Magento Blog


Your Mobile eCommerce Strategy - Is It Ready?

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If you have followed the growth of mobile eCommerce, you have probably received a lot of contradictory cues from the press and, even, respected researchers like Forrester, seem to offer conflicting views about web shopping on mobile devices.

In part, the discrepancies have to do with the definition of ‘mobile’ devices. Does it only apply to cell phones? What about tablets? What about smaller tablets or larger phones? What about shoppers using a tablet or mobile device on their home wifi; are they really ‘mobile’?

However, the merchant whose website is optimized for a desktop/laptop experience should see clouds on the horizon… clouds that will mean rain (i.e., revenue) for those who get their mobile strategy right and rough seas for those who do not.

  • Pew research indicates that over a third of US adults own a tablet of some kind and, that number is growing rapidly.
  • Reports also show that over 50% of US cell phone users have a smartphone.
  • Research shows that more and more people rely on their phone or tablet exclusively to access the Internet. This is especially true in some countries where mobile devices, especially smartphones, are the primary means of Internet access for consumers.
  • Because mobile shopping is expected to double this holiday season as compare to last year’s, a site that does not have a competitive mobile experience will probably end up losing market share now that will drag into 2014.

An Online Merchant’s Mobile Readiness Checklist

Here are a few tips for merchants on how best to create a mobile eCommerce strategy that will deliver a great experience:


1) Start with your shoppers

Each brand has a different following and expectations of a shopping experience from their customers. Your site analytics should tell you how much traffic you get from mobile devices. Be sure to slice and dice the numbers.

o How do conversion rates and average purchase amounts differ between phone, tablet and desktop purchasers?

o Look at mobile use geographically.

o Add mobile awareness to your dashboards/reviews.

Digging into the numbers will undoubtedly reveal areas of opportunity. If your mobile device traffic is less than 10% of your overall traffic, you may have some time to address the issue, but, chances are your mobile traffic will increase substantially over the next 6 months.

Sample Site Mobile Traffic

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However, if mobile traffic is 25% or more of your traffic, look for discrepancies in conversion rates between mobile devices and desktop devices for opportunities to close the gap.

2) Map out your user experience on various mobile devices

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Has your team evaluated the shopping experience on a wide enough variety of devices? Did they include tablets and cell phones? If it was done more than six months ago, has it been updated to include newer devices and/or updates to operating systems?

Start with the devices your analytics show to be important to your customer base. Look for pain points customers encounter when using those devices and prioritize the solutions. Google analytics will show you your traffic by type of device, operating system, and, even browser. You can easily sort the report and have an immediate device and mobile OS priority list.

Sample Site Analytics by Device

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It’s always a great best practice to role play and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Go through several scenarios and see where your customer may potentially have a bad experience and how that might lead them to leave your site and more importantly, not complete a transaction.

The merchant should own the process of prioritization, not the tech guys. While a developer can tell you how much effort it will take to address specific issues, they will tend to gravitate toward problems they know they can solve quickly, or whose solutions carry an appealing technical challenge. At this stage of the process, however, you need to focus on what is important to your shoppers.

3) Commit to a strategy (or two, if you can afford it)

If you’ve spent time investigating the possibilities, you are probably aware that there are three main technical approaches to providing a good experience for mobile shoppers:

Mobile site: Hosted on a separate domain, a mobile site often bears a completely separate design. Typically, the url is a subdomain like m.yoursite.com or mobile.yoursite.com. In the Magento world, there are even some extensions that will create a mobile site from your current site, only requiring a modest amount of configuration and a few minor tweaks to your server or DNS settings. The advantage of a mobile site is that it is easy to optimize images and content for mobile devices without affecting your desktop version. The disadvantages are that you have to maintain a completely separate design and, as screen sizes evolve and new devices emerge between phones and tablets; your site may become dated quickly.

Mobile app: Large merchants and marketplaces like eBay have gravitated to this solution because it gives additional control over the shopping experience, even allowing for the creation of new experiences for shoppers that are not possible in a mobile browser. However, this approach is expensive to set up and requires an ongoing investment in maintenance to keep up with new releases in mobile operating systems. Before you commit to an investment in a mobile app, you should consider if your customer base is committed enough to their relationship with you to download a piece of software and install it on their mobile device.

