Why the Split from eBay will be the success of Magento

Posted by: Karen Thursday, July 16th, 2015

There is nothing like a crisis to focus the mind. Last year eBay was pushed into a corner by their major investor Carl Icahn around splitting up the monolith.  In January a split of Paypal/eBay was announced and as an almost footnote there was mention that eBay Enterprise was also to be sold/spun off. And Magento? Well that wasn’t even mentioned in the earnings call.

Since then we have seen more action in the Magento space than since it was acquired in 2011.  Just yesterday (15th July) the Merchant Beta 1.0.0 of Magento2 dropped on our laps). Never before have we seen such engagement of the management at eBay Enterprise/Magento as we have these last few months.  We are a powerful ecosystem, and Team X realised that we needed them to step up and play an active part in this ecosystem. Why? Because it benefits them. By working together we can achieve so much more than alone. They realised the power and they embraced it.

But Team X also realised they needed to form this cohesive team, because they were getting sold off. And that provides focus. I’m sure they have had to live in a kind of ‘startup’ mentality much like Roy and Yoav were in with Magento in the early days – to justify their decisions, to pitch, to inspect, to clear out the dead wood, to have an agile robust and forward-thinking strategy.  The monolith of eBay was no longer there to protect them – they were allowed to think freely, to dream, to imagine what could be and to act upon that.

The Monolith that is being left behind

When I worked at Reuters (which incidentally became Thomson Reuters whilst future @ebay CEO Devin Wenig was on the senior team) it was pretty easy to just be a number. To clock in, do your work, go home and forget about it. The amount of influence you had was minimal. And projects could be canned on the spin of a coin, if the management changed then you almost stopped working until you had the ‘town hall’ meeting, as you knew it meant priorities had shifted.  People came in with great ideas and great plans, the red tape often prevented those ideas from ever being a reality. The managers moved on/around and as an employee you were left wondering what the next quarterly call would result in, and often were more concerned with the share price than you were with your actual workload.  Now I’m not sure thats how it has been at Magento, because clearly its a very different beast, but I’d assume some of that has gone on, and its evident that there have been periods of time where the ecosystem has been advancing a damn sight faster than the machine that fuels it.

The Hidden Gem

eBay Enterprise actually has a few little gems. And one of those little gems is Magento.  Forget the news around Toys’R'Us, go take a look at the sites that Magento is propping up, it’s some of the largest online sites in the world.  And there are lots of them, lots and lots and lots.  Plus we don’t deal with that heavy stuff like warehousing, order management, customer support, Magento is all about technology. From my experience its a lot easier being about technology and not having to worry about the physical tangibles. Because it scales. You can see that in the reach that Magento has over eBay Enterprise.

We know there is a potential for massive profit – go take a look at Shopify. This is an ecommerce platform that (with all due respect) mainly powers Etsy sellers who decide to go for it.  It floated with a $2Bn valuation on its first day. $2Bn. All Magento need to figure out is how to monetise on both sides of the coin, not just the Magento Enterprise licenses, but what I call the ‘back side’ – the per transaction revenue that’s entirely doable (a look at the Shopify filing reveals 38% of their revenue was in non-subscription, most of it via their payment gateway).  Magento is a true gem in the eBay Enterprise crown.

The Sale Price

Just want to address this. The stats are that GSI sold for 2.4 billion, Magento for around 180M. And now the rumour is that its going for 900M.  Why so low?  Well a big chunk of GSI got sold off to Kynetic, so GSI is not as it once was. And I get impression its been resting on it’s laurels a bit since the eBay acquisition, as, let’s be truthful, so has Magento for a while.  Ultimately these are just figures on a balance sheet, whats 1.5billion between friends ;) . What investors, shareholders, boards look at is whats the next 6 months, the next year, the next 3 years going to be like. And if they see its a good price on both sides then its a sale. Thats where we are here. Nothing more, nothing less.

What Really Makes Magento Special

Someone asked me this the other day. Whats the unique thing about Magento? I think there are 2 fundamental things:

1) You could not put a team of developers in a room and produce something better than what Magento and it’s ecosystem has today – because its not just about Magento the product, its what the ecosystem has added to that which makes this solution so powerful.  As long as Magento the company/platform continues to innovate and developers choose not to switch to a new system then its always ahead

2) Magento is very very interesting to developers, because of its extensibility, flexibility and open source nature.  Personally I get bored with technology pretty easily, but Magento has kept me in it for the last 6 years. And I still find it fascinating to play with (although I gotta admit its pretty damn frustrating sometimes aswell!)

Magento is not the “be all and end all”, I’m not that naive to think so. It has its place, and if its not careful it will get eroded by the likes of innovative, agile and ultimately easier to configure platforms such as Bigcommerce, and also pushed on from the top by the likes of Demandware, Hybris and Oracle.  Right now tho Magento has pretty big momentum tho, its the #1 IR500 platform in Europe, growing globally faster than Hybris and Demandware combined.

Why will the Split Help?

Because now its all about us :) .

eBay Enteprise and Magento are no longer a footnote in a long eBay call. We are about to leave our famous older siblings and go off alone and make our own future. The news is on us. And it is us, this product is not just owned by eBay, its owned by all of us in this ecosystem. Because we are so heavily invested in it, many of us have relied and still rely on the Magento product for a large percentage of our income.

