HOW TO: Create Effective Loyalty Programs with Magento Points & Rewards

October 16th, 2014 No comments

Pure sales are no longer the only marketing goal for merchants, as the sales funnel starts far beyond the checkout or even pages of you site, and a low price is no longer the only incentive for customers. Brand awareness, retention of customers, and continued loyalty – these are the greatest values for sellers nowadays.

The Points & Rewards Magento extension by aheadWorks provides you great functionality to achieve the objectives mentioned above persuading customers to purchase more from you using their earned points. The universal nature of points is truly beneficial as they can be spent on any product, in contrast to free products or gifts.

Effectiveness of Customer Rewards

Create Clear and Exclusive Rewards
Reward programs and loyalty systems have passed a long way since their first implementations offline and today are used almost by each and every retailer. As the competition is great and customers usually have plentiful options to choose, the rewards you offer should not only be beneficial, but original as well.

It may come either from exclusive rewards or unique approach to offer the loyalty program. Originally designed and arranged rewards attract customers and make them feel your high-quality service and appreciative attitude.

The same time, a rewarding policy should be clear and simple without any confusing issues or potentially unfair clauses. Merchants should place their Reward System Statements ш close access for each customer and the main or a most popular landing page, perhaps, is the best location for the link to it. Loyalty Program Loyalty Program Original Design

Announce and Promote Your Reward Policy
Since you have an advantageous and original reward program you should promote it among your customers any way you can: on site, while customer service rendering, via emails, etc. Customers should know about it, evaluate its benefits, and get involved, which is especially required when customers just not redeem the points or coupons they already have.

Reward Consistent Loyalty
Attracting new customers is of high importance for each business and widely intensified by numerous incentives for new shoppers, but manifold studies state that existing clients are more inclined to purchase from you and worth even more attention.

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    Magento vs. Shopify vs. PrestaShop Twitter Audiences Survey

    October 14th, 2014 No comments

    The importance of social media is high for each brand, as most of us contact followers with promotions, important notifications, feedback requests, and some brands even provide customer service via social media.

    So, we asked ourselves a question: “What are the differences of social audiences of main e-commerce platforms? Do they have something similar? Perhaps, they have some overlaps or similar locations, or anything else?” The presented below survey is designed to address these questions.

    The survey covers the Magento Twitter audience, which is one of the most important social media for the platform, compared to the PrestaShop and Shopify Twitter accounts.

    Key findings of the survey are given at the end of this post.

    Note: The data is obtained using

    General Information




    Joined Twitter

    October 2007

    November 2008

    May 2009









    Magento is the oldest Twitter inhabitant, but much less active than Shopify, for example. Shopify also has the best followers/tweets ratio. Each tweet brings Shopify 9.2 followers per tweet, while Magento gets 8.4 followers, and PrestaShop -2.3.

    Magento vs. Shopify vs. PrestaShop followers quantity

    So, total quantities of followers of the mentioned above platforms differ greatly, as it clearly demonstrated on the diagram above.

    Audiences Overlaps

    But to be absolutely realistic this diagram should look like the following:

    Audiences Overlaps

    We analyzed 10 thousand followers from each account and determined that the audience of these three platforms has considerable overlaps:

    • PrestaShop & Shopify – 3.2%;
    • Magento & Shopify – 8.3%;
    • Magento & PrestaShop – 14.2%
    • All platforms – 2.2%

    The overlap of the Magento and PrestaShop audiences is the biggest and mostly presented by digital companies and developers, according to the randomly chosen sample from the mutual 14.2% scope.

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      MM14NY Presentations: From the Magento Community to Conversion Optimization

      October 9th, 2014 No comments

      Meet Magento New York 2014 is one more successful Magento conference held in the United States for the first time.

      It was full of events, including the hackathon and numerous informative sessions, and fabulous  presentations. Today we highlight some of them, which cover both e-commerce tips and Magento plans for the future.

      Magento CommunityMagento Community

      Ben MarksBen Marks, Magento Evangelist, Magento Inc.

      The future of the Magento Community is a subject of care for each and every member of this formation. The Community deeply influences the dynamics of the platform being a powerful driving force for Magento. This value and provided support make us all perceive it as individual entity, which needs to be supervised and cultivated mindfully.

      In his presentation Ben Marks reveals some plans for the future, which are in line with his main tasks – developing the platform, community, and entire ecosystem. To be precise, he announces his plans regarding the role of the Magento Advisory Board, GitHub usage, Magento Connect perspectives, Forums future, and Community Content delivery.

      Coming soon monthly community reports and coming later revamped events page are also the tasks to be done.

      So, the plans are really strategic and multiple, at the same time. Hope, Ben will make them reality soon.

      Magento Security and UsMagento Security and Us

      Lee SaferiteLee Saferite, Senior Web developer, AOE

      This short presentation contains multiple security siggestions and enumerates different Magento threats we should be aware of. Maybe, it raises more questions than provides answers, but it is still very informative for Magento security starters as unveils the topic strictly in accordance with the Magento structure and functionality.

