After visiting OSCON and seeing how other companies were engaging in open-source, I decided to share some of the more interesting things I learned with the community around Shopsys Framework - our clients, partners, fans, employees, advisors, consultants and investors.
Overall, OSCON has probably been one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended, simply in terms of having access to developers. Where else can I find and talk with MySQL/MariaDB, ElasticSearch, Apache Foundation and Acquia/Drupal co-founders? Although I ended up skipping some of the workshops, I made sure to attend two days worth of conferences, and below are some of the major points that stuck out for me and how we might best apply them to our own framework.
Business Around Open Source
Monty Widenius, co-founder of MySQL (which was sold to Sun for $1bn with $70m revenue) and founder of MariaDB, recommended using a Business Source License for some parts of software instead of relying on an open source + proprietary (e.g. dual licensing). The BSL means that the code is open and becomes free software under specific circumstances (e.g. after 4 years). After a short chat about the SSFW, he recommended using the MIT license for our platform and the BSL for modules.
Monty put it into perspective like this:
If you are a service company, you need 100 developers working for clients for every 10 developers working on the product. Valuations of those companies are usually double the revenue. If you are a software company, then you need income from selling licenses - it doesn’t matter if all of your software is proprietary or open source and only 1/100 customers end up paying. Valuations of these companies usually have 10x their revenues + Y x user base.
On the other hand Carolyn, the IP & licensing expert working at a Canadian software company (which she didn’t want to name) was quite suspicious about BSL as it is not approved by the Open Source foundation. She agrees with having the platform under MIT license, but recommends keeping modules as proprietary as they tend to include a company’s "secret sauce" (our particular know-how). She also recommended using yearly fees (both unlimited or limited, e.g. for 3-5 years) instead of asking for a high one-time fee. She strongly recommended including revenue from licenses in any open-source startup strategy, especially if they have a small/niche market. Conversely, one often celebrated open source Linux business, Red Hat, has one huge advantage and takes the opposite approach to niche marketing - instead, it relies on a huge ecosystem.
The Awkward GPL License
The GPL license is one of the most disliked licenses among their users (especially corporate users), yet it is a very commonly used license on commercial open source projects. It has a strict copyleft with limited distribution. It is unclear what the distribution is (especially in terms of internal distribution within corporate entities). Additionally, GPL causes adoption struggles for bigger companies as well - every usage of GPL source code needs to be approved by the legal/IP department. That is why companies prefer permissive licenses like MIT, BSD or APL.
To summarize, the copylefted (GPL, OSL, AGPL, LGPL) open source software producers (like MySQL, MariaDB, Magento, Oro) benefit from these issues and they usually offer another license (such as a dual licensing model). As a result, big companies prefer to buy a commercial license from a provider.
Newer alternatives to the GPL license, with less annoyances but still strict copylefts, include OSLv3, AGPLv3 and LGPLv3. OSLv3 has probably clearest definition of distribution and derivative works. Unlike MIT/BSD/APL, the GPL/OSL/AGPL/LGPL licenses have another advantage for the producer: their software can't be forked and redistributed without publishing changes.
For those of you who don’t know, Copyleft is the rule that when you redistribute the program, you cannot add restrictions which deny other people access to the program’s central freedoms (of free software, not in terms of money). However, it should be noted that a program which uses copyleft licensing does not need to be published to fall under this rubric. The copyleft applies only to the provided program and not in-house modifications to the software.
But things get even weirder. Software under AGPL (modified version of GPLv3) has a different requirement: if you run a modified program on a server, your server must also be allowed to download the source code corresponding to the modified it is version running. I am serious! MongoDB and Shopware are among several businesses who currently use this license.
On a side-note: MariaDB uses GPLv2 because it is based on MySQL that uses GPLv2 as well. Additional products (MariaDB Enterprise and MaxScale) fall under BSL.
License Selection Diagram
After dozens of hours spent researching licenses, I’ve created a simple license selection diagram. Feel free to use it for your projects.
