Considering Changing eCommerce Platforms? Read this First.

The new year may have you thinking about making some changes with the way you operate your eCommerce business. The rush of the holidays provides a great insight into where you can look to improve.

From researching a new order management system or hiring more customer service reps, to choosing a better shipping software solution or even switching platforms your store runs on. All these and more are valid things you should be looking at to improve and streamline your operations in 2020.

Over the past several months, we have received many inquiries from our clients about one of the items I mentioned above – switching platforms. As you know, moving an eCommerce store from one platform to another is not a decision you should make without knowing all the pros and cons, and even then, it’s best to get your trusted developer partner’s insight as well.

At Your Store Wizards, our goal is to ensure that when you’ve made the decision to start the due diligence process, that you’re making the right choice for your business. We’ve migrated dozens of stores on many platforms including Yahoo! Small Business, BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento and more and are well versed in the pluses and minuses of each.

We’ve put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions about moving platforms that can help you start out in your preliminary research:

Why should I consider changing platforms?
There may be many reasons why a store owner may want to look into changing platforms. The most common is that their current platform lacks features that others offer, or features they are paying extra for may be included at no additional cost on another platform.

When this comes up as a reason, we always suggest reviewing your current site and make a list of “must-have” features that exist on your current site as well as a “wish list” of features you’d like but aren’t part of your site today.

Take those lists and compare the features to the platform(s) you’re considering and see whether or not they’re available and if there would be any cost savings.

Is it possible for me to “outgrow” my current platform?
Unless you’re Amazon, chances are you’ll never get to the point where you actually outgrow a particular eCommerce platform but some platforms are faster to innovate new ideas and technology.

Most modern platforms can handle any volume of orders and vast numbers of items, but you may outgrow its features or capabilities. It is very important to weigh the pros and cons of a new platform.

While switching platforms may open up new capabilities, are you ready for the learning curve?

Can I save money by moving to another platform?
Yes. And no. There are many different things to consider when it comes to platform costs. One platform may charge a low monthly fee and takes a percentage of each sale, while another has a higher monthly fee and no additional ones. Then there are some platforms that charge a monthly fee in addition to a fee for each item as well as bandwidth.

When considering a platform change, it’s best to review what you’re paying now and compare all the different pricing options for the platforms you’re considering – including any hidden fees that may not be disclosed upfront.

I’m tired of paying for 3rd party services in addition to my monthly platform fees. By moving somewhere else can I avoid that?
Probably not. Today’s popular eCommerce platforms offer hundreds if not thousands of add-on apps that are built by 3rd party developers, such as Your Store Wizards, that provide additional functionality that is not included out-of-the-box.

These 3rd party apps provide a great deal of value to store owners and their customers. By having 3rd party developers create these add-ons, the platform provider can focus on what they do best – making the base functionality of the cart rock stable and continually updated.

Some platforms rely more on 3rd party developers to create popular features like apps, while others build them into core functionality. If you’re concerned about costs and the number of 3rd party apps you will need for your store, be sure to have a discussion about this with your developer partner.

A competitor of mine just moved platforms and their store is now so much better than mine, I think I need to move as well.
Sometimes you have to keep up with the Jones’s, other times you don’t! Just because a competitor has moved to another platform doesn’t mean you have to in order to remain competitive.

Their sales and customer satisfaction may have increased after a platform change, but the opposite could have happened as well.

I’m afraid of moving platforms because I heard my SEO can take a hit.  Is that true?
This should not be a concern if it’s planned out and done right. In addition to planning out your new site’s design, you also need a plan in place to redirect pages if URLs are going to change. Your SEO will take a hit if you don’t redirect pages, but using a trusted developer partner you can rest assured that this will be part of the overall plan.

Is it expensive to move platforms?
Platform moves involve more than just a new design for your store. Costs for moving include that design and programming cost as well as a charge for data migration. Your developer is going to need to take all your data from your existing store (items, copy, orders, customers, etc) and put it into a format that can then be imported into your new store.

Depending on the size of the store, this can be quite time consuming and manual. While there may be some 3rd party tools to help with this data transfer, hours still need to be spent doing it as well as validating.

