Monthly Archives: August 2017

Top 5 eCommerce Courses and Platforms in Review

 

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Which is the Best Ecommerce Platform for You? We Review The top 5!

There will be many different considerations when choosing the best ecommerce platform to set up your online store.

I work in an e-commerce advertising agency, AdFicient, and we have had much success with our ecommerce clients. The information you will find in our review will be taken from the platforms with which I have most experience.

Different Categories of E-Commerce Platforms

You will find e-commerce platforms separated into two different categories: the hosted and self-hosted varieties. Hosted platforms are offered by a company that will host your store, self-hosted platforms provide the user with a software store, but you will have to select your own web host.

For reasons of stability, this article will center around the options provided by hosted platforms. The two major advantages of this are the dedicated support of qualified technicians in the case anything goes wrong, and the fact that downtime will be reduced to a mere minimum. The biggest problem with the hosted option is that the monthly fees can be quite steep.

Shopify has rapidly risen to the top of the e-commerce platforms and is my very top pick. The admin page interface has been intuitively crafted to be as easy to navigate as possible, which is a great thing for those setting up shop for the first time.

The greatest downsides to the Shopify platform would be the checkout page. Although there is some control over how this page can be appointed there are limited options for the specific needs of your company.

If the checkout page is a crucial point on your campaign, you may want more options than you can find here. As a matter of fact, very few of the following hosted options allow much flexibility in their home pages, so you may want to skip to the self-hosted options.

But there are some areas where Shopify leaves the others in the dust. The Add-on Apps section is a good example. Shopify has some very effective apps that can be downloaded from the site and set up in your store to introduce new functionality to your analytics and shopper experiences.

A Shopify E-Commerce Setup will run you about $29. Each month. If you would like to include the credit card processor to this figure that will increase to the standard 2.9 percent + 30 cent rate. Higher plans will have certain reduced costs for credit card transactions.

  • 2. Volusion Ecommerce platforms

You can imagine Volusion as Shopify’s cousin with about half the customization features. It is simple and the entire program has a cookie-cutter feel and taste to it. For instance, the entire platform is operated under a single template type. If this sounds lazy, imagine my surprise when I discovered that much of the information on products, categories and cart details are not retrievable. This info is essential for remarketing tracking scripts.

There do have a decent customer support in place, the only problem is that they aren’t extremely helpful. This could also be due to the fact that the questions I had for them were simply not answered by this particular platform.

One advantage is that Volusion is priced at half the cost of Shopify. While it is considerably cheaper, the amount you can’t do is staggering. I would not recommend this for the serious e-commerce capitalist.

big-commerce-logo

Another close relative to Shopify and Volusion in both functionality and performance, is BigCommerce. Although in versatility it is alto closer to Volusion than to Shopify. While this option does allow the implementation of Product Feed and Google Trusted Feed as part of their supported functionalities, any attempts to add a different option would likely be frustrated by the limited capacity of this platform.

One place where Bigcommerce would take the second place from volusion would be the admin page that has been cleaned-up nicely and is easier to navigate.

Bigcommerce will cost the same as Shopify per month with the addition of a 1.5% transaction fee for all. Then you will also see the same processing fees applied to credit card transactions. What this means to you and me is that even when you are making money you will find yourself being charged for it.

  • 4. The Winner

Of the three leading hosted e-commerce platforms mentioned here, I believe that Shopify provides thest all round user experience and most viable step so I am gonna pronounce it as the winner of my top 5 eCommerce platforms review

 

  • 5. Self-Hosted Magento

This is a platform that has been around for ages and should have their process down to a fine science by now. It may be this age and lack of experience on the part of a “professional” that justifies the scathing remarks about to made.

While this lumbering e-commerce website is one of the largest online, it is a platform that i advise my clients and acquaintances against. The faults to be found are plentiful, but the most egregious of them all is the lack of customization features.

This behemoth of the online market is like a beast that won’t go extinct already. Sure it has some strengths, but the leviathan is as user “unfriendly” interface that was designed by engineers with no clue of how to market to an online customer.

Furthermore, as time goes on the many issues that spring up in the platform have to be jimmy-rigged back together by their customer service. It’s nice that they usually have a solution, but why are they having so many problems?

Magento can be considered the lumbering juggernaut of the online world that could soon implode if not radically updated.

