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Revisiting the DCKAP Summit with Jeries

Revisiting the DCKAP Summit with Jeries

Last week, our team attended DCKAP Summit, one of the few agency-organized conferences in North America. Not only did we sponsor the event, but we also volunteered our time to prepare and give presentations to the conference attendees on how managed ecommerce solutions are paving the way for merchant success. 

In attendance was Jeries Eadeh, the Hostdedi VP of Channel Sales at Hostdedi, Amber Hamad, Strategic Partner Development Manager, and Anna Brown, also Strategic Partner Development.

The event took place over one day and saw 15 speakers make their way to the stage to present on diverse topics, such as how to monetize customer support interactions and how to solve ecommerce pain points with integrations and PIM. 

In total, the event brought together some of the best minds in ecommerce across the US. The knowledge shared provided insights into core merchant pain points and offered actionable advice on how to realize the potential of a storefront. 

Below is a roundup of how it went, what we thought and what we learned.

From Humble Beginnings 

The morning keynote and general session were MC’d by Christopher Cuenza, who was a key figure not only introducing the speakers, but he always stopped to remind us what a special opportunity this event was for everyone.  Throughout the day he reminded us to make sure to meet someone new, learn a few things about them and share some genuine interest in one another. 

Found and CEO of DCKAP, Karthik Chidambaram, naturally kicked off the morning keynote with some preparation for topics and discussions to be presented throughout the day. Karthik shared inspiring stories about DCKAPs humble beginnings in Chicago, Illinois.  

Thanks to Karhik, and the entire team at DCKAP, in attendance was an amazing group of agencies, technology providers and merchants All of them there to discuss various topics from modern development to cloud services, product customization platforms, QA testing and much much more.

Exploring Modern Ecommerce Trends 

This was followed by Karthik was Marc Ostryniec Global SVP Sales at BigCommerce, who presented a riveting story around modern-day commerce trends. He connected today’s best practices back to some great American businessmen and provided advice on how merchants can drive growth with their businesses. Of particular interest was how folks like King C. Gillette and businesses like the Dollar Shave Club followed the same business model to disrupt an entire industry.  

We learned from some other extraordinary people like Mohan Natarajan, Praveen Venugopal, Bhavani Ramasubbu.  Who all took the opportunity to help merchants solve some challenging problems with product customization, management strategies, and simple quality assurance testing tools. It’s clear the DCKAP team have been putting their heads together and working incredibly hard to solve many common pain points for merchants.  

We finished up the day with another round of presentations from Sivaranjani Ramamoorthy with DCKAP, Stephen Cohan from Dot Digital and Steve Hoffman from Avalara.  All of these touched on important and relevant topics for today’s modern retailers. The afternoon group tackled challenging subjects like ADA compliance, growing your business with marketing automation, and managing both federal and local state sales taxes as a remote company operating across multiple state lines. 

Speaking on the Tools and Features Modern Merchants Need

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to present and speak with everyone at the conference.  

As we continue to network and meet merchants, agencies and technology providers, we’re learning that cloud computing, information security and performance-tuned architecture remain to be some of the most critical challenges facing today’s merchant.  I talked about the tools and features we’ve implemented for our clients. This included auto scaling, 1-click development sites, and more. 

Thank you to DCKAP and the entire team who organized the event.  It’s clear this event will be a must-attend next year. We look forward to working with everyone again to make the next event even more successful.

Learn more about how managed hosting can help you create solutions that do more

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What are PHP Workers and Why You Should Care

What are PHP Workers and Why You Should Care

Have you ever browsed through your favorite coffee shop’s website and as you check out with that new order of coffee, you end up getting a 504 error after a delay?

Or maybe you were browsing your favorite sports website and as you try to load the next page, it takes a while to load and comes back with a timeout error?

These situations are frustrating, and not what we expect when we look at a site. In both cases, the cause may be not having enough PHP workers allocated to a site. Without enough PHP workers, a site can’t process all site requests that come in if there are a higher number of them. It’s not a good situation, as site speed is incredibly important for converting visitors to sales leads and customers.

What is a PHP Worker?

A PHP worker is essentially a mechanism that handles requests for a website that require back-end processing. Generally, any non-static or cached files that require processing are handled by PHP workers.

This is usually active tasks like an inventory check on a specific item or it could be something as complex as viewing and listing all prior orders for a customer. When a PHP worker is started, it remains persistent until processes are completed or certain conditions are met.

Think of PHP workers as a check-out line at a grocery store where each item that is to be scanned is a PHP process.

If you only have one PHP worker (one checkout line) then everything must go through that single checkout lane, and the cashier can only work through one order at the time. PHP workers can limit the number of concurrent, or simultaneous, transactions on a site. As previously mentioned, if you have only four PHP workers (four checkout lines) the site can only process four transactions at once.

However, this does not mean that the fifth customer (PHP process) or beyond does not get processed. PHP processes are placed in a queue for the worker which means it processes the first request in line then moves onto the next PHP process in the queue. In other words, a long line forms and people start waiting.

Luckily, PHP workers process the information faster than grocery store cashiers. They work very quickly and can clear many and most processes within milliseconds. By having only a few additional PHP workers, you are able to have many more concurrent processes that can be run at one time, meaning more customer orders can be processed at once.

What Happens When You Have Too Few PHP Workers

Let’s say you have only two PHP workers on a site and you have several plugins and a heavy theme. Those two PHP workers will constantly be used only to process plugins and theme processes leaving a queue to build up immediately for new page requests from visitors to your site.