Responsive design: Responsive design is an approach to designing a web site in such a way that it’s layout adapts to the screen width of the device it is being viewed on. If you have begun researching mobile strategy, you almost certainly have run into this term. The promise of a responsive design is that it is device-agnostic. Thus, as screen sizes change and mobile OS’s change, the design will continue to provide a consistent experience. The downside of responsive design is that they often run slower on mobile devices than mobile sites because the mobile device has to download the same media files as the desktop site, even though they may not be viewable on the mobile device. Much effort has been made by the practitioners of responsive design to abate the potential downsides of responsive design and, a good responsive designer can truly make a difference in mobile performance.

Technically, it is possible to follow more than one path at once, but, budget constraints usually mean a choice must be made. However, if you introduce a mobile app, it is still a good idea to use either a responsive design or mobile site for those shoppers who prefer not to install an app.

Ready, Set, Go!

Chart by IB Times

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Over $38 billion in mobile purchases are predicted to take place in 2013 when all is said and done, which is about 3 times more than 2012’s number. That number is expected to grow substantially between today and 2017. We believe that the window of time for merchants to develop and implement their mobile strategy is closing and that future growth will depend on providing a great mobile shopping experience.

Learn more about how Magento Enterprise Edition can help mobilize your site.

Free eBook: 3 Segmentation Tactics to Ignite Conversion Today

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Online merchants are under more pressure than ever to deliver targeted and optimized experiences to their customers. As a leader in eCommerce, we know segmentation is essential to improving conversion. In collaboration with expert marketing strategist, MarketingProfs, we created this eBook to help merchants improve conversion through segmentation best practices.

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    Get key insights on how to:

  • Create more targeted messaging to increase conversions
  • Encourage visitors to self-segment on your site for a better experience
  • Help drive sales through a more targeted segmentation strategy

Presenting relevant content and promotions to individual buyers can translate into more sales and larger orders on your site. Download our newest eBook now and start increasing your conversions today!


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Magento U Class Recap: Performance & System Optimization

One of the most common engagements Magento's Expert Consulting Group (ECG) has is that of the Performance Review. Issues around performance and scalability are, more often than not, the driver for customers to seek ECG's assistance when doing implementation assessments.

The reason for this is no secret. Magento is a full featured application and framework, and that expandability does come at the cost of performance, and the decreased performance, though easily justifiable from a development cost perspective, does have an impact on customer interaction and retention.

Oftentimes many of these issues can be minimized through a good understanding of the components that are used to support Magento and how Magento interacts with them from an infrastructure's point of view.

One of the ways we work with customers is through our training program, and a good course to help you wade through the ins-and-outs of Magento is the Magento Performance & System Optimization for System Administrators course offered by Magento U. Most of our courses are aimed at developers learning how to make customizations to Magento, whereas the purpose of this course is to give sysadmins the information they need to help them work with Magento in high-performance, scalable environments.

There are several core topics that we look at in the class:

Load Balancing and High Availability
While these are two distinct concepts, often their implementation is tied together. But there is more to high availability than just adding another server and more to scaling Magento than simply adding more servers beyond that. Understanding some of the different options available for both load balancing and high availability can definitely have an impact.

Supporting Services
Everyone knows that Magento uses MySQL, but many people do not know how to tune MySQL for Magento's use, or often which parameters will yield the most benefit. MySQL is not the only service that Magento uses. Caching plays a big part in how Magento works and there are multiple different caches that can be implemented. And while the web server is a given, understanding the differences between how different web servers work can be critical to developing a stable and scalable infrastructure.

Instrumentation
One of the big things that Administrators often miss (and never mind developers!) is proper instrumentation of their site. It's not that they don't have it but that they don't often know what to look for or they may not understand how certain values affect Magento. One of the things we do in the performance course is take a look at various numbers that tools such as atop, top or vmstat generate and what those numbers mean.

In the following video snippet from one of the recordings from our Performance course, we describe how PHP works on a low level, and how opcode caches can be used to increase performance, complete with benchmarks to prove it. We take this approach of low level explanation followed by demonstration and exercises for several different topics such as web servers, load balancing (DNS, hardware, software), scaling MySQL, using caches, instrumentation and load testing, plus several more topics.