When coming up with an estimate, we look at the complete picture – data, custom programming/features, etc to come up with a price and how many hours we feel it will take to complete the project.

I’m seriously considering moving platforms, but my mind isn’t made up just yet. Can we talk?
Absolutely! We want to make sure that moving platforms is right for you. If after our conversation we feel that you’re best staying put, we’ll tell you. We’ll also try to address any concerns you have with your current platform and see if there are any solutions that can be implemented to alleviate them.

If we feel that a move is best for you, we’ll carefully analyze the pros and cons of each platform, and make a recommendation on what one you feel will benefit your business the most.

To schedule time to talk, simply fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

My mind is made up, I’m ready to move! What’s next?
If your mind is made up that 2020 is going to be the year to move platforms, it’s time to have a serious discussion. We want to make sure that moving platforms is the right decision. If it is, we then want to make sure that you’re moving to a platform that is going to be best for your business.

We have a fairly straight-forward process we engage in when clients come to us for a move:

      1. We review the current store for features, custom code, etc and ask you for those “must have’s” and “wish list” items.
      2. We review your backend data including items, copy, orders, customers, etc and determine how much time will be needed to manipulate the data for a successful transfer.
      3. We discuss your current platform and the various options you have and make a recommendation either to stay where you’re at or move to a specific platform that will fit your needs better.
      4. We provide you with a complete project scope, timeline, and straight-forward pricing for our services.
      5. If you agree to move forward, we will get to work designing mockups of your new site before our programmers get to work building.
      6. You’ll be involved in every step along the way through the design, build, data import, and SEO preservation process.

If you’re ready to have a discussion about moving platforms, even if you’re just curious as to whether a move is right for you or not, we’re here for you! Just fill out the form below and we’ll schedule as much time as you need to make sure you’re making the right decision.

Talk to us about moving platforms, we’re here to help!

Your Store Wizards – January 2020 Update

Scott SanfilippoPhew, what a holiday season! As quick as it rolled in, it rolled right out and for many eCommerce merchants, Holiday 2019 was a record-breaker. Most of the store owners I talked to during and after the season expressed above-average ticket sizes, a year-over-year increase in the number of orders, and a great sense of accomplishment.

Many of our clients are what I consider eCommerce veterans. Store owners who have been around for a decade or more, have outlasted many a competitor, have weathered through economic slowdowns, and have the battle scars to prove it.

Continue reading “Your Store Wizards – January 2020 Update”

Does the CCPA Apply to Your eCommerce Business?

By now you probably have heard of a new law that went into effect on January 1, 2020, in the state of California.  Designed to protect consumer rights in relation to how businesses collect, use, and share information from website visitors, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) may or may not impact your eCommerce business.

While the CCPA impacts any for-profit business that transacts in the state, whether or not your company needs to comply is an important question on the minds of many small business owners.

Continue reading “Does the CCPA Apply to Your eCommerce Business?”

Introducing ScriptCheck – A Necessary Check-Up for all eCommerce Stores

As we ring in the new year, we’re also welcoming our first new product of 2020 – one that is a must for any eCommerce store owner.

First, a little back-story.  A few weeks ago during one of our weekly meetings, I got an urgent text message from one of our clients saying their shopping cart wasn’t loading.

Sure enough, it wasn’t.  However, other store’s carts on the same platform were functioning normally.  We paused our meeting and began to dig into the root cause of the issue.

Continue reading “Introducing ScriptCheck – A Necessary Check-Up for all eCommerce Stores”

Happy New Year!

Your Store Wizards is proud to celebrate our 20th year in business in 2020.  We were founded in December of 1999.  We wanted to take a minute to thank each and every customer and partner we’ve met over the years.  Let’s make 2020 the best year ever!

Let’s face it, we have the best customers. Our customers are the best in the business and working with every one of you is why we wake up every day and move ahead.  Without our customers, we’d be nothing.

Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

November / December 2019 Holiday Your Store Wizards Update

Scott SanfilippoThe classic Andy Williams song sums it up pretty well, it simply is the “most wonderful time of the year.” From the electric feeling we experience when the holiday decorations go up, to the rush we get when orders spike overnight and you instantly know the holidays have arrived.