If you are running an ecommerce site on top of this, it will only increase the queue amount. Much like customers waiting in line, some PHP processes will abandon the line. Processes that are not written to abandon the line, or time out, and will sit and wait. Then, they will begin to put a much higher load on server resources. It’s like the checkout line is now wrapping around the block!

PHP processes on a WordPress website can be as simple as the submission of a contact form or a request to geolocate a visitor based upon their IP or zip code.

For eCommerce websites, this can look a little different. Items such as new orders being processed, carts, and customer logins would all utilize PHP workers. The products or descriptions will usually be cached so that generally would not require a PHP process for viewing. Having only three to five PHP workers means that you can only have that many simultaneous transactions on the website and that the PHP workers will process requests in the order they were triggered (just like a shopping line).

How To Lighten The Load For Your PHP Workers

A common problem area to start with for PHP workers is having too many plugins and heavy themes. You can generally help alleviate issues caused by a bloated website with these tips:

  1. Add site caching with a plugin
  2. Reduce external calls to remote sites
  3. General site optimization

Site optimization can get complicated, especially with sites that experience heavier traffic which requires more attention to detail. Generally, the larger the site, the more efficient the site must be in the way it requests its styles, products, orders, and customers. This way, you utilize the PHP workers for general site functionality less and PHP workers can process what matters – your traffic – effectively.

Hostdedi plans come with enough concurrent users for even the largest of sites to manage traffic.

With Hostdedi, you already have 20 concurrent users as part of an XS plan. This increases in increments of 20 as you move up to the XXL plan (which has 120).

Other managed application platforms offer anywhere from two to four PHP workers in introductory offerings. Hostdedi Managed WordPress and WooCommerce also have server-side caching built-in which helps minimize the use of PHP workers to process static content, allowing the PHP workers to process requests from the people who matter most: your customers.

Maintain a Faster Site with More PHP Workers

PHP workers can manage thousands of processes each, however; many factors come into play, including:

  • How many exterior calls are they making?
  • How many plugins are competing with inquiries to the database?

Additionally, adding PHP workers to a site will also increase the resource allocation being used from the server. The more PHP processes running, the more RAM and CPU allocations will be needed, thus creating heavier loads on the server and having as much optimization as possible can reduce that server load. PHP workers are key, but they are not magic, one-size-fits-all solution.

The more plugins (even inactive ones), the more PHP workers are utilized to process non-static requests. The same applies to heavily featured themes. For this reason, it is always a good idea to use caching and a CDN to help reduce the task load for PHP workers. This will optimize your site to process customer requests in the fastest manner possible.

  Start your WooCommerce store knowing that it’s ready to handle traffic requirements. Learn more.

The post What are PHP Workers and Why You Should Care appeared first on Hostdedi Blog.

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How To Improve Product Search On Your Magento Store

How To Improve Product Search On Your Magento Store

Product search: you can’t live without it. At least, that’s until you start using cumbersome and awkward solutions that don’t deliver the right results. Choosing the right product search for your Magento store means finding an integration that allows for both easy customization and that delivers the results consumers are looking for. Magento’s default product search is a good start, but it’s certainly not the product querying mastermind you could be using.  

Bringing in the right solutions means being able to sell more and sell better. After all, visitors that use product search are 200% more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t. Maximizing revenue from this group is key to securing a potentially loyal group of return customers. These customers will then see you as an authority in the space. You just need to make sure their searches return the results they want.

Typically, consumers expect results that are on-par, if not above, those of Google. Google is particularly good at returning relevant results even when users search using muddled or imprecise queries. Magento’s default search isn’t nearly as powerful. While It works well for smaller catalogs – those with a few products and a handful of attributes – it falls down as store size and complexity grows. Losing the ability to deliver relevant results will almost immediately mean a loss of revenue and push you further from the store growth you’re looking for.

Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the ways you can use to get your product search back on track with Hostdedi. We believe that product search shouldn’t be complicated or an expensive addition, and to that end, we’ve put together a couple of changes you can make yourself in little to no time. 

 

Choose Search Attributes Wisely

You’re given the ability to add associated attributes when creating Magento products. These can be as simple as a product name, color or size, or as complex as long descriptions. Attributes are included as a way to narrow down relevant results when a user searches for products,. For product colors and sizes, this works incredibly well, allowing consumers access to faceted search features whereby they can filter large result sets down to a handful of relevant ones. However, attributes need to be selected carefully. When they aren’t, irrelevant products quickly start to seep into otherwise relevant results. 

Attributes should be chosen with care

Magento product attributes should be chosen with care.

Take attributes that include large amounts of text. The longer the text the most likely it is that longtail phrases are included. For example, let’s say you’re searching for a pair of headphones with the phrase “headphones with long extension cable” on an electronics store. Yes, the results will likely include relevant results. However, the inclusion of the phrase “extension cord” may lead to electric extension cords appearing in results as well. 

Accuracy and speed can be improved by limiting search to the most important attributes; those that contain the most relevant keywords. Attributes can be removed from search results in the Product Attributes page of the Stores menu.

 

Take Control of Search With Magento Search Terms

Store owners are able to control what happens when specific search terms are entered in the Magento search box. For example, it’s possible to direct users to a custom page on the store by adding and configuring a search term. This might be a content page, a category page, or a product page.

A fashion store owner might note that many shoppers search for “t-shirt”, and decide to build a dedicated landing page with a custom product selection, copy, and images. When a shopper enters the query, they’re directed to the custom page instead of the default search results. The search terms functionality gives store owners precise control over the search experience.

