Web Design

Why Online Stores switched e-commerce platforms

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Why Online Stores switched e-commerce platforms
It wanted flexibility and room to grow, says CEO Kevin Hickey about his company’s move from the Yahoo Stores e-commerce platform to eBay Inc.’s Magento Enterprise platform. The move also helped drastically reduce overhead.
Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Topics: e-commerce platforms, e-commerce technology, Kevin Hickey, Magento Enterprise, Online Stores, Second 500, Top 500
Lead Photo

Online Stores Inc. grew up on Yahoo Inc.’s Yahoo Stores e-commerce platform.

But about two years ago, the operator seven specialty web stores, which booked roughly $30 million in web sales in 2012, decided that it needed it needed more feature-rich software and more control over it, says CEO Kevin Hickey. “What’s important for us is efficiency and being able to customize things,” he says.

Online Stores Inc. went with eBay Inc.’s Magento platform. Magento’s software is open source, meaning that retailers can customize it to their needs while also choosing from 7,300 add-ons built for Magento by developers around the world.

“It seemed to have pretty much every feature we wanted and we liked being able to extend the functionality of the product ourselves by using the open-source architecture,” Hickey says. “Magento also had the fastest trajectory for enhancements.”

Cookie cutter is out for mid-tier online retailers—a category e-commerce consulting firm FitForCommerce defines as web retailers generating $20 million to $75 million in annual online sales. To compete with the likes of Amazon.com Inc., those smaller retailers need to offer web site features that will keep shoppers coming back. While more than a third of mid-market retailers still rely on their own personnel to provide that level of customization, others are turning to the growing number of software vendors offering feature-rich e-commerce platforms at increasingly affordable prices.

“Midmarket retailers desire all the functionality that the larger markets want, but they want it faster, simpler and cheaper,” FitForCommerce senior consultant Kerry Martin says. “While this is a challenge for some providers to deliver, it certainly tends to differentiate the providers who are accurately targeting and supporting the midmarket retailer.”

Of the 251 e-retailers with 2012 online sales in the range of $20 million to $75 million, according to the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, 94 rely on in-house staff to build and maintain their e-commerce platforms, the software that typically handles such tasks as managing product descriptions and prices, processing orders and handling payments. The remaining 157 retailers use technology from 41 providers.

Online Stores is already seeing payoffs from its move to the Magento Enterprise edition software, which it runs on its own servers.

Magento Enterprise starts at $15,500 to license annually, according to the vendor. Since completing the switch to Magento in September, Hickey says Online Stores has reduced its headcount from about 130 to 80, in turn reducing overhead costs by 30-40%. With Magento able to provide live inventory updates and automate customer service e-mails and drop shipping, the office staff was able to downsize from 30 to 15 people. Another 15 people were cut from the web site maintenance staff, because the work to manage products across all seven of the retailer’s sites dropped by 75% with Magento, Hickey says, though he did hire four full-time developers to work on the platform in-house. The rest of the staff cuts were in the warehouse, unrelated to the platform.

To learn much more about how mid-sized e-retailers are weighing their e-commerce platform options, read the upcoming January issue of Internet Retailer magazine or subscribe.

Where Did It Go?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Hey, do you listen to tech radio guru on the weekends? A caller let him know that he revamped an old website to bring it up to date, 301 redirected another similar URL and website into it for his client and bam! All the traffic is gone from both sites and both are no longer being listed on the search engines and he’s got 30 days to turn this around before the company goes BK. Funny thing… he basically did everything right (and wrong at the same time).

Attaching Facebook To Your Website

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Message to client after adding a Facebook plugin to their website: “But, you have to remember… you can’t control what shows up there. This is the reason for having a website, you have 100% control over it :)”.


