Magento North East event in Newcastle upon Tyne

Introduction to Magento 2: Newcastle event

A Magento North East event next week aims to help ecommerce website owners and managers understand what’s coming in Magento 2, the ecommerce platform’s next major release.

Introduction to Magento 2 for merchants is at Campus North in Newcastle upon Tyne on Tuesday, 12th January 2016, with the talk followed by a demo at 815am, and repeated at 915am for anyone who isn’t able to make the earlier session. You can read more on the event on its page (where you can also RSVP free of charge).

About the Newcastle Magento 2 introduction event

The event will feature an introductory talk highlighting the changes coming in Magento 2, as well as a live demo of key functionality in Magento 2. The talk, by our director and Magento consultant Richard Carter who has worked with Magento since just after its release in 2007, will feature:

  • an overview of what is new and what is similar in Magento 2
  • information on when support for Magento 1.x versions ends
  • a discussion on whether/when merchants and store owners should upgrade to Magento 2

The talk will be followed by a Magento 2 demo at our Newcastle event, which will include:

  • an overview of the new interface for Magento 2 store owners
  • details of how key store management tools have changed in Magento 2
  • product catalogue management demonstrations
  • improvements introduced in Magento 2’s administration panel
  • demonstrations of adding and editing products in Magento 2
  • potential for customer and order process demos (time-dependent!)

Now a regular, monthly event since its founding by Peacock Carter last year, Magento North East has been growing in attendance at its evening meetings, hosted at Campus North in Newcastle city centre. Campus North support meetups for the digital and creative community, including our very own community of Magento users, designers and developers in Newcastle and from further afield in the North East.

And if you don’t have time to join us at the event tomorrow, you may find our post on what to expect in Magento 2 is useful!

Magento Enterprise consultants in the UK

Magento 2: what to expect

We work with Magento almost every day at Peacock Carter, and can’t wait to start working with Magento 2 for our clients.

Magento has ensured there is a stable, reliable, extensible ecommerce platform we can happily recommend to clients, knowing its proven for sites large and small, and a recent talk at the Mage Titans Magento conference in Manchester earlier this year provided an exciting insight in to what is coming in Magento 2. We’ve also published our slides on Introduction to Magento 2 from a talk we held at the Magento North East event in January 2016.

The talk was by Magento community manager Ben Marks, who provided a great overview of what to expect in Magento 2 for both store owners and Magento developers:

Here’s what is coming in Magento 2:

  1. Better, faster Magento: performance is now a key factor in Magento Community Edition as well as Enterprise
  2. New administration panel: a better, faster and mobile-friendly admin panel for merchants
  3. Better reporting: sales, products and orders. Hugely improved
  4. Quarterly Magento updates: expect new features every quarter
  5. Better Magento extensions: vetted for security and to stop the unauthorised release of duplicate extensions
  6. A countdown for Magento 1 support: expect Magento 1 to be supported for 3 years from Magento 2’s launch
  7. Improved checkout: small changes to the checkout which should have a large impact: guest checkout by default (a common conversion barrier), and detection of customer accounts by email address.

Better, faster Magento

Overall, you can expect a better, faster ecommerce platform in Magento 2. As our list of Magento myths showed, many developers and store owners view Magento as a “slow” platform (inevitably to do with cheap hosting, or poor configuration), and this is something the Magento 2 team were keen to address further. As such, Magento 2 should deliver better use of your hosting budget, and an improved experience for your customers, too.

An interesting change of focus between Magento Community and Magento Enterprise Editions for Magento version 2 is that performance is now considered a core issue shared between both versions of Magento. As such, you can expect the Full Page Cache feature to be available in Magento 2 Community Edition too: an additional layer of caching which enables even faster performance of your store for your customers. This line between the different versions of Magento has been redrawn at scalability: you can expect Enterprise Edition to focus on scalability issues and functionality, performance-wise.

New Magento administration panel

For store owners, the biggest change coming is the new Magento administration panel. The design of the administration looks much cleaner, and is also responsive, meaning you’ll be able to manage your store on mobile devices too from Magento 2 onwards.

Magento 2 admin panel

The products grid has also been heavily revisited for Magento 2, providing a much neater, and more customisable, experience for store owners.

Better reporting in Magento core

One area we’ve always felt was a little lacking in Magento 1 was the reporting: getting product and sales reports out of Magento without was a very limited experience. Magento 2 has developed reporting hugely, as you can see by the options below:

Magento 2 - reporting options

Enhanced reporting in Magento 2 is supported by the new product grids, which we feel are going to hugely simplify retailers’ experience in managing their product catalogue.

New features, every quarter

Magento 2 will see quarterly feature releases for both Community and Enterprise Editions, so you can expect a rolling feature additions: even more incentive to update your Magento version! The Magento team will be posting a roadmap of features to expect too, so you can plan your store’s strategy around those.

