Magento PWAs: What Are They?

Magento PWAs: What Are They?

Magento PWAs

What do Magento PWAs Mean for eCommerce Merchants?

Magento announced back in the summer of 2017 that they were becoming a Progressive Web Application (PWA) platform.  As a way to reimagine mobile eCommerce, and invest in technology that could disrupt mobile, Magento PWAs are an exciting new feature coming to Magento merchants.

What are Magento PWAs?

PWAs are app-like experiences for eCommerce websites. A PWA is a feature that will directly connect customers to an eCommerce store from a shortcut or icon added to their mobile device. PWA features are impressive. Customers can access websites directly without opening Google or a browser first. Displayed full-screen, PWAs create a quicker yet seamless shopping experience. Customers can also browse while offline, and can opt-in to receive push notifications – just like they could with a mobile app.

Highlights of PWAs include:

  • Faster Browsing. PWAs are faster and provide smoother scrolling and browsing of pages thus removing the need for pages to “re-load”.
  • Instant “App” Gratification. PWAs are instantly discoverable and usable via the browser
  • Push Notifications. PWAs support push notifications in the browser
  • Offline Usability. PWAs can detect network status and pre-fetch catalog content to ensure an uninterrupted experience even offline
  • Rapid Re-Engagement. PWAs can be “saved” to the home screen, allowing for rapid repeat access without the need to open a browser and type in a URL.

Below is a video from Magento extension developer Tigren Solutions demo-ing how PWAs work with Magento.

How do Magento PWAs Work?

James Zetlen, frontend architect with Magento, posted a great technical description of how PWAs work and how they’re different from websites and apps.

Below is a summary of a few key points from his article:

  • PWAs minimize network traffic to work on slow connection or offline.
  • They use non-blocking techniques to keep UI responsiveness at 60fps
  • They are applied by installing a ServiceWorker to expand the capabilities of the client-side single-page app.
  • On supported mobile operating systems, PWAs register as an app that could live on your home screen alongside native apps, rather than launching in a browser tab

Zetlen also comments on why PWAs matter. He writes, “In short, PWAs are not some special flavor of Web app; instead, they represent the modern-day best practices for making an interactive website.”

When can Merchants Start Implementing PWAs?

An important detail to note is that PWAs are currently only supported by Android and Windows operating systems. Just recently, it was announced that Apple would be including ServiceWorkers and PWAs in their next beta versions. It was clear from immediate feedback posted online that there was a concern in how iOS and PWAs were going to work together. In an article from mobile website developer, Maximiliano Firtman, he discusses the issues that will need to be worked through in detail. Notably, these releases are only in beta versions and may not be released to the masses for some time.

Can we get excited about Magento PWAs when we know that they’re not currently available on iOS devices?

How many people are even on Apple devices anyway? According to an article from the Verge, numbers suggest that there are at least 1 billion active Apple devices. That is a lot of customers, especially, for merchants with a large Apple-using customer base. As obvious as that sounds, when we break down the numbers, it really creates a clearer picture of just how many customers (and sales) would be eliminated from a PWA strategy this early in the game.

We analyzed the data of a couple Magento merchants to see just how many of their customers are using iOS devices and the potential gain a PWAs strategy would have on current business metrics.

A breakdown of total sales for a Magento client in 2017:

  • 54% of all sales were made on a mobile/tablet device
  • 70% of mobile/tablet sales were made on iOS devices
  • 35% of all total sales were made on iOS devices

Second example. A breakdown of total sales for another Magento client in 2017:

  • 45% of all sales were made on a mobile/tablet device
  • 85% of mobile/tablet sales were made on iOS devices
  • 41% of all total sales were made on iOS devices

35% – 41% of total sales is a large group currently eliminated from PWAs. However, the future opportunity for targeting iOS customers is undeniable. Not to mention, the opportunity to have closer access to mobile customers creating 45%-54% of ALL sales is an opportunity worth investing in.

