Miva Merchant: Complete Ecommerce Platform

Miva Merchant is an all-in-one ecommerce platform specifically designed to meet the needs of small and medium sized businesses. It is an entirely HTML/CSS-based content management system which allows business owners to create and manage their own unique ecommerce websites. With Miva business owners can easily upload and edit product descriptions and images, track and manage incoming and outgoing inventory, and securely process customer orders.

Miva also offers multi-channel marketplace solutions to help increase their online visibility beyond their primary website. Miva Merchant is entirely cloud-based, making it ideal for smaller businesses who may lack the IT infrastructure to host the kind of robust software needed to power a successful ecommerce enterprise.

History

Miva Inc is a privately owned and operated ecommerce software developer and web hosting provider with headquarters and datacenters in San Diego, California and Tampa, Florida. Originally founded in 1996 as the HTMLScript Corporation, the firm launched the first iteration of its ecommerce software in 1997. KoolKat, as it was then known, was an innovative response to the demands of the burgeoning ecommerce revolution, providing the basic tools for independent entrepreneurs to compete on the world wide web.

Following that initial launch, the firm changed its name to Miva Inc, and relaunched KoolKat as Miva Merchant. Since then the software has undergone several updates and revisions, with Miva Merchant 9 being the most recent.

Miva Merchant — Features and Specifications

Miva Merchant is a fully comprehensive, cloud-based, ecommerce shopping cart application and web-hosting platform for small-to-medium sized businesses. The software itself is extremely robust and full-featured, offering business owners the flexibility and control they need to successfully compete in an ever expanding online marketplace. While Miva Merchant has been designed to deliver an all-in-one ecommerce solution straight out of the box, the underlying development language does allow for ongoing modifications to bring the software totally in line with the needs and goals of the website's owners.

The stock versions of Miva Merchant include the following distinct features:

  • Store Design and Setup — Miva Merchant is a CSS template-based system. Business owners can choose from a selection of existing website themes, or start from scratch with a blank CSS-based structure. All website templates and designs are fully compatible with mobile devices for better market saturation. Miva also has an in-house professional design team available for custom builds. All Miva Merchant websites include custom fields for products, categories, shopping carts, and final check-out. Unlike similar ecommerce platforms, Miva Merchant places no limitations on the number of active products users can upload to their websites.
  • Enhanced Shopping Experience — the shopper's experience is key to any ecommerce software, and Miva provides a full set of features designed to enhance that experience. Unlimited product images and refined inventory messaging puts shoppers in touch with their purchasing options, while custom sorting by price and availability facilitates product searches. A mini-basket with shipping calculator on each page encourages customers to complete their purchase, resulting in fewer abandoned shopping carts.
  • Support for B2B Retailers — Miva Merchant isn't limited to business-to-consumer retailers. The platform also provides specific features supporting business-to-business (B2B) retailing, including unique content and special pricing tied to the buyer's unique login information.
  • Enhanced Checkout Experience — the checkout area is one of the most important and complicated sections of an ecommerce website, and Miva offers multiple options to match the business' needs. Subscribers can choose between 1 page, 2 page, and 3 page checkouts to best suit their website's structure and customer base. Standard integrated payment options offer support for all major credit cards, as well as PayPal, CHASE Paymentech, and Amazon Payments.
  • Store Administration Features — Miva Merchant's browser-based interface makes it easy for approved administrators to add and edit product listings, manage orders, and review sales and performance metrics.
  • Back-End Automation and Enhanced Productivity Features — while the front end of an ecommerce website is what attracts customers, it's the back-end that does the heavy lifting. Miva Merchant delivers back-end automation features that allow websites to sync with, and talk to, a wide range of SMB and enterprise level operations and systems. This high level of back-end automation allows subscribers' sites to connect directly with their accounting systems, payment gateways, and shipping and fulfillment centers to realize greater productivity and operational efficiency.
  • Support for Multi-Channel Marketplaces — Miva Merchant allows online retailers to manage multiple marketplace listings from a single interface, so products can be active and available through popular online outlets like Ebay and Amazon as well as on the business' primary website.
  • Search Engine Optimization — finally, Miva Merchant offers full SEO support for their clients to ensure better online performance in organic searches across multiple browsers.

