Hostdedi Safe Harbor is the Haven Magento Stores Need
The currents and undercurrents of Magento’s strategy are ever changing. One day it’s smooth sailing with technology that simply performs, propelling sales and service; the next day they are raising the anchor, and creating a wake of disruption that the entire ecosystem must brace themselves to withstand. Every ecommerce based solution relies on understanding what lies beneath the surface, so it’s vital that your platform delivers the speed, security, scalability and service demanded by today’s pace of online business. These tenets are the four points of our operational compass here at Hostdedi – relied upon and trusted by our customers as they navigate their best paths forward.
Recognizing that Magento’s (M1) platform end of life (EOL) is now just a few months away, we’re excited to offer Hostdedi Safe Harbor designed especially for those who can’t afford to – or need more time to strategize – or don’t wish to migrate to M2. As the leading hosting provider for M1 stores for more than ten years, we come to this changing tide with deep experience to accommodate whichever direction keeps you afloat and ensures your online stores remain uninterrupted. All buoyed by the expertise that is embodied in every single one of our amazing people who stand by ready to assist you today and support you tomorrow.
Hostdedi Safe Harbor is designed to align with your long-term growth plans because it’s optimized by open source efficiencies – to include costs and community-based expertise. This is a stark differentiator for us compared to closed (SaaS) platforms like Shopify which can cost you more time and money, while limiting your options and future innovation opportunities.
There are three core options to consider over the coming weeks:
Stay the course on M1 with Hostdedi Safe Harbor via a simple dev supported free migration that comes with regular updates, patches, scans, modules, and extensions;
Migrate from M1 to M2 with support from us at every turn as you implement your migration plan to a new platform that will accommodate your increase in customers and inventories.
Connect with us about alternative platforms that can meet the needs of ecommerce enterprises large and small, from high-paced to mid-level to newly launched. You are never without resources and expertise when working with the Hostdedi team.
As you explore what steps to take in the coming months, I hope you will call on our team to help answer any questions you have to make the most informed decision for your business. We can show you the pros and cons of a particular path, and help you decide which platform best meets your needs for near and long-term growth.
Your business journey is never-ending and ideally always enjoys smooth sailing. But we know that rough waters are unavoidable – so don’t settle for just any port. Your livelihood relies on keeping a vigilant eye on the horizon, and Hostdedi Safe Harbor will see you through the storm.
Carrie Wheeler is the Executive Vice President, Managed Applications at Hostdedi with over three decades in technology leading through disruptive market events. Learn more about Carrie’s career in tech here.
Choosing the right ecommerce CMS for your storefront is important. Not only does it influence what you’re able to do, but it also allows you to set expectations in terms of development costs and timeframes. But with your CMS choices now more diverse than ever before, picking the right solution out from the crowd can be difficult.
Two applications you’ll be introduced to early on are Magento and WooCommerce. Both are used by an impressive number of stores. WooCommerce is used by over 3 million stores, while Magento runs over 200,000. Both offer flexible feature sets that can be expanded easily with extensions, and both are backed by supportive communities.
So why should you choose one over the other?
As you seek to drive revenue and distinguish your store, it’s vital that you pay attention to the customer experience you’re able to provide. Now is the time to drive change within your organization and optimize the commerce experience for your customers. By selecting the right solution for your storefront, you’ll be able to optimize your speed to market and drive revenue quickly.
Let’s pit WooCommerce vs Magento and see which ecommerce platform is best for your store. If you’re a merchant that still needs to make a choice, keep reading to find out more.
Magento vs WooCommerce Summary
WooCommerce Pros and Cons
As a plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce comes armed with features that make it great for managing both content and ecommerce. Originally launched in 2011, it has grown to become the most used and versatile ecommerce platform available to merchants and agencies alike, with over 3 million active installs worldwide.
Now, with Managed WooCommerce hosting from Hostdedi, its versatility and ease of use have only improved, with up to $6,000 of integrations available for optimizing speed, security, scalability, and service.
Very easy to use and get started with
A huge range of templates and themes for merchants without any coding knowledge
Bundled integrations that provide advanced functionality for analytics, updates, site optimization, and ecommerce delivery
Doesn’t afford the same level of customization as Magento
Magento Pros and Cons
The first application we’re taking a look at, Magento, is a powerful ecommerce platform capable of empowering merchants to create storefronts unlike any other. Originally released March 2008, it has since grown and inspired the release of a new version, Magento 2, in 2015. This version has gone on to become the perfect ecommerce platform for storefronts with a global reach.
A powerful ecommerce platform capable of creating unique user experiences
Offers more customization options that WooCommerce
An incredible community that, despite being smaller than WooCommerce’s, manages to easily hold its own
True hosting optimization through an optimized Magento hosting provider
Requires a developer to create a fully functioning storefront
Questions about speed and power are usually some of the first merchants ask. Most of the time, merchants need to prioritize one. This especially holds when looking at Magento vs WooCommerce.
Speed and power are two different performance metrics and rarely go together.
While Magento may offer more in terms of power, it also requires more resources to deliver the same experience as WooCommerce. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a very lightweight and fast platform, but it lacks a lot of the functionality you’ll find with Magento.
WooCommerce Is Lightweight
We’ll say it again: WooCommerce is lightweight. This means the same hardware and resources can serve more customers with a WooCommerce store than with a Magento one. Take a look at our SIP and SIPWOO plans to see what this means in terms of real numbers.
*Based on a SIP 400 server build.
Although being lightweight means a higher customer capacity, WooCommerce has comparatively limited functionality out of the box. Without modification, WooCommerce lacks the ability to track activity through other channels and deliver a personalized experience. Magento offers these features by default, but they still require advanced configuration to get the most out of them.
Bear in mind, while WooCommerce requires additional plugins to add advanced functionality, it will almost always perform better in terms of speed. Add to this the capabilities of managed WooCommerce and you’ve got an ecommerce platform that provides the best of both worlds.
For Magento, it’s important to host with a provider that offers optimized infrastructure. While several providers state that they offer optimized hosting, the reality is that only a handful truly optimize their infrastructure for Magento. Hostdedi is known to offer a truly optimized Magento hosting foundation. Here are four reasons why.
In addition to finding the right hosting provider, the quality of the code used to create a Magento store can also have a significant impact. Poorly edited code and unoptimized extensions can cause any server-side optimizations to lose their significance. If you’ve implemented multiple speed optimizations and your store is still crawling, it may be a good idea to start a code audit.
Poorly edited Magento code and unoptimized extensions can easily cause any server-side optimizations to lose their significance.