The data tells us that for now, while PWAs are not available to the full masses, it’s a great time to start testing and planning for the future. Merchants beginning a new build or migration (and even those in the middle of a project) will benefit from a mobile-first UX strategy with PWAs in mind. We coach merchants daily on the importance of the path-to-purchase experience for customers. PWAs will be here full-scale before we know it. Now is a great time to start preparing, planning, and testing.

Why Should We Care About Magento PWAs?

Mobile is just as important now (if not more so), than it was a few years go during “Mobilegeddon.”  Mobile will continue to be the focus of developers and eCommerce businesses for years to come. Or, for as long as customers shop on their phones. PWAs offer an abundance of digital marketing opportunities that were only available to merchants with the budget to build separate apps. Merchants will have a more direct line of communication with this added avenue to engage with customers. Faster browsing and “app-gratification” will keep customers engaged. Push notifications will be an amazing opportunity for digital marketers to run promotions. Push is quicker than eMail and just as effective as SMS or text messaging.

With PWAs, your eCommerce business has the potential to be in the literal pocket of every mobile customer in your CRM.

Let’s Get Started on Your PWA Project

Our developers are researching and testing the new Magento PWA features available via Magento. It’s important (and fun!) to us and our development team that we stay current (or ahead of the game) when it comes to new technology available to merchants. We anticipate PWAs being extremely beneficial for merchants.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about Magento PWAs from our Magento experts and to get started on your next project.

Frequently Asked Questions: Managing the Magento Catalog for SEO

Frequently Asked Questions: Managing the Magento Catalog for SEO

Magento Catalog SEO Questions

Your Magento Catalog SEO Questions Answered

Merchants frequently come to us with questions and concerns about managing the Magento catalog to assist in achieving good SEO rankings. Magento is a powerful and complex platform and can be difficult to navigate for a lot of merchants. We’re happy to help clear things up and check things off your to-do list. In an effort to help other merchants who need help managing their Magento Catalog SEO, we’ve put together a how-to guide on how to handle some of the frequently asked questions.

What to Do with Out of Stock Products in Magento?

If the product is out of inventory but will become available again in the future, set the product to ‘Out of Stock’, leaving it enabled so it is still visible in the catalog. Disabling and re-enabling products in Magento causes the product URL to 404, and then become available again. This can damage your SEO reputation, especially if it happens on a regular basis. We recommend utilizing Magento’s upsell functionality to present alternative options to customers from the product page, or add an extension for customers to receive notifications when a product becomes available again.
You can set up your Magento site to Manage Stock, Display Products Availability in Stock on Storefront and even allow back ordering under Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Inventory.

What to Do with Discontinued/Obsolete Products?

If you have products that need to be removed from your catalog altogether, be sure to “disable” the product. Then create a 301 redirect from that product URL to a relevant replacement product or parent category. Do not delete the product, if you do, the product data will not be referenced in historical data on orders or reporting.

You will need to manually create a 301 redirect in this kind of situation, which can be done under Marketing > URL Rewrites, as shown in the menu below:

What to Do with Products with Little or No Unique Content?

All too often, retailers use the default product descriptions and specs provided by the manufacturer on product pages, without taking the time to include any other unique information about the product. In addition to your own take on descriptions, using your own images and videos is a great way to ensure that your products stand out.

Prioritize your products by popularity or profitability, and have a sales/service rep, or even an intern go through the list and write one paragraph for each product. If you’re selling widgets that do not have anything obvious to write about, or if you are struggling to find a unique feature to write about, write a story about how a customer could use the product. Talk about ways to creatively use the product in a way that could solve a problem. (Think about the Petermann catalog on the Seinfeld series.) Instances like this is where your phone sales staff could really come in handy, as they know the products and how customers use them better than anyone.