      It starts from the server security and covers some truly valuable tips worthy to be marked:

      • Do not run other software on the e-commerce server;
      • Open only the port necessary for server operations;
      • Use a bastion host to restrict the SSH access;
      • Use the external log file storage;
      • Fulfill backup security procedures.

      Server and user permissions are the next level of the Magento security policy and can be briefly described as the following: “Do not provide excessive permissions and do not give permissions to unnecessary users”.

      The author advises to grant server only user permissions and not provide it with the login shell. The site code should have “read-only” permissions while the files in /var and /media folders should be only writable by the web server user and should not allow running scripts.

      Consistent code security audits are the key to reliable and safe functioning of your Magento store. Several simple precautions will help you maintain your system secured:

      • Never trust third-party modules without security reviews;
      • Stay away from encrypted or obfuscated codes;
      • Never allow modules to include remote self-updates;
      • Do not install modules from Magento Connect via the admin downloader.

      Next. As Magento and other e-commerce stores are of high value for fraudsters you should have several incident response plans for different situations, including code modifications, data steal, or site lockout. This will help you take either proactive measures or instantly respond to compromising actions.

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        Peter Samoilov, aheadWorks CTO, Chooses Hiking and Riding a Mountain Bike

        October 7th, 2014 No comments

        Editor’s note: The Magento community is rich in outstanding people and our blog is always open for guests. However, the community is so widespread that we can also find them just round the corner or even inside our company and today we want to present you the interview with our CTO, Peter Samoilov.

        Many of you are surely know him well, while the others have a great opportunity for this now.

        Peter SamoilovPETER SAMOILOV


        Peter is a Magento certified developer with the vast experience in Magento development. He started his career as a programmer at aheadWorks and today he heads the development department of the leading Magento extension provider.
        Peter is an active member of the Magento community and often attends Magento conferences as a speaker.

        aW: How did you come to Magento?

        Peter: aheadWorks started working with Magento many years ago, I can already say. That was the time of the 1.1 and 1.2 versions of the platform, and the Magento Community just began its formation. In those days, if you tried to get search results for the “how to create a Magento extension” query, you would just receive a couple of links to forum threads with the same question.

        It was the time of our pilot project – the Product Question extension for Magento. I was assigned to develop the module and started with wild imprecations against the platform. That was my first acquaintance with Magento.

        aW: How many years do you develop Magento extensions and for how long you head the development department at aheadWorks. What are your most exciting impressions within that period?

        Peter: We work with Magento since 2008; at least, this is the year of our profile registration on the site. I have been heading the development department for about two years or even more. Time is ticking fast, besides I’ve always been bad with dates :)

        The first year was full of coffee, broken keyboards, and new experience. Then we started to hire developers and had to teach them coding on Magento, and that was, perhaps, the most challenging and exciting experience for me.

        aW: Tell our readers a bit about your life, hobbies, and activities outside the work please.

        Peter: Actually, I’m a lazy couch potato, and in order to get some new impressions I usually hike on forests during my annual vacations. I also like to ride a MTB through the city. My new passion is the Suzuki Dirt Bike, which is perfect for forest and swamp rides with friends :)

        aW: In your opinion, what features do SMB companies need to be included into Magento Community Edition (or Magento in general) out of the box?

        Peter: I think, advanced reports and drop shipping are mandatory. Magento 2.0 is going to offer something like that, as far as I know. However, we are an extension vendor and need to enhance some Magento functionality, which is not still perfect.

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          Educational Push: Meet Magento Romania 2014 Presentations Overview

          October 3rd, 2014 No comments

          Magento events are a good opportunity to know the current status of the platform and Magento community; they allow us to realize the issues of the greatest interest within multiple local communities and worldwide.

          Magento events provide a great chance to get acquainted with the most advanced researches, technologies, and knowledge related to Magento and e-commerce in general.

          So, we continue our overviews of presentations introduced during Magento conferences and today focus on Meet Magento Romania 2014. Despite it was just a first edition of Meet Magento in Romania the conference was a great success according to multiple positive reviews in social media and gave us all a confident insight that combined productive environment and genuine aspiration of organizers guarantee Magento events success and long life.

          ERP Integrations with Magento: How to do it fast, good and affordableERP Integrations with Magento: How to do it fast, good and affordable

          Alex UrsaAlex Ursa, Executive Director, Netlogiq

          Magento integrations with other business management systems are always in demand, have a strong interest and especially popular among mid-sized and large companies. So, ERP integrations with Magento are the topic of the presentation by Alex Ursa at Meet Magento Romania 2014.

          The core issue of such integrations is a quick, complete, and reliable data transfer between Magento and ERP systems. The author notifies online merchants that integrations can be of three types: from ERP to site or vice versa (one-way integration) and bilateral transmission (two-way integrations). The merchants can choose the one they need assuming the differences in their functionality, price, and other options.