This course goes beyond simply having someone recite words from a script. Instead we have real-world administrators who have real-world experience demonstrating real-world examples to real-world students.


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About Kevin (from his blog profile):
I have been a sys admin, programmer, consultant and evangelist. Over the past 5 years I’ve spent most of them at Zend Technologies, spent a 6 month stint trying to start a mobile company (too little, too late) and I am now the Technical Manager for Education and Consulting for Magento at Magento U and ECG. I’ve done some writing. I am co-author of
The IBM i Programmer’s Guide to PHP and the book You want to do WHAT with PHP?, which has nothing to do with the IBM i Series, and I'm now working on a third book that should be completed in early fall. You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn or , unless you’re a spammer. Ignore this if you’re a spammer.

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4 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss MagentoLive Germany

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Each MagentoLive event this year has been a huge success and MagentoLive Germany will be no exception! But don’t wait to register. The Last Minute Rate of €299 expires on November 8.

Register

1. Magento COO and Co-Founder Roy Rubin Will Be Speaking

Roy will be sharing his vision for the ongoing opportunity for growth and innovation that he sees for merchants, and how Magento and eBay can help empower your success. Don’t miss this opportunity!

2. Groundbreaking Breakout Sessions With eCommerce Leaders

We have innovative German and English breakout sessions, with all-new content from eCommerce leaders, including our own Magento executives and experts.

  • Going Global: How mytheresa.com accomplished international expansion
  • Ulf Dammertz, Abteilungsleiter I.T., mytheresa.com
  • Michael Staroste, Lead Software Engineer, mytheresa.com
  • Checkout Optimization for Increased Sales: Address consumer fears and barriers to transaction completion by improving the User Experience of your payment and checkout
  • Noam Inbar, VP der Geschäftsentwicklung, Zooz
  • Scaling Your Online Store: How Wardow.com grew into a successful multichannel retailer
  • Björn Kraus, CTO, Phoenix Media
  • Marc Schuermann, Leiter der Verkaufsförderung, Phoenix Media
  • Danny Wardow, Geschäftsführer, Wardow.com
  • Deep Dive into Responsive Design: The benefits of developing responsive design and how to do it right
  • Michael Turk, Leiter eCommerce, Flagbit
  • Patrick Scherr, Geschäftsführer für Marketing, Flagbit
  • Sabrina Toth, Forschungsmitarbeiterin, Flagbit

3. Meet Other Magento Merchants

The Merchant to Merchant Session is a fantastic opportunity for merchants on Magento Enterprise Edition to meet and share ideas and best practices. We hope you can attend!

When: Tuesday, November 12, 9:00–10:30 (CEST)

RSVP: Please RSVP to attend.

4. Opening Night Event

We always make time for fun at our events, and we’ve planned another fabulous party for MagentoLive Germany!

Where: Rilano No.6
Lenbach-Palais in der Ottostraße 6, 80333 München

When: Monday, November 11, 19:00–23:00 (CEST)

Be sure to follow the event on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #MagentoLive to talk about the conference!

MagentoLive Germany Platinum Sponsors:

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Page Load Time - The Silent Sales Killer

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Who hasn’t been frustrated when visiting a slow web site?

Having a faster site is a priority for most merchants, especially for businesses with large catalogs. Here are some important statistics on why a faster site is a crucial component for helping a merchant increase sales:

  • Page abandonment rates increase most steeply between one and four seconds
  • Mobile users expect pages to load just as quickly on their smartphone as they do on their desktop
  • 79% of shoppers according to the noteworthy Gomez and Akamai studies will avoid shopping again at a site where they had a poor experience or that was too slow
  • Large internet merchants have performed studies showing that conversion rates can improve by as much as 10% for every second of speed improvement
Kiss Metrics, an analytics service provider that focuses on marketing, put together an infographic that summarizes the issues in a quick-read.

Page Load Time Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an acceptable page load time?
A. That’s a great question, and the answer is the faster the better. SEO experts often quote the two second rule (which has nothing to do with eating food you dropped on the floor), but, in reality, even a page that loads in a second can stand for improvement so a page that takes more than five seconds to load is most certainly going to have a material effect on your conversion rates.

