Last time we found out the position of Magento in Hungary, and today we move to the Netherlands.
CactusPlaza came into existance around 12 years ago where student Allard wrote articles on cactus cultivation and shared his propagation experience during and after his study biology. After he started to get a lot of e-mails with a question like "Can you sell me some of those plants..." a small shop was born.
I spoke with CactusPlaza’s owner and managing director Allard Bax to learn more about making an eCommerce store from scratch.
What: CactusPlaza.com is an online shop in Cacti & Succulents and other Exotic plants. We ship plants, seeds, and accessories. We started our website around 12 years ago. There have been many changes over the years.
We are using Magento for 3 years and last year we started using aheadWorks extensions with much satisfaction.
Where: Roden, The Netherlands
Q: You have been running your store for 12 years. How many people work in your company?
Allard: 2 people and occasionally 1 or 2 more.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your business, and how you became involved with Magento.
Allard: We started with Oscommerce. We were hitting a wall in terms of SEO and website functionality. Besides this we needed restyling. Magento is one of the leading open source shopping systems and we heard good things about it.
Search Autocomplete and Suggest in use. ‘We were not completely happy with the default Magento search tool. The Search Autocomplete and Suggest extension is a must have.’
Q: What was the hardest thing in launching a Magento store?
Allard: There is a learning curve if you want to do everything yourself. Tuning your extensions and your hosting so everything is running as best as possible - that was the hardest to accomplish.
Q: Why did you choose aheadWorks as a Magento extensions provider?
Allard: Having many different extensions with different companies is, in my opinion, inefficient in terms of time management, communication with programmers and costs.
Besides of this, the risk of having technical conflicts between extensions tends to be much bigger if you work with many different extensions from different companies.
We choose aheadWorks because they have the best and largest range of Magento extensions. Their programming is clean which keeps our website as fast as possible and their service is also swift and friendly.
Q: You use Points & Rewards extension. Why did you make up your mind on our extension and what is the idea of your rewarding system?
I think our number of reviews increased with over 30% since we are using the Points & Rewards extension from aheadWorks.
Allard: We tried several other reward extensions but they slowed our website down. This one is simple and fast.
- We wanted a point system to increase customer loyalty.
- We also needed to increase the number of reviews on our website because they help sales and improve SEO.
If you give customers a small reward for writing a review then this really stimulates them.
- Another reason for using the Points & Rewards extension is the option for customers to send referrals and emails.
A great method for us to get more direct advertising and our customers get rewards which they spend on making more and/or larger orders in our shop at CactusPlaza.com.
Q: What is the most powerful extension for you and why?
Allard: There are many powerful extensions. The most powerful for us at the moment is the Follow Up Email extension. It saves a lot of time and it is very important to keep in touch with your customers.
With over 10,000 registered customers an auto-reply email system is a must. Simple and highly customizable.
We use the Follow Up Email extension from aheadWorks to ask if customers are happy with their orders, to ask for a review and sometimes for certain offers.
Who Bought This Also Bought displays products from the current category in the upper right corner of the store. Side banner advertising CactusPlaza rewards system fulfilled with the help of Points & Rewards extension.
Q: How can you characterize your affiliate program?
Allard: We use the Magento Affiliate extension from aheadWorks to generate backlinks and more sales. We have only a few affiliates at the moment but the clients with good blog websites can make a decent coin through our affiliate program by linking to our products or to any other CactusPlaza URL.
Just like the Points & Rewards extension the benefit is mutual. A customer gains points or money and we get valuable feedback, exposure and more sales.
Q: Could you share your impressions working with our technicians on a customization task?
Allard: aheadWorks technicians are very professional. They ask the right questions so they know exactly what to do and they keep me well informed on their progress.
Q: Extension of your dream. What extension would you like to use in your store that hasn’t been released yet?
Magento is a powerful tool but it takes time, dedication, and some money to grow your online business. If you are serious about starting an online business then use a serious platform like Magento.
Allard: For an online shop search engine positions are very important. Magento has the right technical tools to form a good basis for SEO. However, there is no possibility to see the results of your efforts within your Magento backend.
I would like to see an extension which is SEO orientated. Looking for something like webmaster tools but in my backend of Magento.
For instance, I want to see in my Magento backend if the ranking of my products, categories and CMS pages have changed in Google, Yahoo and Bing separately.
If I am able somehow to filter my products on Google positions, Page rank and other SEO values I can prioritize which pages and/or products should need more optimization.
I would also want to check SEO variables for different countries, for instance, google.com, google.co.uk, etc.
Q: Where do you see your company in five years?
Allard: We want to sell our plants and seeds all over the world :). We are very happy where we are at the moment. We have a healthy and steady growth.
Q: Any recommendations for people evaluating Magento?
Allard: I would have a general advice for people who start an online shop. Be serious with it. Magento is a powerful tool but it takes time, dedication and some money to grow your online business. If you are serious about starting an online business then use a serious platform like Magento.
Q: Any last words you might have?
Allard: I liked answering all your questions and I hope it helps you and other Magento users.
P.S. If you would like to share your store with Magento society, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]