What Magento Should spend some of that 250M on

Posted by: Karen Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Its 2017.

Magento 2 lets face it for many of us (probably all) has been a bit of a nightmare.  Yes there are some great things in it, its good to move onto new technologies. But oh my lord the complexity.  And the bugs (you kind of need to have been there to really appreciate this one). And the need to learn umpteen things, a lot of which are very very specific to Magento, i.e. non-transferrable.

In the last 12-18 months I’ve seen several serious size agencies get ‘burned’ by Magento. Merchants have been through a lot of pain in this transition to M2, those that have left it longer have in many cases made the right decision. And the fact remains that Magento 2 is still full of bugs, in parts totally confusing to even people like Alan Storm (where is the hope for the rest of us!), and remains a ‘work in progress’.  So my suggestion #1 to Magento is get more staff focused on fixing these bugs.  Because you sending me blogs about your ‘ideas for the future’ kind of is a bit annoying when I’m dealing with the fallout from your ‘ideas from the past’.  There is a lack of execution that needs resolution. Before you expand to Asia preferably.

I’m not sure Magento really understands how much their actions can affect companies.  Let me tell you this.  But for going cross-platform & diversifying our product range into ShipperHQ we would have had to lay off staff.  After working on Magento for 8 years 2016 was the worst year for WebShopApps on this platform, zero growth, big decline in M1 sales not matched by a rise in M2 takeup.  Looking at Alexa & from what I’ve heard this has been a similar story for other extension agencies.  We knew this was going to happen. I’m pleased we did diversify onto other platforms because basically it saved our bacon.  I’ve also heard agencies tell me similar stories, at best many have just flatlined in 2016 after years of high growth. Maybe coincidental, I don’t think so.

The effect on AheadWorks

Re the technical side of Magento there are mixed reviews. Some say its great, others hard work. Some say project times are shorter, I’ve never seen a project of any complexity that has come in faster than M1.  The learning curve is extremely steep, steeper than M1 in many ways, and although I’m being told that new PHP devs find it easier than existing Magento devs (which frankly I find a little insulting as it implies we have got stuck in our ways which Im 100% sure I’ve not), the reality is that projects are costing more, over-running and fraught with bugs. Thats a fact. So my suggestion #2 to Magento is that they need to simplify this architecture, make some serious decisions around the frontend part (as architecturally seems flawed at best to me & my colleagues).

If Magento inc want to really understand it then go write a serious extn. Not some boilerplate little piece of code. Go get a new Mac and create an environment (good luck with that) and create an extn that does something that affects the db, the view, the business logic. I’ll see you in a while. I truly think Magento forgot to think about how we would use this platform.  And for those of you developers ‘evangalising’ about how great it is – maybe it is great when its your hobby and you aren’t seriously working on it or your merchant is willing to spend a ton of money effectively training you. Go write an extn for it and try to make money from that investment of effort.  Not so easy.  The upfront training costs of staff & retooling in Magento 2 are frankly massive. Some we can take on the chin, this is technology. Some of this is ridiculous, especially the instability and complexity. Plus when Magento is unstable clients think bugs are with us, and that affects our reputation. I’m not responsible for fixing Magento, sorry I don’t have the resources to. They do.

#3 is to invest further in training content. Great strides are being made here both with docs and access to training materials. The video training is still slow IMO, they could do with taking a look at PluralSight which I believe runs the videos at a good speed to retain interest levels whilst still being able to follow.

#4 is the Marketplace. Can’t even discuss that one for fear of breaking terms of agreement (read getting utterly frustrated by many aspects of it).

My biggest single gripe with Magento is this tho.  There is a clear separation in what its telling the community and its actions.  And I’m afraid I’m no longer on board with promoting this platform in terms of community spirit. They speak of ‘We Are Magento’ and I personally love the work of people like Sherrie and Ben. But I’m concerned that they are using this community when underneath what is happening is deals are being made that shut out the very community that helped build Magento to where it is today (not last year, today). Magento have the proof – the Forrester Report stated that what made Magento was its community.  Well this community actually needs money in order to survive, if you shut that tap off then there is no community.  I think that is being forgotten, because releasing a ‘platform in progress’ really really hurt many of us. Yet you are asking me to help fix it. And making deals to white label solutions and/or building partnerships which exclude the rest of us by putting software in the core and making that your main promotion – well I can’t support that, its in conflict of your message of ‘We Are Magento’. IMO We are Magento whilst it suits Magento and then its thanks very much I’m now Magento you can sod off.  Well I walk away from that principle, morally, for my staff, my company and my clients both agencies and merchants. Do not play with us. Work with us and appreciate us, then we will appreciate & invest in you.  I respect many individuals in the company of Magento. I will no longer play along with your game.

So suggestion #5 is  make your actions speak louder than your words. Because I’ve lost trust. And thats why we have refused to become a Select Partner with Magento in 2017 after many years of Gold/Platinum Partnership. We are making our future now, outside the moving unknown foundation which is Magento. Its a shame, we had Magento in our blood, now its one of many platforms for us. Maybe we are getting older, I prefer to say we are growing up.

My philosophy in life is never ever forget where you came from or what made you what you are. I’ll never pretend to be something I’m not, and I’ll always stand up for the small guy. I hope you do too.



Come see us over at ShipperHQ. Highly successful product that is making waves in the shipping technology space with its very unique offering.  We have all your shipping rating & checkout needs covered, and no we don’t print labels (you need ShipStation for that one). We also have the most advanced shipping extension for Magento 2 on the market today, complete with support for over 30 carriers, Store Pickup and Delivery Date with Calendar logic built in.

