speed to market
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Speed to Market: When Time Matters

Multifront® provides the fastest, large-scale ecommerce platform implementation capability of any ecommerce shopping cart software on the market. Znode users can design, build, and roll out literally hundreds of customized eCommerce websites in as little as 90-120 days. Other solutions can take up to 18 months to implement, allowing you to move faster than your competition.

The Multifront eCommerce platform also boosts efficiency by enabling marketers and ecommerce professionals to rapidly create and launch new  stores, campaigns, products, promotions, and more without the need for IT resources.

Launch Campaigns Faster

The ability to quickly create micro-stores gives marketers the ability to launch new products and promotional campaigns faster than ever before. The Multifront dashboard makes this possible because of the ability to share attributes and objects across different stores.

Once the master catalog is setup, you can select exactly what should be shared between stores including merchandize, shipping options, promotions, tax rules, customer accounts, and more.

Multifront’s unique flexible ASP.NET architecture enables IT teams to build and deploy highly customized eCommerce websites faster than ever before. Your development team can build a highly effective ecommerce solution without worrying about constraints often associated with other ecommerce software.

Studies show that a typical eCommerce implementation with Multifront is faster by 65% or more compared to other leading platforms.

Role-Based System

The Multifront ecommerce platform allows marketers to delegate specific operational controls to users in other departments or external service providers, helping to speed operations. The simplified dashboard uses a role-based system, which allows you to control access rights for each user. For example, an SEO agency would only be allowed to see and change SEO settings.

The dashboard has been specifically designed for non-technical users hence reducing training requirements. Using the Multifront dashboard, marketers can also launch promotional campaigns based on customer segmentation, seasonal demands, channels, and more. Campaigns can be launched on a very short notice giving marketers a competitive advantage.

Sometimes businesses have requirements for special promotions or shipping rules that may not be easily handled by your core eCommerce platform. Usually such promotions require significant development efforts and the system to be taken down for deployment.

Multifront solves this problem using an innovative capability called Hot Swap Rules Engine. Using this approach, IT teams can quickly add complex business rules within hours and deploy them to your eCommerce website with no downtime. Your marketing team can then utilize those business rules to create promotional campaigns.

What else can you do with Znode? Contact us to learn more!

headless commerce

Headless Commerce – More Than Just A Theory

Headless commerce allows you to use your eCommerce platform as the foundation of your online set up. You can then build and integrate nearly anything on top of it.

For many, a true set up like this is a theory or is just a fancy buzzword.

For Multifront the concept of headless commerce is built into the core. Our headless engine is wrapped by an API. This gives you the ability to do just about anything.

Why Headless Commerce?headless ecommerce

Instead of being forced to use certain tools or vendors, using a headless commerce architecture allows you to have the freedom to set up your business your way.

One of the best ways to understand the concept is to see it in action. So to help explain, we will create an example business called Maxwell Fine Foods. They are a grocery store that also allows customers to buy their items online. Currently, customers can only have their groceries shipped, but they want to expand into curbside pickup.

To do this, they are going to need to add a new fulfilment solution since their current solution does not have the features that they need. Typically, this kind of change would mean that customer and product information would need to be stored in multiple locations. This makes the update a much larger and daunting task.

Thankfully, when the management of Maxwell Fine Foods set up their site, they set it up using the headless platform of Znode Multifront. Using the API, the developers were able to use the various endpoints to connect the new fulfillment solution to the platform.

Now the product and customer information already in the system is able to flow to the new solution. Maxwell Fine Foods was able to add a new curb side pick up option without having use a lot of resources to update their customers and product information.

REST API

The Znode Web API is a set of RESTFUL services. It provides system integrators with the ability to retrieve, modify, create, and delete data that is stored in Multifront. The API enables integrators to take advantage of the rich business logic and rule processing that lives at the core of platform.

Our REST API has over 600 endpoints that allow you to put anything on top of it. Websites, mobile applications, and back office integrations are just some of the options available.

Two of the main components of the REST API are the built-in help system and its caching layer. The built-in help system is important because it clearly lists and defines all requirements for working with any endpoint in the API. The caching layer is completely configurable and greatly increases overall performance and scalability of the Multifront platform.

For more information on how your business can benefit from headless commerce, contact us today to learn more about Znode Multifront.

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eCommerce Speed vs Revenue Calculator

There have been a lot of articles recently about the effects of your eCommerce shop speed vs potential revenue loss. In fact, we even posted one earlier this year.

But when you are reading those numbers, it can be hard to directly relate it to your business. That is why here at Znode, we have created a Website Speed vs Revenue calculator to show you how much your site’s speed could be costing you.

Here is a recap of the statistics:

  • Nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less
  • 79% of shoppers who experience website trouble say they won’t return to the website and purchase again, and 44% of those people said they would tell a friend about their poor experience
  • A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions

The example we’re sure many of you has seen is if an eCommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost them $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

So how does that relate to you?  We’ve created this calculator so that you can plug in your estimated annual sales and your site’s load time to determine your potential revenue loss based on the 7% figure.


