Magento Developers – Module Reviews

Continuing onwards, I’m going to discuss the modules I’ve used and the developers involved in it:

Aheadworks:  Very, very good modules.  I haven’t actually contacted them for help because their modules just work.  That simple.  My go to guys if I have to buy / get a module because their modules just work.

Fishpig: I’ve only used their WordPress module.  IT works most of the time till it didn’t.  Then I paid for support – and got very little.  Weeks before they replied to try to fix it, when they ‘fixed it’, they broke the production site and never sent what files they fixed.  HORRIBLE support – stay away.

ManaDev: Decent modules, code is a bit sloppy though.  Support is pretty good, though when conflicts happen they will stop providing support, so expect to have to use your main developer to find the problem.  Overall, okay.

Mageworx: Their tweaks module is good.  Overall support isn’t bad,  though I wish they’d help out a bit more when there are conflicts.

OneStepCheckout:  Good checkout, but has a lot of conflicts that happen.  However, they are generally very good with support and will help out with conflicts if it has to do with their module (and sometimes outside of it).  Still the best OneStepCheckout option there is out there though.

Sweet Tooth: I got in when they were selling the module at a fixed price.  Support is decent, though every upgrade means a ton of bugs.  Their go-to support request is ‘update to latest module’; which then creates even more bugs so be careful.  The module itself is decent.

TinyBrick: Another system that just works.  No comment on their support because I haven’t needed it.

Webtex: Great support, love their gift card module.  Works very well though occasional checkout conflicts.

Magento Developers – A Review

Running a webstore on Magento, we’ve had to develop quite a bit of custom code as well as using various modules.  I’m going to tackle the custom developers first, then go on to module developers next:

Collins Harper –  these are my main developers.  I use them on a very regular basis.

Pros: Some great modules that just work (their local pickup, Canada Post Pro and gateway modules).  Coding is good, fast and reliable when custom development is required.  Generally, they solve issues even other developers have problems with.

Cons: More complicated modules like the CP 2.0 modules have occasional bugs and require more maintenance.  Can be slow in getting to you due to high demand for services.  Also, their hourly rate is up there – though it’s often balanced out by efficiency of work done.

Hatimeria: I used them to do the redesign of the website as well as providing some basic coding services during the site redesign.

Pros: Cheaper than CH.  Coding is generally okay, not great but serviceable.  They have a good designer they work with.

Cons: Very busy – I haven’t been able to get onto their docket for more work in a while.

Morality and business

One of the things that you need to consider when you are a business owner or  entrepreneur is deciding how far you’ll go.  Where is your line? Don’t think it matters?

Illegal Businesses

Would you take part in illegal businesses? Say selling drugs? For the vast majority, that’s a huge no.   For that reason, and because frankly I know little about this side of the world; I’m just going to stop here.

Grey Businesses

How about those that are arguably illegal.  Or mildly illegal.  For example, would you sell alcohol online? How about drop-shipping it? What about products that might be illegal in another country?

For example, the Canadian pharmaceautical business does a lot of sales into the US – even though it’s technically illegal to do so.  Except, the legality is in the US – it’s illegal for you to sell to them, but if you are Canadian, it’s perfectly legal here…

You probably are asking yourself, why bother? But the grey market businesses are incredibly profitable – because few people get involved in them, the markups and demand i often unmet.  You could make a lot of money that way – and I know a number of people in Vancouver who have.

There are obvious consequences to all this – for e.g. if the US got really annoyed with you, you might have to avoid traveling to the US at all.  See Mark Emery for one.

Legal Businesses

It’s all good right, no considerations on morality there? However, there’s something to think about when you deal with returns, refunds, shipments.   When do you stop being nice and when should you hold the line?

What if it’s an innocent mistake on the customer’s part?

On top of that, there are things that are legal but might not be moral.  If someone doesn’t defend their trademark, is it wrong to use it? What about buying products and re-selling them; even against the manufacturer’s wishes?

Decidng where your line is can be difficult, since often wherever you draw the line; there’s going to be money on the  other side of it, but it will help.

Choosing the right product

Now that I’ve been in this business for a while, I’m realising more and more how important it is to choose the type and kind of product you sell carefully.  There are a few reasons for that, but here are the major factors that will affect your performance:

Market Size – how many people demand the product

Fragmentation of market – how easy is it to get hold of these people? A market may be huge, but if your market is highly fragmented, it’ll be much harder to market to and devleop

Average Order Value (Product Value) – all things being equal, a higher value / priced product will generate more revenue than a lower priced / value product.  Go too high though and you’ll see conversion rates drop, but within the $100 – 200 range seems to be pretty good from hearsay.  Our experience has shown that if your products average around $40 – 50; you’ll almost double your average cart value compared to products in the $25 – 50 range.

Competition – not much required to discuss here

Uniqueness – if you have a product that others can’t find / locate / buy anywhere else, you have a much higher conversion rate than others.  This is great when you can manufacture or otherwise sole-source a product which has high demand and often the reason for breakout successes fir small companies.