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Nov. 11, 2022

Choosing An eCommerce Solution Best For Your Business with Tim Bucciarelli

Choosing An eCommerce Solution Best For Your Business with Tim Bucciarelli

This episode features Tim Bucciarelli, Director of Engagement at IronPlane. IronPlane is an eCommerce agency helping businesses with platform design, development, and digital marketing. He is passionate about helping businesses discover and implement new technologies.

Tim shares what should a company consider and some of the biggest mistakes a company makes when choosing an E-commerce solution.

Andy and Tim talk about the major players, the advantages, and some of the most important aspects of a platform design when it comes to conversion.

Listen to Tim as he discusses why they do not use Shopify, store migration, and their agency, IronPlane.

Episode Action Items:

To find more information about Tim, go to www.ironplane.com

ABOUT THE HOST:

Andy Splichal - Make Each Click Count PodcastAndy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.

New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.

Transcript

Andy Splichal 0:00

Hey, welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. Very happy to welcome this week's guests discuss today's topic, which is choosing an ecommerce solution best for your business. Today's guest is the director of engagement and IronPlane, an E commerce company helping businesses with platform design, development, and digital marketing. He is passionate about helping business businesses discover and implement new technologies. A big welcome to Tim Bucciarelli. Hi, Tim.

 

Tim Bucciarelli 0:30

Hi, Andy, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be a part of your podcast.

 

Andy Splichal 0:34

You know, we're excited to have you. Now let's let's start out right at the heart of today's subject. What should a company consider and what are some of the biggest mistakes a company makes when choosing an E commerce solution?

 

Tim Bucciarelli 0:50

Yeah, the biggest, the biggest mistake I'll start with that is is under funding, or over expecting, or both. And what I mean by that is, some companies dream up this amazing vision of their ecommerce Empire, and what is going to look like, you know, in the future, and they may be doing more in their mind than what their business actually requires. Like, if they come to a platform, let's say, for example, Magento. And they are excited about the prospect of customizing that platform to build out a whole lot of new custom functionality. It may be that that functionality doesn't actually impact their e commerce bottom line, and they might be better off with a more all in one solution like Shopify. So I think the most important thing is that you match your business needs your real business needs, that impact your bottom line with the platform that you're selecting, and make sure your investment in that platform is sufficient. So just like you can kind of blow out all of your expectations with these ideas of, you know, amazing functionality, whether you need it or not. Similarly, you can dramatically under invest in a platform when you need custom functionality. So just that match between your business needs, and the technology and your investment, that that's probably the most important thing that a business should take the time to figure out before choosing a platform.

 

Andy Splichal 2:43

That makes a lot of sense. Now, let's talk about the major players, you got Shopify Bigcommerce, WooCommerce, with with WordPress and Magento. How would you rank the strengths of these? What should somebody consider whether whether they're trying to match what's best for their company, like you just said, with with these different platforms?

 

Tim Bucciarelli 3:06

Yeah, so I think that we can bucket the at a high level the platforms into two buckets. One is the SaaS platforms, SAS is S A A S, which stands for software as a service. Those are essentially built on a subscription model. So you as a merchant, are subscribing to the services provided by a centrally managed platform. That's Shopify, and that's big commerce. Yep. What they say goes, basically, you have some degree of customizability. But you're pretty limited, especially with Shopify, you need do things by the Shopify way. With big commerce, you have a little bit more flexibility, but still, it's centrally controlled. The other is what people call on premise. It's kind of an antiquated term. But basically, your code hosted somewhere for you, and you manage it. And so it's not centrally managed, you're responsible for your code. And that's like Magento and WooCommerce. So I

 

Andy Splichal 4:23

Let's see, I guess, let me just jump in there. What is the advantage of these different types?

 

Tim Bucciarelli 4:31

Yeah, great question. So I mean, at the end of the day, centrally managed software allows you to not worry about hosting, not worry about security, not worry about the fundamental PCI compliance. I mean, if you're doing you know call center, card processing, yeah, you still need to worry about it. But in other words, with big commerce, you don't have to pay for hosting You don't have to worry about uptime and site security because big commerce centrally manages all of that on your behalf. You pay a subscription fee to big commerce. But that's the benefit. The flipside is with Magento, you have to pay hosting, you're responsible for your own site security. And you more than likely have to have an agency helping you support that site. So you don't pay a subscription fee. But you probably do have a support fee that you need to charge or that you need to pay an agency.