Need help determining your site’s load time? Here are a few tools:

Google PageSpeed Insites – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Pingdom Website Speed Test – https://tools.pingdom.com/

GTMetrix – https://gtmetrix.com/

If your site’s load time is costing you money, speak with a Znode representative today to find out how our eCommerce platform was built for speed (among other things).

eCommerce Software

SaaS vs. On-Premise eCommerce Software

SaaS versus on-premise eCommerce software: it’s a hot question. The typical answer you get is “it depends,” with several follow up questions. During our sales conversation, we tackle this question on a regular basis and through those dialogues we created three questions that will help guide your decision.  The bottom line is that both have benefits and either can work for your business, but you have to do your homework about which will fit your needs.

note: the intention of the article is not present a pro or con or show one in better than other but more so to provide tools to define your strategy

What is your budget?  It’s usually the first question when you’re in the market for a product or service.  In general, the initial investment for a SaaS is relatively inexpensive.  You sign up for the services you need and the vendor is responsible for all operations, maintenance, and software upgrades.  For on-premise, the initial investment is higher because you have to buy the software license and invest in infrastructure to install and setup the system.  The common item in both SaaS and on-premise solutions is the implementation cost.  Implementation cost depends on several factors: customer experience, operations/fulfillment, and the business roadmap.  One last point to consider when determining your budget is the total cost of ownership (TCO).  We recommend comparing a TCO for three, five, and seven years.

What is your business road map?  The business roadmap is tightly coupled with the budget because it defines what the goals are and key milestones you are planning to achieve over the next 12 to 36 months.  This is applicable for any business, whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise.  Two key aspects to define this are:

  1. How does the eCommerce channel fit in the overall ecosystem?  A general trend in the industry how revenue growth impacts procurement i.e. higher growth leans towards ownership and lower growth leans towards SaaS.

  2. Where are you in the business lifecycle?  Timing your investments is critical to success and gaining an advantage over your competitors.

In the long run, your company will need a platform to scale with your business.  If you plan to add a CRM or ERP, on-premise might be a better route because you can integrate these solutions.

What is your goal for customer experience?  Customer experience is not just the look and feel of your site.  Your business’s fulfillment (i.e. how orders are processed, communication with the customer, shipping of goods) is as important as the shopping experience the consumer has on your site.  On-premise software allows for the most customization because you typically have the most control over the system and integration with 3rd party systems like ERP, CRM, WMS, OMS, marketing automation, etc.  It allows you to quickly respond to changes in the market and offer tailored customer experiences, which is great to meet the demands of the market.  SaaS solutions offer extensions to fit similar demands.  The key takeaway is who owns the customer experience — you or your vendor.  Do you want a framework that along with the base features allows you to customize your solution or work from a template?

Shopping for an eCommerce platform can be overwhelming because the options are endless.  A strategy defined by the state of your business and where you want to be will move you in the right direction.  Both SaaS and on-premise are viable solutions delivering results of all types and size of business.  Your choice will ultimately depend on your budget, business roadmap, and customer experience goals.

Znode’s on-premise software is one solution if you go that route.  Download our product sheet here to learn more about Multifront or visit our website.

 

 

API Series: Expands and Filters

Any API is really all about one thing: data. An API needs to accept data, do something with it, then give data back. For the consumer of an API, what happens in that middle part doesn’t matter. All they care about is that they sent the API some data to work with and the API returned data to them in a format they expect. And a big part of data for an API is being able to support rich querying capabilities so that the client gets back exactly what they need. For the Znode API, this is handled by expands and filters.

Expands

The concept of expands is nothing new in API design, as many APIs support them, and even our own implementation is loosely based on the OData specification for expands. In short, expands is a way of asking for related data during the same request. For example, when retrieving a product, you might also want to get its customer reviews and any categories it belongs to. Without expands, you might have to do this in three separate calls, perhaps something like this:

GET /products/123 GET /products/123/reviews GET /products/123/categories

But with expands, you can consolidate those three calls into one, like so:

GET /products/123?expand=reviews,categories

You can chain as many expands together as you need, simply use a comma to separate them (a configurable option we’ll cover in a later post). And that’s the big benefit of expands – to eliminate extraneous API calls that you can otherwise handle with one call.

Filters

Similar to expands, filters were also roughly based on their OData specification. Using filters allow you to retrieve only the data that satisfies an expression; think of filters as the WHERE clause in a SQL statement. For example, you might want to retrieve a list of products that have a retail price greater than $5.00. With filters, the URL request would look like this:

GET /products?filter=retailprice~gt~5.00

Also like expands, you can chain filters together. For example, you want to retrieve a list of products that have a retail price greater than $5.00, but only for products whose name starts with the letter A. The request for that would look like this:

GET /products?filter=retailprice~gt~5.00,name~sw~A

Filter expressions are basically tuples that consist of the following format:

key~operator~value

The tilde character (~) is used as the default separator between key/operator/value, while the comma is used to separate multiple filter expressions (both of which are configurable). Below is the list of currently supported filter operators:

Operator Description Example
eq Equal to GET /products?filter=name~eq~apple
ne Not equal to GET /products?filter=name~ne~apple
cn Contains GET /products?filter=name~cn~pea
gt Greater than GET /products?filter=retailprice~gt~4.99
ge Greater than or equal to GET /products?filter=retailprice~ge~5.00
lt Less than GET /products?filter=retailprice~lt~5.00
le Less than or equal to GET /products?filter=retailprice~le~4.99
sw Starts with GET /products?filter=name~sw~app
ew Ends with GET /products?filter=name~ew~pple

Filters in the Znode API can also be used to query for nullable items by using a “null” value for the eq (equal to) and ne (not equal to) operators, as such:

GET /products?filter=externalid~eq~null GET /products?filter=externalid~ne~null

Powerful and Flexible

When it comes to querying data from an API, expands and filters are important because it gives clients great power and flexibility for how they want to retrieve data, and the Znode API has very robust expand and filter capabilities.