Something Digital Launches New Mercury Accelerator with Key Partners

Something Digital is excited to announce our new Magento 2 Cloud Accelerator, Mercury. This offering for Magento Commerce Cloud enables merchants to go live with an operational, no-frills, affordable online store faster. The SD Mercury offering gives you the power of Magento while working with an award-winning agency and best-in-class technology partners to help grow your business and take it to the next level.

To make this build come to life SD partnered with some of the best integrations in the market; Dotdigital, Klevu, ShipperHQ, TaxJar, and Yotpo. Partnering with them gives merchants the opportunity to work with multiple integrations that will help them achieve success in ecommerce.

SD employs an agile process, best practice, business analysis, and improved out-of-box (OOB) functionality in this consultative offering to lead merchants to launch a Magento store front. Mercury includes a branded UI, focus management, an enhanced shopping experience with a configurable mini cart, and so much more.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mercury or getting a demo contact us here.

Security Lock

Security Best Practices: Security.txt

With the rise of cyber-criminal rings like Magecart, security is becoming an increasingly relevant topic within the ecommerce space. In this post we’ll explore an emerging specification, security.txt, and explore its relevance within the Magento ecosystem.

What Is It?

The usage of security.txt can be read about on the project’s homepage.

In a nutshell, websites publish a file named security.txt, in the .well-known/ folder. Here is an example of a published security.txt file, https://github.com/.well-known/security.txt. The file provides information on how security issues should be reported to the owner of website in question.

Why Is This Relevant?

As reported by Dutch security researcher, Willem de Groot, Magento extension are now the top cause of Magento breaches. “Internet Bad Guys” are proactively scouring the source code of Magento extensions looking for vulnerabilities and using them to compromise Magento sites. As such, it’s more important than ever for Magento extension providers to facilitate responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities identified by responsible security researchers.

What Is Something Digital Doing About This?

I’m happy to announce that Something Digital now publishes a security.txt file:

If you discover a security vulnerability in any of our open-source modules, our website, or on the any of our client’s websites please report it to us responsibly as we’ve documented in our security.txt file.

Written by: Max Chadwick, Technical Lead

20 year celebration

The Women of Something Digital Reflect on the Past 20 Years of the Tech Industry

Something Digital turns 20 years old this year. We launched in 1999, the year before Y2K, a time that many assumed the digital universe as we knew it would come to a crashing halt. Smartphones, today’s ubiquitous accessory, and the app marketplaces they quickly gave rise to, were still some years away.

It was a time of cautious optimism, wide-eyed wonder and naivety. Ecommerce was not quite the major engine of the consumer economy as it is today, as many people didn’t quite believe that giving their credit card info to the ethernet (as it was often called) was a good idea.

At the same time, the number of ecommerce sites was exploding; People magazine ran a weekly column, called “The Net,” that highlighted the amazing range of products that were now available on “The Net.” In 1999, Amazon patented it’s 1-click service, and Alibaba launched — events that undeniably ushered in revolutions in consumerism.

It was also a time when we were quite naive as to what it meant to go online, as cartoonist Peter Steiner’s famous cartoon so aptly captured (“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”)

We assumed that the Net was the place to go when you wanted to explore, shop, and browse in absolute privacy. How things have changed!

Now that global marketplaces and apps are our new normal, it’s hard to imagine there ever being a time when going online required computers and dial-up modems, or that Amazon only sold books!

To honor our 20-year journey, as well as all things digital, the women of Something Digital answered 20 questions about working and mentoring in the digital ecosystem.

Lindsay Pugh, Senior Digital Strategist & Writer

1. Where are the biggest career opportunities for women in the digital ecosystem?

There are opportunities for women everywhere and as we continue to progress companies need to ensure that they are hiring them at salaries equal to men, and providing necessary benefits like flexible time off and maternity leave.

2. Do women have a fair shot of advancing their careers in the digital ecosystem?

In general, no. Women are deterred from entering careers in tech, perhaps because 1) the leaders in the industry are all men, 2) the pay gap is significant, 3) young girls who are interested in STEM education don’t realize that those types of careers are even possible because they don’t see themselves represented in the field.

3. What advice would you give girls interested in pursuing computer science?

Find female mentors and male allies and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. Be confident in your skills, even when other people dismiss you or try to make you feel inadequate. If you can, pursue internships during high school and college and try to learn as much as possible. Maintain connections with the people that you meet in those internships because they might be valuable when you’re ready to enter the job market. I am fortunate to have a wonderful female boss at Something Digital who does a great job providing advice, feedback, and a clear path for growth within the company.

4. What impediments still hold women back in the tech industry?

Here’s a quick list of what immediately comes to mind:

  • Gender wage gap
  • Promotion bias
  • A need for more work/family flexibility
  • Lack of maternity/paternity leave options
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Lack of mentorship opportunities
  • Lack of female role models in leadership positions

 

Megan DeLeonardis, Director of Strategic Engagement

5. Are there aspects of the digital age that have empowered or inspired you?

It’s inspiring to know that we’re in an industry that is always changing, one that demands us to grow and adapt to in order to survive. For example, digital has become so customer centric that agencies and service providers are forced to become more strategic and creative about what’s needed now, as well as what we project will be necessary in 12+ months from now.