Two Different Performance Bands
Like much of this comparison, Magento and WooCommerce fall into two different performance bands. WooCommerce is a lightweight contender, with comparatively less power behind it. However, being such a quick and nimble platform means that it requires a smaller hosting plan to support the same number of customers – even when you expand functionality with additional integrations. While Magento has much more power behind it – in terms of stock functionality – it can slow down significantly when too many customers are active on your site.
Despite the two applications falling into two different performance bands, WooCommerce is the winner here. Being lightweight means it’s capable of outperforming Magento, with fewer resources required to serve the same sized customer base.
Magento has long been known as the ecommerce king of functionality. Not only does it allow for the creation of unique and personalized user journeys, but its integration capabilities are second to none.
With that said, a savvy developer can still get a lot out of WooCommerce. Part of the reason for this is that both applications come with REST API. This means that both platforms are capable of supporting expanded functionality through development.
The WooCommerce REST API documentation (including hooks, endpoints, filters, and more) can be found here. Similar documentation for Magento can be found here.
WooCommerce Requires WordPress
A common myth is that WooCommerce only offers limited functionality. The truth is much more complex. When combined with plugins, WooCommerce’s capabilities expand significantly. There are over 50,000 unique plugins available for WordPress, offering functionality for both the ecommerce and content sides of your site.
Beyond plugins and integrations, the REST API means that WooCommerce is also capable of being expanded to suit more advanced functionality requirements through development. This means being able to create unique customer journeys that rival Magento and that scale as your store does.
Coffeebros.com, for example, has created a storefront that includes discounts, calls to action, and a clean, easy to understand buying experience. Weber.co.za, the grill provider, has also created an easy-to-use store that integrates both the ecommerce product and content recipe sections seamlessly.
The ability to integrate both commerce and content seamlessly is one of WooCommerce’s strengths.
This is one of the biggest pros for WooCommerce: WooCommerce lets merchants integrate the content and ecommerce sections of their site seamlessly. Magento does not offer this.
Magento Powers Global Commerce
Magento powers some of the biggest ecommerce stores in the world. There’s a reason for this: the functionality it offers global retailers.
Magento allows for Global storefronts with regional differences.
Magento powers some of the biggest ecommerce stores in the world. There’s a reason for this: the functionality it offers global retailers.
HP transformed their selling experience in the Asian Pacific through Magento. They launched five different stores on a single platform, with regional differences and global similarities. This allowed them to meet local requirements for payments, fulfillment, language, and order technicalities, while also optimizing site management with global consistency.
Rubik’s also managed to create a strong global online presence quickly, using Magento to expand worldwide. Magento’s functionality made it easy for them to spin up new regional storefronts and landing pages. Something which would have been a lot more complicated with other platforms.
Not only does Magento allow for easier access to international markets, but it also enables a more in-depth customization of the buyer’s experience. Just take a look at the difference between a typical Magento site and a typical WooCommerce site.
Still the King of Functionality: Magento
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this category goes to Magento. Its ability to customize the buyer’s experience and create unique, international storefronts is something you just can’t do in the same way with WooCommerce – unless you invest in development. Moreover, with Adobe’s integrations weaving themselves into the Magento ecosystem, its functionality is only going to improve.
WooCommerce, however, is a close second. In many cases, plugins and development work can lead to customer experiences that are just as unique and targeted as Magento’s. It’s just slightly easier to implement them with Magento.
With that being said, managed WooCommerce solutions bring with them some of the most important ecommerce functionality around, and they make them accessible out of the box. This makes WooCommerce the better option when it comes to balancing functionality and ease of use.
Security for an ecommerce store is vital. Not only does it help prevent loss of customer Personally Identifiable Information (PII), but it also ensures that merchants remain in compliance with the Payment Card Industry standards (PCI Compliance) needed to sell effectively online.
While both applications offer environments backed up by security teams and vigilant communities, WooCommerce suffers from one major disadvantage: WordPress. As a plugin, it is vulnerable to the same exploits as its parent application. In 2018, 57% of web application vulnerabilities identified were from WordPress.
This doesn’t mean Magento doesn’t have problems of its own. In research conducted by Securi, 40% of Magento stores have at least one security issue. That’s much lower than the 73% of WooCommerce stores reported by EnableSecurity, but it’s still a sizable portion of live storefronts. And these are not complex vulnerabilities. Most of them could easily be detected using free automated tools.
So why such large numbers? For many sites, it’s because they are out of date. Clunky update processes or simply forgetting are two of the biggest reasons for security vulnerabilities across modern CMS.
One of the most common reasons that storefronts are vulnerable is simply forgetting to update.
For this reason, one of the best security features offered is the ability to easily update. When compared with the WooCommerce update process, Magento security patches aren’t easy to apply. With a managed WoCommerce solution, not only do updates occur automatically, but they’re set to test any changes in case they break your site, before they go live. This makes maintaining and up-to-date site easy and effective.
Despite this, Magento does have a lot of positive security features going for it, including:
Enhanced password management
Cross-site scripting (XSS) attack prevention
Flexible file ownership and permissions
Non-default Magento Admin URL
The Magento 1 End of Life Impact on Security
Magento can be split into two versions: Magento 1 and Magento 2. Each is largely unique, in that moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2 requires replatforming. Currently, a large percentage of Magento stores are still on Magento 1.
In June 2020, official security support for the Magento 1 platform will cease. This means security will become a pressing concern for merchants still on the platform. If you’re a Magento 1 merchant looking for alternatives, we recommend reviewing your options and downloading the After M1 guide.
Security is never simple. The nature of vulnerabilities means that every application’s community needs to remain vigilant. WooCommerce offers some great security features for automating the update process and keeping everything up to date. However, it also has a lot more vulnerabilities to begin with thanks to running on WordPress.
Magento has better security tools and features, despite patches being hard to implement and take full advantage of.
However, managed WooCommerce solutions have brought with them a curated selected of security tools and features. From automated updates to an entire security suite capable of managing advanced configurations, WooCommerce comes with all the security features of Magento and adds ease of use.
Design and Templates
Before a site can go live, a merchant needs to decide on a design. Without a design there is no site (at least, not an attractive one).
With WooCommerce, this is an easy process thanks to a large selection of templates and pre-designed themes. Taking these and tweaking them to individual requirements is a quick process, making the time from ideation to creation much faster than with Magento.
Magento does have a limited number of templates. However, these are relatively simple when compared with what Magento can actually do. They are also not particularly attractive. To take advantage of the platform, most merchants will need to hire a developer to design and code their site.
