Digital Transformation Journey Of Marysville Marine Distributors
Catherine: Okay. Well, welcome everybody. Thank you for joining this edition of DCKAP eSessions. My name’s Catherine. I work with the marketing team as the partner manager at DCKAP. And I’ll be hosting this great session we have planned for you today. First, a big thank you to our sponsors for today’s eSession with our partners, Webscale and shipperHQ, and we’d like to thank them for their continued support.
We hold these DCKAP eSessions, events, monthly with strategies in the commerce, featuring our clients, digital journeys, and many of our partners valuable insight. And you can always see our latest event @dckap.com/events. And when you do have a moment, there’s a poll that would have popped up and we would love any feedback you would have all of which helps us with bettering these events. And we would like this to be interactive. So feel free to ask any questions. Whenever you have any, you can add any questions in the Q&A tab or questions and comments in the chat whenever you have them. And we’ll make sure to keep track of them. So today, are you hearing from Ryan Van Hoozer from Marysville Marine and seeing his great presentation on the digital transformation journey that they experienced and the success story that DCKAP was fortunate enough to work with them on.
We’ll also be featuring a panel of our partners and guests afterwards for a continued discussion with Marysville on various points with the process of migration and some further insight with our guests from ShipperHQ, and Webscale into understanding more on hosting and other important processes of eCommerce as well as sharing insight on how to digitally transform in new ways. And we will also make sure to have time for Q&A afterwards.
And if any questions have not already been answered, we will ensure that they are by the end. And additionally, we will also have a post event networking session, and we will have a link to that on the slide, and it will be pasted in the chat as well.
So with that, I’d like to start by introducing Ryan, who is the vice president of operations of Marysville Marine, a wholesale and eCommerce supplier of boating parts and accessories.
For over 17 years, Ryan has led the marketing and eCommerce efforts for Marysville Marine. Overseeing the growth and vision for both Marines, no Marines. And it’s retail, counterpart Marine part source. Ryan also oversees the purchasing inventory and product management for the company, ensuring that all parts tie together seamlessly.
Ryan, thank you so much for being here and joining us today. And we’d love for you to come on board and start your presentation.
Ryan: Okay, great. Thank you, Catherine. I appreciate it. And I appreciate DCKAP inviting me to speak today with everybody. I hope that you find this valuable. I’m just going to get my screen up and hope everybody can see it now.
So, all right. So as I was saying we did recently complete our transformation with DCKAP’s help this year migrating from our old website platform on Magento 1 to our new platform. And I just wanted to talk today and kind of go through what that journey was like for us to give you a little bit of background on Marysville Marine.
We are a wholesale distributor of boating equipment, not so much the type of equipment you might find in a sporting goods store. We don’t sell life jackets and inflatables and that sort of thing. We do sell the parts and accessories that really make the boat operate everything from, you know, the boat, the engine parts, the steering components, plumbing, electrical pieces, that type of thing, anything that makes the boat work is what we sell.
We operate out of five distribution centers across the United States. And we’ve been in business since 1973. And we’ve been selling online since 2002, which for the Marine industry was pretty advanced at the time. It was a pretty new concept to even just expose our live inventory to our customers to have product images and descriptions at the time.
So kind of early to that scene. And then we also at the same time added our eCommerce portion of the business called Marine parts source. And we operate in the back end behind the scenes with an ERP system called Prophet 21. It’s made by a company called Epicor. If you’re a wholesale distributor, it’s probably a piece of software that you’re familiar with or have at least heard about.
As I mentioned in addition to the distribution side of our business, the wholesale side, we do have an eCommerce direct to consumer business called Marine Parts Source where we target to do it yourself first. The people that are going to take repairs and maintenance into their own hands this has become a pretty significant portion of our business over the years. We also reach out to those customers through our own eBay store as well. We’ve been doing that for a number of years as well. So we’re operating those two sites as well as the eBay store out of five different locations across the country. And so last year during the summer, and we started to really contemplate the idea of maybe we need to migrate platforms from where we were.
We had been on Magento version one for about five years and it had been good for us. It was a little bit of a rocky transition initially, but once we got onto the platform, it kind of got things figured out. It had been a really good growth vehicle for us. And so, you know, after five years we started to take a look at you know, where we were and what were the next steps, and one of the big motivators on why we thought we needed to maybe migrate platform was because Magento did announce last year end of life for Magento version one. They announced that it would be in June, 2020 of this year. And so that was something that we really took into strong consideration about, you know, how is that going to affect us? We started to look at, can we operate past end of life on Magento 1?
And we determined pretty quickly that it was something we didn’t want to do for security purposes, just we didn’t want to be out of support and on our own to fend off any kind of attacks. We wanted to make sure that we were within PCI compliance. So this was the big, main reason why we made that change.
And or we decided to make that change. And so we’d start to look at what our options were after that. Some of the other big reasons that we wanted to make that migration, one was to improve the speed and performance of the site. Magento one was a pretty complex program with a lot of bells and whistles, but one thing it was not known for was its performance, particularly when you add a bunch of additional extensions onto it, to get it to where you want it to perform. So one of the things we really wanted to target as if we were going to make this move was to make our sites more user friendly, have a better speed and performance for our customers.
Another big piece of this point we wanted to attack with this migration was to improve the B2B capabilities of our site. As I mentioned back in 2002, when we first started to sell online, just showing inventory and having a way to place orders for our wholesale customers was a pretty big deal for the boating industry.
And you know that was something that kind of set us apart. But 18 years later, I think that a customer’s expectations have changed dramatically. You know, now the B2B customer really has an expectation level that the shopping experience for them is just as seamless as if they were shopping in a B2C environment, shopping on Amazon or something of that nature. They want all of the performance and features that they’re used to, but in addition, they want some features that are specific to that B2B experience, such as being able to manage multiple users on their account, being able to see their account balance, see past invoices and issue returns and that sort of thing.
So we wanted to dive deeper into those capabilities and see what we could do to expand that experience for our B2B customers. And then another thing that we really wanted to try and improve upon with this transformation was a better integration with our ERP system Prophet 21. We had some basic integration.
With our magento 1 site’s orders we’re importing into that ERP. We were able to do some basic customer updates and inventory updates, but we really wanted to tighten that integration up and automate a lot more of the transfer of data that’s going back and forth between the two systems. So that was a major point for us to address as we got into this project.
Just because we were on version one of Magento didn’t necessarily mean we were going to immediately jump to Magento 2. We wanted to take a look at our options. Magento 2 is a completely new platform from version one. It’s not just a simple upgrade. They basically started from scratch and rebuilt the whole platform.
So it is a true migration. So with that in mind, we did decide to look at different possibilities for what would be the best fit for us. We looked at Shopify Plus, BigCommerce. We looked at OroCommerce, which is an eCommerce platform that is specifically designed and targeted more to the wholesale distributor.
And of course we looked at Magento version two as well, and we looked at some other pieces of software too. Ultimately we did come down to deciding to go with Magento and there were some specific reasons why it stood out and was a better fit for us. One of the main reasons was it just comes with a lot of features compared to some of the other options that are out there. One of the things, as I mentioned before, that we wanted to try and avoid as a lot of additional extensions because they really weighed down. You’re a platform that can really affect the performance negatively. So finding a piece of software that had as many of the features that we were looking for out of the box was important because we felt like it was going to perform better and more seamlessly.
Then if we had to put a bunch of extensions together to make it to where we wanted it to be. So that was important. We also, it was critical that the piece of software that we went with could support multiple sites running off the one installation, since we did have both marysvillemarine.com and marinepartssource.com, and it was important that we had support for multi location, or multi-source basically that it could handle understanding that we had five locations of inventory. We’re shipping from different areas, depending on where the customer is. You may want to use a different location for the source of the order. You know that was something that we just wanted to make sure that software could support. Another big selling point for Magento. And we went with the commerce cloud version of Magento. And the reason why is because the cloud version offers a lot of B2B features.