Q. What causes a page to load slowly?
A. There are many causes to slow page load times including poor server configuration and images that are too large and have to be re-sized by a browser. What can you do about it? Keep reading.

Q. How do I determine how fast my pages load, and how can I compare my times to my competitors?
A. A non-tech person can use Google’s Page Speed Analyzer to check the page speed rating assigned by Google. There are several advantages to using this tool:

  • It’s Google’s test and Google uses page speed, in part, to determine search rankings
  • You can easily see how you compare to competitors by looking up their pages
  • You can input any page on your site to see how it performs (though it doesn’t always work well for checkout and cart because of coding that protects personal data from customers)
  • It produces a list of suggestions for you to implement in order to improve load time

Google has also added tools in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. All of these are accessible and easily understood by non-technical users.

Q. Does page load time affect my search rankings?
A. Yes! Since 2009, Google has been consistent in their messaging about the increasing importance of page speed in their algorithms.

Q. Are some pages more important than others?
A. In general you want your entire site to be fast because customers tend to abandon a site more often whenever any page takes too long to load. That being said, if your checkout pages are slow, it often becomes a question of trust with the shopper which can kill a transaction. The general consensus is to keep your checkout pages clean and simple to increase their speed.

Q. How important is my host to page load time?
A. Not all hosts are the same, which is a good thing because merchants have a wide variety of needs. However, your hosting environment makes a material difference in page load times. Even with the same server specifications, some hosts are speedier because they have more connections to ISPs, their SAN array is faster, and their load balancing is more efficient. Even a site that is properly optimized for content and server configuration can be slow if the host is running slow. We strongly encourage you to thoroughly research hosting services to ensure they meet your needs before choosing one.

The Big Q. What can I do to speed up my site?
A. There is rarely one cause of slow site speed. Optimizing site speed is really a collaborative effort and often requires creativity from and collaboration between design, tech, and network resources.

When mustering troops to address the issue, you will probably have projects in three main areas:

1. Content optimization: Are the images the right size for the site? Do I have too many images on a page? Do I have large Javascript files that have to download before the page renders? These issues can usually be addressed by your front-end designers, but your server team may need to help identify the priorities.

2. Catalog size: The larger your catalog, the greater the burden on your server(s) to load pages, especially when we’re talking about SKUs tipping over 100K.

3. Your server: If Google’s Page Speed Analyzer is telling you that your server response times are a problem, your team should make sure that your server has enough resources and that they are deployed appropriately. You may have enough resources but you're not using the server effectively. Solving this issue will require collaboration between your server or network maintenance folks, and your hosting organization.

We also recommend you explore Magento Enterprise Edition. With its latest product update, the focus was on performance improvements, specifically around speed. Find out more about Magento Enterprise Edition and see how it can help with your site performance.

Moving Forward

Page load time is a silent killer and you may not even know it is a problem it until your sales start suffering. Teamwork between designers, content managers, developers and network administrators, and working with knowledgeable service providers are the best way to address the problem and regular monitoring is a must.

Why We Don’t Buy: Consumer Attitudes on Shopping Cart Abandonment

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In a study conducted by Ipsos, consumers were asked about their awareness of shopping cart technology, online shopping behavior, expectations for marketing when they abandon a cart, and if any of the marketer’s tactics would motivate buying.

Now is your chance to tap into the minds of customers to understand why they abandon shopping carts and how to motivate them to return. In the free whitepaper, you will learn:

  • Why consumers abandon their carts and how this could be an opportunity for marketers to win-back sales
  • What the consumers want to happen when they abandon a cart and which marketing tactics annoy them
  • The key components of the shopping cart and cart abandonment strategies

Download the free whitepaper “Why We Don’t Buy: Consumer Attitudes on Shopping Cart Abandonment” to learn more.

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MagentoLive UK 2013 Recap

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More than 500 merchants, partners and developers from around the UK and across Europe gathered to network and share insights and knowledge at Magento Live UK. The excitement and energy in the air were electrifying: packed session rooms, buzzing exhibit halls, and brewing conversations throughout.