Magento Inc – Time to Trust

Posted by: Karen Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

It’s been a long wait.  But finally at Magento Imagine 2016 I felt like these guys actually ‘get it’. They understand what’s going on, the team at Magento Inc aren’t just hot air, they are real and they want US to succeed.  Because they know our success enables their success.


So What Happened?

Well others will give the lowdown on the announcement side, there are a great many recaps so I won’t go into details. The most significant announcements I saw were around the new cloud offering, firstly aimed at Enterprise, but with a promise of a cloud offering for the SME merchant coming later this year.  We aren’t talking SAAS here, this is not an attempt to take on Shopify, this is a solution where Magento will provide a turnkey PAAS offering to merchants to enable them to concentrate less on devops, less on infrastructure and have a reliable, scalable eCommerce platform where the merchant stays in control.  This can only be good news.

Paul Boisvert 5K runThe big shift though was in the Magento Inc appreciation of what this ecosystem does, and the realisation on their side that together we are massively stronger, they need to engage us all, the merchants, the designers, the SIs, the technology partners, etc. Because as a unit we rock this space.  I saw a humility in the likes of Mark Lavelle, an appreciation and an understanding that its been a rocky road under the eBay ownership, that this platform has been successful because of this ecosystem, and because of the passion that the many thousands of us have for both the community and the technology.

This is to be celebrated.

So let’s address some of the questions I’ve raised previously, and understand what it means for you, for me, for us.

Is Magento moving to Enterprise?

Magento has always had enterprise reach, and thats not changing.  Yes, there are going to be tiers, and I’d expect greater distinction between Enterprise and Community editions. For instance the ability to have live/staging capabilities so you can test features before rolling live is an Enterprise feature. The new Order Management System at present seems like an Enterprise solution.  So if you are a merchant with money to spend then you will see Enterprise really is where you need to be, its going to provide you with flexibility/extensibility and with greater in-built features than before.Enterprise Cloud

But I sense Magento understand that they need to keep the CE version and the CE ecosystem, because this provides the lifeblood for many of us, and nurtures the next generation of Enterprise merchants.  From the conversations I’ve had I believe they see that simplification of the platform for CE merchants is required, in order to reduce total cost of ownership, with the ability if/when you need to look below the hood and get the advanced capabilities as and when you need them. I’d expect in the coming months to see a big effort in this space on Magento 2.

Is this Ecosystem alive and well?

At the start of the conference there definitely was a bit of talk of things ‘drying up’.  Hesitancy.  But as the conference went on it was extremely clear this ecosystem is 110% alive, kicking and flourishing. On the ShipperHQ stand we had 3 staff, and at times we had a queue of people waiting to talk. Now maybe its because I have a great product and a great team but thats also an indicator to me that SIs and merchants want to engage with Magento.  I had by far the busiest time at Imagine ever (and this is my 6th one). Literally even at 3 in the morning pretty drunk hanging out at a bar I’d have magento developers coming up and talking shop, it was crazy crazy.  By Wednesday my brain was totally done with all the back-2-back meetings, the discussions, the massive input of information.

Yes its alive.

Whats the uptake on Magento 2?

As of Imagine there were around 800 live sites on Magento 2. So its moving. Could it be moving faster? Yes, but its moving.  We at WebShopApps/ShipperHQ saw a spike in interest in March, it seems people are starting to say yep let’s do this, we trust whats happening here, and Imagine will only help solidify this, Magento did a good job in their breakout sessions of covering Magento 2 from both a business and a technical angle.

StagingI think also as technology partners look at Magento 2 now they see the opportunity, they see reasons to get on the platform, much more so than a few months back. I’d expect to see more extensions, more buzz and more innovative capabilities appearing soon on the new MarketPlace.

Is the MarketPlace Flushed out?

The new Marketplace was launched at Imagine.  Its definitely still in it’s infancy.  I’m part of this Marketplace Council which get’s together to talk about how to improve the Marketplace and make it a great place for merchants/SI’s to find and buy extensions.  There are still some teething problems, but as I sat around the table with maybe 20 people in the room (half of them Magento) what I felt for the first time ever was that someone was really really listening, that they actually cared about getting this right. And it was more than money, it was an understanding that this affected us all, including merchants, when they got it wrong.Mark Brinton

In the days since those meetings I’ve had follow up discussions with Magento, from my side I’m going to keep pushing to keep that quality bar high, and to ensure that from a business perspective the next generation of developer is given the opportunity I luckily had to get in the Magento ecosystem and make their mark. What interested me most in our discussions was when Mark Lenhard pointed out ‘We don’t want a cigar club for the boys’.  For Magento to say this was significant.  He get’s it.  This marketplace always will have the big players, those that throw millions into marketing, the crazy companies reaching for the skies. But I feel like Magento will also support and nurture the players that add tremendous value, even if its just with 1 extension. And thats what we need.

I still feel like there is room for improvement with the marketplace, it needs to be financially viable, and I worry that some of the contracts really do not allow room for a developer/company to expand and keep adding value, its important that the prices rise in some instances, a race to the bottom will help no-one and personally I think providing quality extensions with real support is more important than having hundreds of rock-bottom low quality, low support extns that merchants struggle with.  But give choice, thats what we need to do.

Is Magento 2 going to excite the next gen of Merchants?

