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So your site is on Magento but you’re looking to make some improvements to it. That would entail that you’re probably interested in looking at some extensions. What’s great about the Magento platform is that it is versatile and great for building customization with 3rd part plugins. That means that a website without extensions is often far less productive than a website with them. Therefore, it is highly recommended that businesses add extensions to their sites when the fit is there with the goal of improving the customer experience and ultimately increasing conversion. Otherwise, they will not remain competitive with other companies that are leveraging 3rd party extensions that enhance their ecommerce experience. Extensions can enhance your website by reducing the steps in the checkout process, increased conversion rates and lowered abandoned cart rates. Additionally, extensions can help personalize experiences to fit the customer’s requests. Oftentimes, extensions can improve the checkout experiences across all devices. When implementing an extension, it’s essential to also recognize the risks that can come with it. This is why you should consider the extensive options available to see which one fits your website’s needs the most.

Amasty

Amasty is an official Magento partner and was the first Magento extension builder. With over 88,000 customers, Amasty has been able to achieve a 96% customer satisfaction rate. Some benefits of using Amasty include that they offer to install their plugins on your site for only a $59 fee. A benefit of this is that it makes the service available to those who are non-technical. Another feature they offer is a custom development service which is again, for those who are not too familiar with CMS architecture. Magento is a very flexible and versatile software but can be very difficult to navigate if you are not technical. Their customization projects vary in price depending on the project that you choose to move forward with. Amasty has over 125 plugins available on the Magento 2 platform, going far beyond only checkout improvements. Therefore, they must offer at least one extension that would successfully suit your business needs. Something that some users have found can be improved with their software is that it is known to sometimes interfere with and have conflicts with third party applications. These conflicts can sometimes be a headache to fix during times of stress. Additionally, these conflicts can lead to errors occurring on your website which can cost you revenue.

Their one step checkout retails for $299 per month.

Bolt

Originally founded in 2014 by Ryan Breslow and Eric Feldman, Bolt was finally released to the public in 2018. Although they are a young company, they already have over 100 customers on their platform. Bolt serves benefits to ecommerce companies through their checkout, fraud and payment enhancements. Specifically, Bolt’s checkout service can drastically alter your metrics. The average industry checkout time is 69 seconds per transaction. With Bolt, that time is lessened to a mere 34 seconds. This change in time could be the difference between your customer fully completing their purchase at the checkout and the possibility that they will abandon their cart. The more time the customers have to hesitate, the more likely it is that you will lose your sale. What sets Bolt apart from their competitors is that their one step checkout is an all-in-one payment. This means that all of the features you really want come all in one bundle. There is no need for purchasing additional extensions for payment processing, fraud detection, etc. Instead, everything is included. This leaves you with much less to worry about, knowing that the product you are purchasing is easy to use and worry free. A benefit that comes with using Bolt is that their pricing is done on the basis of how many sales you have and what your risk of fraud is. In this way, your cost increases only as you grow. Bolt focuses more-so on the smaller market and their software is designed for smaller volume merchants.

The cost of their one step checkout varies depending on your order numbers and website traffic.

Mageplaza

Also established in 2014, Mageplaza is also an extension provider, but a standout feature they have is that they offer FREE extensions and resources for you to download. This is perfect for a person who is testing out the Magento platform. Mageplaza does not offer a free trial, but you are able to get a full refund within 60 days of your purchase. Unlike Bolt, the price is not dependent on your sales and traffic. Instead, it is based on whatever package suits you best based on features. A great feature that Mageplaza offers is support for 1 year after purchase and lifetime extension updates. Therefore, you will not be left stranded without a way to update your software to the newest version available. According to Beeketting.com, Mageplaza’s best extension is their One Step Checkout integrated with Mageplaza’s Abandoned Cart Email Extension. This email extension sets them apart from other companies because this feature automatically sends emails to customers who have abandoned their carts. Mageplaza’s checkout is easy to use and has a simple aesthetic look. On one column on the left, there is the detailed form needed for checkout like a space for the customers name, address, etc. On the other column on the right, there are all of the payment details. This keeps things sorted so customers can use your checkout quickly and effectively!

Their one step checkout can vary between $199, $229 and $429 per month.

Mage-World

Mage-World’s checkout process is a simple one to follow. Firstly, everything is located on one page so customers go from their main shopping and add to cart page, straight to the checkout page. On the checkout page, there is everything a checkout should include but additionally, there are a variety of ways to pay. Therefore, a major benefit of using this brand is that it focuses on what the customer wants. By offering more payment options, customers are no longer inconvenienced or limited to using a method that they do not have interest in. Although these payment options are beneficial, it is always up to the retailer to display the payment methods that they want to be available. Some other key features that Mage-World offers include discount codes, auto fill ins, newsletter subscriptions and customer order comments. Mage-World provides a 30 day warranty. Additionally, on Mage-World’s website, they advertise that their customers are seeing around a 20% increase in sales compared to what they saw before. This is a great lift %, although other sites have shown higher success rates.

Their one step checkout retails for $149 per month.

Aheadworks

Aheadworks is a company with over 10 years of experience in the ecommerce business and they offer a variety of solutions. With their return policy, you can get a refund within 45 days and they offer lifetime updates. The company’s exceptional work has earned them various awards overtime such as the “Top Quality Extension” award in 2017 and they were recognized as the “Magento Most Innovative Extension Developer” in both 2016 and 2017. Some features of their one step checkout system include that you can go live right away, there are flexible configuration settings, you can monitor your abandonment rates and detect registered accounts. Another benefit of using Aheadwork is that they use a rewards system. Based on the money you spend with them yearly, in return you can get points which convert to getting your money back at the end. For example, if you spend over $1000 with them yearly, get $150 back in cash. Lastly, something that you should know by going with Aheadworks is that they only offer support for 90 days, whereas other companies offer it for up to one year. This could be difficult especially if you are using the extension and you are only a one person shop.

Their one step checkout retails for $299 per month.

Before making your final choice, we recommend you spend some time investigating on your own. Every company has its own pros and cons and it is ultimately up to you to decide what features are essential for your business. We hope this has helped ease the decision.

