Miva Merchant Review: Enterprise Companies Will Love This E-Commerce Platform. Here’s Why

Looking for a complete e-commerce solution that can give you a gorgeous website design and state-of-the-art selling tools? All in an easy-to-use and affordable package? Read our review of Miva Merchant to find out if it's right for you.

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Katie Horne
Katie is a C# developer-turned-technical writer who loves the Oxford comma, NYT Crossword Puzzles, and knitting for no reason whatsoever. She has a love/hate relationship with JavaScript and thinks that package managers are the bees knees.

Last Updated on August 5, 2020

Miva Merchant is an intuitive yet sophisticated enterprise-grade e-commerce platform. You can use it to design a world-class online store, run state-of-the-art promotions, and intelligently grow conversions. You get the flexibility of an enterprise-level solution with the benefits of a SaaS platform, including reliability, regular updates and new feature releases, and security.

Plus there’s no need to rely on third-party plug-ins. Miva Merchant makes it easy to integrate the front end of your online store with any of the tools you use to manage your operations, such as order and inventory management suites.

To date over 500,000 Miva stores have been launched. Will yours be next?

Corporate Background

Miva’s solutions have been used to power over $100 billion in sales for B2B (business-to-business) and consumer brands such as Kauai Coffee, Mountain House, Santa Cruz, and The Paper Store.

Originally called HTMLScript Corporation, Miva, Inc. is a San Diego, CA-based company founded in 1997. Today, Miva offers PCI-compliant e-commerce, hosting, custom website design, and development solutions.

Miva Merchant review
The Miva platform is a smart choice for small businesses that intend to grow their sales and marketing strategies.

Overview of Miva Merchant: A Turnkey Website, Sales, and Marketing Solution

Miva’s goal is to provide you with a robust solution that is open, stable, customizable, and capable of powering all your day-to-day e-commerce needs while minimizing the associated costs and overhead.

Such e-commerce needs include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Engaging buyers and running promotions
  • Displaying products, configuring catalogs, and monitoring inventory
  • Optimizing search rankings to ensure that shoppers can find you
  • Converting potential sales to completed transactions
  • Managing orders and processing refunds
  • Supporting your customers
  • Syncing your channels, so that you can list products on additional platforms (such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy).
  • Ability to set up subscription services and manage them
  • Build workflows, including assigning tasks

Video above: Small business owners discuss their experience using Miva.

If you have additional functionality handled by third-party software, such as accounting or fulfillment, you can easily integrate that product with Miva.

To that end, Miva combines an efficient, logic-based e-commerce software engine with a customizable template language that lets you build anything you want without worrying about security or stability. Miva’s SaaS foundations also mean that you can easily integrate the new improvements rolled out by Miva into your implementation.

See all Miva features

Security: How Does Miva Merchant Protect my Website and Data?

Everything relevant to your e-commerce operations, from your product information to your users’ billing information is secure on Miva. Miva communications are encrypted using 256-bit SSL.

Miva ensures that their software means security requirements set forth by third-party agencies, including PA-DSS (Payment Application Data Security Standard), and their servers are PCI-compliant.

In 2015, Miva announced that they had met the PA-DSS requirements. They stated:

PA-DSS represents a specific set of requirements that a system must meet if it is used to process credit card transactions by merchants. Miva went through an approval process conducted by PSC, a security company and qualified security assessor that required an audit of software, where a “pass” or “fail” was assigned to each security requirement. Those that pass all requirements and are accepted by the PCI SSC are put on the official list of PA-DSS-compliant applications.

It should be noted that some elements of PCI compliance are always the small business owner’s responsibility. To find out more, see this page on PCI compliance.

Miva Merchant review
Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA uses Miva Merchant. Here is a detail from their homepage, allowing shoppers to shop by coffee bean roast preference.

Fast Page Load Speeds

In e-commerce, speed is of the essence, and Miva claims that their sites consistently respond faster than their competitors. Part of this speed results from an efficient software engine and decreased reliance on plug-ins (which require additional HTML calls leading to slower page load times).

Fully-Customizable User Experiences

With Miva, you have the power to create the user experience that best reflects the goals and values of your business while meeting the needs and wants of your customers.

When building your store, you can use either the themes designed by Miva or create your custom storefront. Regardless, all sites support dynamic media, custom fields, and CSS and JavaScript. You can also integrate your WordPress site or add a blog if desired.