6. What can technology companies do to help women progress in this field?

Promote women in thought leadership! The more women that are front and center and a part of the conversation, the more normal their leadership positions will become. Personally, when I find good talent, I’m willing to create a new role for that person to keep them engaged and growing within the organization. Women should feel empowered to create a role and position for their skill sets, even if such roles never existed before in that company. As quickly as digital is changing, so does the makeup of how we deliver it.

7. What is your favorite part of being a woman in this industry?

When I first started at SD there were ~8 other women in the company. Within a year we headed out for “tea at The Plaza for the women of SD” and we couldn’t all fit in the same elevator. My favorite part of being a woman in tech is hiring women that are better than me, which has turned out to be quite easy.

8. Is the digital ecosystem a force for good?

It depends on who you ask. Digital is everywhere and everything, but the way a 30-year old mother interacts with it is very different from a 65-year old grandmother or a 22-year old college graduate. It can be misused and abused, but it also provides conveniences and capabilities to individuals that previously didn’t have the opportunities. It may monopolize time or free up time. Each individual has the power to let it be a force for good or evil.

Melanie Lopez, Product Manager

9. What advice would you give girls interested in pursuing computer science?

Seek internship opportunities as early as possible to gather a wide range of experience and exposure before entering the workforce full-time. Having a range of internship experience with different companies will give you exposure to the way that different organizations are run, how role definitions may vary from company to company, and will give you insight into what organizational values resonate with you and allow you to do your best work.

I recommend looking for internship roles that will allow you access to doing as much hands-on work possible, and prioritizing working with companies and supervisors that value mentorship as one of their core leadership values. I was lucky to have a strong mentor as my supervisor in my first professional role, and the extra focus on professional development and the lessons that I learned early on from that experience still influence the work that I do directly now, and how I’ve approached the management of my direct reports over the years.

10. What progress do you see being made in the next 20 years for women in the industry?

I hope to see more representation for women in positions of leadership in technical and creative organizations in the coming years. I believe that companies in the industry can directly influence this in part by prioritizing diversity in their recruitment, creating mentorship and professional development tracks for women looking to advance within their organizations, and supporting and prioritizing paid family leave for men and women.

11. How can women help future generations of girls interested in the tech industry to further their education and possibly careers in the digital ecosystem?

A great start for women and men alike would be volunteering for mentorship programs that specialize in providing opportunities for extended education, training, and exposure for girls of all backgrounds who are interested in tech. Women may also consider creating internship opportunities within their organizations, and connecting with mentorship programs or women in technology groups in universities to promote these opportunities to candidates who may benefit the most from them.

Mickey Winter, Creative Director

12. Which trends are you most gung-ho about?

The digital trend that has peaked my interest the most is the rise of AI Voice Assistants. Think Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. These voice enabled devices are proving to be super helpful and totally ingrained in our everyday lives. They help us shop online, screen our calls, manage our calendars, give us the latest news, entertain our kids by playing “Baby Shark” over and OVER AGAIN, you name it. They are the equivalent of a human personal assistant.

However, I find it very interesting that the majority of these AI Assistants are either branded as a woman or utilize a woman’s voice. “They embody what we think of when we picture a personal assistant: a competent, efficient, and reliable woman.” (Source).

What does this say about our society that these devices test better as women, and that these female branded devices perform menial tasks similar to a 1950’s secretary, while IBM’s “male” branded Watson is utilized in cancer treatment, operating rooms, and the “all-knowing” Jeopardy winner?

13. Does the digital ecosystem represent women and their needs well?

Given my thoughts on AI Voice Assistants I truly don’t believe the current digital ecosystem represents women well. We have come far, but not far enough. If we had more women in a tech leadership position at these larger tech companies perhaps these devices would have been branded differently, even providing the end user with the option to name it as they see fit. “Bob, play Baby Shark”. We can do better, and we will.

Caitlin Mekita, Strategic Engagement Manager

14. Why do you think it’s important for women to get involved in the digital ecosystem?

By including women’s voices, experiences, and skills in the designing and building of technology, we can create better, more inclusive products for everyone. The digital ecosystem is a cornerstone of a modern economy, and one with tremendous growth opportunities. As women strive for equality on all fronts, progress in the digital ecosystem will be of paramount importance.

15. Do you think schools are offering enough exposure to computer science to young girls?

Schools are not offering enough exposure to computer science, period. The subject is often dismissed as extra-curricular and computer science classes are among the first to be cut as school budgets are slashed. Offering equal opportunities to excel in computer science to young students is extremely important for women. As we know, talent in this arena is distributed equally among all students, and equal and enthusiastic encouragement for young students to study computer sciences will benefit women’s progress in the field.