They have a whole set of B2B features and tools that the regular version of Magento and then other eCommerce platforms just did not have. And there’s a lot of work being done in this space, as far as BigCommerce, Shopify, they’re all salesforce. They’re all aiming towards trying to add this type of functionality to their platforms. At the time that we were looking at it a year ago, Magento just seemed like they were a step ahead.
I haven’t looked to see what the comparison is like today, but certainly a year ago, Magento seemed like they were further down the road with B2B features than some of the other platforms that were out there. And then I’m not going to lie, transition, having an easy transition between the two systems was important, even though it is completely rebuilt from scratch.
Magento 2 is a lot of the language and organization of data that is used is the same as what was on Magento 1. So we felt like there was going to be a little bit less of a learning curve with going with that platform versus if we jumped completely something new. And then finally, what was really important for me was making sure that there was a strong developer community around.
The software, eCommerce environment is always changing. The expectations of the customers are always changing and it seems like it’s just accelerating the need for change every year it seems like there’s just so much more to know and keep up with. So we really wanted to make sure that we were partnering with a software package that there was a lot of investment in its growth and that there was a developer community around it that was going to continue to thrive so that we would have flexibility as we went into the future. You don’t want to be stuck on a platform that’s going nowhere, that’s not adding up new features as they develop, that’s not paying attention to the direction that the industry is going. And so we felt like with Magento that there’s a really strong support community around it, that we were going to have options as we go into the future, we’re going to be able to find developers who could help to steer us in the right direction and add the functionality we need as we discover it.
So then another one of the more critical pieces of the beginnings of this project is choosing a developer partner to help guide us through the migration. And there’s a lot of different factors to consider when you’re looking at a developer, who to pick. and I’ve tried to list all of those different factors here.
I hope that I’ve covered them all. First of all, you definitely want to find somebody who can communicate effectively. And second, it’s really important that they can communicate really well. And third, it’s just so important that they have really good communication skills. And I don’t know if I mentioned this before, did I mention communication?
I think then I’m a little bit traumatized from previous projects and we’ve migrated pre before we had developer partners who just weren’t responsive or when they did respond, it was really delayed, or it was a very vague response and it took several interactions back and forth to really get clear answers from them.
You know it’s just so important to find a partner that you can depend upon to respond quickly, to be concise and clear and honest. And that’s not always the easiest thing to find. And even when you were in the initial stages of interviewing a developer,it’s tough to know what you’re really going to get when you start the project, because everybody’s on their best behavior when they’re first being interviewed for the job right? So everybody is responsive and doing all the right things, crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. And you really don’t know who you’re working with until you sign on those papers and you start the project, but there are some clues and tips I think you can pick up on through that initial interview process that I think helps to give you an indication of what to expect later.
Obviously communication is not the only thing that is the most important thing for me, when we were choosing the developer, there were other factors as well. And most of those centered around the fact that we wanted to make sure that the partner we chose was going to be capable of pulling off the project.
We know that we offer a lot of complexity to what we were needing. And so it was important that we had someone who’s really capable and who had experience with those types of complex projects before. So, one of the first things that we did was we reached out to Magento directly and got their recommendations. And we told them what we were needing, as far as the multisite, multi locations that we were wanting to integrate with Prophet 21. They gave us a short, the list of developers that they were familiar with and comfortable recommending for that type of project. All of them were Magento certified and that was really the first checkbox that had to be checked off was that the developer had all of the credentials and was familiar with the software. And then second, we wanted to make sure that they were capable of the integration with Prophet 21. Were they familiar with that piece of software? Did they have the talent on staff to be able to understand it and integrate it with Magento?
And in previous projects, we’ve had to hire multiple developers, one for handling the integration part and then another to handle the frontend web development. And that can get messy. If you’ve got two and three developers working on the same project, when something doesn’t work.
Everybody’s first response is to say, Oh, it must be the other person’s code that’s creating the issue. So it was a really appealing idea for us to find a partner who could do everything from beginning to end, who understood the entire project, both the backend and the frontend parts of it and how they work together.
That’s not an easy thing to find either. Another piece we wanted to look for was that the developer had experience with similar types of customers as us, other wholesale distributors doing B2B web interfaces. Have they dealt with doing multiple sites? Have they dealt with doing multiple sources of inventory?
Have they dealt with Prophet 21 before? Have they dealt with Magento before? Could we see similar types of projects in their history to us? So that was something that we looked for. And then of course, you can’t go on Amazon and just read customer reviews of your developer. But there are sites out there, like Clutch where you can review coders and developers and programmers.
So we definitely checked those. And of course, with everybody that we were interviewing, we asked for references. And we interviewed those customers to see what their experience was like to see if it was similar to ours. And if they had any major issues working with those developers. Now, obviously because I’m speaking today, you guys know that I did choose DCKAP as our partner for this project.
They really just checked all of those boxes that we were talking about. They came in with multiple Magento certifications. They were familiar with Prophet 21, having done that type of integration with Magento before. They had done similar projects as to what we were asking for previously, had similar types of customers to us and the reviews and the testimonials that we were able to find about DCKAP were all really positive, but more than anything else, their communication through that initial phase of investigation of different developers, everything was just top notch that really stood out in the fact that they provided feedback quickly, they were very responsive to our questions, they were clear about what they could do with limitations there might be for what we were looking for.
So I just can’t say enough about all of that really was a good hint to how they were going to operate during the project. They really had great communication. And, I’m happy to say that as we’ve gotten into the project and now, gone through to completion with launch, that has held true throughout the entire process.
It did really come down to DCKAP and one other company, who also had high grades on all of these issues. They also had certifications and could do the integration, had similar customers, but one thing that really beyond all of this, that made DCKAP stand out for us was this piece of software called Cloras, which I do feel is a game changing piece of middleware that we’re using to connect Magento with Prophet 21.
Now a lot of times when you do integrations between two systems, it’s just a couple of APIs. It’s a bunch of code. And if you’re like me, maybe you’re just a layman and you wouldn’t understand what all that code means. The great thing about Cloras is it’s a graphic interface that you log in and you can very easily see how the two systems connect together. You can see that this field from P21 maps over to this field in Magento, and you can see the schedule for how often it’s updating and you can see the direction. Does it update just from Prophet 21 to Magento or vice versa or do they update each other? And it’s all customizable. So, I mean, it’s a really fluid piece of software with an infinite number of integrations that you can create between two systems. And it’s not just for those two pieces of software either it can integrate with other eCommerce platforms. It can integrate with other ERP systems.
I think it can integrate with Salesforce and HubSpot and other marketing types of systems as well. So there’s a lot of functionality and ability with this software. And for us, it really stood out as a powerful piece to this project and was one of the big reasons why we decided to choose DCKAP as our partner and the other great thing about Cloras, it’s got detailed logging, so it’s very easy to see if something didn’t work right or if you see that an update and it happened when you expected it, you can go into those logs and pretty quickly find. What was the issue? Did you have some messy data? That’s usually the case when you had bad data that didn’t cost it to not update. And, so you can find that and troubleshoot it pretty easily. So definitely if anybody was coming to me and was trying to go with through this same type of project, this is something I’d definitely recommend they take a strong look at. So beyond that developer being good at communication. It’s really important for us that we were good communicators as well, particularly in the portion of the project, when you’re defining the project scope, you’ve chosen your platform, you’ve chosen the developer you’re going to work with.
Now. You’ve got to really explain to them everything that you’re looking for in the project and, you know, a good developer partner. We’ll guide you they’ll ask the right questions as they know them to be, to try and step you through the process, but they’re not going to know the nuances and the idiosyncrasies of your business.