Rudy Abitbol is a digital transformation expert with over 10 years of experience in the ecommerce industry. He is a prominent figure in the retail scene in Montreal and is known for his strong comprehension on how businesses work and how they can develop a strong ecommerce strategy. Among Rudy’s many accomplishments, a standout achievement of his is that his company “Pixel Society” joined altima in 2015, only 2 years after its creation. Additionally, after that, altima became Accenture Interactive. Now, Rudy is the Director of Digital Channels at Lumen, part of Sonepar. Lumen is Québec’s largest distributor of electrical equipment and Rudy plays an important role in executing digital strategies and implements procedures for ecommerce solutions. With Rudy’s extensive knowledge in the realm of ecommerce, we wanted his insight on what he thinks are trends in the ecommerce and retail worlds right now.

Rudy Abitbol, Director of Digital Channels at Lumen

We first asked him what inspired him to get involved in the ecommerce scene. He explained that his interest in this area sparked from before he even came to Canada. Rudy indicated that he has always seen the internet as a space filled with opportunities. After working in traditional agencies in his early career, he noticed that the work he was doing was only helping companies for a limited period of time. He would solve a problem for them, and that would be it. What was attractive about getting involved in ecommerce was that websites need to perform for ongoing periods of time. They need to be durable because they are a large reflection on the business. At the time that Rudy was wanting to get more involved in ecommerce, he was especially noticing that there was a great increase in online shopping interest with platforms like Magento and Shopify, and he saw the importance to learn more and investigate the space.

In relation to online shopping, this new outlet of retail has caused the word “omnichannel” to gain a lot of attention. That’s why we asked Rudy what “omnichannel” means to him. Rudy sees omnichannel as based on one vision – being customer centric. Having a successful omnichannel is about having a harmonized retail where it really matters . The customer does not necessarily care about the individual touch points. What they care about is that the company knows how to deliver them with what they want/need. Therefore, in order to build this perspective from the customer, the successful touch points are vital. All in all, the customer IS the channel.

In order to strengthen a company’s omnichannel, Rudy also explained to us how he thinks brands can give a better customer experience online. He highlighted that a major way that this can be done is through making the process as simple as possible for the customer. Often when people are shopping as of current, they will either do the complete transaction online or they will look at the items online and then go to a brick-and-mortar location. The big problem with this is that there is little chance for human intervention now. There is no longer the opportunity for a sales person to speak about why the product is exceptional or why the customer should choose your brand over another. Now, it is all about the online representation. Ways that this can be done is through ensuring that your site is error free, speedy and contains the right information.

He emphasized that, “in 2019, there are no excuses for there to be errors on sites. The tolerance for any kind of online issues is at zero”. This comment is extremely relevant as it reflects upon the mindset of the current consumer. Now, in this hypercompetitive space, it is hard for companies to stand out from their competitors. If your website has an issue, they will go somewhere else for the same product or a similar one. Rudy believes that companies should look at a website as more than just an experience, they should look at it as a moment to show their expertise. This helps build customer trust. Another important point he noted is that you should never take your online experience as final. Companies must always be doing the most to improve and reform it where needed, in order to eliminate the friction points.

When it comes to brands today, Rudy believes their top three ecommerce priorities should be:

Understanding the impact of ecommerce.

When everyone in a company is on the same page (especially top management) and fully understands the difference having an exceptional ecommerce store can make, it gives everyone a goal point. It heightens the standards and expectations of the online store.

Giving the same experience throughout all touch points.

An ecommerce store is only one touch point in the omnichannel. In saying this, the online experience is just as important as one in person. These experiences both online and in-store must be complimentary. For example, if a customer goes to shop online and the product they are looking for says “out of stock”, they should not be able to go to the store and find it there. There should be a great effort in place to keep the online experience as up to date as possible.

Creating a personalized experience.

Lastly, customers now expect the experience to be personal. For example, you should have a different homepage for customers buying in New York versus customers buying in LA. This specific personalization allows your site to stand out from others and make the customer see that you care about their interests and them as an individual.

Lastly, we asked Rudy what changes he has seen in customer behaviour over the past few years. Connecting to the last point above, he explained that customers not only want to feel unique to the brand, they also want to feel a special connection with it. For example, they want the brands to have interests in things the customers are interested – like donating to charities. They want brands to behave like a human personality. Unfortunately, it is difficult to create this persona only through IT. Consumers realize that they do not need your brand and that needs to be recognized by the company. Consumers now will support what they want to, and boycott what they don’t. This point is crucial for retailers to remember as it serves as a reminder to stay focused, diligent and positive in this competitive retail landscape.

A business is a machine that functions as a result of a multitude of smaller components working together. These pieces of the machine must work together effectively to have the positive result of a functional business that they were intended to have. This is why all components of a business must communicate and understand one-another. Specifically, this can be seen in the relationship between you and your development shop. Development shops merge the ideas and models of major thinkers within the company and allows them to come to life. Therefore, managing the relationship between you and your development shop is crucial to business success because they unlock the potential to provide various features to your platform leading to a seamless customer experience. If your relationship and process/error solution framework is weak, it could cause your customer experience to suffer. Additionally, when errors happen, it’s important that there is a detection and prioritization method in place so that the customer experience does not cripple.

Step 1: Ensure Error Detection Framework is in place

Many companies rely on their customers to notify them when an error happens. Even if a customer does report an issue, there may be hundreds of other customers who experienced the same issue before reporting it. That means that errors could have been live on your site for extended periods of time but went unnoticed by your company until someone finally alerted you of them. When these errors are present, you not only lose the sale, you also have the risk of losing the customer. According to PwC, 32% of customers stop doing business with a brand after one bad experience. This is why you should ensure that you have an error monitoring software in place on your ecommerce website. A program that notifies you when there is an issue is beneficial so problems can be resolved when they actually occur. Then, you can be proactive and solve the error quickly so that your customers receive an excellent experience.

Step 2: Prioritize Errors

Internal prioritization is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands what should be seen as a priority. The framework should be organized in a way that allows easy comprehension for all parties. All organizations are different but a recommendation is to have priority rankings that include listing relevance for p1 to p5 or sorting them as low, medium and high risk. High risk errors are typically related to checkout and add to cart issues or server fails. Ultimately, they can be anything that impedes a customer from making their purchase. Medium errors are typically related to anything that hinders the customer experience. This could include missing photos or broken contact forms that could jeopardize your customer’s trust in your company. Low errors are still important but they do not urgently need to be solved. This could be because they are less likely to damage your customer relationship or because they are less likely to cause a customer to not complete their purchase. Thankfully, some issues can temporarily be ignored because they are benign in nature. With errors arising often, it’s important to establish clear guidelines in terms of how you go about solving them.

