The eCommerce Shopping Experience: Path to Purchase

The eCommerce Shopping Experience: Path to Purchase

eCommerce Shopping Experience

eCommerce Shopping Experience – It’s all about UX and CX!

Merchants know that the success of an eCommerce store relies heavily on the user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) provided during the path to purchase process. Every step of the customer purchasing cycle should be analyzed, optimized, and tested to ensure a seamless experience. Notably, if you’re building a new Magento 2 store without a UX/CX feature exploration process that includes modern UX and CX principles, then it’s important to start now.

The infographic below outlines the key areas merchants need to consider when optimizing their eCommerce shopping experience for customers.

Have You Thought About Ways to Optimize the Path to Purchase Process?

A simple way to get started is to create a new profile on your website and try to complete a purchase yourself. Better yet, ask a stranger or a friend who will give honest feedback to do it.  Consider everything from search results to the amount of time that it takes to locate a product and make a purchase.

The Important Steps in a Customer’s Purchasing Journey

We’ve researched the common elements in a typical customer’s shopping journey and outlined the areas to analyze and optimize. The 8 steps below break down the journey from the initial search to the shipment of packages to help merchants optimize their eCommerce shopping experience and websites to provide better customer service.

eCommerce Shopping Experience

Search

How do customers find you?  44% of shoppers will go directly to Amazon to start their search for a product, compared to 34% who use search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to search for products. Ensure your site is optimized for SEO by including unique product descriptions, eye-catching metadata, long-tail keywords, page load speed, mobile optimization, and more.

Website

How long are new customers engaging with your site? Most new users will click away after just 10 seconds! Once a new customer lands on a page from a search engine, it’s critical to ensure every item on the landing page is immediately user-friendly. Elements such as clear images, accurate product descriptions, customer reviews, and an easy to navigate design all lead to those coveted conversions.

Reviews

How do your brand and products measure up compared to competitors? Two-thirds of consumers research products online before purchasing. In addition, shoppers focus on two areas when making a purchase decision: reliable websites and online reviews. It’s important to actively monitor reviews and respond to customers in real time. Also, consider adding user-generated review functionality so customers can leave product reviews.

Price

How are your prices compared to others in your industry? 80% of shoppers said they would do online price comparisons before making a purchase. Additionally, Google shopping ads and Amazon supply plenty of information and ways to quickly compare prices. Keep prices up-to-date across all platforms including 3rd party integrations.

Checkout

Do you suffer from cart abandonment issues? 25% of customers abandon their shopping carts due to unexpected shipping costs. Notably, 22% of customers will leave if they have to create a new user account. Create a successful checkout process by providing transparent shipping costs, a number of secure payment methods, and a guest checkout option, preferably all on a single page.

Confirmation

What do your order confirmation and transactional eMails look like? Transactional emails have 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of eMail and can generate 6x more revenue. A well developed transactional eMail can enhance the relationship of a merchant with their customers by encouraging loyalty and repeat business. As the sale comes to completion, it’s important to continue to provide a seamless experience for customers.

Ship

Do you have multiple shipping options? 83% of customers say they will wait an additional 2 days for free delivery. Providing multiple and reliable shipping options for customers is critical. For example, provide international shipping, free returns, and delivery updates to keep customers in the know about their purchases.

Repeat

What do you do to turn first-time customers into repeat and returning customers? 40% of revenue comes from returning or repeat customers. Encourage customers to come back and they are more likely to shop again and again. Additionally, a repeat customer is easier to sell to. Merchants can offer special discounts, promotional offers, and bonus reward points to entice customers back for another purchase.

Start Optimizing Your eCommerce Shopping Experience

Creating a seamless UX and CX for customers is critical to your business. If your site has hang-ups anywhere along the path to purchase process, potential customers will likely choose a competitor. In fact, 47% of customers go to another site the very next day after having a bad shopping experience at an online store. Therefore, your business cannot afford to overlook your customer’s unique buying cycle. In addition, focus on retaining customers as much as gaining new ones. In other words, remember that it’s much easier to convert a current customer.

We want to help optimize your eCommerce shopping experience and unique buying cycle to grow your business. Contact us to get started or give us a call: 513-469-3345.

3 Ways to Improve Conversions with Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails

3 Ways to Improve Conversions with Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails

Almost 70% of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart

There are plenty of reasons online shoppers abandon shopping carts before making a purchase. Some may be reacting to the fact that shipping charges and taxes don’t appear until they’re asked to place their orders. Others may have security concerns about sharing their personal information (like their credit card numbers). And for some, an interruption pulls them away from their computer, like a phone call, or someone knocking on their door, or dinner burning on the stove.

But whatever the reason, an alarmingly high number of consumers are abandoning shopping carts. In fact, according to the Baymard Institute the number is almost 70%. Some eCommerce businesses view those lost sales as irrecoverable. Typically, they make incorrect assumptions about the reason consumers walked away. Perhaps they think those people don’t like their business anymore, or that they’ve jumped to one of their competitors.  Those could prove to be costly assumptions.

The truth is that approximately 75% of sales lost through shopping cart abandonment can be recovered, but you need to use some smart strategies to succeed in recovering them. One of the best ways to bring people back to your shopping cart is through shopping cart abandonment eMails.

Why Use eMail Remarketing and Shopping Cart Abandonment eMails?

Email remarketing (shopping cart abandonment eMails) involves sending an email to online shoppers who’ve abandoned your shopping cart.  According to Internet Retailer, 66% of all sales recovered from abandoned carts come from these emails. One of the reasons is that consumers pay attention to them—for example, the open rate for these emails is 57% compared to just 21% for all other marketing emails.

