answer to which platform will do everything you want, while still being cost effective and providing the customer experience you’re looking for? Two of the main contenders are Magento and Shopify.
While both are able to create unique eCommerce stores, they differ significantly in almost all areas. As we’ll look at in more detail, Magento and Shopify have two different target audiences. Magento is aimed at larger, enterprise businesses, while Shopify is designed around small businesses looking for simple site creation.
We’ll explore several different areas and ask which platform is best for merchants in what ways. This article will try to answer:
When it comes to numbers, Magento and Shopify couldn’t be more different.
In terms of number of sites, Shopify boasts over 880,000, which dwarfs the 245,000 Magento sites currently live.
Yet if we take a look at the percentage of those sites that have made it into the top 1m and top 10k sites, we begin to see a different picture.
According to BuiltWith, 6.2% of Magento sites are featured within the top 1m sites globally, compared with just 2.51% being sites that operate on Shopify. This trend continues into the top 10k sites, with 0.07% of Magento stores featured, compared with just 0.05% of Shopify sites.
This suggests that Magento is more likely to support enterprise level stores that are able to better hone in on personalized customer experiences.
As we will dive into later in this article, Magento is known for its incredible functionality and ability to customize the eCommerce experience. So it’s no surprise that larger online stores lean towards using it.
* Requires a hosting solution, which normally starts at around $29 per month.
Magento vs Shopify: Pros and Cons
Magneto offers incredible functionality compared to almost any other eCommerce platform out there. This makes it one of the most versatile options for merchants looking to create personalized customer experiences, especially if they have a developer team behind them.
Advanced Shopping Cart Options
Shopping cart customization can make all the difference in terms of real ROI. As one of the most vital stages of a customer’s journey, the right options during purchase can be the difference between clicking cross and clicking buy.
Magento has almost twice the number of extensions as Shopify. And it’s not just quantity either. Magento extensions stay true to the platform’s reputation for flexibility by providing more in terms of functionality.
An asset that is not talked about enough. Magento’s community provides the eCommerce web application with a lot of support that other non-open-source applications don’t receive.
Difficult for Beginners
Magento was not designed for those looking to take their first steps into eCommerce. While there is a page builder in the works for open source, you still very much need either coding knowledge or a developer to get started.
While open source itself is free, hosting is not. This can cost many hundreds of dollars if you’re a large store. It can cost you more than the Shopify equivalent, but we would argue that you get more for your money by self hosting.
Ease of Use
Shopify is designed to be a simple eCommerce platform that provides owners with an easy way to get started selling quickly. Pages can be easily customized, as can products. While this customization is nowhere near Magento’s, it’s enough to get started.
Shopify has several free themes available to get started with. They require no coding, are responsive, and look modern.
Shopify is all managed through a single point of contact. Instead of having to manage your store on multiple fronts, you’re able to access and do everything in one place.
Once you’ve gone through all the additions you’ll have to add to your Magento budget, Shopify is often the more inexpensive option.
Transaction fee per sale
Each time you sell a product, you pay Shopify. With the basic plan, this starts from 2.9% + 30¢ per sale. If you use an external payment gateway, you can add an additional 2%. Learn more about Shopify’s transaction fees.
As we’ll explore in this article, Shopify just can’t compete with Magento in terms of functionality.
Designs and Themes
In terms of design, both Magento and Shopify hold their own. From the get-go, Shopify does offer a better experience for beginners. The stock themes available come in both free and paid flavours, and provide a classy, modern look.
Shopify’s themes can also be tweaked to line up with your brand image. These tweaks can include, but are not limited to:
Changing color schemes throughout the site
Applying custom images to products and pages
Changing how newsletter signups work
Editing the action bar and navigation text
Mobile responsiveness is now more vital than ever. 79% of mobile users made a purchase with their mobile in 2018. For merchants, this means it’s important that their site looks good and offers a great user experience on mobile.
Both Magento and Shopify offer responsive templates by default. However, if you’re willing and able to develop your own eCommerce store, Magento really shines.
Creating your own theme in Magento can be a long process that requires coding knowledge. However, the rewards are multitude. A customized Magento build allows you to create a storefront unlike anything offered in Shopify.
Cross-selling and up-selling blocks throughout your site
Expanded footer functionality including newsletter sign-ups
Advanced cart and payment integration
Which platform is better really depends on what you want to do with it and your experience level. Shopify is great for beginners, but Magento offers more experienced users a wealth of design and theme options you just won’t find in simpler eCommerce applications.
Ease of use
Straight out of the gate, Shopify takes the lead. Known for its ease of use and ability to create simple, easy to navigate online stores. It, without a doubt, is the easier application for merchants.
Shopify also features an easy to use drag and drop interface. This is something you won’t find in Magento and makes creating new pages much easier.
Shopify makes store creation simple with an easy to navigate admin interface.
However, with that simplicity comes a lack of versatility. Versatility that can be found and taken advantage of with Magento.
Besides offering a host of built-in customizations and functionalities, Magento also offers an extension marketplace with over 4,700 extensions available to download and add to your store.
Additionally, Magento’s recent acquisition by Adobe has already led to other added functionality and integrations for the eCommerce application. Integrations that Shopify simply can’t compete with for enterprise level clients.
If you’re looking for ease of use, Shopify is the way to go. However, if you’re willing to put in the time and energy needed to learn and adapt a Magento store’s customer experience, Magento is the application you should stay behind.
Magento is known as an eCommerce powerhouse. Between built-in functionality and add-on extensions, it stands as one of the most adaptable eCommerce platforms available.
Yet Shopify does offer enough functionality for small and medium businesses to grow. The eCommerce application makes it easy to do a lot of things without having to code even a single line.
Inserting custom images to create a personalized experience
Adding products and SKUs to your store
Setting up optimized payment options
Customizing the customer experience and the look and feel of your store
However, as you start to require more advanced functionality, your monthly premium will increase. You’ll have to pay more than $29 a month if you want to use gift cards, build professional reports, and implement advanced shipping options.
Magento, on the other hand, is engineered to allow merchants full control of the customer experience by default. This means creating and selling fully customizable products and managing them across multiple stores (if needed).
One of Magento’s greatest strengths benefits international merchants. Magento offers 148 payment processors, many of which come with support for different countries and languages. 60% of overseas, online consumers rarely buy from English-only websites. So being able to offer that international, multilingual experience is vital if you want to target this group.
Shopify does offer a limited number of translation apps, but they don’t provide the complete experience like Magento can.
Magento wins here. But we knew that before we even started.
Apps and Extensions
Once you’ve got your store up and running, you may find that some functions and features you want are missing. Advanced checkout, improved search, and expanded payment options, as a few examples.
Both applications have an answer to this, and it comes in the form of 1-click add-ons that can be purchased (in some cases), downloaded, and installed. Shopify call these Apps, Magento calls them Extensions.