 

Andy Splichal 5:36

Now, besides those for Shopify, Bigcommerce, WooCommerce, Magento. I mean, there are others, right? There's there's always been others, all those, those are the big four now. Are there any others that we shouldn't be talking about? Or is it really those, those four have kind of taken over the market?

 

Tim Bucciarelli 6:00

Um, I mean, the biggest one is is Shopify, right, I would say WooCommerce is interesting. WooCommerce is the type of thing where you have so many people on the WordPress content management tool. And because WooCommerce is like, essentially a one click extension to that platform, you have a huge number of people who have installed that extension, and therefore could be considered WooCommerce users. That being said, I'm not convinced that all of those users are actually running an e commerce website on that platform. But those are the two big ones. Magento is also pretty big, big commerce is coming up. Then you've got like in the b2b world, you've got Salesforce, primarily CRM, right, and a sales engine. But they also have Salesforce commerce cloud, which is gaining in reputation and in customers, because if you've got people who are already on the Salesforce platform, adding the E commerce component may be quite easy. For those companies. There are others like commerce tools, which is making a name for itself in the headless environment. You've got other Orpen open source platforms like Shopware, and spryker. And then you have other e commerce platforms that are really kind of industry specific. So if you're an automobile

 

Andy Splichal 7:45

A real estate agent, they Yeah. What about Yahoo small business? What happened to them?

 

Tim Bucciarelli 7:54

That I honestly don't know. I think probably it's what's happening to all of the other kind of lesser e commerce platforms is that people are looking at Shopify and the innovation that Shopify is putting into its core product, and saying, Why would I be doing this when I can get so much more for the same amount of money on this other platform? I mean, yeah, I don't know. The specifically

 

Andy Splichal 8:20

Right. No, I just I know they were huge in the early 2000s. Right, me, yeah, they've just pretty much disappeared. Now, I know an IronPlane. So people come with you. And you also work on the design part, right platform design. What are that's all always the million dollar question, right? What are the really important aspects of converting website or a high converting website? Great and and right out of the box? What do you want to do?

 

Tim Bucciarelli 8:51

The table stakes are making sure that your pages have clear and engaging calls to action. But one thing that people sometimes miss is that they need to match the audience that they are targeting with their ad campaigns and their SEO content. They need to match that audience with the landing pages and the landing page content and the calls to action so that if you're advertising, you know, wallets, and you're sending them to your homepage, which is just generically about leather goods, it's not going to convert as well is if they're clicking on their ad for wallets and they're going to a landing page specifically about wallets that are referred to in that ad. There's a much higher degree of relevance when you make that match. So I think that's something that's very important in E commerce itself. There's a combination of best practices, expertise in site design, and also really understanding your audience through doing audience research. Trying to think that if you can, you know, do the research, find someone with the expertise, who can implement the best practices, then you're off to a really good start. From there, I think a lot of it comes down to AV testing, when you have ideas of let's do this slight chain differently, and see if we see a difference in results, then you can target based on those improved results over time.

 

Andy Splichal:

How important do you think conversion rate is? Well, let me step back on improving your conversion. differentiating your store, to the competitors on things other than price? How much I guess how much effort do you go into that? Other than, you know, of course, you got a quick load, it looks nice all that. But how much I guess ever do you put into like, it's the personality of the website, and kind of that piece, when looking to improve conversion?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

Yeah, if you are in a business, and you feel like price is going to be your differentiator, you don't have very long to live in E commerce, in my opinion. If you are going to be the lowest common denominator, you are not going to succeed online. You need to set yourself apart in a different way. I mean design that's a little bit more superficial, but it can be impactful. I think it really comes down to again, the matching and I Sorry to keep harping on this, but the matching between your product and your audience, people are willing to pay more for a product that they care about from a vendor that they trust. And that is the same regardless of whether they're buying specialty cheese, from my prior experience in the specialty food world, or whether they're buying ecommerce development services from an agency like iron playing, if the quality of the work the quality of the product is there, people are willing to pay for it. And it's it's up to you to expose that value to your audience in a way that makes them want to convert.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now, we touched on this briefly, but I mean Shopify, it's the hottest ecommerce solution going right now. But I see you guys really support isn't exclusively Magento.