And it’s really the responsibility of the customer to communicate those to the developer. And we tried to over communicate our needs. I mean, just get really detailed. You can’t communicate too much when it comes to this portion of the project, we tried to highlight the main priorities that were the most important to us.
Like I mentioned, at the beginning of the presentation, things like the performance of the ERP integration, working correctly the enhanced B2B functionality that we were looking for. And so they knew that those were the things we were going to be really measuring them on. But we also got really specific on things like design, we’ve got in house designer.
So we were able to put together mockups and hand them over to DCKAP. And they were very, we were very explicit about how we wanted the homepage and the product pages and the category pages to look. And they were able to match them almost exactly as DCKAP was. So that was terrific. And then for performance, we got very specific about the metrics we were looking for, what kind of page load times we were wanting. I mean, we put numbers to give detailed expectations for them. And then also with functionality step-by-step processes of this is how we want the user experience to go and try not to miss or assume that DCKAP is going to know any piece of this.
Just really get specific on it. And that scope of work documents gotta be very detailed. It’s hard to think of everything I would say that you’re not going to, I know I didn’t, but you try your best to cover all your base and again, just be very detailed about it when you sign off on it. Because later in the project, you want to avoid any surprises as much as possible. And then one of the other things, once you’re defining scope is you’re going to be picking out what kind of integrations you’re going to need to go along with the main web platform. I don’t think there’s an eCommerce site out there that can get by just out of the box.
Most everybody’s going to need some sort of third party integration, even if it’s just for shipping and payment, but, what you want to try and avoid is adding too many of those. I know there’s a lot of really attractive integrations and extensions out there and you’re like, Oh, that’d be neat to add to my site.
But, you start loading sites up with a bunch of those. And the next thing, you know, it’s Frankenstein’s website where you’ve got all these different pieces cobbled together to try and, and create the site that you want, but it ends up turning out to be a monster. And then your customers are charging after you with the torches and pitchforks.
And, we want to avoid that. So you don’t want to have Frankenstein’s website. You want to be very selective. What about the integrations that you’re going to choose? Here are some of the main third party integrations we’re using. We use ShipperHQ for a lot of our shipping functionality.
This is new to us and it’s really been eye opening, the amount of functionality and options and how much we can enhance the user experience with that tool. We’re using PayPal and PayFlow Pro for our payment integration. We’ve been using PayFlow Pro for many, many years. MailChimp has our email marketing tool, and then Trustpilot we use for our service and product ratings.
Then I’ve included a couple of developers of extensions down here, Amasty and Majefan. These are Magento extension developers that are really top notch. They’ve developed a lot of different extensions for Magento. Almost all of them are highly rated and that’s the type of thing that you really want to look for with an extension developer, just like you would with a regular project developer.
Do they have high writings? Do they have good customer response? You can look at the Q&A, on a lot of these extensions pages to see are they responding to the customer questions? Are there regular updates of the extension? Is it live or has it been dormant for many months or years? You really want to try and only use extensions that are being made by reputable, certified developers, like Amasty and Magefan.
Another big piece of this project for us was it’s a lesson I have to learn. Every time we get into a big project like this, and I try to be mindful of changing the way operations happen as a result of changes with the website. What I mean by that is that the website touches all aspects of the business, whether it be sales, customer, service, marketing, shipping, receiving, purchasing accounting, the things that you do and the choices you make with it, the website, particularly when you’re doing a big migration like this, it has ripple effects across the entire company. So you change some piece of data, you change a process. You really need to test that change through to completion. It’s not enough to just say, okay, we’re changing this one field of piece of data on how orders are generated and it comes over to the ERP. So yeah, it works and that’s not enough. You really need to see it, once it gets to the ERP.
How does that order process, how does your pick ticket look, when he goes to the warehouse, how does shipping have to deal with it? If you have to conduct a return on that order, what does that look like? Does the data affect any of those steps? Does it affect the daily or monthly accounting?
Yeah, I would love to say that I went into this project and our team thought of everything, but it’s just not possible. But as you change these different pieces, from what they may have been previously, you just really want to test that through to completion. One example would be like we have a field for the attribution of the sale of an order to a particular location. So let’s say that we sold an item to a customer that’s in Michigan and we would want to attribute that sale to our Michigan location, but at the time that they purchased it, maybe there weren’t any in stock in Michigan. So it actually came out of Florida or something of that nature.
But that value that comes over to our system would be saying the sales is attributed to Michigan. So we had a session with our new sites where we neglected to inform DCKAP of how we wanted that data to come across, how we wanted those attributes, logic to work. And so everything was basically getting attributed to our Michigan locations.
They had a really good sales month in August. They looked great, but obviously that’s not how we wanted to go. And it affected purchasing because now they’re looking at the numbers and saying, well, we had this huge spike in sales in Michigan, and do reorder based on that it affected the accounting.
And so these are the things that just a small change for your web can make a big impact on the rest of the company. Some other operational changes that we made include, like we added PayPal express payments that wasn’t something we had offered before we used to PayFlow Pro for our credit card processing, but never accepted PayPal payments before.
And you know, that created the situation where we had to adjust and add additional administrative tasks to be able to capture those funds and balance at the end of every day that we hadn’t had to do previously, the process is different for those payments than it was for our regular credit card processing.
So it required creating a new process internally. We also added the new h B2B customer management functionality on the side so that our wholesale customers would be able to add multiple users. Then they can remove them and set permissions and so fourth, and we realized quickly that was something we were going to need to educate those customers about really one-on-one. Our customer base is not necessarily the most savvy of computer users that definitely excel in Marine mechanics, but they’re not always the best on a keyboard and screen. So a lot of times you’re trying to educate that customer on how to use this new functionality and make their account really work the best way possible over the phone.
So that was a challenge. We added regional delivery options. We’d had delivery options before, but we had never really offered them through the site. So that’s a new aspect. And we had to make sure that we were prepared for how that order looks when it comes across from the site to our warehouses.
Thanks to ShipperHQ, we were able to add estimated delivery dates at checkout for our customers, which is a great improvement in the experience, but it also sets an expectation level for our customers and we accept back orders. So that kind of throws a wrinkle into that. And we had to make some adjustments to make sure that we weren’t setting unreal expectations for our customers.
We were able to improve the shipping rate estimates again, thanks to ShipperHQ [00:34:00] that much more accurate estimates of shipping rates. We were also able to add a requisition or quick order form for our B2B customers, which is new because a lot of B2B customers already know what they want.
They know the part numbers, they don’t need to do any kind of shopping experience where they’re browsing around or clicking through categories. They can just open up a form, put in their part numbers and quantities and hit, submit and be done. And so, we wanted to give them that kind of functionality. And then just more integration with the ERP against one of our main goals for the project. So more tight and integration of customer data, order data, product data. And so when you’re pushing all that data around, you have to be really careful that it’s correct, and it’s going in the right fields, because if you do it again correctly, it could again have that ripple effect that affects beyond just the website.
I’ll give another example of how an operational change can have some unintended consequences. So we’re using ShipperHQ now, and I’m able to get more accurate rates, which is great and able to provide estimated delivery times, which again, great. These are two things that improve the user experience. This is what we’re going for.
We want to continue to improve the user experience. The unintended consequence of this is that FedEx became a much more attractive option at checkout. The rights for FedEx ground are usually better than UPS ground for us. And also because the estimated delivery times, you know, FedEx delivers on Saturdays.
So particularly for orders that were later in the week our customers are seeing estimated delivery with FedEx. That’s much quicker than UPS. These two things combined to make FedEx just a much more attractive option. Suddenly after launch, we see this huge spike in the number of orders we’re processing using FedEx as the shipping method.
Previously UPS had been our main shipping method that most customers choose. So this was new to us. Where are our shipping departments prepared? No, not really. This was a surprise. You know, in each warehouse we’ve got areas designated for, we stage our UPS packages and where we stage FedEx packages.