Step 3: Establish an Error Resolution Framework

Having an effective error resolution framework allows you to save time and development costs because developers will only be working on resolving issues instead of investigating issues. Creating communication flow allows you to send errors that you want solved and then you can receive updates on the progress. Additionally, a ticketing system can be created and errors should be resolved in a certain period of time. Then, you can inform your development team of the expectations and procedures they must follow when resolving each type of error.

Tools like Slack, Trello and Noibu can be useful in organizing the resolution process. What’s great about Slack is that there are different channels to help group tasks into streams. For example, you can have a channel for each ranking of error. Then, when the channel is accessed, those working on a specific project can see all of the previous notes within the channel. This creates an immersive workspace which focuses on team building. Trello is helpful because it can create a step-by-step process for solving problems and it is accessible to full teams. They have different columns including “to do”, “doing” and “done”. Each team member can have access to the board and can update it and add notes to it when things are in progress. Lastly, once you start working with Noibu and you begin to start solving the errors, Noibu actually lets you know if they are actually going away or not. This is great for your business because it is reassuring that what your development team is working on is actually making a difference on your website. One additional quick tip regarding this topic is that it is vital that you communicate the required information that a developer needs in order to diagnose and fix the issue. A developer will need the error type, browser/device information, number of occurrences, users impacted, and reproduction steps in order to diagnose and solve the issue.

An example of the different slack channels that could be utilized
An example of Trello’s prioritization of tasks

Step 4: Continuous Monitoring

Once errors are resolved, you must continuously monitor your ecommerce website. If your website is not heavily monitored and kept up to date with, it risks developing serious errors again, even after critical ones have been solved. Another component of the continuous monitoring process is to ensure that once errors are found again, the error resolution framework is used and repeated. By continuously using the framework you designed, you commence a sequence that will speed up the solution process. Lastly, continue to discuss with your development shop to ensure the feedback loop is in fact working, and make changes when necessary. Once a strategy loop is in place, it is easy to forget that it needs to be updated, altered and tested consistently to ensure that your solution system is as effective as possible.

Conclusion:

After looking at ways to improve your website error management with your development ship, it can be seen that the best way to drive lift is to make sure that your ecommerce website provides an excellent customer experience. The best way to get that customer experience that you’re looking for is through providing the best online customer service available which can be achieved through mitigating the amount of errors that occur on your website. Additionally, working closely with your development shop and creating efficient communication channels allows you to ensure that your website will also have a minimized amount of errors. This connects back to customer experience because by improving relationships with your development shop, you once again can improve the experience for your customers by not only minimizing errors but also by allowing them to help in the process of constructing an overall better ecommerce experience on your platform.

Being an ecommerce manager comes with a lot of responsibility. You have to wear many hats: responsible for P & L, managing technology, marketing, design and more. With such robust obligations, it can be hectic when a website error comes forward. And you know that critical errors impact your sales significantly so you need to act quick. Below is a guide designed for an ecommerce manager to follow to both prevent errors and deal with them effectively when they arise.

1) Ensure your website migration goes smoothly

When migrating your website, things can get pretty tricky. Migration is a prime time where errors occur and it can be a time where errors that can come up later will be created. That is why it is important to take various precautions before the actual migration occurs. The first precaution to take in order to have a smooth migration is to ensure that you actually understand the process as a whole. A useful resource for understanding migration can be found on the Magento website linked here. Some key things to note about migration that are mentioned in the article include the different modes that exist including the settings mode, the data mode and the delta mode. Within each mode, there are three stages. The stages include the integrity check, data check and data transfer stage. Once you get through actually understanding migration, it is important to note that if you are migrating as a team, you should definitely take things slowly. Divide responsibilities and designate tasks to others. This ensures that people remain accountable for their part in migration the project.

2) Create a redesign error mitigation process

Another measure you can take if you want to prevent errors on your website is to create a redesign error mitigation process. Step 1 is to setup a staging site. A staging site is basically a clone of your original site but it is not available to the public eye. Staging sites can be tested on as many times as you want and you can manually test for errors. It is optimal to stress test as much as possible. Stress test you add to cart flow, checkout process and coupon system. Once you are pleased with the way your staging site performs, you can make your real site live with the changes you made. Some other tools that can mitigate errors are quality assurance platforms and error monitoring tools. These types of products help assure your business by keeping it safe from errors. They ensure your business is running effectively so it continues to look professional and well kept for site visitors. Noibu is a great critical error detecting company that finds errors on your sites and alerts you of them instantly. They also offer help and guidance on what measures should be taken to resolve the issue so your company can get back on its’ feet as fast as possible. Not only can Noibu be used on a live site, it can also be used on a staging site as well. Therefore, it helps check for errors even before your site goes live.

3) Ensure you have a backup plan for plugins

Plugins are softwares that are used in addition to your already running operating system. Every plugin adds a specific value to your site and it varies based on what plugin you install. However, when plugins are integrated, many issues can arise. The problem with plugins is that the code from them can interact with your main code base and can oftentimes cause conflict. This is why you must ensure that you have a backup plan to uninstall the plugin if things don’t work correctly. For example, when using 1 step checkout plugins like Amasty, ensure you stress test the plugin the night before going live and, if you decide to go live, do not do so during peak sales hours. You can also use tools such as Noibu to test the functionality of these plugins and your code base. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult for you to identify what plugin is causing the error if you have multiple plugins. Easy ways to figure out what plugin is solving the problem include looking at what you recently updated or installed. Those plugins could definitely be the culprit. Another option to prevent errors when installing a plugin is to use a software to back up your site. There are a variety of softwares available and we recommend that you do your research before choosing one, so you choose the optimal software for your company.

4) Create a prioritization system once errors are detected

It is inevitable that you will stumble upon errors. If errors are left unsolved, they can trigger other errors to occur. This is why you should create a P1-P5 system that prioritizes critical errors where you place the greatest priority on the most large-scale errors. Each priority level error should come with a plan to fix them quickly. Ensure checkout and add to cart errors are categorized as P1 because oftentimes, they cause the greatest damage for your sales. An example of an error that may be P2 would be coupons not working, a P3 would be images not displaying for products, P4 would be a picture slideshow not working and a P5 could be some sort of cosmetic issue. Also, when you export your errors for your development team to fix them, ensure you have established a relationship protocol. By forming a relationship with them, clear expectations are outlined and exceptional communication exists so errors are fixed as quickly as possible.