Additionally, I see Private Equity group acquisition just punching a bit of fresh air into the proceedings. Yep there will be change, and yes the equity group need to learn a lot fast, and realise what they have on their hands here, but I hope they will trust the management team that has lead so well in this last year, and really just enable this bird to fly. Because its ready to, and it needs to break free as technology is not waiting, customers buying online are not waiting, and merchants are not waiting. Keep the meetings short, listen to the ecosystem, work out your monetization strategy, trust the management and watch it fly.

What can go Wrong?

Well probably a lot. Could have some idiot who decides to turn it into some weird ‘Magento Go’ (or as I used to say ‘Go Go Go away’) like product. Good luck with that one.  Everyone could leave from the management team and that in itself would provide instability – but I’m guessing as part of the deal they have locked in the key players for a certain period.  There could be a disagreement about strategy. There could be an arrogance around ownership. There could be a lack of appreciation for what Magento is all about.  But actually I trust the likes of Craig Hayman and Mark Lavelle to have spelled this out pretty plainly to the future purchasers.

And if it goes wrong, well there is a bloody great big ecosystem that probably won’t let that happen. And hey always github forks if the worst comes to the worst (I’m kidding guys, honest!).

For me, personally, I think its a very exciting time for us all. Bring on the next chapter I say.

When will it happen?

Well according to WSJ its pretty imminent.  UPDATE: It has been confirmed this morning that an investment consortium is purchasing for 925M. I’m assuming this includes Magento in the sale!

Disclaimer

As always all thoughts are my own opinion/perspective and should be read as such ;) .

About WebShopApps

WebShopApps is a Gold Technology Partner specializing in shipping extensions around rate calculating and manipulation. They have the most popular shipping extension on Magento Connect, the most intelligent rate management software in the world on ShipperHQ.com, and recently announced their UPS Ready status, making them the only UPS Ready rating focused company within the Magento ecosystem.

 

 

Magento SUPEE-6285 Patch and WebShopApps

Posted by: Josh Friday, July 10th, 2015

Magento have released a important security patch called SUPEE-6285. We recommend you apply this patch right away which is available directly from Magento.

We’ve analyzed the impact of this patch against our extensions and some will require updates in order to work correctly when accessing their admin menus. There’s absolutely no impact to their functionality on the front end or around rating.

What Should You Do Next?

If you’re using any of the below extensions, you will need to either contact us for the latest version or apply the fix yourself. The process is outlined below for each extension.

MatrixRate

You should download the latest version and install it on your site.

CSV Based Extensions

(ProductMatrix, Premium MatrixRate, Shipping Override, Handling Fees Matrix)

Some users are reporting issues exporting CSV files after patching their site. This particularly affects Magento CE1.7/EE1.12 users.

Find this file on your servers file system: app/code/community/Webshopapps/Wsacommon/controllers/System/ConfigController.php

Add this function to the bottom of the file before the last bracket:

protected function _isAllowed()
{
    return true;
}

Dimensional Shipping

Find this file on your servers file system: app/code/community/Webshopapps/Boxmenu/controllers/Adminhtml/BoxmenuController.php

Add this function to the bottom of the file before the last bracket:

protected function _isAllowed()
{
    return Mage::getSingleton('admin/session')->isAllowed('catalog/boxmenu');
}

DropShip/Ship Manager

Find this file on your servers file system: app/code/community/Webshopapps/Dropcommon/controllers/Adminhtml/DropshipController.php

Add this function to the bottom of the file before the last bracket:

protected function _isAllowed()
{
    return Mage::getSingleton('admin/session')->isAllowed('dropcommon');
}

Find this file on your servers file system: app/code/community/Webshopapps/Dropcommon/controllers/Adminhtml/ShipmethodsController.php

Add this function to the bottom of the file before the last bracket:

protected function _isAllowed()
{
    return Mage::getSingleton('admin/session')->isAllowed('dropcommon');
}

Shipping Insurance

Find this file on your servers file system: app/code/community/Webshopapps/Insurance/controllers/Adminhtml/InsuranceController.php

Add this function to the bottom of the file before the last bracket:

protected function _isAllowed()
{
    return Mage::getSingleton('admin/session')->isAllowed('catalog/insurance');
}

Store Pickup

Find this file on your servers file system: app/code/community/Webshopapps/Wsastorepickup/controllers/Adminhtml/WsastorepickupController.php

Add this function to the bottom of the file before the last bracket:

protected function _isAllowed()
{
    return Mage::getSingleton('admin/session')
                                 ->isAllowed('catalog/webshopapps/locations');
}

Shipping Calendar

Find this file on your servers file system: app/code/community/Webshopapps/Timegrid/controllers/Adminhtml/TimegridController.php

Add this function to the bottom of the file before the last bracket:

protected function _isAllowed()
{
    return Mage::getSingleton('admin/session')->isAllowed('catalog/timegrid');
}

Logger

WebShopApps Logger currently uses the permissions of “Notifications” which can be found under “System->Notification” in the Roles Resources tab of user permissions in Magento.

The latest version moves WebShopApps logger into its own permissions area. If you’d like the latest version, please contact us and we can send it over to you as part of your extension update.

Under The Hood of Joe McFerrin

Posted by: Ashley Friday, July 10th, 2015

Joe McFarrin is eCommerce Expert and CEO at IWD Agency (@IWDWeb), an eCommerce Agency that specializes in Magento development, graphic design and marketing solutions for online brands. This award winning development firm focuses on helping its clients profit and succeed online.

McFerrin has no problem with keeping busy throughout the day. When at work, he moves from one area to the next taking on as many tasks as he can to keep business moving.  To add to his versatility, he engages in various outdoor activities outside of work. Within our interview, we had the chance to get an up close look into the exciting life of Joe McFerrin.