16. Do you think the way the media represents computer science and coding is gender inclusive? Why or why not?

A quick Google image search of the word “programmer” yields thousands of images. The first appearance of a woman is the 36th result. As a society we still perceive “programmers” “engineers” and even “hackers” as men. TV (looking at you, Silicon Valley) and films tend to reinforce the perception. On a positive note, women’s computer science programs, such as Girls Who Code, have been able to garner considerable media attention and therefore have been able to reach a wider audience of girls and women looking to enter the industry.

Gina Angelotti, Interactive Designer

17. In which ways (if any), do you think, are we still naive about the internet?

I worry that we are naïve about how much free will we truly have. I’ve been thinking a lot about a medium article I read recently. In it, the writer, an MIT researcher, discusses the consequences of information online becoming more centralized and how our social media feeds gaze inward, failing to link out — with the exception of paid advertising — to other sites in the greater, potentially-soon-to-be-forgotten web ecosystem. Among the negative effects is that we lose control of what we’re exposed to, leaving the decision of what we read and digest up to inherently biased algorithms or machines. The writer doesn’t touch on PWAs, but I wonder if by saving only the apps we ‘choose’  to our devices, and cycling through them exclusively over and over, we shut out other voices, ideas, and opportunities. It may look like free will, but our exposure to the outside world increasingly becomes programmed, curated to a singular viewpoint, and therefore disconnected. A limited point of view, with content dictated by a limit group of people, winds up limiting our freedoms. That said, maybe the thing we are most naïve about is accepting that everything both on and offline evolves; we are not and have never been fully in control.

18. What feature or service do you wish existed but doesn’t today?

As a UX designer, I would love to be able to optionally cherry pick and turn off the extra noise on the websites I visit and the apps I use. Technically, I can do that using browser inspector tools, but those preferences don’t hold upon refreshing a page or entering a workflow. Not unlike a pop-up blocker, but for fixed elements within a webpage or product, anything that I find distracting in the moment or hinders my ability to enjoy the shopping, reading, task-managing experience. I like the idea of having sessions-based or cookie-based personalization controls, like the ability to easily change a typeface to one that is more legible if I’m reading a long article, hide all upsells and cross-sells on product detail pages so I can focus on the product at hand, or universally suppress paid content that I might mistake as genuine. I imagine it like a simple gesture, one that can’t be mistaken for any other. I suggest sessions-based, because I don’t want to risk missing out on information that might apply to me on subsequent visits. Our tastes, needs, and capabilities change over time, so what’s ‘noise’ to me today might not be tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if some level of this kind of customization already exists, and if it does, tell me about it stat!

Leslie Hernandez, Office Coordinator

19. When you consider the digital trends of today, which are you most cautiously optimistic about?

I believe social media has become a great way for women to discover new interests and connect with influencers and confident women to look up to. However, I think that sometimes the lives we see on social media are idealized to a fault. Social media can often contort our ideas of reality- and make women unfairly compare themselves to the ‘picture perfect’ lives they see online. I believe it’s important for women to look beyond what social media tells them is “perfect”, and find worth in the work they do, the interests they pursue, and the talents they have.

Brittany Wheeler, Marketing Manager

20. What is your favorite part of digital?

My favorite part of digital is how connected digital has made all of us. It definitely has it upsides and downsides but overall I believe it’s made a positive impact on the world. It allows us to collaborate with people on the other side of the world and helps us solve problems. It can also make it difficult to weed through what is true or false but it’s given us a better sense of awareness about what to believe and makes us do research to learn more. It has opened our minds to other cultures and beliefs and allowed us to connect with people no matter where they are in the world.

At Something Digital we feel it is extremely important to be inclusive to all. Over the last 20 years we have continued to work to be inclusive and are excited to share the following stats:

  • Currently, our leadership roles consist of 50% women.
  • We offer competitive wages for men and women.
  • We offer opportunities to speak at events focused on supporting women in tech.
  • Our female to male ratio is 41%.

 

If you’re interested in speaking with SD about career opportunities or how you support women in tech we’d love to hear from you! 

Black Friday

Here are 5 things you can do to increase your AOV this holiday season

All online retailers spend a great deal of time thinking about how to attract more traffic to their sites. No doubt, feeding the top of your funnel is essential to your long-term success. But that’s just the first step. There are many things you can (and should) do to encourage your visitors to spend more money when they make purchases. In short, increasing your average order value (AOV) is an equally worthy goal.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to go about boosting your AOV:

1. Encourage visitors to add more items to their carts than they intended to buy
2. Prompt them to upgrade to a higher-priced product

This post offers ideas for doing both.

Free Shipping/Expedited-Shipping Threshold

Offering a free-shipping threshold is a big driver for increasing AOV (assuming you don’t offer free shipping automatically). Here’s how it works. Let’s say your AOV is $50, and you want to increase it by 10 – 15%. You can offer free shipping on any orders that are $65 or more.

If you already offer free shipping you can prompt customers to spend a little extra to get expedited-shipping, such as next-day delivery for all orders above $65.

We find these tactics are incredibly motivating to the consumer for a very good reason: more of their dollars are spent on actual products, not shipping. As an added bonus, these offers give you another opportunity to reach out and touch your customer, which is always a good thing to do. Emails announcing such promotions tend to deliver the best conversion rates.