          Two-way integrations are usually more beneficial and technologically advanced. Except the quantitative information, location, price, weight and other product attributes, categories, pictures, up-sell and cross sell promotions, order and client information they also enable you to transfer order and payment statuses, discounts, rewarding points, etc.

          Why these integrations might be valuable? They allow you to avoid duplicate operations, manual mistakes, and repeating data verification. So, they save your time, money, and energy.

          Thus, if you already have a Magento store and ERP system running, spend some time (a lot of time sometimes) and deploy their mutual integration for more reliable and effective business doing.

          Code Quality on MagentoCode Quality on Magento

          Nikolai KrambrockNikolai Krambrock, CEO, Code4business Software GmbH

          Meet Magento Romania 2014 had a strong development track, where many great presentations were introduced. One of them is “Code Quality on Magento” by Nikolai Krambrok.

          The code quality is of much importance for both merchants and developers. With an excellent code merchants obtain advanced functionality, usability, data security, and system reliability, while developers can easily read, understand, adapt and extend such codes.

          The presentation covers some high-quality code tips applicable to coding in general and Magento development.

          At the end of the presentation Nikolai lists several coding guidelines, trustful in his opinion. I’m sure that Magento developers will find this presentation useful and very informative.

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            New Magento Community Edition User Guide Overview

            October 2nd, 2014 No comments

            Some time passed since the latest Magento Community Edition version was released and recently we got the updated Magento Community Edition User Guide, which is absolutely indispensable for new comers and, perhaps, for more advanced platform users.

            Now we are keen to know about the changes made in this book. Running ahead I can assure you that the changes are truly considerable.

            Of course, the latest guide covers, except other topics, the new functionality added to the Magento CE 1.9 ver., but the changes made to the Guide are much deeper.

            Magento Community Edition User Guides Comparison

            For the starting we’ll compare just several clearly conspicuous differences of the design, table of contents, and structure.

            The recent edition of the guide is more than twice longer than its predecessor and contains 714 pages totally, while the previous guide was only 296 pages long. The doubled volume seems to be comprised of not only new feature descriptions, but a greater number of pictures, as well. This makes the guide more readable and comfortable to go through.

            Design and Structure

            The new design is more advantageous and colorful, contains new graphical elements and text formats.  For the sake of usability most contextual hyperlinks are now text links instead of URLs.

            The headers not only contain names of topics, but current chapter numbers and their names, as well. The footer is also changed and highlights the name of the book on each page of the guide. It may seem excessive, until it is looks more dignified.

            The structure of the book is reworked and changed considerably. The latest version is more market and Magento store owners oriented, when the previous versions were focused on features and functionality.

            The new logic of the structure is mostly based on fronted operations and selling concepts, what makes users change the angle of their perception and discover more “what for” exists one or another functionality, rather than “how it works” and “how it can be configured”.

            Now, let’s drill down to the table of contents and compare specific chapters of two guides.

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              Effective Navigation in Online Stores

              September 30th, 2014 No comments

              When we talk about an effective website navigation functionality we usually mean one important characteristic – ability to make shopping convertible on our site.

              Today customers expect only instant and intuitive access to products and lightning checkout. Otherwise, they will not hesitate to leave you without purchases. And no regrets, don’t be naive.

              Effective Website Navigation

              Fortunately, we have some benchmarks indicating the necessary level of service, which leaves you a chance to stay afloat or even prosper, perhaps. Here are just few of them:

              • Back in 2007 Amazon discovered that every 100ms of latency cost them 1% of sales;
              • People spend only 5 minutes on shopping out of every hour spent online, according to Experian Marketing  Services;

              So, these stats convince that an effective shopping is to be convenient, intuitive, persuasive, and fast. An efficient navigation is undeniably very important in this process as it takes the majority of the purchasing time.

              The Fundamentals of the Effective Website Navigation

              Visitor should Easily Find the Website Navigation
              As shoppers are impatient they should immediately locate navigation tools and be able to use them instantly.

              Website Navigation should be Consistent
              Place navigation tools on every page of your site and do not change their design very often. This makes users get accustomed to their interface and understand their functionality clearly.

              Do not Use Multiple Navigation Options
              Multiple navigation options confuse customers and force them to leave your site, as usually people do not have much time to run through numerous options, while they want just a simple choice.

              Use Generic Design for Your Navigation
              Customers better perceive a familiar design of navigation elements, but try to clearly differentiate them from each other, as similar visualizations may be confusing and lead to the abandonment.

              Keep Your Visual Support Realistic
              The pictures used should clearly represent the supported options and naturally comply with surrounding design.

              Minimize Information Access Costs
              When visitors switch from one piece of information to another, it always requires some mental efforts from them. In this case, you should make this process as smooth as possible avoiding any unnecessary actions, including returns to the main menu or just page reloads. But avoid positioning multiple navigation options too close to each other or you will create an overwhelming clutter on your site.

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