The site builder that comes with Miva rivals the best on the market. In addition to the usual features (such as support for text boxes, images, and so on), you get:

  • Optimization tools for your content
  • Logic-based functions that help you manage your inventory (such as automatic site updates if you sell out of a product)
  • Personalization tools that allow you to customize your users’ individual experiences (for example, you might offer a returning customer custom coupons).

Regardless of whether you’re reliant mostly on the Miva site building features or you’re a web development wizard, you can build a world-class, well-functioning online store.

Catalog, Product Displays, and Shopping Tools

As a dedicated e-commerce platform, Miva has paid extra attention to its inventory and product display features. In addition to providing you with an intuitive management interface, you can drag and drop spreadsheet imports for rapid catalog updates, sort your products (as well as create multiple organization levels) with ease, and implement a customizable search to help your customers find the items in which they’re interested.

Miva Merchant review
Screengrab of Miva service features.

Miva also enables you to implement creative functionality designed to raise your conversion rates. In addition to things like built-in light boxes and reviews, which engage your users, you can use inventory messaging (such as “last chance” notifications when your stock gets low) to generate urgency.

Smart navigation, easy to use layouts, wish lists, and mini-baskets that display consistently throughout the purchasing process round out the comprehensive suite of features that make your customers’ shopping experience as enjoyable as possible.

Streamlined Checkout Process

One major hurdle to users completing their transactions is the checkout process. Miva allows you to implement either a single-page or multi-page checkout process, as well as tools that make it easy for users to get the information they need.

Miva Merchant review
BTO Sports uses Miva Merchant. This screen grab shows a close-up of one of their product pages. Note that the current stock level — “9+ available” — is listed for this particular color of helmet.

Rather than offering plug-ins that you include on your site, Miva has built-in integrations for things like foreign transactions, calculating shipping rates, and payment processing. You can pick and choose from the options offered by Miva to create the checkout experience that’s right for your site.

Mobile-Ready Designs

Regardless of how you decide to build your front end, all Miva-powered sites are responsive, so your users will see the version of your site best optimized to the device they’re using, including mobile phones and tablets.

Full Integrations Support

You can easily integrate the e-commerce storefront you develop using Miva with the tools you use to manage your back-end. Miva provides support for an abundance of management systems, including those commonly used to manage inventory, handle orders, and process payments.

Payments

To accept payments from your customers, you can integrate your Miva Merchant site with any of the following payment processors or gateways:

  • Chase
  • PayPal
  • Amazon Pay
  • Braintree

The specific forms of payments accepted by these vendors vary, but you will likely be able to accept the most commonly used forms, such as credit cards.

They also now offer MivaPay, which does require an additional subscription fee. This service allows customers to save credit cards to a digital wallet on your site, making it easier for repeat customers to check out quickly.

Built-In Management Tools

You can use the built-in support to integrate many commonly-used management software suites with your Miva implementation, but Miva Merchant does include a lot of this functionality with its platform.

Using Miva Merchant, you can quickly view, sort, and search for specific orders, track your customer communications, log and share order activity, monitor order status, and track inventory, shipping, and payments.

Returns Processing

One of Miva’s most robust management features is its support for processing returns. Not only do you get a detailed summary of all returns, you can also sync returns with your inventory management system, check on the status of returns, set up a self-service return process, or manually approve or reject return requests.

Search Engine Optimization

Miva has designed their platform to improve the likelihood that your page fares well in search engine rankings. In addition to comprehensive indexing and tagging, you have full control over your site’s metadata and URLs and can easily create a sitemap usable by search engine crawlers.

Streamline Your Online Business Workflow

In addition to acting as a full content management system for e-commerce, Miva’s integrations support means that you can reduce the number of places you have to go to manage your online shop: Miva becomes the central digital hub of your online operations. This can save time, break down growth-busting departmental silos, and improve your effectiveness.

Miva allows you to steer product discovery by your customers, adapt promotions based on data you’ve gathered about your viewers, manage inventory and fulfillment, generate detailed reports, and offer visibility into your store across multiple channels.

View Miva pricing

Miva Infrastructure

Miva is fully-delivered over the cloud, so you don’t need to handle anything regarding the infrastructure supporting your implementation — all you need to gain access to Miva is an internet connection. You’ll run your site with full server control panel access.

Faceted Search

Cloud Platform

Miva’s cloud platform is hosted in an environment that is fully-owned and managed by Miva. Miva proactively upgrades their hardware and provides redundancy for all things server-related, including power, storage, paths, and UPS.