All of the sudden the FedEx area isn’t nearly as big enough as it needs to be. So we’ve got to do some thinking and rearrange, how are our staging areas or our design so that we have enough room for FedEx packages. Additionally, the processing of FedEx orders is a little bit more manual than ups has a couple of extra steps.
And again, so now you’re slowing down the shipping department from what they were used to where it was a much quicker processing for a lot of packages. Now there’s a number of packages that have that longer process. So again, we’re in the busy part of our season in the summer, and that was a challenge.
And then, you know, even FedEx drivers were not prepared and were affected to buy this because all of a sudden these drivers are showing up every day and picking up three times as many packages as they were previously. Do they have room on the truck? You know, those are the questions that we didn’t know.
We were going to have to ask when we started this, you know, all we wanted to do was just provide a better experience for our kids, customers at checkout, who knew that these types of ripples were going to happen. And again, that’s why I say you really try to the best of your ability to test that through, to completion.
What does it look like when and anticipate what might happen when you make these changes smothered the challenges that we’ve run into with this project. And I think every web development project is probably run into this first one, which is the changing timeline. I can’t name a web project ever that finished on time.
If you have ever been a part of one, then you should be the one giving the speech, not me, but you know, it’s something that we try to stick to as best we could. We started to put this project together summer and fall, and we really were targeting April was our launch date, because as you can imagine, the boating season, this is busiest.
During the summer, June, July, August are just peak times. We wanted to try and launch before we got to that season. And it just wasn’t something we were able to pull off. I mean, it was going to be a tight window to begin with, but then the pandemic happened. And again, one of those things in 2019. We couldn’t have predicted, so that slowed down our operations.
It slowed down the ability of DCKAP to work on the project though. I will give them kudos. They were able to recover quickly. There were lockdowns in India where a lot of their developers are. That slowed things down, but they were able to facilitate remote working for their developers and get the project moving forward very quickly.
And that it wasn’t too much of a speed bump and again, and for us as well, we had to navigate that during the April may timeframe and it slowed down the projects. So again, now we’re having to do the launch during the busy season, because again, we have that deadline of Magento one end of life in June.
And so I would have loved to push this off to the winter when we were slower. It just wasn’t a reasonable thing to do. So we had to navigate launch when we were at our busiest time, when the most eyes were honest, when the most customers were coming to us. So any issues just going to be amplified by 10 because of the amount of customers that we’re dealing with during that time, another issue that we’re still grappling with though, I think it’s going to get better is the way we handle order allocation through our multiple warehouses. Obviously we want to ship in the most efficient way possible that can become a pretty complex algorithm, particularly with us because we throw a lot of wacky stuff at DCKAP to try and make this work, including we allow ordering of out-of-stock items. we allow orders to be split into multiple shipments from multiple locations, just depending on where we have it in stock.
So particularly on the B2B side, when a customer can build a cart, that’s 15, 20, 25 items long that can become a really cumbersome algorithm to try and figure out, and it can slow down that checkout process. So we’re working through that issue to see how we can improve and make that a more efficient allocation of the order.
Another challenge for us is handling B2B customer pricing. Not every customer gets the same price on our B2B website. There are different levels. There are tiers certain customer segments make it a special price on certain brands, but then the standard price on other brands. So it’s pretty complicated.
It’s really had us. Go back to the drawing board and say, are we doing this right? Maybe we should rethink our whole pricing structure and make it simpler. And I think that’s probably an approach we’re going to take in order to navigate this challenge. And then, as I mentioned before, just the challenge of educating and engaging our B2B customer, helping them to understand how the new site works.
I mean, it’s a pretty intuitive and prototypical eCommerce experience for the most part, but that B2B part of it is different and not all customers are going to. Pick up on it right away. So taking the time to do that one on one education with them educating our sales force so that they can go out and work with the customer and help them to understand how it works.
It is important as well. And then another big challenge. And I think this is probably a pretty common one for a lot of companies. This is just dealing with messy data and we’ve been in business for over 40 years. And we’ve got, you know, a lot of data that we’ve collected, whether it be product or custom over the years.
And maybe we haven’t always put it in the right spot or been consistent with how it’s been entered and that can lead to issues, particularly when you’re pushing around, pushing it to the website, you’re setting up operations to depend on certain values. It’s really important to try and get it consistent.
And, you know, you’ve got a company of. X amount of people we’ve got 60 employees and everybody is maybe doing something the way they see to do it, and can mean 60 different variations of how that data is entered. So standardizing and making your data consistent is a really important thing to ensure that you don’t run into issues later.
I read Amazon recently called it data hygiene. And I think that’s a really good term for it. You really want to try and clean it up and make it consistent as much as possible. And another one of the big things to address those challenges. And I’ve mentioned it before and I wanted to mention it again is just the communication piece, communicate, and then communicate some more with that developer with your partners, then the project.
DCKAP was really great. They set up weekly communication calls with us every day. At the same day, every week, the same time every week, we were on a call with DCKAP, where they were able to go over what they had been working over for the previous week, what they had planned for the coming week, what they were going to be working on is an opportunity for them to ask questions, to share their screen and demonstrate different things to us and work through any issues that were coming up.
And there was a representative from Magento on the calls each week as well. So he was a resource for us to be able to ask technical questions and make sure that we were doing things to their standards and exercising best practices. We used a couple of communication tools as well throughout the project that were really valued base camp initially. And then once we got into the testing phase of the project, we used Trello, which you have, if you haven’t used it, it’s a really nifty tool for, um, Basically just managing multiple tickets and we can move them around into different statuses. It’s just a nice project management type of tool that we found very valuable.
And we’re still continuing to use it after launch, as we addressed, you know, things that we see come up or, or it. Things that we want to implement. And then I know it’s kind of an old technology, but screen captures were so valuable throughout the project, just to help in communicating what you’re looking at, what you’re wanting and particularly in testing, uh, you know, I’m of the philosophy that you get.
A lot of people involved in testing from, uh, all over the company. Uh, because, you know, again, the website is touching all kinds of jobs within the company. So getting those people involved to check out the processes that affect them and teaching them all how to do screen captures and making notes on those screenshot captures was really valuable, speeding up communication to help DCKAP understand what we were looking at.
You know, it seems basic, but it was just, it was really important for us. And the final thing I’ll just say with our project that was really important was to measure results. You spend a lot of money on a platform migration. I spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of brain cells. And it’s important that you’re getting something for that.
We didn’t want it to just be a lateral move because Magento one was, uh, nearing the end of life. And we had to make a move. We wanted to get something out of this. So, you know, for me, conversion rate is like the ultimate metric that really tells you whether your new website is performing better or worse than the old one, because it’s no matter how big the audience it’s telling you what that experience is like for the customer.
Are they? I’m converting to an order, which is ultimately what you want to see. Right? So I’m happy to report with our new sites. We’ve been launched for about five or six weeks. Now, conversion rate is up anywhere from 2535%, depending on the day, a week, uh, which is really exciting. And another thing that we’re measuring was the page load times and that was one of our key priorities that we wanted to tackle with this project.
I’m happy to report that we’ve got page load times that we’re up to 50% faster than our old sites. Again, I think a lot of that has to do with getting rid of a lot of those extensions, having the native features of Magento to, um, to do what we’re wanting it to do in terms of the user experience.
And the bounce rate is lower by about 15% for our new sites, which is great. Bounce rate can be a feet sticking metric to measure by, it can be missed, but I’m in Texas taking it in context with some of these other things that we’re seeing. And I think you can see it’s a positive one.
