Xennsoft has been providing software for the multi level marketing (MLM) industry for over 10 years now.
For most of that time, we developed proprietary software and continually built upon it. After years of development with many different enhancements, we saw that we were unable to keep up with all the changes that were taking place in the industry. eCommerce and social media for example, had taken off, and what once was acceptable, now had become outdated. Trying to keep up with our customer needs and industry standards, was found to be next to impossible.
About 4 years ago, we decided to replace our replicated website system that we had built in house with WordPress. Our clients not only embraced it fully, but cheered us on for making the move. It gave them the freedom to make changes to their site without the need to schedule and pay for our time. This move opened our eyes to the possibility of using open source software to help our clients have the best looking and functional system possible. It also brought on new challenges.
Because WordPress is such a popular CMS, it is also a target for hackers. We found ourselves battling between giving our clients the flexibility they wanted and the security they needed. WordPress has thousands of plugins you can install. We discovered that they are not all created equal. Many provided, usually due to poorly written code, vulnerabilities for hackers to deface and take control of their website. This lead to some sites being used as phishing sites, enabling hackers to steal login credentials to banking websites.
We immediately had to do something to prevent this and other types of attacks. Firewalls, scans, permission lockdown, file change monitoring, etc, were evaluated and implemented. But the biggest challenge was removing the ability for our clients to install their own plugins. This came with mixed emotions. Gone was the ability to quickly add a new feature. Instead they would have to recommend a plugin and have us “vet” it out, test and then approve the application. We learned that this approach, while more time consuming, allowed for a much more stable production environment.
About two years ago we were given the opportunity to explore party plans through a new client. We knew that the software we had didn’t support party plans and that we needed to re-think our eCommerce offering. After a long and deliberate process, we decided not to reinvent the wheel, but to use Magento as our eCommerce processing base. It is a very popular eCommerce platform. It has all the new and expected features of a modern eCommerce website.
With all that Magento provided, it had many features missing from what is needed in direct sales and particularly – party plans. We went to work building out those needed features to support the needs of our clients. We thought we could use many of the open source plugins that are available to Magento. Again, we discovered that not all plugins are created equal. Many didn’t follow the best practices outlined by Magento. What we thought could be done much quicker by using plugins ended up taking a lot longer than expected as we had to rewrite or develop our own.
Why open source? Despite the hurdles that we have encountered, we still believe that using open source platforms, was the right move for Xennsoft. WordPress and Magento have hundreds of developers moving the software forward each and every day. As a small company, we could not keep up with the times and the changes taking place around us. Now, we get to benefit from the teams of developers around the world improving WordPress and Magento, while we focus on what is unique to the industry we love.
Our developers are working on industry specific tools that help distributors grow their business and encourage high retention rates. We are working on integrations into social media to help distributors market their product and culture. Our focus is to provide cutting edge tools that will help MLM companies be successful and grow their business.
Today we now offer an exciting MLM software solution at a cost that is affordable to entry level companies. This was made possible due to our experience and use of open source software.