To maximize sales you recover from abandoned carts, you need to employ best practice strategies, including the following 3:

Send Your Shopping Cart Abandonment eMails As Soon As Possible

The more quickly you send your cart abandonment email, the higher your conversion rate will be. For example, on average emails sent within 20 minutes of cart abandonment achieve a 5.2% conversion rate. That drops to 4.9% at 40 minutes, 4.5% at 1 hour, and 3.6% at 1 to 4 hours.  

If you wait a full 24 hours, your conversion rate will be just 2.6%, one half of what it would have been if you’d sent your email immediately.

Know What to Include in Your Subject Line

What you put in your subject line matters for any kind of email, but it’s especially critical when you’re trying to bring consumers back to your website, and back to their abandoned shopping carts. For example, the most important element to include is the name of your company (probably because this tips off consumers that your email has to do with their abandoned purchase). The most important things to include in your subject line, and their associated open rates, include:

  • Company name: 53%
  • Product details: 52%
  • A customer service tone: 46%
  • An urgent tone: 44%
  • The consumer’s name: 38%

Make It Easy for Customers to Return to Your Website

The body of your shopping cart abandonment eMails is at least as important as the subject line. For example, it’s important to include a link in your content that makes it as easy as possible for consumers to get back to the cart they abandoned, and to frame a clear and simple call-to-action, such as “complete your order.” Remember that one of the reasons people abandon carts is that they found something about the process inefficient. This tells you that making their shopping experience more fluid will help to push them back to your business – and your shopping cart.

Other useful links to embed in the abandoned cart eMail include:

  • Continue shopping
  • Recommendations
  • Cart products
  • Social links
  • Navigation bars
  • Promotional banners

Getting Started with Triggered eMail Marketing

Many eCommerce marketers will tell you that attempting to re-engage online shoppers who have abandoned their shopping carts is a waste of time, but if you press them, they’ll probably admit they never tried. They never tried because they were guided by specious assumptions rather than reliable data. Or they simply don’t know how to get started with shopping cart abandonment eMails or a triggered email program.

If you would like help with setting up shopping cart abandonment eMails to reduce your cart abandons, we can help! Contact us today or give us a call at 513-469-3345.

Magento Email Templates

Magento Email Templates

How to setup Magento eMail Templates for M2

When a customer makes a purchase, or changes their password, they are automatically sent an eMail from your Magento store. It’s important that merchants update these triggered and transactional template eMails to match their brand. Notably, Magento makes it easy to customize these types of eMail templates to match the design of your website for branding purposes. In addition, merchants can also create eMail templates for different store views for different languages or sub-stores within Magento.

The process for updating Magento templates is fairly simple. The admin between Magento 1 and Magento 2 is laid out differently, but the steps are essentially the same for updating eMail templates. This also applies to both versions of Magento Open Source (previously referred to as Community Edition) and Magento Commerce (previously referred to as Enterprise Edition).

1. Creating Custom eMail Templates – Getting Started

To access the transactional eMail section go to MARKETING > Communications > eMail Templates

If you’ve never set up an eMail before, it will be an empty pane to start with. See below:

Click on “Add New Template” in the top right hand corner. You’ll come to the form with the ability to load any default templates. See below:

Magento has it’s own default template for all of the different transactions that get sent out to the customer. This also includes any 3rd party extensions installed that generate customer correspondence such as RAM modules or order management modules.

The drop down box shows all of the default Magento templates available. Notably, all of the templates will utilize your store logo and have quite a few dynamic variables. Out of the box, nothing is hard coded to say Magento. At InteractOne, we really emphasise creating a consistent branding experience across our merchant’s sites and eMail communication. And in some cases, we will simplify the eMail templates to display properly on mobile.

As shown above, there are many template options such as “New Order,” “New Credit Memo,” as well as a “For Guest” options. Templates that do not note “for guests” are intended for registered users. See below:

The difference is that the template inserts the customer’s name and account information for registered users only vs the “for guest” option which omits that information.

So select the template you wish to edit and click load template.

Special Tip: Load a template eMail to view the HTML code to use as a guide for eMails you’re trying to create. This is helpful when you need an example of code but do not need to edit a full template eMail.

After the template has loaded, give it a name and add a subject line. You can create anything you want, or stick to something simple. The default is usually simple and includes with your store name. See below:

2. Creating Custom eMail Templates – Let’s talk about variables

You’ll notice that there are several variables available throughout the template. These are dynamic variables that will pull settings from your magento configuration into the content of the eMail. For example, these could be the subject line or the body. The store prefix is a store view level prefix, meaning you can give your website a different name on the store level. Or, you can have different settings for your order increment ids, phone, or address based on the store view level. Those examples can be dynamically inserted into the template. See below:

The “Insert Variable” button will list the variables that can be inserted into the subject and content sections. In other words, these are dynamically inserted based on transaction information. This could include customer or order information and any other kind of configuration settings that are set on your store.

Special Tip: To insert a variable, your cursor needs to be in the place where the variable needs to go. Furthermore, if you insert a variable, it’s your responsibility to check that the variable is displaying properly!

3. Creating Custom eMail Templates – Mobile Friendly eMail.

A popular request among merchants is to create a responsive or mobile friendly eMail. Notice the templates use table settings which by nature are not mobile responsive or mobile friendly.

Editing eMail layouts and header/footer color schemes to match store designs are popular ways of customizing Magento eMail templates. The pre-defined eMail variables are managed by layout XML files located in the template directory. Due to this, we do NOT recommend editing those files directly. This can cause issues when updating Magento in the future.