Miva Uptime

Miva claims a 99.99% historical uptime (though only subscribers to the top two plans get an SLA guaranteeing uptime and compensation if Miva doesn’t meet the agreed-upon guarantee). This in addition to the fact that Miva can scale up the resources available to your site in just seconds (though, as always. this comes at a cost). You can rest easy knowing that your site will be available with even the largest spikes in traffic to your site.

Miva monitors their servers around the clock, so if anything should happen, you can expect prompt responses and action.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

One of the threats your website might face is a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, where a malicious party attempts to disrupt traffic to your site by making your site unavailable. This is done by flooding your server with traffic, rendering it unable to cope and respond to the requests.

You can think of a DDoS attack as the digital equivalent of a terrible traffic jam that prevents people from reaching their destinations.

Obviously, if legitimate traffic cannot reach your website because of malicious traffic, this is bad. Furthermore, as a small business, you might even face a loss in revenue if you engage in online sales.

How Miva Merchant Protects You

One way to protect yourself is to use the appropriate security tools. For example, Miva Merchant partners with a company called Cloudflare.

Though Cloudflare is known for its content delivery network (CDN) services, its handling of traffic means that it can help distribute the incoming calls, making it less likely that your site will go down because a single point of contact (or server) receives all the calls that are coming in.

Miva Merchant Pricing and Billing

Miva offers four different packages from which you can choose. Generally speaking, you should select the package that best corresponds to the amount of revenue earned by your company in one year. Note that this is online revenue, and is not meant to include brick-and-mortar sales.

Miva Plans

The Starter plan is good for those who see less than $100,000 in annual revenue, the Business plan is geared for those who earn more than $100,000 but less than $500,000, the Professional plan is for those who earn more than $500,000 but less than $1 million, and the Enterprise plan is for those who earn more than $1 million in revenue per year.

However, these are merely recommendations, and you’re welcome to select a different package than the one recommended based on your online sales numbers.

Miva Merchant review
GHP Group uses Miva Merchant. Their site enables visitors to browse by finish, price, buyer review rating, fuel type, and more.

The primary differences between the plans are disk space and bandwidth allocation, as well as the number of admin seats available for your account. If you think you’ll go over your allotted bandwidth or space, you can purchase additional resources in advance (if not, you’ll see overage charges on your monthly bill).

Miva’s Professional & Enterprise Plan Extras

The Professional and Enterprise plans, however, do come with VIP tech support, a service level agreement, and dedicated hosting environment.

Conveniently, all Miva packages are pay-as-you-go, so you don’t have to sign any long-term contracts. If you decide to cancel your plan, you’ll be billed for the current month and never again afterward.

Miva Merchant review
Success story: Bare Bones Broth experienced a 25% increase in revenue after switching to Miva Merchant. They also reported a 16% increase in average order size, a 6.5% increase in conversions, and a 7.3% increase in total transactions. Co-founder Katherine Harvey: “By delivering better shopping experiences and easier access to the products they love, we can improve customers’ quality of life, and ensure that they return to our store again and again.”

Trials and Guarantees

When you enroll with Miva, you’ll be charged the first month’s fees. However, if you decide to cancel your subscription within the first 30 days, you’ll receive a full refund.

Professional Services

In addition to providing you with the platform by which you build your online store, Miva offers a host of professional services you can opt for to help you get up and running.

Consulting

Miva’s Strategy and Solutions consulting team can help you implement initiatives designed to grow your business. The team can help your organization with things like branding, market analysis, UI/UX and information architecture design, SEO strategy, and more.

Web Design and Development

Miva can help you design and build a modern, interactive web experience that allows you full control over content, orders, fulfillment, and data. They will also complete a full battery of tests on your new site, as well as support you during go-live.

System Integration

Miva can help you integrate all of the external software, systems, vendors, and marketplaces that you use to facilitate your online store, including your Miva solutions, OMS, ERP, and CRM systems, and so on.

To get a custom quote for any of these services, contact Miva’s sales team.

Help and Technical Support

On the Miva Merchant docs site, you’ll find:

  • A reference guide, which covers every technical detail relevant to the Miva Merchant platform)
  • How-to guides that show you how to implement pretty much any functionality
  • Video tutorials
  • A getting-started guide
  • The Official Guide to Miva Merchant 9, which is an ebook written by Pamela Hazelton.