5) Run non-technical tools to alert you when something goes wrong

You can also use tools like Noibu that not only help you detect errors, but also measure the impact of errors from a low-medium-high categorization system and attribute a dollar value priority to each error. In this way, you can see which errors need to be fixed first. The benefits of a non-technical tool is that ecommerce professionals can prioritize and action errors. If you’re a company that does not have in-house development capability non-technical tools are a must. Simplified tools like Noibu can help alert a non-technical ecommerce manager and help them comprehend the problem. From there, the manager can sort through the errors based on the priority ranking and decide which errors need to be fixed by the development shop, and which ones can be solved on their own. This saves your company both time and money. It saves time because ecommerce managers will not have the burden of having to sift through all of the errors on their own, and it will save you money because not all of the errors will have to be exported to the development shop. The errors you do send to your developer will increase your sales.

When the Magento 1 platform was released in 2008, it gave great opportunity for businesses to build themselves online. Magento 1 was a good starting point for setting up an online store however, Magento will only be offering online support for the platform until June 2020. This means that eventually, your company must migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2. We are aware of the comforts that come with staying on the old platform – it’s familiar and has worked for the past 11 years. Although, there are plenty of benefits that come with switching to the Magento 2 platform which was released in 2015.

Some of the benefits of switching platforms according to ServerGuy.com include architectural differences, speed and performance improvement, allowance of overlapping extension codes, an easy dashboard, SEO and security and accurate pricing for the new features you are gaining access to.

1. Understand how migration works

The migration process can seem quite tricky at first glance, but by taking the appropriate steps and knowing your stuff, it can be made simple. On the Magento website, they give a step by step instruction guide on the ins and outs of migration. First you must understand the different modes that are present. Each mode is specific to a certain part of the migration process. The settings mode is in charge of website related settings that would affect the configuration of your site. The data mode migrates the database itself. Lastly, delta moves data that changes over time like your customers and your sales. Ultimately, it is in charge of components that are not stagnant. Within each of these modes, there are also three checkpoints that must be reached before moving to the next step. These steps are called stages and they include the integrity check, data transfer and volume check stages.

Photo from Magento.com

You can learn more about this process by checking out the instructions from the Magento website linked below:

https://devdocs.magento.com/guides/v2.3/migration/migration-overview-how.html

2. Ensure you test on a staging environment before going live with production site

Yes, it is very exciting launching a new site. But don’t get too excited. By going live on your site it means that there is a greater chance that your customers will experience errors. This is why it is recommended to test on a staging site first. Staging sites are important because they are not available to the public. In this way, you can make as many changes as you want and take your time to experiment with it. The hassle that comes with avoiding using a staging site is that it can jeopardize your customer’s experience. It isn’t worth risking to launch with a production site without first testing on a staging environment. In fact, according to PwC, 32% of customers stop doing business with a brand after one bad experience. In todays world, it is easy for consumers to find what they are looking for elsewhere. Therefore, having a faulty customer experience comes with major consequences that can impact your business greatly. Take the time necessary and test rigorously the functionality of your ecommerce website before going live.

3. Use an error monitoring software to ensure your new site is error free

You’ve successfully stress tested your staging site and are now ready to go live on your production site. But wait, we recommend that you install an error monitoring software to ensure that any issues that may have slipped by the staging testing process are caught and resolved in a timely manner. Many issues can arise during a website migration and the only way to ensure a smooth transition is to continue monitoring progress post deployment and action any errors that arise. Noibu allows you to monitor your website post deployment and then receive reports on any critical issue that is detected. These reports are user friendly and do not require technical knowledge to read. Equipped with priority suggestions and revenue impact per error, you’ll be equipped to prioritize and fix any errors that may be impacting your customer experience post migration.

Noibu Magento Error Monitoring
Noibu Error Monitoring

Conclusively, the switch from Magento 1 to Magento 2 is a big one but hopefully with these tips it can ease the process. We recommend making the switch sooner rather than later because of the lack of support that will be offered by the company after June 2020. Best of luck!

We have all been there. We are online shopping and we have found exactly what we were looking for but as soon as we are minutes away from purchasing it, something goes wrong. The add to cart button is broken. This is an extremely frustrating occurrence for online shoppers and it isn’t a rare one either. In this blog post, we will explore how add to cart malfunctions can affect your business and how to prevent them from happening.

Add to cart malfunctions affect your business in a negative way for a multitude of reasons. Firstly and most apparently, they prevent sales transactions from being completed. If a customer cannot buy your product, no sale will be made no matter how good your marketing strategy is or your ecommerce platform looks. Add to cart malfunctions = no sale.

Secondly, add to cart problems are a shortcoming in customer loyalty. Customer loyalty arises as a result of consistent positive experiences delivered to the customer, building them up to trust the brand and your products/services. As soon as a negative experience occurs, there is a definite breach in trust that causes the customer’s loyalty towards the brand to decline. For example, if there is an add to cart error, it makes the website seem like it is not kept up to date and is not taken care of. This makes your company appear to be less professional to the public eye. In fact, by disappointing one customer, you are disappointing everyone linked to them as well. This is because most of the time, customers who experience difficulties will not recommend your business to their friends and family. According to PwC, 32% of customers don’t come back to a brand after one bad customer experience.

Now that the problems that come with add to cart errors have been addressed, we must now consider how they can be prevented from happening.

The overarching tip to preventing errors is to be more aware. The first type of error to be aware of is human error. The bottom line is that people make mistakes. When implementing new tools or features into your website, inaccuracies can happen. This is just a reminder to be mindful of your actions and to double check your edits before they go live.

Issues can arise when you perform design changes to your UI/UX. Minor tweaks in the front end of your website can have devastating impacts. An update in your product page layout can cause your add to cart button to malfunction. Thinking of changing your design from a multistep to one step checkout? Problems can arise and your entire checkout system may go down. It is important to take proactive measures and implementing design changes and ensuring that you test any changes on a staging site before going live on a production site.