Design becomes a lot more complicated when headless implementations are considered. For Magento merchants, the application’s API makes implementation a relatively simple process. There are several headless Magento sites already using headless architecture to deliver unique user experiences.
Headless architecture allows for stores to utilize an optimized ecommerce API and flexible front-end design.
With WooCommerce already being a plugin, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use it in a headless implementation. Instead, it may make more sense for merchants looking towards headless WordPress to opt for something like BigCommerce instead.
WooCommerce vs Magento: Template vs Design
WooCommerce, with its huge library of themes, is much better in terms of templates. Yet the two platforms draw when it comes to design. Both offer an expansive API, both provide you with the ability to design a unique storefront, and both offer extensive feature sets capable of integrating with your designs.
If you getting started with your first store or looking for ease of use, we recommend using WooCommerce and taking advantage of its themes and templates. If you’re a medium-sized store though, deciding between Magento and WooCommerce isn’t going to be a decision made around design.
Extensions and Plugins
While an application needs to have great out of the box functionality, it’s also important to be able to expand and customize it with plugins or extensions. Today, almost all CMS offer plugins or extensions in one form or another; WooCommerce and Magento are no exception.
In terms of numbers, WooCommerce wins due to having access to the WordPress plugin library. Here, over 50,000 unique plugins are available to you. Chances are, with a selection that large, the functionality you’re looking for is already there.
However, bear in mind that WooCommerce and WordPress are different applications, and not all of these WordPress plugins will be optimized to run on your store.
Magento, on the other hand, has over 4,700 plugins optimized specifically for its ecommerce platform. Not only that, but Magento’s extensions provide a lot of in-depth customization.
Magento extensions allow for merchants to:
Upgrade internal search functionality
Build custom checkout experiences
Improve sorting and categorization functionality
Create up-sell and cross-sell campaigns
Customize shipping and fulfillment options
Dedicated WooCommerce extensions are relatively light. They provide some useful social and payment integrations, some basic enhancements, and a few useful shipping and fulfillment extensions. Overall though, the options are not as powerful or diverse as Magento, despite growing quickly.
Managed WooCommerce Bundles up to $6,000 of Plugins
With Hostdedi managed WooCommerce, you don’t have to worry about plugins and extensions. We’ve bundled up to $6,000 worth of integrations for free with all of our managed WooCommerce solutions. These cover everything from image optimization to page building and abandoned cart emails to business analytics.
With Hostdedi, getting started with a WooCommerce store is faster and easier. The ability to easily implement the right technology solutions for every store means taking the guesswork out of platform selection.
We recommend managed WooCommerce for merchants looking to expand their store. Not only is it more cost-effective, but you’ll also have access to a team of experts to help you keep your store performing at full capacity.
Managing an ecommerce store means managing products. That includes how, when, and where they are delivered to customers. Many ecommerce stores today deliver personalized buyer journeys, setting the bar high.
It’s Magento’s advanced functionality that shines here. In addition to offering merchants the ability to provide regional deviations in product delivery, it also allows for the creation of unique journeys within a specific area. This includes upsells and cross-sells. While this functionality can be added to with the use of extensions, the default feature is powerful in its own right.
WooCommerce doesn’t offer the same flexibility. But what it does provide by default are:
Magento vs WooCommerce: A Summary
Magento Is Great for Medium-Sized Stores Looking for Great Functionality
Magento does best when a merchant wants a custom implementation. It allows for an unequaled exploration of the buyer’s journey and creates personalized sales funnels tailored right down to the individual.
Unfortunately, this level of customization and functionality has meant that it requires a development team to support its full range of capabilities. Implementing its best features needs to be planned down to specifics. So while it will likely increase your bottom line and lead to a surge in sales, it also takes an investment to get you there.
As a result, we recommend Magento if you have a larger storefront and are looking to invest in growth. If you’re interested in getting started, take a look at ourMagento cloud hosting solutions and talk to a member of the Hostdedi team today.
WooCommerce Is Great for Smaller Stores Looking For Ease of Use
Alternatively, if you’re running a small or medium-sized storefront and still haven’t decided on which platform to use, we recommend WooCommerce. Not only does it offer much quicker speed to market than Magento, it also makes store management simple and allows for merchants to take advantage of WordPress’ content management tools.
However, it doesn’t provide the same level of store customization as Magento. For that reason, we recommend WooCommerce to smaller stores. If you think that means you, see ourWooCommerce cloud hosting solutions.
Historically, consumer use of ecommerce stores has been a mystery to merchants. Traffic sources, bounce rates, and others were the metrics of educated guesses and opinions. Today, however, powerful tracking tools like Google Tag Manager for WordPress have brought data to that mystery, answering questions with a level of certainty never seen before.
These tools now allow you to build a clearer picture of the customer experience. Instead of guessing a consumer’s journey, you’re able to understand their path to purchase. Not only does this help you discover crucial touchpoints, more importantly, it also helps you drive your store’s growth by identifying conversion bottlenecks and finding new opportunities.
If you’re not sure you’re hitting the mark with Google Tag Manager, now is the right time to revisit your implementation and make sure everything is running smoothly. Here, we’ll walk through what Google Tag Manager is, how you can add it to your WordPress site, and how you can start measuring store performance where it matters.
Google Tag Manager is a free, widely-used tool that lets you create and manage the tags (more on this later) published on a website. Though it can be used on virtually any site, it’s commonly used by ecommerce business owners in conjunction with other marketing analytics platforms to manage their online stores. For example, Google Tag Manager is almost always used alongside Google Analytics for the purpose of tracking marketing campaigns, conversions, and site performance.
What Is a Tag?
When you inspect the source of a site, you see tags like <html>, <img>, <p>, <a href>, and many others. Functionally, the tags you manage with Google Tag Manager are similar to the HTML tags found in the raw code of a website. But where HTML, CSS, PHP, and other coding languages use tags as building materials for website construction, the tags in Google Tag Manager track conversions, traffic, user behavior, and a number of other important metrics.
Tags track and relay important user engagement data to another analytics platform. When a tag runs, or picks up an instance of the intended interaction, it’s called “firing” – i.e., “The tag has fired.”
Besides connecting to other platforms, tags can be created so you can track specific events — (like abandoned carts and video views) on your website. While Google Analytics can track many types of events, creating tags for certain events in Google Tag Manager can make tracking more specific, and situational events more effective.