Kalen - This is the futureThe announcements at Imagine were exciting. You saw a platform that seems to have room to grow, to mature, to innovate, to trailblaze.  I think when you unwrap the layers there is work to be done, but I also think that this is a platform that has the basis to be a great choice for merchants in the future. You do not see the flexibility like it. We know from our own experience that Magento beats other platforms hands-down in the shipping capabilities it offers when teamed with ShipperHQ, we have customers and other platforms shocked when we show them what we are able to achieve. That’s Magento’s power.

But as with all things there are costs, Magento not always a plug-play and I know many of us would like to make it easier for merchants. This is a work in progress. But ‘We are Magento’, as long as magento is enabling us the ecosystem then we can help here. That’s also Magento’s power, and its extremely significant.

Should I move to Magento 2 or be looking at other platforms?

I speak to merchants daily, and this is a very common question I’m hearing from Magento 1.x clients. Magento 2 is a re-platform, Magento in many ways are starting again. But they are doing this in the knowledge of a great ecosystem, that if they engage will help make the jump from 1.x to 2.x so much simpler. Tools are already appearing, indeed WebShopApps is offering free migration services to all 1.x customers moving to ShipperHQ, Taxjar(great recap btw) is putting in free enhanced tax support as part of their Premier Partner deal, and I’d expect agencies to be offering good packages to customers to get them across.

1.x support is going to decline. Thats a fact. We are already recommending people move across to ShipperHQ as thats where we are building and innovating now. Tech Partners are not going to be investing in innovating on 1.x.  But support will remain in place for sometime and for instance with us we are supporting both 1.x and 2.x fully on ShipperHQ so when you do move to 2.x the shipping side will be as simple as putting in a new extension – no re-configuration, just load it up and get on 2.x.  With the move to 2.x you will see everything shift up a gear. That’s my feeling.Cloud Offering

Not all merchants want to be trailblazers. Some do, good luck to them.  Some want to have a stable business, keep their costs as low as they can, and be on the best platform for them.  So they are facing decisions.  Shopify and BigCommerce have enterprise offerings now, really aimed at the 1-20M revenue client. Should merchants consider?  Well I’d say obviously you need to look at your options. I cannot dictate what you should do.  For some merchants being on a pure SAAS play is simpler, you can reduce your costs greatly, but of course there is a price to pay in terms of reduced flexibility/extensibility.

You, the merchant have to consider your business and your needs.  If you were excited by Magento in ShipperHQ Party2008-2010 I suspect that right now you may be wondering where the excitement is in Magento 2.  But in a year from now I strongly suspect you will see it.  Remember Magento 1.x had it’s problems, people found it hard, there were architectural issues, extension conflicts galore and upgrade after upgrade.  But it smoothed out, and Magento 2 will do the same.

So I can’t advise, you have to decide. If you are unsure then make your evaluations and if necessary sit tight for a bit and see how this one pans out. Personally I’m pretty excited for the eCommerce space in general, I’m seeing massive collaboration of technology partners like never before, and a real opportunity now to give merchants seriously powerful technologies that are cohesive. Magento is helping to enable this, they are providing more of the glue where required, but also sitting back and collaborating where appropriate. If they keep their humility, the openness and their honesty I believe we have a pretty smart team there that can give merchants the next generation of Commerce.  That’s an exciting prospect.

Time to be Humble Myself

The EcosystemLastly, I want to think Magento for listening. I’m often their harshest critic. I work with so many merchants and SI’s I see the pain when things are wrong and I get frustrated because this seems pretty simple to me to work out. I realise its not as simple as that, but I appreciate Magento for tackling the key problems, for their recognition of this space and their understanding of the impact of their decisions.  Back in 2011/2012 I felt like we as a community were almost tossed aside during the sale to eBay, I felt we were pawns in a transaction, people didn’t seem to care about the investment we had all made. This has changed.  And if Magento can keep caring, keep listening and keep innovating for all this ecosystem from large to small I think we have a good future ahead of us.

This isn’t 2008, its not 2012, its not eBay, it’s time to trust. I’m in.

Magento – Down to Business at Imagine

Posted by: Karen Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Magento Imagine.  It’s basically a party, let’s be honest!  But this year it’s different.  It’s a new company, a new product, and the stakes are higher. People are worried.  Magento 2 needs a big kick up the a**e, we need some great announcements.

The ecosystem is changing, whether we like it or not.  Years ago osCommerce ruled the earth, now people laugh at it.  Many say that Magento needed to reinvent itself. The trouble with Magento 2 was that SO much pressure was put on it, and so early on.  I first thought of putting my extensions in support & maintanance back in 2012, such was the anticipation. Yoav talked about Magento 2 being in the works in Autumn of 2010 at the Developer Paradise.  We all wanted it. Badly.

We also want eBay away. They weren’t really helping us, we were getting lost in this eBay Enterprise machine and sorely neglected. Being sold off was a good thing, Magento had some much needed oxygen pumped into it. This is how we saw it.

And now we wait for answers.

  • What is the ecosystem?
  • How will new merchants be encouraged to use Magento?
  • Are we going after Demandware?
  • Is the SME merchant lost to the likes of Shopify and Bigcommerce?  Do Magento care?
  • Whats the uptake on Magento 2?
  • Just what are platinum partners and how do they affect us?
  • Is Magento 2 going to excite the next gen of merchants?
  • Just how many extensions will we be able to sell?
  • Is the marketplace flushed out, or still a dream?
  • Who is responsible for marketing at Magento?
  • etc etc

But mainly there is one question.  Does Magento (Inc) truly get this community, truly truly understand the value they bring, but not only value it but appreciate it beyond a badge of a Magento Master?  Thats my question.