And then the average session, time again, taken on its own. It may not tell you much. I mean, if, if session times are up, that could mean that the customers are struggling to find what they want or do. Do whatever action they’re trying to do. But in this case, when you compare it with also conversion rate page, load times, and that sort of thing, I believe that this is a positive metric for us, that the sessions are lasting about 50% longer than they were on the old sites.
So all really good results. And, um, You know, we’re excited about just how seamless this transition has been from our old sites to the new ones. And we’re excited for the platform that we have and the partner that we have. We feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to continue to grow as anybody who’s been through a web migration will know it’s never done. There’s never a finish line. You’re continuing to be revising and improving to try and meet whatever new customer expectations there are. That’s really all I have. And I appreciate all of you signing up and listening to the presentation.if you’ve got any questions, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, or you can email me directly at email@example.com
I’ve enjoyed talking with you guys and, um, again, feel free to reach out to me. Be happy to discuss any of the questions that you have about the presentation with that. I’m going to let Cathy take it back over.
Catherine: Thank you so much, Ryan. We do actually have a question from Hillary and , I’d love to ask that to you right now.
She’s asking, how did you prioritize your third party integrations and resources?
That’s a good question, Well, I mean, I could do another hour or so on that. So, it just takes discussion amongst you, your core team about what’s the most important thing to you for us, you know? There’s no compromising on the fact that we have multiple sites that have multiple warehouses, so that functionality had to come first.
then the basics of checkout and making sure that, you know, we meet the shipping is really important. We’ve just learned that through experience. So, making sure that we were quoting accurate rates, that we had the flexibility to do things like free shipping rules and, and, certain areas to be able to offer like the delivery options that we offer to our B2B customers, store, pickup, that sort of thing.
So that whole shipping part became really important for us. I just think that that’s an important piece of any e-commerce. Platform shipping and payment are just going to be at the top two on your list. I would think, um, beyond that, you know, it’s, it’s what do the customers expect? So it’s gonna, it’s just gonna depend on, you know, what are they already used to and what’s going to be the thing that gives you the most return on your investment. So what could help the customer experience the most? I think that’s probably something that you’d want to look at when you were prioritizing, which extensions to choose.
Catherine: Awesome. Great. Thank you so much for the great detailed answer and it was really cool. You know, in your presentation, just hearing your thought process, going through all the options for the project, it could certainly be a daunting task for anyone and hearing your insights on choosing a platform and choosing a developer for navigating the challenges and the great results.
I think that could be really helpful to those looking, to make a similar change. So thank you very much. We will be sharing all this great content post event, and we’ll be hosting the videos on demand on our events page as well. So be sure to check that out and share it across with anyone you think who would be great insight.
And then also I’d like to once again, say thank you to our sponsors, a Webscale and shipper HQ for their support and contribution to the event. And we’d also just like to take a moment to mention that there are some great promotions available with a 30 day free trial with DCKAP’s, product chorus, which Ryan spoke about. And with three months of support from Webscale and a 30 day trial of shipper HQ.
Thank you again, everyone for joining us for this month’s event. And we have a great lineup for next month’s event as well. So please keep watch out for that. And again, you can see all of our upcoming previously held sessions as well on our website dckap.com/events.
Have a great rest of the day, everyone.
Panel Discussion On Differentiating The Business Through Omni Channel Strategies _ DCKAP eSessions
Catherine: Okay, welcome everybody. Thank you for joining this edition of DCKAP eSessions. My name’s Catherine. I work with the marketing team as the partner manager at DCKAP. And I’ll be hosting this great session we have planned for you today. First, a big thank you to our sponsors for today’s eSession with our partners, Webscale and ShipperHQ, and we’d like to thank them for their continued support.
We hold these DCKAP eSessions, events, monthly with strategies in eCommerce, featuring our clients’ digital journeys, and many of our partners’ valuable insights. And you can always see our latest events @dckap.com/events. And then now we’re going to go onto the panel discussion and I’ll start by introducing Shiva Kumaar from DCKAP, who will be our moderator.
Shiva is the head of digital strategy for Cloras and he also hosts the DCKAP podcast driven eCommerce at work, which will be reaching the milestone of its 25th episode and Shiva if you can come on board, thanks so much for moderating and you can go ahead and introduce the rest of our panel for us.
Shiva Kumaar: Thanks for the intro, Kathy. Thank you. Cool. It was great to see all those panelists and good that we have a great attendee list. So I hope that all the panelists are ready. We will start up with the introduction. So as you all know I’m Shiva Kumaar. And, so we’ve got five people over here on the panel today, starting from Ryan Van Hoozer, Vice President of Operations at Marysville Marine Distributors and Kenn Glenn, Marketing Director at Marysville Marine.
And we’ve got Adrian Luna, Channel Leader at Webscale Networks, Devon Plopper, Senior Account Executive at ShipperHQ and my friend Gowtham Ram, Account Manager at DCKAP. Cool. So, the first thing that we need for every eCommerce store is the hosting. So I’ll just go ahead and start off the session with Adrian. To make it more clear for someone who’s not familiar with the hosting and why it’s important, can you tell us about the role the hosting environment plays for an online storefront, Adrian?
Adrian Luna: Yes, I appreciate it. I wish that was the first thing that we talked about when in terms of building these things out. You know, so it’s a common question that we get, asking us how hosting or what hosting plays a part in what we’re doing and to see overall production and performance of the environment.
I think, in general terms right, you just want to think of hosting as the foundation for all of the beautiful work that someone like DCKAP performs in terms of development, design, and just the creation of an overall brand experience. I mean, if you listen to the passion in Ryan’s voice, as he talks about the months and months of hard work that went into developing this storefront. And then, you know, eventually that’s all gonna have to live somewhere for ongoing production. You heard terms like site page load speed times, performance, security, you know, everything revolves around the customer, interacting with the brand. And what we found over the years is unfortunately a lot of times hosting decisions can be overlooked, right or sometimes made in haste with everything else that’s going on and honestly it’s not a very sensational conversation to have. But it is a conversation that is absolutely mission critical to the ongoing success of the storefront, whether that is B2B or B2C. So, for us, I think over the last several years, public cloud technologies like AWS, like Google, Azure, they’ve been looked at more and more as like the most viable options for eCommerce storefronts and largely due to the fact that if built and managed correctly, these more modern environments are actually capable of handling the requirements of these modern sites and stores.
So, as buying habits change, as traffic to websites and online stores increases, just the need to architect a proper environment in that public cloud, it’s just been more and more apparent that it’s a conversation that needs to be had and part of that conversation is taking it into account expected traffic. Having an understanding of the application that the hosting environment is meant to support or the complexity of integrations. You listen around, talk about the different integrations into the storefront and what it’s expected to do.
And then taking all of that and using experience and supporting the application to be able to apply that proper performance and security measures to make sure that it’s solid and ready to go. So I think to recap all of that, these days hosting a storefront is no longer just about spinning up a server and keeping it online and making sure that you have somebody that’s just monitoring to make sure it’s online right? You’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of the visitors to the site or the storefront. I mean, the online buyers are expecting your brand to have a fast, secure, and seamless experience as they’re navigating. So having a modern hyperscale hosting provider is going to ensure that the foundation can hold up and support, not just the site, but really the overall brand. So I guess that’s the best way to put it in a nutshell.
Shiva Kumaar: Okay. Devon, what exactly does ShipperHQ do? Can you please give us some intro about what the ShipperHQ is all about?
Devon Plopper: For sure. Yeah. As Ryan kind of mentioned, there’s so many different things in the specifically, even just the shipping ecosystem.
So ShipperHQ, we’re shipping software, but we are just in the cart and checkout experience. So what we’re doing is we’re really curating and managing the methods and the rates that are shown in the cart to the customer based on a wide variety of parameters, like what Ryan had mentioned, different things like where are they ordering items from, what’s the closest warehouse to them, are they eligible for free promotions, kind of where there’s any complexity like that, that’s where we fit in. So we’re helping people like Ryan, really show customers exactly what you want them to see.