Delving into the options available to merchants, it’s easy to see why Magento’s marketplace is praised, where Shopify’s app store is seen as more of a useful addition.
The first thing you might notice is the difference in the number of extensions made available for each. The Magento marketplace offers over 4,700 extensions, almost double Shopify’s 2,500. And it’s not just the quantity of add-ons that make Magento so much more versatile, it’s the quality as well.
Shopify apps allow users to:
Integrate their store with social and shopping channels
Add additional shipping options
Make basic edits to SEO important data
Magento extensions make it possible to:
Add advanced pre-order functionality
Draw insightful analytics into how well a product is doing
Integrate marketing and analytics software into the eCommerce platform
Leverage powerful advertising tools both internally and externally.
A comparison of some of the more popular add-ons for each, shows that Magento truly is aimed towards delivering a custom user experience and that its extension marketplace only aids in doing so.
Amasty Improved Layered Navigation
Amasty Customer Attributes
Aheadworks Ajax Cart Pro
Point of Sale
Aheadworks Add Free Product to Cart
Magento extensions can be found on the Magento marketplace.
Unfortunately, Magento’s extensions (in general) are costly compared with Shopify’s apps. Moreover, Shopify offers a lot more in terms of free add-ons.
Magento is the clear winner here. Despite costing more, the extensions available add more in-depth functionality and there’s a much larger range.
Both eCommerce platforms allow for an unlimited number of products. They also both allow for you to integrate shipping and fulfilment extensions into your store so that inventory management is easy.
However, the larger your store becomes with Magento, the more likely you are to run into performance problems if you don’t upgrade your hosting account. Shopify has similar problems. However, because your store will be hosted by Shopify themselves, they will encourage you to upgrade your account before you start to experience slowdowns.
With Magento, we recommend finding a Magento-optimized hosting provider, as they will provide you with a fully managed service, similar to Shopify. In some cases, you may even find that your store is faster and more reliable than its shopify counterpart.
Shopify still wins this round, simply because it’s easier to manage performance and inventory through one point of contact, instead of having to get in touch with a developer, hosting provider, and the Magento community.
Magento is a known resource hog, requiring a serious hosting environment to back it up. It’s common knowledge that a merchant’s hosting infrastructure can start to feel the strain as more product SKUs are added. Backed by over a decade of experience, we offer an optimized Magento solution that uses caching to improve the performance of Magento stores. Many of those optimizations you won’t find elsewhere.
Shopify, on the other hand, is a lightweight application. As a result, it runs quickly in most environments, and can hold a larger number of product SKUs on the same hardware that will only run a smaller Magento store.
However, Shopify doesn’t have the same level of functionality as Magento. Personalized shopping experiences with Shopify can be as much as occasional product recommendations and cross-selling.
The reason Magento is such as resource hog is because of everything going on behind the scenes. True personalization of the commerce experience with cross-selling, up-selling, customized shopping cart experiences, and more.
And Magento will run smoothly if the server is configured properly. In 2018, we saw 64% of our hosting solutions run Magento. When asked why they chose us for Magento, merchants cited uptime and functionality as the two main factors at play. Indicating that performance did have a part to play.
Magento scrapes by as the winner here. While Shopify requires less optimization, Magento reigns champion due to the added functionality that comes with it. Moreover, with customized customer experiences, it’s almost certain a Magento store will perform better in terms of ROI.
Both Magento and shopify are strong SEO contenders. In some research, Shopify comes out on top with an SEO score of 98, compared with Magento’s 95.
However, while Shopify is better from an absolute beginner perspective, those with some SEO knowledge will be able to get more out of a Magento installation. The primary reason for this is the extensions available and the ability to truly conform to coding best practices.
Magento doesn’t just let you edit metadata, it also allows you to make vital product and on-page customizations that can provide you with an SEO boost you won’t find in a SaaS product. Additionally, if you’re looking to start working in SEO longtail, adding a WordPress blog to your Magento store is a relatively simple process.
We’re setting Magento as the winner here, due in large part to the added customization options available for users and the ability to customize the SEO process manually.
Security should be at the top of your list. According to the State of Hosting, 61% of shoppers will not purchase from a site that is missing a trust seal such as an SSL certificate.
With changes to the way Google handles security, sites that lack an SSL certificate will now be subject to unsecured site warnings before shoppers can proceed. 98% of shoppers will not proceed past these warnings.
While Shopify manages the integration of an SSL certificate, Magento requires you to purchase and install one separately. This process can be managed for you by a managed hosting provider, but you’ll need to find one first.
In terms of updates and patches, Shopify manages them for you. Magento requires you to do this manually. While Magento’s method requires more time investment from the merchant or developer team, it also provides more flexibility. This is, in large part, due to the incredible community behind Magento.
Magento frequently releases dedicated security patches that are the result of constant testing and development by a community of developers well-versed in the requirements of eCommerce stores.
Shopify, on the other hand, is only managed by in-house talent. This makes for a much smaller pool of resources working on creating and deploying fixes for security problems. While there is a Shopify bounty program that rewards users who find vulnerabilities, the fixes themselves are internal.
Finally, in order for merchants to process credit card data, it’s important for them to be PCI compliant. Shopify, again, manages this internally. However, once again, finding the right Magento hosting provider will make managing PCI compliance just as easy.
Magento is the winner here. While it’s true that Shopify makes security easier, Magento community support can’t be matched. Moreover, by searching for and finding the right hosting provider, managing security with Magento can be just as easy while still providing flexibility you won’t find with a SaaS platform.
A quick look at the pricing for each eCommerce platform makes it seem as though Magento is the cheaper option. However, while Magento open source itself is free, there are numerous hidden costs.
As a Magento merchant, you have to consider hosting costs, security costs (such as SSLs), and developer fees. Developer fees can be the largest, with some Magento stores costing several thousand dollars in terms of development.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, Shopify is the better choice. It’s also a lot more predictable, with a clear, monthly payment in addition to a transaction fee per sale.
Magento vs Shopify: The Winner
So when it comes down to it, which is better: Magento or Shopify?
We’ve come to the conclusion that it really depends on what you’re looking for. Magento is better for those looking to create personalized customer journeys that visitors won’t find anywhere else. Shopify is good for merchants looking to create an eCommerce site with little coding or technical experience behind it.
If you do have either the technical experience or a team of developers, we highly recommend Magento. With functionality you just can’t find anywhere else, and an open source version driven by an incredible community, it’s hard to beat.
If, however, you don’t have the time or money to invest in creating these unique experiences, Shopify is going to leave you with a better storefront that serves customers that information they need.