Product images and videos should be engaging and show how the products work for your intended audience. Product pictures and videos should further reinforce your brand’s lifestyle. The primary way to stand out from your competitors is with your branding and content. If you have the ability to do better than the images provided by manufacturers, dedicating the resources and allocating the time will help you sell your products. Here is where you have the opportunity to shine!

How to Deal with Product Variations?

Use Custom Options on any product with variations for which you do not need to track inventory. From there, the pricing markup is simple, such as +$2 for XXL t-shirt. If you need to track inventory on individual items or there is no consistent pricing structure between different options, or you have unique images for different options, use Configurable Products.

How to Handle Category Pages?

Category Pages are often one of the most overlooked sections in eCommerce sites – some merchants just treat them like a necessary evil in order to organize products, others go crazy creating categories on a whim with no real thought process. Category Pages are one of the most popular organic landing page types on your site. There needs to be a thought process behind Category Pages with organization and navigation in mind.

Name your categories something that will be familiar to customers. We recommend using categories for any kind of niche or key phrases that customers search for on a regular basis. Be careful to not be so specific that you need multiple categories where customers question which category to select. Anything more specific, or general, that doesn’t justify its own landing page can be referenced as attributes and used in faceted navigation.

Create content for every category, whether it’s written content on your story or favorite products within that category or how-to information – anything your customers will find relevant. If you have a blog or related articles, link to other related topics within your site from your Category Pages, but don’t overdo it. Only link to an article, blog post or featured product if it’s something your customers will actually find useful.

Finally, pay attention to your product sort order in categories, and manually control the sort order, or use an extension to dynamically list the most popular products first.

Leverage User Generated Content

There are plenty of articles out there on the importance of user-generated content, product reviews, and social comments. User-generated content adds value to your site and helps build trust. However, there are still merchants that disable product reviews because their new site doesn’t have any, and they don’t want to display empty reviews on the site. That’s a recipe for never getting reviews on your site. Instead, make notes when talking to customers and write any verbal or in-person reviews you receive to your website – or direct customers to leave a written review by asking them. Setup an email follow up campaign, and actually correspond with your customers on social to help spark interaction between your website and audience.

Mind the Site Search

Your site search is a goldmine of shopper intent – setup Google Analytics to track your site search queries, and use a search utility that delivers a good shopping experience. Review your site search queries at least once a month to see what customers are shopping for and to make sure the correct products appear for those queries. While doing so, take note of phrasing and spelling. Continually update synonyms or optimize your navigation if necessary to deliver what your customers are searching for without making them search. If you don’t have the time and resources to keep up with optimizing your site search, find a tool that can help do it for you.

Continue to build useful and relevant content on your site. Analyze your usage data and search queries to deliver a better shopping experience. Invest in the appropriate resources if you do not have the time or tools to do it manually. SEO is critical for success in eCommerce and is proven to increase sales. As Magento experts, InteractOne has valuable resources and insights specific to Magento merchants. We know SEO and Magento.

Contact us today to learn more about improving SEO and your Magento catalog management.


A Go Live Checklist for New Magento 2 Websites

A Go Live Checklist for New Magento 2 Websites

Magento 2 Go Live Checklsit

Magento 2 go live checklist: What you need to know.

Launching your new website is an exciting event. Not planning ahead, though, can make a launch terrifying and frantic; nobody wants that! Every new Magento site launch, migration or upgrade is different, and each project can have its own set of requirements. Over the years, we’ve developed a number of standard practices to make sure the launch of a new Magento site is predictable, successful and drama free.

Your Magento 2 go live checklist may differ, but this should be a good starting point.

