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Miva Review 5 of 15
Review: "Merchant’s Perspective – Used Miva For Many Years, But Had To Move On"
https://www.trustradius.com/ecommerceMiva MerchantUnspecified5.319101
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Updated March 20, 2015

Review: "Merchant’s Perspective – Used Miva For Many Years, But Had To Move On"

Score 1 out of 101
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version
5.5 PR8 Update 12
Modules Used
Emporium Plus Toolkit, Sebenza Modules, Weiland Modules, VikingCoders Modules, ADS Modules, Too many to count really

Overall Satisfaction with Miva Merchant

Established retail company launched an online store with Miva Merchant over 5 years ago. Early on it was a very suitable platform and met our needs well, particularly its somewhat unique versatility. However, things have been in steady decline for some time. Their hosting was incredibly unreliable and lacked critical management features for no good reason. What you get initially with Miva is really only the shell of a proper online store. Things have gradually gotten better in regard to the features included, but companies who've been on the platform for years and paid for third-party modules and specialized development work receive no benefit. They're consistently about three years behind the pack compared to other major eCommerce platforms and have recently resorted to questionable tactics to increase the revenue they derive from people who use their system. I do feel some online merchants with highly specialized needs could find the customization options offered by Miva compelling, but the start up and ongoing costs for a real storefront are quite severe and lack many useful features compared to other more popular store systems.
  • General versatility, though changes commonly require the aid of a true Miva developer to implement
  • Compatible with many payment gateways and a fair assortment of third-party services
  • Developers employed directly by Miva to handle merchant projects are personable and responsive to most requests
  • Prospective and established merchants considering the Miva platform should be warned that they've recently implemented an onerous new fee when more than one person accesses the store admin area at any given time. Specifically, Miva merchants will now be on the hook for $50 per additional simultaneous user per month. If we had remained on Miva, this would have increased our annual costs of using the platform by at least $3,000, perhaps more. The president of Miva claims this is standard for SaaS e-commerce platforms, but I know of none that do and this change makes their platform incredibly unattractive for merchants who expect their business to grow in the future. Furthermore, certain third-party services can be detected by the Miva HQ tracking system as admin users, also triggering an additional seat fee.
  • Exorbitant pricing for adding some basic features that feels like a petty cash grab. For instance, we opted for the $1,000 mobile optimization package and received a bare bones mobile-friendly site with no appearance refinements aside from crudely plopping our logo at the top. They forgot to optimize a few key pages, like the product search results, and it seemed like whoever did it rushed through the work in an hour or two. Other projects they helped with went better, but there's frequently minor coding errors we've had to clean up ourselves.
  • Features released with updates practically always require developer assistance to test and properly enable.
  • Issues that should be treated as bugs are instead left for third-party modules to correct. For example, if a wholesale customer adds items to their cart before logging in, those items retain the standard retail price when the order is placed. We informed Miva tech support of this, expecting that they might look into fixing the problem, but were instead told that we should buy an add-on module that forces a cart recalculation at checkout. Why should this be the responsibility of an extra module to correct? It should be noted that a year or two ago Miva purchased the Emporium Plus plugin catalog, including the cart recalculation module, yet that is still omitted from the core platform.
  • Ever increasing support costs associated with the platform, despite it lacking features common to all major eCommerce systems
  • Customer experience is significantly lacking compared to other store platforms
  • Most third-party eCommerce service providers don't support Miva or require hefty implementation costs because of Miva's dwindling usage
  • Volusion,Magento,Magento Community Edition,Shopify,Bigcommerce,3dCart
Many years ago, Miva was a good eCommerce platform compared to others, typically offered by a hosting company for free or a small charge. However, it's fallen way behind the pack now and the declining interest in their system and ever increasing fees make it exceptionally unattractive compared to competing platforms in practically every way possible. Their management does little to instill confidence, by all appearances preoccupied lately with making a quick buck, and I suspect the writing is on the wall. Since Magento hit the scene in a big way, Miva is no longer unique or best positioned for advanced store customization, and the costs, both in time and money, for launching a fully functional Miva store are ridiculous in comparison to simplified scalable solutions such as Volusion, 3dCart and Shopify.

Since we migrated from Miva, conversions have markedly improved, order fulfillment takes half as much time, responding to customer service requests is centralized and immensely easier, and we have literally dozens of new and valuable features available that we can consider making use of in the future, all included as part of the new platform and easy to roll out. We can even get in touch with knowledgeable and personable support staff in mere minutes, no Design Club membership or extra charge needed.