3rd party plugins can cause errors on your website when conflicting 3rd party code causes a break in the add to cart system. An example would be an add-to-cart up-sell plugin that doesn’t sync properly with your base code. Other issues arise when 3rd part plugins update code on their end that causes a break when this new code interacts with your website. The best thing to do is to ensure you throughly test the plugin before rolling it out site wide.

We recommend installing a tool like Noibu to ensure whenever an add to cart issue happens you are instantly notified. How it works is whenever your add to cart system malfunctions for one of the above listed reasons, you are instantly notified with a user friendly report that business professionals can use to prioritize which issues need resolving.

Add to cart errors can be destructive for an ecommerce company. Take a proactive approach to these errors and your customer loyalty and sales will increase greatly.

Your checkout is the cash register of your online store. If your cash register goes down you are in a panic and ensure all priority is focused on resolving the issue. The same goes for your checkout. According to BigCommerce, 22% of abandoned carts are a result of errors. Here are some common reasons for why your checkout may be broken and how to fix these issues:

1. 1-Step Checkout Malfunction

Problem

When clicking the checkout button on the checkout page, customers are faced with a loading icon for an indeterminate duration.

1-Step Checkout Infinite Load

This loading screen is caused by Magento trying to send a request to:

/en-ca/rest/en-ca/V1/guest-carts/f9a27bd8334084edd67c44cd18cfc249/set-payment-information:1

This request returns a 404 error as it cannot be found on the server.

Error Message (404)

Solution

The issue arises when the wrong token is used. Specifically, the POST command created a cart with an admin token. Guest carts are for anonymous users so as a result, the wrong GET call was used in this case.

To solve the issue use the POST command to create a guest token.

2. PayPal Integration Malfunction

Problem:

Many PayPal issues arise after specifying the payment card details and then during the checkout process the payment does not process causing an error. The result is infinite load, an error message or blank page.

PayPal Integration Error

Solution:

The issue is often a result of inconsistent settings in Magento and PayPal. It is crucial to have the same settings in Magento and PayPal.

For the PayPal Express Checkout, AVS/CSC responses should be declined in PayPal Manager and in Magento Admin:

PayPal: Service Settings > Set Up > Security Options

Magento: Stores > Configuration > Sales > Payment methods

3. Magento 2 – 2 Step Checkout

Problem:

The Magento 2 checkout has been reported to be slow at times or show a blank screen as seen below. Many customers have reported this issue and it persists predominantly because of Magento’s new 2-step checkout system.

Solution:

For slow checkout experiences make sure to turn on cache in the Magento Cache panel. You can access the Magento Cache panel by going to System > Cache Management.

Identify the usages of your PaymentTokenInterfaceFactory in your codebase and then specify the implementation for this payment token via di.xml. You can read more about payment tokens here.

Magento Cache Management Panel

Now that you can fix your Magento checkout issues, it’s important to think about being alerted when these issues arise. Waiting for your customer to report issues is a losing strategy – you lose the sale and the customer for life. According to PwC 32% of customers don’t come back after one bad customer experience. You can get started by diagnosing your website here.

April Sabral, Founder and President of retailu is an accomplished retail executive with over 25 years of experience in the retail space. Sabral recognizes the importance of building team leadership within companies as it will alter the effectiveness and willingness of employees within all branches of the business. She believes that by building teams that are able to work together effectively with the same goals in mind, revolutionary changes can be made within an institution. A successful business starts with the people building it, and that’s what Sabral focuses on. With Sabral’s expertise in the field, the following information she shared with us can be extremely helpful and resourceful when looking to build your company.

April Sabral, Founder and President of retailu

Firstly, Sabral identified the most important success factors in omnichannel experience. She recognizes that most importantly, you need to listen to your customers. She identified that this is a field that is often forgotten about because retailers are often so concerned about their product. If the customer journey component of your product experience is ignored, your product will begin to not matter anymore. Companies put so much work into different branches in order to build their business but if the user experience is forgotten, the other departments are wasted. You can understand your customer journey better by understanding how they move between in-store and online. This method will be useful because it allows us to determine where there is room for improvement.

In a time where the relationship between buyer and seller is fragile, we also asked Sabral what ways she thinks retailers can deliver their in-store customer experience online. Sabral explained that, “navigation is key” and that every interaction should be flawless. She exclaimed that, “if you can get the journey and the checkout experience right, then you’re in the business”. When looking at the statistics, she noted that there is 7x more friction checking out online than in-store so it is very important to not have any errors. Another important component to delivering the customer experience online is having plenty of knowledge on the product. This understanding can be developed through knowing your products origin and your own company’s background story. Customers are able to feel a greater connection when they feel the retailer is being completely transparent and honest about the product and the company’s identity.

Additionally, we were curious to know what Sabral thinks the next 5 years look like for both brick and mortar and ecommerce. She believes that brands who do not change their in-store experiences will continue to close. Although stores that are only online will likely open their own brick and mortar locations to help execute their customer experience. Regardless, companies will need to evolve in whatever ways necessary to fit the needs of their clients.

Sabral notes that the biggest change she’s seen in consumer behaviour in the last 5 years is that people shop online more than ever. With online shopping, the opportunities are endless so people are much more knowledgeable on products that are offered across the market so they have higher expectations of brands. With this switch to online shopping, many people have lost their patience. They want their product as soon as possible so your website needs to be easily accessible and effective.

With people becoming dependent on devices, it is essential that we ensure they are optimally protected from damage. Otterbox is a top brand in the technology phone case and accessories industry. They design a variety of products which can allow our phones to be used in high intensity situations, enabling them to be moisture resistant and making them more durable in the situation of an accident. We interviewed Pat Waller, Director of eCommerce at Otter Products to hear his opinions on the innovative world of online retail.

Firstly, we wanted to know more about Waller and what inspired him to get involved in ecommerce. Growing up in Ottawa, Waller knew he had a passion for travelling. Therefore, he pursued a degree in hospitality at the University of Guelph. Later on, he became the manager of a bar where he was responsible for growing revenue and profit. Here, he practiced what he learnt in school whilst applying it to a business. Additionally, around this time Facebook was starting to become popular. He took to Facebook to market the bar and it was extremely successful. From there, he decided to merge his love for travel with his newfound interest in marketing as he moved to Europe to work for UPS and has since spent the past 10 years in corporate marketing roles in Europe, Asia and North America, accelerating company growth by investing in awareness.

