Perfect Page, Poor Traffic? Why Site Speed Matters

Perfect Page, Poor Traffic? Why Site Speed Matters

Having a fast-loading, high-performance website is crucial to your eCommerce business. But why? Because the speed of your page plays a vital role in your conversions, user experience, and Search Ranking. Unfortunately, too many website owners place a priority on having too many bells and whistles and an overly sophisticated website design, both of which slow your site, instead of focusing on performance. 

Think about it like this. If you go to sit down for a meal at a restaurant, slow service from the waiter often results in poor reviews and fewer return visits. Similarly, when you sit down to browse a website, slow service can drive you away and potentially steer you towards a competitor. If it’s annoying for you to wait for dinner at a restaurant or for a website to load, think about how your site visitors feel. 

In this blog, we will discuss some best practices to ensure your eCommerce site speed is not hurting your search rankings, users’ experience, site traffic, and conversion rate. But first, it is important to understand what site speed is and how to measure it.   

Site Speed Defined

CSite speed often referred to as Site Performance or page speed, is how quickly your eCommerce browser can load fully. Poorly performing sites that render slowly in a browser can drive users away. Conversely, sites that load quickly will typically receive more traffic and have better conversion rates. 

Why Your Website Speed Matters

Your site speed is important for the overall user experience you are trying to create. If your site takes a long time to load you will tend to have a higher bounce rate and lower average time spent on your site due to this low speed. The example below from Google shows how longer load times have been shown to affect your conversion and bounce rates negatively.

Speed Test Tool Recommendations to Help Your Site’s Performance

Before you can begin to make any fixes, you first need to know where your site is in terms of speed. The speed that you need to be looking at is your time to first byte (TTFB). This determines the time the server sends your browser’s very first byte; which Google states should be 200 ms or less. You can easily measure your TTFB and other speed metrics by using a load time testing site. Below are some that can help you with this:

Each of these tools will assign a score to your site based on Google recommendations and provide you with tips on improving your site’s performance.  When it comes to site speed testing, it’s important to pick one tool and stick with it. Each has its own set of different metrics and therefore you can’t compare one tool’s test results to another. In addition, you should run multiple tests to ensure that your results continue to improve your user’s experience.

Factors Affecting Your Site’s Speed

Your site speed relies on many factors and determining which of them are affecting it will help you improve its speed and ranking. Here are some of the most common problems that prevent sites from loading faster and lead to potential customer loss. 

Compressing/optimizing large images: Loading large images is one of the main issues to cause your site to run slow, especially for mobile users. You can use Gzip, a software application for file compression, to reduce the size of your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files that are larger than 150 bytes. Such services will result in compression without loss of quality, and therefore your users will not even notice the difference in their experience if using a desktop versus mobile.

Reduce redirects: Each time your page redirects a user to another page, it increases their waiting time. Reducing your redirects will help reduce the HTTP request-response to complete and speed up your site page.

Reduce themes and plugins: The more widgets and plugins you utilize on your site, the longer it takes to load them. First, make sure you are only using the ones that you truly need. You’ll often find that Developers and untrained team members may have left Themes and Plugins operational that no longer serve your benefit. Second, if you are using a WordPress template, try to keep it simple and only use Plugins created by reputable WordPress sources that have been recently updated, such as Cornerstone 4.0.

Improve server response time: The optimal server response time is under 200ms and should be constant over multiple users. A response time beyond 200 ms is a sign that requires something to be fixed. To improve your server response time, you can either pay for new servers and equipment which could get expensive and still not solve the problem or you can look for performance bottlenecks like slow database queries, slow routing, or a lack of adequate memory and fix them.

Use a content distribution network: Content distribution networks (CDNs), also called content delivery networks, are networks of servers that work together to provide fast delivery of your site’s content. A CDN allows for the quick transfer of assets needed for loading Internet content including HTML pages, javascript files, stylesheets, images, and videos. While a CDN does not host content and can’t replace the need for proper web hosting, it does help cache content at the network edge, which improves your website performance.

Poor hosting location: the hosting company and server that you decide to use to store your website can have an impact on your site speed. Therefore, it is important you choose a host where all of your assets can be housed in one location and a plan that matches the needs of your website. If your data has to travel a significant distance to arrive where it is needed, this results in a high amount of network latency. For instance, if a website’s HTML and CSS files are hosted in a data center in Ohio, and its images are hosted in a data center in Florida, a user on the west coast will have to wait while all of these files travel thousands of miles to their device.

Bringing it All Together

Your site speed has a vital role in generating traffic. The factors that affect that traffic generation are interlinked with one another. If you find that your site is taking too long to load, don’t panic. We can help you to determine any factors that might be affecting that speed to increase your clientele, improve your user experience, retain existing users, and increase your conversion rate. 