Can you describe what you really do at work?

I still do a little of everything to make sure all areas of the business run smoothly. Even though I touch all areas of the business, my primary day to day task are dealing with client relations, R&D, marketing and project management. I also do accounting, HR, and continuous improvement task. But really what I spend most of my time on, I hate to admit, are EMAILS!

If money was no object, what would you spend your days doing?

Probably never look at another EMAIL again ;)

But really, I enjoy outdoor sports like hiking, surfing, skiing, kayaking, fishing, biking hunting, and so on. So I would probably go on a couple excursions to do more of this kind of stuff. I also still enjoy geeky stuff and building cool products. So I would imagine I’d still want to be apart of a company building awesome online gizmos, at least as a hobby.

In you spare time what do you get upto, and how do you balance this with your workload?

As mentioned in the above question, I enjoy outdoor sports so I do this as much as I can. Having a desk job for most of my waking hours I am conscious I need to get moving for part of the day. So, I do make an effort to take some time out everyday to do some kind of sport or physically activity. I feel like when I do not do this I am in a little more cranky mood.

How do you see the future evolving for Magento and the eCommerce space in general?

I’ve been working with Magento since their inception. I have seen them grow with excitement then slowly taper off with not as great of a reputation. I think coming up soon is a possible turning point. I think a lot will ride on their Magento 2.0 implementation. Will customers really want to re-platform on this or this might be a time where they decided to jump ship and go to another platform. Time will only tell on this.

Regarding eCommerce, I think this space has just started and will rapidly evolve. I am excited to see the future and changes. I can’t wait to have drones delivering freshly cooked breakfast to me every morning ;)

What is usually your last thought before falling asleep?

Usually just telling myself to shut up so I can fall asleep. Many times I’ll read a magazine or local publication as reading generally puts me to sleep.

Who is your role model, and why?

I have different role models for different areas in life but for business I do admire Steve Jobs. He was of course able to build a great company with awesome products that people love. Also, Elon Musk is doing some pretty incredible stuff as well.

Whats the worst thing you have to do as part of your job role?

Emails!!! ;)

What motivates you?

Building stuff people love that makes their life easier and that our team can be proud of.

What is the most played song on your MP3 player or phone?

I’m really all over the place. I switch between types of music and playlist all the time depending on my mood. Recently while working I have been playing a playlist on Spotify called ESM (Electronic Study Music). It doesn’t distract me but overall good upbeat tone.

Would you like to plug anything?

Yes, we always have something new coming out ;)

Weeetail is our newest product. It is a Magento hosted solution on steroids. You can design, manage, and modify a Magento solution without any coding knowledge or technical skills. It is very feature rich already and we are rapidly coming out with new features / enhancements. It is a new product line of ours, so we would be thrilled to hear any feedback. You can see it at: http://iwdagency.com/weeetail

Magento Live UK 2015

Posted by: Karen Monday, June 29th, 2015

Understated, Confident, Collaborative, and Effective

That’s how I’d describe Magento Live UK and here is why. Actually no, let me first discuss Magento 2 as thats far more interesting! ;)

Magento 2

The Magento 2 discussions were great, this is a reality. I saw someone comment on twitter about Magento may miss the launch date at Christmas. Seriously I dont see it at all, they will hit it come what may. This is not the same team from 2011, this team listens and it delivers.

Magento 2 is now a reality and its definitely time to start learning it as I suspect it will fly pretty quickly in early 2016. A lot of developers are enjoying working with it and won’t be keen on working on Magento 1 projects, I’d expect a bit of movement of staff, so as an agency you want to get behind it really. There are still some question marks about the complexity and length of time to bring a site up, I suspect the first couple will be painful.

And it’s a rewrite of the code, most agencies will have a toolbox of extensions both internal and external that they use, shortcuts, helper tools, etc. Most will need to be re-written. It will be interesting to watch. As we have had 6 years of advancement in technology.

For WebShopApps its a great opportunity, with Magento 2 we are able to start afresh, and we have had our own ‘magento 2′ project going on the last couple of years with ShipperHQ.com so we are more than ready for the future.

I wonder how other agencies will find it, especially with the higher quality standards from Magento Connect and need for unit testing. I suspect we will lose some of the lower quality market, deeper development skills required and less around for them to copy you see ;) .  And there are a number of extensions where the original developer has gone, I suspect some of those companies will struggle.

In my mind no bad thing, we should not tolerate crap, and its usually those who it hurts most financially who are the victim.

What’s clear is that UK agencies have very much grown up, they are serving high quality merchants, and they need high quality solutions. The bottom of the market is going towards solutions such as Pixafy (and/or off to other platforms such as rapidly upcoming player Enteprise player Bigcommerce), both of which incidentally support the ShipperHQ solution (need to get a plug in there or my Marketing Director Daniel flips at me!).

Personally I’m excited about Magento 2. I see this as a solid high quality platform that will serve us over the next 4-5 years. Its extensible, open source, future thinking and robust. The performance figures are looking good, and I’m sure there is more to come on that front especially as we get input from the community such as great developers like Brendan Falkowski. The sky is the limit with Magento 2, with this ecosystem and the solid Magento management wow what a team!

Anyhow enough of that, back to my keywords about Magento Live UK!

Understated

With the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben the Magento Live conference doesn’t have to try too hard with the stage or the venue, its there already.  Unlike Vegas the Magento Live UK event is much more low key, and I’d argue they toned it down some more this year, Magento made it not an event about them, but an event for and around the Magento ecosystem across the UK (and with a fair amount of european attendance which was lovely to see). The attendee really set the tone and the tone was typical english understated, polite and welcoming.