Promote Product Discovery of Complementary Items

Another approach is to create bundles or kits of products that are complementary to one another (e.g. KitchenAid stand mixer + spiralizer attachment or printer + color ink cartridges). Your AOV will go up if customers buy accessories at the time they purchase a particular item.

One way to sell complementary products is increase product discovery (think Amazon’s Frequently Purchased Together functionality). You can do this is a number of different ways. For instance, you can have a physical kit that, when purchased, comes with a discount on one of the items, such as, buy this printer + color ink cartridge and get paper at 50% off.

Or, you can bundle complementary products across multiple categories —  workout DVD, exercise pants, and protein shakes — into a kit that’s presented to consumers who came to your site to purchase, say, a work out DVD.

You can also incentivize these promotions and increase product discovery at the same time. Let’s say you have an area of your catalog that doesn’t see a lot of sales. For the sake of this example, let’s say it’s your outdoor gear category. And let’s assume that the items in your outdoor gear section have a higher price point. To promote product discovery and increase AOV, you can run a promotion that says, ”Take 10% off all outdoor gear when you purchase a pair of shoes (or other categories your site is known for).”

A word of caution, use AOV promotions sparingly. Free-shipping thresholds and buy-one-get-one-free offers will eat into your profit margins. Worse, you may inadvertently turn a loyal customer into a less frequent one, and if that happens, you risk losing that customer to a competitor. In other words, offering three months worth of vitamins at a discount will certainly increase the AOV of that particular sale, but now your customer has no need to return to your site for 90 days. In the meantime, a competitor’s site may catch his or her eye.

AOV strategies work best when you encourage customers to buy items they didn’t know they wanted via cross-category promotions. This approach ensures you don’t trade in long term value for short-term success.

Long-Term Ways of Boosting AOV

The promotional route for incentivizing AOV plays to a customer’s sense of urgency. There are other tactics that don’t rely on promotions. Top of the list is to re-evaluate the way you categorize your products and highlight product discovery.

Earlier I mentioned kitting or selling complementary products in bundles. In my opinion, this should become your everyday, de facto, merchandising approach because it more closely resembles a physical retail store. Brick-and-mortar stores present a lot more items in your field of view, which is why we often go to the pharmacy for shampoo but walk out with bags full of additional items. You can increase your AOV by mimicking that in-store experience of presenting consumers with products they wouldn’t typically search for themselves.

Of course, you can’t stuff too many products onto your homepage or landing pages, so you need to find creative ways to present customers with items they wouldn’t have previously considered.

One way to do that is through a product-based Welcome Series, which are non-promotional emails that help customers better understand the products they’ve already purchased and are likely to be actively using. Let’s say I purchase a workout DVD. The first day I may receive an email that describes strategies for making time in my day for a daily work out. On day 5 I may receive another email discussing the effects I may be feeling by working out daily, and suggest, in a non-promotional way, a complementary product, such as an elixir for achy muscles.

Welcome Series emails can work as long as content is journey based, highly relevant and engaging.

Create Good, Better, Best Option

Another way to increase AOV, especially for retailers that manufacture their own products, is to offer products at a range of price points so that shoppers who buy more higher priced items will have a reason to shop from you. We see this in retail all the time. For example, Converse makes low cost sneakers for Target shoppers, as well as high-priced custom-collaboration shoes that sell for hundreds of dollars. It’s the same brand creating products for a range of people who have different sensibilities and expectations.

If you’re a large enough company, you can boost your AOV by offering good, better, best type options. This approach allows you to offer a catalog of products that appeal to the upper end of the market, as well as give people the option to buy up (assuming you can provide a compelling story as to why they should do so).

Live Chat

Finally, If you offer live chat on your site, consider deploying your chat specialists to upsell orders. For instance, you can deploy automatic invitations to chat with a product specialist on your high price point product pages (e.g. “Not sure which laptop is right for you? Our laptop specialists can help.”) The specialist can assist the customer in selecting a laptop, as well as suggest additional accessories, such as a laptop case and spare battery, to increase the value of orders placed.

Need help increasing your AOV or looking for new ideas to get that higher AOV? Contact us and let SD help you!

Written By: Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist

 

Magento Master

Congrats 3x Magento Master Phillip Jackson

Our Ecommerce Evangelist, Phillip Jackson was named a Magento Master: Mover for the third year in a row.

Movers are Magento’s top advocates and ecosystem thought leaders who have demonstrated their expertise in driving innovation through Magento solutions.

Phillip was selected as a Magento Master for 2018 based on his 2017 contributions through organizing the Magento SoFla Meetup, hosts Nomad Mage and hosts the successful podcasts MagetalkFuture Commerce and Merchant to Merchant, with over 50,000 monthly listeners. He is also the co-host of SD’s own SD Office Hours for Magento—a bi-weekly webinar answer LIVE Q&A about the Magento platform and ecosystem.