Perfect Product Approach
You never start with a perfect product - it always takes time to make software better and better and the journey never ends. As Iwo (VP of Sales Operations) told me, Shopgate had a totally ugly, crappy mobile app in 2013 in comparison to what they have today. Now Shopgate is one of the leaders when it comes to the mobile store industry.
PHP Is The King
And yet, PHP is barely a top topic among speeches in conferences. I had discussions with many developers and project managers (at OSCON, Shopify Unite, GenereteNY) and most of them told me that PHP is the most used programming language for back-ends and cores of applications - especially in the e-commerce segment.
Many people told me that PHP is a safe choice as it has been here for more than 20 years and it will probably be there for decades to come. Even in the US, most web developers are PHP devs. Also, there is a higher probability of being able to find someone you can hire who has an advanced understanding of PHP, versus .NET, Java, or especially some modern-hyped-languages like NodeJS, AngularJS, ReactJS, etc. Personally, I am firmly convinced that PHP is the best choice. And among PHP frameworks, Symfony and Laravel are the most known and preferred in the US. For enterprise apps, Symfony is definitely the best choice.
Despite the popularity of PHP, there’s no doubt that some modern e-commerce sites will still prefer JS frameworks for front-ends and this is something to keep in mind when dealing with future clients (most people told me that they would bet on ReactJS above all).
Other Issues In A Nutshell
FLOSS vs Proper Business Strategy
The perception of open source as a free libre open source software (FLOSS) as it used to be in the beginning is completely gone. From all new projects over the last few years, I got a feeling that open source plays only a small part of their business strategy. Simplified, there are three strategies:
Big Software Houses' Attention
The presence of big software houses like IBM, Oracle, DELL, Google, Microsoft, etc. was really mind-blowing. They were the main sponsors but made remarkable efforts to be speakers as well (their approach does not hit the target every time, of course). I talked about it with some attendees and they told me that open source is considered a very feasible alternative to how software products will be created in the future. Whether you believe it or not, open source is receiving a lot of hype and is in the crosshairs of big software houses just as much as software-as-a-service or cloud. But it’s also clear that many software houses do not know how to deal with this transition, so we can expect there will be probably many acquisitions in the next few years.
Side note: the US government has passed a recent law that at least 20% of all delivered software must be open sourced.
All the conferences I visited this spring (OSCON, Generate & Shopify Unite) provided me with a lot of inspiration, introduced me to great people and new networking opportunities, and helped me learn a lot about the evolving future of open-source. But I would love to hear what you think? How do you perceive open-source and what trends have you observed?
Author: Petr Svoboda, founder of the ShopSys Framework
At its Google Marketing Next event in mid May, Google announced that it is rolling out a free, still-in-beta version of Google Attribution in its Analytics platform. Finally, even mid-size businesses who cannot afford the Google Analytics 360 suite will have access to data-driven attribution models so that they can better evaluate the performance of their marketing mix.
This is great news for companies that do most of their digital advertising inside the Google ecosystem. But, the plan has cracks for marketers with more complex portfolios.
1. It's never going to be independent
Immediately after the announcement, big agencies, clients, and bloggers alike raised the question of independence. Some even spoke about having no “separation of Church and State.“ Having Google evaluate the performance of campaigns run on their own properties (namely AdWords and DoubleClick) has always been problematic. Asking Google the question of how their properties perform relative to other marketing platforms is now even more unthinkable to pundits and marketers alike.
2. There's no such thing as free attribution
The “Free data-driven attribution for everybody” announcement came with a big caveat: Google Attribution will also have a 360 (see: paid) version. While we still don't know which features will be included in the free version, it’s safe to assume that there will be significant hurdles - similar to long-standing sampling issues in the free version of Google Analytics.
The more fundamental question is just why would Google allocate so much computational power that goes into data-driven algorithms and give it away for free. Well, advertisers are not going to pay with dollars but something much more valuable – their advertising data that will train Google’s algorithms to gain an advantage over other ad networks. And, of course, free Analytics users voluntarily stepping into a sales funnel for Google Attribution 360.