Better Magento extensions

Another big change for Magento store owners and developers is with extensions: Magento 2 is reintroducing the Magento Connect marketplace after a huge makeover in design and processes. The Magento Connect marketplace provided a “one-stop” shop for Magento extensions to add additional functionality to your store, but has since fallen out of favour with Magento developers due to the number of poor quality extensions and lack of curation by Magento – something which Magento themselves are painfully aware of.

Magento extensions will be vetted by Magento themselves, meaning a better all round experience for Magento developers and store owners using these extensions.

“The average online store has 14 integrations [for payment gateways, delivery methods, additional functionality]”

Ben Marks, Mage Titans conference, Manchester, 2015

Largely, fewer extensions will mean that upgrading Magento is easier in the future, ensuring your website is more easily maintainable.

When can you start using Magento 2?

The first Magento 2 stores in production are already underway, but for smaller retailers we recommend holding off until the core extensions for payment gateways and delivery options have been tried and tested on larger scale retailers.

Once Magento 2 officially launches (expected in December 2015), Magento 1 versions will be supported for 3 years. During that time, Magento expects retailers to migrate to Magento 2, and we recommend leaving plenty of time to migrate. Essentially, the sooner you’re able to migrate after the initial “bedding-in” period of Magento 2, the better, as this will reduce any potential complications with data migration and sourcing extensions for your key functionality.

If you would would like to discuss migrating to Magento 2, our Magento consultants are available on 0191 375 5713, or via

Web consultants at conference in the UK

A day of Magento in Manchester at Mage Titans conference

We spent this weekend gone in Manchester at Mage Titans, a conference for Magento web developers.

It doesn’t feel like a year since Mage Titans 2014, the first event, which was a blast! So, how did Mage Titans 2015 compare? Brilliantly! Saturday saw a full day of Magento talks from some of the most renowned members of the worldwide Magento community, from developers to project managers, and extension developers to Magento partner agencies.

The talks: Magento, Magento, Magento

As you might expect from a Magento conference, there was a lot of content about Magento. What was striking was the wide range of topics around Magento speakers covered, from working in an agile Magento team, best practice in Magento development, a look at improving site loading times, and even a talk on the future of Magento.

Our favourite talk this year was Ben Marks, Magento’s community manager, who spoke about the upcoming Magento 2 (expect another post on Magento 2 from us shortly!), and what to expect. Magento 2 looks fantastic, and we can’t wait to work with clients to roll it out!

Once the talks were finished, the 250 attendees found their way to the after party bar, allowing delegates a chance to talk to a huge range of Magento enthusiasts. I spent a particularly memorable hour talking to a German Magento developer and his beekeeping hobby.

Thanks once again to Jon Woodall, the people at Manchester Digital, and all who were involved in organising Mage Titans. All have once again done an excellent job at providing a space for Magento agencies, developers and themers to come together, share best practice, and make some great contacts, too. Here’s hoping 2016 sees another Mage Titans in our calendar!

Magento 2 demo screenshot

Magento Enterprise Edition: is it worth the cost?

We work with Magento almost everyday at Peacock Carter, and one thing we’re asked often is if upgrading to Magento Enterprise Edition is a worthwhile investment?

Magento Enterprise can be seen as an unnecessary expense, but for some of our Magento agency clients, it’s proven a brilliant platform to build a sustainable online business with.

So, here are our views on whether or not Magento Enterprise Edition is right for you.

What is Magento Enterprise Edition?

Let’s start with the basics: Magento EE is not a “cheap” solution. It costs about $15,000 a year (about £10,000 at the time of writing; check Magento’s website for specifics). So, what do you get for this investment? Among other items:

  • A service level agreement (SLA) with Magento for support (see the note below)
  • Improved search functionality with Solr: definitely a worthwhile investment given the poor default search in Community Edition!
  • Full page caching: simply, your website loads faster. And faster websites mean more sales.
  • Enhanced content management and catalogue management tools
  • Content staging system
  • Smarter related, cross-sell and up-sell products

It’s worth noting that the support provided by the SLA is limited to Magento’s core, whereas in our experience of supporting various versions of Magento, problems are often caused by third party extensions to Magento which would then require additional development time at extra cost to fix. Magento also advertise that Enterprise Edition supports the “ability to run multiple sites from one instance“, and whilst that’s true, so does the free-to-download-and-use Magento Community Edition!

So, is Magento Enterprise Edition for you?

If you’re planning a ground breaking store and you turn over more than around £150,000 – £250,000 per year, then you should perhaps consider it! The enhanced search feature, catalogue (product) management tools and page caching itself are probably worth the fee alone.

However, if you’re operating on a smaller scale, that money may be better invested by retaining your Magento Community Edition store, and looking at site improvements to improve your conversion rate and search engine optimisation of key pages in your website.

Want expert Magento advice?

If you’d like to learn more about Magento for your ecommerce project, talk to the experts! To discuss a Magento Enterprise Edition project with us, please contact us on 0191 375 5713.

If you’re looking for information on Magento 2, see our in depth post of what’s coming in Magento 2.

Updated October 2016.