Because a great community and great partnerships work together in order to benefit the whole. Thats what we need to be doing.  What we don’t want to be doing is having a layer of people that really are holding up Magento the platform, and the space, then another layer on top of that which say ‘thank you very much we will just cream off your hard work and contribute zero back’.

I’ve ‘grown up’ with many many CEOs of agencies, people that have turned businesses from 2 people into 100+ companies, I’ve seen small merchants become very large merchants, I’ve seen offline companies become highly successful online companies.  I’ve also seen small merchants stay small merchants, and stay happy with that, and want to continue on Magento. Some of those small merchants are now confused.  As are some of those small agencies.

And all along the way I’ve tried to look out and say let’s help each other, lets push each other along because thats what we should do. Because thats the right way. Forget about money, this isn’t about money, its about enabling success, its about being part of a community that nurtures each other. Yes we have our tiffs, all communities do, thats part of being a family.

Less than a week to Imagine. I sincerely hope the hyped up companies and their over-inflated marketing teams that work off the basic principle of crushing every ounce of competition by throwing money at the situation do not rue the day.  People, genuine businesses and pure passion are the heart of Magento ecosystem and we should ensure that this remains so.  So enjoy the party, but remember this is business – make the most of this event and make sure you get the answers you need to enable you to run your business.

By working together we are strong. That is what we should do now.

The Transition to Magento 2 – Maintaining the Ecosystem

Posted by: Karen Saturday, January 30th, 2016

When Magento first arrived it was a platform that excited developers, here was an eCommerce platform that was sexy, like a young teenager arriving on the scene of an OAP party. It was extensible, malleable, new, interesting, and it contributed to making geek work cool.

In 2008 Magento combined an open source product with a solid business model that lead to monetization.  They were able to marry open source with making real money. So the ecosystem was formed. The developers made modules, sites, the merchants purchased, the hosting providers provided servers and Magento sold to eBay.  Money changed hands, people got drunk together and the ecoSystem was created.

The 4 Pillars of Magento

The 4 pillars that I believe are fundamental to Magento are:

  • Merchants
  • Agencies
  • Technology Partners (incl hosting)
  • Extension providers

I would argue without any one of these pillars Magento has issues.

On top of these 4 pillars sits Magento inc.

The Community

Magento built Magento 2 not on their own but with the assistance of hundreds/thousands of members of this community. Not just in the code, the github commits, corrections, the designs, but by listening to the merchants, the marketing folks, the tech partners. We all had a part to play.

Together we have a community, a living breathing ecosystem.  We rely on each other.  Having such a community is extremely rare, this community is the strongest I have ever seen, and I doubt many of us will see such a sight again. It is to be cherished.

And let’s be honest Magento struggled for a while.  When it was sold to eBay in many respects us out here in this community were left to fend for ourselves, there were a lot of management changes, Magento 2 which was spoken about in 2010 (and should never have been even mentioned) failed to materialise, leaving many of us wondering whether we should continue to innovate on 1.x or wait for the new.  We invested heavily in 1.x, we built toolsets, trained staff, created base implementations we can re-use. But mostly we invested together in the community, because together we are stronger, and we know that.

The Transition to Magento 2

When Magento 2 came out in November it was released in a way that said hey here is Magento 2, stop using 1.x, its all about 2.  Which is fine if that product is ready for us.  But it is not. There is no Connect Marketplace for extension providers to sell, there are few customers for us to sell to and quite frankly the product needs time to bed down.

I would equate what is happening to being in a sprint relay race thats been going on 8 years, to find that the magento 2 guy comes out and slows the race back to a crawl.  This is change.  Massive massive change. And yes it absolutely needs to happen. I love change, I get very bored when things are not changing fast. But you have to marry that change with business needs.  The problem I saw with the Magento 2 rollout was that they forgot that EVERYONE else needed time & support to re-align & start building. Plus we all have to maintain our finances to support our employees during this transition. 

In my mind Magento 2 will fly, but it needs time to settle. I believe personally more of a gradual push to Magento 2 would have been far better for this community.  Because the high costs of training our staff, of racing from the start line are reduced. Ideally this is what 2015 should have been, we were told to play with Magento 2. The problem was that we were playing with a rapidly moving target.

The big problem I see is that the richest survive and excel in the Magento 2 business model.  Because you can put more resources, more effort, cope with longer delays in real money coming in.  That is extremely dangerous for this ecosystem, because it means that its no longer about the product, the company, the quality, its about how much money you can throw at it and how quickly.

The Extension Provider

What I believe we are seeing now is potentially bad for an extension provider.  Magento had 5 years to build Magento 2, yet they asked extension providers to build new extensions in a matter of 2/3 months.  The extension providers are struggling to keep up, and there is little or no support for them, and in my mind a real lack of understanding of what extension providers do for this ecosystem, or the value they provide.

On top of this now we have falling revenue on Magento 1.x because no-one is investing here, extns are going into support and maintenance, I strongly suspect some agencies/devs are just re-using extns rather than purchasing, and its going quiet. But Magento 2 is also quiet at present, there are not so many projects going on. The race stopped whilst we all regrouped. But we have to keep earning money.  This is a dangerous time.

And let me be clear here, my self-interest as an extension provider is reduced because my path is via ShipperHQ. I saw this coming, I pivoted my company 3 years ago to remove the dependency on Magento, to protect myself. Yes a fall in 1.x sales hurts of course, but I’ll survive it.  Other extn providers may not able to do this.

