Web design agency Peacock Carter - Northern Design Centre office

Website support & maintenance for Christmas & New Year 2016

Peacock Carter have had a bumper year in 2016 thanks to some fantastic clients, and we look forward to working with you in 2017 and beyond.

We’re winding down over the Christmas and New Year period to give our team a chance to have a break and come back refreshed in 2017. As such, our office will be closed during this period:

Our office closes: 15:00, Wednesday, 21st December 2016.

Our office reopens: 09:30, Wednesday 4th January 2017.

If you have a support contract with us, urgent issues will be dealt with as soon as we are able during this period; please email support@peacockcarter.com.

Magento 2 Theme Design book - reviewed by our Magento consultant Richard Carter

Our involvement with the Magento 2 Theme Designs book

It’s not every day that a book with your name on the cover arrives at the office, but that’s just what happened today!

A copy of the newly released Magento 2 Theme Design book by Fernando J Miguel was ready and waiting in reception this morning, featuring Richard‘s name on the cover.

Peacock Carter & the Magento 2 theme book

Packt’s recent release, Magento 2 Theme Design, provides an in-depth guide to Magento theme development for aspiring web designers and developers wanting to start working with the Magento platform. Peacock Carter’s founding director, Richard Carter, acted as the technical reviewer for Magento 2 Theme Design publication. As author of 4 books on the Magento platform to date on Magento theming, and author of the Magento 1 books the Magento 2 book was based on, Richard’s name was included on the cover of the book.

As established Magento consultants, we’ve been working with the platform since shortly after its release in 2008. In that time, we have seen the use of Magento Community and its licensed Magento Enterprise Edition become one of the leading ecommerce platforms in the world (see our Introduction to Magento 2 talk from the Design Network North event earlier this year).

Richard Carter, founder of web design agency Peacock Carter

Web design agency Peacock Carter celebrate 10 years

November sees web design agency Peacock Carter celebrating their 10th Anniversary, in which time they have grown from working in a back bedroom in Durham City to occupying premier office space in Gateshead’s flagship Northern Design Centre.

“We could easily have given up early on”, says Richard Carter the company’s founder and Managing Director, who was told not to bother by a Durham business adviser at the start of his career. “Apparently there were already too may web designers in the region, with no room for more!”

“Peacock Carter is a brilliant example of a successful North East creative digital business”

Undeterred, Richard and his business partner at the time found an early niche working on high-end consultancy projects, running the business alongside studying for their degrees at Durham University.

Now one of the leading specialists of ecommerce in the region, Peacock Carter work with major clients on large scale projects both in the UK and abroad. A specialist in ecommerce, and particular the Magento platform, one of the leading ecommerce platforms in the world, Richard also reviews publications on the platform for UK and American publishers. Throw in the fact that Richard has written a number of highly regarded web-design software books and runs workshops for user groups, and business has never been busier.

This tenacity and passion for digital can be seen clearly across the region, with Peacock Carter being part of the booming digital industry sector. Figures quoted at the recent “Shine a Spotlight’ event hosted by Digital Union, the North East’s largest digital business network, illustrated the expanding nature of the sector,estimating that an additional 6,915 new jobs will be created in the next 5 years.

“Staying power”

Jim Mawdsley, CEO of Generator, which runs Digital Union said, “Peacock Carter is a brilliant example of a successful North East creative digital business working with global clients, and their upcoming 10th Anniversary proves their staying power. The company has grown and chosen to remain in the North East based on their own creativity, tenacity and the strength of support within the region for growing creative digital businesses. We’re proud to support Richard and his team as they look towards their next ten years of further growth”.

Richard and his team are also supporting the new collaborative brand #thisisMINE (this is Made in the North East). Devised by former Tech North team member Paul Lancaster and adopted by Digital Union, the campaign aims to showcase the best of the region’s digital work and highlight companies and their output.

Supporting the North East web design community

This supportive and collaborative community is one of the aspects Richard would credit for Peacock Carter’s ongoing success. Richard is part of a growing number of professionals in the region who see sharing and support as intrinsic to the success of their industry. “Networking and collaboration has always played an important role in my business,” said Richard, “Sharing knowledge, expertise and ideas helps to build strong relationships with our peers, contributes to the wider digital community and helps us to continually improve our services to clients”

“We want to capitalise on the fact that the North East is seen as a leading centre for digital expertise”

A regular speaker

Richard is a regular speaker at many web, digital and creative events around the region, including Design Network North’s monthly networking group “Rise and Design”, and the company sponsors the monthly Frontend North East events which regularly attracts 80 – 100 attendess. Frequent topics include new developments in web design and e-commerce worlds, and best practice for smaller businesses. Design Network North’s manager, Terry McStea, acknowledged the valuable contribution made by the businesses that attend the event. “We have hosted more than 1000 organisations from the region to date, and the willingness of companies like Peacock Carter to share their knowledge and experience is one of the valuable ways we can support our aim to increase the contribution design makes to our economy”.

The future

So having reached double figures, what does the future hold for Peacock Carter? “We aim to double the turnover of our business in the next two years by talking on more staff and increasing our reach nationally and globally” says Richard, “We want to capitalise on the fact that the North East is seen as a leading centre for digital expertise and we look forward to being an active part of this by continuing to identify new technologies to improve ecommerce solutions for our clients.

Find great Magento agencies on Commerce Hero

A Great Magento Agency, As Featured In Commerce Hero

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.

So, feel free to look at Peacock Carter’s profile, and browse our Magento website portfolio too!

Ecommerce North East event logo

Speaking: WooCommerce vs Magento, Newcastle

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”.

Ecommerce North East event in Newcastle upon Tyne

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.

As long-time Magento developers in Newcastle, we’ll be talking on Magento in relation to WooCommerce, and busting some common Magento myths we see and hear on a regular basis.

In the Newcastle corner: Magento agency Peacock Carter

Magento book by Newcastle Magento developer Richard 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!).

You can RVSP for the “Magento vs WooCommerce” event on Meetup.com.

Bitcoin for ecommerce merchants

Bitcoin for ecommerce: a guide for merchants

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 cryptocurrencyEssentially, 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).

Bitpay is currently the most popular Bitcoin payment gateway, with implementations for common ecommerce platforms such as WooCommerce and Magento already in existence.

Bitplay logo - Bitcoin payment provider

CoinBase is also popular, and has integrations with ecommerce platforms including Magento (1.x and 2.x) and more.

Coinbase logo - Bitcoin payment provider

What to ask your payment provider about Bitcoin

We found this merchant checklist from WeUseCoins.com when asking for payment gateways particularly useful:

  1. Can I get a unique Bitcoin address for each transaction?
  2. How is the exchange rate calculated?
  3. How fast are payments approved?
  4. What is my exchange rate risk?
  5. How do I receive the funds?
  6. Are there any fees involved?
  7. 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.