Miva Merchant Review
Miva Merchant is an eCommerce platform that provides enterprise level features and customizability, while still offering the usability and customer support one would expect from a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution.
Miva has been around since 1997 and has launched over 500,000 merchants. So far, the company has played a part in over $100 billion in transactions. Miva hosts smaller entrepreneurs and big name brands alike, including Cintas, Mezzetta, and HAAN.
In August of 2016, Miva Merchant released the newest version of the platform, Miva 9.0006. This iteration includes a few new features that spice up Miva’s already extensive features list. Miva has also recently released a beta version of their new 9.0007 software, which includes a few more features.
Keep reading for a breakdown of Miva Merchant’s customer service, web design, features, and pricing. (And for a quick overview, take a look at Miva’s promotional video below.)
Miva offers a “Free 30-Day Trial.” I use quotations because to access that trial you have to enter your credit card information and purchase a month-long plan. If you cancel that plan before 30 days are up, you’ll receive a full refund. Alternatively, you can sign up for a developer account. This account will let you try out a demo store, without the need to enter any payment information
Miva’s pricing structure is based on revenue from your previous twelve months of sales (or estimated revenue if you’ve been selling for less than a year). You can determine which plan you qualify for by checking with the “Annual Merchant Revenue” scale in the graphic below. This pricing structure was announced in October of 2015, and many merchants were unhappy at the switch. More on this in Negative Reviews and Complaints.
Starter for Merchants with Annual Revenue $0 — $99,999.99
- 2GB online storage
- 20GB bandwidth
- 2 Admin seats
- 1 year free Rapid SSL ($49 after the first year)
- 1 year free domain
- Unlimited products
Business for Merchants with Annual Revenue $100k — $499,999.99
- 5GB online storage
- 100GB bandwidth
- 3 Admin seats
- 1 year free GeoTrustSSL Premium ($149 after the first year)
- 1 year free domain
Professional for Merchants with Annual Revenue $500k — $999,999.99
- 10GB online storage
- 250GB bandwidth
- 5 Admin seats
- 1 year free GeoTrustSSL TrueBusiness ($199/yr after the first year)
- 1 year free domain
- Custom dedicated environment
- VIP tech support
- Service Level Agreement
Enterprise for Merchants with Annual Revenue $1 Million+
- 20GB online storage
- 1,000GB bandwidth
- 10 Admin seats
- GeoTrust TrueBusiness EV SSL ($199/yr after the first year)
- 1 year free domain
- Dedicated environment
- VIP tech support
- VIP Account Manager
- Service Level Agreement
When you sign up for your plan, you’ll receive a free SSL certificate and domain name, but you should expect to pay for both the domain name and the SSL certificate after the first year.
While Miva does not charge any transaction fees (hallelujah), they do charge for bandwidth and storage overages. The current fees are $2/month for every additional GB of bandwidth and $15/month for every GB of disk space. Miva’s pricing plans are designed to estimate the amount of bandwidth and storage you’ll need, so hopefully, you won’t face too many overage charges. But, if you regularly use more than your plan allows, you can always purchase additional bandwidth and storage space in your my.miva account.
Also, you can add on extra admin seats (the number of users your admin allows at once) for $50/seat/month.
Web-Hosted or Licensed
Miva primarily provides web-hosted SaaS solutions; however, if you’re interested in a licensed version of their software, you can purchase one for $19,995.00.
Specific Size of Business
Medium to Enterprise. Although Miva would work for many small businesses, it is best for businesses who have more resources available to get up and running.
Hardware and Software Requirements
Miva, being a SaaS solution, requires just the basics: a computer, an internet connection, and a web browser. Take a look at Miva’s list of requirements for their self-hosted options.
Ease of Use
While there is no conventional free trial available, as I mentioned above, Miva does offer free developer accounts you can use to play around with the platform. You will also be fully refunded for your first month’s purchase if you decide to cancel Miva Merchant within 30 days.
When you first sign up for Miva, you’ll enter your personal information along with a credit card number. You will be billed immediately. Then a set-up Wizard will guide you through creating a new (or implementing an old) domain name.
In the past, there was a day-long waiting period before you could log into your new store. That waiting period is gone. I received my “you-may-log-in” email minutes after signing up. In the meantime, you can get started learning about the admin with Miva’s (very helpful) video tour. Miva also sends daily step-by-step emails to guide a beginner merchant through setting up their store.
Although Miva’s admin is not the simplest I’ve ever used, I can see how it would be an effective tool after you overcome the slight learning curve. Here’s what Miva’s dashboard looks like.
Adding products, images, categories, and attributes is fairly straight-forward. It’s mostly point and click, and uploading images works the same as it would on your favorite social media site. In my opinion, there’s too much white space on the admin pages, but maybe I’m just being picky.