Search terms are also useful for handling synonyms and misspellings because each search term can be associated with a set of synonyms. If you notice that shoppers frequently misspell a product name, you can use search terms to ensure they find what they’re looking for.

Control over the search terms can mean better visibility and conversion rates

Control over the search terms can mean better visibility and conversion rates

You can configure custom search terms under Marketing -> SEO & Search -> Search Terms in the Admin sidebar.

 

Use ElasticSearch Instead

Since the release of Magento 2.3, all versions of Magento support ElasticSearch, an enterprise-grade search engine that is faster and more accurate than Magento’s built-in MySQL-based search. We previously compared Elasticsearch with other Magento product search alternatives and found that not only is it faster, but it also offers your development team more flexibility.

ElasticSearch provides a wide array of features that enhance the Magento search experience, including support for stop words and synonyms, fast indexing that doesn’t impact search or store performance, support for multiple languages, and more advanced product search options. ElasticSearch is easy to integrate with Magento; after a simple initial configuration, ElasticSearch will begin returning improved search results immediately.

At Hostdedi, our ElasticSearch cloud hosting makes it even easier to deploy a scalable ElasticSearch instance in seconds. ElasticSearch is fully supported on our Magento cloud hosting plans, and we’re happy to help clients to integrate their ElasticSearch instance with Magento.

The post How To Improve Product Search On Your Magento Store appeared first on Hostdedi Blog.

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WordCamp US 2019 Roundup from Hostdedi & Liquid Web

WordCamp US 2019 Roundup from Hostdedi & Liquid Web

Liquid Web is a proud sponsor of the WordPress community. This year was our first year as a global sponsor, which means we sponsored every WordCamp in North and Central America. That also included WordCamp US 2019 in St. Louis at the platinum level. This is part of our ongoing commitment to support the WordPress open-source community that supports us.

WordCamp US 2019 is the largest WordCamp in North America each year. Not only did we sponsor the event, but also two of our colleagues, Chris Lema and Steve Grunwell, volunteered their time to prepare and give presentations to the conference attendees on their active areas of expertise. In total, about 20 of our Liquid Web teammates went to WordCamp US. Below is a roundup of how it went, what we thought and what we learned.

The Liquid Web Booth at WordCamp US

State of the Word

One of the highlights of WordCamp US every year is the keynote speech given by one of the co-creators of WordPress, and CEO of Automattic (makers of WordPress.com), Matt Mullenweg. During the State Of The Word, over 1500 conference attendees gather for an update on this year’s latest developments in WordPress. After this, Matt Mullenweg opens the floor for an open Q&A session with any attendee. It is a very unique event. 

Among some of the more interesting developments in WordPress during 2019 was the release of the Open film, a film about the WordPress open-source community, ongoing developments with the Gutenberg block editor, and other items. Additionally, Matt Mullenweg referenced the 9 goals set for WordPress at the State Of The Word last year in 2018 in this blog post. Most have been accomplished!

Alex Denning, owner of Ellipsis Marketing Agency, gathered a live Twitter thread of the rest of the updates delivered at the State Of The World.

The Talks

Of course, the main attraction during WordCamp US is the community-presented talks. WordCamp US consisted of two days of talks, and each day had three tracks. The last day was a Contributor Day event. At WordCamp, no speakers are paid–the whole conference, in fact, is volunteer-driven. Our teammates Steve Grunwell and Chris Lema presented. Steve spoke to us about testing in WordPress, and Chris spoke on business and strategy. 

In addition, Nathan Ingram from our sister company over at iThemes hosted a panel called “How The WordPress Community Can Embrace The Next Generation.” In this panel, we watched younger WordCamp speakers present on what they’re excited about and what gets them interested in the community. It was an excellent reading and inspiring session.

How The WordPress Community Can Embrace The Next Generation

We also attended the highly anticipated workshop by Rebecca Gill. Rebecca walked attendees through a holistic understanding of what it means to have a solid SEO strategy. As we know for both ourselves and the merchants that we serve, having a solid understanding of SEO is key to success as a web professional in 2019.

All WordCamp US events end with a Contributor Day. Contributor Day is a collaborative effort among the attendees of WordCamps to give back to the WordPress project. Attendees gather in a large room and learn how to make the WordPress open-source project better through their contributions. Contrary to what some think, you don’t need to code to contribute to WordPress. Many teams focused on improving open source marketing, providing support for the open source project, and more. Our team sat in on the development, hosting and marketing contribution teams. 

The People & Their Feedback

Of course, for our teams at Liquid Web and Hostdedi, one of the most exciting parts of going to a large event like this is getting to talk to new and existing customers. This was a great opportunity for us: at our final count, we talked to over 110 people over the weekend! We also met some of our favorite customers such as DC-based Knucklepuck and the fully-remote Beacon Agency. In addition, some of the other sponsors were also people we were excited to meet. We were pleased to see AWS Lightsail and Google sponsoring WordCamp US. Opportunities for technology and collaboration that make the life of a web professional easier and better are apparent at WordCamp US.

The people & their feedback

We also use this opportunity to listen deeply. Our partner team representatives consistently asked one of two questions to prospects depending on if they were technically minded or business minded. Either “Tell me about your business strategy for the coming year” or “What hosting and business processes have you changed to make your life easier?”

We learned about what’s making the web better, and we contributed information about our highly profitable affiliate and partner programs, as well as the time and cost-saving benefits of our Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce plans. 

The Activities

Of course, no event is complete without a host of activities to keep everyone entertained and engaged. At the Liquid Web booth we had a photo booth that both employees and attendees used to take photos of themselves, share them with friends, and learn more about our offerings. It was a fun opportunity to kickstart conversations and share in the fun.