Special Tip: It’s best to have a developer create an overwrite to the existing layout files if you want to change anything in those sections. Any further directions on how to actually edit those would need to come from an experienced developer.

4. Creating Custom eMail Templates – Template Styles

The Template Styles section is CSS and requires typical ID and class statements that can be built out in line. Editing or adding CSS to the Template Styles section will pull the styles into the Template Content section above.

5. Creating Custom Templates – Check Your Work

After your template is setup, save it. Once saved, you’ll be directed back out into the eMail Templates window where the new custom template will be available. See below:

There is a “Preview” option to the far right where the eMail can be reviewed in a new window.  Notably, the preview will not pull any dynamic data. Therefore, anything that has order number, bill to, or name will look empty. However, you can shrink the window down to see if the eMail is mobile responsive and that columns are stacking properly.

To apply the new eMail template, open a new tab, go to STORES > Settings > Configuration > SALES > Sales eMails.

For every section listed, you can define what template you want to use for each setting. Note that this a store view level setting. However, most merchants do not create Store View-specific eMail templates. You can change the default settings at the Default Configuration Scope level. To use different eMail templates at the Store View level, such as for different languages as shown in the example below. Click on “Default Config” in the upper left hand corner, and select the Store View you would like to edit.

The Store View settings in Magento can be pretty unclear. The most popular reasons for eMail settings being at the store view level is that merchants can setup different language eMails for different sites. For example, a merchant may have Spanish and French-specific sales and support. Therefore, they need to use a different phone number for the Spanish store view and the French store view. In addition, they can also have custom eMail templates specific to the store views. It’s a great feature, however, most merchants will not need multiple store view options.

Special Tip: Test your eMail by completing a test action to trigger the eMail to come to yourself. Test the eMail from different devices such as mobile, tablet or desktop to verify that the eMail displays properly.

Need help with Magento eMail Templates?

In addition to our tutorial above, Magento offers excellent documentation on editing eMail templates. Magento offers even more detail including how to edit headers and footers. However, if you don’t feel Magento savvy or don’t have time to customize your eMail templates, we can help! Contact us today to talk to a Magento expert about Magento eMail templates or give us a call 513-469-3345.

Great Magento UX Examples and How Merchants Incorporated Them

Great Magento UX Examples and How Merchants Incorporated Them

Magento UX examples

Magento UX Examples From Top Brands

Customers expect more from the businesses they buy from more than ever before. They want an excellent product. They demand high quality customer service. They need a seamless way to look at products, find out about them, and purchase them. For this reason, in order to compete in any industry whether it be consumables, fine art, or apparel, merchants must invest in creating an unparalleled user experience (UX) on their website. Here are a few Magento UX examples from well-known merchants that have gotten UX right for their customers.

1. Magento UX Examples from Canon Australia

Canon Australia used a highly custom Magento theme to completely revamp the UX on their website. The main improvements were features that they added to the site to create a better pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase experience. One example is the use of bundled products.

To fully utilize the product bundle tool, Canon partnered with other industry brands, allowing customers to purchase kits that would supply them with everything they needed for their photography project. This included products such as cameras and lenses, alongside accessories like tripods and memory cards from other brands.

In addition, Canon Australia utilized Magento’s product finder tool.

While utilizing Magento’s built-in attribute and filter capability, the Canon experience is more tailored and guided because of the careful presentation that allows customers to find what they need. Additionally, the company added product recommendation features that were tailored for specific uses, such as gift recommendations, newly arrived products, and most wanted products.

To enhance the post-purchase experience, Canon Australia added a utility where consumers can print their photos, create photo books, and even save their images to a cloud-based photo storage.

At its core, the website was planned and executed in a way that creates a brand-supporting one-stop shop for photography lovers.

For their cloud-based storage offering, Canon Australia used the Irista photo storage extension and, to allow finance purchasing, they used the Society One extension. Finally, to streamline B2B ordering, reordering, and order management processes, they decided to employ Web Sales Orders, a Magento-developed B2B suite.

2. Magento UX Examples from Virginia Hayward

Virginia Hayward envisioned a labor-saving UX design due to their unique product offering. Partially, the “Build a Hamper” feature is built with the customer in mind. Shoppers can choose a hamper or multiple hamper types, fill them with the products that they want, add branding and custom messaging and ship to one or more locations.

The “Build a Hamper” feature also allows for extra customization through a personalized label options for the hampers. The feature shows a preview option so that customers know they chose the perfect color, font, and format for the label. In addition, a product suggestion tool was created to intelligently suggest how to fill additional hamper space and shows a helpful bar across the top of the screen so customers cans see how much space is available in their basket.
To ensure that the shopping experience is without frustrations, a stock system that operates in real-time reserves products as they are placed in a hamper so that once checkout is reached, no out-of-stock annoyances occur. And when customers do reach checkout, they have the ability to save a hamper for re-ordering at a later date.

3. Magento UX Examples from Absolut Art

In order to make their website as mobile and modern as possible, Absolut created a site featuring a swipe right or left capability.

Users can swipe through art to teach the website their preferences and more quickly find the pieces that they want. To allow for enhanced art finding, the website uses a Multi-Option Filter so that users can intricately filter their wants and needs.

Another goal was to allow customers to become more connected to the art pieces by getting to know the artists. They embedded auto-playing videos about the artist to accomplish this.