Shiva Kumaar: Good. So can you talk a little bit more, I mean, where does ShipperHQ fit in the eCommerce ecosystem to drive conversions?
Devon Plopper: Yeah. There’s so many different things that we do to really help drive conversions. I think Ryan hit on a couple of really key ones. Delivery dates are huge right now. I mean, people really want to see transparency in the cart and checkout.
I think, you know, choosing what carriers that you wish to display is something that is really coming in when people are reevaluating their shipping strategy too. Ryan had said they were using UPS and once they realized they could show shipping delivery dates and it was much easier for them to say this is a better option for us because they’re going to help us fulfill what we want to do now.
I think it’s something that’s really important to think about. There’s still a lot of eCommerce companies that just want to show ground shipping. But I think people are really a lot more educated about what services they like. They have an affinity for FedEx versus UPS, or maybe they are fine getting something ships, USPS and allowing people to choose what’s going to work best for them helps people just be done and check out faster. Another thing really was setting expectations, offering in store pickup has been huge. ShipperHQ, especially post pandemic has helped a ton of eCommerce customers come online with store pickup because that was something that was kind of like a nice to have and now it’s really a need to have.
Shiva Kumaar: Cool. So Ryan, it was a nice presentation. And how has migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 cloud been so far?
Ryan: It’s been pretty good, better than expected. As I’ve mentioned in my presentation, we’ve been through this type of transition previously. It is not a smooth thing or it can be a pretty rocky transition.
There’s a lot of moving parts and having capable partners is and communicating well, as I mentioned in the presentation is just so important for the project to go smoothly. We turned the sites on, on a Saturday morning and didn’t miss a beat. We started collecting orders right away and the volume, traffic and orders was almost exactly what we were receiving the week prior. So, it was a pretty seamless transition. Obviously there have been hiccups, but from the customer standpoint, I think it’s been really smooth. I don’t think that there’s been much interruption in service at all on the backend side.
There’ve been some of those things as what I’ve mentioned, where we’ve had to kind of scramble and address issues that we’ve created for ourselves, but again, nothing catastrophic. And that really goes back to, did you plan well, did you communicate well, did you define the scope in detail, so that you didn’t run into a lot of surprises when you come to the launch time.
Shiva Kumaar: So, Gowtham, can you tell us about your experience in migrating both the sides from M1 to M2 cloud? Was that easy or was that hard?
Gowtham Ram: Definitely. Sure. So I think every website migration is different in its own way. So do, as DCKAP, we have ample amount of experience in migrating websites from different platforms or from M1, our meetings will have its own challenges, but I think our working with Ryan and Kenn made things really simple for us.
As Ryan said that the communication was great from both ends and Ryan clearly knew what was needed and made that meeting pretty comfortable for us in the first place. I think we started off with a detailed business requirement document that helped draft the blueprint for this project.
And also, the team, they did a detailed study of the document and they ensured that there were no surprises at the last moment and we knew what was needed. And that was part of the plan throughout the project. And also, for UI/UX, Kenn played a major role. He helped us with the layouts and few mock ups that helped our UI/UX team or, you know, or draft a plan for the mockups and layout.
So I think these expertize that Marysville team brought in, that was really great. That just took a lot of burden from our shoulders. And also, they trusted us a lot. And whenever we came up with any solutions, they trusted us and they were ready to take up the solution and go ahead. And even when we had last moment challenges and we had to customize things or make few changes, they understood that.
And, that helped us to come to a conclusion and make things move. So I think overall it was a great experience working with them, and I hope that we have a long term relationship going with them in the upcoming years.
Shiva Kumaar: So that’s the first part. Can you talk a little bit about the complex part? So how complex was that or did you find anything complex when it comes to the customizations on this project?
Gowtham Ram: Yeah, sure. So I think other than many things that are kind of complex, but I know due to the time concern, I think I would pick one in terms of shipping or choosing or the warehouses.
So there had to be a complex logic where, as Ryan said they have around five warehouses. So right now what happens is when a customer places an order, we had to, you know, an algorithm had to run across and check from where the particular from, which is the closest warehouse, we’ll have to check if that particular warehouse has all of the orders of the stock in the first place.
And if that did not work or what had to be done is to check for the next warehouse which has all of these stocks. So this had to be done. And in case, you know, all warehouses don’t have all of the items, then you’ll have to take a warehouse, the closest warehouse, whichever product is available, the number of quantities, speed up and then move onto the next one.
Pick up what is over there and go to the third one, you know, make up the final list. And also adding to that in case a product is not available at all, it had to be added in the back order list. So this is one complex thing that we had to work on. And there are a few more things that are yet to work, which we are planning to post go live.
So I think even ShipperHQ played a role in this, helping us pass on all the details to them, to fetch the pricing for them. So I think this was one complex. Warehouse management was one thing that we were able to handle for them, Shiva.
Shiva Kumaar: So Kenn, from your xperience, what’s the takeaway in launching a website at a large corporation versus a small to midsize corporation.
Kenn Glenn: Yeah. So the main difference when we launched this website for Marysville Marine versus some of my experience with the larger corporations is that a larger corporation kind of has too many cooks in the kitchen. You’re talking to a lot of executives and middle management and everyone is trying to put that together, what they think they need or what they would want for the website.
And with Marysville Marine, Ryan, as he’s detailed, had a very clear vision of what he wanted, and what he needed this website to do and how he needed it to perform. So, that is one of the biggest differences in knowing exactly what we want, what we need for the website.
So, like I said, my experience in the bigger corporations, it was just, a lot of people internalize what they think they need for us. Ryan went through and said, okay, this is exactly what we need on the back end. This is what the business needs. And then we really came together and said, what do the customers need?
So we really had a good focus on the customer and that’s something I think I’ve had a lot of experience in, when in terms of having a bigger corporation developing the website, it’s more internalizing what the business needs. We did a really good job of balancing both. And then, like I said, we did a really good job of saying who really needs to be involved in this project from the Marysville Marine side.
So, you know, we had just Ryan heading the project, our IT department and then myself or the UI/UX and design aspects of it. But we didn’t bring everyone else in until Ryan said at the end, when we were doing testing, when we started getting it out to our other departments and having them take a look at it.
So it’s really more streamlined on the smaller side and I would recommend anyone should do it that way versus on the larger side where it was just kind of maybe too collaborative.
Shiva Kumaar: So Gowtham. How has launching websites from home been, is that good? You see for you for the first time?
Gowtham Ram: Yeah, I think it’s been different, definitely because you know, launching a website back at office used to be really different. We all come on a bit early in the morning. We have the entire team in the conference room, booked the conference room for the entire day, the snack comes in, the lunch comes in and sometimes even the dinner comes in if launch is not really great and if you have some pending issues. So, we have everyone from the development, the SEO, the QA, the networking team, everyone over there, looking at the large monitor, seeing how things are going on as everything’s more than everything. So that’s the way, you know, we have been launching websites so far, and after we started working from home, this was one major thing that kept on running in the back of our minds.
Like how are we going to launch websites? Because it needs all of our all expertise from all teams to be there at the same place to just make sure everything is smooth. So I think, yeah, that was a big challenge, but yeah, I think, we started getting adapted to the zoom calls and everything.
We are on the bridge all the time, making sure everyone is available, if there’s any issue, just let them know and immediately join. And sometimes even the client jumps on the call, if they see an issue and we were able to resolve it as soon as possible. So yeah, we do miss those times where we used to all be together and launch a website and celebrate the success. But yeah, this is a kind of a new area we are getting accustomed to and hope things turn back how it was earlier.
Shiva Kumaar: Good. So Kenn, what information did you use to redesign your site?