We believe that our Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce offerings allow web professionals the flexibility and freedom to focus on what really matters: growing your business and staying happy and healthy. For this reason, we decided that one of our swag items would be Liquid Web-branded hammocks. These hammocks were a huge hit! Our key agency partners and affiliates were invited to receive a Liquid Web hammock, and in addition, we gave them to potential new partners and affiliates to enjoy after the event.

 

Finally, the Liquid Web booth served as the recording location over the weekend for theWomen in WP podcast. They interviewed attendees who identify as women about their experiences. At Liquid Web, we have an ongoing commitment to increasing diversity in technology and it shows. Check out the Women in WP podcast recorded episode at our booth on their home page, as well as our own Liquid Web Women In Technology series. 

 

Wrapping It Up

Our team contributed and gained a lot from attending WordCamp US 2019. But you don’t have to travel all the way to St. Louis in 2020 to do the same thing. By checking out the WordCamp Central page, you can find a local WordCamp event near you–and if it’s in North or Central America, we’ll see you there! In addition, 2020 will also bring us WordCamp Europe and WordCamp Asia, in Porto, Portugal and Bangkok, Thailand respectively, for our international WordPress fans. We’re excited to go into 2020 energized for more success with WordPress and WooCommerce. When it comes to your next choice in hosting and managed services for your WordPress and WooCommerce site, consider our Liquid Web application hosting on our Hostdedi platform.

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Carrie Wheeler Talks Innovative Solutions with WIWP at WCUS

Carrie Wheeler Talks Innovative Solutions with WIWP at WCUS



Another year of WordCamp US has come and gone, and we hope everyone who attended – and didn’t attend – found the best hosting solution for their business. This year, our partner Liquid Web was in attendance. Not only did they offer some incredible booth experiences (recap article to come!), but team members also hosted sessions and talked community.

Carrie Wheeler, executive vice president and COO of Liquid Web, talked with the Women in WordPress, discussing her journey to where she is now and how Liquid Web and Hostdedi are offering innovative solutions that help both merchants and content creators to do more. Below are some of our highlights. 

 

On her journey to where she is now

“It’s been a “three decade journey. Started in consulting. I started in software development. Spent a couple of decades in telecommunications […] and along that path got super passionate about cloud hosting.” 

 

On why she has such a passion for cloud hosting

 “I’ve just seen the entire explosion of technology […] and it is just such a huge enabler for businesses.”

 

On creating innovative solutions for the community

“We could not be happier to be a big part of this community. We love the fact that it is the democratization of publishing. [And] we’re putting together the best platform you could possibly have for both content and commerce.” 

 

To hear the full podcast, watch the video below or visit womeninwp.com.

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Why WooCommerce is a Powerful Affiliate Marketing Platform

Why WooCommerce is a Powerful Affiliate Marketing Platform

The goal of ecommerce marketing is to expose a store’s products to people most likely to buy them. There are many ways to achieve that goal: display advertising, email marketing, content marketing, and more.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular marketing strategies: 80 percent of brands use affiliate marketing to promote their products. It’s also one of the most cost-effective; unlike display advertising or content marketing, there are few upfront costs because affiliates take on the burden of content creation and promotion.
WooCommerce is an excellent platform for building an affiliate marketing program. A WooCommerce store combines WordPress’s strengths as a content management system and WooCommerce’s sophisticated ecommerce features. With the addition of one of the affiliate marketing plugins we are about to discuss, WooCommerce is fully capable of supporting the largest and most complex affiliate marketing programs.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing provides rewards, typically a percentage of the value of a sale, to third parties that refer customers to an ecommerce store. The affiliate fees give marketers, bloggers, and other retailers an incentive to promote the store’s product. Amazon’s affiliate program is a great example. Many blogs and review sites are supported entirely by money paid by Amazon to affiliates who refer customers.
A retailer of high-end audio equipment might create an affiliate program to encourage audiophile blogs to write about their products, for example. The bloggers write reviews, make YouTube demonstration videos, and promote the products on social media. Because the blogger already has an audience of audiophiles, the products are promoted to customers who are already inclined to buy.
It would be expensive for the retailer to pay for social media promotion, blog articles, and video content, but with an affiliate program they don’t pay anything unless a customer is referred and buys a product.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

First, a retailer creates an affiliate marketing program on their store. Then, prospective affiliates join the program. Affiliates are given links with identifying codes to use when promoting the store’s products. When a customer clicks on a link on the affiliate’s site, the store knows whose link was used. Any products bought by the referred customers are recorded by the store, and, at fixed periods, the affiliate marketer is paid their percentage of the sale value.
That’s the nutshell explanation of affiliate marketing, which can get a good deal more complicated, but with a decent affiliate marketing plugin, most of the details are automated. An affiliate marketing plugin also provides a range of analytics tools to help ecommerce retailers to optimize their affiliate program.

Affiliate Marketing Plugins for WooCommerce

There are many affiliate marketing plugins available for WooCommerce, but we’ll highlight two of the best, one premium and one free.

AffiliateWP

AffiliateWP is a premium affiliate marketing plugin with a comprehensive array of features and its own add-on ecosystem. AffiliateWP is designed to be easy to use, and anyone familiar with WooCommerce should have no trouble installing it and configuring a basic affiliate marketing program.
Standout features include excellent integration with WooCommerce and membership plugins, powerful affiliate management features and analytics with real-time reporting, reliable affiliate tracking, and handy asset management for providing affiliates with branded visual resources and text links.

