The Results Are In: How Miva Scored in the 2023 Paradigm B2B...
Miva CEO Rick Wilson shares how PageBuilder meets the evolving needs of modern ecommerce businesses.
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PageBuilder is Miva's new best-in-class tool for creating and managing web pages. We asked CEO Rick Wilson to share how it was developed and why it's an outstanding tool for successful ecommerce businesses.
Rick Wilson: Quite simply, the idea for PageBuilder came from assessing what our customers were telling us they wanted. There is a trend not just in ecommerce, but in all tech, towards no-code web management. The problem is that most early concepts of no-code web development were all dead simple. They might allow you to customize things, but within a very narrow box, and the options were always very limited.
As we embarked on this project, the most important thing we wanted to do was continue to celebrate and support what already makes Miva so special for our clients, which is that it doesn't constrain their business.
"Miva’s value proposition and what we specialize in is making sure you can build your business the way you want, and that our software serves you where you are." -- Rick Wilson
RW: Until recently, we questioned if it was plausible to do that at a very high level while also having a no-code solution. We then looked at market trends and saw many businesses migrating from complex, customizable ecommerce platforms to more basic “cookie-cutter” solutions, which brought up an obvious question - why would anyone choose an option that was more constraining? The conclusion we came to was that these businesses were actually willing to have less options in order to make it a no-code environment. This was not a trade-off we were willing to make. So, we decided to take a fresh look at how we could both ensure the magic of Miva our customers love and also provide them a no-code solution.
We came up with an idea that we're very proud of, which does both things right, building upon everything that we've been working on since day one in this company. One of the most critical things about PageBuilder is it's not a new platform. You don’t have to throw out everything you have already built in order to enjoy the new tools. We’ve actually added a “no-code” layer on top of the world our customers already love and are used to, which protects all of the things about Miva that make it great for their businesses.
RW: Marketers are now driving the ship when it comes to ecommerce, merchandising, and sales. Whereas it wasn't long ago that most successful ecommerce projects were pioneered by an IT department, an owner with an IT bent, or a web developer. And that has really shifted. The marketers are in charge, and they want tools that are accessible to them.
Q: What's your overall philosophy for Miva's product evolution and hopping on trends?
RW: You know, ecommerce is a highly competitive market. And what you see is a tendency by software providers to focus on the newest hype trends which appeal to quick clicks, regardless of if those trends actually matter to real businesses. For example, there is currently no provable use case or value proposition behind NFTs, yet a few major ecommerce platforms have spent valuable engineering resources to make it so you can sell NFTs via their ecommerce sites. Meanwhile, the only thing that NFTs have shown to be good for is selling someone a signed jpeg. We just don't think pursuing such a focus supports our merchants.
Q: What does support merchants?
RW: Here's what actually supports merchants: empowering marketing teams in tangible ways. For example, one of the cool new features of PageBuilder which is largely unique to Miva, is a built-in scheduling and testing system. In fact, we're the only ones to include scheduling of this kind with our core platform. What it allows you to do is start working on any future promotion well in advance. Black Friday may be 10 months away, but you can start working on that promotion today, then schedule it for any future date and time and have it turn on and off automatically. That is the kind of thing that puts the power of running your business back into a marketer's hands.
And so we really focused on that type of innovation, whereas the paradigm before was to come up with what you want to do, have a web developer develop a test environment, show it to various team members, get sign off, and then coordinate between the web developer and content people to get everything live and working at the moment of launch. It’s funny, to this day Apple still takes down their own website just before product launches. So even the most successful tech company in the world has not yet mastered launching a product in real time. And we're launching a promotion in real time. That's the kind of thing we're trying to help our merchants do. One of the benefits of not being a huge multinational company is agility—and we want to support our merchants in having the agility to run circles around their competition.
