At it's most basic level, eCommerce software like Miva Merchant turns your website into an online store. Any online store has two main sections: the administrative area for running the store and managing things your product catalog, orders, and website pages, and the public side of eCommerce that includes displaying your product catalog, the shopping cart, and a simple checkout process with a good flow that keeps people interested in your products as they check out.
Miva Merchant makes all of this very easy and is highly customizable which means you can make it look and do pretty much anything you want from how items are removed from the shopping cart to how products are displayed to how coupons work.
Miva Merchant Administration Dashboard
The Miva Merchant dashboard gives you easy access to all the important store features such as your product catalog, user interface, order processing, URI management, and it also gives you a quick look at your sales reports including things like geographical breakdown, over all statistics, and best sellers.
The dashboard also gives you an overview of inventory that's running low, a customer support portal, and news about products, modules, expos, conventions, and other things that can help your business grow.
Whether or not your on the dashboard, all of Miva Merchant's functions are available through a well design menu system.
Need more than one store? It's easy to choose between different stores from a dropdown at the top of the admin screen.
Miva Merchant Customization and ReadyThemes
The customization potential of Miva Merchant is limitless. You can create an entirely personal experience from scratch or use one of the many free ReadyThemes store templates available by Miva Inc out of the box or as a starting place for your own look and feel.
A Miva Merchant store can be fully customized just by tweaking the global header and global footer.
All of the ReadyThemes are responsive and ready for smaller screen sizes such as cell phones.
Miva Merchant comes with dozens of built in pages that can be customized in any way. These pages are a mix of HTML and the store morph language. Store morph is a powerful way of adding dynamic scripting to web pages and is a fusion of the Miva Scripting language and HTML. You don't need to know how it works to use Miva Merchant, but store morph gives you or a Miva developer unlimited power to customize how your site interacts and the information you want to display.
Miva Inc. has been busy lately creating and updating ReadyThemes and one of the newest is called Levels. Levels is a great theme for a business with a lot of products. The menu system is logical and easy to navigate, the checkout process is modern and updated for 2016, and basically it's a fairly slick ReadyTheme.
Another new ReadyTheme is called The Booc ReadyTheme. The Booc ReadyTheme offers an elegant simplicity during the shopping experience that focuses on product basic information: the product image and description. The front page is simple and functional and includes an image/product slider. It also features the updated checkout process.
PrepWorx is a ReadyTheme designed for a store with just a handful of products that are all displayed together on the front page. This makes the checkout process super fast if you don't have many products.
There is also a Bootstrap Base ReadyTheme for those who want a twitter bootstrap blank slate to design a store from.
Check out the ReadyThemes page for a full list and demo for each one.
Miva Merchant Pages - Website/Store
Miva Merchant is a CMS - a content management system - focused on eCommerce. That means you edit your website pages and handle everything else related to selling your products from within the Miva Merchant administration. This makes it easy to keep your site up to date because when you want to update your home page, all you do is log into the Miva Merchant administration where it's easy to make changes to your store front/home page any time you want.
Along with CSS to give your website a unique look and feel, a lot of customization can be handled just by editing the global header and footer. If that's not enough, individual pages and page components can also be edited. Some pages are regularly customized, such as the about page, the store front, email notifications for things like sales, invoice and coupon pages, and so on.
Miva Merchant pages are a mix of storemorph scripting language, plain text, and HTML. You don't need to know about the technical side of web pages to customize your Miva Merchant because many pages have the option of doing it the easy way by filling in the blanks. If that's not enough, many pages and other areas of Miva Merchant have an advanced mode so you or a developer can edit pages and code blocks manually. It all depends on your level of web expertise because you can go in with no tech knowledge or as a seasoned web design professional and accomplish a great deal.
SEO and permalinks are handled by Miva Merchant and although most online stores can use permalinks out of the box, if you have special permalink considerations, it's easy to totally customize them as well. You can even deal with redirects right from within the Miva Merchant administration.
Check Out/Shopping Cart Process in Miva Merchant
Like most aspects of Miva Merchant, the checkout process works out of the box or can be customized. The checkout process for ReadyThemes can be a bit different from theme to theme based on the product display and basket style, however all the checkout processes allow your customers to pay for their purchase in any way.
Miva Merchant comes with PayPal integration right out of the box. If you need more than basic PayPal, it's easy to plugin more advanced methods such as PayPal's PayFlowPro or some other credit card processing option.
Super Charge Miva Merchant with Endless Plugin Modules
The Miva Merchant developer community gives you a powerful resource for making your store completely and uniquely your own. The depth of this community and the plugins that have been created give you a resource that is unmatched in the eCommerce world.
For example, this blog post and blogging system is run by Scot's Blogger, a Wordpress style Miva Merchant module we offer that adds a powerful blog system to Miva Merchant. Other modules add advanced SEO management, FAQ management systems, specialized checkout and order processing, next generation search modules, administration helper modules, and more.
There are hundreds if not thousands of modules available to customize Miva Merchant in some way at the Miva App Store and there are dozens of developers, including the Scot's Scripts development team, who can create modules from scratch that will add whatever kind of functionality you need to your Miva Merchant store.
Miva Merchant Pros
- Miva Inc. has been around a long time and knows the eCommerce scene
- 24/7 in-house support
- Reliable software - your business stays up and running
- Easy updates
- No limits for products, categories, sales, or anything else
- Easy management for product variants such as size and color
- Good hosting options from Miva Inc. and third party hosts
- Handles small or large data sets with the same ease
- Huge developer community
- Built in discounting, coupons, and other marketing devices
- B2C and B2B ready
- Connect your ERP, Accounting, CRM, Fulfillment Center or more to Miva Merchant
- Built in reporting and analytics
Miva Merchant Cons
- There aren't a lot of cons to Miva Merchant. The most popular complaint is price, however if you host with Miva Inc. or one of their hosting partners, the monthly cost including a license can be less than $40.
- The StoreMorph language has a learning curve if you want to learn it for yourself
- Miva Merchant has a lot of options so there can be more setup and decision making when you first open your store as compared to a low end online sales platform
I've been working with Miva Merchant and other eCommerce platforms since the mid 1990's and since then have been involved with sites using virtually every eCommerce solution available, including stores we've coded from scratch. Right now I think Miva Merchant is one of the best solutions for an eCommerce website, regardless of product or if you're starting a fresh store or converting an old store, because it works great, is easily customized, has a lot of support, and the shopping experience is smooth.