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Cryptocurrency Potential: Loyal Users, Instant Payments and Low Fees

Cryptocurrency Potential: Loyal Users, Instant Payments and Low Fees

Interest in cryptocurrency is growing, and fast. With some major brands like Visa recently announcing their adoption of this digital payment method, it is getting harder to ignore the impact crypto and blockchain technology could have on your eCommerce business.

Whether you’re just starting to learn about cryptocurrency or exploring how to accept this method of payment in your online store, it is important to keep on top of the trend that is unfolding. After all, awareness and understanding could help forge a valuable opportunity for your business in the future.

While some retailers might be skeptical about accepting crypto as they see it as a risk to their business, some see it as an opportunity to increase their bottom line. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks that cryptocurrency presents, while also taking a look at how to accept them as payment on your online store.

Before diving into the pros and cons, it is imperative to first know what cryptocurrency is and why it is growing in popularity around the globe.

What exactly is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is decentralized digital money, based on blockchain technology. Unlike the U.S. Dollar or the Euro, there is no central authority, like banks or governments, that manages and maintains the value of a cryptocurrency. Instead, these tasks are broadly distributed among a cryptocurrency’s users via the internet; which is part of why it is growing in popularity with corporations around the globe.

The cryptocurrency that started them all, is the one you are probably the most familiar with, Bitcoin; which was created in 2009 in a bid to decentralize the financial sector. Up until 2011, it was the only cryptocurrency in operation, but there are now more than 5,000 different cryptocurrencies in worldwide circulation, according to CoinLore. Some of the most noteworthy ones you might want to be aware of include Ethereum, Litecoin, and the living meme Dogecoin.

Cryptocurrency and the technology behind it are gaining traction in the eCommerce industry, and fast. But what are the benefits you should be aware of when considering accepting this type of payment on your online store?

Key benefits for considering cryptocurrency

A lot of trends come and go, but crypto seems likely here to stay, in some form. Not only can it help your eCommerce business expand its customer base but it can also increase its target audience, streamline your customer experiences, and more.

  • Fast transactions + user checkout experience smoother: Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency, is a distributed ledger that allows for quicker, more direct transactions that can help streamline your business cash flow. And for consumers, the immediate processing of cryptocurrency means orders can be shipped instantaneously and arrive sooner. Let’s walk you through an example. You are considering purchasing an SUV from a dealership. If you want to pay for your new vehicle the conventional way with cash or a credit card, you would have to deal with a financial institution; which comes with a lot of potential frustrations and wait time. However, if you choose to pay with a cryptocurrency, not only is it convenient and secure, but there is no middle man, no hold on the transaction and the payment is transferred instantaneously. This is already happening at independent dealerships around the country as customers are paying in full for their vehicles, instantly with cryptocurrency. 
  • Increase in traffic + opportunity to widen target audience: While many people buy cryptocurrencies as an investment instead of an actual payment method, others love buying products with cryptocurrencies because of the lower costs associated, more secure checkout, and the ability to have full control over their funds. By embracing crypto transactions you can widen your target market to these buyers leading to an increase in new customer traffic. It will also make it easier if you are looking to expand globally since crypto is not tied to a specific country’s exchange rate. This allows you to sell to merchants no matter where they are in the world with a single digital standard.
  • Lower transaction fees compared to other options: The industry standard transaction fee from third-party gateways is normally 2.9% + $0.30. This fee is significantly reduced for cryptocurrencies to 1% if not lower; which is good news for you and your bottom line as it can help make your business more profitable.
  • Clean, secure data: Blockchain technology not only increases accuracy but also decreases fraud. Unlike most traditional financial institutions, crypto transactional and consumer data is never saved on a single centralized service making it very difficult to steal or counterfeit. Also, crypto transactions do not require customers to input personal identifying information, which reduces the risk of fraud in digital transactions. You might find this beneficial for your marketing efforts. It might also help to avoid wasted spending.
  • Crypto users are also very very loyal: The flexibility of having this payment option on your site enables customers to pay the way they want to, which provides a better all-around shopping experience and helps to increase conversion rates and reduce cart abandonment.
  • Rise in value: Some of you might see the volatility of cryptocurrencies as a risk, which we will go into more depth in the next section, whereas some might see it as an opportunity for growth. The pie graph below from CoinMarketCap is just one example of how quickly Bitcoin, one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, has risen in value over the last couple of years:

Potential Setbacks of Incorporating Cryptocurrency Are Low

Despite cryptocurrencies being the latest trend in the online retail sector, there are pitfalls and reasons to be skeptical.