Data is one of your eCommerce business’s most valuable assets. But it’s not only valuable to your business. It’s also valuable to criminals, who use personal data for identity theft and credit card numbers to commit fraud. Over the last few months, several major eCommerce retailers and many smaller stores were targeted by Magecart, a criminal group primarily focused on scraping credit card numbers.
Magecart is the most prominent victimizer of eCommerce stores, but they are far from the only one. eCommerce store owners should be alert to the risk of data theft and know how to fight it.
Store owners fighting this type of data leak should focus on preventing the attacker from injecting malicious code in the first place.
Keep software up-to-date. Attackers frequently exploit vulnerabilities in older software. If an attacker can compromise an eCommerce store via a known vulnerability in the operating system, utility software, or the store itself, they will inject malicious code, which will run in shoppers’ browsers. Updating fixes known vulnerabilities.
Ensure the database is only accessible via the web store. Database misconfiguration is a common source of data leaks. An eCommerce store’s database should only respond to requests from the application, not to requests from the internet. It should be password protected to prevent any access from unauthorized individuals.
Use a web application firewall such as ModSecurity. A web application firewall can mitigate the risk of attacks against a store’s front-end, including SQL injection attacks and cross-site scripting attacks. Hostdedi uses the advanced ModSecurity WAF on Magento and WooCommerce hosting accounts. To learn more, check out our post on Why ModSecurity Should Be Your Web Application Firewall.
Use two-factor authentication on your Magento or WooCommerce store. The easiest way for an attacker to breach a store’s defenses is to guess the right password. Simple passwords, popular passwords, and passwords based on dictionary words are easy to guess. Long and complex passwords are difficult to guess, and the longer they are, the more difficult it becomes. However, we can’t always trust users (or even developers) to choose a long and random password. Two-factor authentication, as provided by Hostdedi’ Sentry extension for Magento, helps to protect stores from poor password practices.
Disable unused store and server passwords. Unused accounts serve no purpose and increase the surface area of a store that can be attacked. Audit the user accounts on your store and server, deleting those you no longer need. On a related matter, when giving an employee or third-party access to your store, use a unique account created for the purpose. Once they no longer need access, delete the account.
If attackers can’t infect your store with malicious code, they can’t steal your shopper’s details or credit card numbers. By following a few security best practices, you substantially reduce the risk of data theft.
Whether you’re new to eCommerce or looking to see if there’s a better option for your growing store, choosing the right web application is important. There are several different options out there for merchants. This article looks specifically at Magento and Prestashop.
Both of these applications are open source platforms that allow merchants to start, maintain, and manage their online store. Both offer unique customization features, and both have been adopted by large audiences of both developers and merchants.
Yet the online eCommerce landscape changed in 2018. Multiple applications adapted to evolving merchant demands, as existing and new users moved to platforms that better suited their requirements. Moreover, with continued development of headless in mainstream eCommerce circles, merchants found they were no longer restricted by the eCommerce API they selected.
Internally, we’ve seen continued success and growth by Magento stores. According to our research, Magento cloud solutions grew by an average of 18% per month in 2018. Prestashop, on the other hand, boasts that over 270,000 stores run on it worldwide. However, looking a little deeper shows that this number may not be what it at first seems.
Before taking a deeper look at the differences between Magento and Prestashop, we’re going to see how they rank in terms of numbers.
In a comparison of all sites that use Magento and Prestashop, 76% of sites use Magento. While this tells us about the number of sites that use each eCommerce CMS, it doesn’t say anything about the quality of those sites.
When we only consider the top 1 million websites worldwide, we see a similar pattern emerge. 1.5% of the top 1 million sites worldwide run Magento, compared with just 0.4% that run Prestashop. Let’s take a look at some more specific numbers.
Internally, we’ve seen Magento dominate the eCommerce web applications market. 64% of our hosting solutions run optimized Magento environments. Asking clients why they have made this choice, frequent responses include functionality and the ability to implement development processes easily.
Now we’ve taken a look at the numbers, let’s look at some specifics.
Designs and Templates
A good looking eCommerce store is important. According to Blue Corona, 38% of visitors will stop engaging with a site if they don’t think its design is attractive, and 48% of visitors believe that a website’s design is the number 1 factor involved in determining credibility. For these reasons, design and template functionality have made it to the top of our list.
Prestashop does have a large number of free and paid templates available. In addition to those available through Prestashop, there are numerous development agencies that also offer templates for a fee. In general, these templates are able to provide most merchants with an attractive, fast site design that can easily be adjusted to fit their unique business. Merchants can also make simple adjustments to the color scheme, responsiveness features, and more through the Prestashop’s UI.
For this reason, most Magento merchants opt to either hire a developer or learn how to design their site for themselves. This allows them complete freedom in regards to how their site looks and performs. Everything can be customized, from responsive design delivery to core layout options. Advanced Magento developers are also able to take their store headless and implement PWA, whereby Magento serves as the back-end for a separate front-end.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is where Prestashop and Magento differentiate themselves. Prestashop is aimed at beginners and less technical users. While this is great for getting started with eCommerce and simplifying daily management and maintenance of a store, it does have its drawbacks.
At the time of writing, Magento is one of the most flexible eCommerce web applications available. Merchants are able to implement a near-infinite number of capabilities. Moreover, with the continued development and integration by Adobe, we’ll likely see this functionality only increase.
Regardless, if you’re looking for ease of use, Prestashop beats Magento. If, however, you’re looking to create an online store with unrivaled functionality, Magento’s learning curve is probably worth it.
Magento’s main strength is its functionality, and while Prestashop does an admirable job of trying to keep up with a number of optional modules, it just can’t compete.
Prestashop does include integration with other popular eCommerce platforms such as eBay and Amazon. It also offers its own internal analytics system for gaining insights into your audience.
Magento, on the other hand, offers an extensive list of functionality. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
Dynamic rule-based product relations
Visual merchandising page optimization
Customer segmentation and personalization
A powerful admin experience
B2B integration through custom catalogs, price lists, and more
Powerful search integration
One of Magento’s biggest strengths is its Elasticsearch integration. Elasticsearch is a powerful search engine capable of providing customers with results they’re looking for quickly and effectively. According to Moz, on-site searchers are 200% more likely to convert than non-searchers.
While Elasticsearch can be implemented with Prestashop installations (there is a connector module), it doesn’t run as efficiently. With Magento increasing focus on user experience, search has taken a dominant position within the eCommerce application’s ecosystem. The same can’t be said for Prestashop.
If you’re looking for functionality, without a doubt, the winner is Magento.
Modules and Extensions
Magento offers over 4,700 extensions, about 25% more than Prestashop’s 3,900 modules.
Some of Prestashop’s most popular modules includes Amazon Market Place, SEO Expert, PayPal & Braintree, the Google Merchant Center, Advanced Search, and Abandoned Cart Reminder. These modules add a lot of functionality to stock Prestashop, allowing merchants to improve conversion rates and customers experiences.