My concern with extension providers is that the high-end agencies are internalizing Magento 2 code and just producing themselves.  Because the extn providers are not ready.  So you could argue the extn providers failed to protect themselves, or they should be happy with the ‘rest’ of the ecosystem, or you could argue that 1 of the 4 crucial pillars of this wonderful community which really held up magento when it struggled on features, well its now being forgotten.

There is a lot of focus on the agencies, mainly at the top-tier. A lot of focus on the high-end merchants.  But Magento is more than this. Do not forget.  I remember the merchant/developers that embraced this platform, that cultivated and nurtured this community.  The innovators, the hackers, those that chose to stay when eBay arrived and turned everything upside down. 

Something is happening that is truly brilliant for the extension community though.  Kristof Ringleff(fooman) has almost single-handedly setup ExtnDN. This is essentially a working group for Magento extension providers to have a voice together.  All members agree to a code of conduct, we vet everyone that joins and we hope to improve the Magento extension space for all by self-enforcing, by taking responsibility ourselves where we can.  For those of you that aren’t aware of Kristof this is one of the greatest innovators in this ecosystem, and a great example of a  person/company we should celebrate, cherish and protect.

Magento needs to invest in this Community

I believe Magento needs to invest in this community over and above having community outreach people like Ben and Sherrie (both of whom add tons of value and I have the deepest regard for). No disrespect to either but this is much more than having fun at a conference, chatting on twitter, or being able to evangelize across stack overflow (and I know they do much much more than this so please don’t shout at me on this one!). Most of this community doesn’t reside on twitter (shock horror) or attend conferences. We need to reach those people in other ways. 

This ecosystem depends on Magento for its livelihood, and in many cases decisions made by Magento may impact the independent developers in such a way that their 8 year investment in Magento can be lost in a matter of months.

Here is my Proposal/Request

I believe we can do better, I believe Magento can do better, and I would like Magento to truly acknowledge this ecosystem in more than just tweets and a weekly blog post.

I dont sit here and say that all aspects of below must be implemented. I am throwing this out because I believe we now need to strive for better if we want Magento the ecosystem to truly thrive in the next 3-4 years.  I’m fed up of waiting for Magento to catch up in terms of marketing, content, roadmap, etc. I’ve sat and I’ve waited. Now I would like action.

  1. A round-table working group that brings together different parts of the ecosystem quarterly with Magento to discuss roadmap, issues, concerns, new ideas, etc.  This should be run by the community, with rotating members, and be made up from agencies, merchants, tech partners, extn providers, from all tiers and include a representative from the contract developer side of this community (Kristof is already pursuing this working group with Magento)
  2. An area on Magento Connect that is within the Magento 2 admin panel (like the Platinum Partner section) that focuses on innovative extensions from developers/agencies that are not necessarily in any partner program.  Again I think this should be rotating
  3. A commitment from Magento in ensuring that standalone Magento Enterprise extensions will be evaluated alongside tech partner solutions and offered as options to merchants if such a point arises where Magento are bundling Enterprise with 3rd party integrations
  4. An increased marketing focus on the community, whether this is via a new blog, or in the current Magento blog, that focuses more on the value of what this community provides via case studies, interviews, reviews, etc. This should be outside of a forum post, it should be a blog that Magento uses to reach out to its community of merchants. It needs to be run by Magento because Magento has the reach
  5. An integration fund for extension providers that are struggling with the Magento 2 transition but have powerful extensions that are much in demand. Maybe this fund is part powered by the community/agencies?
  6. A loan capability for extension providers that have demonstrated clear demand for their product in 1.x so these developers can get their extensions out faster, paid back by their Magento Marketplace sales in the future, or crowdfunded (e.g. take an additional 10% of revenue)
  7. Transparency to this community about the Magento roadmap for the next 12 months (rolling) so that we can take appropriate business decisions to be ready for change and ensure we don’t suddenly lose income because Magento has just decided to build out/acquire a feature we are selling into
  8. An awards ceremony at Magento Imagine that recognizes the innovators, those that push the boundaries, those that contribute above and beyond the financial. In short an ceremony that appreciates the people like Alan Storm who is essentially now making Magento 2 useable for the rest of us.  This awards ceremony in my opinion should include a token payment to the winners (because actually 2K to some of these people really does mean a lot)
  9. More transparency/information online from the Magento 2 management team throughout the year rather than being limited to Imagine or the need to attend conferences around the world to get any information
  10. A playing field that is level. Where we are all respected and where the greed of money does not outweigh the desire for the product to succeed
  11. Definite marketing around Magento 2 (or Magento 1 I don’t care) in order to bring in more merchants at all levels to this ecosystem and a proper infrastructure to get these merchants up and running quickly
  12. Magento outlines their plan for Magento Marketplace include details on how 6000+ extensions will be sensibly reduced to the hundreds, and gives details on the policy they are following in selecting extension providers (including the monetary drivers)
  13. Clear understanding of the Magento team/organisation, including information on who are Points of Contact, where we go for what information, what we need to be reading regularly, how we can communicate effectively with the right people within Magento
  14. A commitment from Solution Partners to adhere to copyrights around extensions, including paying for a long-term license when they are internalising, transferring from 1.x or in any way infringing on the original license
  15. A solid and definite commitment from Magento to back up extension Providers and not support any companies that are actively profiting from the illegal use of extension codebase including agencies & tech partners
  16. All members of the community, including Magento to full acknowledge where code has been either included in their work or used as a reference for their work. This should involve giving credit where appropriate (e.g. for patches released), and with regard to OSL extensions I am proposing that all people embedding other extn code within their codebase must give credit in the Magento admin under the extension heading

My message to Magento is invest not just in Gold Technology Partners, Gold Solution Agencies, VC-backed Silicon Valley companies that spin in 1 day and spin out another, but take some of the revenue you earn from that and invest in the rest of the ecosystem in a positive way. Because we are the innovators, we are the ones with businesses built on trust, content and quality, we understand Magento and can take it far beyond what you can ever do alone, we have proved this time and time again. Without us there are definite issues.  It is time to step up. Do not create tiers of power, create inclusion.

