We’re thrilled to have been asked to join Commerce Hero, a new marketplace for Magento developers and Magento agencies.
As a long-standing Magento agency, Peacock Carter are proud to be seen alongside well known and respected Magento agencies throughout the world. We’ve been with Magento since early days, and have helped to create a Magento community in Newcastle and the North East via both Twitter and through Magento North East events we organise.
What is Commerce Hero?
Commerce Hero is the brainchild of Magento community member Kalen and the team at Mage Mojo (worth checking out for any Magento hosting requirements you might have), and provides a more transparent marketplace for merchants to find reliable Magento developers and Magento agencies.
The problem: finding reliable Magento agencies
Since we began working with Magento, we’ve:
- helped clients design and build Magento sites from their initial requirements and ideas to a fully functioning ecommerce store, and beyond
- supported legacy Magento stores and migrated them to newer versions
- picked up the pieces from client’s bad experiences with Magento freelancers, and other agencies, too
A missing “part of the puzzle” for clients throughout has been how to know whether your Magento developer is reputable, and Commerce Hero certainly goes some way to presenting a reliable directory of Magento agencies, with a vetting process and other restrictions on who can join it.
We’re speaking at Ecommerce North East this week in Newcastle upon Tyne as part of an event on the topic of “Magento vs WooCommerce”.
Both popular ecommerce platforms, Magento and WooCommerce are leading ecommerce platforms, albeit aimed at different target markets. Whilst WordPress’ WooCommerce plugin adds ecommerce functionality to WordPress, Magento was built from the ground up as an ecommerce platform.
In the Newcastle corner: Magento agency Peacock Carter
And whilst Peacock Carter are representing Magento in the Newcastle corner, whilst WooCommerce is supported by the brilliant Tim Nash who is coming up from Leeds especially for the event. We’ve been working with Magento since 2008, and
We’re sure the event will be a great eye-opener for all involved, and especially useful for businesses considering launching a new ecommerce website soon (if you are, we can recommend a really good ecommerce agency in Newcastle!).
As an ecommerce agency, we’re seeing an increase in queries and requests for Bitcoin payments, and there didn’t seem to be much information online about Bitcoin for merchants.
Here is Peacock Carter’s guide to Bitcoin for ecommerce, designed to give you as an ecommerce business in to the benefits and drawbacks of implementing Bitcoin as a payment method on your store. This guide is based on a talk I made at the Magento North East user group; slides will be online shortly.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. Essentially, rather than storing your money in a traditional bank, digital currencies such as Bitcoin allow you to trade virtual money. As a consumer, you store your Bitcoin balance in a digital wallet
Rather than have a centralised “repository”, transactions are person-to-person, and transactions are stored in a public ledger known as the block chain. Bitcoin transactions are verified through users called “miners” who process and verify payments; these miners are rewarded with newly “minted” Bitcoins as a reward for their work.
There’s a great description of how Bitcoin works in this video by WeUseCoins on YouTube.
Bitcoin claims to be the first decentralised cryptocurrency (in 2009), though there are many other alternatives using a similar premise these days, such as Dogecoin, Ripple, Litecoin and Mastercoin.
Who is using Bitcoin already?
As of February 2015, The International Business Times reported over 100,000 merchants around the world offering Bitcoin as a payment method, and this number is likely to have grown considerably since then. Merchants accepting Bitcoin include Microsoft, Virgin Galatic and PayPal. Greenpeace, The Wikimedia Foundation and The Mozilla Foundation (behind the Firefox web browser) also accept Bitcoin donations.
Advantages of Bitcoin for merchants
There are a lot of benefits to merchants of accepting Bitcoin for payments on their ecommerce stores:
- Free transactions: Bitcoin to Bitcoin transactions are free of charge
- Low fees: converting Bitcoin to “flat” currencies such as GBP, USD and EUR involves typically very low fees through most contemporary Bitcoin payment providers
- Fast transactions: transactions are instantaneous in Bitcoin; no waiting days to receive your payment (payment provider pending!)
- Convenient for customers: for a growing sector of online consumers, Bitcoin is a very, very convenient way to pay
- No chargebacks: unlike credit cards, there are no chargebacks for Bitcoin payments. This is because payments are not reversible
Potential issues with Bitcoin
Some of the advantages of Bitcoin provide likely downsides for merchants, too:
- Refunds: as described above, a Bitcoin transaction is not reversible. This could be a headache for online retailers and merchants, but most stores accepting Bitcoin offer in store credit rather than refund via Bitcoin itself
- Fluctuating Bitcoin exchange rate: the exchange rate can be quite volatile between Bitcoin and flat currencies. This is not so much of an issue if you plan on withdrawing funds from your Bitcoin digital wallet soon after payments are made to you
- Theft: there have been some high profile cases of Bitcoin theft. Essentially, storing a copy of your digital wallet offline is a very sensible precaution to mitigate this issue
Bitcoin payment gateways
There are a number of payment providers who can help merchants start accepting Bitcoin payments, including BitPay, Coinbase and Stripe. All offer similarly low transaction rates (see this page for merchants on WeUseCoins.com).
CoinBase is also popular, and has integrations with ecommerce platforms including Magento (1.x and 2.x) and more.