You may have to look into the support documentation to figure out more complex features, but fortunately that documentation is up-to-date.
You can create discounts and coupons by first creating “Price Groups.” As you can see below, you can set price groups to apply to a specific product, an entire basket, or shipping costs. You can also create more complex Buy X Get Y discounts and volume pricing discounts.
There’s additional technical support available to get you all set up. Documentation is easily accessible from the main dashboard page. And, if the initial admin tour video isn’t enough, there are lots of short tutorial videos to help you figure out different functions in the backend. Here are a few of the categories that those videos cover.
In addition to the admin, every merchant has access to my.miva, which has settings for your billing information, domain management, website settings, and SSL certificates. You can also access customer support from my.miva and delete your account in case you decide that Miva Merchant isn’t right for you before the month is up.
Miva Merchant comes with loads of features built-in. In fact, Miva includes so many features in their basic plans that I had to double-check I wasn’t reading an extended features list for exclusively high-volume sellers.
You can find Miva’s full feature list on their website. Here’s my abbreviated version.
- Unlimited product features: List unlimited products, categories, and attributes.
- Product images: Upload unlimited product photos (but keep in mind that more images use more bandwidth). Add specific images to fit your attributes and enable product zoom.
- Quick view: Customers don’t have to navigate away from your main product page to view a product more specifically.
- Upsell and Cross-sell: Display related products and recently viewed products.
- Sell digital products: Allow customers to download their purchases from your site.
- Faceted search: Faceted (filtered) search lets customers search for products by price, size, and other attributes. This is a particularly nice feature, usually only available with enterprise level software.
- B2B selling options: Set up custom pricing and shipping options. Feature a “Request a Quote” button on your product pages.
- Wish lists: Allow customers to save the products they are considering purchasing. Market to them appropriately.
- Coupon codes and gift cards: Generate promotion codes and design gift cards in your admin.
- Recurring billing: Create a subscription based service and send regular bills.
- Shipping calculators: Establish your own shipping specs or integrate with USPS, UPS, FedEx, and Canada Post for live rates.
- Tax calculators: Set up tax information or integrate with Avalara, TaxCloud, or Accurate Tax for automatic, accurate calculation.
- Free shipping: Allow free shipping on specific products or orders to boost conversion rates.
- Autoresponders: Set up automatic emails to notify customers of their abandoned carts, order status, and more.
- Blog features: Miva comes with a built-in blog feature. For more advanced blog functionality, you can integrate with your WordPress platform.
- Bulk Import/Export: Use CSV, XLS, or XML files to easily update your products.
- SEO tools: Write your own meta titles and meta descriptions. Include keywords on pages and products. Automatically generate search engine friendly URLs. Other SEO features include URL redirects, site mapping, and CSS page tags.
- Order management: Filter, edit, and track orders from your admin panel.
- Inventory management: Track inventory by attribute. Set up low stock notifications and list your products on Amazon and eBay.
- Reports: View best sellers, sales, and customer information. Integrate with Google Analytics for better site traffic reports.
With such an impressive feature range, I expected a lot out of Miva’s themes collection. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with what I found.
Although Miva’s templates are clean, modern, and fully responsive, I was crestfallen to discover that Miva only offers twelve themes (eleven if you exclude their blank canvas theme). Most shopping carts come with significantly more options. And, despite sales representatives’ assurances that they’re working on expanding their selection, in the past year, Miva has only added one theme.
Furthermore, I noticed an annoying trend among the available themes. Quite a few (though not all) of Miva’s themes have a large navigation bar across the top; I found that the navigation bar on these themes remained on my screen as I scrolled down the web page. This wouldn’t be an issue if the navigation bar were very small, however, these persistent bars are HUGE. They dominate about one-third of the screen space, making it very difficult to view multiple products at once. In fact, at times I couldn’t view an entire product image because the bar blocked my vision.
This is what I mean.
I felt like ducking down just to see more than three products at once. If I were to choose one of these themes, I’d definitely have to change that element of the design (which would require altering the CSS).
Adding one of Miva’s ReadyThemes took a few more steps than I expected. The themes were not just plug and play. Instead I had to download a theme from the app store, upload it onto my admin and follow a few more steps to install. I had to use Miva’s documentation to figure it all out. I was happy to find that this documentation was all up-to-date and very helpful. Everything was explained in clear language, and there were even images for more difficult-to-identify steps.
Fortunately, Miva’s designs are highly customizable. If you’ve got the skills necessary, you can dive right into the HTML/CSS. If not, you can use Miva’s WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor to make more elementary changes to your site’s images and content.
Here’s what that WYSIWYG editor looks like in your admin.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to make some larger changes and you lack the necessary skills, you could look into Miva’s own design services. Though, you should note that they’re typically rather expensive.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Miva has partnered with many of the most common eCommerce services. Setting up integrations with these partners is easy. You can take a look at Miva’s full list of business partners on the website or glance at my shortened list below.