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

We work with two platforms Magento, which is also called Adobe commerce, and big commerce. And

 

Andy Splichal:

So why I guess my question is, Why have you not jumped into Shopify?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

Yeah, great question. Several reasons. One, we really want to specialize on specific platforms to the kind of the agency world for Shopify support is very rich and diverse right now. I don't think we felt like we could really add much there. Thirdly, Shopify, is philosophically a little bit different than what we prefer, they like you to work within their box in their Shopify world. They they encourage and restrict, in some cases, what type of apps you can use in your platform. Magento open source is kind of the polar opposite where it was community driven open source platform back in the day, it now is owned by Adobe. But there is still an open source version. And that allows for a great deal more customization, and community development. And big commerce sits somewhere in between big commerce is what they call open SAS. So they are much more exposed and their API's to allow you to do more hookans with other platforms and applications. So we wanted to be able to offer something simpler as a SaaS solution for smaller enterprise businesses and big commerce fit that bill perfectly. But we still are very, very bullish on Magento and OB, Adobe commerce in supporting larger enterprise businesses.

 

Andy Splichal:

So how does a company decided really what they need when they're first starting?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

Back to the envelope, if you're doing less than a million annual recurring revenue online and you want to spend less than $2,000 a month I would be looking at Shopify, if you have relative especially if you have

 

Andy Splichal:

So if you're just if you're just starting out, you don't know how much you're you're going to do you would recommend go a Shopify.

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

Yeah, well, the other the other caveat there is that you probably should have a relatively simple product assortment, the more complicated your product assortment, the more complicated your buying process. That's when you need to start looking at different solutions. I think Shopify is really for people who need to sell widgets. And I think that works quite well in that scenario. But if you have like a highly complex product that requires some configuration, during the checkout process, I would consider looking at big commerce as an alternative. If you have truly more complex requirements for integrating with other systems, or you want a really bespoke front end design, you should be looking at Adobe commerce or Magento.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now, I think you just hit on it. But when a store migrates from one of these platforms to another, or they come to you, you know, from Shopify, they want to go to Magento. Do they have that in mind that they want to be able to customize it in a way that's not possible? Is that the number one reason?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

No, no, really? No. Usually companies know when they're signing up with Shopify or big commerce. And they, they know their limitations on design. And it's not like there are no customizations you can make to the front end on those platforms, but it is more limited. But those companies typically are coming to us because they've hit such a volume of sales, that their cost of ownership is actually much higher on a Shopify environment than it would be if, if if they went with Magento. Open Source,

 

Andy Splichal:

How much? Like how much are you talking on on that where they get to that tipping point?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

Well, let's Let's back up for a second and say, Well, what would you be spending on a Magento, open source website, let's say you're spending $3,000 a month for an agency to support maintain, optimize your existing Magento website. So if you're hitting that with your fees with Shopify, 3000 Plus, you know, you might consider looking at a different platform, especially if you have even greater growth in the foreseeable future. You know, where because Shopify bills you based on your dollar revenue. So as your revenue goes up, you're paying more. So if you have expansive growth plans over the next couple of years, definitely worth doing your own calculation for total cost of ownership for the next, you know, five years and see what makes sense.

 

Andy Splichal:

You know, I would think that is we come, you know, getting hit as hard as blue getting into almost the New Year here. That's got to be a busy time for people to migrate as they look at the whole year. And you know, many are really busy here in Q4. And find yourselves getting really busy then in January and February.

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

Yes, typically, and because a lot of companies are looking at their performance in the fourth quarter, and evaluating what they are capable investing in the future coming years. So that has a it's a big, big component. One other thing, though, it's quite different. If you're talking about b2c businesses, versus b2b, so b2b, they were very busy, you know, q3, prepping, for everything that the retailers would need going forward into q4. And so q4 is a little bit quieter for them. But I think, to your point, everybody in the new year, the budgets are refreshed, right? They've seen what q4 has done for them in there. Yeah, a lot of conversations start up around February for us for sure.

 

Andy Splichal:

Is there a best time to migrate your store? You know, is it the beginning of the year or is it's you're so busy there that you can't really get an agency to do it? And maybe you should wait till April May, you know is, is there a premium time or an ideal time to migrate?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

You know, it's really it's, it's more about your internal resources. Because the migration isn't going to affect your existing website. I mean, it all the work can be done in the background so that you don't need to worry about any impact on your existing business. But the impact comes when we need to be depending on your stakeholders to provide us with the funds requirements to provide us with some of the QA assistance in a user accessibility testing. So there's a lot of stuff that internal resources will need to be doing in managing that migration. So as far away from your busy time as possible, I would say, and don't try to shoehorn a migration in, like, just to fit your schedule, like, be realistic. And give yourself I don't know, 20% Extra. If someone says it's going to be done in July, you know, start thinking September launch. Just because there's, there's plenty of stuff that can go wrong. Or new functionality that you decide that you need. So give yourself plenty of time. Don't try to shoehorn a migration in. And, you know, if it's that important, consider an MVP and most minimum viable product launch, followed by phased upgrades over time. There are ways to get things done sooner, if you plan it out appropriately.