Magento’s most popular extensions include Yotpo, Add free product to cart, AJAX Catalog, Improved Sorting, and Advanced search. Immediately, a difference can be seen between what merchants are adding to their stores. Magento merchants are looking for added features, where Prestashop merchants are more interested in integrations.
It’s a tough choice here, as both have their advantages. Prestashop is great for beginners and the add-ons allow for site owners to easily integrate other eCommerce products into their store. However, Magento offers even more functionality (on top of already impressive functionality).
Both Magento and Prestashop theoretically come with the ability to host an unlimited number of products. However, if not properly optimized, stores with more than 100,000 products can start to slow down.
With Magento, a number of hosting providers and developers have developed and released information on optimizing the Magento environment to ensure that large stores do not slow down. We should know, we wrote the book on it for Magento 2. Prestashop hasn’t managed to attract as many large stores (as indicated above), so isn’t quite on par in terms of optimization.
If you’re looking to run a large eCommerce store that can maintain good performance, we recommend Magento. Even for smaller stores, Magento environments can be optimized to be blazing fast.
Magento is a known resource hog and requires a powerful environment to run. Users often complain that Magento’s back-end can cause slow downs. For these users, the applications functionality is much more of a draw than its performance.
However, Magento doesn’t have to be slow. Often, slow sites are a result of either poor development or unoptimized hosting. See if your environment is optimized before migrating to another application. Optimization is a lot faster than a site redesign… and less costly.
Prestashop is much more lightweight, so there are usually no issues with site speed. Despite this, as we mentioned above, the eCommerce platform does experience slowdowns when too many SKUs are added.
We’re going to call this one a draw. Prestashop is more lightweight, but it also suffers from slowdowns when too many products exist.
In terms of SEO, Magento and Prestashop are in two different leagues. In research conducted by eCommerce Platforms, the stock SEO capabilities of Magento outrank Prestashop in almost every area. In fact, Magento came 4th in a list of the top 16 eCommerce applications available, in terms of SEO value, with a score of 95. Prestashop only scored 40.
Reasons for this disparity include Prestashop’s need for additional modules to serve simple SEO requirements. For example, you cannot add alt tags to images without installing a module first. Magento, on the other hand, comes with a powerful suite of SEO tools from the outset; including dedicated SEO content sections for products.
Magento wins in this category hands down.
Security is vital for eCommerce stores. Customers only shop with merchants that they trust.
So it’s unsurprising that both platforms offer great security features and have a history of reliability. Both have also been the victim of security breaches.
However, as with any website and its security, infrastructure is as important as the application itself. Important features to note are a web application firewall (WAF), whether the hosting provider is PCI compliant, and what else the provider proactively does to keep a site secure.
Magento is often optimized for its environment and so comes with a level of security you don’t see with Prestashop. Moreover, with a large number of dedicated providers offering platforms to develop on and great public documentation, most providers have more knowledge of how to secure and maintain the application itself.
While there is a self-hosted version of Prestashop available for download. A large number of users host their site with Prestashop. If you want your eCommerce store to remain secure, it’s usually better to have control over the environment and access to a support team. For this reason, we recommend a self-hosted solution regardless of which application you pick.
Both Prestashop and Magento offer free, open source options for merchants. However, to support these you will need to pay for hosting. Hosting costs vary by provider. We offer optimized Magento hosting solutions that enable merchants to create scalable and powerful eCommerce stores on a secure platform.
As a result of the incredible functionality that comes with it, Magento can be resource hungry. For this reason, we recommend only opting for a hosting provider that optimizes specifically for Magento. Prices for a stable provider start at around $20 a month and scale to several thousands for a dedicated cluster environment.
Prestashop, on the other hand, is not as resource intensive, and can be installed on a flexible environment without any needed optimizations. Flexible solutions can start from less than $20 a month, but they usually limit the number of monthly visitors substantially. The lower your monthly visitor capacity, the lower your likely revenue.
If you’re looking for a cheaper solution, Prestashop is likely the right choice. However, if you believe your store is going to grow and want to invest in a scalable solution now instead of later, Magento should be your eCommerce application of choice.
Magento vs Prestashop: The Winner
Both web applications provide merchants with a secure eCommerce environment. However, at their core, they are aimed at different types of merchants. Prestashop is aimed at merchants with smaller eCommerce stores and that require much less functionality. Magento, on the other hand, is aimed at merchants that require more advanced eCommerce functionality and are looking to optimize their conversion rate.
From a merchant perspective, if you’re able to invest enough time into a proper Magento implementation, then it offers much more than Prestashop and you’ll like see higher ROI. If, however, you’re looking for an easy WYSIWYG and don’t necessarily require some of the basic functionality that comes with Magento (such as advanced customer connection tools or SEO tools at the core) then Prestashop may suit your business model more.
How are leading eCommerce businesses optimizing for site speed in 2019? What build and design techniques are they implementing to stay ahead of the curve and deliver fast, flexible, and consistent experiences to consumers?
We took at look at a select group of over 30 leading eCommerce stores, and analyzed them for Eight key site speed optimization techniques. What we found reveals several opportunities for new and established eCommerce stores to get ahead.
96% of eCommerce Stores Are Not Considering Site Speed
In our test group, the number of sites that didn’t meet Google site speed requirements for both desktop and mobile was staggering. It’s surprising that only 4% made the effort to optimize their site speed, considering eCommerce stores are often battling it out for top spot in search engine results, and site speed being a ranking factor.
One of the reasons we’re seeing such a low number may be changes Google have made to their page speed tool in the last year. There is now a much larger focus on time to interact and first render, with older devices suffering under the hardware requirements of newer sites.
If you’re looking for a way to get ahead of the competition on the results page, optimizing your site’s speed may be how you do it.
60% of Merchants Think Uptime is the Most Important Concern
Beating out site speed, uptime is the most important concern for over 60% of businesses in the eCommerce space. This may be the reason why only 4% of stores in our sample met Google’s site speed standards, with many fearing unstable environments and user experiences with newer technology.
Uptime is an important metric, and it does take precedence over a lot of other factors you’ll find on your site. However, it is also important to keep your store modern and meet consumer expectations for speed and flexibility.
65% of Stores Do Not Use Lazy Loading
Lazy loading allows you to first pull low-resolution images and then replace them with higher-resolutions images once page content has been loaded. It is a great method for easing server load and optimizing content delivery.
While we’re only seeing 35% of stores implementing lazy loading, we’ve noticed this number has steadily increased over the past few years as more eCommerce developers have become aware of it. Consider implementing in your site build to improve site speed and user experience.
85% of Stores Do Not Use Hero Image Carousels
Hero image carousels are image slideshows that alternate between multiple images. They have long been the bane of site speed for two reasons. One, they require multiple high-resolution images. Two, they are usually situated at the top of the home page. These two factors can combine to make home page loads take a lot longer than they should.
