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6 Magento Alternatives You Should Be Considering After Magento 1

6 Magento Alternatives You Should Be Considering After Magento 1

Magento 1 (M1) will be sunsetting June 2020. While the eCommerce platform will still be accessible and usable by both merchants and devs, it will no longer receive official support from either Magento or Adobe. That means that for the 180,000 merchants running M1, the hunt for Magento alternatives is on. 

Are you unsure where to go once M1’s life draws to a close? Here, we’ll cover some of your options, along with the pros and cons of each. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer idea of where your next step on your ecommerce journey will take you. 


Don’t have time to read this now?

Download the After M1 eBook for a complete list of your best options – for when you do have time.


WooCommerce

You may be surprised by the first alternative on this list. You’re probably thinking that WooCommerce just doesn’t have the capabilities you’re looking for in a Magento alternative. This is especially true if you have any experience in WooCommerce and the WordPress space. And you may be right; WooCommerce isn’t as functional as Magento. However, it does have its advantages. 

WooCommerce sits perfectly between being a SaaS product like Shopify, and being a self-hosted ecommerce CMS you have full control of like Magento. It plays a fine line between ease of use and feature sets, and it does so brilliantly. You may be surprised by the types of stores that are on WooCommerce. It’s not all small businesses. 

In 2018, WooCommerce looked into its user base in more detail. They analyzed stores to see where they are coming from and their size. What they found was surprising

WooCommerce is not the ecommerce platform of small merchants some developers think it is. There are a number of larger stores using it as well. 

A large number of WooCommerce stores actually fall between the $100,000 to $500,000 range, with some extending as far as $1 million in annual revenue. Brands that have made WooCommerce their ecommerce platform of choice include Blue Star Coffee, Weber, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Singer.

WooCommerce is not the best choice for large stores that involve a lot of moving parts. But it is a great Magento alternative for smaller and medium-sized stores looking to take control.

Why use WooCommerce instead of Magento?

  • It’s very easy to use, while still offering impressive flexibility for developers
  • It offers a large number of plugins to increase functionality
  • It has a large selection of themes and templates
  • It’s lightweight, so can load content faster

Why use Magento instead of WooCommerce

  • WooCommerce, while flexible, doesn’t have the ecommerce functionality of Magento
  • Magento is better for growing merchants
  • Magento has a great community that supports ecommerce specifically

 

Stay on Magento 1

Your second alternative isn’t an alternative, and comes with a question. Why make the move at all? Have you thought you need to make the move because of the warnings you’re seeing from the community and in your installation? 

Sentiment regarding the Magento 1 End Of Life is split in the community. Fears regarding security vulnerabilities, loss of PCI compliance, and more are on one side. While devs offering continued support and security updates are on the other. 

As a hosting provider, we will continue to support merchants that wish to stay on Magento 1, by making sure to keep our web application firewall up to date to help with security. We’ll also continue to maintain server-side performance optimizations for the first version of Magento. 

Staying on Magento 1 means doing everything you can to secure your site. From hosting to development, don’t cut corners when the future of your store is at stake. 

If you decide that staying on Magento 1 – even if just for the time being – is the right move for your store, then there are a few things you’re going to want to do. Firstly, upgrade your store to Magento 1.9. Unlike replatforming, this does not require much work or expense and is a simple patching process.

You’re also going to want to upgrade any other software you’re running as part of your application stack. This includes your PHP, MySQL, and Apache versions, along with any other applications you’re running as a part of your stack. The Hostdedi support team can help with this. Get in touch and we’ll make sure your hosting environment is as secure as possible. 

Finally, don’t forget to communicate with your developer (if you have one) about what they think staying on Magento 1 means for your store. Some developers will try their best to accommodate you and put in place safeguards so your store isn’t exposed to vulnerabilities. 

Why Stay on Magento 1 instead of moving to Magento 2?

Download and read After M1 to find out more detailed reasons for why staying on M1 may be the right option for your store. 

 

BigCommerce (For WordPress)

Perhaps WooCommerce isn’t the right fit for your store. Maybe Staying on Magento 1 is out of the question. Where do you go next? 

BigCommerce started out as a SaaS application but has since expanded into the headless (decoupled) market. We offer this as an option in the form of BigCommerce for WordPress. The Advantages? Merchants can use both the backend of BigCommerce for ecommerce management and the frontend of WordPress for displaying it. 

This means is more flexibility, better potential user experiences, and the ability to ramp up your content marketing strategy. Remember, content and product SEO are different, so don’t charge in head-first if your not as experienced with content SEO. 

BigCommerce is the Magento alternative for merchants looking for both great content and product management capabilities.