Because then you will be so much greater than you are today.

We all need to change, to adapt, we all have our part to play.  I acknowledge that 100%.  But I see how other platforms are working and I believe Magento can and should step up here. Thats my view. I don’t expect you to agree with me.

Let me just say I am an innovator, a disruptor, a small company owner, and ultimately just an engineer finding my way thro this craziness. I hope I am someone who questions in order to make us think and be better. I’m not afraid of being wrong, because it is better to be wrong in my mind and ask the question than to sit at the back of the room and accept what is being said. Mostly tho I actually give a shit about this ecosystem, I really care about it and I see so many faces of people/companies/families that are affected by what we do and what Magento does. I believe Magento inc. can be business focused whilst maintaining a very firm commitment to a community. That is where we will succeed.

USPS Price Increase and API Update – January 17, 2016

Posted by: Genevieve Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

USPS are releasing an update to their API and price changes on January 17, 2016 that may impact Magento merchants.

See all the details on the USPS price/api changes in our ShipperHQ blog.

Will I be affected?

If you are using standard Magento USPS carrier, you will need to download the updated USPS patch file.

We’ve also updated our extensions for

  • WebShopApps Dimensional Shipping
  • WebShopApps USPS via Endicia

You can contact us for an upgraded version of your extension (some charges may apply if you are outside of your support period).

Magento 2 – WebShopApps Announcement

Posted by: Karen Friday, January 8th, 2016

As part of launching our Magento 2 offering we are moving the blogs for Magento 2 company announcements to ShipperHQ.com.

See details on our Magento 2 release which includes the free MatrixRates offering, and is available for download today!!


Under the Hood of Michael Bower

Posted by: Ashley Thursday, December 17th, 2015

michael-bower-headshotMichael Bower (@falloutofatree) is Founder and CEO of Sellry (@sellrycommerce), a technically-oriented development agency that specializes in all things eCommerce. Sellry strives to take eCommerce to the next level by providing its clients with the best services and solutions they need to excel.

Within our interview, Michael shares what tasks he takes on throughout a typical work day, gives encouraging thoughts on the future of Magento and much more.

Can you describe what you really do at work?

I’m a very hands-on business owner, wearing all kinds of hats from sales engineering to pinch-hitting on development activities. I love it! I’m constantly learning and get to see a lot of things move forward at the same time. I also head our quality department. The unifying concept is that everything I do relates to helping my clients stabilize and grow their ecommerce.

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

There’s nothing I like more than helping good-minded individuals and organizations get on track and create positive change in the world. In some small way, what I’m doing now is in line with this, but I’d love to have far more time and resources to put toward getting involved with worthy causes.

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

Beyond spending time with my lovely wife and daughter, I run, climb and bike a fair amount and go snowboarding any time I can. I am fortunate to live in a part of Colorado where nearly every day is absolutely beautiful out of doors. In a previous life I was a fairly serious musician, and I still like pretending I can imitate Chris Thile on the mandolin. These activities are relaxing and interleave well with work.

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

Magento’s brilliance was to provide a single platform that a merchant can grow with all the way. Now with Magento 2 we’re seeing an even more solid foundation for growth, and I’m excited to see where this will lead.

We’re clearly at the point with eCommerce where the word “electronic” is a given. In my opinion, eCommerce merchants should keep the “e” because now it’s all about ENGAGEMENT — finding ways to deliver more compelling value to customers, and doing it more consistently.

Short term, I think this can happen via employing better and more targeted ways to message customers at just the right time, personalized and richer content and social media as a distribution channel.

Thinking a little farther out, things get even more exciting as the barriers between the electronic and physical environments of the shopper come down. We’ve already seen this with beacons, NFC and virtual dressing rooms. In the future I expect to see the user interface of commerce blending into a broader virtual / augmented reality experience or even disappearing completely via predictive algorithms.

What is usually your last thought before falling asleep?

I feel really thankful for having such a great family, friends, team and clients.

Who is your role model, and why?

Many people come to mind. Of those living today, both my parents are role models. They are the type of people who will give you the shirt off their back…extremely others-minded. Historically, I really like the character Daniel in the Bible. He was such a solid, wise, humble yet assertive man — and dramatically influenced two of the most powerful empires in the world.

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

I really hate when I have to fire a worker (or, for that matter, a client).

What motivates you?

Hearing that I’ve made a difference for somebody.

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

Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin

Would you like to plug anything?

http://ecommerceqa.tv – 10-12 minute weekly podcast for busy eCommerce store owners and managers. Each week we tackle a line of questions on a particular topic.

http://sellry.com/articles – Articles my team and I write and curate about ecommerce.

http://mage.ninja – My new loadtime / conversion optimization service

Refresh & Renew – Magento 2

Posted by: Karen Monday, December 7th, 2015


Not so long ago I gave my initial thoughts on Magento 2.  This was when Magento 2 was in merchant beta.  Since then there have been many thousands of commits to the Magento code, it has been stabilized more as I understand and we are in a different place as it has now been released officially!