Kenn Glenn: I mean, we used a whole lot of research and we looked at a lot of other websites within our industry. We looked at a lot of other websites that are specialty websites, we specialize in boat parts and things like that.
So we started looking just, it didn’t have to be boating, but we looked at like guitar center. They specialize in a lot of guitars and things like that. So we wanted to see how they were presenting that information and those products to their customers. So we did a lot of research and started thinking outside of the box.
And then we honestly did a lot of heat map testing on our current website like I said before, from coming from a big organization, everyone can argue for why something might need to have a space on the website. But with no data, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a gut argument.
So we wanted to go in with as much data as we could. So we took our old website and just ran some heat map, testing, click testing, and things like that. And we really found out a lot of the things that we had on our homepage, our customers didn’t really care about. They really wanted to go to the search, and the menu bar needed to be clear. So we took a lot of that data to inform our mockups and our wireframes and just kind of went from there.
Shiva Kumaar: Cool. And can you tell us a little bit about approaching the design of your B2B side versus the one for the B2C side.
Kenn Glenn: Yeah. So, that was something that we had a lot of conversations about internally. At the end of the day, a customer is a customer. They’re going to behave the same way. They want the same things and they want to have a very similar experience, a very prototypical experience across all devices or any website. It doesn’t matter if they’re buying something on Amazon or buying something special on our website or buying something on guitar center or anything like that.
So we needed to figure out. The feature set. What was the most important to those two customers, but keep the experience very similar. So on the Marysville Marine side, on the B2B, it was important for those customers to be able to buy in bulk, have bigger carts, and have a lot of admin access and tools to be able to edit their admin features because they might have someone else from their department come in and buy something for one time and then they might need to add that access. So it was basically a feature set and on the various, for the B2C side, the Marine Parts Source website, it just needed to be a clear cut eCommerce website, very standard and we just needed to make sure that the product was easy to find and easy to purchase.
Shiva Kumaar: So, Devon it’s a modern era of eCommerce where we all learn from Amazon the same-day delivery, honestly. I mean, if you really look at it, the past two or three years shipping has changed a lot, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a small or large scale eCommerce brand. I think everyone is focused towards creating a great customer journey. So what are some of the non-shipping best practices that we can implement right now to stay ahead of the competition.
Devon Plopper: Yeah. It sounds like a lot of the things that we would recommend is we know what Marysville Marine was doing and really taking the time when you’re reevaluating your shipping strategy to think about what carriers you’re using, we’re integrated with 40 plus carriers.
So we connect directly to your carrier accounts, to display negotiated rates and that’s how we pull in information like estimated delivery days to be able to show what is available. And then I think deciding whether a date and time being able to show the estimated timing, transitive delivery date is something that’s going to work for you.
Like Ryan had mentioned, sometimes it’s a little tricky to launch in the first place because there’s a lot of other people involved in the whole process, like FedEx delivery drivers and your operations manager, how is that going to affect everybody? So really considering that I would say a best practice we really recommend for people launching that, is adding an extra lead day to make sure that you’re setting the right expectations. And if you exceed them great, you can remove that once you feel like you really have your processes down. I think, having strategic free shipping with ShipperHQ, you can set free shipping promotions on specific products and it doesn’t require any promo codes.
It’s just something that’s set and it can also turn on and off. So, yeah. Things like that are just running behind the scenes that really eliminate extra steps in the checkout and showing people the transparency, Marysville Marine is using the local pickup. I feel like that’s a huge differentiator in terms of the new kind of equal commerce space.
And I think the last thing is really making sure that when you are designing your shipping strategy, you’re not just thinking broadly. Maybe if you’re only shipping domestic, you really want to hone in what options do I want to show the East coast versus the West coast. You want to have different options for your international customers. There’s a lot of ways where you can really tighten that up and hone in and make it easier for people to see the options that are going to be the best for them.
Shiva Kumaar: So coming back to ShipperHQ, what does the process look like to set up ShipperHQ and how often do you need to monitor the back end logic?
Devon Plopper: Yeah. So setting up ShipperHQ, I think like Marysville Marine had mentioned, over communicating is really important. With ShipperHQ, we work with really tiny customers all the way up to huge enterprise customers and everything in between. So we have a lot of different options available.
We have some people that will kind of DIY their set up if they have really simple requirements. But I think one of the best services that we offer is we’re a really small team. We have some really dedicated account executives like myself and a couple other people where we can actually schedule time to talk through your entire scope of work and build it out for you.
So it’s very similar to the kind of the process you guys were describing about over communicating what you need accomplished building out a scope of work, talking about that, bringing in people that like the operations manager and when you’re discussing it to make sure that everything’s working end to end.
And once we have that scope of work built out, it’s typically around a seven to nine day business day turnaround. So it’s really quick once you know what you need to get done for us implemented on the backend. We’re often kind of the last step in getting people’s eCommerce sites launched, but yeah, it’s something people should be thinking about much earlier in the process, if they can.
Shiva Kumaar: Okay, so Gowtham, talking about shipping, I think, up until a couple of years ago, integration was just considered as an add on or extension and not a must to have solution, right? So things are changing and integrating all of the applications like eCommerce, ERP or shipping has been becoming part of the core project right now, I mean, especially in 2019 and 2020, I would say. So can you tell us a little bit about Cloras and what crucial role that Cloras played in integrating Magento 2 with the Prophet 21.
Gowtham Ram: Definitely Shiva. So as Ryan pointed out, Cloras played a crucial or even a critical role right from the PCL spot.
So Cloras was the differentiator that helped us win this project. So that shows how important Cloras is in terms of our integration. And when it comes to what implementation we have done, Marysville uses almost 11 services of Cloras. So right from a customer creation or product updates or inventory updates, creating orders or processing orders or dynamic pricing, offline orders, just to name a few are things that we use Cloras for. So Cloras basically ensures you could have unique and complex logics that are written for the data that’s being synchronized between P21 and Magento. So it just doesn’t pull data and put it over there if you need to be validated or any value to be added or to be filtered, everything can be done using Cloras modifiers over there.
And also, you could also closely monitor if the data is sinking correctly or if there’s any success or failure in terms of the sync and in case there’s any sync failure, or you really need not wait for a Cloras developer to come and let you know what that is. You can just open up the logs and see what the issue is that it clearly highlights what’s wrong with Cloras.
And even if there’s success, you could also see what data’s success is synchronized and what data is not coming. So that’s something great about Cloras. And also, again, as in the presentation, what was mentioned, the mapping is really simple, so you really don’t need to know any coding or anything for mapping.
You can just drag items from Magento, drag items of P21 and just map them. It’s as simple as that. So this ease of use that Cloras has really makes it a big differentiator that helped us, no matter what complex logics or customizations we had to do in terms of Magento that was easily handled in Cloras and it was those data were pushed into P21. So yeah, that’s, I think, really made a big difference in this entire project, Shiva.
Shiva Kumaar: So, Ryan I’m sure this project was one of the finest launches you’ve had in 2020, I’m pretty sure for us as well. I mean, especially during this pandemic situation.
So how did you approach this project during the vendor selection process, adding some of the points from your presentation, I think you talked about communication, certification integration and similar customer stories, right? But it’s an era of hundreds and thousands of eCommerce experts and agencies.
So, where do you think distributors are making mistakes during the initial discovery process or what kind of things they can be aware of during the initial stage?
Ryan: Well, probably one of the biggest hurdles I would assume is just where do you start? There’s a lot of options out there right. And so we tried. I mean, for us, I think that we were able to narrow it down pretty quickly because we had such a specific set of needs that we wanted to address. We looked at all the platforms to figure out which eCommerce platform was the right fit for us. And it was a fairly easy decision to identify that Magento was gonna fit best just because of the fact that we have multiple locations, multiple sites, so forth, but it may not be as easy for somebody else who maybe doesn’t have that complexity.