BigCommerce for WordPress also comes with premium support from both Hostdedi and BigCommerce. In the event something goes wrong on either the application or the hosting side, you’ll immediately be able to reach out to a relevant member of the support staff to resolve your problem. The faster it’s resolved, the quicker you’re going to be able to start selling again. 

Why choose BigCommerce instead of Magento?

  • It offers both great ecommerce and content functionality
  • Both BigCommerce and your hosting provider are able to offer support

Why choose Magento instead of BigCommerce?

  • Magento still offers more in terms of functionality
  • BigCommerce charges transaction fees
  • BigCommerce is a closed source application without the development community of Magento

 

Sylius

Perhaps you’re a developer or merchant that loves to live on the bleeding edge. Maybe you’ve always prided yourself on staying up to date with the latest and greatest. Or perhaps you’re all about taking the reins when it comes to functionality. 

If that sounds like you, then Sylius is probably your platform of choice. 

Sylius is an open source ecommerce platform that runs on Symfony. That means more customization, more functionality, and stronger alignment with dev best practices. Plus, with it being open source, the community for support only continues to grow. 

Currently available in standard and enterprise forms, Sylius is a good option if you’re looking to stay ahead of trends in web development. However, if your store needs to remain reliable, then it may be better to look elsewhere. 

Why choose Sylius over Magento

  • Sylius is cutting edge in ecommerce web development
  • It allows merchants to create a heavily customized ecommerce experience

Why choose Magento over Sylius

  • Magento has a longer history and is a more secure foundation
  • There is a larger selection of extensions for Magento
  • You may be limited by your programming expertise

 

Shopify

On the other end of the functionality spectrum is Shopify; a SaaS application built to make ecommerce easy. 

Shopify is one of the more popular options around, and it’s easy to see why when you take a look at its ease of use. For small merchants, the process of going from store idea to selling is quick and easy. However, this ease of use isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – especially when a store starts to grow. 

Shopify is a good option for merchants getting started in ecommerce, but as they grow its limitations become increasingly apparent. 

Shopify comes with a number of limitations that can ultimately hurt a merchant’s bottom line. 

One of the most significant of these limitations is transaction fees. While alternatives like WooCommerce and Magento let merchants use a number of different payment processors without needing to pay transaction fees, Shopify only allows you to avoid them if you use Shopify’s payment service. This can cause problems with lock-in once you start needing an alternative. 

Other limitations also start to appear when considering Shopify SEO. These include:

  • A rigid URL structure
  • Limitations to meta titles and descriptions
  • A locked robots.txt files
  • An inability to edit tag pages
  • No good way to handle duplicate content

For merchants that want their store to rank for important search terms, these SEO limitations can quickly outway the advantages that come with Shopify’s ease of use – especially if you’re a merchant with a lot of products. 

Why choose Shopify over Magento?

  • It’s easier to use and get started with
  • It comes with a large selection of templates and themes

Why choose Magento over Shopify?

  • Magento offers more in terms of flexibility and functionality
  • Magento doesn’t have transaction costs
  • Shopify has some serious SEO limitations

 

Prestashop

Prestashop is another option that works well for merchants looking to leverage a platform that offers ease of use. 

Originally released in 2008, Prestashop comes in both self-hosted and SasS forms. While the user base for both has diminished over the last few years, it’s still a strong competitor for small stores.

Moreover, perhaps because of its self-hosted background, when compared with other SaaS platforms, it manages to hold its own in terms of functionality. Some of the main reasons you may decide to use Prestashop include: 

  • Easy to use and intuitive interface
  • A good selection of themes and templates
  • Over 3,900 extensions for expanding functionality
  • A lightweight platform that is usually fast

Despite these advantages, Prestashop, like Shopify, just can’t compete with some of the bigger players in terms of functionality and flexibility. For medium stores or those that expect to grow, it quickly becomes a bottleneck that prevents continued growth. 

Prestashop is a good option if you’re looking for a platform that offers ease of use. But it trails behind some of the more powerful options in terms of functionality. 

Magento, for example, offers a number of complex options and tools for managing omnichannel customer journeys and multi-site stores with localization requirements. This is an advantage that can particularly help stores with international customers. Localization with Prestashop doesn’t offer the same level of detail or a truly “local” experience. 

Prestashop – just like Shopify-  also falls down in terms of SEO. In fact, stock Prestashop doesn’t even have some SEO features you would expect to see, like meta titles and descriptions. To gain access to that functionality you have to download an extension. 

Overall, Prestashop isn’t the best option on this list. It does, however, offer a suitable alternative to Magento for merchants looking to simplify their commerce experience. 