Affiliates Manager

Affiliates Manager is a free WordPress affiliate plugin that integrates with WooCommerce and other WordPress ecommerce plugins. It’s not quite as feature rich or slickly designed as AffiliateWP, but it has all the features a WooCommerce user needs to recruit, manage, and track their affiliates.

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How the Success of WordPress is Due to its Plugin Ecosystem

How the Success of WordPress is Due to its Plugin Ecosystem



WordPress’s plugin ecosystem is one of its greatest strengths. As we write, there are over 50,000 plugins in the official repository, a number that doesn’t include premium plugins and custom plugins created for individual WordPress sites. Plugins range in functionality from tiny interface tweaks to full-featured ecommerce applications, all taking advantage of the hooks and frameworks built into WordPress by its developers.
About a third of the web runs on WordPress — tens of millions of sites — so we’re used to statistics about WordPress involving big numbers. However, it’s worth taking a moment to think about what a staggering achievement the WordPress plugin ecosystem is and how many thousands of hours of developer time have been dedicated to creating plugins, the vast majority of which are free and open source.
When Matt Mullenweg started work on WordPress in 2003, it was by no means a certainty that there would be a plugin ecosystem. Many early blogging engines were not designed with a modular architecture. Towards the end of 2003, Ryan Boren joined the nascent WordPress project and his work led to the creation of the plugin system we know today.
Mullenweg created Blogtimes, one of the first useful plugins which is still in the plugin repository, although it was last updated 14 years ago. He also created Hello Dolly, which was bundled with WordPress installations to demonstrate how to build plugins.

What Makes Plugins So Powerful?

Plugins are powerful because they allow anyone to create a feature for WordPress without it having to be included in every WordPress site. WordPress’s history would be very different if every possible feature had to be included in WordPress Core. It would be bloated beyond recognition if even a tiny fraction of the features available as plugins were installed as part of the application, not least because it would lead to a horrendously complex interface.
Plugins serve a purpose beyond allowing WordPress to maintain a slimline application and a manageable user experience. The WordPress 5.0 release lists 12 lead developers and 423 contributors. That’s a lot for an open source project, and it’s challenging to organize so many people, especially when most contribute for free. However, a conservative estimate for the number of people working on plugins is hundreds of times the number working on WordPress itself.
For all practical purposes, it’s impossible to organize that many people to work on a monolithic application while hitting deadlines, maintaining security, and adhering to quality standards. Plugins can be developed independently of the core application, by organizations and individuals that manage themselves, that aren’t tied to the needs and release schedules of the main application, and that can create features that are useful to thousands but that aren’t a good use of the core developer’s time.
Without the plugin system, WordPress as we know it wouldn’t exist. It may not have existed at all in 2019, perhaps being remembered only by historians of content management systems. How many WordPress users are familiar with b2/cafelog, the CMS that WordPress replaced?
Thanks to its modularity and the dedication of thousands of developers, WordPress went from strength to strength and is today one of the most important pieces of software in the world.

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How Can Ecommerce Help Reduce Transaction Costs?

How Can Ecommerce Help Reduce Transaction Costs?

While ecommerce stores can reduce transaction costs, and so the overhead of running a business, transaction costs still have enough of a presence to chip away at your profits.

Transaction costs traditionally refer to any cost incurred by an entity that maintains or processes the exchange of currency for goods and services. It is not necessarily synonymous with business overhead, defined as the sum of all expenses attached to the day-to-day operations of your business, though transaction costs contribute to it. 

What is Transaction Cost in Ecommerce?

The big pro of ecommerce is reduced transaction costs and overhead for both merchants and consumers. Merchants without a physical storefront need not bother with cashiers, warehousing, rent, or the limitations of their geographic location. Consumers, too, enjoy less overhead because online purchases require less time spent browsing and no need to bother with crowds, traffic, or gas. 

However, ecommerce stores are not immune to overhead, and a sizeable portion of this overhead comes from transaction costs. 

In online stores, transaction costs include fees and expenses associated with the following :

  • Credit cards Customer using credit card online
  • Payment gateways
  • Ecommerce platforms
  • Returns and exchanges
  • Shipping

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are a creature of convenience for many consumers, which is why merchants accept the fees. In theory, the cost of not providing a credit card payment option—lost revenue—exceeds the cost of processing fees.

These fees represent the cost of the infrastructure making such transactions possible, and involve numerous parties. The credit card processor, credit card association and the issuing bank all look to get paid for the effort.

These fees are determined by your risk profile, interchange rates, and various other factors. You pay a percentage of each transaction, a per-transaction dollar amount, or a combination of both (for example, 1.80% + $0.10). In addition, some cards may incur a flat monthly charge. 

Typical Cost Breakdown by Card Type

Card typePer-transaction fee
American Express2.5% to 3.5%
Discover1.5% to 2.3 %
Mastercard1.5% to 2.6%
Visa1.43% to 2.4%

Many online retailers accept these fees as part of the cost of doing business, but some choose to disallow credit cards in their stores and avoid the fee. 

Payment Gateways

PayPal, Stripe, Square, Authorize.net, and the like are payment gateways that handle your customers’ credit card payments. paypal logoFor a fee, they transmit the card data from their payment portal to the credit card processor.paypal logo

It is somewhat less convenient than a credit card because it requires the customer to 1) create an account for that payment gateway if they don’t already have one, and 2) log in to that account during checkout. Both prolong the process, and long checkout times tend to produce abandoned shopping carts. These represent a constant source of irritation in an industry where the worldwide cart abandonment rate in 2018 was at 75 percent (Statista). 