Absolut also added a feature to enable users to see what a piece of art would look like in a real room. The interactive Drag and Drop Room Decorator allows users to choose a room that is similar to their home or office and place the piece of art in it, to really get a feel for the size and the impact it would have on the room.
To create a streamlined checkout process, Absolut implemented a better payment platform, integrating Ayden and Klarna. In addition, Absolut opted for a single page checkout to streamline the checkout and to cut down on abandoned carts.

4. Magento UX Examples from the Atlanta Hawks

In order to meet growing sales and site traffic peaks during game time, The NBA Store for the Atlanta Hawks built their new Magento site with the customer in mind. The new site focused heavily on category flexibility, responsive web design, and a mobile-friendly content.

The new site integrated One Step Checkout and the Moneybookers payment gateway to streamline their checkout process.

To addresses navigation issues, the Hawks improved their search functionality with improved product tagging.
To enhance user engagement, the Hawks added social media buttons so customers can easily share their favorite items with their friends and followers.
The customer first approach to design helped the Hawks to see 150% YOY increase in their gross sales.

Get Started on a UX Focused Design of Your Own

The Magento platform offers unbelievable scalability that allows merchants to design with each unique customer in mind. The merchants noted above span multiple verticals with very different customer needs. Magento allows merchants to implement what they need. With Magento, great UX can be achieved out-of-the-box, with extensions, or even with custom code. If done correctly, sites will run at peak performance and delight customers.

To learn more about Magento UX examples for your store, contact us or call us to talk to Magento expert at 513-469-3345.

Magento Security Release: SUPEE 10266 and Magento 2 Updates

Magento Security Release: SUPEE 10266 and Magento 2 Updates

SUPEE 10266

Security Patch SUPEE 10266 and Magento 2 updates have arrived.

Last week, Magento released new Magento 2 updates as well as SUPEE 10266 to Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce. The updates include numerous security changes and enhancements that work to prevent your website from data leaks, cross-site request forgery, and authenticated Admin user remote code execution vulnerabilities.

These updates include:

What the security updates and patches address

Per Magento:

These releases contain almost 40 security changes and enhancements that help close cross-site request forgery (CSRF), unauthorized data leak, and authenticated Admin user remote code execution vulnerabilities.”

These critical security issues are why Magento 2 updates or SUPEE 10266 need to be applied as soon as possible.

In addition to these vital patches to Magento security, the release also includes a couple general fixes to common problems related to image reloading, payments using one-step checkout, and updates to the USPS API.

  • One fix involves an issue where uploaded images were twice their original size.
  • The other adds an informative message to the payment information section of the one-page checkout that works to alert customers that no payment is due for orders that total 0.0.
  • On September 1, USPS changed their “First-Class Mail Parcel Service” to “First-Class Package Service – Retail”. Because the First-Class Mail Parcel is no longer available after September 1, Magento 1.x and 2.x merchants offering this service must change this service name in the Usps.php as soon as possible. If merchants do not take action, stores will not support checkout using the new “First-Class Package Service – Retail” option.

What to update

Although Magento released multiple new security patches, all of them address problems with unauthorized access. Depending on what version of Magento you are using, there are different required solutions to updating your security.

 Magento 1 merchants will need to either upgrade to Magento 2 or apply the SUPEE-10266 patch.

Magento 2 merchants will need to update both Magento Source (formerly known as Community Edition) and Magento Commerce (formerly known as Enterprise Edition).

Regardless of whether you are on Magento 1 or 2, keeping your security up to date is VERY important. By Ignoring Magento Security Patches and Upgradesyour website is exposed to vulnerabilities that exist throughout your Magento installation.

InteractOne can help migrate, update and patch all versions of Magento. Contact us to get your site updated or patched up. Or, call us to talk to a Magento expert at 513-469-3345.

Up-sell and Cross-sell Techniques for Magento

Up-sell and Cross-sell Techniques for Magento

Up-sell and Cross-sell Techniques

Get Started on Up-sell and Cross-sell Techniques for your Magento Website

When considering how to improve the business performance of your store, it’s important to check your foundation. Make sure the product catalog is well organized and takes advantage of Magento’s most valuable native features. Before a cross-sell or an up-sell can happen, your store’s shopping experience needs to be intuitive, clear, and informative. Fast doesn’t hurt, either! Instead of diving into the Magento admin for up-sell and cross-sell features, start by optimizing product descriptions, product attributes and product types.

Product descriptions should be clear and original. Don’t spare relevant detail because you’ve been told descriptions should be short. But also don’t add subjective selling language. Cross selling won’t happen if the shopper doesn’t gain a sense of credibility from the information you present.

Don’t ignore attributes. Magento plays well with attributes – so be generous with them! Make sure your items carry all the attributes that you’ll need for cross-promoting and associating them in the “related products” space or with other products in widget-controlled promotional blocks. New attributes are easy to make and assign individually or as a set.

Learn about the Magento product types. Learn how and when to use a bundled product, vs a configurable product. If you are asking developers to do things to Magento so that you can set up simple products the way you want, first make sure you have exhausted the software’s built-in capabilities.

Master Magento’s Built In Up-sell and Cross-sell Merchandising Tools

Sometimes, you just want to stand out and be different. This business impulse makes sense when we’re talking about branding, product quality, service, and packaging. Other times, it pays to meet the shopper’s expectations and habits by simply employing eCommerce best practices. Notably, Magento has several helpful merchandising tools built into its platform.