As is very apparent here, others have different perspectives on Miva; some far better, one or two perhaps worse. I am certainly not unbiased, but I have tried in this commentary to be as level headed and honest as I can about our company's experience with Miva and why it was ultimately not simply appropriate, but required for the health of our business that we make a change to something better. Whether you're considering launching a new online store or perhaps doing a migration, I will only advise that you read and learn as much as you can about Miva and the company backing it. The official website paints a very rosy picture in simplified bullet points, and many developers who specialize in creating Miva stores have chimed in here and elsewhere sharing far more glowing opinions than mine. However, as the old saying goes the proof is in the pudding and, if you're looking for an e-commerce platform that you hope to use long term, do everything in your power to be sure it's one you genuinely believe you'll be happy with, not simply the platform preferred by an outside company or developer handling the project.
I am aware of some interesting applications of the Miva platform where it may be the optimal choice, but for the vast majority of store owners the negatives greatly outweigh the positives, and, despite some skilled and personable staff, management seems unwilling to make changes that might set the platform, and their official hosting arm, on a better course. Unfortunately, given the fevered competition among eCommerce platforms, I don't really see how they might turn things around unless there's major changes made at the top of Miva and their basic approach to maintaining their system.

Using Miva Merchant

We repeatedly voiced our concerns to our Miva rep and their management, but ultimately found no compelling reason why we should remain. There are some vocal fans out there who may attack this review. To those merchants and developers happy with how the platform fits their needs, I genuinely wish them the best and hope they have continued success. However, for our particular circumstances, where keeping up to date with new store features is of paramount importance, Miva Merchant is way behind the pack and continues to putter along at a snail's pace. I really hate to be so negative, but there's really no way to sugarcoat how disappointing their platform's become and how next to nothing has been done to improve matters.

Miva Merchant Implementation

Creating the Miva store originally took a reasonable amount of time, 2-3 months, but we were unable to migrate our orders and customer accounts from the old platform. Additional refinements were required over the following 6 months to refine the functionality and features so that they worked properly for our store and fulfillment process.
Change management was a minor issue with the implementation
  • Unable to migrate orders and customer accounts from previous platform
  • Required many third-party modules so that the Miva store had basic functionality
  • Extensive custom programming was needed to implement common store features

Miva Merchant Support

The Miva development staff generally did a good job at implementing requested new features and making functionality revisions. However, the costs can get quite steep depending on what you're asking for. Things more often than not went quite well once a project and its pricing was mutually accepted. However, it can be very difficult to get a human on the phone or by email if there's a genuine emergency. Other reviewers here have had more positive things to say, but in our experience we would be on hold on average for 30 minutes before speaking with someone when calling the tech support line.
ProsCons
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
Support understands my problem
Difficult to get immediate help
Slow Initial Response
Yes - The Miva Design Club offers a slightly discounted hourly rate for common design changes. However, certain tasks needing advanced developer work must be performed outside the Design Club arrangement. Assigned Design Club rep was polite and effective, but there were occasions when he was difficult to get in touch with, including an emergency situation.
Yes - No. If a wholesale customer added items to their cart on our Miva store before signing in, those items retained the retail pricing when the order was placed. Reported the problem to Miva support. Instead of fixing the core platform, we were directed to purchase a paid add-on module. Plugins are entirely appropriate for many things, but not fixing something such as this.

Using Miva Merchant

I won't say usability is all bad with Miva; basic product configuration isn't complicated and assigning products to categories works well. However, when you go beyond the most elementary tasks, things almost always become needlessly cumbersome and the information stored by the platform is inherently poorly organized. They've really hyped that Miva 9 released last year features a re-worked admin interface, but from our perspective they've simply given it a fresh coat of paint, made the layout passably mobile friendly, but yet still have not in a substantive way addressed the glaring deficiencies at the core of the platform itself. Adding custom admin area bookmarks is a band aid, not a proper fix.
ProsCons
None
Do not like to use
Unnecessarily complex
Difficult to use
Requires technical support
Not well integrated
Inconsistent
Slow to learn
Cumbersome
Feel nervous using
Lots to learn
  • Create product categories
  • Assign products to categories
  • Add and configure basic shipping methods
  • Highly inconsistent support availability. They proclaim they offer 24/7 support, but we had an issue with an engine update they installed for us breaking the ability for customers to place orders on our store and it took no less than 4 hours for us to get help. Was on hold listening to muzak for a solid hour before a someone answered and said she'd have a developer check what the problem was and reach out later. Repeated emails and calls to our designated account manager were unanswered until the following day. Most other times we called their general support line it took a half hour before a human answered.
  • Adding new custom content pages requires you to note and manually assign all necessary modules for each page. Pages cannot be easily duplicated.
  • Customer records in the Miva admin are bare bones, offering just their saved address and possibly wish list data. You have to go to the orders section and do a search there if you want to see someone's actual order history. No ability to add internal notes about a customer account.
  • Extremely limited report tools included with the core platform, which the company seems to have little to no interest in expanding.
  • When you purchase third-party modules, they commonly require that you license them on an annual basis if you want to stay up to date, typically somewhat less than the initial purchase cost. Otherwise, you only receive technical and security updates for a single year. The Miva system does not alert you if a module has an update available, even if there's a severe issue, instead you have to manually check that one by one.