PayPal, a popular choice, is one of the more expensive options. PayPal charges a flat base rate of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction (4.4% plus fixed fee for international). While numerous other options are available, PayPal offers brand recognition that other options may not. As with credit cards, payment gateways charge a mix of percentage, per-transaction flat rates, and monthly fees.

Ecommerce Platforms

Ecommerce platforms are the lowest-hanging fruit of store-creation. Relatively simple to deploy and customize, they remove multiple barriers to entry that would otherwise require a developer. Inventory tracking, payment, coupons, shipping, and countless other features are easily made available to your shoppers.

As you might expect, Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and other platforms want to get paid, and these fees are in addition to fees incurred by credit cards and payment gateways.

WooCommerceShopifyBigCommerce
Transaction feesNone0.5% to 2% unless using Shopify PaymentsNone
Account feesFree, plus hosting (upwards of $7 per month)$29 to $299 per month$29.95 to $249.95 per month
Payment OptionsManyManyMany
CustomizationUnlimited themes; may require dev assistance10 free themes; others require $7 free themes; others require $

Returns and Exchanges

Although this is outside of the initial transaction, the threat of chargebacks involves the same payment entities and therefore warrants inclusion.

A refund is a voluntary return agreement between the customer and the merchant. A chargeback occurs after a customer asks a bank or payment processor to forcibly undo the purchase. If that bank or processor investigates the complaint and deems it valid, they forcibly withdraw money from the merchant’s account.

It is designed as a failsafe against dishonest merchants, but any customer dissatisfied with your product and return policy can make use of it. Merchants can dispute the claim, but if the claim sticks, they often pay an additional and expensive fee.

Shipping

Although shipping falls outside of the direct purview of “payment processors,” it’s essential enough for ecommerce to be Semi in transitconsidered a transaction cost. Complicating the matter is the general expectation of rapid time-to-delivery. Gone are the days of “please allow 6 to 8 weeks of shipping, and good riddance. 

You may be tempted to simply pass these costs along to your customers, but exercise caution. Most customers expect to pay shipping, if reasonable. Even so, if you can find a way to offer free shipping, it will encourage customers to spend more at your store.

How to Reduce Transaction Costs

While transaction costs are unavoidable, here are some measures to take beyond just throwing up your hands and taking your lumps.

Know your needs, then shop around for non-credit card payment providers 

As noted above, you have multiple options. The time you spend learning about your options will save you money. If your store uses a specific application like Magento, WooCommerce, or something similar, engage the community, and even consider attending a larger expo like MagentoLive or WordCamp. If your store does considerable volume, you also may be able to negotiate lower rates with banks and credit card companies.

Look for options, but remember the cheapest service may not be the best solution. Investigate the service’s reputation for support, security, and reliability before committing.

Once again, however, removing the in-store option to pay via credit card will likely irritate some customers. 

Pay respect to customer service

Brand loyalty lives and dies on the hill of customer service. Taking extra steps to keep your customers happy. It will helpprevent costly chargebacks and provide the organic, cost-free marketing otherwise known as positive word-of-mouth. 

support scrabble tiles

The definition of “good customer” service has risen in the age of ecommerce. It need not necessarily be “24/7/365,” but most customers expect:

  • A prompt response, usually within 1 business day
  • A response that doesn’t sound like a script
  • An honest effort to remedy the issue
  • An apology in some shape or form
  • Reasonable transparency

If you’re unable to consistently provide all of the above, it may be time to hire someone that can. It’s a “symptom” of growth and a good problem to have. Embrace it. Resist the urge to outsource the cheapest option available, as you want your representatives to know your product and the fundamentals of customer service.

And if you’re unwilling to provide all of the above… good luck. You’re gonna need it.

Ship smart

Shipping is arguably the biggest cause of transaction cost in ecommerce, as every transaction demands it. As noted earlier, free shipping is a powerful incentive. Even reduced shipping will help your conversion rate. Try some of these tactics to reduce shipping for yourself and your customers:

  • Negotiate with your carrier. The more you ship, the more you save. 
  • Use third party insurance. Carriers generally charge first-rate prices for second-rate coverage. Stick with third party insurance companies, who tend to provide much better value. 
  • Watch for fees. Don’t let yourself be surprised by charges for Saturday delivery, delivery signature, and fuel surcharges. Know before you ship.
  • Use online shipping. Order and print your postage online and it’s almost always cheaper and quicker than doing it all over the counter.
  • Use size-appropriate packaging. Use the smallest you can without compromising the integrity of the product.
  • Buy shipping supplies in bulk. Buy in bulk online. That one-time expense translates to long-term savings.

 

Need other ways to prep for the holiday season? See our Black Friday Ecommerce prep Guide.

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20 Ways to Get Your Store Ready for Black Friday

20 Ways to Get Your Store Ready for Black Friday

It’s not too late to start circling the wagons the holiday season. Here’s 20 ways to make the most of your Black Friday that don’t involve new code or massive retooling. Use one, or all, or mix and match for maximum effect.

#1 Enable Hostdedi Cloud Auto Scaling

One of the main arguments to go cloud is flexible, on-demand scaling. Auto Scaling temporarily assigns more resources to your site when there’sHostdedi Auto Scaling an unexpected uptick in concurrent users, defined as users actively engaging with your content (as opposed to “idling” on your site). 

How much does it cost? Not much, unless your site suddenly experiences a prolonged surge in traffic. All Hostdedi Cloud accounts get 12 free hours of Auto Scaling. Beyond that, you’re billed only for what you use in 10-minute increments. The cost depends according to your plan, but range between $0.03–$0.16 cents per increment. 