The best place to get started is right here in Magento’s admin:

From any product page, scroll down to and expand the “Related Products, Up-Sells and Cross-Sells” section in the Magento Admin. The simplest vehicle for helping your customers fill their cart in Magento is the “Related Products” functionality.  See below:

Merchants can also use the “Up-Sell Products” feature to display other catalog items. See below:

The “Up-Sell Products” feature is easily selectable via the admin and requires no customization.  If information on the product pages and overall User Interface (UI) has built trust with customers, they might be feeling confident enough to crack open their wallet a bit wider for a more expensive alternative. The “Up-Sell Products” feature is an excellent opportunity for an up-sell, and the temptation also conveniently happens on the product detail page.  

The third element listed in the Magento Admin is “Cross-sell products”, which will display in the Magento cart. The “Cross-sell products” feature can be an especially effective tactic to create an impulse purchase. The customer has already added at least one item to the cart – why not just one more?

All three of these Magento-native merchandising tools can be implemented individually, or via user-defined rules and conditions including: display; start date; duration; quantity; price differentials; and other aspects of the promotion.

Accelerate Beyond Magento’s Native Features

Inevitably, as businesses takes off, merchants want to extend Magento via extensions. Hundreds of choices are available for advanced up-sell and cross-sell techniques such as photo tools, video plugins, couponing, custom widgets, loyalty programs, etc. Some require installation of an extension, others run remotely as a subscription. As developers, marketers, and observers of our clients’ businesses, we always counsel to make these choices strategically to save time and money.

We recommend optimizing what’s already available in Magento to start. Once product descriptions, attributes and product types are in place, we help clients focus on Magento’s native up-sell and cross-sell features. Once those are used to their greatest effect, we will recommend and install some of the great merchandising and sales-building extensions available for Magento.

Contact us to learn more about Magento’s Up-sell and Cross-sell features. Or, give us a call to talk to a Magento expert: 513-469-3345.

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How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance During the Holidays

How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance During the Holidays

prep Magento

4 Tips on How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance During the Holidays.

Summer is flying by and it’s time to plan for the 2017 holiday shopping rush. As experienced Magento developers, we are very familiar with site prep for the holidays. We’ve had merchants come to us with sites that crashed under the traffic a holiday promotion generated. We’ve seen merchants experience 2/3 more traffic or process double (or triple) the number of transactions during November and December compared to the rest of the year.

Notably, the Magento Business Intelligence group found that merchants acquire up to 59% more customers during the holidays compared to the rest of the year. That’s a lot of new site traffic. Can your Magento site handle that big of an uptick in new visitors? With nearly 60% more new customers preparing to visit your website in a couple months, it would be smart to run performance tests now. Here are four tips for Merchants on how to prep your Magento site for peak performance during the holidays.

Tip 1 – UX/UI Optimization

Not only is site traffic at it’s peak during the holiday season, but customers’ tolerance and attention levels are low. Make your site easy to navigate and streamline the browsing experience for customers by removing conversion blockers. Bounce rates are naturally higher during the holidays as people quickly window shop and bargain hunt. Optimize poor performing pages, ensure page load times are at their best, and keep you product offering up to date to avoid high bounce rates.

A quick way to optimize under-performing landing pages is to identify your lowest bounce rate landing page(s) in Google Analytics. Analyze those lowest bounce rate pages and try to find ways to improve engagement across your site. Of course a more thorough review of your shopping experience (complete with A/B tests) would be the most beneficial for optimization. However, there are valuable opportunities available for improvement that can be discovered through a Google analytics review.

The maintenance of products and pricing is also vital. Keep catalog images, product descriptions, prices, inventory, and shipping rates clear and updated. Ensure your pricing is competitive. Have import/export templates set up. Have pricing and inventory ready to be updated on the fly. That way, you’re not scrambling when a competitor suddenly has a flash sale. Make sure your strongest products (best selling, best price, or highest inventory) are easy to find for customers on your category and landing pages. In addition, make sure your up-sell, cross sell and related products are all setup and relevant to each other.

Don’t Ignore Mobile Traffic

At least a third of your traffic during the holidays is going to be from mobile devices. Mobile sales will account for more than half in most retail industries. Perform a thorough, unbiased review of your mobile shopping experience from the homepage down through the checkout process. Remove any conversion blockers, consolidate any redundant pages or steps in the checkout. Do not mark any checkout fields as required unless they really are required. Finally, make sure chatbot and email sign-up pop-ups are disabled on mobile!

Tip 2 – Page Load Speed Optimization

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47% of shoppers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.

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40% of shoppers abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds to load.

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79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.

If your site shows signs of performance issues and slow load times now, how will it perform during peak traffic times come November? It’s critical to perform site load tests before the real traffic influx begins. Contact your hosting company before performing any tests and work with them on identifying any possible issues with server resources. Services such as Montis and Magento Speed Test are great for running multi-user and longer period tests as opposed to a single page speed check.

It’s also important to note that page load times and user engagement metrics contribute to your PPC quality score. Those holiday PPC campaigns could take a hit if load times are poor. Key engagement metrics to monitor are bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and pages/session. A fast site will also help your PPC cost-per-click and impressions. In addition, we’ve also seen load times have a positive or a negative effect on SEO. Page load speed is critical across the board for the success of your site.

Tip 3 – Code and Security Optimization

Magento can be a very involved platform to work with. Most Magento instances are so customized that there is no other site exactly like another. That dynamic creates several potential points of failure if your code and server configuration are not optimized to work together. Module conflicts, unoptimized CSS/JS, and any potential server-side issues need to be identified and resolved. Unresolved issues can become detrimental during an otherwise very profitable time of the year.