They also offer developer tools, including:

  1. Miva template language guides
  2. Code samples
  3. MivaScript function reference
  4. MivaAPI documentation
  5. MivaSML provisioning  tag examples
  6. Free developer store for testing
  7. A training series designed for devs
  8. Videos for building mods
  9. Guide on how to remove provisioning
  10. Miva Affiliate program guide

You can also crowdsource answers to your questions using Miva’s Community Forums.

Miva offers a full-featured Support Suite that includes:

  • The Miva Blog: provides in-depth tutorials that help you with things like converting your entire store from using HTTP to HTTPS, updates, and other announcements regarding the Miva Platform.
  • The Knowledgebase: includes topic-specific FAQ pages, tips and tricks, and release notes.

Contacting Miva

If you need to get in touch with the Miva support team, you can submit a ticket requesting assistance using the Support Suite or send in an email. There are staff members available to help you 24/7.

The Miva Merchant Service Club

All Miva subscribers come with basic support, which includes unlimited email and help desk support. If you would like additional support services, you can opt for the following upgrades:

  • Premier Support: In addition to unlimited email and help desk support, those with the Premier plan get unlimited toll-free telephone support during normal business hours, Miva Merchant Synchro support and Password Recovery Service, and standard database repair. This option adds $19.95 to your monthly bill.
  • VIP Support: In addition to everything that Premier subscribers get, VIP subscribers get access to a dedicated VIP phone line where their issues are automatically escalated to level 2 support. This option adds $149.95 to your monthly bill.

Video above: This Miva promotional video provides an overview of their services, with an emphasis on their ability to partner with you to achieve your business objectives.

Miva Merchant vs. Shopify

For those in the market for an e-commerce platform, which is better, Miva Merchant or Shopify?

It depends.

First, Miva Merchant is a holistic platform that incorporates the latest — and best thinking — in digital. If you’re familiar with Think With Google’s cutting-edge observations of what really works, you’ll see these practices and supported and enabled in Miva’s infrastructure. Like seamless, cross-channel customer experiences.

Shopify may be a more commonly-used platform, with a larger community around it. You will find plenty of resources, such as community-developed add-ons, themes, and so on available to you. Some observers contend that Shopify offers more — but that what they offer is fragmented and “stitched” together over the years, vs. being part of a well-thought-out and well-engineered total platform.

For those just starting out in e-commerce, and looking for branded merchandise or experimenting in drop-shipping Shopify may be a good choice. Shopify offers plug-in connections with producers of on-demand merchandise like t-shirts, laptop skins, coffee mugs and more. However, you do have to mark these items up significantly in order to make a profit. Oberlo is a plug-in that enables instant drop-shopping.

Read our review of Shopify and what it offers to learn about its benefits.

Read Miva Merchant’s comparisons between their platform and Shopify:

Miva vs Shopify

Why Migrate from Shopify Plus to Miva?

Conclusion: Is Miva Merchant Right for You?

Miva Merchant is a full-featured, robust, and easily customizable content management system geared toward growth-oriented businesses that want to scale smartly and efficiently as well as enterprise-level businesses. With Miva Merchant, you can build aesthetically-pleasing online stores that deliver a remarkable user experience.

Miva Merchant was designed with extensibility and customization in mind, so no matter what your needs are, Miva can most likely meet them. Miva’s usability, dedication to e-commerce sites, and low prices for entry-level packages mean that you can’t go wrong with giving Miva a shot.

If you’re unsatisfied, you can take advantage of the 30-day money back guarantee and get a full refund.

Try Miva Merchant – 30-day money-back guarantee

Frequently Asked Questions about Miva Merchant

If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Read on for answers to the most-asked questions about this e-commerce builder.

How does Miva’s 30-day trial work?

This isn’t a true ‘free trial,’ like some platforms offer, but it is still pretty good. It works like this: you sign up for Miva and pay your first month’s fee. If you decide in that first month that Miva isn’t a good fit, they will offer a full refund.

Does Miva have a drag-and-drop site builder?

They don’t appear to have drag-and-drop functionality the same way many site builders do. However, they do offer several customizable WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) themes that do not require you to understand coding.

Can I easily upgrade my Miva account if my site grows?

Yes, they make it easy to either upgrade or downgrade your Miva plan whenever you need to. This is particularly useful if you are growing, as overage charges are $2 per GB of transfer and $2 per 100MB of storage.