I feel its worth me writing a short blog to clarify my current thoughts. I’ve had a lot of emails/phone calls from merchants, agencies & developers in recent weeks around Magento 2. I feel its important that I address their questions from the position of where we I feel we are today.

It’s happening

Magento 2 is happening. It’s required. Magento 1 is falling apart in terms of extensibility, you only have to look a the checkout to see the problems it has. It is time for a refresh.

You make your own decisions

Right now if you work on Magento 2 you are taking some steps into the unknown, just like those of us that did back in 2008.  You have to decide when you want to take those steps. If you are a person that is inquisitive, a company that is heavily invested in Magento, or a merchant that is forwards-thinking then you should go look at Magento 2, but bear in mind you are one of the early pioneers.

If you want to wait for the dust to settle and just want to use it as a merchant without getting high costs, or as an agency are maxed on Magento 1.x and just don’t see a window then wait a few months. It will improve, and most importantly the tools and the blogs around it will improve.

I’d say though that come Magento Imagine next year if you are still 100% focused on 1.x as a technology partner, agency or developer you will be behind the curve.

Would I currently build a new project on 1.x as a Merchant?

More than likely if I was small. If I had 200K to burn then definitely I would go to 2.x.

Magento 1.x will die eventually

I see it as we have 3 years to come across to Magento 2.  So for instance take my own site WebShopApps.com. I know its a poor example of an eCommerce site, but it is one nonetheless.  I’m not sitting here panicking because its not on Magento 2.  But I know in the next year I’ll have to renew it.  Whether I’d put it on Magento 2 is not a question I can answer (though probably not tbh).

Extensions will go into Support and Maintenance

Hardly any extension company will continue to invest in new development on Magento 1.x. Why?  Because we have to follow the trend.  And Magento 2 is that trend.

Merchants will go off the platform

I think that Magento is going upmarket, that the community will shift, we will loose some people, we will gain some new people. But that is the price of change, and we obviously have to embrace it, otherwise we need to move on ourselves.

I see a migration of smaller merchants to easier platforms such as Zoey Commerce and Bigcommerce.  When I say smaller it is hard to 100% say what segment, my feeling is if you are under $5mill revenue I still do not see a big driver for you to be on Magento unless you have very specific custom needs from a website, or you have staff/developers that are heavily invested in the platform.

Merchants will come onto the platform

Thanksgiving showed us that even the heavyweight platforms have issues.  Magento is going to challenge this higher end of the market and capture customers in this space.  Why?  Because its use of open source really puts the ultimate power in the Magento Agency and the Merchant, and that allows for great things to happen.  No longer limited to 1 team, it is possible to create what you need, when you want it and how you want it. That is the true power of Magento, and it will be leveraged by agencies and merchants to the full with Magento 2.

Magento Connect

It remains to be seen if there is a secondary market which runs and supports those who are not prepared to pay more for higher quality. If there is and this is uncontrolled I see issues for the brand, and for the extension developers if copying is not stamped on.  If Magento Connect is not very carefully managed I see the potential of an uncontrolled extension marketplace springing up.

Extensions on Connect have to rise in price.  The facts are less extensions will be sold, they will be more expensive to produce, plus Magento will expect a significant commission on each sale.  Someone, somewhere has to pay for that.

The agencies and the merchants will need to get behind this. The value of extensions needs to be appreciated. If they don’t we could see ecosystem issues as agencies in-house development and/or we end up with open source extns with varying levels of support.

On the upside if Connect is done correctly and integrated as an App Store inside Magento then extension developers could see a reduction in costs due to lower support on installation issues, not requiring a site to sell extensions, and lower support due to better testing capabilities and less conflicts.

You will need to up your Skill Level

There is no doubt that Magento 2 is harder.  It requires a deeper understanding of software engineering principles, and you are ‘forced’ (I use that lightly) to learn and follow certain practices.  But out of it you will become stronger.  Agencies will need to improve, extension providers will need to improve.

I remain on the fence around whether requiring advanced skills as a developer is a good thing, on the one hand you hope it improves quality, on the other hand I see it increasing prices and making Magento more exclusive. Magento was never intended to be exclusive, so this approach worries me, but thats just the inclusive personality in me, the businesswoman says as long as the pool remains big enough the approach will bring benefit.

As a Community we are Strong

I suspect part of the reason many developers stay in Magento is partly for the love of the Community.  It is now a family. We accept new people, some people leave, but ultimately it is a place where we belong. That is strong.  And we are strong as a community. We do have to question, we need to keep Magento on their toes, we also need to embrace, to support each other and to nurture.  Because if you look at Silicon Valley that is what many of them are doing.  Magento now is in the money end, and that will result in competition, inspection and greed. Make sure you are supporting your colleagues, support those around you that support you and between us we will all prosper.

Things may not be Perfect, but that is okay

I believe Magento could have done some things better. Could I have done it better? No. We can all do things better, its easy to criticize from the outside. So I admire them for what they have done. I do wish they had simplified some areas because I feel like there was an opportunity to maintain a bigger piece of the eCommerce pie, but I understand their actions. I do have concerns that we might be working on quicksand, but I believe if we are then quite quickly the community will shout very loudly to stop that from impacting.  Trust is key, and ultimately we have no choice but to follow.

My Advice

We would all like to snapshot a point in time.  I’m very protective over the merchants I serve, the many thousands that I’ve seen grow up in this space, some of them expanding from micro businesses into companies that now do millions of dollars each year.  I can’t give you advice, what I can say is take in all the information and make the best decision for you, follow your gut and your instinct.  But don’t be afraid of change.

Your Thoughts?