  • Price volatility: We mentioned above that cryptocurrencies are currently on the rise in value, but the uncertainty of whether that upward trend will continue poses a risk for both businesses and consumers. In addition, if the value of a cryptocurrency has fluctuated since the time a consumer purchases and returns a product, things could get tricky.
  • Customer confusion: According to a survey by Cardify, only 17% of investors that have bought cryptocurrency “fully understand” the value and potential of cryptocurrency. Not only do customers not fully understand the value, but they don’t understand how to use them. For instance, most consumers see cryptocurrency as an investment instead of an exchangeable asset. This perception will start to shift itself as more companies start incorporating crypto as a payment option similar to Tesla and Visa.

Payment Gateways Options for Accepting Cryptocurrency on Your Site

If you are considering accepting cryptocurrency on your site, here are some options to think about:

Magento 2 Payment Processing Service Options: ShapeShift is the newest third-party service offered on Magento 2 that processes transactions on your behalf. It aims to provide a fast, private and convenient way of swapping cryptocurrencies. This payment method allows you to accept Bitcoins, Ethereum, Litecoin, and over 300 other digital currency options.

Shopify Payment Processing Service Option: BitPay automatically converts payments to a currency of your choice (eight currencies available) and sends them directly to your bank account. A couple of cons of using BitPay is that they charge a relatively high transaction fee of 1%; which you will not see with ShapeShift and they only accept Bitcoin.

BigCommerce is also looking into developing an app that accepts crypto. Be sure to keep an eye on their progress in the event it meets your needs.

Bringing it All Together

If you are looking to expand your market share while also offering your customers a faster and more secure way to pay for your products and services, cryptocurrency could be the answer.

Keeping up-to-date with this trend will help you to adapt your eCommerce strategy quickly and get ahead of the competition. Ready to take your eCommerce site to the next level and incorporate cryptocurrency as a digital payment option? Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your needs!

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More Time is Needed; Google Delays Cookie Withdraw

More Time is Needed; Google Delays Cookie Withdraw

For those unaware, in January 2020, Google first announced a plan to stop support for third-party cookies, which advertisers use to track users and target them with ads. The company said the plan, which originally had a “two-year” deadline, was to replace third-party cookies with more privacy-conscious technologies.

On Thursday, June 24, 2021 however, Google announced it was pushing back its original timeline of the Privacy Sandbox initiative to kill third-party tracking cookies in Chrome from 2022 to 2023. This will give users, publishers, and digital advertisers more time to plan for more privacy-conscious targeted ads and workarounds. 

The delay comes after Google pledged to give oversight of the cookie changes to the UK’s antitrust watchdog.

In his latest blog post, Vinay Goel, Engineer Director of Google Privacy said, “while there’s considerable progress with this initiative, it’s become clear that more time is needed across the ecosystem to get this right.”

Despite this extension, other browsers such as Safari and Firefox have already implemented some default blocking against third-party tracking cookies. This emphasizes that it’s never too early to start your plan of action for when third-party cookies are removed from Chrome.

End of Third Party Cookies Updated Timeline

Google has now set out an extended timeline for the forthcoming changes. These changes will occur over a three-month period by the end of 2023.

  • Stage one is expected to start in late 2022 and last for a duration of nine months giving publishers, advertisers, and ad tech vendors time to migrate their services to work with new cookieless technologies.
  • The next stage marks the beginning of the end for third-party cookies, expected to start in mid-2023 and finish later that year.

“We must take time to evaluate the new technologies, gather feedback and iterate to ensure they meet our goals for both privacy and performance and give all developers time to follow the best path for privacy,” Goel concluded.

Google and other online ad industry players have been experimenting with new application programming interfaces (APIs), designed to prevent the tracking of individual users while still allowing advertisers to target clusters of people by their interests and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Along the way, Google has promised to partake in transparent discussions and incorporate feedback from external parties including web developers, advertisers, publishers, and regulators. Competition watchdogs have also made it clear to Google that they want to be briefed on the changes. Google responded and offered to give the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority oversight of its plans to roll out technologies from the Privacy Sandbox, including offering the watchdog a 60-day “standstill period” before it introduces any changes.

Reactions from the industry

Google’s initiative to kill third-party cookies in Chrome has been met by resistance from the tech industry, especially from marketers and advertising agencies who are worried that the blanket stop to third-party cookies will hurt the internet economy and start-ups. 

Early during the week of June 24th, the European Union opened an antitrust probe into Google’s advertising practices, including the company’s plans to phase out cookies in Chrome.

Simon Andrews, founder of the mobile marketing consultancy Addictive, said while a large portion of online ad businesses mistrusts Google, the industry needs to reach a consensus around building new privacy-focused solutions that are usable for all the players across the sector.

Have questions about whether or not your cookie game is up to date? Contact the pros at InteractOne to learn more.