1-2 Weeks Prior

  • Stage the site on production server.
    • Test the site using the production URL via localhost.
    • Setup and test SSL.
    • Set up payment gateway and place test orders using real credit cards.
    • Setup and test transactional email from new site/server.
  • Create and test 301 redirects
    • Redirects are one of the most important pieces to a site migration puzzle, and are often rushed or overlooked. After building 301’s, we always test them to ensure our new target URLs are going to functional pages, and fix any broken redirects or redirect chains before go-live.
  • SEO Audit/Review
    • Run a site audit and ensure site infrastructure is setup properly, such as meta tags, alt tags and schema markup.
    • Create a SEO action plan for post go-live, based on any findings during the preliminary audit.
  • Technical Performance Audit/Review on Production environment
    • Have a developer perform an overall site analysis to find any module conflicts, slow queries or anything that could hinder site performance. You always want to do this a couple of weeks before go-live to prevent any urgent last minute tasks.
  • Security
    • Audit server settings, make sure patches and updates are in place and check for exposed directories.
  • Change DNS TTL to lowest available setting so the DNS change processes as quickly as possible.
  • Setup Store Email Addresses under Stores > Configuration > General.
  • Ensure CAPTCHA is working on all forms.
  • Setup CDN subdomain (ie. and test.
  • Setup .htaccess rule for canonical domain (www vs. non-www) and site-wide https:// if applicable.
    • Test URL rewrite on homepage, catalog pages and on 301 redirects.

1 Day Prior

  • Perform dry run of the go-live process.
    • Copy latest version of site and database from dev server to production environment.
    • Test on production domain name using local hosts
    • Create test orders and refunds with a real credit card.
  • Install and configure the Easy Site Maintenance extension for customer friendly site downtime message.
  • Test integrations.
  • Ensure access to production environment and site admin is locked down to authorized users only.

Time to Go Live!

  • Place the live site in Maintenance Mode (Turn on Easy Site Maintenance extension).
  • Transfer files and database to new server.
  • Change the A-record at the domain registrar to point to the new server.
  • Test integrations.
  • Test SSL.
  • Place test orders with a live credit card and ensure payments are processing.
  • Configure CDN for Production.
  • Ensure “no-index/no-follow” has been turned off.
    • Content > Design > Configuration > Edit Site Configuration > Search Engine Robots > Default Robots.
  • Remove maintenance flag.
  • Ensure analytics tracking is working.
  • Test contact forms.
  • Monitor checkout behavior for any issues.

Post Go Live: 1 Day and 1 Week After

  • Check to ensure payments are capturing/settling properly.
  • Review server log files for any errors or potential problems.
  • Verify data exchange between all integrations.
  • Review Google Analytics for any 404 Not Found pages and adjust/add missed redirects.

Feel free to use our Magento 2 go live checklist as a jumping off point for your next project. Launching a new website is an exciting time for your business. Make sure you have what you need to avoid mistakes and launch successfully.

In the middle of a new site launch and need help? Contact us to learn more about how we build and launch Magento 2 websites.

Magento Commerce Named a B2B “Leader”

Magento Commerce Named a B2B “Leader”

Magento Named B2B Leade

Magento – The Best Fit for Mid-Sized B2B Companies

Magento Commerce, the worldwide leader in cloud digital commerce innovation, was named as a leader in “The Forrester WaveTM: B2B Commerce Suites For Midsize Organizations, Q3 2017” report. The research firm cited the Magento platform as the “best fit for mid-sized B2B companies that want an open, feature-rich solution that can be extended easily and inexpensively.” Magento Commerce CEO, Mark Lavelle, had this to say about the recognition:

“We’re seeing a wave of global demand as more B2B companies adopt digital strategies driven by the desire to meet heightened client expectations and the need to differentiate through personalized, self-service experiences across multiple channels,” said Mark Lavelle, CEO of Magento Commerce.”

Magento offers businesses the agility to respond in a rapidly changing environment with fast, cost-effective time-to-market solutions enabled by our flexible, cloud-based platform. Backed by our world-class ecosystem of Solution and Technology partners, our newest product release makes many of the leading B2B capabilities available “out of the box”, and builds on our long track record of leadership in B2B Commerce.”

