Interview with Lead Community Manager at Prestashop Benjamin Utterback

PrestaShop-verticalWould you like to know more about Prestashop best features, its advantages over other platforms and new functionality that is going to be introduced? We had a pleasant talk with Prtestashop’s Lead Community Manager, Benjamin Utterback. So check out his interview for interesting ecommerce marketing tips and insights!

Hi Benjamin! Thank you for finding the time and answering our questions. Could you please tell about yourself and your experience, first? What are your role and responsibilities at PrestaShop right now?

Sure! I am Lead Community Manager for an ecommerce software called PrestaShop. We focus on providing a powerful, easy-to-use and completely free ecommerce solution that is accessible to any person in the world who wants to sell and make money online. We are committed to being open-source and passionate about creating features, modules, and templates that meet the needs of our growing 650,000 member community.

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So far, what has been the biggest challenge for you as PrestaShop’s Lead Community Manager?

For me, the biggest challenge is balancing our amazing community feedback with our internal roadmap. Being open-source on GitHub, we have incredibly talented and creative community developers who come up with innovative features and code optimization that we implement into our software. The challenge comes from having so many good ideas! We work directly with our community to create the best possible software. It’s a pleasure to have this challenge as it’s something new each day.

Let’s talk about PrestaShop platform. What are core advantages PrestaShop has over its competitors?

Having years of experience in the Ecommerce market, I think that without a doubt PrestaShop has the best combination of powerful features and ease-of-us. On top of this, because of we are open-source, there is the flexibility to add or extend features to fit the need of each merchant. Our newest version 1.6 revolutionizes business intelligence for ecommerce. By providing a best-in-class dashboard statistics panel, along with targeted KPI’s merchants are better equipped than ever to make the best business decisions quickly and efficiently.

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I also need to highlight just how international ready we are. No other ecommerce solution has the international scope as PrestaShop. We crowd-source translations from native speakers of over 63 languages from over 163 countries. It’s the entire PrestaShop community ecosystem that shines when you use our software. We spent countless hours working directly with merchants, developers and designers, making sure each detail in our software helps merchants be successful online.

What is PrestaShop’s target audience like? Do you have a certain business niche or store size?

PrestaShop’ was built to be flexible enough to handle small projects, all the way to enterprise level ecommerce websites. The beauty of the software is that it’s free and totally customizable to scale as you grow. Of course, the bulk of our stores are SMB’s but there is an incorrect stereotype about open-source software that seems to believe big enterprises don’t use it. We are powering ecommerce stores for enterprise level websites like X-Games, Office Depot’s B2B, Greenpeace, and so much more.

Could you share with us any plans for PrestaShop development in the nearest future? What kind of improvements, new features or functionality should ecommerce owners see soon?

In terms of the software, we are creating a new module page that will make it easier to find the right module, install and configure it. We are focusing on the speed and ease-of-use for the module page.

Along with an updated module page, we are working on extending our translation tool, powered by Crowdin. Soon, native speakers of all languages will be able to make translation improvements directly on the PrestaShop software. If a merchant or developer sees a phrase that can be translated better, they can make a few clicks, update the translation and send it to the community to vote and our team to review. This will be a huge step in making PrestaShop even better-suited for global businesses.

Do you have favorite shops built on PrestaShop’s platform? Can you recommend them to our readers as a source of inspiration?

We recently did an ecommerce World Tour where we traveled all corners of the world, learning about the different ecommerce cultures. We met with the store owners of “Sweet Isabelle” in Canada. They loved baking desserts for their family and friends. With the power of PrestaShop, they were able to take that love and passion and turn it into a successful online store. As their business grew, they needed a physical location to support their online presence. Now, Sweet Isabelle has three physical locations to go along with their online PrestaShop store.

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Next, I want to talk about a store named “Bertie’s Closet”, they sell handcrafted customized laptop and tablet cases. They started on Etsy in 2009. After selling over 25,000 items, they knew it was time to bolster their business with a powerful PrestaShop online store. They migrated their business to PrestaShop and have only found more success. Small business is realizing its potential with ecommerce and it’s a pleasure to be on the forefront of their online success.

What are the biggest trends in ecommerce software industry right now?

In the short term I think the biggest trend in Ecommerce is the evolution of mobile payments. They are becoming so diverse that you can use your phone to pay for a taxi, split a bill at dinner, and pay your parking meter remotely. Except mobile payments to grow 30-40% percent this year.

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The next trend I want to talk about it the use of multiple channels to market and sell your products. Gone are the days where you have one online store and that’s it. Now, you can also sell on marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Pinterest etc. PrestaShop was ahead of the curve on this as we supported integrations with these marketplaces years ago. Now you can sell on Amazon, eBay and PrestaShop with you inventory all in one place for easy management.

In your opinion, what are the most important things to consider when you build a completely new online store and what things are the most critical for its successful promotion?

I think a good piece of advice is not to follow hot trends. Do not sell something with the sole intention of making money online. Sell something you love, something you are passionate about. It’s a business and in order to be happy and successful, you need to enjoy it.

Do not sell something with the sole

 

Also, when you are building a new online store, keep in mind that a good Average Order Value is integral to your success. If you sell 50 orders of a small priced item, you will still have to do the same amount of time processing orders, packing, shipping, after sales customer support etc. So try and pick something that requires customers to have a high order value. If the item is a small ticket item then sell them in bulk!

Do you have any tips from your personal experience on how to search for and approach niche bloggers? How ecommerce store owners should build connections with influential bloggers in their niche?

Everybody wants to their articles posted on influential websites. It’s proven to be an effective way to generate traffic and sales after all. The first step is to network with these influential bloggers. Look up their blogs, find the names of the contributors. Once you do that you can search their name on Google to do more research. You should always be able to find their LinkedIn, Twitter or another contact form to message them. Keep the message short and sweet with some benefit to the reader. I love this video from Rand Fishkin, where he talks about creating a great outreach email. We also had the pleasure of featuring an interview with Rand on our blog.

What Twitter accounts and blogs do you follow for your professional growth?

Anyone involved in ecommerce, online marketing and industry trends should follow @PrestaShop and our ecommerce blog. There are a few other blogs and Twitter handles I can recommend including @moz @quicksprout and @cmscritic.

What is work environment at PrestaShop like? What kind of people are working in PrestaShop team?

Working at PrestaShop is a pleasure. We have offices in Paris and Miami and we all feel close to one another because we all share the same passion for ecommerce. We all have different talents that complement each other from developing, marketing, community and business development. Seeing our merchants grow and become successful drives us each day to work hard for them. We grow as our merchants grow and that vision is an integral part of why we power over 185,000 stores and serve over 650,000 members of our community.

Thanks Ben for the nice talk! 

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