Visit these websites early and often:


Visit these websites early and often:

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A Good, Recent SEO Article:

Friday, January 6th, 2012

http://www.site-reference.com/articles/website-loading-speed-affect-google-ranking
December 5th, 2011

Summary:
[Google update] …views pages in a more human way

[ranking is a] checklist of metrics…

…website loading speed is a definite criteria for a good ranking…

Website loading speed can also affect other metrics as well including bounce rate and click through rate.

Meet Your New Best Friend; Anchor Text

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Anchor text is perhaps one of the most important aspects of Search Engine Optimization but it is also one of the least talked about.

This one element of SEO is important to understand because it can help your page get ranked for a target keyword and also help you evaluate your competition more precisely.

The latter is critical and, in fact, if you don’t take anchor text backlinks into proper consideration when looking at the competition for a keyword you could be missing out on some hidden gems that are easy to rank for.

What Is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the hyperlinked text you see on a webpage. It is the visible words that you can click to take you to another page. Anchor text html code looks like this:

<a href="http://www.yoursite.com">Your Anchor Text</a>

On most websites, you typically see this as blue text that is underlined and when you click on it with your mouse, you are taken to the corresponding url.

How Bloggers Use Anchor Text

Bloggers and website owners use anchor text naturally to point to other pages on their website as well as pages on other sites that they find relevant to what they are blogging about. You’ve probably even done this yourself when writing a post where you referenced another post on your site, an affiliate product or even a post on another site.

Usually a blogger will use a phrase that indicates what the page is about in the anchor text, as opposed to a url, so that the sentence reads correctly.

The anchor text in these links helps both the visitor and the search engine spiders figure out what the ‘linked to’ page is about.

How Search Engines Use Anchor Text

Search engines use anchor text to help them figure out what the hyperlinked page is about. So, as you can see, getting anchor text backlinks with relevant phrases in the anchor text is pretty important if you want the search engines to rank you for a particular keyword phrase.

In fact, anchor text is such an important factor in ranking a page that pages can rank for a keyword phrase even when that phrase does not appear in the url on the page!

There are several cases where this has happened, but perhaps the most famous is where the Adobe Reader download page ranked number 1 for the search term ‘click here’ for many years even though those words were nowhere on the page. So many people had linked to that page using the anchor text ‘click here’ that it got to the number 1 spot without any on page SEO for the term.

Search engines place a large importance on external anchor text (links coming in from other sites) and some importance on internal anchor text (links from within your own site) when ranking a page so it stands to reason that you should make getting anchor text backlinks with your target keyword phrases a priority.

One important thing to note is that it is widely thought that if two links on the same page target the same url, that only the first link is counted by Google so you want to be sure that you use your desired anchor text in that first link.

How Anchor Text is Important When Judging Competition for a Keyword

If you think about how important anchor text is to the search engines when determining ranking for a keyword, then it’s easy to see why it is a critical component of analyzing the competition for a particular keyword phrase.

Google even provides you with a search operator to do this – the allinanchor operator. You can use it by typing the following into the Google search bar:

Allinanchor:”your keyword phrase”

This will return the pages which have anchor text pointing to it that contain the quoted keyword phrase.

I hope you can see how powerful this is – first of all, Google must think it is an important element of a page because it provides the allinanchor operator. Just the existence of the operator would seem to indicate that it uses the anchor text when deciding what a page is about and ranking it.

Secondly, using this operator will show you which pages are optimizing for your chosen keyword phrase!

It makes sense that only the pages that have anchor text backlinks with your phrase are the ones optimizing for it so you can forget about searching for your phrase in quotes or any of that nonsense.

Not only that but, you can take a look at the actual backlinks for each of your competitors and see how many of them have that anchor text and what the strength of those links are to make a more educated guess as to how difficult they will be to beat out for that top spot.

Anchor Text “Best Practices” For Your Website

Now that you know how important anchor text is to your rankings, I’m sure you will want to pay more attention to it in your SEO efforts but you don’t want to go hog wild and create tons of anchor text backlinks all with the same keyword phrase or you might find that your efforts don’t yield the results you want.