To put it into perspective, a store with a plan charging $0.10 per increment, using 24 hours of Auto Scaling, would incur an additional charge of $14.40 ($0.60 per hour X 24 hours). This makes it a cost-effective stopgap measure against unexpected surges in traffic, though extensive use usually points to a need for a service upgrade.

#2 Add Product Bundles to Your Store

Package complementary projects together and offer a small discount. As noted by a Harvard Business School study, customers are quick to perceive value in bundles, IF the business in question continues to offer “standalone” units. In the study, Nintendo reported a massive increase in sales when they added bundles (video game + console) to their store, but reported a 20 percent decrease if they sold only bundles.

How much does it cost? Only the “cost” of the discount, but if a 20 percent discount adds 40 percent sales, then it’s a win.

#3 Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)CDN icon

Shopping is a visual experience. At least 90 percent of all site data transfers involve images, video, and other content that take seconds to load in a browser. A wait of 3 seconds or longer tends to send a shopper elsewhere, never to return. While nearly every ecommerce site can benefit from a CDN, shops with international appeal stand to benefit most. 

How much does it cost? No, but it’s definitely affordable even before calculating the potential cost of lost business. Plans start at $25 per month.

#4 Creating Some Solid Long-Form Content

Yes, attention spans are short, but shoppers are motivated when they’re researching possible purchases. These shoppers tend to be hungry for deeper content, provided it’s free of fluff and filler. The benchmark for “long-form” varies, but generally in the 1200–1800 word range. 

The idea is to give potential buyers a reason to visit and remember your site. The topic can be anything, provided the author’s an expert on the topic and it doesn’t sound like 1500-word infomercial. 

How much does it cost? It ranges between “free” (if you write it yourself) and “more than a few beans” (if you outsource). Outsource with caution. Despite the long-form label, the emphasis should be on quality content, not quantity of content. In either case, having a clear goal and knowing your audience will do much for your cause. 

#5 Check Your SSL CertificateSSL certtificate icon

Don’t wait until zero-hour to discover problems with your SSL certificate. Browsers notify visitors about sites without them, and the warning sends them packing. In most cases, a standard SSL certificate will be more than adequate, and whether or not Extended Validation (EV) certificates provide value is a matter of some debate.

How much does it cost? The annual charge ranges between about $40–$300 per year, depending on the type of certificate. Standard SSL certificates are often adequate, but offer a substantially lower warranty than other, more expensive options. However, Let’s Encrypt is free and will work in a pinch for some websites. Such certificates have various limitations, but they meet the minimum standard of assigning your website the “Secure” browser label and preceding the address with “https://”. 

#6 Implement Live Chat

A properly implemented live chat system can increase sales, customer loyalty, and even reveal flaws in your site design or user experience. If you’re using Magento, WooCommerce, or another popular ecommerce platform, several plug-ins are available and relatively easy to deploy. 

If you’re instead relying on your own platform, it may be best to table starting development until after the holiday at this point.

How much does it cost? Per-month licenses range between roughly $15 to several hundred dollars, with variances for number of “seats,” types of features, and other trimmings. Some, like Livechat for Magento 1, offer a 2-week free trial.  

#7 Kick off a social media campaign

If you’re not already tapping social media for a boost, then you’re missing out. One need not be a Social Media Manager to reap the benefits of

social media examples

Facebook, Twitter, and friends. Run a contest, or otherwise give people a reason to share your product. Showcase your best products and services. Tie in with a discount (see #11) and let digital word-of-mouth do the rest. 

How much does it cost? It’s free for starters, but you’ll reach more eyes by paying for promotion status. On Twitter, these are “Promoted Tweets. On Facebook, they’re ads. Both can pay for themselves, provided you’re willing to put a little time and effort into it. 

#8. Showcase User-Generated Content

Designating a space on your site for honest reviews is a good start, but this really refers to engaging with and showing off your customers’ stories about your product or service. These are authentic testimonials and consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view them than marketing content

It takes a little time, but as shown by the below example, it’s not hard. Combine with a giveaway to give it extra traction.

Share your favorite (YOUR_STORE) products with us and you could be featured on our social and website! 

  1. Follow @YOUR_STORE
  2. Post a photo of your favorite YOUR_STORE product
  3. Tag @YOUR_STORE and #YOUR_STORE

How much does it cost? Like all social media campaigns, it can be free, but consider paying for promotional fees to cast a much wider net. 

#9 Create a Cart-Abandonment Email Campaign

The bad news is about 70 percent of all shopping carts never see conversion. The good news is you have a way to bring some of those shoppers back. An effective Black Friday cart-abandonment email campaign is all about timing and presentation. Timing means sending 2–3 emails from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Presentation means branding that sets you apart from the other marketing emails flooding mailboxes.

Find a perfect subject line, perhaps offer a 10% discount, provide a visual of the item, and include a strong call-to-action, like a BUY button.

How much does it cost? This is more feasible if you already have a graphic designer available, since raw text isn’t a good option. Hiring one just for your campaign might be worthwhile, but if you already have one available, consider making this a priority if you haven’t already.

#10 Use Hostdedi DNSHostdedi DNS icon

If you’re already our client, using our DNS streamlines support efforts and gives your customers a reliable and fast way to find your site. Repointing your domain name to our nameservers is relatively quick and easy, and our support team is more than happy to help.

How much does it cost? If you’re a Hostdedi client, it’s free!

