Magento 2 demo screenshot

When should you migrate to Magento 2?

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?

Magento 2 admin panel

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!

And hosting?

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.

Apress' Introducing SEO book

Introducing SEO book

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 ApressIntroducing 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.

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Speaking: Magento Module Development

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:

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.

Magento 2 demo screenshot

Business-to-business ecommerce considerations

If you’re considering entering your business-to-business market with an ecommerce website, there are a number of key areas to consider.

As a long-established web design agency with our fair share of business-to-business ecommerce experience, here’s our introductory guide to B2B ecommerce.

1. Chose your platform – and B2B agency – carefully

There are many ecommerce platforms available to businesses entering the ecommerce arena, but they are not all made equal. Peacock Carter work a lot with Magento Commerce and its licensed sister version, Magento Enterprise. Both can be readily adapted for use as a business-to-business ecommerce system. Oro Commerce is also worth consideration as an open source ecommerce platform specifically aimed at the B2B market.

You may also want to consider services such as Shopify (a hosted ecommerce platform with a monthly fee) though we find these are not typically suited well to B2B use. WooCommerce, WordPress’ most popular ecommerce offering, is also available, though we find this platform lacks many of the features of more developed ecommerce offerings such as Magento.

Finding the right B2B agency for your organisation is also key: it could well be a long partnership, so finding a web design agency who have the right approach. Sector experience isn’t necessarily key if the agency has the right technical approaches and the ability to research and adapt to your industry.

2. Niche can work well

As with “offline” business, niche offerings can greatly enhance your appeal and selling power to customers in ecommerce.

If you’re looking to test the water in your B2B sector, selecting a small product range to launch with and test the water can be a good way to mitigate some of the risk. In particular, large product catalogues can take a great deal of time and money to digitise, as content designed for offline brochures and marketing collateral often doesn’t translate well for online use.

Once you have the formula for success with the initial range of products, you can try enlarging your product catalogue online.

3. Integrate ecommerce in to your business processes

A key point missed by many entering the B2B ecommerce market is integrating existing business systems with your ecommerce systems. For example, if you’re using a CRM such as Salesforce in your other sales operations, integrate Salesforce in to your ecommerce store.

Most popular ecommerce platforms have significantly well developed integrations with common accountancy packages such as Xero and Sage, too, and platforms such as Brightpearl can be used to centralise stock control between multiple warehouses, amongst other tasks. Integrating your ecommerce website with existing processes not only saves you time and reduces errors and redundant data, but can streamline your processes and provide your customers with a smoother experience all round, too.

4. Consider your ecommerce audience

It’s worth considering that the type of customer who you interact with in offline and other sales channels may not be your typical ecommerce customer. For example, whilst you may deal with CEOs, procurement officers and managing directors through offline sales channels, your online sales channel may attract a different role from within the company. This is partly because a B2B ecommerce offering allows the task of purchasing to be delegated to another department within the customer’s company, even for larger purchases such as specialist equipment and machinery.

As such, ensuring that any technical specification and industry jargon used is likely to be known by the audience is key.

5. Provide your ecommerce customers with the right information

Businesses can be reluctant to share information with their customers online for fear of revealing too much to competitors. Whilst this is understandable in a competitive industry, not providing your customers with the information they need to make a purchase decision could well cause your entry in to B2B ecommerce to fail before your website has even launched.

Sharing carefully selected insights in to your industry in the form of blog posts can be a great tactic for digital marketing, establishing your company as the industry leader.

If you would like to discuss your next B2B ecommerce project with Peacock Carter, please contact us for an initial consultation.

 

Filter Magento payment options by shipping address

We’re really pleased to be able to announce the release of a free module for Magento today: the rather catchily named “Filter Magento payment options by shipping address” module.

Peacock Carter have developed a Magento’s module to allow you to filter the payment options available by shipping address (what we’d call “delivery address” in the UK!); This module allows you to restrict how a customer pays by country. The module is available for free download and use from our Github account.

Development of “filter payment options by shipping address” module for Magento

Screenshot of Magento module to restrict payment by shipping address

A Magento Enterprise client based in the Middle East required that the “Cash on delivery” payment method be made available to any billing address but limited to just one shipping country.

Cash on delivery is a very popular payment method in the Middle East. Cash on delivery operates as you would expect: you check out from your Magento store as usual, selecting “Cash on delivery” as your payment method (rather than delivery method). A courier then delivers your purchases, and collects payment for the order at the same time.

Our Magento client only wanted to offer this option in the UAE, and none of the surrounding countries they operate in. The client’s website sells computer games and a large proportion of their clients are under 18 years old, and don’t have their own credit cards. Our client found that this customer group would therefore often use their parents’ work address as the billing address, and this meant that the payment address was often outside the UAE itself.

Compatibility with Magento Community and Magento Enterprise

The development of the Magento module allows the client to control which payment methods are displayed for which products, and is tested on Magento Community versions 1.9.0.1+ and Magento Enterprise 1.14.0.1+.

Web event at Campus North (not Ecommerce North East!)

Proud to be organising North East Ecommerce

Peacock Carter are really proud to be the new organisers of the North East Ecommerce meetup group.

Tony, the previous organiser of the group, did a superb job of organising the group, providing plenty of food for thought for ecommerce store owners. Both Peacock Carter and Alex Goodacre, our meetup co-organiser and long term member of the group, are keen to do the same!

What is North East Ecommerce?

The North East Ecommerce group is a free-to-attend meetup held on a monthly basis in Newcastle upon Tyne. The aim of the group is to help share knowledge and experience for merchants running online stores. Previous talk topics at North East Ecommerce have included:

  • Optimising eBay listings
  • FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon)
  • Search engine marketing for your ecommerce website
  • An introduction to Magento – by us!

We will be keeping the event free of charge, of course – partially thanks to the brilliant Campus North. The timing of the event will also remain as it was, in the first Wednesday of each month evening slot.

As a leading ecommerce agency in the North East, we feel very lucky to be able to support the meet up and bring our experience of running other website events such as WordPress North East and Magento North East. Organising North East Ecommerce will also be a fantastic opportunity from us to hear from owners of ecommerce websites of all sizes and fine tune our knowledge to be able to best help them.

If you have any suggestions of topics you would like to see covered at a future event, please let us know via hello@peacockcarter.com, and we’ll do our best to find a suitable speaker.