Movers are influencers in the industry in delivering best-of-class Magento implementations and advocate for Magento at industry events.*

We’re so proud of Phillip and the other Masters: Movers named for 2018!

You can meet the other Magento Master: Movers here.

(*Source – Magento Blog)

NRF Recap

Didn’t make it to NRF 2018? Here’s what SD got from it this year!

What would a retailer get out of a trade show like NRF? Who’s the audience?

NRF’s “The Big Show” is a trade show that has broad appeal. To be sure, a retailer can gain a LOT of insight from a show like this – there are sessions on omnichannel, supply chain, and you hear from a variety of industry leaders in both traditional retail and branded manufacturers with direct-to-consumer channels. BUT – and this is a big but – this show is massive. It can be overwhelming. The “audience” is, generally, everyone who touches retail. This can be online, offline; from warehouse and logistics to digital commerce and virtual reality.

Everyone is at NRF. Everyone. Two notable absences this year: Shopify and Amazon. Shopify has presented in years’ past and usually has a large presence at other digital-commerce-focused events like IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference and Expo). Shopify’s larger competitors were front and center: Magento, Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP. It will be interesting to see how they position themselves in 2018 with messaging around B2B and Point of Sale capabilities without a presence at NRF. This could be a strategic decision to focus on lower-mid-market.

Also notable is Amazon’s absence from the show. AWS – their cloud infrastructure product – was exhibiting – but the core marketplace product was not on display. It seems the days of trying to woo retailers into their marketplace may have come and gone. They’ve gained such ubiquity, at least here in North America, that exhibition at an event like NRF may no longer be a requirement.

What kind of content was featured at NRF 2018? What was the theme?

The overall theme of NRF is very broad – traditional retail “pushing the envelope” – with specific tracks that focused on areas of expertise. However – and I can’t take credit for noticing this, that belongs to SD’s own Brian Lange – one uncommunicated theme was the absence of the phrase “omnichannel”. The term “omnichannel” appeared almost nowhere. My take is that we’re now in a world where omnichannel is now table stakes for retail and not a tactic.

“Pushing the envelope” lends itself to nearly everyone talking about the future. Inevitably this leads us down the technology path and in my opinion that’s a shame. I think that retailers need to be tactical *today* to even make it into a future that is more technology focused than even today. That means making tough choices and forging the right partnerships – something that is a truism whether or not we ever wind up shopping in VR.

Did you see anything cool? Any notable sessions?

Content was varied – talks that caught pieces of ranged from supply chain and food delivery to in-store technology innovation. Peter Sheldon of Magento Inc led a session about Digital Transformation which featured an interview with Elsom Eldridge, National Sales Director of Boy Scouts of America. In this session, Peter says that we’re in a time of transition in retail and that a retail apocalypse is not a reality so much as a refocus. Data is giving us greater insight and we’re seeing rapid consolidation and convergence.

The Innovation Lab was a standout. Many interesting exhibitors like SkinGenie – a DNA-testing cosmetics company – point toward the direction of product personalization and how bespoke brands will begin to compete and challenge the monolithic brands of today.

What was your key takeaway?

We’re in transition. The 2017 story of “Retail apocalypse” may not be happening in the way we imagined. We’re seeing consolidation in retail – especially in retail real estate – but there is intense investment and innovation toward the front lines of technology.

We’re also seeing a landscape shift of industry titans who are distinguishing their products. Magento is focusing on a lateral market with B2B being the center of its 2018 strategy. Salesforce is focusing back on B2C and customer experience with their acquisition of Demandware. There are notable absences as some of the middle-market players, like Shopify, aren’t trying to capture big retail business; opting to focus marketing efforts elsewhere.

2018 looks like we’ll continue to see growth in some areas and challenges in others. After NRF 2018 an astute retailer is asking themselves – “How can I WIN today and PREPARE for tomorrow?”

Have a question or a different opinion of NRF? Let us know!

Written by: Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist

Magento BI

Forget the Myths: What You Really Need to Consider When Selecting an ecommerce Platform

Full Disclosure: It’s no secret that we at Something Digital are fans of Magento. Our blog is filled with stories about the platform, we participate in the Magento Community, speak at their conferences, and we initiate and sponsor events around them. That said, about a year and a half ago we expanded our partnerships to include other platforms because, at the end of the day, we are focused on delivering the right solution for each client, and that goal trumps loyalty to any partnership.

However, we have experienced some unfair mud slinging toward Magento from their competitors which is creating confusion in the market, and we wanted to dispel a few myths so retailers can make the right choice for their businesses.

Myth #1: Magento is pulling the plug on Magento v.1, forcing all customers to upgrade whether they want to or not

Contrary to what you may have heard, Magento IS NOT pulling the plug on the first version of its platform and forcing retailers who are happy to migrate to version 2. The truth is, Magento has committed to fully support M1.x until the end of 2020 (and that includes any necessary security fixes). To be clear, since M2 launched in November 2016, merchants will have in total four full years of runway to upgrade.

Myth #2: You need an advanced engineering degree to implement Magento

We’ve been in this business for 14+ years and have worked with online retailers and ecommerce sites of all stripes and sizes and I have to say, we find the new Magento Enterprise Cloud offering removes many technology and security elements from the merchant’s plate.