Site security is also critical for overall site performance during the holidays and always. If your Magento site isn’t upgraded to the latest version or is missing Security Patches, you are at risk for security issues. We’ve encountered several merchants over the last year or so who have ignored security or bug patches. Or, merchants have severely delayed the upgrading of their Magento sites. By ignoring Magento Security Patches or avoiding updates, merchants are opening themselves up to a much larger problem. Problems like legal indemnification since many maintain publicly that they are PCI compliant while leaving gaping security holes in their site’s infrastructure.

Beyond the cost and headache of what a data breach could do, merchants could lose a solid portion of customers. In fact, 31% of customers terminated their relationship with a targeted business after a breach was discovered. No merchant wants to be the next Target fail. Make sure your Magento site is upgraded or patched as soon as possible.

Tip 4 – Review and Test

It’s important to be proactive about performance testing to be prepared well in advance of holiday traffic. Merchants need to test the shopping experience on their site.  Be sure that the browsing process, shopping cart and checkout is a seamless experience for your customers.  

Review your site analytics. Verify that key engagement metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and pages/session are performing well. Look for dips in data and bottlenecks. Pull data from the 2016 holiday season. Review what issues you had and where your site could improve. In addition, note what worked well for your site and look for ways to improve based on positive metrics. Analyzing your own data can save a lot of time and solve a lot of puzzles when it comes to customer experience and site performance issues.

Perform load tests and user-based browsing tests to make sure your site is ready for any expected (and unexpected) traffic spikes. Performance tests and implementation can be a test and tune process. We’ve worked with merchants with complicated, and not so complicated, infrastructures. It can take time to locate the cause of issues and bottlenecks. Sometimes “simple” tasks can cause hiccups that take time to diagnose and find the ideal configuration. Performance tests need to be conducted long before the holidays to be successful and in place before the traffic picks up.

Get started now – or very soon.

If you are missing patches or haven’t reviewed your analytics in a while, don’t fret. Merchants still have time to get started on performance testing to get an idea of what they will need to have in place come October and November. Contact us to learn more about performance testing options or to get help with your UX/UI optimization. Or, give us a call to talk to a Magento expert: 513-469-3345.

Magento 2 Community Edition vs Enterprise Edition

Magento 2 Community Edition vs Enterprise Edition

By the InteractOne Team

Questions we consistently hear from merchants are:

“What’s the difference between Community Edition (CE) and Enterprise Edition (EE)?”

“What does Magento 2 have to do with it?”

“Which one do I need?”

Once we talk them through their first set of questions, the next line of questioning goes something like:

“How much does it cost to create a Magento 2 site using CE vs EE?”

“‘Why should I choose the paid version over the free version?”  

“Can I create the same advantages of EE on CE if I use extensions?”

It’s tough to answer these questions at a brief high level without an in-depth understanding of your business. Every merchant is unique and every merchant has a unique set of needs, but we can detail some key differences between CE and EE so merchants have a better understanding of where to start before they have those in-depth calls with us or another developer.

Magento 1 vs Magento 2

We have covered the differences of M1 vs M2 in detail as well as why M2 is so powerful and worth the upgrade. Read about those here, here, and here. However, below is a cheat sheet comparing the key benefits of what Magento 2 has to offer over Magento 1 for both CE and EE.

New Magento 2 Features included for both Magento 2 CE and EE
Feature M2 Community Edition (CE) M2 Enterprise Edition (EE)
Search Engine Optimization Yes Yes
Site Management Yes Yes
Catalog Management Yes Yes
Catalog Browsing Yes Yes
Product Browsing Yes Yes
Checkout, Payment and Shipping Yes Yes
Order Management Yes Yes
Customer Accounts Yes Yes
Customer Service Yes Yes
International Support Yes Yes
Analytics and Reporting Yes Yes
Mobile Commerce Yes Yes
Native Device Applications Yes Yes
Marketing, Promotions and Conversion Tools Yes Yes

New Extension Processes for Magento 2

When Magento 2  launched, Magento also revamped how merchants access extensions. Merchants can go to the Magento Marketplace for access to hundreds of extensions. Extensions are grouped in the following categories: Accounting & Finance, Marketing, Content & Customization, Customer Support, Payments & Security, Reporting & Analytics, Sales, Shipping & Fulfillment, and Site Optimization.  

Many of the extensions are free but some can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The important things to consider is the quality, reliability and available support for any extension. A benefit of the Marketplace is that all the extensions have been reviewed and tested through the Extension Quality Program.

What Enterprise can offer over Community in Magento 2.

To the right set of merchants, we recommend Magento 2 Enterprise Edition over Magento 1 Enterprise Edition. In Magento 1, there was little incentive for merchants to purchase EE. There were not enough additional features over Community to make Enterprise worth the investment. Notably, we saw many merchants on CE utilizing extensions to get the power of EE without the price tag. That worked for some, but it can be tricky to manage and maintain a healthy website. Those M1 Frankenapp sites can create some seriously expensive headaches.

However, that is not the case for Magento 2 Enterprise. Magento has packed the latest Enterprise Edition with a multitude of exciting out-of-the-box features – no complicated extensions (or Frankenapps) required!