Why choose Prestashop over Magento?

  • Prestashop is easier to use and develop with. 
  • Prestashop offers a large number of themes and add-ons

Why choose Magento over Prestashop?

  • Prestashop has terrible SEO features
  • Magento offers more in terms of features and functionality

 

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Installing BigCommerce for WordPress, Step by Step

Installing BigCommerce for WordPress, Step by Step

In this post we’re going to go through installing the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin, starting with a mostly empty WordPress install. But before we begin, I want to briefly note that if you’re new to Hostdedi and/or want to add a BigCommerce for WordPress retail plan to your existing Hostdedi hosting account, you can do so by visiting this page, selecting a plan and auto-installing BigCommerce for WordPress in one click. For those who need an enterprise-level solution, you’ll follow the steps outlined in this blog to manually install.

The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin is available on WordPress.org, like most plugins. This makes it easy to install, right from within the WordPress admin interface.

Start by logging into WordPress and in the left admin menu, choose Plugins ➞ Add New.

Easy to install bigcommerce from the plugin directory

 

Then in the top right search area search for BigCommerce. When the results appear, click on Install Now on the BigCommerce plugin.

Once it’s installed you’ll need to activate it.

To get started just click activate

As soon as the plugin is activated it will take you to an Onboarding Wizard to help you configure it properly. Your first step will be to either connect your WordPress site to an existing BigCommerce store or create a new BigCommerce store from right within WordPress.

The BigCommerce onboarding wizard starts automatically

For this post we’ll choose Create New Account.

BigCommerce just needs a few details to create your store

The form is longer than what you see in the screenshot, but it asks for normal contact information like address, city, state, zip, phone, etc.

When creating a new account like this it’s creating a free 15-day trial. If you decide you don’t like it, you can simply let it expire. If you decide you’d like to sign up for BigCommerce you may do that in your Account page in the BigCommerce admin area.

and set up a channel

Once you’ve created an account you’ll need to make a Channel.  Channels in BigCommerce allow you to specify what products appear in what storefront.  For example, Amazon can be a channel, and you can say “These products appear in Amazon”.

With WordPress, each WordPress instance in a channel, so you can show certain products on one WordPress site, and other products on another WordPress site.

Of course if you wish you may show all products on your WordPress site, but this Channel we’re making is the method by which that happens.

As shown in the screenshot above you may choose to have all products immediately imported or have none so that you may go back later and specifically choose which products get imported.

then select how to want to use the bigcommerce plugin

The next option is to choose a Full Featured Store or set up a Blogging store. If you choose Simple Blogging then it will skip helping you set up a Navigation Menu and disable the Cart and the Embedded Checkout. So customers will click to Buy a product and it will send them to the BigCommerce store. If you choose this and change your mind it’s easy to switch back later.

For this post we’re going to choose Full Featured Store.

Once you’ve chosen Full Featured Store, the next step is to optionally set up a WordPress Navigation Menu. Checkboxes are provided for all of the pages that BigCommerce creates during this install, including Product Listing Pages, Brand Pages, Category Pages, Shopping Cart, Checkout, etc. You can also choose a Menu Location, exactly like in the default WordPress menu builder.

After you complete the Navigation configuration you’re essentially done with setting up WordPress.  If you wish you can go into BigCommerce ➞ Settings and make some changes, but that’s not required.

The final page of the Setup Wizard offers some links to finish setting up your store, and these must be done before your store will function properly.  These things include setting up your payment gateway, taxes, and shipping.

Once these last admin things have been set up you’re ready to sell!

Learn more about the BC4WP plugin with Hostdedi here.

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The 2019 Black Friday Ecommerce Prep Guide

The 2019 Black Friday Ecommerce Prep Guide

Every year, on the fourth Friday of November, shopping chaos unfolds.

Stores cut their prices, customers flock to their nearest outlets, and deals are had by everyone.

But not anymore. Thanks to ecommerce, customers no longer have to leave the comfort of their home to take part in Black Friday. Keeping an eye on advertisements and pre-event newsletters, customers can easily turn on their laptop, click add to cart, and checkout as soon as the clock strikes twelve.

For customers, this is great. For merchants, it means competition has only gotten more fierce (if you thought that possible). It’s no longer just about having the best deals; it’s about having the best visibility. 

Why Black Friday Matters

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, with American shoppers spending a record $5 billion in 2017. In 2018, this number then grew by 19%, with over 14.8 million online transactions recorded. With so much money up for grabs, Black Friday can be one of the most profitable days of the year for some businesses. In some cases, it even defines a stores annual profit. 