In this month’s update, I’m going to pass on telling you what we’ve been up to. Let’s just say we’ve been busy doing holiday prep of our own making sure we’re ready, willing and available to assist you, should the need arise, during the busy weeks that lie ahead.

Continue reading “November / December 2019 Holiday Your Store Wizards Update”

Adding a Dash of “WOW” to Holiday Order Packaging

The holiday orders are going to soon be rolling in and with them a slew of first-time customers either ordering gifts for someone, or treating themselves to an item they’ve been eyeing up and saving all year to purchase.

These first-time buyers can quickly turn into lifetime customers if you wow them from the start by making them feel their purchase was truly appreciated.

Let’s face it, when that box from Amazon arrives on someone’s porch, it’s “just another box from Amazon.”  There’s nothing special about it and there’s not going to be any surprises inside when it’s opened (unless they happened to ship the wrong item!).

But, you can make YOUR packages stand out, show that the order meant something, and delight the person who opened the box.

How?

It’s a lot simpler than you think.

Give Thanks
When was the last time you opened a box and found a thank you note tucked inside with the items you purchased?  That little gesture is a rarity these days but it can mean so much to your customer.

It’s human nature to want to feel appreciated and when you’re spending hard earned money somewhere, that appreciation is warranted even more.

It only takes a second to have someone write “Thanks for ordering from our small business, we hope you enjoy your holiday” on a packing slip or invoice.  No stickers, no stamps, no pre-printed stuff… have a human with a pen in hand do this.

If you want to go an extra step, notecards printed with your company logo can be printed real inexpensively and are great for things like this.

This small, simple gesture is something that should be done year-round, but the holidays are a great time to start something new!

Give Gifts
While your customer may be ordering a gift, why not surprise them with a gift of your own?  Now you don’t have to break the bank or get all fancy here, but tossing in a “freebie” with an order, unannounced of course, makes that customer say, “wow, this is really nice that they did this.”

Promotional items with your company’s logo on it are perfect for surprise gifts like this.  Or, if a manufacturer has a sampling program, samples are great as well and can turn into repeat business.

Gifts inside orders were something my online stores did year round.  Mousepads, free samples of pet treats, pens, notebooks, and one we did every year around the holidays… a magnetic calendar complete with four coupons they could use during each quarter!  The calendar was something that was kept around all year long and the coupons served as a subtle reminder to place another order.

Items like these can cost pennies but the goodwill they provide can lead to years of repeat business.

Give Back
If you’re still using non-eco friendly packing material, now is the time to switch.  There are many viable and affordable alternatives to styrofoam packing peanuts and plastic bubble wrap.

Today’s consumers are savvy when it comes to finding ways to go green in their lives and support businesses that help in that mission.  

While you may not be able to investigate materials and suppliers in time for the holiday, you can start the ball rolling now to make it one of your goals for 2020.  Perhaps one of the easiest and quickest things to change is packing peanuts. Bio-degradable ones made from corn starch are easy to obtain and can quickly be introduced.

If you’re going to introduce green packaging, be sure to let your customers know about it!  They’ll appreciate the effort you’re making to give back to Mother Nature and will share the news with their friends as well.

Don’t Be Scrooge!
If there’s any advice I can give, it’s just that.  Don’t make your customers call you Ebenezer because you make their experience with you so difficult it would make Tiny Tim cry!

Make sure your contact information is clear and easy to find on your website.  This includes a phone number! Yes, I know… nobody picks up the phone anymore, right?  Wrong! You’re a business. Someone is handing you money for things you sell. Let them talk to a human when they need to.  If your site doesn’t have a phone number listed on it, put one on there.

Don’t make customers jump through hoops to return an item that didn’t fit or wasn’t as expected.  Keep in mind how easy it is for someone to return something to Amazon. Making a customer email, fill out a form, or call for a return authorization first just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Make sure your return policy is simple to understand and is hassle free. A few bad reviews about making returns can be a nightmare!

If someone says they can purchase an item for less at a competitor, match it and go the extra mile to make them happy.  Don’t pass up the sale because you don’t want to lose a buck or two on an item. You’ll make that back on return business.