Google Tag Manager vs. Google Analytics
Since Google Tag Manager and Analytics are used in tandem, it can be confusing as to what role each platform plays when it comes to marketing analytics.
Google Tag Manager can be used to manage many third-party tags, including the Facebook and Adobe Analytics tracking pixels. You can even customize and calibrate your tags, and decide when and why they fire. But Google Tag Manager just manages these tracking code snippets; there’s no actual analytics or in-depth reporting in Google Tag Manager.
Google Analytics doesn’t have the granular tag controls of Google Tag Manager, but it plays the very crucial role of collecting data from those tags. In other words, it collects, analyzes, and reports data from your tags. Thus, the two platforms have a symbiotic relationship.
How to Add Google Tag Manager to WordPress
If you’re one of the many ecommerce business owners using a managed hosting platform to run your online store, you need to know how to add Google Tag Manager to your WordPress site. Let’s go over the steps for setting up Google Tag Manager with WordPress.
Step 1: Create a Google Tag Manager Account
The first thing you need is a Google Tag Manager account.
Head over to Google Tag Manager. If you already have an account, then select the account you want to use to connect to your WooCommerce store. Otherwise, click “Create Account” to begin setting up a new Google Tag Manager account. This is how you get Google Tag Manager code.
After clicking “Create Account,” you’ll see some account setup options.
Name the account, name the container — basically just a folder for your tags to be kept separate from other Tag Manager accounts you may have — and select “Web” as the target platform. Then click “Create” to immediately be taken into your new Google Tag Manager account.
Once you’ve finished with the setup options, you’ll need to install the code snippets for Tag Manager to begin working with your ecommerce store on WordPress.
The first snippet needs to be added to the header of your WordPress site. This will ensure that the code appears on every single page of your site — which is important for Tag Manager to work with WordPress.
There are a couple of ways to add it to the appropriate file of your WordPress theme. However, the easiest way is to use a plugin like Yoast. Instead of editing the raw code of your site, just copy and paste the code into Yoast which will automatically add the code to every page of your site.
Then there’s the second snippet of code which must be added just after the opening <body> tag on your site. Again, Yoast and other plugins can help.
If you need additional help, Google Tag Manager offers a useful Quick Start Guide that you can use as a reference. When these code snippets are installed, you’re ready to begin setting up Google Tag Manager with WordPress.
Step 2: Install Google Analytics
Once you’ve created and set up a Google Tag Manager account, you’ll need to do the same for Google Analytics. After all, you won’t get much benefit from using Tag Manager unless Analytics is receiving data from your tags. If you’ve already installed Google Analytics, you can skip this step.
These steps might seem a bit odd as you’re completing them, but don’t worry. You can, in fact, install Google Analytics from within Tag Manager.
From your new Google Tag Manager account, click “Tags” from the left-hand sidebar, then click “New” in the upper right-hand corner of the window.
Name the tag “Google Analytics” and click “Tag Configuration” and select “Google Analytics: Universal Analytic” for tag type.
Set the track type to “Page View” then click “New Variable” under the Google Analytics Settings. Finally, name this new variable and install your Google Analytics tracking code on your WordPress site as prompted.
What Can I Do With Google Tag Manager?
Now that you have completed the installation and setup process, you need to know how to use Google Tag Manager. And, perhaps most importantly, how is Google Tag Manager used?
Google Tag Manager helps you gain insight into how people are using your ecommerce store. By setting up tags and events, you can gain valuable insights on key areas. That includes tracking form submissions, file downloads, and the effectiveness of interactions in your conversion funnel.
While there are many things you can do with Google Tag Manager, let’s go over a few of the most important (and most useful) for ecommerce businesses.
Track Goals and Events in Google Analytics
Although pageviews and referrals are important metrics, tracking how your customers and leads are using your ecommerce store provides the most accurate picture of your store’s performance. Without Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, you’d have very little insight into how customers and leads are interacting with your store. In turn, you wouldn’t be able to identify and address variables that might, for instance, contribute to high cart abandonment.
Although we’re not going to spend too much time covering it in this Google Tag Manager overview, we’re going to give you examples of a goal and an event you can track with Tag Manager.
With Google Tag Manager, you can set up a tracking goal for each and every time a product gets added to the shopping cart. Once you’ve completed the steps to set up an added-to-cart tracking goal, these interactions will be reported in Google Analytics. It’s important to note that this isn’t a goal that you’d be able to track in Google Analytics without using Tag Manager to create the event.
Event: Video Views
Video content is the most popular form of digital content today. So it follows that ecommerce sites that feature product reviews, launch videos, instructional videos, and other video content should be tracking how customers and leads are engaging with those videos, and most importantly, how those engagement rates affect conversion. Using Google Tag Manager, you can set up tracking events for videos and compare those events to cart abandonment, checkout abandonment, or any number of other metrics.
Install Tracking Pixels for Google Pay-per-Click Ads
One of the key uses for Google Tag Managers is to install and manage the Google Ads Remarketing and Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixels. The steps to install these tracking pixels are largely the same for both.
Google Ads Remarketing Pixel
From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new tag. Name it “Google Remarketing” and select “Google Ads Remarketing” as the tag type.
In the tag configuration settings, locate your Google Ads Conversion ID. Create a label if you’d like, then set “All Pages” for triggering.
Google Ads Conversion Tracking Pixel
For the Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixel, the steps are much the same. From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new tag. Name it “Google Ads Conversion” and select “Google Ads Conversion” as the tag type.
The main difference with the Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixel is the option to set a value for the tag. In the screenshot above, the value is set at 100 USD, meaning that each conversion the tag tracks is worth $100 to the business. Use an amount makes the most sense for your business. Many ecommerce business owners set the value of a conversion as the average transaction value.
Install Third-Party Tracking Pixels
Similar to the Google Ads tracking pixels, Tag Manager is often used to install tracking codes for third-party platforms. In particular, the Facebook Pixel is often installed on a WordPress site using this method.
The important thing to note is that when Google Tag Manager doesn’t provide a template for the tracking code you want to install, you’ll need to use the custom HTML option. To illustrate this process, here are the steps for installing the Facebook Pixel in Google Tag Manager.
From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new pixel. Name it “Facebook Pixel” and select “Custom HTML” as the tag type.
After selecting “Custom HTML” as the tag type, you’ll be given a place where you can paste the Facebook Pixel tracking code.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the trigger is set to “All Pages” — but there are other options available, and Facebook provides some tips to help you choose the right option for your case.
Do You Need Google Tag Manager?