We are currently running a Magento 2 survey. Would be wonderful if you could spend just a few minutes to answer the 10 easy questions. People sometimes imply/state that I’ve quite strong views. Well I do, but I firmly believe in putting a stake in the ground, because even if I am wrong at least someone put the stake for others to question.  So I’m very interested in seeing what you think about Magento 2. Results will be published at end Dec.

And Lastly

Many congratulations to all the team at Magento for what they have achieved this year. To split out from eBay and launch Magento 2 on time deserves our praise indeed. In my opinion Magento has an extremely solid management team, and luckily has retained some of the key staff that really understand this ecosystem. I hope they truly appreciate what they have in their hands and take this gem to where it should be.

Under the Hood of Jon Woodall

Posted by: Ashley Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

jon_09Jon Woodall (@Jon_Woodall) is Founder and Leader of Space 48, a digital agency filled with talented developers, marketers, project managers and creatives that work closely with clients from a range of industries. The Space 48 team develops engaging sites for their clients with award winning eCommerce website solutions. Since 2011, the team has more than tripled in size and is continuing its growth.

Within our interview, Jon kills the curiosity of what it’s like to be founder of an award winning digital agency. Jon explains what goes into a typical day at work and how he spends his time away from the office.

Can you describe what you really do at work?

The largest part of my time is spent working with people and helping them to achieve what they really want. Where the team’s skills are, what the individuals’ goals are and where this crosses paths with the aims of the business; this is where the magic is. When someone is motivated on a personal level they tend to find the passion, which leads to high performance.

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

Honestly, I would spend a lot of it with my little girl and my wife, however I am fuelled by challenges, I love what I do everyday. I also love exploring, I always have. To explore, discover new ideas, connect with smart people whilst spending more time with the family would be how I spend my time, so not so far from the current truth. The very recent Meet Magento New York was a perfect example, I was working and enjoying it – I took the family and made it into a holiday.

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

I’m a family man but I also like to seek out challenges, these can be physical or mental. I like to keep fit in my spare time but this counterbalance also gets brought into the office. We have regular boot camp sessions which all staff are welcome to join and we took part in Tough Mudder as a team in September. We are also planning a hike up Snowden.

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

There is a lot currently going on in the Magento-sphere, especially with the launch of Magento 2. It sounds like positive changes are coming. We have to pull together as a business and also as a community, adapt, be open to the change. E-Commerce is different to five years ago and the rate of change is increasing.

Where there’s change there’s opportunity. We can push along career development and fulfil ambitions. But we just don’t know what could come, we have to deal with it, it’s just another challenge.

What is usually your last thought before falling asleep?

I want my last thought to be ‘good, I’m tired enough’. I don’t want my mind to be all over the place. As long as I have exercised, eaten well, and had a little of ‘my time’, perhaps some reading then I’m good and that will hopefully be my last thought.

Who is your role model, and why?

My Granddad. He was such a good person. As a farmer, his work ethic was just unbelievable. I owe so much to him, a lot of the things I do I have learnt from him.

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

As the business has grown there is a tendency that only really good things or really bad things get brought to my attention, no in-between. People come to me to get the ‘monkey off their back’, but then there is nowhere that I can go with that, I have to do something about that. Sometimes I can learn from it or use it as a coaching opportunity, which is good!

What motivates you?

Working with amazing people. It motivates me to see others achieving, knowing that I do things that will motivate others and doing things that will make my family proud.

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

I enjoy listening to audiobooks, so the most played one is most probably ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey.

Would you like to plug anything?

Yes, Mage Titans. We wanted to do something to connect with the smart people that we’re lucky enough to have as part of the community. 2014 introduced the inaugural Mage Titans event which was very well received and we’ve just had the 2015 event – I feel that we’re doing our bit for the collective. Our goals for the event were to connect, collaborate and build with the community and we feel that they were certainly achieved.

The Magento community is already one of the kindest, most active and helpful communities around and we are big fans of the Meet Magento events (also the various community podcasts and newsletters that surround it), and we wanted to create something that was even more developer-centric, we wanted to create an event for us, for our team, for other teams and for anyone who develops on the Magento platform. The exchange of knowledge just pushes us all further, helps us to adapt and evolve with the fast-paced growth of the sector.

We are now launching the Italian chapter of Mage Titans too. It will take place in Milan on the 5th of February which is in partnership with BitBull & Alessandro Ronchi, in fact, Alessandro spoke at this year’s Mage Titans with us. Mage Titans Manchester brought people from far and wide together; Germany, Netherlands, Italy, even America, we’re hoping that any who missed out (and those who didn’t) can out make it to Mage Titans Italia – we’ll certainly be there!

WebShopApps Extensions and SUPEE-6788

Posted by: Josh Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Magento are releasing a new security patch tomorrow along with Magento and The updates address a number of important security flaws such as bypassing the admin URL and SQL injection.

WebShopApps have assessed the impact of the patch on all of our most popular extensions and so far, have found no issues. We pro-actively fixed many of the security flaws addressed in this patch over the course of the last year.

Once the patch is released we will be retesting our extensions with the patch in place and aim to provide any updates required within 72 hours of finding the issue.

If you’re using a very old version of some of our extensions, you may run into issues and need the latest version. Please contact us should that be the case, and we will offer you a discounted renewal rate.


After testing with the patch, we’ve discovered some minor issues with these extensions. You should contact us for a update which are available now.

Dimensional Shipping

Admin Shipping

Store Pickup

Shipping Calendar

Shipping Insurance




Very old versions of Logger included in all our extensions

Very old versions of Common included in all our extensions