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Dropshipping Primer and How Shopify and BigCommerce Perform

Dropshipping Primer and How Shopify and BigCommerce Perform

What Is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a method of order fulfillment that uses a third-party supplier to ship goods sold by a retailer. This means the retailer doesn’t keep the products in stock but instead transfers orders and their shipment details to either the manufacturer, a wholesaler, another retailer, or a fulfillment center/warehouse, which then ships the goods to the customer. 

Dropshipping is a great complement to a traditional eCommerce business as it allows the retailer to avoid the cost and effort associated with maintaining a warehouse and a brick-and-mortar storefront. It frees them up to focus on marketing, advertising, and managing their online presence.

How Does It Work

Dropshipping can work in the form of product reselling, where a company finds products from a variety of sources and makes them available for online purchase all in one place, on their eCommerce store. Additionally, dropshipping can be used to create an online business extension, product creation, or print on demand.

If you’re considering starting a dropshipping business or adding a dropshipping component to your existing store, it’s crucial that you first find your niche, and price your products correctly. You also need to ensure you have the technology in place for getting correct shipping estimates since you will likely be shipping from multiple locations. ShipperHQ is a popular solution that’s available across all the major platforms, but not all shipping apps are as widely supported. 

 There are a number of eCommerce platforms that you can run a dropshipping business on. Shopify and BigCommerce are two of the biggest and most popular SaaS platforms, so we’re going to focus on how they handle dropshipping. Both offer a number of plans which offer various features and services, which  are charged at different rates accordingly. 

Benefits of Dropshipping: With more automation, shipping and packaging are handled by manufactuers. 

How Does Shopify Handle Dropshipping?

Shopify has a partnership with Oberlo, which will help you find products from suppliers all over the world and add them to your own online store. If you’re currently dropshipping with AliExpress, you can connect your existing products to your Oberlo account. 

Shopify has a number of other similar and highly rated apps on their marketplace to enable drop shipping for specific niches, marketplaces, and regions. This includes apps that automatically check and update your prices, including PriceMole and Prisync so that you stay competitive. In addition to ShipperHQ, Shopify’s apps for estimating shipping costs include Shipping Rates Calculator Plus and Estimated Shipping Cost

 Shopify charges a transaction fee of 2%, 1%, or 0.5% for every purchase made on your store (depending on which plan you choose) unless you use Shopify Payments as your payment provider. This can add up quickly when you work with tight margins, as drop shippers often do.

Benefits of Dropshipping: Unlike traditional retailers, online dropshippers do not need to invest in an initial inventory stockpile. 

How Does BigCommerce Handle Dropshipping?

BigCommerce has an app marketplace, with a few great product-sourcing apps like Inventory Source, e-ProductPlug, and Modalyst, but none of them are as established and comprehensive as Oberlo.

Like Shopify, BigCommerce also has competitor price-monitoring and price-updating apps available, including Price2Spy and Repricer. As well as ShipperHQ, apps you can use with BigCommerce for estimating shipping include ShippingEasy and Advanced Shipping Manager.

BigCommerce doesn’t charge any transaction fees, no matter which of their “Essentials” plan you opt for. However, BigCommerce plans have sales caps of $50k, $150k, or $400k based on which plan you have. If you reach the sales cap on a lower plan, you’ll be automatically upgraded and billed for a higher plan from the following month, based on your sales growth. If you’re already on the top Essentials plan, you’ll be charged extra for each set amount you go over the limit, or asked to sign up for a custom solution for your needs.

Benefits of Dropshipping: Your financial risk is greatly reduced due to low initial investment and lack of excess inventory.

Conclusion

Which provider is the better option depends on your personal preferences and situation. While both platforms have apps that let you do everything from source products to set up shipping through your suppliers, many consider Shopify’s selection to have a consistently higher quality, and many prefer to use its partner Oberlo for dropshipping. 

Want to know more? For an in-depth and personalized approach to dropshipping solutions for your business, reach out to our team of experts. We’ll guide you through the best options based and provide a tailored solution for your business needs.

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Open Source eCommerce: Weighing the Pros & Cons

Open Source eCommerce: Weighing the Pros & Cons

When it comes to running an eCommerce business, there are two types of website software platforms you can choose to power your shop with: open source or software as a service (or SaaS). Their main differences have to do with capabilities and cost. Neither is objectively better; which platform works best for you will depend on your business needs and your budget. 

eCommerce retail sales topped 4.13 trillion USD in 2020, and they’re set to keep climbing, according to Statista. As online shopping continues to grow, more and more businesses are seeking information on these two platform types, specifically what benefits they each offer and what makes them different from one another. 

What Is Open Source?

Open source is a type of software platform that is powerful and deeply customizable because its source code can be overridden, or edited. You buy it (some instances are even free to use), install it, and host it on a server, either on the same premises as your business is located, or from a hosting company or leased in the cloud from a firm providing that service. Like anything, you get what you pay for: free versions are sometimes stripped down to the basics and don’t include all the features that you may need to run your business. 