Ben Pressley did a great job residing over the keynotes, he has a genuine charm about him, and after his reference to Back to the Future a few of us were referring to him as the new Marty McFly! But he didn’t turn on the spin, he is a realist and different from the Bob Schwartz’s and Gary Forman type approach.  It was all pretty calm, no craziness (well apart from the Axa guy who well…).

Confident

Craig Hayman (President, eBay Enterprise) continues to impress me, and I believe also his fellow colleagues. He is in no way arrogant, but he is confident. He has a path defined and he is walking pretty firmly down it.  He states the facts,

Magento is the #1 eCommerce platform, and its reach is unbelievable. Some quick stats:

  • It powers 28% of the top Alexa 100K sites in the world – 28%!!
  • 43% in the UK, 41% in Germany, the list goes on

And this is right from the mom and pop store all the way upto major enterprise sites. Just walking around Magento Live I was bumping into diverse merchants from across the country such as Smythson, Mothercare, Boohoo, Paul Smith, the RSPB even. Over 300 merchants were in attendance, thats nearly half the audience.  Fantastic, I remember the days when it was just developers. How things have moved on.

Other people that are growing in stature and confidence are Ted Pietrzak (who refers to himself just as a humble engineer, but actually is Head of Technology), Ryan Thompson (Head of Small Business but seems to be the ‘glue man’), and Anton Kril (Magento 2 Senior Software Engineer, and a whole lot more).  Different people, very different skills, but you can see working extremely well as a team.

Collaborative

I love seeing different agencies talking to each other, Magento truly is a welcoming and unique community.  There were lots of new faces, and quite a few of us ‘old hands’ aswell. I would reckon maybe 40-50% were first time attendees. At 800 people it was almost the same size as the first Magento Imagine. Personally I spent some time with new developers in the community and upcoming offerings such as ShopGoMe which promises to be a great cloud offering for Magento in the MENA region. It was great to share ideas, discuss new opportunities and colloborate with this wonderfully diverse community. I met developers that were coming over from WordPress, working in London but on the low end of the market, and shared with them details of the meetups, the great resources such as Stack Exchange and the Magento Forums, discussed how we began, and encouraged them to just ‘go for it’.

It’s my strong belief that together we are much stronger than apart and I would encourage everyone in this community to reach out to your peers, whatever your level and share because together we will succeed so much more.

From our side lovely to see agencies in the ‘flesh’ such as Screen Pages, Red Box Digital, Yoma, Creare, Webtise, Session, Williams Commerce, Space48, to name just a few! Apologies to those I’ve missed, there were too many to mention! My conclusions from talking to these agencies was that they are laser focused, passionate and ready.

Effective

Its clear Magento has ‘top drawer’ customers in the UK and Europe and that they dominate the ecommerce market here.  This isn’t a new product, its a maturing product with a new twist about to be thrown in. At Magento Live UK there wasnt a great amount of new announcements but as Craig Hayman said

Just look at the potential, we haven’t even released Magento 2 yet! Where will we be in a year from now?

This message was highly effective. We sit back and look where we were and where we are. Who would believe that an open source piece of software really that was developed mainly in 2007/2008 would still have such relevance today?  And the reasons are because its not legacy, this ecosystem has pushed and pushed, the merchants have demanded more and we have responded. The worlds most innovative retailers are choosing Magento, and there are a 1000 reasons why that is working.

Conclusion

Great conference, as always Keren Aminia and her team did a fantastic job with the event coordination. Bring on next year! Thanks for having me back London, now time to relocate the US WebShopApps team to Austin, Texas!!

About WebShopApps

WebShopApps is a Gold Technology Partner specializing in shipping extensions around rate calculating and manipulation. They have the most popular shipping extension on Magento Connect, the most intelligent rate management software in the world on ShipperHQ.com, and recently announced their UPS Ready status, making them the only UPS Ready rating focused company within the Magento ecosystem.

USPS API Update May 31st 2015 – What you need to know

Posted by: Genevieve Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

USPS have updated their shipping rate API on May 31st 2015. As we always do, we’ve reviewed these updates and analyzed their potential impact on merchants running various versions of Magento. There are some impacting changes for merchants shipping to or from Canada, or those using Dimensional shipping.

WHAT’S CHANGING

Within the API update, the only change with impact to Magento USPS users is:

  • Changes to the rate request for international shipments to/from Canada, requiring an Origin post code

Some rates will no longer be returned for shipments between USA and Canada, this will impact shipping options displayed to your customers.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

If you ship to or from Canada using USPS live rates, you’ll need to update your Magento site as soon as possible, download free USPS patch here.

If you have the WebShopApps Dimensional Shipping extension installed we have an update for this extension which includes the same fix as in the patch.  Please contact us to receive this update. You will only need to install this update, not this update and the new patch..

You should also ensure the 5 digit postcode you have configured for your Origin address is valid and correct.

FURTHER INFORMATION

If you need more details on this update, you can download PDFs of the May 2015 Release Notes and Transition Guide at USPS.com. If you need any other help with your shipping in Magento, you’re always welcome to contact us.

 

Under the Hood of Viacheslav Kravchuk

Posted by: Ashley Monday, May 4th, 2015

Viacheslav Kravchuk is CEO of Atwix (@atwixcom), a team that specializes in web development with a focus in Magento and open source solutions. From Custom Development to Design and SEO, Atwix utilizes years of experience in eCommerce solutions to assist their customers in making their business do better.