Magento received the highest score possible in 14 sub-categories

The Forrester evaluation researched, analyzed and scored the top 11 B2B commerce platform providers focused on mid-sized merchants with $50 to $500 million in total revenue across a range of criteria. Magento received the highest score possible in 14 sub-categories evaluated in the report, including company vision; market presence; customer service providers; customizability; scalability; and caching.

For more of Forrester’s insights on B2B commerce and their evaluation of Magento Commerce, download a free copy of The Forrester WaveTM: B2B Commerce Suites For Midsize Organizations, Q3 2017.

The Importance of Average Order Value

The Importance of Average Order Value

Average Order Value

Why we need to turn our focus back to Average Order Value

Are you keeping your eye on average order value (AOV)? Magento puts it front and center in the dashboard so it must be important, right?

There used to be a lot of buzz about average order value, but cart abandonment and “customer lifetime value” (CLV) seem to get all the attention lately. But what happened to our focus on AOV? As developers and digital marketers, we work hard every day to remove obstacles in the customer’s path to purchase. For example, we speed up page loads, get user interface features working, address bugs, and security concerns. In addition, we work to include the best images, accurate product descriptions, customer reviews, and an easy to navigate design that all lead to the coveted shopping cart. In fact, getting customers to the shopping cart (as well as analyzing CLV) seems to beg for all our attention. Who has time to watch AOV? We need to find the time, because taking our eye off of this crucial measurement might derail our best efforts.

The problem with a heavy focus on cart abandonment

While average order value is focused on organizing the store, product visibility, and promoting related products, cart abandonment as a business metric is focused on the problems. When we turn our attention to cart abandonment, our tendency is to rush the customer to the checkout. At one point not too long ago, if you clicked “add to cart” on Amazon, you would be immediately directed into the checkout after adding an item to the cart. No “continue shopping” button or anything! That was extremely influential, but Amazon didn’t employ that tactic for long.

Are you sending your shoppers straight into the cart or checkout after they add an item to the cart? Have you also installed extensions or designed a promotional block for upsell and cross-sell? If you can say “yes” to both questions, that sounds like a tug-of-war! Ironically, if we make checking out super easy, with no shipping and handling, we discourage customers from spontaneously loading up their carts and increasing AOV. Cart abandonment is still important to eCommerce and should be monitored and optimized However, AOV should also be included in the process when optimizing and streamlining shopping carts.

Customer Lifetime Value, is this metric actually valuable?

CLV can be a useful yardstick, if employed correctly. For example, if concentrating on CLV guides you to take good care of your shoppers throughout the purchase cycle, then go for it! However, if calculating CLV has you chasing demographic factors (age, wage, address) that are well beyond immediate control, it might not be delivering value to you as a decision maker. There is value in defining your target customers, tactically and strategically. But for most Magento-sized merchants there is lower-hanging fruit. Further, CLV is basically a re-casting of the old marketing maxim that says keeping customers is cheaper than buying new ones; aka customer acquisition cost. While retaining customers is important for revenue, keeping the focus on AOV will fuel customer retention and loyalty.

The Importance of Average Order Value

By targeting an increase in AOV as your top-line measure of success, you have a goal that can be used to evaluate the value of the conversion rate optimization tactics that are constantly coming your way. If something smooths the path to purchase on your site, it’s going to be good for the cart abandonment number and will also enable a higher AOV. On the other hand, if you’re doing things that improve conversion rate but your AOV is stagnant or drooping, you’ll know that you have a problem with pricing, selection, product visibility, credibility or product presentation (i.e. something else). Leaning harder on cart abandonment-focused tactics in this situation runs you into another truism: diminishing returns.

Turn Your Focus Back to AOV

We recently covered up-sell and cross-sell techniques, which are sure-fire ways to address AOV. Cross-sell and upsell work from the assumption that people merely need to see more of your inventory. Don’t stop there!