Thanks, come back again
Give your customers a reason to come back.  One of the simplest ways of doing so is by providing them with a coupon they can use on a future order.  Have these offers pre-printed on cards you can toss in with each order or send them a coupon in an email a few days after their order was placed.

Keep it going
After you see the success these small gestures will have, you’re going to want to continue year round.  After all, new customers come around daily not just at Christmas time, so make sure you keep them happy so you can jingle all the way to the bank!

 

Important 2019 Holiday Dates for eCommerce Store Owners

Grab your day planner, whip out your phone, or clear your whiteboard… it’s time to write down some important dates on your calendar!  No, I’m not talking about the next meet-up, conference, or trade show, I’m talking about important dates for the remainder of the year that every eCommerce store owner should be aware of.

Here we go:

  • Wednesday, November 27, 2019 – Breathe deep!  Take tomorrow off for rest and family time, because things are about to get real.
  • Thursday, November 28, 2019 – Thanksgiving.  The family holiday that typically ushers in the biggest season for us eCommerce merchants.  Before zonking out after all the turkey, be sure to schedule your email blast for your Black Friday sale if you’re going to be holding one – and you should!
  • Friday, November 29, 2019 – Black Friday.  While this day is typically reserved as a big shopping day for bricks-and-mortar merchants, it’s also one for online merchants as well.  While you may want to save your best deals for Cyber Monday, shoppers are going to be looking for Black Friday deals from you as well, so put some out there along with a few teasers of what’s to come on Monday too.
  • Saturday, November 30, 2019 – Small Business Saturday.  This is more of a bricks-and-mortar day manufactured by American Express to encourage people to visit local retailers and support the community.  While it’s not really a big event for online merchants, those with a retail storefront should take advantage of the promotion.  If you accept American Express cards, they have promotional material you can request to show your location is a participating merchant.
  • Monday, December 2, 2019 – Cyber Monday.  It’s the day shoppers have waited for all year!  The biggest online sales day of the year has arrived and this year it should be bigger than ever.  Save your best deals for this day and sit back and watch the orders roll in.  In the days leading up to Cyber Monday, be sure to schedule email blasts teasing some of the terrific deals you’re going to be offering.  Then, schedule multiple emails throughout the day reminding your customers of specials and offers as well as “time is running out” to take advantage of them.  Just remember one thing – you’re going to get a lot of orders on this day, make sure you’re staffed appropriately to get as many of those out in time as possible – don’t risk negative reviews and customer dissatisfaction by not being prepared.
  • Monday, December 9, 2019 – Green Monday.  This is what is considered the biggest sales day in December.  Why?  Because last minute shoppers like me realized that I didn’t even think about shopping for gifts yet and I better get moving!  Consider offering a few specials – especially deals that offer free shipping or discounted express shipping so you’re easing their fears about orders not arriving in time for the holiday.  If you have excess inventory that didn’t move, this would be a great time to try to blow that stock out at a discount.
  • December 22 – 30, 2019 – Hanukkah
  • Tuesday, December 24, 2019 – Christmas Eve
  • Wednesday, December 25, 2019 – Christmas Day
  • Tuesday, December 31, 2019 – New Year’s Eve
  • Wednesday, January 1, 2020 – New Year’s Day

One thing that every store owner should do is to alert their customers to shipping cut-off dates.  Nobody wants to place an order, not be told it won’t arrive in time for Christmas and have to deal with a return or complaint.

If you drop-ship items, confirm what cut-off dates with your vendors are and mark those items appropriately.

If most of your items ship within 24 hours, create a graphic, similar to the one below, and place it on a page on your site letting customers know of the cut-off dates based on the various shipping methods.

Finally, let’s talk about returns.  They’re going to happen, so make sure you’re communicating your policy on your website.

Be clear about what items can and can’t be returned and what, if any, restrictions apply (such as must be unworn, must be unopened, must be made in X number of days, etc).  Most of all, don’t make your customers jump through hoops to return something.  Amazon has changed the way merchants handle returns, so you need to adapt but not be unreasonable.  Your return policy should be simple, straightforward and easy to follow.

Have more tips to share with fellow eCommerce store owners, post them in the comments.