Omnichannel is a word that is extremely prevalent in the retail world right now. Waller takes a different approach when describing the meaning of the word. Traditionally, omnichannel is seen as multiple different channels that bring the customer to purchase a product. Although for Waller, the consumer is the channel itself and everything that the company does is focused on the consumer journey to become smoother and more convenient. Waller notes that the omnichannel discourse is all about the ways in which the consumer can be served best.

Pat Waller, Director of Ecommerce, Otterbox

In terms of in-store customer experience, Waller believes an exceptional customer experience online can be carried through by paying attention to each customer’s touch points. Waller notes, “if you have a weak link anywhere, it can have an overall ripple effect on the consumer and on the overall value proposition.” Each channel has specific unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, the in-store experience is a critical point where your product is directly in front of the client and you are able to answer customer questions live in person. Waller also explains that the beauty of the online experience is that it is also live and every consumer action on your website or digital marketing indicates the customer answering a question on what they are looking for. It removes the social awkwardness and interactions of the in-store experience and replaces it with endless opportunities available to the customer 24/7. With having an online platform, it is essential to remember that you must make it as easily navigable as possible. In this way, customers can make more convenient decisions that could in the end lead to purchases.

With his expertise in the field, we also wanted to know Waller’s top 3 priorities in terms of ecommerce initiatives retail brands should be taking. His responses are as follows:

Convenience.

Make the buying process simple. Do not overwhelm your customers. You are working to serve them, not bombard them.

Functionality.

Invest in the best tools for your website. An ecommerce platform is a product in itself, therefore, you must consider what tools would serve your consumer best and go from there.

Technology.

Keep up with the needs of your consumers and make sure you are exceeding them. It is their expectations that you are trying to meet.

As Waller has been involved in the industry for a long time, he has been able to witness some major changes in consumer behaviour over the past few years. The biggest changes that he has seen is the merging of historical departments within a company. eCommerce has been a department that partners equally with sales, marketing, technology and customer service. For example, ecommerce has grown to be a major sales component of big brands and continues to expand industries with more direct to consumer strategies. Marketing can see ecommerce platforms as communication centers for the customers. Part of what has made ecommerce so successful is that it allows us to receive feedback easily through consumer insights on marketing content, product, pricing, and service levels. Service levels gives you insights on, you are serving your consumer as customer support, post purchase support, warranty and nurture campaigns. Last but not least, is investing in technology can be a game changer for all of the above on how you offer payment methods for sales, consumers experience your brand, and how you serve your consumer base.

Lastly, Waller discussed what he thinks the next 5 years will look like for both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce. Interestingly, he identified that both the online and in-store experience will merge over time. With this, it will be vital that companies keep and eye on consumer behaviours in order to adapt accordingly.

Elara Verret is an experienced retail professional who has worked with brands such as La Senza, Aldo and is now currently the Vice President of Marketing and E-Commerce at Psycho Bunny. Psycho Bunny is a leading high end menswear brand with a unique twist that mixes sophistication with rebellion. Since Elara joined the brand in August 2017, she has played an important role in developing strategies that accumulate the greatest customer acquisition.

Elara’s background originated in the realm of science as she obtained her undergraduate degree in biochemistry. She then became immersed in business through her knowledge of the sciences when she worked on the informative side of business where she discovered ways to deliver information to consumers through chat rooms. Therefore, Elara’s knowledge in the sciences has allowed her to be more analytical whilst looking at different aspects of marketing like the customer journey through looking at a variety of statistics.

With her expertise in retail, we asked Elara what she believes the key success factors for omnichannel strategy are:

Focus

Specifically, you must be focused on what is important for your business at that time period. You must pay attention to all components of your business like digital marketing, client acquisition and conversion.

Analysis

It is essential to really investigate where your business is lacking and how you can fix it. Once you identify these problems, you need to make sure each component then works in conjunction with the rest of the operations.

We also asked Elara for her insight on delivering an exceptional customer experience online:

Easy to navigate

All aspects of the omnichannel should be aligned. For example, if a client finds an item on social media and looks for it online, they should be able to instantly find it.

Personalization

Ensure that every customer’s experience is tailored to them. Ask yourself questions like, “how can you make this experience better?”. When you know what your customer wants, it is easier to give it to them, so spend time considering this.

Post purchase experience

Not only should the shopping experience itself be good, it is also vital to follow through with having an exceptional product. Additionally, if an individual has purchased an item online, the delivery time should be short and effective.

Elara also pointed out that an initiative that should be a priority for the ecommerce platforms of retail brands should be investigating what your brand stands for. Through showing what your brand’s beliefs and values are, you can make a long term connection with a client. These clients that share your belief will become loyal customers as they identify themselves with your brand. A way that you can create this brand image is through looking at your brand’s roots and beginnings. In this way, it will help you remember where you came from, which can help you understand where you intend to go in the future.

Lastly, Elara identified the biggest changes she has seen in consumer behaviour in the last few years. The first major change she noted was that everything is slowly moving to mobile. Brands used to focus on problems like getting people into their large brick-and-mortar stores. Now, brands must focus on fitting all of the excitement of a brick-and-mortar store into a tiny handheld device because mobile devices are becoming the first point of contact for the consumer. She also connected this to social media, specifically Instagram which has, “really changed the game as everything is more intuitively shoppable given how visual it is”. This is extremely relevant because now people are able to shop directly from Instagram, which gives more exposure to smaller brands. This gives small brands opportunities like never before because 10 years ago, it would be hard to get much exposure. Now, the opportunities are endless.

Diane Brisebois has always had an interest in retail. In fact, her first ever part-time job in retail at Eaton’s was extremely memorable. She was so passionate about retail that she continued working in the retail field full time in Montreal before going back to school. Later, she was approached to run an association, based in Toronto, representing retailers from coast to coast. She now has been running retail associations for the better part of 40 years. Diane has been the President and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) for the past 24 years. RCC is a non-for-profit industry association that represents over 45,000 retail storefronts throughout Canada, therefore, Diane is immersed in the retail world.