Viacheslav takes on many tasks throughout the work day. With that said, he knows the importance of taking a break, enjoying time with friends and exploring the world. Within this witty interview, we get a sense of what Viacheslav does during the work day, his work/life balance, and his thoughts on the future of the eCommerce space.

Can you describe what you really do at work?

That’s a hard question. As we’re not that big yet (just a bit under 20 people) I still have many things to take care of, and it will be easier to tell what I don’t do daily. Thanks to the great team we have, I don’t do actual coding, QA, some of the daily operations and project management (almost).

If money was no object, what would you spend your days doing?

I believe that business is about many other things just as much as it is about money, and that there should sometimes be a room for altruism and irrational decisions. When it is not just about money it is much easier to enjoy the process of building and running a company, and for now I cannot really imagine what else I would do for some longer periods of time.

In your spare time what do you get upto, and how do you balance this with your work time?

I have seen enough examples of people overworking and burning out to understand that we all need to have a break once in a while, and I really try hard to do so. Even though I work a lot, I believe that my work/life balance is alright. When I do have some spare time, I like traveling, meeting new friends and keeping in touch with old ones.

How do you see the future for Magento and the eCommerce space in general?

Normally, we’d think that Magento’s future depends on its owner, which is currently eBay Enterprise. However, I believe that we have a unique case here that puts the future of Magento into the hands of Magento’s ecosystem and that makes any predictions even harder as there are too many variables (companies and people around). What I do know is that all the people and companies around Magento are very much interested in pushing it forward which brings nothing but optimism.

Regarding eCommerce space in general, it is quite possible that the trend will be similar to what we see in offline retail, where large supermarket chains (think marketplaces) are eating smaller merchants that sell the same goods and leaving room only for niche ones with unique, specific or rare products.

What is usually your last thought before falling asleep?

Have I locked my car? Joking. I usually try to suppress my internal dialogue to fall asleep quick.

Who is your role model, and why?

I’m quite careful now with choosing one, because we always see just one side of a person and you may never know how that person behaves in different situations and what may be on their mind. Plus, why would you want to be someone if you can be yourself?

Although, if we speak about Magento and people that inspire me, there are a great bunch of them. However, if I had to pick one, it would be the ex-President of Magento, Bob Schwartz. That gentleman has a lot of charisma, skills and wisdom with him! Plus, he’s doing a really great job supporting Ukraine.

What’s the worst thing you have to do as part of your job role?

That’s simple. Firing someone. Luckily, I don’t have to do it often.

What motivates you?

People. In a different context, but it is always people.

What is the most played song on your MP3 player or phone?

I don’t know the name of the company that organizes the Magento Imagine Conference, but they are doing a fantastic job picking up soundtracks for the conference. So, I always listen to the tracks overheard at Imagine for some time after the conference is over, and this year it is “No Church In The Wild” by Kanye West & Jay-Z. But, otherwise, my taste is too wild to define. I listen to anything from classic and folk to modern hip-hop songs. But only good ones of course.

Would you like to plug anything?

I want to thank you guys for all the efforts you do to evolve the Magento community and its ecosystem. I met Karen in 2012 at the first Meet Magento Poland event and it is evident how the community around Magento evolved since then. I believe that it is all because of us – little companies that care and make a difference. Keep it up!

 

 

ProStar Freight API change – what you need to know

Posted by: Genevieve Sunday, April 26th, 2015

ProStar Logistics have made a change to the URL of their rating API over the weekend of 25th April 2015. You will no longer receive accurate rates via ProStar if you have not updated your Magento site.
WebShopApps have released an updated version of our Freight extension to include the updated URL for ProStar. You should still see rates using the old URL but you should update to the latest version at your earliest convenience to guarantee that your rates are correct.
You can contact sales@webshopapps.com for the latest version or download from your WebShopApps downloads.

Imagine – The Greatest Commerce Show on Earth

Posted by: Karen Saturday, April 25th, 2015

The Stars Align

Every year in the run up it’s the last one. We rumble on about how things are going to come to a close, how people are moving on, rumble rumble rumble.

Then something happens. 40+ countries come together, and this wonderful ecosystem joins hands in the real world. No longer confined to our rooms, our twitter accounts and the heavy workload of our day-2-day life we pause for a moment, and embrace each other in Vegas.

What seems to come out of that is truly magical. In my mind the main stage production (by the Magento Design Team working with The Buzz Lab, 1028 Design, Brite Ideas) really seems to set the tone. We start to get pulled into this world of opportunity, of optimism and of the future. Very different to previous years tho, it was more subtle, less flashy production. TBH that was needed.

Slowly a quiet whisper starts to go around the event, we start to once again believe, to refresh, to discuss not what’s wrong, but what a great ecosystem we are in and discuss how we can go farther, higher, and reach beyond our boundaries. And this whisper grows, by the end of Imagine we become empowered, we have a ‘plan’, we are ready to walk away and we are keen for the future.

A New Dawn

Last year at the Hard Rock Cafe I felt this complete ‘jarring’ between Magento and eBay Enterprise. We were all just totally confused by it. Was it going to compete against web design agencies, were they going to start writing extensions, and where did the community fit into all this, did eBay even realise we existed?

It seemed evident to me that eBay Enterprise was confused by us. This odd collection of individuals, some with stronger opinions(!) than others, what we now know as purple squirrels(!). We didn’t conform, we questioned and we judged fast. We had no patience for red tape, idiots or laziness. We demanded more.