Some customers might need to see more detailed photography, or gain confidence in the purchase from unfiltered reviews. Clear and vivid product descriptions unique to your store can encourage cross-category shopping. Your use of sorting and filtering play a huge role in shoppers discovering their own pairings to add to the cart. They might also need an incentive to add more items to the cart right now – an instant discount or a percentage off next purchase. Strong search tools and satisfying search results also drive increased AOV.

Make sure your customers are aware of all the options they have. For instance, we encounter merchants using simple products for apparel items that only differ in color, instead of using the configurable product type. Some of your customers would want to purchase 2 different-colored shirts, if they knew the variety was available.

It’s also possible that they aren’t connecting one product to another the same way you are, with related product offerings. Do you have your upsells grouped by brand or manufacturer … are you sure that’s how your customers make choices? Think of how you might use this product in real life and consider what else might “match” or fill a need that could follow from using the product. This takes work and insight; who is better positioned than you to do this?

Need help with your AOV optimization strategy? Contact us to get started or give us a call: 513-469-3345.

Has your Magento Site Mutated Into a Frankenapp?

Has your Magento Site Mutated Into a Frankenapp?

Got a Magento Frankenapp on your hands?

Has your Magento site turned into a Frankenapp that’s difficult to control? We’ve seen plenty of Magento Frankenapps appear over the years with core hacks, patched up code, rickety extensions and more. These (usually unintentional) Frankenapps are products of inexperienced developers, DIY fixes, broken patches, and shall we go on?

We’ve even seen some Magento 2 Frankenapp sites come through our door within the last year or so. Due to the general lack of development experience in Magento 2, as well as the newly built M2 extensions, it’s not too surprising that these Magento 2 Frankenapp sites have been created.

However, if you’re the owner of a Magento Frankenapp on M1 or M2, there are ways to get them back up and running.

Get your Magento Frankenapp site back on track!

For Magento 1.x merchants, Magento 2.2 is an opportunity to clear the slate and rebuild. Notably, Magento is planning to stop support for Magento 1.x updates as soon as next year. There’s never been a better time to plan a Magento 2 build.

Magento 1.x data (customers, orders, catalog, and CMS) can be easily migrated to Magento 2 via the data migration tool.  Therefore, merchants have a chance to start fresh on Magento 2 by building a new scalable site without the overhead of migrating to a different platform.

Notably, Magento 2 now on version 2.2 comes with way more out-of-the-box functionality complete with all new code and scalable database.

Highlights of Magento 2.2:

  • Bundled Extensions – The new Magento Social extension allows you to connect your corporate Facebook account to your online store. The extension creates a product a page from your catalog.
  • Security Enhancements – Magento has removed unserialize calls and added protection of this functionality to increase resilience against dangerous code attacks. In addition, protection against Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks has been added.
  • Upgraded Technology Stack – Magento now only supports PHP 7.1 Varnish 5, and MySQL 5.7.
  • Pipeline Deployment – This creates a new way to deploy to production with minimum possible downtime.
  • Indexing Improvements – Customers can browse on a storefront while indexers run without impacting user experience. To better manage memory and run times, long-running indexers operate in batches.
  • Cart Improvements – Customers can create a cart with more than 300 items, and merchants can process a cart with at least 300 items.
  • Varnish cache operations – Varnish cache now includes saint and grace mode to ensure Varnish is always presenting a cached page to customers.

What about Magento 2 Frankenapps?

For Magento 2 merchants with Frankenapp sites, it is still possible to get back on track. For example, If merchants haven’t upgraded to Magento 2.2, doing so with a reliable developer is a good way to start. An experienced Magento 2 developer can review Magento’s code and troubleshoot problem areas. When looking for a new Magento development partner to start a Magento 2 build or to fix a current build, be sure to avoid these 3 pitfalls when building a Magento 2 site.

As a certified Magento 2 trained partner and as a Professional Magento Solutions Partner, we can help with your Frankenapp. Contact us and tell us about your Frankenapp!

Need help with your Frankenapp? Tell us about it!