The big differentiator with open source is that you manage everything yourself—or pay a third-party provider to. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. So unless you have developers/programmers on staff, you’ll likely need support from a development agency with building and maintaining your open source eCommerce website.

What Open Source Platforms Are There?

Magento is one of the main open source platforms, and it’s available in three versions: Magento Open Source (formerly Magento Community Edition), which is free to download; Magento Commerce (formerly Magento Enterprise Edition), which requires you to pay licensing fees in exchange for advanced features and ticket-based support; and Magento Commerce Cloud, which is the paid version with cloud-hosting included in the license fee. Other open source platforms include WooCommerce, OpenCart, PrestaShop and Shopware.

The Pros of Open Source

Flexibility Through Complete Customization

Open source platforms are highly customizable, which means they offer a large degree of control regarding the shopping experience. This is because powerful features can be built by overriding source code, making them great for businesses with very specific, niche needs. For example, with many fashion eCommerce businesses wanting to provide advanced technologies like virtual fitting rooms, this makes open source platforms an enticing option. The only limit is your developers’ abilities, your imagination and, of course, your wallet.

Unlimited Selling Potential

There is virtually no limit to how much or what you can sell with an eCommerce site built on an open source platform. You can start at any size and keep growing. This is great for auto aftermarket websites in particular, as they tend to run their product numbers into the hundreds of thousands.

Community Support

Open source platforms are built and monitored collaboratively, by developer communities, with programmers sharing ideas freely online in blogs and forums. These supportive environments can be great for fostering creativity, solving problems and generally building amazing websites. However, the level of this collaborative access can be determined by whether or not you pay a licensing fee for your version of the platform.

The Cons of Open Source

Complexities Can Keep People Out

Generally, open source platforms are created for and by software developers and programmers, meaning that not only the initial setup and creation of the site, but also any ongoing maintenance and functional improvements requires a developer, in-house IT department, or outside agency. There is a lot of technical knowledge that’s required to begin with, and that must be kept up with, as platforms and best practices evolve. It can be difficult or at least time-consuming, and costly for a typical merchant to manage these capabilities by themselves

Higher Cost to Build and Maintain

The initial cost to build with open source also doesn’t include other software extensions and customizations you may need for the site to function exactly as you would like it to. The more overrides you make to the source code, the more complex and therefore often more expensive it can be to maintain. Plugins can often be incompatible with each other as they are built by different developers, and when they become outdated and unsupported they need to be replaced, which requires identifying, purchasing and installing new ones. This can mean you need to keep building new tools for promotions, merchandising and so on. Hosting provider fees can also fluctuate with usage and traffic spikes.

Security and Maintenance is in Your Hands

Open source platforms can be vulnerable to hackers. The software provider (ie. Magento) will probably provide patches. But the onus is on you the merchant (or any third party you hire) to install these patches, plus install any upgrades, fix bugs, and meet PCI Compliance (Payment Card Industry Data Security) standards, to be able to accept payments.

Interested in Learning More?

InteractOne has a team of highly skilled developers that are very experienced in building and maintaining open source platforms for a range of different types of online businesses. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to us to discuss whether an open source platform could be right for your business.

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SaaS eCommerce: Weighing the Pros & Cons

SaaS eCommerce: Weighing the Pros & Cons

When it comes to starting an eCommerce business, there are two types of platforms you can choose to power your shop with: software as a service (or SaaS) or open source. Their main differences have to do with ease of customization, capabilities and cost. Neither is objectively better; which platform works best for you will depend on your business needs and your budget. 

eCommerce retail sales topped 4.13 trillion USD in 2020, and they’re set to keep climbing, according to Statista. As online shopping continues to grow, more and more people are seeking information on these two platform types, specifically what benefits they offer and what makes them different from one another. 

To shed some light on this, we’ve put together two introductory guides to these different platform types. For information about open source, check out our guide to the pros and cons of open source. Now, onto the basics of SaaS.

What is SaaS?

Software as a service, or SaaS, is software that is licensed and delivered to you by a SaaS provider. This means that the provider takes care of all of the hosting, maintenance and security that you would otherwise have to manage yourself. 

You pay for the use of the software via a monthly fee, which generally includes much of what you need to run your online business, including the eCommerce platform software itself, plus hosting, software updates and security patches. This makes SaaS a great option for businesses of a variety of sizes who may have fewer resources, but it also means constraints customizing your site from the ground up.

What SaaS Platforms Are There?

There are numerous SaaS platforms available; one of the more well-known ones is BigCommerce, which offers a more flexible, customizable type of SaaS platform popular with mid-market and enterprise brands. There’s also Shopify and Shopify Plus, which has lots of themes to choose from but limits the number of products you can sell, which can be problematic for businesses with big catalogs. Other SaaS platforms include Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Volusion and Squarespace.