It’s not surprising then, that 85% of stores have opted to remove them from their site. The stores that did implement them did not provide full page width images and only used a handful of slides. The hero image carousel is going away. If you’re still using one on your site, it may be time to rethink this part of your design.
77% of Stores Have a Responsive Site
Responsive sites are the norm. Over the last several years, site owners have continued to optimize their site designs for mobile users, and in several cases even offered offline apps.
What shocked us about this statistic is that 33% of sites do not have a responsive site. This is despite numerous warnings from Google, and more than a few metrics showing how many B2C consumers are using mobile devices. In the Asian Pacific, numbers indicate that over 75% of consumers used their mobile to make a purchase in 2018.
100% of Stores Have Not “Appified” Their Web-Based Store
Headless applications are here and with them has come the ability to make content and websites available offline. Instead of adding an app to multiple app stores, users can now save a website to their desktop for access at a later date (when they don’t have an internet connection).
However, none of the sites we surveyed have done this. One reason for the lack of adoption here may be that it’s such new technology, larger eCommerce sites don’t feel that all the kinks have been worked out. Alternatively, they may feel that it’s not a well-know feature and so wouldn’t deliver enough ROI on development costs… yet.
If you’re a smaller eCommerce store and are looking for something to differentiate your brand, and have considered taking a headless approach to eCommerce, see if appifying your site is the right way forward.
69% of Stores Have a Downloadable App
Despite no merchants having appified their web-based stores, 69% of eCommerce business have created and offer a downloadable app for either Android, IOS, or both. This is likely in an effort to keep up with consumer requirements without going too far out of established practices with an appified web-based store.
If you have the development resources, it’s recommended that you create an app for your store. However, there is also a lot of potential for appified web-based stores. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, that may be the better option.
58% of Stores Have a Multi-Step Checkout Process
Multi-step checkout processes are where the checkout process is divided between several pages. Historically, this has been a popular option for eCommerce stores, so consumers are accustomed to it. Moreover, despite having multiple pages, the process is usually kept short so consumers are not turned away by a lengthy checkout.
However, the one-step checkout has increased in popularity. More stores are offering consumers the ability to make instant purchases with just a few clicks of a button. A single-step checkout may become a differentiator between eCommerce stores in the coming years.
76% of Stores Offer a Desktop Search Bar But Only 36% Offer One on Mobile
Metrics have shown that site search is an important eCommerce store addition. Searchers are 200% more likely to convert. Yet despite this high number, only 36% of eCommerce stores in our survey offered a search bar on mobile devices.
One reason for this may be that the stores lacked a dedicated search engine. In the past, search has often remained unoptimized and more of an afterthought. However, with search offerings such as Elasticsearch making it more powerful than ever before, it may be time to start implementing search in both mobile and desktop views.
The Top eCommerce Stats
These nine stats give valuable insight into how eCommerce merchants are managing their sites in 2019 and optimizing for speed. While speed is clearly a concern, statistics like Uptime beat it out in almost every scenario. An increasing number of merchants are sticking with what they have, instead of adopting new technologies appearing on the scene such as headless. This may, in part, be due to worries about instability.
Merchants should be looking to compete in the area of site speed, and there are multiple opportunities and best practices for doing so. Merchants should implement lazy loading, remove hero image carousels, make sure their site is responsive, and conduct frequent audits through Google’s toolset.
Interested in learning more about site speed? We took a look at over 13,000 different online services to see what site owners and merchants care about. Download the state of hosting today.
In the nineteen years we’ve been in the hosting industry, we’ve seen a lot of different sites grow and prosper. Over the last few years, however, we’ve started to see a shift in the way that sites are doing so. New technology and infrastructure options, combined with industry changes to security and privacy, have seen development and hosting take on a whole new meaning.
Released today, the State of Hosting 2019 marks the first annual deep dive into the hosting solutions site owners and merchants are choosing, along with their hopes and concerns for the future. The aim of this report is to help make business owners aware of how hosting solutions are changing for the better, and how they can keep up.
Below you’ll find a quick look at some of the most compelling takeaways from this year’s report. Alternatively, you can download the full report now.
Magento Continues to Dominate the eCommerce Market
eCommerce applications have long been in competition over top spot. Each offers its own experience with unique selling points that appeal to specific merchants. Coming into 2019, Magento continues to lead the charge, being the application of choice for 64% of hosting solutions and dominating over competitor WooCommerce.
There are several reasons for this, with one being the functionality and flexibility offered by Magento solutions. Magento also seems to line up with site owners’ top issue of development. However, a new competitor has entered the market in 2019 and with it a potentially new candidate for top eCommerce spot. Read the report to find out who and what it may mean for your eCommerce store.
PWA Is the Future
PWA took the world by storm in 2018, and it’s only going to continue to see an increase. We found that 67% of store owners plan to adopt PWA development in the future. The reasons are many, with development capabilities standing at top spot.
However, PWA development will likely lead to a number of organizational changes with regards to how websites and online properties are manages. Many agencies are still working on what this will look like, and trying to decide which clients will really benefit from PWA. Download the report to see what else merchants and developers have to say about PWA.
Uptime Remains a Primary Concern for Content Producers
Site outages and downtime can lead to huge losses in revenue. Just a 1-second delay in load time can lead to a 7% decrease in conversions. For content producers, that number can have a huge effect on conversion goals and is a very real threat to the success of a website.
Consequently, uptime remains a primary concern for content application owners. However, price is still the top value. This means that while site owners are looking for reliable hosting solutions, they are still aiming to keep the price down. However, finding the right balance between the two is integral, with many site owners claiming that their move to Hostdedi came after reliability concerns with cheaper providers.
A Significant Number of Websites Run On WordPress
Automattic place the number of sites that use WordPress as making up 32.5% of all websites globally. Internally, we have found that number to be closer to 24% across all solutions, and 67% across content solutions. That is still no small number.
Site owners choose WordPress due to its ease of use and the sheer amount of content it allows for owners to create and publish easily. Read the report to find out why WordPress was also 2018’s fastest adopter of cloud technology.
We invite you to learn more about hosting in 2018 and the decisions other merchants and site owners made throughout the year. Download the report now.
Your eCommerce business needs feedback almost as much as it needs sales.
According to a UPS study, 55% of online shoppers will share a dissatisfying experience with friends and family while eCommerce Digest reports that free returns earned Zappos 75% more customer loyalty and repeat purchases compared to competitors.
Honest feedback, when received promptly and acted upon, can help discover such customer insights, helping avert abandoned carts, customer churn, and negative reviews and ratings.
But how do you collect honest feedback from your eCommerce customers? How do you gather actionable insights that help you improve your business and make your customers happier?