#11 Create Discount Codes

Nearly every major ecommerce platform provides the means to create discount codes. Combined with other options from this list, they encourage sharing between friends and acquaintances, otherwise known as free marketing.

Concerned about overuse? Link the discount to a minimum-spending trigger, as in “spend $75, Get 15% Off” or something similar. Remember you’re not limited to sharing on social media. Also consider email, catalogs, and advertisements.

How much does it cost? Again, it depends on how you view the “cost” of a discount. Most shoppers expect to find discounts on Black Friday, so consider the cost of ignoring discounts. 

#12 Make Sure Your Site is Optimized for Mobile

When was the last time you visited your store on a phone or tablet? Over half of all Black Friday shopping occurs from a mobile device. Most

mobile phone

modern ecommerce applications were built with mobile in mind, but don’t forget about emails, checkout, and any other late-season change pushed by your developer. Even if you’re using Magento 2, avoid surprises and explore the common paths for your visitors, from item-selection to checkout. 

How much does it cost? If you’re using a credible ecommerce solution, your storefront is likely ahead of the game. If your site is a trainwreck on mobile, then it’s time to hustle, and hustling usually means taking a financial hit. Still, it may be better than frustrating over 50 percent of all visitors to your site on Black Friday.

#13 Expand Your Store’s Search Function

Your store’s search function is the equivalent of a store clerk. The less time it takes a customer to find what they want, the more time they’ll spend in your store and the better things they’ll have to say about it afterward.

While many options exist, current Hostdedi Cloud clients using Magento 2 can take full advantage of Elasticsearch, a flexible search engine capable of handling large amounts of both structured and unstructured data. 

How much does it cost? If you’re currently a Hostdedi Cloud client, we provide Elasticsearch for no additional charge. It does, however, require some knowledge of MySQL and the command line interface, so take proper care or contact our support team for assistance.

#14 (Magento 2 Only) Follow Our Optimization Guide

magento 2 icon

Our team sensed a shortage of concrete optimizations for Magento 2 developers, and our Definitive Guide to Magento 2 Optimization was theresult. Filled-to-the-brim with how to get the most from your Magento 2 store, the guide includes proven optimizations for PHP, PHP-FPM, Apache, MySQL, Varnish, as well as benchmarks to back up our conclusions.

How much does it cost? It’s free!

#15 Consider Upsells and Cross-sells for Your Products

Consider implementing up-sells and cross-sells for your products. Upselling is encouraging customers to buy a higher-end variant of their current selection. Cross-selling means making the most of opportunities to sell related products. Most popular ecommerce platforms offer out-of-the-box ways to achieve both, though extensions grant additional functionality.

For cross-selling, borrow a page from Amazon’s book and find a way to present a variant of “Customers who bought this product also bought” to buyers. 

How much does it cost? Similar to #6, the cost of applicable extensions ranges between roughly $10 to hundreds. Ask the community surrounding your ecommerce platform to suggest extensions, which can provide exceptional value for their cost. 

#16 Create Banner Ads for Your Site and Social

One need not be a graphic designer to design attractive visuals. It’s not too early to start promoting Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and many free templates are available online, like Canva, Bannersnack, and many others. A few hours’ work can generate buzz and get you ahead of the game. Consider combining with discounts and promoted social media posts for extra effect.

How much does it cost? Free to less free, depending on whether you enlist the services of a graphic designer, provide discounts, or pay for promotional placement in social media.

#17 Load-Test Your Store

It’s best to know the limits of your site before Black Friday, not during. The results can give you some idea of whether or not to pursue an upgrade, or just rely on something like Hostdedi Auto Scale (see #1). If possible, prioritize the specific URLs of your homepage and checkout page.

If you’re a Hostdedi client and are unsure to do with this information, try contacting our support team first. While some of your issues may require a developer’s touch, you may have other options to help optimize site performance.

How much does it cost? Many free options are available. However, prioritize ones that test for “concurrent users,” which refers to the number of users on your site that are actively engaging with your content. Possible candidates include Load Impact, Flood IO, and Loader, among many others.

#18 Make Returns Easy 

Provide a clear return policy. Try to keep “no hassle” at the forefront, though reasonable restrictions on timelines are usually acceptable. Your policy should give answers to:

  • What items can be returned
  • What items can be exchanged
  • Which items are non-returnable and non-exchangeable
  • What options are available for reimbursement (refund, exchange, store credit)
  • How to ask for a return or exchange
  • Whether customers will pay for return-shipping
  • What condition returns and exchanges can be in to qualify (tags, worn, so on)
  • How long customers from the date of purchase to ask for returns or exchanges 

How much does it cost? Returns are arguably the cost of doing business, so we’re marking this one “free.”

#19 Track Everything

Chances are, your store already has tracking tools in place, though most platforms also provide  various plug-ins available to expand these tools.

web tracking on monitor

The right tool gives you invaluable data about how customers interact with your site: what they buy, where they spend their time, and how long they visit each page. Like any data, it requires analysis to be useful, but even an hour or two can provide actionable information for 2020 and beyond.

How much does it cost? It depends on your platform and how deep down the rabbithole you want to go. Start with what’s already available in your store and go from there.

#20 Check Out Your Competition

Spy on your competition so you can outdo them! We’re not recommending anything illegal or unethical. The easiest way to do so is to subscribe to their mailing lists and social media feeds. Fair warning: resist the urge to take too many queues from them, or you risk the “cookie cutter” effect of being too similar to your competition. Finding the balance between “inspired by” and differentiation will spell success for your store.

How much does it cost? Unless you’re buying from your competitors, it’s free!

 

 

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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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