That said, some retailers have more complicated selling models, customizable products, multi-warehouse delivery, multiple currencies, or want a shared shopping cart to work across multiple brands. These are functionalities that require additional engineering, which is where system integrators, like Something Digital, come in.

Myth #3: Once You Buy, Magento Waves Good-Bye

I’ve heard a lot of chatter that once you sign the contract for Magento, you’re on your own from a technical point of view.  But I can assure you that both Magento and its partners, such as Something Digital, are there for the long term, actively working with you to ensure your success.  Magento’s focus on its Enterprise Cloud product is the best indication of how the platform plans to support merchants in the long term. In fact, Magento has the largest market share of any ecommerce platform, and is still growing.

And no platform has an established developer community like Magento’s, which continuously provides core updates, innovative extensions and add-ons. The community offers a lot of brainpower and creativity for you to tap into.

Myth #4: Magento will Nickle & Dime Merchants

Be wary of claims regarding costs. There are many providers of cloud-based ecommerce platforms that tout a low cost, and that may be fine if you are a small retailer with simple needs. If you need extras, the costs can creep up. As for Magento nickling and diming its merchants, the company bundles its features into its basic packages that include robust business intelligence platform, Magento Social, which allows you to sell on social media, and a new performance monitoring tool called New Relic.

The bottom line, for all but the most simple needs, the “real cost” of a solution requires a detailed discussion with the provider.

Myth #5: Magento’s B2B/Enterprise Product is Overly Complex

B2B ecommerce itself is different than B2C. Enterprise class sellers require key features, such as omni-channel and order management capabilities. They also need to integrate seamlessly into other business systems. Additionally, enterprise-level sites often require a higher degree of customization, especially as it pertains to the customer experience. That level of customization isn’t easily accomplished with out-of-the box templates.

And again, Magento and its partners ecosystem are available to businesses to deliver solutions based on each customer’s unique needs.

Questions to Ask

Before you make a platform selection, Something Digital suggests you compile a list of questions that reflect your 5+ year strategy. These questions should factor in your plans for international expansion, new products, fulfillment options, future sales and marketing channels.

Something Digital’s team can provide a questionnaire to assist with this process. If you’d like more information contact us here.

The Year in Ecommerce: Trends and Predictions

Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2017 came and went, signaling that the year is almost over. Did we handle what occurred in 2017, and will we be ready for 2018? As we ask this, it’s the opportune moment to reflect on the trends we just saw and offer some predictions for next year.

I randomly asked a few colleagues for their perspectives, and here’s what they said:

Mickey Winter, Creative Director:

  • 2017 Top Trend(s): The rise of Niche brands (Casper, Brooklinen, AllBirds)
  • 2018 Predicted Top Trend(s): Paid Social and Social Commerce!! No doubt!

 

Leland Clemmons, Front-End Developer:

  • 2017 Top Trend(s): Ad blockers and ensuing ad innovation. Ad-blocking technology continued to saturate the market, and the ad tech world paid attention. Advertising had to become craftier and more engaging.
  • 2018 Predicted Top Trend(s): A rise in machine-driven/AI-based A/B testing. There are many micro-optimizations sites can use, but they are too small to reasonably discover. Tests driven by machines can resolve the difficulty and improve the digital space.

 

Greg Steinberg, Principal & Founder:

  • 2017 Top Trend(s): Influence of paid social advertising.
  • 2018 Predicted Top Trend(s): Deeper personalization and segmentation in advertising, niche (almost micro) products and markets, greater ownership of customer relationship (B2C v wholesale/marketplace).

 

Ethan Messenger, Project Manager:

  • 2017 Top Trend(s): The mobile wallet (Apple Pay, Paypal, etc.). I think brands are recognized the value of the mobile wallet to help create more seamless shopping experiences for customers.
  • 2018 Predicted Top Trend(s): New development kits like ARCore and ARKit will enable more than 600 million phones to render interactive augmented reality experiences. Mobile AR technology allows consumers to understand how a product will mesh with their physical spatial surroundings.

 

Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist:

  • 2017 Top Trend(s): A growing awareness that “omnichannel” means we must keep evolving. It’s not enough to be present in every customer channel. We must adapt our operations and brand voice to legitimize why we’re on that channel.
  • 2018 Predicted Top Trend(s):  We’ll be rethinking marketplace partnerships. Wal-Mart is cool, and Amazon is no longer our enemy. As organic search continues losing to marketplace-direct searches, we’ll create clear strategies to meet customers where they are.

 

We don’t claim to read the tea leaves at Something Digital, but we live ecommerce every day.  Hopefully, you’ll find this insight helpful.

Let us know!

Written by: Jon Klonsky, Principal

 

Facebook

An Overview of Facebook and Instagram Advertising Options

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that more than 5 million businesses advertised on the social network each month, and that it would update its suite of ad services. With that many advertisers, it comes as no surprise that Facebook ad revenues will be close to $30 billion in 2017.