In 2015 it was extremely evident that the eBay Enterprise/Magento team (hereby known as Team X) listened, and I felt that what was also evident was that there was now a solid intelligent team in place which was not at odds with each other.  The noise had been removed, and the newly oiled cogs were really starting to turn fast.  How did this happen?  Well I expect the split from eBay was like an electric shock to the heart, and after the initial shock they decided to seize the opportunity. They stepped up.

I call it Team X because what was at Imagine was not Magento nor was it eBay Enterprise. It was the start of a birth of a new company. In 2014 it was hard to spot an eBay Enterprise employee, they seemed to huddle together and not come out to play. In 2015 it was hard to tell the difference between Magento and eBay Enterprise employees, and it was hard to escape from their presence!! They were everywhere, and they were human.

I felt as if this Team X was starting to escape the shackles of eBay.com and they felt empowered. Craig Hayman set the tone on Monday, I believe there was some -ve comment re the sale of eBay Enterprise/Magento as he was leaving the stage, and he turned right around and came back on stage and told the audience ‘exactly how it was’ re the split from eBay. I wasn’t there, but many people mentioned it to me.

It was a turning point, we had asked, he had responded. And what people most liked in my mind – he was transparent, honest and without spin. You could argue it was actually Craig that set the true tone of the conference, his transparency and honesty throughout is not something I’ve seen at any Magento conference, right back to 2011.

The News Summary

So much stuff was discussed at Imagine its really hard to get that down in a blog. I’m sure others will cover, so I’m just going to summarize just a few things that I saw:

  • Sherrie Rhode was appointed Community Manager – this is a great move, Sherrie is connector and very engaging, she will be a true asset and I hope it takes some of the strain off Ben and allows him to focus on the developer evangelism even more as he is doing a great job there
  • Magento Small Business was formally launched
  • Attribution will go to developers for Magento 2 contributions
  • Magento 2 is still on track for GA release at end of year
  • Options are being discussed re sale of Team X – either IPO, acquisition or Equity backing. My money is on the latter
  • A new Connect/App Store is on the way, its being actively worked on for Magento 2. It will included verified extensions so that merchants/agencies can differentiate between the offerings
  • People like hugging ;)  I hugged a lot of people. Some of them I didn’t even know. Its become a family

I think people forget, and they look back to the ‘golden years’ of Magento. But some of the moves above are significant and I think we should acknowledge that earlier management failed to put these things in place effectively when they were in charge. Just the small part about acknowledging a commit to Magento 2 is hugely significant in my eyes, it’s just about respect and partnership. Team X have removed the arrogance. They know they need us, we know we need them, but most importantly we know together we are so much stronger than apart. There is a belief things will actually get better, because they have delivered for the first time on some of their prior promises.

What do we Do Now?

Over the past few months I believe a number of us have been hugely worried about this split of Team X. I’ve had many CEO’s contact me from agencies large and small, technology companies and even logistic companies. The question is ‘What’s going to happen to Magento?’. I think you have to ask why we are asking that question. Well its because we rely on it. This is our livelihood. If Magento fails and we are ‘all in’ then we are screwed. Its as simple as that. So from a CEO perspective many of us are having to assess what else is out there, how we can ensure we don’t get burned if Magento get’s into trouble.

My concern was that the ‘suits’ at eBay Enterprise didn’t understand. I spoke with one guy and he said to me ‘this affects me too’. I agreed, but my point to him was that each month he walks home with a known salary, if this screws up he just moves jobs. For many CEO’s in this space (where there are a high proportion of bootstrapped businesses) if we get it wrong we literally don’t get paid. And that can have a very real effect. But its not just if we get it wrong, its if Team X get it wrong. And thats what I think really frustrates us, because we are in part reliant on Team X keeping their side going.

So my conclusion (finally I hear you all gasp!). Well I see it like this:

  1. We have a wait out now to see what rolls with this spin-off. I don’t think its going to be too long, Paypal has announced Q3 so I’d expect around that time too. Certainly before Magento 2
  2. There is strength in the team Mark Lavelle has built. I think(hope!) they walked away from Imagine pretty pumped up, and I think together we can build something truly fantastic. We are reliant on that team staying somewhat in place over the next few months, if it fractures it would indicate problems
  3. If you can split your eggs then do so. It’s always a bad move as a business to rely on one customer, one source of revenue, and with Magento we are in a way doing this. But given its market share, its possibility and the great ecosystem we reside within its a relatively low risk

These are only my views. I don’t pretend to be right, I don’t pretend to see Imagine as everyone else. I can only go on what I see, how I feel.  If you feel different blog it, or post in comments below. I share my view because I like to record ‘moment’s, because maybe it helps others, maybe it provokes conversation, and maybe it then shows me what I need to do with my company, my strategy, my future, not because I think my view is the only view.

Maybe I had a good week, maybe I was ready to see Magento in a different light, but I’ll be honest, when I arrived in the keynote Tuesday morning I was was still wary, but the low marketing of the conference, the honesty, and the fresh spirit changed me. It was the small things aswell, like having a beer with Ted Pietrzak, talking TDD with people like James Cowie. I’m prepared to believe, to trust, to risk things. Because this community and eco-system is totally unique, you would seriously struggle to find or reproduce it again in your lifetime. And that’s worth fighting for.

I could dribble on about a lot more, including Steve Wynn, Saunders Howard, Phillip Jackson kicking Jamie Clarke in the balls, niches, purple squirrels and duct tape. But I’ll stop.

Magento, its not dead, its just moved on. Let’s hope Team X stay strong, stay together and join in our continued quest to evolve and redefine the commerce space.