In the jewelry industry, for example, Black Friday can account for 40% of a business’s annual revenue. With such a large percentage from only a single day, these merchants are often forced to ensure their Black Friday campaigns do better year-over-year. The alternative is something many can’t think about. 

Hopefully, your sales are not so dependent on Black Friday. However, there’s still a lot of money available to those savvy enough to take advantage of the digital opportunities available to merchants. 

But with more demand and more customers, the chance of something going wrong only increases. If you want to be successful this Black Friday, you can’t treat it like any other sales day, or even any other sales event. 

Black Friday Ecommerce Statistics

According to NRF, shoppers who took part both online and in-store were up 40% from 2017, with multi-channel shoppers outspending single-channel shoppers by $93. This year, ecommerce merchants can expect to see another huge increase in online shoppers, following on from 2018’s substantial growth.

With Black Friday now online, shoppers no longer have to venture outside to chaotic shopping centers and can instead make their purchases from the comfort of their sofa. 

This is despite in-store shoppers declining by roughly 1%, and 44% of consumers saying they would shop online in 2017 vs just 42% in 2018. 

Industry Ecommerce Benchmarks for Black Friday

Prior to the 2018 Black Friday event, Blackfriday.com questioned their users on what they planned to look for in the sales. 

Industry Breakdown of Black Friday Ecommerce Interest

Clothing took top spot, with 23% of consumers aiming to score a good deal on fashion items. This was quickly followed by tech, with 22% of consumers looking for their next gadget. 

Towards the bottom of the pile was travel. With it being less of an impulse buy, just 9% of consumers aimed to find some travel deals for the coming year.

If you’re a clothes or tech merchants, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are going to be the days you want to get ready for. 

Getting Your Site Ready for Black Friday

Getting ready for Black Friday means getting ready for more than just the products you’re going to sell. Expect to see:

  • An increase in traffic
  • An increase in server strain
  • An increase in the potential for things to go wrong

We’ve seen it all too many times. Merchants who wait until the last second to address these potential pitfalls, and as a result: they fall. 

Getting yourself ready for Black Friday doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. But it will mean that you’re able to maximize ROI from the event, and secure your place among the Black Friday customer go-tos for years to come. 

Get Started Early

The earlier you start targeting Black Friday shoppers, the better results you’re going to have. Getting started early means ramping up everything from prep work to marketing strategy. 

Some merchants start their Black Friday marketing efforts as early as October, with others beginning to ramp up marketing in early September. 

When considering how early you will begin your marketing strategy, take a step back and analyze these factors.

 

  • Budget: How much do you have to spend on Black Friday marketing? Where should that budget be spent? Will you increase adwords spend, ramp up email products, or instead focus on more traditional print-media?
  • Resources: November is a resource-intensive time. Christmas is just around the corner, and depending on where you’re located, Singles Day is just a few short weeks ahead of Black Friday. Calculating ROI on resource spend is going to make a huge difference. You don’t want to run out of money before Black Friday has even started. 
  • Potential: While it would be great if we all had unlimited products and opportunities, that’s more often not the case. Perhaps you’re limited in terms of stock or fulfillment processes. The less potential for your Black Friday campaign, the less time should be dedicated to it. 

 

Once you’ve drawn a clear picture of these areas, it’s a good idea to outline the different channels and audiences your aiming to target and assign any associated dates. 

Getting Your Ecommerce Site (and hosting) Ready for Black Friday

If you’re running a Black Friday sale, that means you can all but guarantee an influx of traffic. That means more opportunities for something to go wrong. Don’t let it be your hosting platform. 

As the foundation of your site, hosting problems can mean slow user experiences, broken page elements, and, in the most extreme cases, site-wide outages. Luckily, there are specific steps you can take to ensure a smooth Black Friday experience for your customers and keep those conversions rolling in. 

What’s Your Limit?

How much can your hosting actually take? 

Every hosting package you purchase will have its limits. If your site is seeing more visitors than those limits can handle, then your site won’t crash. Instead, it will slow to a crawl, queuing page load requests until it eventually becomes long enough for the dreaded timeout. 

If you’re already seeing traffic hover around your limit, it’s definitely worth upgrading your hosting to the next level. If you’re running on the Hostdedi Cloud, you can also enable auto scaling in your Client Portal. Just a flick of a button and you’ll be set for any unexpected (or expected) traffic spikes. 

Prepare for International Sales

International sales can add a whole new level of complexity to a store. For the merchant, alternate payment options, different order fulfillment choices, and tweaks to content are only the start. On top of those, delivering digital assets to countries halfway around the world presents its own problem. 