What to ask your payment provider about Bitcoin
We found this merchant checklist from WeUseCoins.com when asking for payment gateways particularly useful:
- Can I get a unique Bitcoin address for each transaction?
- How is the exchange rate calculated?
- How fast are payments approved?
- What is my exchange rate risk?
- How do I receive the funds?
- Are there any fees involved?
- How can I see a listing of my sales?
Bitcoin for ecommerce merchants
The benefits of Bitcoin are clear , though the disadvantages may be off-putting to most merchants. With lower transaction fees, you can increase profit margins or pass the savings on to consumers and gain an edge over your competitors, but the current decisions being made over the blockchain – at the very core of Bitcoin – likely mean more conservative merchants will want to be cautious in adopting it for now.
As a follow-on from some queries we had to our Magento 2: what to expect post last November, here’s some updated opinion on whether Magento 2 is ready for you to migrate to yet.
As Magento specialists, we offer our insight below in to whether you should migrate to Magento 2 yet. Magento 2 is already in use on some pretty big ecommerce websites, so you can be sure it has been “battle-tested”, but is it right for your ecommerce website?
Support for Magento 1
As we reported in November, official support for Magento 1 will be ending around December 2018; that gives you just over 2 years and a quarter to migrate your Magento store to be able to benefit from the latest features and security patches. This is not to say that web developers and agencies will stop working with Magento 1 at this point, just that Magento will not produce further security patches for future issues.
A data migration tool to transfer product, catalogue, customer, order and other content between Magento 1 and 2 exist within Magento 2. As long as you have a Magento installation which has made use of all of the core features of Magento correctly, data migration should be a reasonably well-documented task, if not trouble-free.
Are extensions for Magento 2 ready?
The additional functionality on your website also needs consideration when migrating to Magento 2. Do all of the payment, accounting, order packing, customer management and other extensions to Magento you have installed exist for Magento 2 yet? If so, are they ready for use on a “live” ecommerce website? This typically requires a lot of research and an audit of your existing Magento extensions.
If they don’t exist, it may be possible to have custom functionality built by your Magento agency: this is something an extension audit can help explore.
What about your Magento theme?
So your data and functionality are ready for Magento 2, but what about your website’s design? Magento 1 themes are not transferable to Magento 2: too much has changed between the versions to allow backwards compatibility. As such, you’re left with a few choices:
- Customising Magento’s new default theme, Luma – this is probably the simplest, quickest option, but leaves a very plain visual design
- Using one of the existing Magento 2 themes released by third party vendors – some are much better quality than others, so it’s worth talking to your web agency (or us!)
- Having a custom Magento 2 theme built. This allows for much scope in improving areas of your website which are less than perfect at present!
Most Magento specialist hosting companies now have Magento 2 offerings, and Magento 2 has been running in the wild for almost a year now.
Picking a respectable Magento hosting company is still vital, though! Reliability, availability and support options are all important considerations, and we’re always happy to help clients and recommend Magento hosts for individual projects.
Not ready for Magento 2 yet?
Even if you’re not ready to migrate to Magento 2 yet, your ecommerce consultant or web agency should be advising you on a longer term plan to ensure your ecommerce platform is suitable for your business’ requirements in years to come!
If you would like any further advice on migrating to Magento 2, please contact us to discuss your project with one of our ecommerce specialists.
What a great way to start the week: our copy of Introducing SEO arrived today!
Peacock Carter’s managing director Richard Carter acted as technical reviewer for the publication, overseeing that the content was technically correct and relevant to contemporary readers. Richard has worked on a long list of publications in the past decade and beyond, and has built a strong reputation as a specialist web consultant for work such as technical reviewing of web design and search engine marketing related content.
Published by specialist technology publisher Apress, Introducing SEO is aimed at readers who aren’t familiar with the fundamentals of search engine optimisation, and introduces key search engine concepts such as indexability, content optimisation and social media and its effect on SEO.
We look forward to working on future technical reviews of website design and ecommerce publications in coming months and years.
We’re pleased to take up the speaker’s podium once more at Magento North East this month with a talk on Magento module development.
Our lead Magento developer, Richie McFarlane, will be talking tonight at Magento North East in Campus North in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre. As a seasoned Magento developer, Richie has written countless Magento modules
What to expect from our Magento module development talk
Magento is a very flexible and feature-rich ecommerce platform, but no system can do everything out of the box. Magento modules allow custom functionality that Magento doesn’t provide to be added to the store. His talk will cover:
- A demonstration of our recently released Magento extension for filtering payment methods by shipping address, which is released for free use on our Github account.
- A look behind the scenes of the module
- A walkthrough of how the module works, illustrating the fundamentals of Magento module development
- Revisiting the original module code with new based on Vinai Kopps’ video from the Nomad Mage Magento user group.
About the Magento North East group
Magento North East is a monthly meetup for Magento designers, developers and store owners. Free to attend, emphasis is on sharing ideas and best practice for building, maintaining and running successful Magento ecommerce websites.The event runs the first Monday of each month; see the event’s Meetup.com page to stay up to date with new events.
And for those who missed Richie’s Magento module development session, you can always catch him running a Introduction to Magento development course at School of Tech.