- Avalara’s AvaTax: Automatic tax calculation.
- SearchSpring: Internal site search solution.
- CloudFlare: Security service, featuring a CDN (Content Delivery Network), DDoS attack mitigation, web application firewall, and content acceleration.
- PowerReviews Express: Customer reviews solution.
- MailChimp: Email marketing automation.
- Shipwire: Order fulfillment service.
- GoDataFeed: Automatic product listing across multiple shopping comparison engines.
You can find hundreds of add-ons available as applications in Miva’s storefront, or you can hire developers to build a connection for you using Miva’s API.
Miva only offers pre-built integrations with five payment processors. This is a surprisingly small number for a platform of this size. Most popular eCommerce solutions offer 50+ payment gateways. Fortunately, Miva connects with the most popular payment gateways. These include:
Miva Merchant 9.0006 introduced Miva’s new MivaPay, which is a secure tokenization service that allows customers to store their payment information in a virtual wallet. MivaPay is only compatible with select payment gateways and is available at additional cost.
In March 2017, Miva introduced an integration with Apple Pay, which makes it even easier for your customers to pay.
You can find a few other less commonly used payment tools in Miva’s app store.
Customer Service and Technical Support
I was pleased to find that Miva offers unlimited phone and email support on all hosting plans, free of charge. They’re quick to specify that their phone support is based in the US.
The support main page is a gateway to:
- Web Tickets
- Community Forums
- Video Tutorials
- Wishlist Request
- Report a Bug
- Patches & Downloads
- Sign Up for Support Service Club
- VIP support costs $149.95/month and includes a dedicated phone line and priority support.
- Contact Information:
Miva’s support team is reportedly quick to respond and well-informed. My own interactions with Miva have been positive; I often hear back from them within a couple of hours. In my case, Miva knew that I was a reviewer (so I’m sure they wanted to make a good impression), but I’ve seen enough positive comments online to be able to say with confidence that Miva’s support is dependable.
Tech support subscriptions are also available to merchants who decide on Miva’s self-hosted option.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
I’ve spent hours browsing around Miva’s forums and customer comment boards (as well as a few third-party reviews like this one). In general, Miva scores quite highly with its customers, but a few factors have led to some serious complaints (and a few flame wars too). Here’s what those complaints are about:
- Pricing Increase: In October of 2015, Miva announced a change to the way it established pricing. As of November, merchants were forced to pay for the plan that corresponded with their annual revenue. For some merchants, this altered nothing. But for others, the change upset their whole business. Merchants were given only 30 days notice before the price change, so there was little time for many of them to migrate to a different platform (as many merchants chose to do eventually).
- Price of Admin Seats: Merchants are frustrated that in order to have multiple users in their admin at a time (beyond the number allotted by their plan), they have to pay an additional $50 per seat per month.
- Web Development is Expensive: Miva users state that Miva’s design and development plans are too expensive, with prices reaching into several thousand dollars.
- Not the Best for Small Business: Commenters often advise that small businesses consider looking elsewhere for a platform. Miva takes time and energy to set up. It’s really designed to be an enterprise solution, and easy-to-use is not its biggest selling point. Also, Miva’s lowest price point is significantly higher than the average pricing for a shopping cart like Shopify, which is geared toward smaller businesses.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
Miva is typically very well rated, regularly scoring perfect reviews from its customers. Here are their favorite features:
- Customizable: Miva has enough features to handle your business’s complex operations. And with Miva’s multiple design editors, you can turn one of their templates into your own.
- Good Customer Support: I’ve seen glowing reviews about Miva’s support. They are quick to respond and quick to resolve an issue. The 24/7 phone support certainly helps.
- Scalability: Miva is capable of hosting larger companies on their platform. You’ll just have to keep in mind that as your company’s revenue increases, so will the amount you pay for your plan.
- Consistent Updates and Upgrades: Miva releases new upgrades to their platform on a regular basis. They use those upgrades to introduce new features and resolve previous bugs.
Miva is both PCI level 3.0 compliant and PA-DSS compliant. Every Miva store comes with a free SSL certificate for the first year, but you’ll have to purchase your own in subsequent years. Read more about your SSL certificate options.
Miva Merchant is excellent for merchants who are looking to grow. Because Miva comes with enterprise-level features and extensive customizability, I feel comfortable saying that many mid-size to large stores could benefit from a partnership with Miva.
While I am still a bit wary of the company’s pricing changes, I recognize that most merchants were not impacted significantly by the changes (though the few who were impacted were impacted severely). Make sure you always read through a company’s Terms of Service before you sign on with them, so you know what you can expect.
If you’re ready to give Miva Merchant a try, click the link below to sign up for your first month. Remember, if you cancel within the first 30 days, you’ll receive a full refund. Get selling!