RW: One hundred percent. If we've done our job well, PageBuilder becomes not just a cool feature, but the core of how everyone interacts with Miva going forward. Someone entering the Miva universe today should never have to touch the template layer. However, this is a critical function—the template layer is like getting under the hood. We were able to sustain the innate power of Miva because we were able to build PageBuilder on top of the template layer, in a way that's symbiotic with it. We have not taken away any of the power or customization functionality. If you want to go build a highly custom experience in the world of ecommerce, that would usually never be a point & click solution. But that’s exactly what PageBuilder delivers, and this is the lens through which people should look at Miva.
Everything just becomes much faster, and that speed has a direct correlation to cost savings on the web development side.
RW: About 18 months ago, myself, Megan Stillerman, Brennan Heyde, and Jon Burchmore were sitting in a meeting space in our office in San Diego, and we set out to conceptually figure out how to solve this problem. The bar we set was this: a non-technical person needed to be able to go in and spin up a page they wanted to launch which matched the look and feel of their site, without having to use a web developer at all.
We also wanted to make it easy to take an existing page and copy it, and we wanted to be able to schedule promotions, because in the world of ecommerce, a critical function is always launching new promotions. Merchants understand that they have to change their ecommerce website all the time to launch products, launch promotions, and to generate activity that turns into real revenue.
Q: Now that PageBuilder has been released, how successful do you think you were at executing all of those initial ideas?
RW: I think we nailed it. If someone could have shown me on that first day, this is what it'll do a year and a half from now, I would've said, “Wow, that's awesome!” This did exactly what we dreamed of.
RW: Some of the early feedback has shocked me, in a very positive way. We have a very long term customer, somebody's who’s been on Miva for 15 years, with millions of dollars in online sales. They told me they love the new PageBuilder, and sent me a link to their website. I looked at their front page and it looked stunning, but completely different from what it had been previously. I asked, “Are you telling me that you rebuilt your main homepage on this multimillion dollar site just using PageBuilder without a developer?” And their answer was, “Yes, I feel like I have full control of my site... I'm in the driver's seat.”
The fact that someone trusted the process enough to take a very successful existing business and not just launch a test landing page, but rebuild their entire homepage with PageBuilder was absolutely amazing.
We also had two brand new customers launch websites within about seven days from getting PageBuilder, which contrasts with what is reported on G2 Crowd, where you'll see average time to launch a site on competing platforms is about three to nine months. For a customer to come in and go live in seven days with PageBuilder, without having to use a web developer at all is really an impressive testimony.
RW: PageBuilder is absolutely a tool to help you grow your business. It's all about efficiency. When you use it, you have control of the look and feel of your site in a way that's not intermediated by having to call a web developer for every small change. So it's faster, and more cost effective. Then also, it's specifically designed for things which maximize revenue growth, like sophisticated promotions, getting the most out of price groups, timing, and so much more.
I was talking with another long term Miva customer who told me that they need to manage and schedule promotions at least once or twice a week. So they have to devote a substantial amount of their site managers' time just to run those promotions. Obviously the reason you do that is because it drives sales. But they have had to set up a series of time-consuming manual processes to do this, many of which involve a pit stop with a web developer. Now, we’re training them on how to use all the new building and scheduling features within PageBuilder to do it themselves. The upshot is they should be able to do twice as much in the same amount of time, and it will cut their costs by thousands of dollars per month.
RW: PageBuilder is a preview into how we work going forward. Our perspective is twofold. First, we understand the business owner's mindset, which is that they need to maximize margins. Margin comes from lots of places...it comes from the cost of your product, but it also comes from the cost to sell your product online. So, if you can save $25,000 a year in web development, that's $25,000 a year in new margin you have. And secondly, our view across the board is to make it easier, faster, more creative, and more affordable for all of our customers to sell more products the way they want to sell them.
RW: Every customer will get this feature from day one. It doesn't cost anything extra. You don't have to jump through any hoops. It's just available for you to start using immediately. To get you started, we have documentation, we have video courses, we have customer success all designed to assist you...but based on the feedback I've gotten from our clients so far, once they start clicking, they don't need much handholding—they’re just ready to go.
PageBuilder is available now for all Miva stores. To learn more about building a new store with Miva, schedule a consultation with one of our ecommerce experts today.
Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.