Magento 2 EE features vs CE versions
Feature M2 Community Edition (CE) M2 Enterprise Edition (EE)
Customer Segmentation, Targeted Promotions & Merchandising No Yes
Dynamic Rule Based Product Relations No Yes
Persistent Shopping No Yes
Automated Email Marketing Reminder No Yes
Private Sales No Yes
Gift Registry No Yes
Gifting Options No Yes
Rewards Points No Yes
Store Credits No Yes
Multiple Wish Lists No Yes
Add to Cart by SKU No Yes
Return Management Authorization (RMA) No Yes
Content Management System No Yes
Scheduled Import/Export Functionality No Yes
Backup and Rollback No Yes
Staging, Merging and Rollback of Content No Yes
Customer Attribute Management No Yes
Administrator Permission Roles on Website and Store Levels No Yes
Price and Promotion Permission No Yes
Logging of Administrator Actions No Yes
Category View and Purchase Permissions per Customer Group (Limited Catalog Access) No Yes
Order Archiving No Yes
Solr Search No Yes
Full Page Caching No Yes
Optimized Indexing No Yes
Configurable Order Tracking Widget No Yes
Support for Alternate Media Storage – CDN and Database No Yes
PA-DSS Certification/Payment Bridge No Yes
Strong Data Encryption, Hashing and Key Management No Yes
In addition to the extensive features detailed above for M2 EE, merchants receive 24/7 technical support. This includes a dedicated Account Manager who is focused on helping to get the best results from your Magento store.

What About Costs?

Community Edition is a free option for Magento – there is no additional cost to use the platform.

Enterprise Edition is a paid option for Magento – total costs vary depending on merchant revenue.

Specifically for EE, the higher gross merchandise sales value (GMV) of a store, the higher the annual fees will be. With that in mind, larger merchants usually determine that the benefits of EE are worth the investment. Smaller merchants often start by utilizing the free Community Edition, until they can grow their sales to justify the investment of Enterprise.

However, when considering CE over EE, it’s important to also calculate the costs of extensions into your investment. Consider not just the overall cost of the extension, but also the time it will take to install, set-up and configure which includes ensuring that all extensions play nicely together. There is also ongoing expenses for updating and maintaining extensions over time.

While it might be more economical to start with CE and a few extensions, it’s important to think about the long term game plan. If over the next couple of years, dozens of extensions will need to be installed to get the right features needed, then it very well could be worth it to invest in EE from the get-go.

What Version of Magento is Best for You?

This brief overview on M2 EE and CE is to help merchants in the early steps of their research and planning phases. We really like to talk with merchants and get to know their individual needs and goals for the future. Particularly when they’re considering a major M2 upgrade or investment like Enterprise. We want to help ensure merchants make decisions they feel confident about and won’t regret down the road. Magento is a smart business investment and when done appropriately can be extremely rewarding.

Contact us for more information on Magento 2 CE and EE and we’ll schedule a time to answer all your questions.

The Cost of Ignoring Magento Security Patches and Upgrades

The Cost of Ignoring Magento Security Patches and Upgrades

By Greg Reedy, PHP/MySQL Developer at InteractOne

Ignoring SUPEE Patches Could Cost You Big Time Down The Road.

Magento released two critical security patches this year for Magento 1: SUPEE-9652 and SUPEE-9767. The latter was just recently released May 31.

The first patch (SUPEE-9652) addresses Zend library vulnerabilities. Specifically, “the Zend Framework 1 vulnerability can be remotely exploited to execute code in Magento 1.” The patch is scored as critical but to be affected, a merchant would have to use Sendmail as the mail transport agent or have specific, non-default configuration settings.

The new vulnerability has been found in a Zend Framework 1 and 2 email component used by all Magento 1 and Magento 2 software and other PHP solutions. This is a serious threat and can lead to remote code execution attacks if your server uses Sendmail as a mail transport agent. However, the attacker would need to target this vulnerability specifically by finding your store’s email “Set Return-Path” set to “Yes,” along with your server using Sendmail, at which point your store is vulnerable to this exploit.

The second patch recently released (SUPEE-9767) addresses an issue with form validations and attackers gaining access to the admin side of the site. Once access is obtained, attackers are disabling a configuration protection and uploading malicious code hidden in an image. Use of the AllowSymlinks option in Magento’s configuration settings can enable the upload of an image containing the malicious code. Although the option is normally turned off by default, an attacker can enable it once gaining admin access and upload infected images in multiple locations.

By ignoring or avoiding Magento Security Patches and updates, merchants are opening themselves up to a much larger problem.

We’ve encountered several merchants over the last year or so who have ignored security or bug patches and have severely delayed the upgrading of their Magento sites. Further, we often find that “discount developers” who have previously worked on said sites have broken the “Golden Rule” of Magento development: Never customize or alter the core code outside of official Magento patches and upgrades!

Core edits not only weaken the overall fallback built into Magento, but can cause patches and upgrades to be ineffective if these alterations occur in a way that circumvents the fallback as well.

The sad part is that these issues can be easily fixed if they were handled in a timely manner instead of “waiting it out” until the next redesign or other major site updates. By ignoring Magento Security Patches or avoiding updates, merchants are opening themselves up to the much larger problem of legal indemnification since many maintain publicly that they are PCI compliant while leaving gaping security holes in their site’s infrastructure.

Did You Know That 90% of breaches impact small businesses?

According to a FirstData analysis on the costs of a data breach, merchants can expect to deal with a lot of unexpected costs and paperwork.

“When a breach of payment data is reported (or even suspected), it kicks off a series of unavoidable and costly actions that range from forensic analysis of the merchant’s payment system to mandatory reporting requirements.”

The analysis continues, to address the massive expenses that can incur.

“If your business is unfortunate enough to have this happen, you can expect to incur significant expenses. For example, the cost of a data breach for a small business merchant averages $36,000 and can reach or exceed $50,000.”

This, of course, is in addition to the publicity mess and potential loss of business from nervous consumers. The study found that 90% of breaches impact small businesses, reporting that as much as 31% of customers terminated their relationship with the targeted business after a breach was discovered.