Leadership Institute Convenes in Portland

Future leaders of Portland’s Jewish community, agencies and synagogues gathered Dec. 12 at the inaugural meeting of the Portland Jewish Leadership Institute to learn the personal, leadership and analytic skills they will need in the 21st century.

Convened and funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, the PJLI is designed to strengthen the Jewish community’s leadership base for all of the agencies, congregations and organizations. The 30 participants come from across the spectrum of experience, but all are “leaders who show the promise of creating a stronger future for our community,” according to PJLI Chair Susan Abravanel.

PJLI facilitator Dr. David Elcott—an author, lecturer and organizational consultant who developed the curriculum for the program—said that the world is radically different from even one generation ago. He said when he was a child, people believed that their rabbi had the answers.

“Today when we hear a rabbi speak, if we’re interested we go home and Google and see all the alternative views,” he said. “Global connections have transformed us. No Jewish leader has the authority leaders once had—no president does.”

Elcott, who has headed such institutes around the country for nearly 20 years, said that the eight-session PJLI program will deal with many topics all designed to provide deep, meaningful answers to the core question: “What does it mean to be a leader?”

Abravanel said all the work in the program was designed to be educational, meaningful, sacred and fun, because “to be sustained that has to be part of it.”

Elcott said participants in the leadership institute represent the full gamut of Portland’s Jewish community, ranging from those who wake up every morning and wash and pray to those for whom attending a meeting at the JCC is a Jewish commitment. Yet all are bound together by that sense of connection, he said.

The PJLI curriculum draws on equally diverse sources for learning, said Elcott. From contemporary texts on leadership to the Torah and Maimonides, participants will find wisdom to help them become leaders in the community. Especially in today’s world, Elcott said, there is no blueprint with concrete steps to follow as a leader.

“Leadership is not a skill, it is an art form,” said Elcott. “But, I believe one can learn to be an artist.”

Portland Jewish Leadership Institute

Participants:

Jodi Berris
Steve Bilow
Josh Blank
Rachael Duke
Levia Friedman
Lauren Goldstein
Beth Hamon
Daniel Kaplan
Jason Kaufman
Lee Kurnoff Lazarus
Kim Levy
Liz Lippoff
Ronnie Malka
Rich Meyer
Chayim Mishulovin
Simi Mishulovin
Lisa Morasch
Dani Nierenberg
Polina Olsen
Aaron Pearlman
Laura Rackner
Mary Rait
Debra Rosenthal
Dana Sacks
Elizabeth Schwartz
Rachel Shimshak
Eliana Temkin
Jeffrey Waite
Sharon Weil
Jeffrey Weitz

Task Force:

  • Susan Abravanel
  • Alan Blank
  • Priscilla Kostiner
  • Bob Liebman
  • Susie Marcus

 

 

 

2016 Super Sunday Raises $190,000+

This year’s Super Sunday raised more than $190,000 for the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland annual campaign to support Jewish life locally and globally.

Held Dec. 4 in Hoffmann Hall at Portland State University, more than 140 volunteers called some 2,300 donors. Callers surpassed last year’s total of $125,000.

“Everyone involved knew that this was the year that we needed to work towards increasing pledges by 15 percent,” said Super Sunday Chair Jason H. Kaufman. “Our needs are always increasing. And, as I have said in the past, we have great volunteers and terrific professional staff.”

This year’s card-for-card increase was 13 percent.

Kaufman attributed the success to five key components of the day. First, he said, the volunteers were trained to believe in the Federation’s and the agencies’ missions. Second, they made the easiest call of the day first – to themselves. Third, the volunteers executed perfectly. Fourth, everyone had a wonderful time at the event, allowing the event’s success to skyrocket. Fifth, the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation were among the volunteers in the fourth shift.

“They really fired up the volunteers,” said Kaufman. “It was outstanding to see these teens come into Hoffmann Hall and go out and not be afraid to make these calls. For instance, Moriah Kaplan raised $300 on one call—and the donor had not given for two years. Others with this terrific group were able to double and triple their cards from last year.”

“Our future leaders in this community will no doubt take this positive experience and benefit our community for years to come,” added Kaufman.

Kaufman said that sponsors and in-kind donations allow the Federation to spend very little, thus allowing more funds to go directly to the allocations committee to meet the needs of the Jewish community locally and around the world.