In this guide, we look at four broad areas you can focus on to help you get honest feedback from your eCommerce customers.
Strong relationships are a big incentive for honest feedback. The nature of eCommerce, however, makes building relationships difficult.
Various factors such as automation, drop-shipping, third-party vendors and others conspire to make it difficult to cultivate strong relationships with customers.
However, if you want more customers to give you honest feedback, you’ll need to make extra effort to cultivate relationships. Here are some ways you can do this:
Community building: Whether a forum or a Facebook group, building a community around your eCommerce business can create a source of high-quality, honest feedback. Companies like Google and Microsoft have built thriving communities around products where customers post feedback in the form of questions, suggestions, inquiries and so on.
Start or join a cause — If your customers see you stand for something they believe in, they will rally around your business, and be more willing to give you honest feedback.
Humanize your brand — Does your eCommerce business have a human touch? When your customers think about your brand, do they see a brand that cares, has empathy and can connect with people? Humanizing your brand can help you build strong relationships that result in better and more honest feedback.
Run interactive promotions — “Send in a selfie and stand to win a gift card.” Such promotions loop in customers to engage with your business, creating deeper relationships.
And no, just putting a contact form or a feedback widget will not do. To catch your customers’ attention, consider being more intentional in how you reach out to them for feedback.
Try these four approaches as a start:
There’s nothing quite as personal as a phone call. Whether you run a small boutique, eCommerce shop or a massive eCommerce operation, the value of speaking directly with customers over the phone cannot be understated.
By calling them up, you show you care enough to take the time to call and, in most cases, customers will be willing to share honest feedback.
Blasting off a generic email with no personalization is a sure way to get no feedback. Instead, personalize your email, segment the audience, and ask customers to reply directly to the email instead of sending them to a feedback form.
When people feel like their feedback email will be read and replied to, they are more willing to share honest feedback.
Amazon, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Foursquare and others are all places people leave honest feedback. The sense that their feedback will help others drives many eCommerce customers to leave detailed, honest feedback on such sites.
To encourage this, add links to such sites and encourage your customers to leave feedback.
When your customers have a great or less-than-great experience, they will most likely post their sentiments on social media.
Encouraging your customers to share reviews and feedback via social channels like Twitter and Facebook allows them to use channels they feel safe using to share feedback with you. A win-win scenario.
Responding to good feedback is easy, yet you would be surprised at how few eCommerce businesses do so. When you take good feedback for granted, you communicate to your customers that you are not that interested in their feedback.
However, communicating appreciation, not just for the positive feedback, but also for the act of leaving feedback, encourages customers to leave further feedback in the future.
Most eCommerce businesses see negative feedback as fires to fight. By assuming a fire-fighting stance, they miss a golden opportunity to validate and encourage more instances of such honest feedback.
Instead of looking at negative feedback as a problem to fix (yes, it may very well be a problem to fix,) also see it as an opportunity to encourage and continue honest dialogue with valued customers.
Sometimes customers give you honest feedback through their actions — they vote with their (digital) feet. In such instances, you can get honest, unbiased feedback by capturing and analyzing customer data (be aware of data collection laws like GDPR.)
Here are four of the top metrics you should measure to get valuable and honest passive feedback from customers and site visitors:
How many customers add items to the cart and then abandon it? Do they return? What is the average value of an abandoned cart?
Understanding this metric will offer you valuable feedback and insights into customer behavior and how you can adapt accordingly.
Average Session Duration
How long do visitors spend on your website? How much time is spent on which sections of your site? How does this relate to purchases?
For example, long sessions that result in no purchases may indicate a lack of clarity or some other hindrance to purchasing.
Do visitors exit your site at the shipping calculator page? Your shipping rate may be too high or unclear.
Do they exit at certain product pages? The prices may be too high or the value proposition poorly communicated.
A high bounce rate could give you feedback that your site is not relevant or useful to most people who visit it.
Such feedback could lead to a website redesign or further investigation into the high bounce rate.
Getting honest feedback from your eCommerce customers will not always be straightforward. It will also be difficult to determine which feedback is honest and which is not. However, this does not mean that the quest for honest feedback is futile.
It means, instead, that getting honest feedback will be a major achievement and competitive edge that you get over your competition. It also means that you’ll be tapping into your customers’ emotions, the most important factor at the heart of every purchasing decision they make.
So you’ve set up your eCommerce store, you’ve found excellent products, and now you’re sitting back and enjoying the profits. Only you’re not, because no one is visiting your site. Just like with brick and mortar stores, eCommerce stores need to attract new customers in order to make a profit and maintain growth.
Luckily, attracting new customers to your eCommerce store isn’t that hard, especially if you happen to have a handy guide for how to do so.
This article covers 10 tactics for increasing the number of visitors to your site; covering on-site content, email, social media, and more.
1. Personalize Your Home page
For many new customers, your home page will be one of the first places they visit after they “enter” your store. Because of this, it’s vital that it leaves a good first impression. The best impression can be made by appealing directly to a customer’s needs.
A great example of this is Amazon, whose home page displays products based on a customer’s shopping history and relevant holidays or events. Something similar can be done on your site by implementing a machine learning extension that displays dynamic content.
Unfortunately, this requires access to information about a customer. For first-time visitors to your site, you probably won’t have information on what products they’ve looked at previously. However, this doesn’t mean you have no data.
Customers can end up on your home page through a number of different avenues. It’s possible a customer has navigated to your home page by clicking on a personalized email you sent. They could also have been directed through a specific social campaign. All of these methods provide you with data that allows you to implement a personalized shopping experience.
2. Increase Your Search Visibility
Increasing search visibility means optimizing your site’s SEO for long tail search traffic. This means optimizing content to match long tail keywords and phrases that new customers are interested in.
For example, if you’re a clothing store, you would create content that matches and answers questions asked by those interested in clothing. You would likely tailor (excuse the pun) that content to specific audiences (e.g., men’s shoes, women’s coats, etc.).
If we take bed linens as an example and perform a Google search for “How to care for your linens”, multiple vendors appear in the search results. These vendors have taken the time to increase their search visibility by appealing to long tail keywords and phrases. You can read more on this in tip #9.
Increasing search visibility does not happen overnight. As almost any respectable SEO strategist will tell you, building authority on the web is a time-consuming process; one that you’ll also likely have to invest money into. This being said, there are some simple methods for improving your site’s authority and search ranking quickly. This includes improving your site’s speed and reliability.
In a study of those who migrated to Hostdedi cloud solutions in 2018, we found that the main reason for migrating was reliability. A reliable site means faster, guaranteed load times and so a better first impression for new customers.
3. Use High-Quality Images and Product Descriptions
Images and product descriptions are the crux of an eCommerce store. The better a product looks, the more likely a new customer is to purchase it, correct?