Yes, digital transfer speeds are fast, but running your website through cables located under the Atlantic is going to lead to some lag, especially if demand is high (like on Black Friday). How can you solve this?

For most stores looking to serve international customers, purchasing a CDN add-on for their store will allow static assets such as images to be held in server locations around the world. This way, regardless of where your customers are coming from, they’re going to be able to access high-bandwidth assets from a local location. That means faster load times and more conversions. 

Check in with Our Support Techs… Why Not?

Our philosophy is that it’s always worth exploring every avenue available to you, to see if there’s something you’ve been missing. That’s why we recommend all of our clients expecting an influx of traffic during Black Friday to check in and see if there’s anything we can do to help.

There may not be. Perhaps you’ve already prepared your store for any eventuality. But what if you’ve missed something and it ends up coming back to haunt you? We’ll often reach out to clients we expect to encounter a problem, so keep an eye on your inbox. Or, start the conversation yourself. 

At the very least, it’s worth letting the team here know that you’re planning to run a sale over those dates, that way our team can take extra steps to keep an eye on your hosting platform and how it’s performing. 

Black Friday Ecommerce Strategy

Start Marketing Early

Any good Black Friday ecommerce strategy means ramping up interest before Black Friday actually begins. After all, some customers spend weeks looking for deals they’re going to jump on during the sales. 

Getting started early means promoting your company’s email newsletter through organic and paid channels. This will give you a lot of leads to follow up with once your really start marketing your discounts. 

The earlier you start marketing your Black Friday discounts, the more customers are going to come knocking on the big day.

Start promotions with enticing statements about how your sales event is unique. Statements like “Over 80% off this Black Friday, sign up to stay ahead of the curve” work well to draw in subscriptions, especially when they’re paired with tantalizing artwork. 

Get Creating Niche Gift Guides

You’ve got awesome products so why not let them market themselves? Your Black Friday marketing strategy doesn’t have to only be about target Black Friday shoppers. There’s a whole internet of customers you have access to. 

This means creating marketing material that will draw in those interested in your niche, but not Black Friday. 

Gift guides are a great way to target long tail ecommerce SEO keywords. They not only target Black Friday Shoppers, but everyone looking for your products. 

One of the best ways to do this is by creating a gift guide that suits your target audience. If you sell shoes, how about creating the ultimate gift guide to Men’s Fashion in 2019? If you sell hats, do the same thing. If you have a larger product range, make your gift guide broader. The possibilities are limitless. 

Prepare Upsells and Cross-sells

With the average person spending $289.19 during Black Friday in 2018, it’s the perfect opportunity to push upsells and cross-sells. This may be grouping items for an improved discount, or providing recommendations for related products during checkout. 

Just remember, a good upsell and cross-sell strategy revolves around providing your buyer value. Don’t just indiscriminately group items together, think of how grouping multiple items provides buyers with a benefit. 

For example, if you’re selling shoes, shoe care products are a great upsell. They can potentially increase the longevity of a product, fitting perfectly within the buyer narrative of saving money. 

If you’re selling a specific type of gift, think about other products that complement it. The more you think about and push the narrative of buyer benefit, the more you’re going to be successful here. 

Prepare Your Email Strategy

Did you know that 25% of Black Friday sales start with an email? At least, that’s what Custora says

That means you should be jumping on the email bandwagon if you want to maximize ROI. But how?

Great email campaigns start with two things: timing and subject lines. 

If you haven’t already, begin testing what times are best for sending emails to your customers. Which days of the week work best and when are they going to check their inbox? 

If you spend 1 hour creating the perfect email, spend 2 crafting the subject line. 

Then work on your subject lines. These sentences should be the core of your content. If you spend 1 hour creating the perfect email content, spend 2 crafting the subject line. The subject line will encourage opens, click-throughs, and sales. 

Learn how to tailor your emails to the customers with our guide to email personalization

Go Beyond Black Friday

There are four days of shopping to be had around Black Friday: not just Black Friday itself. Make sure to target each of these days individually.

Then, think about how your Black Friday marketing strategy can continue to bring sales in even after the sales event is over. Use it as an opportunity to increase reach, and audience knowledge of your brand. 

Don’t Shrug Off Black Friday in 2019

We’ve seen it all too often: merchants not preparing their stores for Black Friday and then suffering from site slowdowns and outages. Don’t let that be you. 

Talking to a sales rep to ensure you’re ready is one of the most crucial steps merchants can make in the run up to November 29th this year.

Interested in learning more about how Hostdedi solutions can benefit you? See some more benefits we’re offering merchants this year and get 75% off of new services or upgrades with code HolidayPrep19.

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