The annual campaign raises funds for six local agencies—Jewish Family and Child Service, Robison Jewish Health Center, Portland Jewish Academy, Mittleman Jewish Community Center, Oregon Jewish Museum and Hillel at the University of Oregon. As part of the United Jewish Communities, the annual campaign supports humanitarian projects in Israel, Russia, Argentina and other countries through overseas agencies such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

When the totals were announced following the last shift, volunteers and staff sang Siman Tov U’Mazel Tov and listened to other Jewish and Israeli songs.

Those who missed the call on Super Sunday, but who want to contribute to Jewish life locally and around the world can make a contribution, by visiting  jewishreview.org

A family tradition of giving

Elaine Savinar doesn’t remember when she passed the torch of Jewish giving to her daughter, Sharon Weil. It happened almost imperceptibly.

 

Weil remembers her mother’s return from the first Women’s Division mission to Poland, Romania and Israel in 1974.

 

“That was when they were bringing Jews out of Russia and into Israel. She talked about the people she met and the things that happened,” Weil said.

 

Recalling that first mission, Savinar said, “I was in high school during World War II, so the Holocaust really didn’t touch me as much as it did people a few years older. It was very important for me to go to Auschwitz and see the remnants of Jews left in Lithuania and Poland and what our funds were doing.”

 

In Romania, she said, her group visited the elderly but couldn’t speak their language. She remembered hearing Yiddish, so she could communicate with some of them.

 

This year, Weil made her first mission to Israel and Tablisi, Georgia, in the former Soviet Union. She came back talking about how federation dollars are helping Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

 

“We met people in their 20s who are now giving back to their own community,” she said. “We went on a retreat where Ethiopian Jews try to deal with the loss of their children. Some had died on their way to Israel, or during suicide bombings, or serving in the army. We took Polaroids of each family; they really loved that.”

 

“I always told my children I felt they need to remember and honor their Judaism, and I wanted all of them to go to Israel,” said Savinar. “We are still sending a good portion of funds to Israel—for education, for older people—and Israel is always in need. Unfortunately, they have not had peace. … In some areas people said, ‘Please don’t forget us. Remember that we’re here, we need your help.’

 

Savinar remains vitally interested in sending aid to Israel.

 

Her memory of her own mother’s charity is linked to the lighting of the Shabbat candles.

 

“In those days they had a tzedakah box somewhere in the kitchen that she would fill. I think she put money in it Friday night when she lit the candles or at other times when she thought it was necessary,” she said. “My parents always said, ‘You have a good name. Always remember that your name is more important than anything. It follows your good deeds.'”

 

Savinar said she became very active in federation during the 1960s, and by the early ’70s she was serving on the local federation board. She chaired the Women’s Division and joined the national board in 1974. She said she greatly valued her 8 years on the JFCS board, which she chaired for two years.

 

Weil currently serves on federation’s newly formed campaign leadership team. For three years she worked on federation’s allocations committee and served on the board. As a new member of the Lions of Judah, for women whose annual gift to federation is $5,000 or more, Weil has become involved in solicitation.

 

“I never was afraid to ask, because the worst thing is someone is going to say no, and I don’t take no,” she said. “If you see everything as negative, then you don’t move forward. If you take a positive approach, I think you accomplish more. No one really wants to ask, but the opposite of not asking is no one gets anything. The poor little woman in Tablisi that I met doesn’t get anything; the agencies here in town don’t get the help they need. I always think it’s not so bad to ask if you realize what are the consequences if you don’t ask.”

 

When Savinar became a Ruby Lion, the designation for a higher level of giving at JFGP, Weil took her mother’s Lion of Judah pin to a jeweler and asked him to set the rubies and diamonds her mother had accumulated over 10 years of giving to federation. She invited family members to a ceremony where she would present the pin.

 

“I didn’t give it to my mom right away but said I want to make a challenge. I proposed that for every dollar they spend on themselves they take 20 percent and put it in a tzedakah box and decide what charity they want to give it to, so they don’t just think about ‘my new pair of shoes, my new video game,’ but they put money away for something else. My niece right away said she wants to save for breast cancer. My nephew chose to contribute to a food drive.”

 

And she gave her mother the pin, saying, “It’s not the pin so much, it’s the history, what your mother and grandmother have done.”

 

Sharon Weil and Elaine Savinar will co-chair the “Reach for the Ruby” national campaign this year.

