Why merchants are moving to Shopify Plus

Any retail business – be it a budding startup or an international big-name – knows that a slick and optimized online store is essential to ecommerce success. Get lumbered with ill-fitting or outdated tech and, quite quickly, you’re leaking revenue like a cracked flowerpot. The companies who drive the best ROI and experience the most growth are those that secure smart, affordable and scalable commerce platform.

The ecommerce space has typically been dominated by a select few solutions – until recently, when out-of-the-box ecommerce solution Shopify began to attract retailers with its ease-of-use, power and flexibility. The platform as a whole is now used by more than 500,000 merchants globally, and has facilitated more than $34 billion worth of retail transactions. The company have since launched Shopify Plus, a super-scalable version of Shopify that provides customers with an additional layer of expertise and services.

So why are so many businesses making the switch to Shopify Plus?

Shopify Plus provides a great fit for the fledgling and established stores alike. For the former, the ability to opt for a SaaS platform means a less technical and more manageable way to run their online store – without the reliance on resources in the developer department. And for the latter who are more likely to be running with legacy tech, the opportunity to swap out outdated functionality, temperamental integrations and risks to data security is undoubtedly appealing.

We spoke to COO of Dormify and dotmailer customer, Nicole Gardner about her recent replatform to Shopify Plus. She described her company’s position before the switch:

“At Dormify, we had been on the same platform for about five years. During that time (as you can imagine) we went through a lot of redesigns, updates and upgrades. It got to the point where we were spending the bulk of our time and resources fixing bugs and addressing speed and performance issues. As you can imagine, this was really holding us back from focusing on conversion and optimization, creating a bottleneck in our ability to actualize our team’s brilliant ideas.

The biggest challenge for Dormify was aligning their replatforming timeline with their shopping season, which is typically during the summer months during the academic break. Nicole explains:

‘We were looking at a 10-12 month timeline for upgrading to the latest version of our existing ecommerce platform, but we were loath to wait for that length of time and go through another key growth season with the same issues. We needed a solution that could get our infrastructure in better shape within a few months time before this next season.

The move to Shopify Plus freed the brand from the inhibitions of tech worry, allowing them to focus on the real ROI-driver – strategy:

‘What it came down to was speed, performance and stability. As a seasonal business, we previously had to spend so much time and resource thinking about how many servers we needed, and how we’d scale up during those periods, without having to spend a ton of money,’ Nicole explains.

‘Shopify Plus’ biggest benefit for us was speed – the sites we were looking at were pretty fast, and Shopify handles all the hosting, scaling and performance, so you’re only dealing with one platform provider that is accountable for all of these areas. That in itself was one of the biggest attractions for us.

dotmailer’s Commerce Flow

One of the perceived pitfalls of replatforming is its effect on your inter-stack relations. Commerce Flow from dotmailer connects to over 50% of the world’s online stores, giving you the ability to get contact, product and order data automatically flowing into your account. Nicole explains:
‘Initially, we were worried that we’d face the challenge of integrating our new ecommerce platform with everything else in our stack, especially as we were moving away from a best-of-breed cloud we’d built up over time. However, we worked with all of our partners to see what would be feasible, and were pleasantly surprised at how many partners already had integrations or were eager to build them. dotmailer was particularly easily to check off our list because they have a Shopify connector.
With so many retailers opting to replatform to Shopify Plus, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into the benefits of the switch:

10 reasons why retailers are choosing Shopify Plus

1. Cost effectiveness – Smaller companies and startups will enjoy the value for investment that Shopify offers as a whole; the platform’s most basic functionality starts at just $29 per month. This includes enterprise-level hosting and environment updates and management. Shopify Plus’ added functionality and support is also competitively priced.

2. Scalability – The platform offers limitless scalability and extensive APIs, making it a good investment for fast-growing and larger companies who may have worries about hitting the ceiling elsewhere. Unlimited bandwidth provides reassurance over your site’s performance during peak traffic times.”

Shopify allows us to scale and be creative with promotions, without having to require a developer on our beck and call. We also never have to worry about our site being down during crazy traffic spikes. Our site is always up, which means we’re always ready to sell and make money, 24/7.” – Charity Gerke, Marketing Manager at US EliteGear

3. Easy customization – The platform’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor allows businesses to build on-brand, highly customized sites without coding knowhow. And for the well-versed in web programming, its scripting capabilities allows you to create custom functionality for your store with ease.

4. Mobile-friendly – the platform’s fully responsive website themes ensure that your ecommerce store is designed for mobile. Plus, it’s Responsive Checkout functionality is free to all users and deemed one of the best in the business.

5. Unlimited products and inventory – Pretty self-explanatory: whatever pricing plan you’re on, you’ll never reach a limit on how many products you can sell on your site.

6. Payments – Shopify Plus has its own payments tool available to all its customers as standard, dissolving the need for businesses to add the cost of third-party payment providers to their store bill.