The Pros of SaaS

Quick to Set Up

You don’t have to download or install anything to start a website on a SaaS platform; simply create an account and start building your store using the provider’s interface. SaaS providers usually offer many pre-built themes with drag-and-drop page-building, so no coding is required. This makes it quick and easy—depending on which software you choose and the functionality it has built in. Of course, quick and easy is a relative term. Many merchants will engage with a development agency to build their SaaS site, to take advantage of their expertise and previous success with building and maintaining other stores. Generally, stores on SaaS platforms can launch quicker than those on open source platforms, even if you work with an agency, because they’re not being built from scratch and there is generally less need for customization.

Much of the Site Maintenance Is Done For You

Most of the technical details—software updates, hosting, site maintenance and security—are managed for you by the SaaS platform provider. This is good for businesses that don’t have a lot of technical knowledge nor the budget for extra professional help. It’s all managed through cloud-based delivery for a monthly fee. This makes it user-friendly and simple to maintain. It also means that the merchant can focus on running and growing the business, as opposed to focusing on the nuts and bolts of site maintenance.

More Stability and Reliability 

Open source platforms can have issues relating to extensions or plugins, as they are built by different developers and can be incompatible with each other. They also become outdated and unsupported and need to be replaced when new versions of the platform are released, which requires identifying and installing updated extensions. With SaaS platforms, there’s less risk of update-related breakages and security breaches. This provides merchants with peace of mind, as there’s less risk of lost revenue and reputation issues due to the site being down or security-related issues.

The Cons of SaaS

Lack of Customization

Without the ability to override source code, which you can do with open source platforms, there can be limitations to customizing a SaaS platform website. Platforms such as BigCommerce do provide some openness through APIs, though these customizations, like on open course sites, do require some programming investment. It’s likely that you will still require further apps and extensions not included in the software, to get the full functionality that you need and want. For example, BigCommerce partners with a number of providers for functionality such as payments, shipping, site search, etc. Shopify’s model provides these services themselves or via a proprietary software stack. If flexibility and providing an innovative customer experience is important to you, some SaaS platforms may not offer enough capabilities for your business or you may be forced into using a functionality provider not of your choosing.

Limited process and capacity

Some SaaS platforms have limited processing and SKU capacity. They can also decide what types of products a business will or will not sell using their platform, and they can change their minds whenever they like. This means that some stores start on a SaaS platform and then find they have to migrate to open source when they get too big, or when they want to sell something that’s not permitted by their SaaS platform. Some merchants have been given only a few weeks to move their sites to other platforms after their SaaS provider decides to no longer allow the sale of their type of product (for example firearms or cannabis products).

Less Choice of Features and Products

With many SaaS alternatives, you have to work within the confines of the platform. Some platforms don’t let you choose certain apps or features, meaning you’re locked into whatever they’ve selected. For example, Shopify has a proprietary payment provider. You can choose another payment provider but Shopify will charge a transaction fee of 2% of every sale that uses gateway. They also don’t allow access to certain features like multi-currency.

Extra Cost for More Functionality

As with most things in life, when it comes to eCommerce platforms, you get what you pay for. Some SaaS platforms bundle functionalities and services, making it easier to estimate costs and capabilities. However, often a SaaS platform will appear inexpensive, but that is because it provides very limited functionality (it’s how they afford to keep the price low). This means that you often end up having to pay for and install additional apps later on, to get the full functionality you require to run your store. The upside is you can start with a basic site and add functionality as you grow and based on need. The downside is that these costs can add up over time, sometimes unexpectedly.

Want to Find Out More

InteractOne has a team of highly skilled developers, site architects and solutions specialists who are very experienced in building and maintaining SaaS platform eCommerce sites for a range of different types of businesses. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to us to discuss whether a SaaS platform could be right for your business.

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Comstar Video Case Study

Comstar Video Case Study

Comstar

Comstar is a manufacturer, developer and retailer of environmentally friendly, industrial strength chemical products for the trade professional. 

Comstar partnered with InteractOne to build a new Magento 2 website. This new website needed to have international reach, empower distributors and support B2B and B2C clients. 

In this Case Study video we’ll be taking a look how InteractOne created this new site as well as highlighting many of the back-end user-friendly functionalities that allow the Comstar team to manage and this high-end eCommerce site without the need of a developer. 

See the new Comstar’s website for yourself here.

Click here to learn more about InteractOne and how we create amazing ecommerce experiences:

Contact the certified Magento developers & their team at InteractOne here!