Tools and Resources

Miva Merchant was conceived as an all-in-one ecommerce platform, designed to offer all of the features and support online retailers need to set up a website and hit the ground running. That being said, Miva Merchant is a bit more sophisticated than some of the competing ecommerce platforms currently on the market, and to take full advantage of what it has to offer users would do well to familiarize themselves with the application through various online tutorials.

  • Miva Developer Training Series : Miva hosts an extensive selection of video tutorials that drill down deep into the operation of the Miva Merchant application. The Developer Training Series consists of more than 50 short videos geared towards web developers who will be using Miva Merchant to build high quality ecommerce websites. This series of tutorials is highly detailed, covering every aspect of the application as it pertains to the design, launch, and maintenance of a successful ecommerce website.
  • My Miva : this short series of video tutorials presents a simple overview of Miva Merchant, familiarizing users with the application's control panel and administration features.
  • Miva Store Owner Courses : this archived series of video tutorials pertain specifically to Miva Merchant 5, though they are largely applicable to all subsequent versions of the software and offer a fairly comprehensive overview for first time users. Topics covered include initial store setup, product and category management, and order fulfillment and performance reporting.
  • Miva Products Tutorials : again, this series of videos comes direct from Miva. The dozen short tutorials explain how to upload product images and descriptions, and how to handle product variants (sizes, colors, etc). Special attention is given to product descriptions, and how to optimize them for effective on-site search filters.

These are just a sampling of the many video tutorials available directly from Miva Inc. Further video resources can be found their website's video section.

Books

Miva Merchant is one of the leading ecommerce platforms currently on the market, and as such there are quite a few books dedicated to the software's operation and performance. Most of these books are basic manuals, primarily geared to start-ups and smaller businesses who want to more fully expand into online retailing.

  • Ecommerce Made Easier: The Official Guide to Miva Merchant 5 (2005) by Pamela Hazelton — perhaps the most popular book on the Miva Merchant platform, this official guide acts as an introduction to the software as well as a fully comprehensive user's manual. Through the use of copious step-by-step examples, the author takes the reader through initial website design through managing day to day operations.
  • The Official Guide to Miva Merchant 9 (2015) by Pamela Hazelton — the follow up to The Official Guide to Miva Merchant 5 is available as an ebook directly from Miva Inc, and presents a complete overview of the latest iteration of the ecommerce platform. Profusely illustrated, the guide introduces readers to the latest Miva Merchant control interface, as well as highlighting updates and changes to the software including new batch list sorting features, store credit and gift certificate add-ons, and new website templates.
  • Miva Merchant 5.5: The Official Guide (2011) by Miva Merchant — offers a complete overview of the ecommerce software as it stood at the time. While the software itself has been revised several times since the original publication of this book, it still offers a useful insight into the operation of Miva Merchant with an emphasis on the platform's back-end operations. The book is also available in a digital edition directly from Miva Inc.

Summary

Miva Merchant was one of the first fully realized ecommerce platforms to hit the market, and it remains one of the most popular and successful in the industry. Its robust feature array sets it apart from many of its competitors, and its cloud-based operating system makes it ideal for small-to-medium sized businesses who lack the IT infrastructure to host their own ecommerce platforms. Coupled with Miva's web-hosting services, it opens up online retailing to a wider, and more diverse, community of online entrepreneurs.

But for all of its accessibility, Miva Merchant can present something of a learning curve for many first time users. The resources gathered here should provide a general introduction to the Miva Merchant platform, as well as greater insight into its applications in a real world ecommerce environment.


Further Reading and Resources

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How to Start an Ecommerce Site

If you have decided that you want to take the step, you should check out our article, How to Start an Ecommerce Site. It goes over all the basics of what you need to do.