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building a Magento 2 Site

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building a Magento 2 Site

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building a Magento 2 Site

“Build a new Magento site,” they said. “It will be easy,” they said.

Over the years we’ve run into many frustrated Magento merchants. So frustrated, in fact, the word Magento is unfortunately followed by some expletives. The stories usually go like this:

“I had my Magento site built by people who swore they had Magento experts on staff and could easily meet my budget requirements within my desired timeframe. They also said building a Magento site is easy because all you have to do is install Magento, add a low-cost theme extension for the design, and any other extensions needed for custom features or integration.”

Sounds simple right? Wrong. Here’s why. There are a lot of developers, agencies, freelancers, etc. out there who claim to know Magento. It’s important for merchants to understand that Magento is a complex infrastructure that requires a knowledgeable developer. A truly experienced Magento developer will be able to help merchants walk through their needs, while properly setting expectations on a timeline, budget, and technical requirements. Through experience, we’ve put together three key areas to look out for when building a new Magento site.

3 pitfalls to avoid when building a Magento 2 site:

1. Inexperienced Developers

While Magento is open-source, it is vastly more complex (due to its object-oriented architecture) than other open-source platforms like WordPress or OpenCart. Agencies with open-source platform experience often assume that developing in Magento requires the same effort required for less complex, script-based, open-source platforms. Sadly, these inexperienced developers unintentionally mislead merchants into projects with scope and complexity way beyond their ability to execute. What’s worse is that these projects typically end over budget, with a half-baked and bug-filled solution that either can’t be launched or the new site is often too littered with bugs and performance issues for the merchant to use and maintain.

Simply avoid this first pitfall by locating a thoroughly experienced Magento developer that is certified and knowledgeable.

2. Unrealistic Budget Expectations

While inexperienced developers can certainly botch a project, unrealistic budget expectations can also derail a new Magento site build. Over the years, we’ve worked with a wide range of merchants and learned a good rule of thumb when scoping out, building, and launching new sites. Through experience, we’ve found that most Merchants need to budget roughly 5-10% of online annual sales for building a quality Magento site that will help grow their business.

Think of it this way, if a merchant doing $5 million hired an inexperienced developer with half the recommended budget at $50,000, just one small negative impact on sales will make the cheaper site feel like a raw deal. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this happen many times. Merchants have come to us with cheap and poorly coded sites that have cut online sales by as much as 50%. Let’s repeat that, sites that cut online sales by as much as 50%.

Avoid this pitfall by setting clear budget expectations amongst all key stakeholders. Running a successful eCommerce business is stressful enough. Cutting corners will not make things easier.

3. Poor Quality Extensions

The third pitfall to avoid when building a new Magento site are poor quality extensions. There seems to be a misconception among merchants that all Magento extensions are turnkey or “plug and play.” This is simply not true and here is why. Due to the open-source nature of Magento, extensions are built by literally anyone including experienced and inexperienced developers. Notably, due to the higher costs of building a good quality extension from a certified developer, development is often outsourced to inexperienced developers. Inexperienced developers can take on projects without understanding the full scope of Magento. In the case of extensions, it usually means low-quality functionality with little to no testing.

Don’t get us wrong, we love Magento extensions and use them all the time for clients. However, we have also seen cheap, bad, or unnecessary extensions create headaches for merchants. An experienced developer will know Magento’s out-of-the-box functionality and will prevent merchants from falling into a Magento customization trap.

If you’re in the market for a new Magento website, do yourself a huge favor and avoid the 3 pitfalls above.

Choose an experienced onshore partner who has a team of certified experts that will avoid poor quality, performance issues, and conversion hits. In addition, an experienced Magento developer will set a realistic plan for building a Magento site that will grow your business. Magento is probably the best eCommerce platform for growth in the market today. When executed correctly, Magento has helped many merchants grow by leaps and bounds. However, buyer beware. There are no pink unicorns, as is with most things, you get what you pay for.