7. Vetting – Shopify vet every app and plugin before it gets added to their marketplace to make sure it’s safe and optimized for use by its customers. Plus, with an extensive list of apps to aid everything from marketing to accounting, you’ll never be spoilt for choice. Anything you can’t find can be commissioned for build.

8. Security – Shopify Plus’ is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Level 1 Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant, providing your customer data with the same level of security as a bank. Customers shopping on your store will also be able to see the green lock icon, instilling trust in your brand from the off.

9. Graduated pricing plans – Shopify’s pricing structure is transparent from the off, and shows a clear path of progression which you can pass on to your decision-makers with confidence. A graduated price plan means you’re only paying for the level of functionality you need.

10. Knowledgeable community – Whether you want to learn how to build something, commission a tailored piece of tech, or simply ask about abandoned carts, Shopify’s ecommerce forums and Experts Directory provides access to professional and technical support for every customer need.

If you’re already a Shopify or Shopify Plus customer, you can connect your ecommerce store to dotmailer using Commerce Flow. To find out more about replatforming to Shopify Plus, head to their website.
We have the pleasure of hosting Nicola at our inaugural  Shopify Plus meetup in New York; we hope to see you there!




The post Why merchants are moving to Shopify Plus appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 11 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Darryl, the man behind dotmailer’s Custom Technical Solutions team

Why did you decide to come to dotmailer?

I first got to know dotmailer when the company was just a bunch of young enthusiastic web developers called Ellipsis Media back in 1999. I was introduced by one of my suppliers and we decided to bring them on board to build a recruitment website for one of our clients. That client was Amnesty International and the job role was Secretary General. Not bad for a Croydon company whose biggest client before that was Scobles the plumber’s merchants. So, I was probably dotmailer’s first ever corporate client! After that, I used dotmailer at each company I worked for and then one day they approached a colleague and me and asked us if we wanted to work for them. That was 2013.  We grabbed the opportunity with both hands and haven’t looked back since.

Tell us a bit about your role

I’m the Global Head of Technical Solutions which actually gives me responsibility for 2 teams. First, Custom Technical Solutions (CTS), who build bespoke applications and tools for customers that allow them to integrate more closely with dotmailer and make life easier. Second, Technical Pre-sales, which spans our 3 territories (EMEA, US and APAC) and works with prospective and existing clients to figure out the best solution and fit within dotmailer.

What accomplishments are you most proud of from your dotmailer time so far?

I would say so far it has to be helping to turn the CTS team from just 2 people into a group of 7 highly skilled and dedicated men and women who have become an intrinsic and valued part of the dotmailer organization. Also I really enjoy being part of the Senior Technical Management team. Here we have the ability to influence the direction and structure of the platform on a daily basis.

Meet Darryl Clark – the cheese and peanut butter sandwich lover

Can you speak a bit about your background and that of your team? What experience and expertise is required to join this team?

My background is quite diverse from a stint in the Army, through design college, web development, business analysis to heading up my current teams. I would say the most valuable skill that I have is being highly analytical. I love nothing more than listening to a client’s requirements and digging deep to work out how we can answer these if not exceed them.

As a team, we love nothing more than brainstorming our ideas. Every member has a valid input and we listen. Everyone has the opportunity to influence what we do and our motto is “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”

To work in my teams you have to be analytical but open minded to the fact that other people may have a better answer than you. Embrace other people’s input and use it to give our clients the best possible solution. We are hugely detail conscious, but have to be acutely aware that we need to tailor what we say to our audience so being able to talk to anyone at any level is hugely valuable.

How much of the dotmailer platform is easily customizable and when does it cross over into something that requires your team’s expertise? How much time is spent on these custom solutions one-time or ongoing?

I’ll let you in on a little secret here. We don’t actually do anything that our customers can’t do with dotmailer given the right knowledge and resources. This is because we build all of our solutions using the dotmailer public API. The API has hundreds of methods in both SOAP and REST versions, which allows you to do a huge amount with the dotmailer platform. We do have a vast amount of experience and knowledge in the team so we may well be able to build a solution quicker than our customers. We are more than happy to help them and their development teams build a solution using us on a consultancy basis to lessen the steepness of the learning curve.

Our aim when building a solution for a customer is that it runs silently in the background and does what it should without any fuss.

What are your plans for the Custom Tech Solutions team going forward?

The great thing about Custom Technical Solutions is you never know what is around the corner as our customers have very diverse needs. What we are concentrating on at the moment is refining our processes to ensure that they are as streamlined as possible and allow us to give as much information to the customer as we can. We are also always looking at the technology and coding approaches that we use to make sure that we build the most innovative and robust solutions.

We are also looking at our external marketing and sharing our knowledge through blogs so keep an eye on the website for our insights.