Clearly Facebook is proving a useful way for brands to connect with their customers and prospects. And those enhancements they announced are pretty exciting. I’ve seen first hand how marketers use Facebook to increase conversions, stay top-of-mind to consumers, gain page Likes, newsletter sign-ups and more.

As we approach the holiday season, I thought it timely to provide an overview of Facebook and Instagram advertising options, and to point out some of the new targeting features that all businesses large and small need to know about.

As noted earlier, Facebook has diversified their services, allowing marketers to create a wide variety of campaigns, from remarketing to website visitors to launching campaigns designed to prompt specific actions (email signup, etc.). They’ve also added new targeting options (as well as restricted some offensive ones that have received a lot of press these days). All campaign setup and targeting options are laid out in the Facebook for Business interface.

I. CAMPAIGN SETUP

The first step is to establish the setting that will apply across your entire campaign: budget, geo-targeting and the like. It’s where you will also:

  • Set Campaign Objective
    • Optimize for apps installs, brand awareness, conversions, lead gen, store visits, likes to your Page, and so on. Facebook provides recommendations for ad types based on campaign goals (e.g. Facebook Lead Ads for lead gen campaigns).
  • Buying Type
    • Decide how you prefer to pay for the and target ads in your campaign. Options include dynamic auction bidding, fixed-price bidding, or reach and frequency buying.
  • Spending Caps
    • Set a daily cap on your spending, and Facebook typically won’t go beyond 10% of your limit.
  • Schedule
    • Set the start and stop dates for your campaign.

 

II. AUDIENCE TARGETING OPTIONS

Facebook has great options for targeting that will allow you to reach consumers who are most likely to engage with your brand. The list of options is pretty exhaustive. Some of the more exciting ones include:

  • Email Signups
    • Target all of the users on Facebook who have signed up on your website.
  • Website Visitors
    • Target people who’ve visited your site (i.e. remarketing or retargeting campaigns).
  • Lookalike Audiences
    • Create profiles of new users who share attributes of your existing customers for targeting on Facebook.
  • Likes and Fans
    • Target people based on the things they like (e.g. popular singer, food group). You can even search for criteria, and if it’s available it will appear in the drop down menu.
  • Page Fields
    • Target by job titles, place of employment, schools or any other item people have on their pages.
  • Demographics
    • Set an age range, gender, language, and so on.
  • Friends of
    • Target friends of people people who like your page, or people who have another connection to your audience.
  • Audience Network
    • Audience Network lets you extend your ad campaigns beyond Facebook to reach your audiences on websites and apps across devices such as computers, mobile devices and in some cases, connected TVs.
    • We recommend using this feature with caution, as you will not have control over where your ads will appear.

 

Tip: Now you can home in on your exact audience by targeting people who match multiple criteria. For instance, Facebook now provides and/or targeting options. This is particular useful if you find your targeting options lead to too large an audience.

III. AD PLACEMENTS

When you’ve completed selecting your targeting options it’s time to decide where you want your ads to appear. Facebook offers multiple options with Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) and the Facebook Messenger app.

  • Facebook
    • Feed
      • These ads appear in the Newsfeed of consumers you target and are perfect for story-based targeting.
    • Instant Articles
      • These ads will appear in news articles that users click on from their newsfeed or messenger.
    • In-Stream Videos
      • These ads appear before, during or after a video users opt to view.
    • Right Column
      • These ads appear in the right hand column of users accessing Facebook via a computer.
  • Instagram
    • Feed
      • These ads appear in an Instagram user’s Newsfeed and are perfect for story-based targeting.
    • News Stories
      • These ads appear within news stories users click on from their Newsfeeds.
  • Messenger
    • Home
      • These ads appear in between personal messages within a user’s Messenger app.
    • Sponsored Messages
      • These ads appear in the user’s Message inbox as messages. We recommend using Sponsored Messages only with audiences you’re confident knows and likes your brand.

 

IV. AD TYPES

Facebook offers numerous ad types. Some of the more notable ones include:

  • Link Click Ads
    • Promote external websites, landing pages, blog posts, etc.
  • Video Ads
    • Similar to Link Click Ads, except with a video in place of a static graphic.
  • Boosted Posts
    • Gets your post out to more people. For instance, you can boost your posts to your Facebook fans and their friends, or reach new audiences altogether.
  • Multi-Product Carousel Ads
    • Shows up to 10 images, videos, links and calls to action in a single ad.
  • Dynamic Product Ads
    • Target users based on past interactions on your website or app (e.g. consumer puts an item in a shopping cart and doesn’t convert). You can present such users with similar products in a carousel.
    • These ads automatically promote products to people who have expressed interest on your website, app or anywhere else on the Web. To use, upload your product catalog and setup your campaign one time. After that, Facebook will automatically identify the right people to target and product to feature until you stop the campaign.
  • Facebook Lead Ads
    • Allows consumers to download your content or sign up for promotion without leaving Facebook.
  • Canvas Ads
    • Allows mobile users in interact with our ads while in Facebook.