We’ve gone over the ins and outs of Google Tag Manager. As we bring this overview to a close, let’s tackle one last question: Should you be using it?
For the owner of an ecommerce business, there’s arguably nothing more important than learning about customer behavior. Because if you don’t know how your customers are interacting with your online store, you have no way to optimize to increase conversion. In other words, any effort made to improve the customer experience and the buying journey is just a shot in the dark.
Google Tag Manager gives you a window into your customer experience. By using Tag Manager to publish and manage tags for your ecommerce store, you can boost conversion and generate more revenue for your business.
Hostdedi is the Premiere Hosting Provider for a High-Performance ecommerce Business
What do you get when you combine 99 percent uptime, top-to-bottom SEO optimization, tons of included plugins from IconicWP, dropshipping support, and a Glew.io subscription at no additional cost? You get Hostdedi Managed WooCommerce Hosting.
Hostdedi WooCommerce hosting plans were designed with three principles in mind: reliability, scalability, and speed. Every ecommerce store running on a Managed WooCommerce Hosting plan benefits from everything Hostdedi plans have to offer from cart abandonment technology to minimize lost sales to the nearly limitless ways in which you can customize the look and feel of your online store. Best of all, Hostdedi hosting plans are competitively priced and come with outstanding round-the-clock support.
Tracking interactions between customers and your ecommerce store is essential if you want to gauge the performance of your business. However, it’s not always obvious which interactions you should be tracking. If you track too little, you’re not getting the most representative picture, and if you track too much, the important data gets buried.
In order to drive revenue effectively, it’s vital you understand the performance of each of your site’s touchpoints. By identifying key goals and events through Google Analytics, and standardizing their reporting structure, you’ll be able to leverage that data to create campaigns that promote engagement and growth.
To help, we’ve created the ecommerce business owner’s guide to Google Analytics event tracking. With this guide, you’ll know which tracking events are most important and how to create tracking goals for your ecommerce store.
Google Analytics Event Tracking vs. Goal Tracking
Google Analytics event tracking can illuminate patterns in user behaviour that you can use to make more informed decisions.
Finding out how customers and leads are interacting with your online store is crucial for optimizing your customer experience. As it happens, you can learn a lot about how customers are engaging with your store by tracking goals and events in Google Analytics.
As Google defines them, events are “interactions with content that can be measured independently from a webpage or screen load.” This includes things like:
Products added to the shopping cart
In a more technical sense, events are interactions between users and your ecommerce store. This includes:
In Google Analytics, event tracking can illuminate patterns in user behavior that you can use to make more informed decisions and further refine your customer experience. While certain events — like abandoned carts, for instance — are often tracked by default, you can track many different customer interactions with Google Analytics custom events.
Google Analytics has four conditions for events: category, action, label, value, and non-interaction. Each type of event condition has its own application, whether it’s for organization in Google Analytics or for assigning monetary value to a trackable event.
An event category is a name assigned to a group of events. They’re used primarily for organizational purposes. For example, you might assign events like pageviews and clicks to an event category called “engagement.” Or you create an event category called “downloads” for events related to the downloading of files from your website.
An event action is a certain type of event that you want to track for a specific page element. For example, when users click play, pause, or rewind, or scrub through a video to a particular location, you can track those interactions as event actions.
An event label is an optional name assigned to a certain element on a webpage. Similar to event categories, event labels are largely for organizational purposes. For example, if there are multiple PDF files that can be downloaded from your website, you could use event labels to distinguish downloads of one PDF file from others.
An event value is an optional numerical value assigned to a trackable event. Although value is often a monetary value, meaning how much (in dollars) an event brings to your business, there are cases where value could be a length of time or raw quantity. For instance, you could make the value for a confirmation page event equal to your average transaction value since you know (on average) how much your business makes from each conversion.
The non-interaction condition is applied when an event is non-interactive. When the value for this condition is “true,” the event isconsidered non-interactive. Typically, you only classify an event as non-interactive when you don’t want it to affect your bounce rate or other metrics in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics goals are essentially events that have value and that you want to boost in order to generate more revenue. When you set a tracking goal, Google Analytics begins counting instances of that goal as a conversion. For instance, if you set a duration goal of five minutes, and then a visitor spends 5 minutes or more on your site, Google Analytics will consider that a successful conversion.
In Google Analytics, there are duration goals, destination goals, pages/views goals, and event goals. As you’d expect, a duration goal is a minimum amount of time that you want users to spend engaging with your website. Destination goals refer to when users visit a specific page on your site like a thank-you page or an order confirmation page. With pages/views goals, you want users to click onto a minimum number of pages on your site. Finally, event goals are more specific interactions including form fills, click-to-call link clicks, and file downloads.
5 Google Analytics Goals and Events You Should Track
Tracking goals and events is an effective way to gauge or boost the performance of your ecommerce business. So let’s go over some specific Google Analytics goals and events that you should be tracking.
Google Analytics makes it very easy to access and create goals. Once you’re logged into your Google Analytics account, go into the Admin menu and in the View column, then click Goals.
Goal: Confirmation Pages
A confirmation page can be used to confirm an order that’s been placed or to thank a lead for joining a mailing list. But in any context, a confirmation page is what someone sees after an interaction with your brand or company. In other words, it’s a conversion follow-up that makes confirmation pages an important goal to track.
How to Set up a Confirmation Page Goal
From the Goals menu in Google Analytics, click the “+ New Goal” button to open the new goal template.
At the top of the goal template, you’re given a list of template options. For this tutorial, we chose to set up a completed purchase confirmation page — the second option on the list.
Next, create a name for your confirmation page goal. For the tracking goal type, choose “Destination” since a confirmation page is the URL destination that marks the completion of a conversion.
In the third section of the goal template, you’ll need to provide a destination and value, and then outline the conversion funnel for the tracking goal.
The destination is similar to a label and how the goal will be shown in Google Analytics. Think of it as a URL suffix and choose something simple that’s representative of the confirmation page you’re tracking.
The value is, quite simply, a monetary value assigned to the goal you’re tracking.
The funnel refers to your conversion or sales funnel. A confirmation page will likely take the final position in the funnel. The screenshot above shows how the funnel section will look when set up properly.
Finally, click “Verify This Goal” at the bottom.
Verifying your goal will manually filter your Google Analytics data from the past seven days through your new tracking goal to tell you how many hits you would’ve gotten during that period. When you see numerical values for every step of the funnel, your confirmation page tracking goal is functional.
