Case Study: The PetStoreOnline.com And Miva Merchant

Today’s guest blog post comes to us from Jennifer Davis, Vice President, eMarketing at Lever Interactive.

Sometimes it is hard to say goodbye to old friends, even if they don’t have your best interests at heart.  You put time, money and effort into your relationship, but eventually you begin to realize you are putting in more than you are getting out. This was case with ThePetStoreOnline.com and their Yahoo store.  They recently made the move to Miva Merchant, and haven’t looked back since.


A new look and feel and the right ecommerce platform can make all the difference when it comes to ecommerce site success.

Based just outside of Atlanta, ThePetStoreOnline.com is an online retailer of dog and cat supplies.  As a leader in the industry, they specialize in top-quality name brand products such as PetSafe, Innotek and Petmate at affordable prices.

After many years with the Yahoo platform, they, as well as their online marketing agency, Lever Interactive, were becoming increasingly frustrated with the limitations of the Yahoo platform.

Whether it was navigating the specialized mark-up code, adding specialized product data to the database, refining the search functionality, or adding new functionality, customization was a cumbersome task that in most cases required a third-party developer.


ThePetStoreOnline before their Miva Merchant migration

Testing

After several A/B and multivariate tests outside of the Yahoo platform, using an updated design it was clear that the outdated and somewhat closed system of the Yahoo store was hurting sales.
However, switching to a Miva Merchant-powered store required overcoming two major hurdles:

  • Demonstrating considerable proof that a Miva Merchant-powered store would perform better.
  • Training the staff to handle the back-end processing of the orders and store administration.  The staff had been well-trained and worked like a well-oiledmachine in the processing of the orders through the Yahoo platform, although this process did require a couple of third-party add-ons to help.  Now, they would have step out of their comfort zone slightly to work with a new system.

The Plan

A plan was devised to tackle the two hurdles at the same time:

  •   A sub domain was established and pointed to a Miva Merchant-hosted store.
  • A new design was created and the same functionality (product reviews, special pricing based on quantity, etc.) was implemented on the Miva Merchant store that existed on the Yahoo store.
  • A new design was created and the same functionality (product reviews, special pricing based on quantity, etc.) was implemented on the Miva Merchant store that existed on the Yahoo store.
  • All paid search traffic was then re-directed to the new store.

With orders coming in, the staff was able to acclimate to back-end processing using Miva Merchant Synchro to move orders into QuickBooks.  It also gave the staff a chance to work on uploading products, creating categories and pages, etc.

The Outcome

After several months, it was clear the Miva Merchant store was outperforming the Yahoo platform.  The new store showed double digit increases across all major factors, including:

  • A 20% increase in revenue
  • A 14% increase in transactions
  • A 26% increase in overall conversion rate

The staff was now in a new comfort zone with the administration of the store. It was clearly time to make the move.


ThePetStoreOnline.com after the migration

The Move

With the numbers showing favorable results, it was time to pull the plug on the Yahoo store. After several weeks of careful planning and a two-phased approach, ThePetStoreOnline.com went 100% live on the Miva Merchant platform.

The biggest concern was to reduce any negative impact on the SEO traffic as possible.  Any high traffic and/or ranking URLs were duplicated in the new with no issues, which helped reduce any ill-effect of the hosting and platform change.

Added Functionality

Now with the move complete, ThePetStoreOnline.com can concentrate on adding new functionality to their store through the third-party developer modules and other functionality like up-sells and customer based pricing.

In addition, with the new hosting they were able to integrate a blog on the site.  Finally, they now have full control over their entire site including the search and the shopping cart pages—items they never had control over on a shared hosted technology.


Customers can now take advantage of the store’s improved functionality