3. Want to know marketing ROI? You need your costs, not just your visits
Measuring the origins of sales to the last cent is great. But marketers ultimately need to know the ROI of what they are doing online. While Google may have information about how much a particular campaign or click cost in AdWords or DoubleClick, and where clicks come from on other ad and social channels, it cannot tell users about the impact of their spend from any non-Google platform. Facebook and other players are not going to let Google scrape that valuable business information.
According to eMarketer, Google accounts for 40.7% of US digital ad revenue and has a 12.5% share of the display market. That’s obviously significant, but it also means that 60% of ad revenue, and 88% of the display market, is outside the Google ecosystem. In Europe, the numbers are even lower for Google.
To marketers who advertise on other display networks, Facebook, affiliate networks, re-marketing, product comparison sites, aggregators or buy ads in private deals (and we've seen clients with as rich portfolios as 15 different platforms where they spend money), Google Attribution is never going to tell them ROI. This release may be of interest to analyst teams, but CMOs will still need to measure cost/benefit impacts from other platforms in another platform.
4. Ultimately, it's about profits and customer lifetime value (CLV)
If you want to combine the perfect attribution models with margins, profits, or CLV, you are still left with two options: develop a data-driven attribution tool in-house (which is costly and consumes development resources to both develop and maintain it) or enrich a third party solution with your customer data.
Paranoid or not, most companies are already feeling anxious about the breadth of data Google gathers about their business and consequently are unwilling to trust it with even more of their customer and business data. Therefore they have to seek a third party solution that offers data-driven attribution and customer data imports while at the same time being independent from ad networks.
The fact is that data-driven attribution is a piece of a much larger puzzle that marketing departments need to solve.
So what are marketers left with?
If you can get past the issues around privacy of your data, and do all your advertising inside Google ecosystem already, free Google Attribution may work for you. And, it's actually great that there is finally going to be an affordable solution that will get millions of companies out of the misery of being locked in the last-click cage.
The rest of the marketing world (see: most of the marketing world) can derive greater benefits from an all-encompassing third-party solution like Roivenue.
From the very beginning, Roivenue's mission has been to overcome all of the issues mentioned above, and to give our clients the most precise, unbiased, clear view of their entire marketing ecosystem and the ROI associated with it.
No matter how complicated your marketing ecosystem is, Roivenue gets data from every advertising platform (even if it has no API – yes, we do magic for you), takes into account all touchpoints, never samples, connects to any CRM or ERP you use, has trained account managers to guide you, is here to stay and won't ever let you down.
Author: Pavel Sima, Roivenue CEO
Email: [email protected]
Simplicity is a major element in eCommerce website design because customers want to get things done quickly. A great UX of your online shops are supposed to fulfill people’s desire and meet company’s goals. But every online retailer should understand that online shop with too many elements on a page may confuse visitors and decrease conversion rate.
In this article, we want to share tips that will help you increase conversion rate with UX improvement, such as:
- Revising design elements;
- Reviewing whitespace utilization;
- And outlining additional tools for great first impression.
Are you ready to increase conversion rate? Here we go!
Revising design elements
First of all, you will need to start off with paying special attention to your shop’s home page, because this will be likely the first page new prospects will see, and whether they will continue drilling down your content and ultimately convert or bounce off will heavily depend on what they see on your home page. This is especially relevant for direct traffic and affiliate related marketing action, the home page should pitch, promote and encourage visitors to drill down your content.
According to comScore report 60% of all traffic in the US is mobile, therefore your eCommerce store should utilize mobile friendly UX in order to improve and steamline interact with your website.
It is essential to ensure that your content is well integrated with clear Call-To-Action elements. Make sure to run A/B or multivariate tests on color, content, size and form of each element to ensure you are getting the most out of your traffic.