 

“I figured that was a perfect venue to us to work together,” said Weil. “My mother agreed to come back and work on campaign with me.”

 

Savinar said, “Sharon always had a good sense for what needed to be done. She’s very giving, very kind and compassionate, and I’m really proud of her. It’s very hard for me to say no when she asks me to do anything, so I usually say yes.”

 

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PSU student paper prints then retracts anti-Semitic article

 

The Vanguard newspaper at Portland State University published an opinion article on Oct. 18 that has been widely criticized as anti-Semitic and highly uninformed about Judaism and the ongoing Palestinian conflict with Israel.

 

In response to the article ostensibly about Jerusalem’s divided status by student writer Caelan MacTavish, PSU students, faculty members and others from outside the PSU community have spoken out against MacTavish and the newpaper’s editors. (for related interview with MacTavish, see PSU Op-ed author says, ‘I didn’t know what I was doing’)

 

In response, Vanguard editors and PSU President Daniel Bernstine published statements in the paper on Oct. 28 in which they acknowledged what Bernstine characterized as views “totally inconsistent with the values that we support at Portland State University.”

 

The paper also published on Oct. 28 a response solicited from CAMERA, the Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting.

 

Writing for CAMERA, Gilead Ini, the organization’s senior research analyst, called MacTavish’s statements “false and contemptible.”

The article in question appeared under the headlines “A city divided” and “Religious disputes over Jerusalem require diplomacy.”

 

In the article, MacTavish referred to the Holocaust as “the Great Burning.”

 

  • MacTavish said that Europe had “hated” the Jews for centuries “because of their exclusive religion.”
  • MacTavish said, “Nobody can really convert to Judaism—you are born Jewish or you are not.”
  • MacTavish said, “The Jews did not like to integrate with other peoples.”
  • MacTavish called Jewish settlers in the territories “crazy religious zealots” who “believe that the entire realm of Palestine is theirs, because an ancient book says an invisible being in the clouds gave it to them.”
  • MacTavish said, “?the Jews take all the water and resources.”
  • MacTavish said, “Leaving Palestinians in little more than cages is not an appropriate act for a race released from concentration camps. But monkey see, monkey do.”
  • MacTavish called Israel’s security barrier “the new apartheid wall.”
  • MacTavish said of Christians, “The Christians want Jerusalem because they have always wanted the Holy Land.”

 

MacTavish, who has written approximately 60 opinion and performance review articles for the Vanguard since 2004, according to the Vanguard’s online archive (the article in question was removed from the archive on Oct. 27), concluded his article by suggesting that jurisdiction over all of Jerusalem should be transferred to the United Nations and that U.N. headquarters should be moved to the Jerusalem.

 

Thirty-seven PSU faculty members signed a letter to the editor in which they deplored MacTavish’s article.

 

Among their comments, the faculty members called MacTavish’s article “a mix of crude and inflammatory caricatures, distortions and outright falsehoods concerning Jews, Judaism, Middle East politics and world history.”

 

The faculty members said MacTavish’s summary of Jewish history “makes one cringe in embarrassment for its historical and moral distortion” and that he ignores 2,000 years of Jewish history, except for the Holocaust, “which he perversely suggests the Jews brought upon themselves because of their ‘exclusive religion.'”

 

In announcing their public retraction of the problematic article, Vanguard editors said that MacTavish’s column “was riddled with factual inaccuracies and overbroad generalizations of the Jewish faith, people and history.”

 

The editors pointed to their goal of publishing “thoughtful, well-researched commentary that provides a unique or interesting analysis of complex situations” before they admitted that “the column failed gravely to meet that goal or to meet the editorial standards that we at the Vanguard aim to uphold.”

 

Vanguard Editor in Chief Matt Petrie told the Jewish Review that the MacTavish article failed to receive the editorial attention it should have because of the pressure of having to produce the next edition of the paper and a special supplement at the same time, a process that he said taxed the limited staff.

 

“The atmosphere was very high-pressure and in many ways very rushed. In this case, we simply did not coordinate well and the article was not read as closely as it should have and given as much critical consideration as it ordinarily would have before it went to print,” said Petrie.

 

He added, “In this isolated incident, this column unfortunately fell through the cracks, and had serious consequences for all of us and the Portland State community.”

 

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