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Marc Phillips Video Case Study

Marc Phillips Video Case Study

Marc Phillips

Marc Phillips is a leading innovator and manufacturer of decorative high-end rugs. They are headquartered in New York and Los Angeles. Marc Phillips’ rug collections are vastly-layered, yet highly-curated by their team of creatives, who breathe soul into the brand mixing laid-back livable with a sophisticated edge.

Marc Phillips partnered with InteractOne to build a new eCommerce website. One that better showcases their luxury brand and products, and provides all of its visitors with a sleek and modern user experience.

Marc Phillips new website needed to do more than showcase their products and their brand. This new website had to serve multiple masters, in that it needed to be functional and usable for their customers, distributors and partners worldwide.

In this Case Study video we’ll be taking a look how Interact One created this new site as well as highlighting many of the back-end user-friendly functionalities that allow the Marc Phillips team to manage and this high-end ecommerce site without the need of a developer.

Click here to see the new Marc Phillips website for yourself.

Click here to learn more about InteractOne and how we create amazing ecommerce experiences.

Since 1998, InteractOne has been helping our clients grow and compete online, always keeping in mind to do whats best for our clients. We build, maintain and market great eCommerce experiences.

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UPDATED: Top 10 Magento Extensions for 2021

UPDATED: Top 10 Magento Extensions for 2021

With the new year fast approaching, it’s time to take stock of your business and identify any areas that could be improved upon. Of course, there are plenty of apps and extensions for that, but how do you know which ones are the best? 

We’ve identified our top 10 Magento third-party apps and extensions that will make your eCommerce website the strongest it can be. They’ll also make your life as a merchant that much easier. 

Read on for our list and let us know if there are any you’re missing on your website.

10. Urapidflow Product Import/Export

uRapidFlow is one of the most feature-rich and robust product and sales export and import extensions for Magento. It lives up to its name by providing lightning-speed importing and exporting of all of Magento’s product and sales data. With this extension you can import, export or update thousands of records in a matter of minutes. You can also set up multiple profiles and export or import product data and order data to and from different locations using FTP. This extension is the easiest to use when importing Magento product or order information. You can synchronize data between Magento installations and integrate with other applications using CSV, SOAP or XMLRPC interface.

uRapidFlow

9. Xtento

Xtento aims to make life easier for developers, store owners and merchants, and it achieves that as the most stable and powerful order export and shipment tracking import solution available for Magento. This extension allows merchants the flexibility to set up multiple profiles and export your orders to many different places using one extension. These exports can be done in any text-based format (Text/TXT, Tabbed, CSV/Excel, XML, JSON, SQL, ASCII/Fixed-Length Files) and can include any required field. Xtento can be used to connect your store to almost any CRM, ERP, warehouse, dropshipping or shipping system. Merchants are also empowered to set up an unlimited number of export profiles. All of this can be accomplished from within the admin interface of the extension. 

Xtento

8. Advanced Subscription Products

If you’re selling a product or service on subscription then this extension may be a great solution for you. Advanced Subscription Products for Magento 2 by Aheadworks allows you to create subscriptions with multiple products, create separate shopping carts for subscriptions and more. It helps merchants maximize profits and engage returning purchasers by giving them flexibility and control over subscriptions and the ability to update, renew or extend them with ease. It works with various payment methods including Adyen, Cash On Delivery, Authorize.net, Stripe and NMI. The extension can also handle multiple languages and stores, allowing you to localize recurring payments and subscriptions to all possible markets. This is a big win for B2B businesses. 

Advanced Subscription Products

7. SEO Suite Ultimate Extension

This all-in-one SEO extension by Mageworx is the most popular of its kind for a reason. It covers a full range of onpage SEO activities, from optimizing small page elements to building a well thought out site architecture. Its advanced templates allow you to mass-optimize any meta values, descriptions, URL keys, SEO names and so on for any of your products, categories, CMS and category filter pages. Improve your store click-through rates and boost its visibility with advanced rich snippets. The extension also comes complete with a full arsenal of SEO tools, allowing you to tackle such tasks as eliminating duplicate content, adding breadcrumbs and setting redirects. It also includes the Wave Crypto Payments extension, which enables merchants to collect crypto payments via their eCommerce store. 