Another recent report by Computer Business Review found that attackers were using “tried and tested methods. Leading a resurgence of ‘classic’ attack vectors [such as] adware and email spam… at levels not seen since 2010.” Spam was found to account for 65% of email, with 8-10% identified as malicious.

Do we need to go back and review SUPEE-9652? It covers email vulnerability. Although perhaps rare for some merchants, the Computer Business Review report indicates the severity of email spam.

It’s simple, invest now in Maintenance and Support so you don’t have to take out a loan down the road to recover from a major data breach or hack.

The common reason why merchants avoid regular site maintenance and support is due to up-front costs. The concern is that site maintenance could run hundreds or even thousands of dollars with little perceived return. The irony is that regular site maintenance often makes the experience better for customers and administrators alike as bugs are fixed and improvements are made. Plus, merchants are obviously saving much more money in the long run as they’ve done all they can to assure their website is secure and truly compliant with eCommerce laws.

Applying security patches is often very quick, especially when a site is up-to-date and properly maintained. Notably, version upgrades will include multiple patches, so it’s usually best to upgrade to the latest versions as they are released regardless if a previous patch has already been installed. This ensures that all applicable patches and bug fixes have been included and the system is hardened against attacks.

So, Ignoring Magento Security Patches and putting off upgrades is just never a good idea. Save yourself time and Tylenol and stay on top of your site’s maintenance and support.

Need a Magento Security Patch or an upgrade? Contact us to see how we can get you patched up.

3 Ways Magento Merchants Can Build Their Brand and Customer Following

3 Ways Magento Merchants Can Build Their Brand and Customer Following

customer following - part 2

By the Marketing Team at InteractOne

A Strong Customer Following Equals eCommerce Success – Part 2

In our previous post we discussed the reasons why growing your customer following is important. If you missed it, go check it out. Understanding the importance of building your brand and customer following is critical to your success not only as a Magento merchant, but as an entrepreneur and business owner. The Magento platform is a robust tool that when used correctly, is critical for building the success of your Magento store and customers. Here are our 3 ways Magento merchants can build their brand and customer following.

1. How to Build Customer Loyalty

Merchants earn customer loyalty by providing positive customer experiences and products that meet customer’s needs. Smart Magento Merchants select their online tools appropriately to support their brand needs. There are a couple extensions that Magento has to help build customer loyalty.  

Extensions such as Magebuzz Social Share make it easy for customers to create an account and log into your store via their favorite social platform. Valuable customer information allows merchants to remarket specific product suggestions via eMail and social remarketing platforms.

Rewards based extensions like Sweet Tooth provide benefits by giving points to frequent shoppers.

Notably, through an eMail provider like Dotmailer, merchants can sync customers point balance via Dotmailer’s campaign design and segmentation tools. Tailored eMails, including personalized product suggestions based on shopping behavior and purchase history, greatly increase the number of conversions.

Extensions like Magebuzz Social Share and Sweet Tooth combined with eMail providers like Dotmailer will increase customer retention, customer purchasing frequency, and customer lifetime value while lowering customer acquisition costs. Reward and loyalty programs help to build happy customers and purchase frequency.

2. How to Build Connected and Happy Customers

In today’s rapidly growing digital world, social media has become the most efficient way to connect and stay connected with customers. Monitoring and staying active on social feeds is the basis of that connection. Customers want to see a business taking an interest in what is being said on social media about your brand.

Tools such as Hootsuite can aid in measuring return on investment for social media and help protect reputation on social media through tracking capabilities.

Connect with customers and stay up-to-date with what is being said about your business. A pleasant customer service experience should be the goal of every customer interaction. Utilize online tools like Hootsuite to monitor and measure social efforts to build happy customers.

3. How to Define the Right Customers for Your Brand

Properly tracking user activity is the most critical step to building a customer following. Merchants need to identify what products customers are viewing, and have the ability to intelligently remarket to them. Finding a way to reach the right demographic for your brand can be a daunting task but there are several tools available to help simplify the process.

The easiest way to identify customers is to use data already being collected. Google Analytics is the most common way to track customer behavior. Google Analytics has very in depth demographic data that can give insight on customer behavior, but if the optional tracking isn’t configured properly it can cause issues. Make sure to have eCommerce tracking enabled and check that the sales funnel is setup properly. Some of the most valuable information about site usage and customers is within Google Analytics.

Create advanced segments based on demographics like location, age, past behavior and/or purchases. Use geographical segmentation to target customers with localized, personalized content, like special offers. With Magento Customer Segmentation and CMS banners, create locally targeted home pages for customers who are living in a certain region. Display promotions/discounts based on if-then statements that appear when a customer falls into a certain customer segment. Magento’s segmentation capabilities help to effectively and personally market to your audience without wasting effort.  

For more advanced tracking, Kissmetrics and Woopra offer in-depth demographic data for more insight on individual customer behaviors. These services can be used to further define your target audience. Kissmetrics offers behavior analytics, automated eMail campaigns and tracking for key growth segments. Track customer behavior and use helpful tools to engage with customers at every stage of the buying process. Woopra has the ability to create customer profiles, track analytics, send out automated eMails based on behavior and connects tracking across all your apps. Woopra’s customer profiles provide a comprehensive look at customers in every stage of the buying cycle. Woopra also has the capability to segment based on each customer’s individual behavior. Services like Kissmetrics and Woopra help to efficiently define your customer.

Interested in growing your customer following?

We’ve helped plenty of merchants over the years through their Magento site and marketing strategy. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build your brand!