High-quality imagery of your products is another critical consideration. Ideally, you would want to invest in professional photo session or at least purchase a camera and lighting to produce high quality content. Alternatively, you may hire a freelancer to make your product images done properly. There is a general eCommerce principle, the more product images you show, the higher the conversion rate is. However, keep in mind while quality of individual visual look and feel element you have to balance it against page loading speed. In other words, high res image will do very little for your store if it takes more than 1.5 second for the page to load. Effectively, your UX should not only look great but also be as functional as possible on both visual and technological basis.
If you want to improve your visitors’ online experience and simultaneously Search Engine Optimization (SEO), make your online store more user-friendly, and better structured, clear site navigation should be realized. The most common tools that steamline website’s navigation are listing and re-listing product categories, breadcrumbs usage and keeping site logo as the door to a home page.
Reviewing whitespace utilization
Whitespace in eCommerce if done properly normally extends online shop visits and increases conversion rate. It is known that users pay less attention to the site overloaded with elements. Whitespace can be used as a volume knob, so it will be easier for users to focus on main elements, texts, icons and images. At the same time filling in the “gaps” and “waste space” is not always a great idea, and not a great whitespace utilization.
Pay attention that too much white space, especially for mobile website version may decrease conversion. In some cases, a lot of whitespace between website’s elements may trick your visitors into thinking there is nothing more to see.
Outlining additional tools for great first impression
According to research, visitors form their first impression about a website within 0.05 seconds. It consists of such factors as spacing, speed, structure, colors, fonts, symmetry and many others. To increase conversion rate, your website should be loaded in 1.5 seconds or you may lose about 40% of your prospective clients.
Remember, that eCommerce field is not the best sphere to test innovative and inconvenient layout. Users generally are expecting a particular online shop layout. So, try to apply familiar design patterns in your layout and test individual elements.
Try to emphasize your message with visual hierarchy. Visitors always pay more attention to the biggest element first. You can make the supporting your conversion goals message larger in size than others and people will definitely see it.
Using colors works great in drawing visitors’ attention to specific areas on a page. You can also use colors to convey visual hierarchy and draw their attention by establishing a relationship between elements.
“UX for eCommerce is like gas for a car. If you make a wrong choice, your car may be driven for some time, or it can break down immediately. While making a purchase, the visitor should not think about how to locate cart. Ideally, website functionality should be intuitive and drive your visitors to checkout. When visitors face difficulties in using different website elements or interfaces, they will be very likely lose interest quickly and leave the website.” Aleksey, Dinarys art director.
Here are several UX examples created by Dinarys for actual customers which resulted in improved UX and ultimately improved conversion rate.
Lucidera (cover photo)
Lusidera website utilizes clear and user-friendly design on both desktop and mobile devices. The website has effective user cart, call-to-action elements and nearly perfect utilization of the whitespace.
For this project Dinarys developed website design which included special offers functionality and UX, news and products video reviews sections on the home page. Primary aim of this project was to focus visitors’ attention on products.
For this project, Dinarys created effective UX solution which incorporated product section and special offers directly on the homepage.
Well-thought UX design is a key to higher conversion rate and is essential for the success of your eCommerce store. The main objective is to provide your customers with a fast and simple shopping experience driving them to checkout.
Tech Open Air (TOA) enters its 7th and largest edition to date with four days, more than 200 speakers, 200 satellite events and 20.000 expected participants. The unique festival meets conference format has been an integral part of the international tech and startup scene for the past six years and unites the most diverse branches of technology, music, art and science.
This year, the event will be extended by another day and will take place from July 11 - 14 in Berlin. Satellite events will take place on the first and the fourth day as well as on the evenings of July 12th and 13th. These will be hosted and organized throughout the city by national and international corporations, startups and scientific institutions, among others.
Confirmed organizers and hosts will include Kayak, Marley Spoon, Trivago, Fanmiles, Quandoo, Kickstarter, DB Labs, Deutsche Börse, Bitbond or the Startupbootcamp Demo Night among many others. Like last year, the conference days will take place in the unique Funkhaus Berlin on the Spree bank. Besides the outdoor area as well as the former broadcasting halls where panels, keynotes and workshops will take place, we are happy to introduce our newest edition: The Haus of Tech - a 3.000sqm exhibition space located in a former industrial warehouse that will be divided into five theme areas focusing on AR/VR Entertainment, Mobility, Energy/Cleantech, Life Sciences/Social Impact, Data Infrastructure and Fintech. The clear focus of this: B2B Matchmaking.