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The day began with Jamie Clarke sharing his experiences, as an adventurer and merchant, harnessing fear and unpredictable outcomes to reach new heights – don’t be afraid! Most importantly, he discussed the need to pick the right partners on uncertain journeys to foreign lands and to be flexible, speedy and cost efficient in your approach.

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Magento COO and Co-Founder Roy Rubin shared his vision of the incredible opportunity for growth and innovation that he sees for merchants, and how the power of Magento and eBay Inc. can help empower business success. Magento’s Head of Product, Jimmy Duvall discussed Magento Enterprise 1.13, Magento Community 1.8, and shared his vision of the future in Magento 2.

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Magento’s Danny Essner reviewed SEO best practices, challenging merchants to think of themselves as content publishers that educate customers in addition to being merchants. Key takeaways include that the most important aspects of SEO are user-generated content, how third parties link to your site, as well as the need to combine social media strategy as a way to bring these two pieces together.

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Screenpages’ Roger Wilcocks offered practical advice on tracking key metrics and shared insightful benchmarks across 100+ stores. Key takeaways include focusing your plan around the behaviors that influence conversion, keeping a keen eye on what makes for a good proposition, as well as planning out your improvements with metric targets. At the end of the day, It’s all about measurement and refinement.

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Big thanks to those who were able to join us! Your incredible energy, camaraderie and passion for driving commerce innovation inspire us all! A very special thanks to all of our presenters and to our sponsors for making this exciting event possible!

To learn more about these sessions and the many other presentations at Magento Live UK, check out our Website for additional content that we will be posting shortly, Click HERE.

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Be sure to join us next year at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, on July 14th and 15th, 2014.

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Merchants Rev Their eCommerce Engines for Holiday 2013

Savvy brands know that, during the holiday rush, performance and speed are key to keeping customers happy. That’s why we’re excited to see so many merchants taking advantage of the performance and speed gains in Magento Enterprise Edition 1.13 just in time for the holidays.

image Charlotte Tilbury – Designer Cosmetics
Magento Solution Partner – Space48

Makeup Artist Charlotte Tilbury (Vogue, Vanity Fair, LOVE and V Magazine) just launched her signature line of cosmetics in September, both online and in store at Selfridges, London, and an online countdown timer that had customers aching with the suspense. Magento Enterprise Edition 1.13’s fully customizable features enabled them to create reviews that allow customers to add their skin, hair and eye color, and access to easy bundling tools for a variety of shop-the-look options, one of Tilbury’s biggest asks. The platform also handled the massive peak of launch traffic quite nicely.
 
image Hawkin’s Bazaar – Toys and Gifts
Magento Solution Partner – Redbox Digital

Hawkin’s Bazaar began selling its “unusual” toys and gifts via mail order in 1973 and has since grown to operating 27 brick-and-mortar locations, and, of course, a fantastic Magento Enterprise Edition powered website. They upgraded from version 1.12 to 1.13 just after we released it, and they have already seen significant improvements in site stability, and decreases in requirements for performance and infrastructure.
 
image MicroScooters – Scooters and Scooter Accessories
Magento Solution Partner – Screen Pages

When two entrepreneurial mums with little business experience approached a Swiss based scooter manufacturer about launching distribution in the UK, it wasn’t an easy sell. Somehow, they got the contract and, slowly, but surely, they got their scooters and accessories into the hands of nearly a million children and adults. Upgrading their Micro Scooters site to Magento Enterprise Edition 1.13 gave them a host of improved features including stronger promotional and product-bundling capabilities, improved transactional functionality for customers, and better flexibility and control in content management. Since launch, conversions are up 10% YOY, and revenues are up 30%.
 
image YOU Beauty Discovery – Beauty Products Club
Magento Solution Partner – Redbox Digital

The Sunday Mail launched online beauty club YOU Beauty Discovery in August to help customers choose the right products with a try-before-you-buy option. For a small fee, club members receive monthly samples of products from hair care to cosmetics. One of their primary goals in upgrading from Magento Community Edition to Magento Enterprise Edition was the ability to do events, but they were also looking for scalability. With brilliant performance so far, they’re confident they can build to 100,000 members over time.

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