Goal: Form Submissions
There are a number of different uses for forms on an ecommerce site. For instance, many sites use forms for newsletter signups and as a convenient way for users to contact the company. You can also set up a form so leads can request a quote for made-to-order products and services.
Just as there are multiple uses for forms for your ecommerce site, there is more than one way to set up form submission goals in Google Analytics. First, if you use a confirmation page as a follow-up to a form submission, you would set up a form submission goal in much the same way as a confirmation page goal (outlined above). Alternatively, you can set up form submissions as Google Analytics events, and then use a form submission event as a tracking goal.
Once you have completed that setup in Google Tag Manager, return to Google Analytics, open the Admin menu, click “Goals” in the View column, and click the “+ New Goal” button.
In the screenshot above, you can see the options we chose while setting up a tracking goal for a contact form. In the first section, we chose the “Contact us” template. In the second section, we named the goal “Contact us” and selected “Event” as the goal type. Finally, we completed the details for the goal by filling in the category, action, and label. Since a form submission doesn’t equate to a sale, no value was assigned. However, you may choose to assign a value to an inquiry. It’s simply a matter of preference.
Goal: Products Added to Cart
Adding products to the shopping cart is another important goal to track and is a prerequisite for a purchase. The idea is to see how many people are adding products to the shopping cart so you can compare that to how many of those added products end with transactions. Doing this gives you an idea of how often users are abandoning their shopping carts.
There are two ways to set up Added-to-Cart goal tracking in Google Analytics, depending on how your ecommerce site is setup. If there’s some sort of confirmation page when a product is added to the shopping cart, then you’d follow the same steps as you would for a confirmation page. But if adding a product to the shopping cart isn’t followed by a confirmation, you’ll need to set it up as a triggered event with Google Tag Manager.
How to Set up an Added-to-Cart Goal
As you configure the trigger for the event in Google Tag Manager, you’ll want to select “Click – All Elements” as the trigger type. This ensures that mouse clicks will trigger the event. Next, select “Some Clicks” for what initiates the trigger and input the class and conditions for the event trigger. Use the + and – buttons to the right to add or remove triggers as needed.
You can see how these settings are reflected in the underlying code on your site by right-clicking on your “Add to Cart” button and selecting “Inspect element.”
After configuring the tracking event trigger, your Added-to-Cart goal is ready to start tracking.
Event: Abandoned Carts
When a cart is abandoned, it means the person who added the product to the shopping cart has changed his or her mind. On average, 69.57% of shopping carts are abandoned before purchases are made. With so many sales falling through the cracks, cart abandonment is a very important metric for ecommerce business owners to track.
It’s worth noting, though, that a tool like Jilt that can act on cart abandonment data can be especially useful. In addition, Glew.io can actually show which products are being left abandoned in the shopping cart most frequently and makes it easier to identify potential roadblocks in the buyer’s journey. Both Jilt and Glew.io are tools that are included with Managed WooCommerce at Hostdedi.
How to Set up an Abandoned Cart Event
Abandoned cart event tracking is most commonly done automatically when you have ecommerce enabled in Google Analytics.
To access your abandoned cart events, navigate to ecommerce > Cart Behavior. Not only does this show instances of cart abandonment, but you get to see instances of no products being added to the cart and instances of check-out abandonment. The idea is to get a concise visual representation of how many sales are lost at different points in the buyer’s journey.
Event: Video Views
Videos are the most popular, high-converting form of digital content today which is why setting up tracking for video views is important for ecommerce businesses. With Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, you can set up video tracking for instructional/information videos, video reviews, and product launch videos that are available on your website.
Tracking video view events on your site is particularly useful when combined with an ecommerce analytics tool like Glew.io for more insightful customer analytics. When you track video views, you can compare that figure to metrics like your pageviews, unique visitors, and conversions for a clearer picture of how users are engaging with your online store.
How to Set up a Video View Event
The most effective (and easiest) way to set up video view events is to use Google Tag Manager. And if your videos are hosted on YouTube, then Google Tag Manager takes just moments to set up.
In the screenshot above, you can see a pretty standard trigger configuration for a video view event. For the trigger configuration, all four capture options are selected including progress percentages in 25-percent intervals, but you can set it to track as much or as little as is helpful for you.
Once you have finished with trigger configuration, the tag configuration for your video view event should look similar to the screenshot above.
After you’ve finished setting up your video view event in Google Tag Manager, those events will be reported in Google Analytics. You can monitor instances of video view events in Behavior Event Reporting.
Hostdedi Managed WooCommerce Hosting Comes Paired With Glew.io for Comprehensive Customer Insights
Hostdedi is your premiere hosting provider, offering high-quality, performance-focused hosting plans for ecommerce businesses of any size. However, when you choose Hostdedi Managed WooCommerce Hosting, you’re not just getting the best in speed, performance, and reliability at a great price: You’re also getting tons of extras, like Jilt for cart abandonment and Glew.io, a comprehensive ecommerce analytics program. So when you want the best for your growing ecommerce business, choose Hostdedi Managed WooCommerce Hosting.
Disruption. Not a word anyone running a mission-critical business wants to hear. And there’s no shying away from the fact that Magento has introduced disruption into the commerce market by sunsetting the Magento 1 platform and encouraging merchants to re-platform to M2.
But what about when disruption creates opportunity and innovation? When disruption brings about a transition to something bigger, better, different, and future-proof? Well, we think about it in a different frame. Turning disruption into opportunity is how we here at Hostdedi view the pending M1 End of Life in June of 2020.
Many companies like yours are having to make decisions about what happens next to Magento-based online stores. You’re likely seeing messaging that ‘the sky is falling’, wrapped around offers, tutorials, and guides on how to migrate as fast as you can before everything crashes down. But before you get worried, think strategically. This kind of shift will require a transformation – and transformation requires clear-headed thinking, planning, and solid change management.
This is a perfect opportunity to audit where you are and make good decisions about where you’re going. Planning for and executing strategically on this change is where Hostdedi can help you transform challenge into triumph.
Not every business is the same and knowing that this event was coming allowed us to expand our portfolio of solutions to meet you wherever you are. We’ve developed a brand new product called Safe Harbor for those who want to stay put for now. We also have Magento agencies ready to help you migrate to M2. And if you decide that a re-platform to M2 doesn’t align with your overarching business strategy, we’re prepared to offer extensive support for other platforms that allow you to drive growth.
Getting What You Need from Open Source
With the introduction of Magento in 2007, the commerce landscape was forever changed. What was originally called Community Edition turned into Magento Open Source a few years ago. Upon its arrival, it quickly became the de facto solution for anyone selling online. And we were there. In fact, the first instances of Magento were built on the Hostdedi platform and we have been the #1 hosting provider for Magento stores ever since.