 

Andy Splichal:

How often do you see a migration resulting in a drop of traffic? Whether it's Seo? Or, you know, I've even had customers who migrate and their shopping. mound of clicks and impressions go down, even though you know, even though it's a feat, it shouldn't, right. But is that common? Do you see it typically, is there a drop for a while as far as the amount of traffic or or no?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

I'm assuming everything else is held equal. And by that I mean, your SEO efforts, your paid advertising efforts, your social engagement efforts, if those are all remaining equal, you really should not see much of an impact on the volume of visits to your website. If you are seeing a drop in visits, then something wasn't planned out properly, or wasn't implemented properly. There's enough out there in the world of e commerce website migrations that everyone knows the key things that you need to do to be able to maintain your SEO values, historical SEO value. So I think that if you do see a drop, something wasn't done as well as it should have been done.

 

Andy Splichal:

Yes, and you had a crystal ball, you could see in the future 12 to 18 months. What do you see happening with the E commerce and e Commerce Industry?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

I think Shopify is going to continue making great strides and innovations in their technology. I think that people will also be sooner to move away from Shopify, because they're realizing that there are some limitations, I think big commerce is going to be the next big platform and SAS at least, I think that composable movement is going to be very big in the coming five to 10 years. And composable is also called headless. In my opinion, they are slightly different, but they're very similar. And what that is, is kind of breaking your ecommerce platform out into several component parts that can each be managed independently. And so it's more efficient for troubleshooting, development work, and site speed. So that I think is is going to be a big movement over the next several years as well.

 

Andy Splichal:

So let's switch gears now and talk a little bit more about your agency, IronPlane, who is the perfect client for iron plane? Who are you guys serving?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

Our perfect client is a company that is a mid sized enterprise business. And by that I mean someone who's doing let's say 25 million annually to 250 million annually. Obviously, we have a bunch of clients that are smaller and a bunch who are larger. The most important thing is that our clients understand the value of E commerce and are willing to invest in it. And they're willing to invest in an agency that does it well. So in this world today, you can go find a lot of freelancers, you can find agencies who charge you $65 An hour and you get the quality of work that that investment promises which is not very much in my opinion. So if you're willing to make the investment, find an agency like iron playing, and there are many others out there who do it and Very well. And so that's really our ideal client who understands the value of E commerce and is willing to invest in it.

 

Andy Splichal:

Do you have a favorite success story? One of your clients you'd be willing to share?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

Um I mean, I know it's funny, I look at some of the sites for our clients. And I just, I'm drawn to them mainly because of their own internal, artistic, and marketing. Like, I like boska.com. Like, I just love the photography and the products. I like royal chain. Royal chain is a great b2b jewelry, business. And they have such beautiful products and photography. And then there's barbecue galore, which is another one, BBQ galore.com. Great products. Very attractive. We have others, but those are a few that I like, just because they've got pretty slick, attractive websites. I'm a little bit of a sucker for good design.

 

Andy Splichal:

And how do you guys separate yourself from other agencies?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

I think more than anything else, we're really interested in a long term relationship, where we come to know the business priorities and let the business priorities drive the technology solutions, rather than trying to pitch the latest and greatest technology solutions to a company where the actual bottom line may not even be impacted by those solutions. So we are a long term partner with our clients. We don't do a job and then walk away we do a job. And we aim to stay with that client over the long term to help them improve it.

 

Andy Splichal:

And last, but certainly not least, how can an interested listener learn more about working with with IronPlane?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

So you can find us on LinkedIn iron plane, you can go to our website, ironplane.com. And if you're interested in connecting with me, you can also find me on LinkedIn but maybe easiest is ironplane.com/Tim. My last name is not the easiest to spell out.

 

Andy Splichal:

Well, we'll spend great Well, thanks for joining us, Tim. Is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap it up today?

 

Tim Bucciarelli:

No, no, this has been great. I enjoy your podcast and I appreciate you having me on.

 

Andy Splichal:

Great. Well thank you once again. For listeners remember if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave us an honest review. And if you're looking for more information regarding connecting with Tim or IronPlane, you'll find the show links in the show notes below. In addition if you're looking for more information on growing your business check out our podcast Resource Center available a podcast.makeeachclickcount.com we have compiled all of our different past guests by show topic completed each of the contact information case you would like more information or any services I have discussed during previous episode. Well that's it for today. Remember to say stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing and I will talk to you in the next episode.