Partner Interview Series - Aheadworks: Taking Advantage of Magento Extensions
Written on 23 May 2017
The partnership between SmartOSC and Aheadworks started a few years ago aiming to enable online retailers to shorten their time to market and enhance our e-commerce solution offering. The collection of high quality, regularly updated Aheadworks extensions combined with SmartOSC’s scalable and cost-effective development has brought great value to our clients.
We have been lucky enough to interview Aheadworks CEO Natallia Kukuruzina on her thoughts about the Magento platform, the current trends in online shopping, and the future of e-commerce.
|Natallia Kukuruzina, CEO at Aheadworks|
1. Could you please introduce yourself and your role at Aheadworks?
I have been working in IT for the last 10 years. For half of this time, I headed custom development projects and now I’m a CEO of the product dev team, which is quite a bit different. If the first area requires excellent implementation of the specified functionality, the development process of our own products involves significantly more consideration for areas such as market research, promotions, customer services, technical support etc. However, I’m excited about the challenges and opportunities available in this particular segment.
2. What can you tell our audience about Aheadworks? its product and vision?
Aheadworks is one of the extension providers who joined Magento from the very beginning. Even then, we considered it as one of the most beneficial e-commerce platforms worldwide and we are still staunch supporters. We are adamant that Magento store owners should take advantage of the wide variety of excellent functionality extensions. That’s our product vision and our highest mission.
For our products, we closely follow all the best Magento development practices and try to implement only advanced approaches, both for the code and functions. As a result of this commitment, Aheadworks is honored as the Most Innovative Extension Developer for two years in a row, in 2016 and 2017.
Now, when we have established our development tactics, we look at the significant UX and performance improvements for our extensions. We aim for excellent performance with our modules on both small and big stores using own caching and indexation practices. We also strive to offer high-quality and efficient user experience for Magento customers and admins, and plan to focus on this objective even more through the next year.
3. What do you think are the advantages of Magento over the other e-commerce platforms?
People are the greatest asset. The unique ecosystem Magento managed to build is its greatest treasure. But, it’s not only about Magento, it’s true for any successful brand or product. People stay loyal to Magento, because it provides them with effective and advanced e-commerce functionality and simultaneously allows them to feel protected and supported by the surrounding community.
4. How can merchants take advantage of Magento extensions?
Magento extensions may be considered as another quality aspect of the platform in general. Traditionally, Magento store owners have been able to take advantage of numerous and versatile functionality extensions.
The first and most important thing any Magento extension user wants is functionality, of course. But that’s not enough, as customers start asking for easy installation, wide testing opportunities, flexible and Magento compliant architecture, and so on and so forth.
Contemporary customers clearly realize that the initial price of an extension may further multiply final costs due to high integration and customization expenses. The extensions we develop are made to reduce these additional spendings and the efforts required to embed our code and launch the provided functionality.
Naturally, customers become more educated and raise their quality standard requirements that are applied to the purchased products. In one way or another, all the above product aspects are important for users.
5. Could you give an example of an e-Commerce site successfully applying Aheadworks extensions to extend their capability and drive result?
The total number of our customers exceeds 50+ thousand. This is quite a large number of stores that have installed and taken advantage of our extensions. We try to highlight some of those use cases in our blog and welcome any Magento stores using our modules to share their experience too.
- iPhone Themes. For example, we have described a case where our iPhone Theme has been used for the Veggie Tales webstore and as a result of the implemented enhancements, including mobile adaptation, the brand experienced the 28.1% increase in revenue per visitor, and 37.5% increase in conversion rates.
- Advanced Reports. The case provided by our partner describes quite a specific store that sells products with up to 50 product options. As soon as all stocks are sold out the store owner needs to generate a report featuring the whole list of customers that bought one or the other option. The best solution found was the Advanced Reports extension by Aheadworks.
Many of our customers install up to 10 of our extensions in one Magento installation. So, we also track those combinations of products in order to determine the most popular ones.
- For example, Italian Magento stores often take advantage of our Follow Up Email and Points & Rewards extensions.
- We also witness how traditional long-history offline retailers enter omnichannel and also prefer using Magento to succeed.
Most of our most popular extensions are featured in our store, so that visitors can evaluate their quality first.
6. What do you think are the main challenges for a merchant to create their e-commerce site?
It depends. Most fresh store owners have some ideas regarding their future stores. However, if online stores rise from established brick-and-mortar businesses, they usually just want to transfer their experience as fully as they can.
Small businesses lack money and try to spend their limited budgets in the most effective way. It’s a great challenge and may require a lot of time and individual effort. Enterprise level stores usually struggle for performance and extensibility. Such stores are compelled to solve complex and non-trivial problems.
So, each of them face quite different challenges, but can be sure that Magento is able to suite any their needs.
7. What are common mistakes merchants make when developing an e-commerce system?
Most often, people intend to resolve short-term issues and rarely are thoughtful enough about the distant future. The choice of an e-commerce platform is usually the most crucial decision for any online business. It determines their chances to win against the competition, extend and customize their stores, and make stores more attractive for customers.
Less critical mistakes may occur due to the wrong hosting, rigid themes and other components, and low customization and durability margins of the whole system. A chinese proverb says: “Without casting a big net how can a big fish be caught”.
8. What do you think are the technology trends that will impact online shopping experience in 2017?
They are numerous, but I will only mention some that impress me most.
- Rapid B2B E-commerce Development. The growth of B2B e-commerce platform use is predicted to double in the next 2-3 years and outpace the B2C segment. So, Magento and the entire community should start preparing for that shift intensively.
- Advanced Digital Payments. Digital payments are not only used in online stores, but also successfully exploited by traditional sellers, and now they look like they were taken from a sci-fi movie, e.g. contactless smart carts, payments with fingerprints and personal pins and so on.
- Mobile and application based purchases. According to some estimations, mobile and application-based online purchases are going to dislodge desktop sales. So, both Magento merchants and developers should be just ready for this transition.
- Reversed Omnichannel Spread. The predictors, who promised a quick sunset of traditional offline stores turned out to be wrong. Surprisingly, we are witnessing the movement of successful, originally online stores to brick-and-mortar outlets, showrooms, etc.
9. Could you explain the partnership between SmartOSC and Aheadworks and how does that help online retailers to be more competitive?
We are glad that Magento has become popular in the Asia-Paсific market, where local merchants are able to make their business plans come true with the help of highly professional and passionate teams just like SmartOSC. The best examples of the created Magento-based web stores result from the combination of their extensive Magento experience, cost-effective development and high-quality Magento extensions.
SmartOSC is one of our oldest customers and partners with huge expertise in our extensions. This knowledge allows them to effectively integrate our products and offer only fair prices.
As SmartOSC creates their own e-commerce products, we also cooperate in the field of mutual integrations. For example, Magento merchants are able to benefit from the integrated functionality of our Reward Points and SmartOSC’s ConnectPOS application. We also plan to integrate it with our other extensions, e.g. Gift Card is already on its way.