What are the most common questions that you get when speaking to a prospective customer?

Most questions seem to revolve around reassurance such as “Have you done this before?”, “How safe is my data?”, “What about security?”, “Can you talk to my developers?”, “Do I need to do anything?”.  In most instances, we are the ones asking the questions as we need to find out information as soon as possible so that we can analyse it to ensure that we have the right detail to provide the right solution.

Can you tell us about the dotmailer differentiators you highlight when speaking to prospective customers that seem to really resonate?

We talk a lot about working with best of breed so for example a customer can use our Channel Extensions in automation programs to fire out an SMS to a contact using their existing provider. We don’t force customers down one route, we like to let them decide for themselves.

Also, I really like to emphasize the fact that there is always more than one way to do something within the dotmailer platform. This means we can usually find a way to do something that works for a client within the platform. If not, then we call in CTS to work out if there is a way that we can build something that will — whether this is automating uploads for a small client or mass sending from thousands of child accounts for an enterprise level one.

What do you see as the future of marketing automation technology?  Will one size ever fit all? Or more customization going forward?

The 64 million dollar question. One size will never fit all. Companies and their systems are too organic for that. There isn’t one car that suits every driver or one racquet that suits every sport. Working with a top drawer partner network and building our system to be as open as possible from an integration perspective means that our customers can make dotmailer mold to their business and not the other way round…and adding to that the fact that we are building lots of features in the platform that will blow your socks off.

Tell us a bit about yourself – favorite sports team, favorite food, guilty pleasure, favorite band, favorite vacation spot?

I’m a dyed in the wool Gooner (aka Arsenal Football Club fan) thanks to my Grandfather leading me down the right path as a child. If you are still reading this after that bombshell, then food-wise I pretty much like everything apart from coriander which as far as I’m concerned is the Devils own spawn. I don’t really have a favorite band, but am partial to a bit of Level 42 and Kings of Leon and you will also find me listening to 90s drum and bass and proper old school hip hop. My favorite holiday destination is any decent villa that I can relax in and spend time with my family and I went to Paris recently and loved that. Guilty pleasure – well that probably has to be confessing to liking Coldplay or the fact that my favorite sandwich is peanut butter, cheese and salad cream. Go on try it, you’ll love it.

Want to meet more of the dotmailer team? Say hi to Darren Hockley, Global Head of Support, and Dan Morris, EVP for North America.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

The Magento Xcelerate program: A positive sum game

As an open source ecommerce platform, Magento is flexible and accessible for developers to work with and as a result, an active community of developers emerged on online forums and at offline meetups all over the world. Many of these were happily plugging away independently of Magento until the split from eBay in early 2015.

Free from the reins of eBay, Magento has decisively been reaching out to, promoting and rewarding the individuals, agencies and technology providers that make up its ecosystem. Last February they announced the Magento Masters Program, empowering the top platform advocates, frequent forum contributors and the innovative solution implementers. Then at April‘s Magento Imagine conference (the largest yet) the theme emerged as ‘We are Magento”, in celebration of the community.

The new Xcelerate Technology Partner Program focuses not on individuals but on business partnerships formed with the technology companies that offer tools for Magento merchants to implement.

 Sharing ideas, opportunities and successes:

This is the Xcelerate Program tagline, which acts as a sort of mission statement to get the technology partners involved moving with regards to continuously considering Magento in their own technology roadmap and jointly communicating successes and learnings from working on implementations with merchants.

“In turn, the program offers members the tools to get moving, through events, resources and contacts. Our goal is to enable you to be an integral part of the Magento ecosystem” Jon Carmody, Head of Technology Partners

The program in practice:

The new program is accompanied by the new Marketplace from which the extensions can be purchased and downloaded. The program splits the extensions into 3 partnership levels:

Registered Partners – these are technology extensions that the new Magento Marketplace team test for code quality. Extensions must now pass this initial level to be eligible for the Marketplace. With each merchant having on average 15 extensions for their site, this is a win for merchants when it comes to extension trustworthiness.

Select Partners – extensions can enter this second tier if the technology falls into one of the strategic categories identified by Magento and if they pass an in-depth technical review. These will be marked as being ‘Select’ in the Marketplace.

Premier Partners – this level is by invitation only, chosen as providing crucial technology to Magento merchants (such as payments, marketing, tax software). The Magento team’s Extension Quality Program looks at coding structure, performance, scalability, security and compatibility but influence in the Community is also a consideration. dotmailer is proud to be the first Premier Technology Partner in the marketing space for Magento.

All in all, the latest move from Magento in illuminating its ecosystem should be positive for all; the merchants who can now choose from a vetted list of extensions and know when to expect tight integration, the technology partners building extensions now with clearer merchant needs/extension gaps in mind and guidance from Magento, and of course the solution implementers recommending the best extension for the merchant now knowing it will be maintained.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com