 

V. FACEBOOK PIXELS

Facebook offers a pixel that site owners can install in order to build your audience for targeting (e.g. re-target your website visitors), measure the results of your ads, as well as ensure your Facebook ads are presented to your correct audience.

This pixel may be used for:

  • Conversion tracking & optimization
  • Audience re-targeting
  • Dynamic ads
  • Custom conversions
  • Advanced matching

 

Facebook offers step by step procedures to walk you through the process. To create a pixel, go the your Pixels tab in Ads Manager.

The Magento Extension

Installing a pixel can be confusing for some people, and if you aren’t quite sure you understand the process and your company uses Magento then there’s good news: A Magento extension has completely streamlined the process, allowing you to easily accomplish the more advanced processes, such as Dynamic Ads Placements for your entire product line. The extension guides you through a simple step-by-step process, and it — not you — installs the actual pixel on your site.

Women in Tech

Women in Technology – Breaking Barriers Conference Recap

Tech has a reputation as a boy’s club—a reputation that isn’t helped when, say, anti-diversity memos written by Google software engineers make headlines. While the buzz around the need to encourage, celebrate, and bolster diversity in women leadership—especially in technical fields—continues to grow, the tech industry’s conception of leadership hasn’t seemed to evolve much with the demand.

That’s not for want of trying.  Earlier this year, Something Digital and Women Who Code sent me to Palo Alto to attend VMWare’s Women Transforming Technology conference (WT2), a conference focused exclusively on female leadership in tech.  In this blog post, I summarize some of the conference’s high points, explain my takeaways, and give a few suggestions on what Something Digital and other companies like it can do to start making tech a better, more diverse field to work in.

Established to call attention to the need for more women at tech’s highest levels as well as to cultivate a more female-friendly environment at all levels of the industry, Women Transforming Technology conference ran panels on everything from, breaking STEM pipeline barriers, to pursuing successful careers in leadership, and featured keynote speakers Kara Swisher and Gloria Steinem.

I’ve known for a long time that a conference like this is vital. Despite my efforts to surround myself with female role models through groups like Women Who Code, I’ve struggled to find older female role models during my time in the tech industry.  This lack of a blueprint for female success is cited as one of the main reasons behind why women are underrepresented in technical fields.  According to a global survey of 500 women working in the tech sector conducted by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), called The Future Tech Workforce: Breaking Gender Barriers, the top three biggest barriers to women getting (and staying) in tech sector are “A lack of female mentors (48 percent), a lack of female role models (42 percent) and limited networking opportunities (27 percent).”

Considering this, one could imagine my surprise when I walked into the conference and found myself surrounded by 300 women who fit both bills: tech success and role model.  The women around me ran companies and ran technology teams.  Many were developers just like me and many were the women who forged the path I am following.

While there, I started asking myself a lot of questions.  If these women exist, why am I only now learning about them? If their efforts have led these companies to great successes, why have they not been publicly recognized? Why have I been left to think my generation of women is forging this path alone, when all along great women were out there developing a career path for women and girls in technology?

After attending WT2, it became clear that my inability to find female role models in this industry didn’t necessarily correlate with the actual numbers of existing women in tech; rather, it points to the lack of public acknowledgement of their existence and successes.  These women’s contributions are immense, and yet they are consistently underrepresented and underplayed.

These are some of the questions Swisher and Steinem addressed in their keynotes, as well as the questions a panel of female experts fielded from 300+ top women in tech earlier in the day.  They are questions, I realized, that I’ve been grappling with since the beginning of my career as a developer.

WT2 Breaking Barriers Panel

WT2 Keynote with Re/code Decode’s Kara Swisher

Since these questions are on the minds of so many, there are certainly ideas for solutions floating around the industry.  Here are a few of my own suggestions that companies can take to encourage women and girls not to just join the tech sector—and to stay—but to enjoy the space, advance, succeed, and become the next generation of women leaders in tech.

 1. Recruit and hire more diversely. If women and diverse candidates aren’t at the career fairs you’re attending, expand your recruitment efforts. Here are a few services that can aid in your effort:

– PowerToFly
 – Women Who Code Job Board
 – HireTechLadies
 – Girls in Tech Job Board
 – Become a Grace Hopper / Fullstack Academy hiring partner

 2. Be active in your communities. Support groups like WWC, GDI, and GIT by sponsoring meetups, providing meetup content or space, or sending people from your team to represent your company and recruit women.

– Women Who Code
 – Girl Develop It
 – Girls in Tech

 3. Go to conferences that celebrate female leadership and technical skills. Here are a few:

– Women Transforming Technology
 – Grace Hopper
 – Women in Tech Summit
 – Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference
 – Voices Global Conference

 4. Address the pipeline problem. Encourage your company or coworkers to volunteer at schools in underserved communities. Send diverse employees to speak to young people in their communities and show them that not only is it possible to forge a career in tech, it’s empowering and seriously fun. Here are a few organizations that can help jumpstart that process:

– Script Ed
 – TechGirlz
 – ChickTech

Written by: Kate Eldridge, Frontend Programmer