And I did a lot of reading of articles and whites papers and that sort of thing online, just to see, to educate myself about what’s out there, what are the right fits for us. And then, like I said, once we had a pretty good grasp on that, the fact that we were going to use Magento, we went to Magento and said, tell us, who would you recommend?
And the big factor in helping to narrow down the developer partner was we wanted to integrate with our ERP system, which is Prophet 21. It’s a distributor program at its heart that narrowed the playing field quite a bit. And again, we wanted to try and minimize the number of developers involved in the project.
If we could find one that could do the entire thing both the front end and the integration part that was ideal. And there were very few out there that we found that could accomplish that. So, that’s what led us to DCKAP was Magento’s recommendation. And, again, we looked at the Cloras piece and really found that was attractive.
So what mistakes are people making? I mean, probably every mistake that you can think of but, it’s just I think you got to examine what are your needs, what are your customer’s needs? And that’s going to be unique to each situation, and then you need to try and just the software and the developer with who you think can best make those needs happen.
Shiva Kumaar: Good. Thanks Ryan. So before jumping onto one final question for Adrian, I’m going to pick the Q&A from Susie. So I’ll let either Gowtham or Adrian take over this question if you want. So the question is what are hosting options for customers who haven’t migrated to Magento 2 yet? How are you keeping clients safe who are ready to go more or to move off from a gentle one?
Adrian Luna: Yeah, I can actually take that one if you’re okay with it Gowtham. That’s been a huge topic over the past several months, obviously Marysville had planned accordingly ahead of time, but yeah and we’ve seen a lot of storefronts run into this issue. Some of it was just pandemic related, COVID related, right?
Just normal processes in their business were delayed. And some of that led into development actually moving beyond that June 30 mark. So we’re still talking to brands that are in the situation right now. So now that we are post end of life, obviously there’s no longer any patches being developed or anything like that. So, in terms of easy stuff, the ongoing security patches, Webscale specifically is working with experts to continue to provide those patches and even at a faster rate than what were traditionally available before PCI compliance support has been incredibly huge.
Being able to manage the check boxes for making sure that you’re doing your part and the hosting provider is doing their part for compensating controls has been a really big topic of conversation for us. And then in addition to that we’re doing a lot of this through deploying a programmable web application firewall, through content security policy measures to prevent against any type of cross site scripting attacks, intrusion, this detection capabilities, and then your typical black listing and white listing capabilities, all really in an effort to go above and beyond what just a patch provider may be offering, just because nowadays I think it’s even more important than ever to have a secure storefront with considering the bad guys are getting better at what they do. And I think one of the biggest keys to our success for M1 support has been not necessarily intending to keep them muddy on it for a long period of time, but just to provide that extra runway while they’re working on a project like this, knowing that.
As Ryan said, you can plan for a certain date, but very often, and it’s going to continue to go beyond that date. So you need to stay. And I think, again one of the things that put us out above and beyond in terms of M1 support is our ability to actually deploy the support over the environment where it is now.
You’ve heard it a few times here that migration is not exactly a fun process and you don’t want to have to do it twice. So that’s the other thing is, you know, we hadn’t forced anybody to migrate over to another environment with their current store, knowing that you’re going to have to do it again when you launch your M2 store.
So it’s been a big point of emphasis for us to be able to work with deploying these things across the front of an existing environment, what we call M1 on-prem support. So, yeah, and, it’s been a large success for us this month or this year and that’s actually right.
We had put the offer up initially before we jumped on the panel, just because we are still seeing those brands that need that help.
Shiva Kumaar: Good. Thanks Adrian. So one of the things that we’re seeing right now is traffic, it doesn’t matter, you’re running an eCommerce store or you’re an agency.
I think traffic is doing good, especially during the situation. So one, one thing that we personally hear is, I think for one of the agencies, I got a traffic double-down compared to last year’s Black Friday or Thanksgiving sale. So, how do you expect the upcoming holiday season, the Black Friday, to be different during this COVID situation?
Adrian Luna: 2020 is the year of the unexpected. So I think we can expect the unexpected. Yes. It’s going to be unique. It goes without saying I don’t want to make light of the situation. And the current pandemic has had a huge effect on the way that people interact with retailers, normal day to day buying process, even B2B suppliers.
And it’s been important for us with Webscale’s ability to monitor traffic in real time and also make that available for our clients through our interactive client portal. We’ve actually seen, I’ve seen a lot of clients have holiday type, Black Friday type events in May or June. There’s just a lot of customers already this summer that have flocked to websites as opposed to brick and mortar retail.
So, interestingly also, a lot of the big box retailers have already said that they’re not going to open their doors and they’re pushing all of their interactions with their brand, with their customers online. So this is only going to exponentially increase as the holiday shopping season gets ramped up and I think this was a trend.
I know this was the trend that we were already seeing, right? In the current situation, it’s just acted as an accelerant to get more people interacting with digital brands or interacting with more of a digital experience, and unfortunately, like I had mentioned and then the first question that went my way was a lot of times it’s an afterthought, right?
Clients will come to us after a site fails, due to a traffic spike or after they were targeted with some sort of sophisticated security attack. And of course we’ll handle those cases as we come, but I’m sure, everyone on the panel agrees that we’re here to communicate the importance of taking those precautions before any sort of increased traffic spike becomes a problem.
So, for us and specifically that means load testing. That means security audits to make sure that the production environment can actually handle the traffic spikes as well as any security tax beforehand, right? So it’s simulating traffic putting it over to the site and saying, Hey, you can, your threshold is about this much.
And looking at the way your site has performed in the traffic to the site over the past 12 months or so, we’re even measured up against last year’s holiday season, you can expect about this much traffic and here’s the threshold of what you can handle before you start seeing degradation and performance.
So yeah, it’s like I talked about in the very beginning, it’s gotta be more than just fitting up a server. It’s about working with you and planning for your brand experience planning for what you’re expecting for the holiday season, I know a lot of people for eCommerce and specifically this holiday or any holiday season really can make or break your year. So investing time in advance to plan and accordingly is absolutely worth the while. I think the last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of marketing budget and pushing a campaign out and having that campaign be a success or having some unexpected viral event that turn into a huge success in driving traffic to your storefront.
And when you need it to be online most, when you need it to be performing at a high level most, if it fails, I think that’s just a tremendous loss and an immediate opportunity. And also we’ll get to the brand. So again, I can’t say it enough, right? Just planning, planning, planning, and continued planning.
Shiva Kumaar: Good. Perfect. Adrian. So I see that we’ve got the one more question from Mark Nicolson regarding the recent hack on Magento 1. So almost 2000 Magento stores have been compromised over the weekend and that is the largest hacking campaign since 2015. So I feel like it’s going to be huge, I mean, it’s going to take at least like half or we can talk about it forever. So I’m going to save that question for the next breakout session. And, so probably I think we can talk over there and I’ll let Kathy take it from here. Thanks everyone. Panelists, good talking to you. And I had great fun. Thank you so much.
Adrian Luna: Appreciate you guys. Thank you.
Catherine: Great. Thanks. Thank you. Thank you so much everyone. That was a great discussion. Really appreciate everybody’s insights. Okay. Well that was everything that we had planned for the eSession. Just a big thank you again to our sponsors and guests, Devon, from ShipperHQ, and Adrian at Webscale.
A big thank you to Ryan also for your amazing presentation and Kenn for your great insights during the discussion. And of course thank you to the DCKAP team, Gowtham, for your great insights and help on the project with Marysville and Shiva for your great job moderating with our guests. Thank you again, everyone for joining us for this month’s event.
And we have a great lineup for next month’s event as well. So please keep watch out for that. And again, you can see all of our upcoming, previously held sessions as well on our website @dckap.com/events. Have a great rest of the day everyone.
Ryan Van Hoozer
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