Thanks to Diane’s position at RCC, she offered us some insights on present day retail. She started by explaining to us the most important key success factors for an omnichannel strategy. Her first point was to emphasize the importance of understanding your customer. She added that you must discover and understand their likes, dislikes and interests and from there, you can begin to define what your client’s ultimate experience should be. Secondly, you must, “bring all of the backend technology together to provide a seamless experience for the end user.” To ensure the experience is optimal, especially in an omni-channel world, you need to try to eliminate all the possible friction points so that the customer can navigate from in-store, mobile and online with ease. Lastly, you must create a “WOW” experience for customers so that their visit and shopping trips are memorable. This can be especially challenging online (in a non-physical environment), but some tips to making it happen would be by establishing a sight that is convenient, easy to navigate, constantly refreshed and one that offers unique product assortment and competitive pricing.

Diane Brisebois, CEO, Retail Council of Canada

As for the online experience, Diane revealed some ways to make it exceptional. She indicated that it all ties back to understanding who comes to your website. This is essential because different customers value different things. For example, some customers value speed and ease of use while others may want a more unique, curated experience which may not be possible to replicate in a brick-and-mortar store. Advances in Artificial Intelligence are allowing retailers to learn more about their customers’ needs and wants online thus allowing them to provide a more unique and customized experience. Nevertheless, the most important thing is to keep your customer front and centre. The biggest mistake a company can make is to assume that they know what the customer wants. You must allow customers to provide feedback, you must listen and respond quickly, you must be where they are (e.g. social media sites) to deliver a truly personalized online experience. Some additional insights – She noted that, “brands need to be more authentic and transparent. Specifically, they must also be responsible, especially from a sustainability perspective.”

The biggest changes Diane has seen in consumer behaviour over the last few years have been primarily in relation to customer loyalty. Most consumers are less patient and forgiving to brands. Consumers are greatly influenced by social media, by their friends, and online influencers rather than traditional media platforms. Therefore, it is harder to keep a close customer relationship because there are so many outside influences. There is an endless number of retailers to choose from so every brand must be on top of its game to ensure the customer comes back to shop.

In terms of how Diane sees the next 5 years of brick and mortar, she says that once again, it is about creating the “WOW” experience. It is vital to create a vibe, a memorable moment, a personalized experience that resonates with the consumer. There needs to be a good reason for them to want to come into your store, to download your app or visit your site. Therefore, the brand’s fundamental values must be aligned with the customers’ values. In closing, Diane noted that in the extremely competitive retail world, you have to be courageous, innovative and fast-moving to stand out from other brands. Retail is all about understanding your customers’ needs and wants and being able to deliver a memorable experience in a personalized, authentic way while differentiating yourself from the competition.

The biggest changes Diane has seen in consumer behaviour over the last few years have been primarily in relation to customer loyalty. Most consumers are less patient and forgiving to brands. Consumers are greatly influenced by social media, by their friends, and online influencers rather than traditional media platforms. Therefore, it is harder to keep a close customer relationship because there are so many outside influences. There is an endless number of retailers to choose from so every brand must be on top of its game to ensure the customer comes back to shop.

In terms of how Diane sees the next 5 years of brick and mortar, she says that once again, it is about creating the “WOW” experience. It is vital to create a vibe, a memorable moment, a personalized experience that resonates with the consumer. There needs to be a good reason for them to want to come into your store, to download your app or visit your site. Therefore, the brand’s fundamental values must be aligned with the customers’ values. In closing, Diane noted that in the extremely competitive retail world, you have to be courageous, innovative and fast-moving to stand out from other brands. Retail is all about understanding your customers’ needs and wants and being able to deliver a memorable experience in a personalized, authentic way while differentiating yourself from the competition.

DavidsTea is a Canadian brand and a top retailer in the specialty tea and tea accessory market. Since its opening in 2008, DavidsTea has taken North America by storm opening over 240 stores. We interviewed Joanne Branker who has been their National Operations Manager since April 2018 to discover more about her perspective on ecommerce business essentials.

Before doing so, we wanted to know more about Joanne herself. With a passion for what she does, we were curious to find out where Branker sees herself in the next 10 years. She said that she will, “continue to be a student of life.” She believes in, “putting yourself in a situation where you can continue to learn and experience different things that help you grow personally and professionally”.

Joanne Branker

Branker’s prediction for the next 5 years for retail is an elevated focus on client journey, “continuous focus on the client and their journey will be the future of these spaces.” She also pointed out that because mall traffic has been declining over the years, they must ensure that their clients who come in leave happy. Branker believes that the customer journey is so important that it can affect how you feel when drinking the tea itself. She also noted that retailers can differentiate themselves from their competition through paying close attention to their employee experience. By attracting the right employees, we, “foster an environment for learning, curiosity and growth. It is also important that everyone on the team has access to the information that empowers them to do their job.” In this way, by having happy and knowledgeable employees, the customer experience will be improved through because they are dedicated to their work and have a great understanding of the product.

Lastly, Branker’s 3 pieces of advice for someone who is young and would want to join retail are:

“Be a kind leader”

Leading with kindness can improve your interactions and create a safer environment. This will also help you create a team atmosphere formulated for growth.

“Learn the difference between leading and managing”

One should always lead by example because leading is dependent on the image you portray. This will help you inspire and guide a team. Leading includes having a long-term focus and a long-range view for innovation.

“Listen and be present in the moment”

In an age of distraction, it is extremely important to listen to those around you. This creates a community that supports you unconditionally.

Branker left us with parting words, as she emphasized that, “it is so important that the leaders empower every team to offer their unique and memorable experiences to all clients. I cannot stress enough how vital it is that all experiences are extraordinary. Growth is truly cultivated in the corporate culture that trickles down to the customers.” It is clear that Branker’s expertise in leadership has enabled her to build a team that functions in sincerity, helping her augment the success of their prodigious brand.

Destination Maternity is one of the world’s leading maternity clothing brands. With two subsidiaries, Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod, Destination Maternity makes maternity clothing for every woman going through this special time of her life with both high-end and affordable options. Gwen Bennett began her time at Destination Maternity in 2015 as the Vice President of Ecommerce and she is now the Senior Vice President of Ecommerce and Marketing as of October 2017. She is a passionate ecommerce and marketing professional who ensures that Destination Maternity maintains its high performance in the hyper competitive evolving retail space.