SEO Suite Ultimate Extension

6. ShipStation

While we’re on the topic of shipping, ShipStation is another favorite of the InteractOne team. ShipStation is excellent for merchants who need a shipping label printing solution that can scale. Its built-in automation engine allows merchants to have a hands-off approach with a low overhead, all while providing branded and customized labels, packing slips and shipping confirmation emails. It provides a geo-tracking page featuring your brand, social media links and messaging, and a custom self-service portal for fast, hassle-free customer returns. ShipStation even tracks your inventory so you’ll never run out of stock, and provides detailed analytics. If you have multiple Magento stores, ShipStation also allows you to manage and organize them all from a single account. It also boasts integrations with ERP systems like Acumatica and Netsuite, and is fully integrated with more than 25 shipping carriers

ShipStation

5. ShipperHQ

This app is a must-have for most Magento merchants—we touched on this in our blog about Magento’s Top Shipping Rate Quote Solutions. ShipperHQ gives you control over the shipping rates and methods you show customers at checkout, while also providing you with a wealth of options such as multi-origin shipping, in-store pickup, live LTL rates and backup carriers. Set up shipping rules based on what you sell, where a customer is located and more, and automate how boxes are selected for each order for more accurate shipping rates with dimensional packing. ShipperHQ also allows for customization in their Magento extension, allowing you to make adjustments within the Magento checkout code and cover every feature you may require for powering shipping quotes.

4. Klaviyo

Klaviyo is a platform that provides complex customer insights in uncomplicated ways to help you build strong relationships and deliver highly effective marketing. Its power lies in its segmentation and targeting. Its web-tracking system is top notch as it uses specific browsing behavior to segment visitors so they receive specific ad campaigns and emails based on their on-site activity. Klaviyo will help you identify the visitors to your site, who looked but didn’t buy, who is a frequent visitor, who hasn’t visited recently, who left their cart full without purchasing, and so on. With these next-level insights and fine-tuned personalization, you can implement a campaign designed around your visitors’ site-specific actions, helping to dramatically increase your ROI.

3. TaxJar

It’s always tax season for businesses, and our number-one choice to help you with your eCommerce taxes is TaxJar. Currently being utilized by more than 20,000 businesses worldwide, TaxJar is a favorite of large and small businesses alike. The app features Magento’s SmartCalcs API, which determines if, when and how much sales tax needs to be applied and collected on any purchase, foreign or domestic. It allows users to program individual products for different tax rates for different states. But the automation doesn’t stop there. TaxJar utilizes AI-driven tax categorization, a flexible API, certified integrations, and automated filing. This means it accumulates your annual taxes over the course of the year and can file your taxes directly with your home state.

2. Yotpo

Social proof is increasingly important when it comes to increasing sales in eCommerce. Yotpo curates and places that social proof right on your product pages, meaning that visitors don’t have to leave your site to go looking for it. This extension offers the most advanced solutions for customer reviews, visual marketing, loyalty, referrals and SMS marketing. Yotpo integrates with Magento to collect high-quality content that shoppers crave—including photos, videos and reviews—and dynamically display it on your website using AI. It also helps you craft on-brand customer loyalty programs and leverage intelligent UX to gain low-cost acquisition via referral programs. With Yotpo you can create high-converting mobile experiences by targeting shoppers with personalized messages, and acquire high-intent traffic by displaying user-generated content in social, paid and organic search results.

1. Klevu

We sang Klevu’s praises in a previous blog and we’re going to do it again! This AI-powered  on-site smart search remains our favorite. It’s low-maintenance, easy to implement and will provide you with unique insights over time as its machine learning develops a greater understanding of the topics your visitors are engaging with on-site. We particularly like the Autocomplete feature, which will make suggestions to your site’s visitors while they are typing in their search. It also adds contextually relevant synonyms to your catalog in metadata format, and offers advanced merchandising and actionable search insights. It’s loved by over 3,000 retailers worldwide. Overall, Klevu is a great resource for merchants and adds to the overall shopping experience for your customers.

To learn more about any of these extensions  and how to make the absolute most of your eCommerce site in 2020, contact us today.

November Orange Report

November Orange Report

November 2020 ORANGE REPORT

For this month’s Orange Report, we’re sharing a few of our best and most recent blogs that speak on all things Magento, eCommerce, and Digital Marketing. Like always, we encourage everyone using Magento to make the most of its functionalities by incorporating the very best Magento extensions and news.

SIGN UP FOR THE ORANGE REPORT

Everything you need to know about eCommerce, digital marketing, and Magento.

Putco’s New Webstore, Brought to You by InteractOne

Watch how InteractOne ported their Volusion site to Magento 2, gave it a fully responsive custom design and a Year/Make/Model Search feature that truly sets the site apart. 

Is Your eCommerce Store Holiday-Ready?

Capitalize on this moment by making sure your eCommerce store is up to standard. Here’s a checklist of tips for how eCommerce websites can prepare for and make the most of the holidays.

The Uncertain Future of Progressive Web Apps

We’ve been singing the praises of Progressive Web Apps, but thanks to one decision by Apple they have an uncertain future…
top-magento-extensions-of-2020-interactone-shipperhq

The 2020 Holiday Q4Cast

ShipperHQ surveyed 1,500+ consumers about their online buying behavior, expectations and sentiments for the upcoming holiday shopping season. Armed with these stats and retailer tips, you can pivot and plan ahead accordingly.