But today’s landscape is far different than it was a decade ago. There are platforms aplenty for small and large businesses, both open and closed. And with so many options, it can be overwhelming to pare down and prioritize what features and functions are going to make your site the best it can be. Remember – easy doesn’t always mean best – especially if you’re considering a closed platform like Shopify for your foundation. As a SaaS platform, it limits customization, performance, and scalability. A lack of built-in features often requires add-ons that are costly, resource-intensive, and can slow down your site. Add to that restrictive product & SKU customization, a lack of flexibility for site design & modifications, and exorbitant subscription fees and what might seem like an easy path becomes unforgiving and expensive. Shopify’s transaction and payment gateway fees alone couldcost you more than 5% of every sale you make.
So if there’s one takeaway from this moment of transition, it’s that making open source your foundation for commerce directly aligns to achieving long-term growth. From its revolutionary beginnings to current day frameworks, open source optimizes people and technology. The value of rapid contribution from experts, the elimination of extra licensing and maintenance fees, and the ability to inherently know they can meet the needs of every customer is exactly why our industry-leading agency clients invest in open source with us. They know that they can meet the needs of every customer with confidence and without hesitation. We’re proud of our leadership in this space. And we’re committed to continuous investment here, developing the broadest possible community dedicated to open source ecommerce.
Ready for next steps? We’re excited to share options that will provide a smooth transition for you and your clients:
Option 1: Stay on Magento 1 with Hostdedi’ Safe Harbor:
After June 2020, Magento will stop providing core updates and security patches. Safe Harbor offers:
Updates and security patches that will keep your platform running, safely.
Malware scans with visibility into malicious attacks and blocked requests by our WAF.
A vetted list of modules we frequently update with recommend extensions that can be used without risk.
Simple integration that does not require dev support.
This is a great option available for Q120+ which can avail you more time to work on your broader strategy.
Option 2: Move from Magento 1 to Magento 2:
If you’re growing fast, have a migration plan already in place, and a high number of customers and SKUs, this option likely makes sense for you. While it requires re-platforming, we’ve made the transition to M2 as seamless as possible by serving up a stable platform with capabilities designed to elevate the consumer experience, while still ensuring your team is supported at every turn. We have a broad set of agency partners we can connect you with who are at-the-ready to help you re-platform.
Apply security updates and patches
Create malware signatures and firewall rules
Look and feel and UX
Product data loading
Dedicated project manager
Ongoing support after migration is complete
Security and core patches
Store performance analysis and optimization
Support for most popular extensions for payments, shipping, tax, and email marketing
Option 3: Talk with Us About Alternatives:
We’re experts in open source ecommerce and we’re ready to work with you on building out your plan. Not sure if Magento is still a good fit? We have customers of all sizes on our Managed WooCommerce Hosting platform. One example is an enterprise with more than 5,000 SKU’s, processing 25,000 orders a month, and generating more than $10M in annual revenue. Marrying needs & budget with ongoing support that aligns to your long-term growth objectives is what we do best.
We’ve learned a lot in the last decade: not only about Magento and the surrounding community, but about ecommerce. Now that you know our plans, we’re ready to hear about yours. Whether you’re staying on Magento 1, moving to Magento 2 or considering alternatives, our ecommerce partners are ready to help you with your next move. Contact us today for a review of where you are now, and how options like Safe Harbor will keep you secure as you determine next steps.
Interested in Learning about Safe Harbor?
Let us know in the form below
Carrie Wheeler is the Executive Vice President, Managed Applications at Hostdedi with over three decades in technology leading through disruptive market events. Learn more about Carrie’s career in tech here.
Gary Smith, Strategic Partner Development Manager at Hostdedi, shares his thoughts on Magento 1, its history, and end of life. We cover the real story on PCI compliance, why staying isn’t the end of world, and how making the move to Magento 2 in your own timeframe comes with opportunities for growth.
Ready to begin exploring your options in the runup to June 2020? Get in touch and let us help you find the right solution for your business.
Founded 20 years ago, Hostdedi managed platforms have always provided agencies with the ability to deliver the site experiences their clients expect. Built on the four pillars of speed, security, scalability, and service, our solutions are designed to help your website realize its potential. Visit Hostdedi.net today and see how we can help.
Agencies have a clear charter for their clients: help them get the best ROI from their technology solutions. Part of that is making the platform recommendations that help merchants achieve their vision and drive growth.
Hostdedi managed hosting makes that choice easier, but the decision process still requires navigating a range of different options, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s a complex ecosystem to navigate.
The ecommerce platform decision tree makes maneuvering those choices easier. Follow the path and find which platform is right for each and every one of your clients.
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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 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
With more than half a decade of experience in the tech industry, Robert has worked as a marketing consultant, product strategist, and content developer. At Hostdedi, he spends his time helping clients find the best hosting solution for their needs through online content and as a brand ambassador.
At the beginning of the year, the Hostdedi research team put together a report on the State of Hosting at the start of 2019. In it, we predicted that Data Protection would only increase in importance, headless implementations would become more mainstream, and development would improve as hosting infrastructure continued to decrease in visibility.
It’s now approaching the end of 2019, and many of these predictions have come to fruition. Most vitally, for ecommerce stores, this has meant an increased lack of division between content and commerce.
In 2018, 67 percent of Magento store owners stated that they plan to adopt PWA at some point in the future. Their reasons for doing as such were the improved development capabilities of headless implementations, and the ability to stay ahead of the curve. This wasn’t just because of infrastructure. It was also because of content.
The division between content and commerce isn’t what it once was. This means more opportunities in a wild west-esque content landscape.
According to Technavio, a leading market research company, the content marketing industry is set to grow by 16 percent between 2017 and 2021. According to their lead researcher, the reason for this is that “The effectiveness of traditional marketing is decreasing by the day. Companies must adopt the latest marketing trends to enhance their business and increase their consumer base.“
The important takeaway here is that companies are trying to adopt the latest marketing trends to stay ahead. In 2019 and 2020, that means content.
Is Content Marketing New?
Content Marketing is nothing new. According to the Content Marketing Institute, one of the first recognized examples of content marketing was from none other than Benjamin Franklin. In 1732, he published the yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack. The reason? To promote his publishing business.
Then, in 1801, the bookstore Librairie Galignani recruited a content strategist to help them grow their business. Most significantly, this meant creating a newspaper that featured excerpts from famous writers and books. And then there were many, many other content marketing efforts from companies around the world. Each more innovative and influential than the last.