The ability to see a product in detail and understand what exactly is being sold gives buyers a power previously reserved exclusively for brick and mortar shoppers. More than 70% of potential customers place the ability to zoom on images as one of the highest priority factors when deciding whether to make a purchase.
If you’re a smaller store with limited available funds, we recommend investing in a cheap lightbox and learning some basic lighting skills. The ability to take photos that demonstrate your product in a positive light can do wonders for a store’s sales and ability to attract new customers. Compare the images below: which product would you be more likely to purchase?
Not only do high-quality images help you to attract new customers, but they also allow you to foster trust. According to research, customers believe that eCommerce stores that invest in better images and content are more trustworthy, and therefore are more likely to make a purchase from them.
4. Use Email Lists (Sparingly)
Well designed and delivered email campaigns are a powerful tool for attracting new buyers to your store. They offer you the chance to send new customers personalized product recommendations that leverage unique selling points. The problem is, where do you get a list of names and emails from?
There a few tried and tested techniques for gaining email lists. Techniques that appear like spam to new customers. We recommend that you start to:
Use sign-up forms on your site and integrate with other marketing campaigns
Leverage events as locations for gaining sign-ups
Organize a giveaway in which you collect information
What you should not do, never, ever, ever… is purchase an email list. Purchased lists are the fastest way to the spam box and never having your emails read (even by new customers with a genuine interest in your products).
Once you’ve got a list (no matter how small), it’s time to start using your emails to draw in new customers and encourage them to make a purchase. Some of the most effective email campaigns:
Are cart abandonment emails (40% click-through rate Hubspot)
Welcome new customers (320% revenue increase on promotional emails)
Include coupon codes (the reason 85% of email subscribers sign up in the first place Adestra).
Remember, too many emails and those new customers are likely to unsubscribe. 78% of consumers unsubscribe from an email list if they receive too many.
5. Run a Sales Promotion
Emails with coupon codes receive 2.5x higher transaction rates than those without. If this isn’t a reason for giving promotions a go, we don’t know what is. Yet a truly effective sale is about more than just creating and sending coupons.
When running a sales promotion, introducing limits can help to generate an air of exclusivity. If you decide to integrate social media and promotions, Facebook has a great tool that allows you to attach coupon codes and discounts to an ad, while also introducing limits.
Implementing Coupon codes on Facebook will let you set the discount amount, any details, where people can redeem the discount, and how many discounts are available. It will also let users save your coupon code and use it in the future – in case they’re still undecided on whether to make a purchase or not.
6. Implement PPC Advertising
PPC is pay-per-click advertising. It is where you pay for each click your advert receives – and so for each new potential customer to your site. For high purchase intent searches, paid advertising nets 65% of all clicks, making it one of the best techniques for attracting new customers.
The most common PPC advertising is search engine advertising, such as Google Adwords or Bing Ads. AdWords and Bing Ads let you bid on specific keywords with advertising campaigns and content you create. They also allow you to easily compare the results of these campaigns to see which performs best and which can be improved.
Many PPC experts state that good PPC campaigns are the product of continuous testing. These tests can include:
It’s important to note that these attributes can change as your target audience does; in line with industry and social developments. It’s important to keep an eye on what your industry’s “atmosphere” is and then build PPC campaigns around this.
Of course, no business should base their visibility on paid advertising alone. PPC should be part of a more complex strategy that encompasses a range of different technique outlined in this article. A properly implemented PPC advertising campaign should be based on what you’ve already found successful and help to build out further success.
7. Take Advantage of Social Media
Social media includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other online social platforms. It’s a great way to connect with customers both through organic and paid strategies. In the last two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57%, with it estimated that roughly 75% of online users are either on Facebook or Twitter.
With such a huge user base, social media provides eCommerce stores with a perfect way to reach out to new customers and make themselves known. This can either be done through social media paid ads, or through organic posting that engages.
If you choose to predominantly use organic social media, one of the best ways to engage with audiences is through the images you choose. According to Ofcom, images were the biggest contributor to social media content success in 2017.
Of course, there is one contribution bigger than images made by a company internally: images made by customers. To make the most out of organic social media, we highly recommend getting involved in and promoting user-generated content.
8. User-Generated Content
Once you’ve taken advantage of social media and built up a loyal customer base, you can start to employ user-generated content in your marketing strategy.
…And employ it you will. The benefits of UGC start almost immediately. As we talked about previously, 92% of people lean towards trusting another person’s recommendation over content created by a brand. UGC will give your brand an edge, with data showing that customers that engage with user-generated content are 97% more likely to convert than those who don’t.
In addition to nurturing customer trust, User-Generated Content is a great way to increase the amount of content you’re capable of creating in a short time span. Some of the content types you can share include:
A great way to encourage user-generated content is by using branded hashtags. This allows for users on social networks to tag you in content they create. A good branded hashtag appeals to your users’ ideals and isn’t just your company name. We use #WeLiveBeyond.
9. Create a Blog
Creating a blog links to #2 in this list: increasing search visibility. It’s an integral piece of a successful content-first strategy. Blog content can provide a versatile content-core with answers to new customer questions, along with information they can’t find elsewhere.
Sole Bicycles offer an interesting take on the blog, and one that appeals specifically to their customer base. Each of their articles provides a series of pictures and information on exploring a city on two wheels. They have articles on Omaha, Seattle, Miami, Boise, New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, and more.
Not only does this strategy allow them to rank on Google searches for relevant searches, it also allows for them to provide content that appeals to new customers; content that positions their product as unique and valuable.
Sole Bicycles blogging strategy also allows them to share user-generated content. This again feeds into an integrated and successful content strategy.
10. Incentivize Customer Purchases
This links to the sales promotion tip #5 above, but can be expanded to mean so much more. Think what new customers want from your site… and then give it to them. Incentivization can take on several different forms: discounts, free shipping, free gifts, and more.
These techniques allow you to draw in new customers for first-time purchases and can improve retention and customer loyalty for the future. This means that while you may be accepting a lower profit for the first item they purchase, they will go on to purchase many of your products at full price.
And you may not even have to accept a lower profit. Several surveys have shown that when free shipping is offered, customers are more likely to spend more on the same product – simply because of the incentivization.
In 2017, global online crime generated $1.5 trillion. To put that statistic in context, global eCommerce sales in 2016 totaled around $1.8 trillion. Both of those figures can be challenged and neither is likely to be entirely accurate, but it is clear that online crime is a huge, sophisticated, and professional industry. Much of that industry’s attention is focused on eCommerce retailers.
Anyone who runs an online retail store will find themselves a target sooner or later. By some estimates, 90% of login attempts to eCommerce stores are fraudulent. According to a recent study, about half of all website visitors are bots and around a third are there to attack your site. ThreatMetrix reported a billion bot attacks and 210 million attempted fraud attacks in the first quarter of this year.