“We have certainly taken one of our biggest development leaps forward with TOA this year which is not least thanks to our World Tour stops in L.A., Tokyo and Austin.”, states TOA founder Niko Woischnik. “I am very happy to say that our Berlin edition in 2017 will not lag behind in diversity and internationality among speakers and participants. Hereby, we are taking a further step in our vision to create a global platform for interdisciplinary technology exchange. Our new B2B formats as well as the larger exhibition space and our new format for small and middle sized companies “Family Affairs”, which will make its debut this year, will contribute towards this progress.”, Woischnik explains.
The first speakers are confirmed
This year’s edition will again feature top-class speakers like Soundcloud founder and CEO Alex Ljung, NASA Image coordinator & Social Media Specialist Rebecca Roth, Hector Ouilet, Head of Design, Google Search, Damian Bradfield, President, CMO, WeTransfer , David Eun, President, Samsung NEXT, Tom Hulme, General Partner, Google Ventures, Jake Lodwick, Co-Founder, Vimeo, Dan Zakai, Co-Founder & CEO, Meetup and the self-made Cyborg and founder of Cyborg Nest Liviu Babitz. Babitz developed a chip that turns people into compasses for merely 350 US-Dollars. Additionally, the Federal Minister of Economy , Brigitte Zypries, has confirmed her participation. Further speakers and partners will be announced shortly.
Furthermore, interactive formats like the TOA Hardware Pitch or the new Chatbot Pitch will take place during the conference . This year’s B2B focus will be complemented by the new TOA “Family Affair” format that aims to connect medium-sized family-run companies with startups. Already over 30 national and international partners like BAYER, SAP, Airbus, hubspot, KPMG, BCG Digital Ventures and AWS confirmed their participation at the Haus of Tech. The ticket pre-sale is already in full swing: http://toa.berlin/tickets/
TOA goes Global
While Berlin will always remain crucial for Tech Open Air, it is currently aiming to connect the startup world beyond Berlin. The goal is to build new bridges in the international startup and creative industry and thus integrate further aspiring tech and digital hubs into the network and to connect them with Berlin. In addition to the first stops in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Austin, other editions are planned for the upcoming months. As Berlin and Los Angeles celebrate 50 years of city partnership, TOA will go back to L.A. in October and then to
We will be on TOA too and we have a special 15% OFF discount code for you here: https://goo.gl/svsCoC
Promoting your online store via social media is an absolute must if you as a merchant want to be found by customers and grow your clientele base. Regular posting and investing in ads are just the drops in the ocean in comparison to possibilities that social media can offer. So, how can you take advantage of your social media presence?
Here we look at a strategy involving one social media platform and how you can benefit from it in 5 different ways.
1. Social Media As A Marketing Tool
The content you post and the way you present your brand around social media will convey to a wider audience what your business is all about, your philosophy, and what your brand means both to you and to them. Your commercial presence on social media itself can help you manage your marketing much easier and naturally for the users.
There are a few areas where marketing on social media works really effectively:
There were over 6 billion active users over the most popular social media in the beginning of 2017. It’s a great audience to expose your product to, isn’t it? Of course, you can’t reach them all but the chance of boosting your sales grows rapidly the more you can connect with. One place where free platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube help drive their traffic is in allowing visitors to buy directly from their page via integrated “buy button, shop now button, buyable pins, etc”. If haven’t applied this method to your own online store, don’t wait any longer - find out how to adapt buy button in your page.
What’s more, selling directly through social media also helps your SEO! Sharing links on highly ranked sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest can boost the search rating of an individual eCommerce site.
Selling successfully through social media means paying attention to the quality of the content you spread, using professional and attractive graphics with detailed descriptions, the same as you would normally do on any other website/online store.