For those of you worried about ‘Magento’ the word and the fact its being used less and less I’d say it’s a word, get over it and move on. I hope they rename it, because apart from a few exceptions like MageTalk I feel like the Magento brand has been de-valued by Mage<x>.com. And its time for us to step into a new future. It’s no longer 2008, 2010 or 2012.  We aren’t the same, and neither is Magento.  Breaking free from eBay could well be the best thing to happen since it was launched.

About WebShopApps

WebShopApps is a Gold Technology Partner specializing in shipping extensions around rate calculating and manipulation. They have the most popular shipping extension on Magento Connect, the most intelligent rate management software in the world on ShipperHQ.com, and recently announced their UPS Ready status, making them the only UPS Ready rating focused company within the Magento ecosystem.

Commerce is Changing – Hold On

Posted by: Karen Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

We sit here on the eve of the 5th Magento Imagine conference, the Wynn awaits us, and 4-5 days of information, networking, partying, and most likely a little chaos.

 

But as we anticipate what is probably the best eCommerce event on the calendar I can see that the landscape has changed, and I believe no-one is in any doubt that next year things will be very different.

So What’s Changing?

This is a personal view. I can only look from my own perspective and that of WebShopApps.  But I see a number of key changes happening:

  1. Uncertainty around eBay Enterprise Sale – It’s going to happen. I do not see an IPO. eBay will want to offload this by the close of year, I expect there is a round of discussions going on as we speak with interested parties.  I heard another acquisition for a much smaller company had over 80 different initial enquiries, so I’d expect a few for eBay Enterprise.  The question is “What will happen to Magento?”. I’ve covered this before but my own question is around Magento2 because if it is acquired it could well be that they put Magento into ‘Support&Maintenance’ and push customers onto their own platform
  2. Employee Churn – It’s 2015 (bloody hell, where did that go!) – Many of us have been in this space now for at least 5 years. The average time in an IT job is around 2-3 years, and technologists are naturally inquisitive individuals. You see already some people moving off the Magento platform, and new faces arriving. I’d expect to see a lot more movement this year, especially with the similar technology spaces available (e.g DevOps, Laravel, other Commerce Platforms)
  3. Acquisitions are Rife – It feels to me like the heady days of the late 90′s, there are investors everywhere, money is being thrown around, and many companies now are mature enough for acquisition. We saw this with the recent Perficient acquisition of Grand River/Zeon, and also with Stamps.com acquiring ShipStation/ShipWorks/Endicia all in the last 12 months.  In Europe Session Digital have also been busy acquiring. I see this increasing in 2015, and a lot of possibility around agency mergers/client sell-offs
  4. Merchants are Demanding More – Merchants are realising things should be simpler. Its not 2008.  They want better design, less worry, easier integrations, and greater power. Merchants are becoming tech savvy, they understand terms that a couple of years back meant nothing. Most of all what I see is that Merchants need simplicity, abstraction and to worry about their business. They want to use technology, not for it to be their total
  5. SAAS is very firmly here – We are all using it, whether for CRM, Email, Marketing, Project Management, Bug Tracking. Its more a case of where aren’t we using it?  And the open source nature of Magento needs to keep up with this. Yes it’s flexible, you can bend it in 200 ways, but do you really need to?  Its clear from the IPO filing announcement from Shopify that SAAS makes money, and that its in demand
  6. Merchants have more options – Magento is not the only decent Commerce Platform anymore. There is Shopify with 170K+ merchants , Bigcommerce(70K+ merchants) straight from a Series D funding round, Mozu rebranded from Volusion, Hybris now integrated into SAP, Demandware, eBay Enterprise and now even the Magento co-founder Yoav has brought out OroCommerce.  Merchants have choices, and they will vote with their feet. We may find some start spending less, others will spend more. Magento is in for a fight, and the instability around its sale will not help

Will this effect Magento Imagine?

I’d expect a lot of the eBay Enterprise team to be focused on:

  1. Potential Acquirers (who are sure to be in attendance)
  2. Large Merchants

I really hope they balance the conference and it doesn’t turn into the Enterprise show. This has typically been a great Community event, I’m sure there are enough of us to keep that spirit alive, but I hope the event’s team also get behind that idea and we aren’t just given 3 days of spin.

I think whatever happens there will be different streams of action, and enough people that you can find a suitable stream to join with.  If in doubt look for the craps table ;)

So What do We Do?

Stay alert, aware of the space you reside in. If you are exclusively working on Magento now just make sure your order book is full, and that you are keeping one ear to the ground. There is still a lot of traction in Magento, thats not going to change anytime soon, but for business owners dependent on Magento you should be thinking down the line, 12 months ahead, 2 years ahead.

For some companies in the Magento space its time to ‘pivot’ – we saw this potential a few years back and have spent a lot of time and effort building out ShipperHQ.com in part to allow us to go onto other platforms.

Whatever you do just make your decisions wisely.  A guy said to me today ‘It’s going to be an heck of an Imagine’.  How profound that statement is.

Enjoy it, next year who knows where we will be.  But hey what exciting times. Are you up for it?? We are!

Taking Advantage – Magento Imagine

Posted by: Karen Monday, April 6th, 2015

Years ago, in my experience, IT professionals were not a particularly sociable bunch. I recall once attending an work IT event  in London and remarking to a female colleague friend that we should have done a degree in Marketing as I’m sure it would have been a lot more fun!