But what do criminals gain from their focus on eCommerce stores? In reality, it’s much the same as they get from any site – resources, data, and traffic – but the specifics of eCommerce mean that online stores have a richer vein of those assets to mine.
Online retail stores have access to a lot of data about their customers. That includes names, addresses, and other data that can be used for identity theft.
Of course, the most valuable data is credit card numbers, and those are not often stored in eCommerce databases. One of the reasons retailers use payment processors is so that they don’t have to deal with the burdensome standards and risks associated with credit card data.
But, if an attacker can compromise a site and inject code of their own, sensitive data can be transmitted to a server under their control. This is called credit card skimming. We have recently seen a massive series of skimming campaigns against Magento and other eCommerce stores.
Traffic is valuable
Retailers spend a lot of money on marketing to bring people to their store. That traffic is a valuable resource that a criminal would otherwise have to generate themselves. We’ve already discussed credit card skimming, but criminals also want access to traffic so that they can redirect visitors to phishing websites, malware websites, spam pages, and a variety of other malicious content.
Server resources and bandwidth
No legitimate hosting provider wants to sell bandwidth and server resources to criminals, so they have to get them elsewhere. eCommerce stores are often hosted on high-end servers with a decent chunk of low-latency bandwidth at their disposal. That makes them a good target for spammers and botnet operators who need the bandwidth.
Another resource criminals are interested in is less tangible: your reputation. This can be exploited in a number of ways. For instance, SEO spammers embed links to malicious sites they want to boost in search engine results. It’s your reputation that causes shoppers to entrust their data to you in the first place. And it’s your reputation that will be destroyed if your store leaks sensitive data, hosts credit card skimmers, or infects shoppers with ransomware.
Combating Online Crime
Online security for eCommerce stores is a complex topic, but there are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your store will be victimized.
Update your store and its extensions regularly. The importance of this is hard to overstate. Out-of-date stores are vulnerable.
Make sure all plugins and extensions are downloaded from reputable sources.
Use two-factor authentication. This will help prevent successful brute-force attacks.
Choose your hosting wisely. If you don’t choose a competent hosting provider that cares about security, there’s little you can do to ensure that your store stays safe.
There is no silver bullet for eCommerce security, but these four simple tips will keep your store safe from opportunistic attacks by criminals in search of weaker sites to exploit.
Email is a powerful sales tool. It’s at least 40x more effective than social media, and has a much bigger reach than events. Because of this, it’s important that the emails your sending are done right.
Personalization ranks as one of the most critical email campaign factors. It draws the reader in, fosters a relationship, and encourages trust. Using a person’s name is a significant first step, but there are many ways to personalize an email and let a customer know that you care.
If your email campaigns aren’t bringing the results you want, perhaps it’s time you incorporated our six email personalization techniques. These methods will make your emails stand out from the others fighting for attention in a customer’s inbox.
1. Mention the Recipient Directly
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
The most well-used and well-known method of email personalization, and a perfect technique for building an initial connection. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant, but no one ever seems to remember you. It’s always a better experience when the head waiter recognizes you.
When it comes to digital, the data doesn’t lie. Using a customer’s name makes it more likely that they’ll journey further down the sales funnel and trust the research you present them with. Studies have shown that 63% of Millennials, 58% of Gen Xers, and 46% of Baby Boomers are more likely to click on emails that mentioned them by name.
However, resist the urge to pepper your entire email with their name. Too many mentions and the email will sound contrived. “Barry, this solutions is going to solve all your needs, Barry” – avoid sentences like this, you’ll push Barry away instead of drawing him closer.
2. Segment Your Email Lists
It’s unlikely that all your customers need to receive each and every email you send.
Stand out by only sending relevant emails to relevant parties. If you sell a variety of products, you don’t need to alert gizmo owners to a big sale for add-ons that only fit widgets. You only need to inform widget owners.
You can handle this process easily by segmenting your email list. A well-segmented email list is going to look different depending on your products, company, and customer base. However, at its core, it should seek to reflect a customer benefit analysis – I.e., what emails will most benefit what groups?
It would help if you also segmented your email lists based on where each person is on their buyer’s journey. Those who are just becoming aware that they have a problem that needs solving should receive a different email than those ready to purchase.
Creating a simple and easy to follow chart for customer progression is a great way to visualize how this segmentation process would work. We’ve put together a simple map to chart a buyer’s journey to cart abandonment.
3. Personalize Email Content
Personalization involves more than using a customer’s name.
Moreover, these emails helped to encourage and foster a community around the table booking service. Customers weren’t just finding a table, they were leaving reviews, building up a history, and contributing to something.
Emails that invite customers to be a part of something help to build trust and loyalty. For brands that rely on repeat purchases, emails that draw attention to community can lead to much higher customer retention rates.
4. Deliver Personalized Information
Don’t just deliver personalized product recommendations, deliver personalized information too. The buyer’s journey isn’t a single purchasing stage, it’s a model for funneling customers towards making a purchase. Before a customer makes it to the purchasing stage, they first weight up their options. This is where great, personalized content comes in.
Line up your website content with your email segments. Send those interested in tennis shoes articles about tennis shoes and those interested in bowler hats, articles on bowler hats. Contributing to a buyer’s consideration stage in this way doesn’t only help to improve retention, but can also lead to your becoming an influencer.
5. Use Location and Time
Everyone has a time of the day for checking their emails. It’s not always a time of day that you would have considered.
Busted Tees, a humorous tee shirt company, optimized their email campaigns by looking at the best times for sending emails and saw their click-through rate rise by 11%.
Email monitoring tools are useful for logging the open times for emails you send. Typically, a distinct pattern will emerge. Once you’ve learned your customer’s favorite email times, you can then send your emails at precisely that time – maybe even a little before.
6. A/B Test Content and Segment Techniques
For Busted Tees, the first step toward personalization was to segment its customers. The company grouped them by the time zone in which they lived.
Previously, all emails were sent at the same time — 10am EST. The new email segments aimed to target each customer at 10am, regardless of what time zone they were in. The company saw a significant email response rate increase.
They then tried different times of the day, to see if there were better times than 10am. A/B tests, where two variables are pitted against each other to determine the more effective way of doing something, were implemented and led to the discovery of several effective sending times. Overall, they managed to increase their response rate by 17%.
Email personalization best practices aren’t difficult to execute, but they do involve more than blasting generic greetings and cut-and-paste messages. It’s important to target your customers with content they care about.
A relevant email is more likely to draw attention, clicks, and ultimately purchases. By combining relevancy with testing, it won’t take long before you’re sending interesting email campaigns that promote your brand and help you to build a community.
Personalization takes a little extra work, but there’s a reason more successful marketers insist on doing it. It works.
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