Sharing links on highly ranked social media helps ranking your site.
3. Social Media As A Reference Channel
Are you aware of your store’s online reputation? Chances are you might have an inkling, but often our reputation is out of your hands - but that doesn’t mean you can do things to improve it. First of all, it’s a good idea to get control by starting to use tools such as Mention or Brand Embassy that report your references from social media. You can then manage these comments by thanking customers who were happy and trying to solve the complaints transparently of those who were unsatisfied. But it’s important to remember: never delete it or attack the person who gives the negative review.
More than 80% of buyers use social media reviews to make a purchase decision. Support your happy customers to give a feedback. Encourage them to take pictures with your product and to use tags connected with your industry. Collect the best references and share them on your site as a demonstration to others that you take your business seriously and are devoted to solving problems.
Additionally, think about investing in tools such as ReferralCandy that actively raises recommendations of your product based on a referral program. Ask about the feedback via chat and seriously take it into the account when you’re improving your business. All of this is easier when you can reach your audience fast and personally via social media. Proper managing of the references also increases the customer experience.
4. Build Communities On Social Media
Creating a community that will talk about your product is a big win but it’s not an easy process and there are a number of steps. First of all, try to find the communities and forums connected to your product and join the conversation. Try to solve the problems they deal with. Don’t necessarily push your product, but gain users’ attention first and build trust - remember, your brand says everything to a customer, so make sure you’re communicating what you’re all about.
Next, engage your followers. Some people are likely already talking about your products. Scale them! Find unique representatives of different customer groups so that you can easily get to know your real customers.
Bring your offline customers to the online world. Track your sales and find the customers who buy regularly from you, who attend your events, or who represent offline markets. Talk to them personally and invite them to become a member of your community. If they like you, and your product, then it can be a two-way street, with both businesses benefiting. Develop your own system for rewarding loyal members and hold them up as an example of what other potential or new customers should strive to be.
Social media is an ideal place for building community.
5. Use Social Media As A Customer Care Tool
When a customer needs help, they need it immediately. The sooner it’s solved, the faster your product can be purchased. According to Nielsen Social Media Report, almost half of U.S. consumers prefer social media to ask questions, give complaints or report satisfaction, so it’s a great way to get free feedback in real time that can allow you to react flexibly and punctually to problems.
If you use live chat on your site and consider using messaging apps at several social media you may get easily overwhelmed by all the questions. If on the other hand you feel it’s not yet the time to hire a customer care person and don’t want to get overwhelmed by the questions, you can still use your data to manage this situation. Find the channels that your customers use the most for asking questions, then determine the busiest times for when feedback comes in. Putting these together gives helps you to make a decision about your customer care tools and hours.
If your audience requires attention on several platforms, try Sparkcentral. Customer service tool that lets you communicate with your customers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in real time. To make your work easier and to enhance customer experience you can also keep step with the newest trends in automation and start using conversational bots. These are great for responding to questions that customers ask repeatedly, they’re extremely fast, and they also offer a hint of humor into their interactions.
Use messaging apps for live chatting with your customers.
Active and proper use of social media gives you a lot of advantages in terms of becoming successful with your online business and following the five steps we’ve gone over will help you to capitalize on the potential of whatever platform(s) you decide to integrate.
“Use social networks in the context of eCommerce transactions. If you want to be successful with your business, never forget to be social!”
Jan Lastuvka, MonkeyData
Remember to track the performance of each social media you use. You’re investing the money and your energy into them so don’t let it all go to waste. Almost every social channel has its own analytics, but wouldn’t it be more comfortable to see all the results in one dashboard? Set KPIs that will inform you about the success of your activities and overall business. Go ahead and raise the base of your happy customers!
In the beginning and in the end of making your business decision - follow your data.
Don’t overlook a special gift!
Download this Social Media Guide for SMBs for better understanding the characteristics of each social media. It can help you create your social media strategy from the ground up and give you an idea of what to expect and how to succeed across platforms.