But things change, geek is the new cool, and luckily in the Magento Community there are a truly diverse set of individuals, not just programmers, but marketing, sales, managers, social media types, devops, entrepreneurs, merchants, etc etc.  Which is really what makes Magento Imagine a great event.  It’s not yet been totally taken over by the corporates, the high rollers and the VC guys, its still got some soul. I think a lot of us in the ‘old’ community can see this soul getting lost more and more each year, but as with any event you find your group, and luckily with 1500+ people there should be enough variety to keep you amused! And hey things change, time to move on!

What Makes Imagine Special?

I attend a lot of different events, including IRCE, Shop.org and dev events such as RailsConf.  My personal take on what makes Imagine special is that it’s small enough to be intimate, but large enough to be interesting.  The money is available, nothing is skimped on, nice lunches, great evening events, and in the past great keynote speakers (though I note there are not so many external ones in 2015, but maybe they haven’t yet announced).

This intimacy allows several things to happen:

  1. You can find like-minded people who have similar stories/histories to you
  2. People are open and friendly – you get a good dose of american hospitality and its infectious
  3. Time to relax and rewind – many of us work extremely hard at our companies, the event really allows you to sit back and consume
  4. You don’t feel harassed – It will be interesting to see if this changes this year, but in previous years even though there is an exhibition hall it doesn’t feel like you need to avoid all eye contact when walking around!

In my mind all of this is invaluable as you get this rather unique opportunity to meet new people, make new associations and connections. Some of them may be direct leads, but many will be people that I’ve found have become friends, people I can turn to when I need a listening ear, or just guys to have a chat with on twitter or the forums.  When you are back in your little office it makes you feel like you belong to something bigger, and thats a good feeling.

What are Your Goals?

Before you attend any conference you should understand what you want out of the event. They are expensive, its not just an excuse to party, and your company will want you to get the most out of it.  It’s extremely important to be prepared, in particular set up meetings in advance, make sure you know the agenda if you have a lot to cram in, otherwise it turns to chaos.

We bring along my PA Jane who manages the whole team and their schedule throughout the event, thats how crazy it gets for us (after 6pm she is allowed to party tho!!).

When we first started doing the events we had little competitions on how many business cards we could pick up. Now we will schedule time for networking, time to be together as a team, time to switch off, etc. We do set our aims out in advance, what we want to achieve, what people we want to speak to, what we want to understand about the product, the roadmap, etc.  This drives our schedule.

My Advice for Newbies

I’ve been attending Imagine since the first in 2011. In the previous 3 years we were Gold exhibitors, this year we decided to just go along and enjoy ourselves more, as we have a good deal of saturation in the Magento space already.  I think if you are attending Imagine for the first time it can be a little daunting, especially now as a lot of people know each other, I can see that it can be hard, especially if you are more of a shy kind of person.  So here are some tips:

  1. If you are bringing a team make sure you get some ‘team time’ – I always take the team on a team building exercise, last year we went buggy riding before Imagine and then after spent 3 days in Zion National Park – and it was great to just say thanks to the guys and also allow a 3-continent team to spend time ‘bonding’
  2. Don’t be afraid to walk up to people – I think of it a little like speed-dating, and a lot of people at the conference will do it. But its not all about work, use it as an opportunity to learn off others and listen to their stories, you never know who you will meet! And if you find no similarity then just shake hands, swap cards and move on. I’m sure neither side will be offended
  3. Keep the booze under control – Remember its still a work event and anything you do will be noted and remembered and shared – especially with the advent of live streaming I’d say just be aware of your actions
  4. Attend the events around the edges of the conferencePre-Imagine is a great one as its a community run event, also Nucleus Commerce are holding an event on the Monday evening which I’m sure will be epic.  You often find little parties going on here and there away from the main event, and even a few after-after-parties
  5. Sleep well in advance - Its a very hectic few days, if you plan to make the absolute most of it then be prepared to be up at 8am, to bed at 2am
  6. Find the quiet times – Sometimes during the day I just escape to a place in the hotel away from the noise and chill for a bit. Personally I love it after 12am – most people have gone off and you can wander down to the tables and have some fun with the die hard crew
  7. Forget Email – You just need to put on the out of office, have faith in your team and forget about outside life. Trying to juggle is nigh on impossible and you will miss out on a valuable experience. Just immerse yourself, and trust your colleagues to hold the fort

If you are a Merchant

For Merchants attending Imagine I’d encourage you to do a few things:

  1. Try to speak to as many merchants as possible – attend the Merchant To Merchant sessions and try to connect. The snippets you can share with each other will be invaluable, and its my experience that many merchants go thro exactly the same experiences, highs and lows, so connect up!
  2. Be open to new experiences, new ideas, new ways of thinking – let go of your day-2-day work for a few days and open up to the possibilities. Yes there is a reality bump at the end but its okay to think outside the box for a few days, it won’t harm you
  3. Have some key things you wish to achieve and then search for those people to help you – Whether that be you know you need help with shipping, payment, marketing, a design agency etc
  4. Ask people for referrals – it’s all very well and good going around the exhibition hall, but referrals count for a lot. Ask around, there is a big community of people there, of which many are very familar with the Magento space – if you need a particular capability or want to know the best design agency that will fit your needs, budget then ask, I’m sure you will find people to advise you, or if they cant they will point in the right direction
  5. Understand Magento – its path, where its going, what the roadmap is – This helps you in your decisions not just today but 12 months down the line when Imagine is long forgotten

And Lastly

If you can’t make it follow @WebShopApps on twitter and periscope, we will be keeping you informed whilst we are there.

If you are attending then have fun, enjoy this time. You are in Vegas, there is ‘free’ food and drink, you are with people that are like you. Enjoy the experience!

See you in Vegas!