Any of this sound familiar? Building a new Magento site should be an exciting experience and opportunity growth. Contact us to get started on a new Magento site or to have us pick up the pieces on a current Magento build.  

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails and Improved Conversions

Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails and Improved Conversions

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 2.2 Release: What Merchants Need to Know

Magento 2.2 Release: What Merchants Need to Know

New Versions of Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce Now Available

Magento released version 2.2 of both Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce, and it’s filled with speed and security enhancements. Both updates include brand-new bundled extensions, significant enhancements in platform security and developer experience, an upgraded technology stack, pipeline deployment, and performance gains from improvements in various operations. While there are many updates that both Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce share, there are many specific features to each. The individual features of each platform can be found below.

The Magento 2.2 updates include:

These are some of the most notable Magento 2.2 updates:

Enhancements in Platform Security and Developer Experience

New security enhancements include the removal of unserialize calls and protection of this functionality to increase resilience against dangerous code execution attacks. There’s also an improved protection against Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks.

Performance Gains from Additional Enhancements

Customers can now browse and shop on a storefront while indexers are running with no visible impact to their experience. Cart improvements enable a buyer to create a cart with more than 300 line items, and merchants can process a cart with at least 300 line items. Varnish cache configuration now includes saint and grace mode to ensure Varnish is always presenting a cached page to a shop’s customers. Enhancements to cache invalidation logic and optimization of edge side include blocks for frequently changing data that significantly boost cache hit ratios. Each of these enhancements helped result in big performance gains for Magento-run sites.

Contributions from Community Members

The Magento Community Engineering Team has been working with skilled and enthusiastic community members, and together they’ve added hundreds of pull requests to the Magento code base.

What’s New With Magento Open Source 2.2

Magento Open Source 2.2 comes packed with new features that keep Magento at the top level of eCommerce platforms.

Per Magento:

“This release includes hundreds of functional fixes plus a wealth of new features: a bundled extension, upgraded technology stack, performance gains from improvements in indexing, cart, and cache operation, and significant enhancements in platform security and developer experience.”

Here are the Magento Open Source 2.2 updates that will make the biggest ripples:

Upgraded Technology Stack

Magento is no longer supporting PHP 5.6 and Varnish 3. Instead, they are supporting PHP 7.1 Varnish 5, and MySQL 5.7.

Bundled Extensions

The new Magento Social extension allows you to connect your corporate Facebook account with your online store. The extension will then create a page with products from your catalog.

Pipeline Deployment

This new process creates a new way to deploy to production with the minimum possible downtime.

What’s New With Magento Commerce 2.2

Magento Commerce 2.2 has hundreds of new features that take Magento-powered stores to the next level in the eCommerce world. This release includes a B2B Commerce functionality, Magento Commerce starter, improvements to the Magento Commerce (Cloud) deployment process, and an integrated Signifyd fraud protection.

This is in addition to a new bundled extension, upgraded technology stack, performance gains from improvements in indexing, cart, and cache operation, and significant enhancements in platform security and developer experience.

Here are the most noteworthy Magento Commerce 2.2 features:

B2B Commerce Functionality

This new functionality allows companies to create and maintain their own accounts, each with teams of buyers with various roles and levels of permission. It also includes a flexible API that integrates with a variety of ERP solutions from Magento partners.

Magento Commerce (Cloud) Improvements

The release includes new build and deployment variables. This includes ece-tools and ece-patches, that allow for patching your Magento Commerce (Cloud) without requiring a full installation of base code and the patch.

Signifyd Fraud Protection

This new service helps merchants eliminate liability for any losses or fees from fraudulent orders.

Get The Most from Magento

In order to get the most out of your Magento store, we recommend updating to either Magento Commerce 2.2 or Magento Open Source 2.2 as soon as possible.

Both updates are packed with new features that will keep your website ahead of the pack.

InteractOne can help with your Magento site. Contact us for help on getting your site updated. Or, call us to talk to a Magento expert at 513-469-3345.