Bennett’s introduction to the world of ecommerce is an interesting story. Bennett received her Bachelor of Science in Economics from Purdue University however, she always had an interest in Computer Science. When Bennett began working at a privately held company in 1999, she remembers that the chairman of the board called a group of employees together and said, “I really think this internet thing is going to take off and we could sell products from the internet. Would anybody like to try that?” Bennett remembers raising her hand and offering to take on this new challenge. By the year 2000, her and one other employee had established a website which eventually grew to be around 10% of the company’s revenue. Bennett expressed that, “it was really fun and exciting to try things and see what would work to keep building on to the success.”

Gwen Bennett, SVP Ecommerce & Marketing at Destination Maternity

When speaking to Bennett, we had a couple questions regarding the ecommerce world. Our first question was: how does a brand differentiate online when the user experience is so similar among all ecommerce websites? She told us that, “it’s really about the branding and the journeys that we create.” What’s distinct and extraordinary about working in the maternity world is that they are able to help women through this time of major change. Destination Maternity is an expert in maternity clothing and therefore, they are able to teach women about what they should be wearing at every stage of their pregnancy. This strengthens the bond between the consumer and the retailer as they are able to share this moment together. Bennett indicated that at Destination Maternity, “we show her how much comfort she can have and that she can look great and feel better.”

Our next question was: in-store shopping is all about the customer experience, what are some ways for retailers to deliver that amazing customer experience on their ecommerce website? Bennett explained, “that is the real challenge right now. It’s moving away from being strictly transactional where you know what you want and buy it to more of a discover and then learn and then buy.” She illustrated that now a customer spends much more time browsing on web pages before making decisions. One method of increasing website users that she believes is effective is the use of blogs. This way, people gain more exposure to your products and it brings the consumer closer to the brand.

In-terms of marketing, Bennett believes that the marketing world is changing through the use of social media. She says that many people now look for products through Instagram and, “influencers have really changed a lot of that marketing”. Influencer marketing is the use of famous people to promote products. Using influencers to market can expand your audience but it is also an efficient marketing method because familiar household faces are supporting your company, which can build a trust between you and your customers.

We also asked Bennett how important she thinks it is for retailers to stay on top of the latest digital trends. Her response was, “I think it is very important. We have to always be out there researching, looking for what’s changing and what’s working.” With hundreds of ecommerce solutions on the market, Bennett indicated that, “we have to make sure that everyone understands our strategy, that we are focused on it and that we don’t let the next shiny object advert us before we are ready.” She stays informed by going to conferences, reading news on the latest trends and she reads a variety of tech blogs. Once something catches her attention, she turns to her executive team and they look into integrating the solution together.

Our final question was: how do you think technologies like AR and VR will impact retail over the next 5 years? Bennett explained to us that our world is so consumed with technology which has been helpful for us in many ways, but it also consumes much of our time in our day-to-day life. “I think we are going to be surprised by some of the changes that take place. There are going to be a lot of amazing things that are going to take that shopping experience and help to open up time. All this technology can suck the time out which leaves less time for shopping and the discovery of things. Anything you can do to help customers with that like AR and VR will be welcomed by time-starved consumers.”

Gwen Bennett recognizes how fast technology is developing. Less than 20 years ago, Bennett helped launch a company’s ecommerce platform when the internet was only beginning to take off. And, she acknowledges that, “Online retail will continue to be a rapidly evolving space”.

We had the opportunity to interview Sandra Kennedy, the Chief Marketing Officer at Harry Rosen. Sandra was able to share some of her knowledge about the retail industry with us. Harry Rosen, is a staple Canadian brand that was founded in 1954 in Toronto, Ontario and it now has expanded to 15 Harry Rosen stores and 3 Outlet stores nationwide. In addition, Harry Rosen is also the owner of DAVIDS Footwear which is a Canadian luxury shoe store.

Sandra started her career working at a graphic design company while attending OCA and completing her degree at UofT. She has always had a great interest in communications and has held a number of positions on the agency side as well as the client side. As a successful executive, she has had a life motto that has helped her get to where she is now. She remembers reading an article over 30 years ago that suggested that if you always give 110% to your job, you’d never apologize for what you’ve contributed to a company. She believes that this principle has lead to her successful career thus far after starting at Harry Rosen 20 years ago as a Marketing Manager. She expresses that, “a thirst to do new things and tackle new challenges has also been a part of my work career.”

Sandra Kennedy, Chief Marketing Officer of Harry Rosen

Sandra believes that, “if we look at the history of retail, it’s always evolving.” She reflected on the fact that when she was a young girl donuts and milk were dropped off to her house based on what your previous consumptions were. Now, we still get things delivered to our house but we order these items online or we go to a store and look at the products, order delivery or arrange for delivery at home. Kennedy has embraced omnichannel as she explains “it’s all about options and what options are conducive to your needs. There is a cycle of always looking for the best way to serve the consumer, and while customers have always provided input, they are even more vocal in telling a company how they should be delivering their service or product.”

Kennedy believes that just like the world of retail, the world of technology has also evolved quickly. She says that, “people say it takes less time to introduce new things than ever before. There’s always those who are interested in early adoption, followed by a steady progression (if the idea works) towards adoption and then acceptance or benchmarked.” An example she used to emphasize this point is that, “twenty years ago people told us it would cost us $50 million to set up an ecommerce site and that is simply no longer the case.” Ultimately, Kennedy explained that technology has been evolving faster than ever. During this time of fast evolution, we were wondering what different strategies marketing teams use in order to remain competitive. In order to stay competitive in this field Kennedy left us with some questions retailers can ask themselves, “what is it about my company (product/service or both) that differentiates us from the competition? Who is the competition – and what are their successes and their weaknesses? How can we take advantage of their weaknesses and satisfy a consumer need.”

Finally, Kennedy reflected upon how Harry Rosen’s marketing team chooses partners and technologies that align with their marketing strategy. She indicates, “we have a number of partners who satisfy various needs. Many of these are longstanding relationships based upon working together for more than 15, 20 and 25 years.” When a partner isn’t able to fulfill their marketing needs and they are looking for something new that they become aware of through conferences, online courses and partners, their marketing team, “look(s) to the marketplace with our needs clearly defined, and (we) check out recommendations, review our requirements and hire/negotiate accordingly.” To be a successful marketing individual, it is vital that you are always proactive problem solving and that is what Sandra’s team has avidly been doing.

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