Content Marketing has been around for a long time, but it’s only relatively recently that commerce businesses have started to ramp up its importance in the digital space.
Enter the digital age. Content marketing experts initially continued to invest heavily in traditional forms of content marketing. Then SEO started to make an appearance, and those strategies changed. Then Marketing automation and personalization appeared. Again, those strategies changed.
Today, content has become an important part of the buyer’s journey. It does more than just provide reading material. It helps to shape a brand, build advocates, and create a community that rallies around the same beliefs and ideas.
Enter Magento PWA and the Magento 1 End of Life
With the Magento 1 End of Life fast approaching, merchants now have an opportunity. Moving to a progressive web application is a very real possibility, and comes with a lot of advantages over current, single application deployments. A few of those advantages include:
More front-end control
The ability to create improved user experiences
Reduced cost of development
Cross device communication and mobile-first design
Continued engagement through automated push notifications
Improved multi-team collaborative processes
With these advantages, it almost seems as though PWA is the obvious choice for moving forward. Increasingly, hosting providers are also ramping up support for PWA application stacks. This means faster deployments, quicker page load times, and optimized development environments.
The Content + Commerce Mix: Magento Alternatives
Magento isn’t the only player in PWA. Also known as headless and decoupled, Drupal and WordPress have both been making strides into the space. Commerce platforms have also made a play, providing headless architecture as a way to satisfy the growing content demands of merchants.
There are headless and decoupled alternatives for several content platforms – most notably WordPress and Drupal.
One company doing this very well is BigCommerce. Their BigCommerce for WordPress (BC4WP) implementation has come a long way to offering merchants a reliable and scalable headless option. Moreover, with WordPress a well-known and well-used application, merchants are easily able to adapt their internal teams to the content management process.
The Possibilities of a Post-Magento 1 World
Now is the time to get your store ready for the next stage of its lifecycle. Now is the time to explore the possibilities open to you as a merchant for both improving the buyer’s journey on your site, and managing the complex range of development and content curation processes that already exist within your organization.
Jeries is the VP of Global Channel Sales for Hostdedi. Jeries brings nearly a decade o f experience leading merchants and development agencies around infrastructure and cloud computing technical strategies. He’s consulted with over 100 different development agencies and has a passion for helping small businesses accomplish big goals. Jeries attended Wayne State University and lives with his wife and two kids in Detroit, MI.
Search is an essential feature of an ecommerce store. And for any store with more than a handful of products, it’s one of a handful of ways that customers can narrow product selection to a manageable number. So finding the right search engine for your store is vital. For Magento merchants and developers, that search engine is Elasticsearch.
Despite the advantages of Elasticsearch, many Magento merchants still run their stores on obsolete and outdated search software. In fact, 42% of companies don’t try to optimize search as all.
Originally developed in 2010, Elasticsearch has grown to become one of the biggest players in search offerings. It has largely replaced rivals SOLR and Sphinx. For Magento sites, it’s now become the default search option, replacing MySQL which has been deprecated.
How Elasticsearch Works for Ecommerce
Magento includes built-in search functionality that previously, by default, used a MySQL database. MySQL and its variants are powerful, but they aren’t the ideal back-end for a search engine. We use search engines every day and we are accustomed to a sophisticated search interface that can turn our vague and often badly spelled queries into useful results.
MySQL isn’t well-optimized for that use case, which is why Magento previously would – on occasion – return less-than-useful search results.
ElasticSearch, on the other hand, is highly optimized for fast and accurate search. As a Java-based document store – what used to be called a NoSQL database – it’s engineered to store huge numbers of JSON documents and retrieve them according to criteria supplied by the user.
Imagine wanting to find a specific set of headphones which have something to do with Master Class about them, but it’s not their name. You type it in and you’re given a large selection of products you really aren’t interested in.
Customers frustrated with their Magento search experiences?
Don’t worry, Elasticsearch is here! ES allows for a merchant to specify different criteria the user may be searching for – beyond just the name. This may include the description, the manufacturer, the release date, and more.
In short, it makes an ideal search engine back-end for ecommerce stores and many other types of website. It also makes the ecommerce search experience just that much better.
And when combined with Magento, ElasticSearch’s built-in functionality augments ecommerce search with a host of useful improvements.
Extremely Fast Search
ElasticSearch is much faster than Magento’s default search, especially when searching through large product catalogs. It can run searches over millions of products without breaking a sweat, and it’s a rare ecommerce store that approaches that number of products.
The speed at which ElasticSearch returns results can be used for features such as continuously updating results: as the user types their query, the search results update immediately because ElasticSearch searches faster than users can type.
More Accurate Results
Shoppers don’t want to have to carefully craft search queries. They want to enter a vaguely appropriate query and have the search engine to figure out what they mean. ElasticSearch is packed with features that help match queries to relevant results, even when the queries aren’t especially well-formed.
Among the features is fuzzy searching, which matches products similar to the query but not exactly the same with a technique called the Damerau-Levenshtein distance formula. Fuzzy searching helps stores to surface and rank the right products from their catalog even when the shopper mistypes or searches for a related product that isn’t in the catalog.
Easy to Use
Given the complexity of what ElasticSearch does, you might expect that it would be difficult to use. In fact, it couldn’t be easier. Once you hook ElasticSearch up to Magento, search is immediately improved without any complicated configuration. ElasticSearch ships with sensible indexing defaults and can begin returning better results in no time at all.
The average user spends just 8 seconds looking at a search results page. That’s 8 seconds to provide them with the right answers – in this case, products. Miss that time frame and you’re at risk of them looking somewhere else. After all, would you stay in a store if the attendant kept trying to sell you something you didn’t want?
It’s for this reason that product search is so vital. And with that browsing time only decreasing, the benefits of Elasticsearch give merchants less to worry about.
Elasticsearch improves Magento UX by combining all of the features mentioned above. Faster speed means customers are able to find products faster. More accurate results mean they’re able to find the right products. And ease of use means merchants are able to enable it without too much extra work.
Get Started with Elasticsearch for Magento the Easy Way
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With more than half a decade of experience in the tech industry, Robert has worked as a marketing consultant, product strategist, and content developer. At Hostdedi, he spends his time helping clients find the best hosting solution for their needs through online content and as a brand ambassador.
As a Brit raised to ignore umbrellas, when he’s not in the office you’ll find him either climbing a mountain, kayaking a river, or trying to find his next outdoor adventure.