Let’s Get back to the Merchant

Posted by: Karen Thursday, September 20th, 2018

I actually swore I wouldn’t write another post like this. Been here too many damn times. But hey this is WebShopApps, the heart is still beating over here and I feel like it cuts back to the core of me as a person, the wife of a merchant that in 2008 went out and found this fantastic stimulating platform like no other called Magento.

10 years on and lots has changed. I was talking to my friend earlier, another ex-merchant who was on Magento back in 2009, Their company grew massively in no small part because of Magento. We were discussing how if that business was starting today the chances are they wouldnt have picked Magento. They did look at Shopify back then, and used Magento because of its customisation ability. The problem now though is that in the US and the UK (I think not so much in Asia) Magento is perceived to be expensive, difficult, time consuming and problematic.

This is a perception issue in lots of ways. Talking on twitter there are SI’s focused on the smaller merchant that can do builds for prices that rival Shopify (sub 30K and I suspect lower if you searched). Magento is on the cloud now, so in theory thats all easier. Plus it has the flexibility and depth of product offering that quite frankly Shopify isn’t going to match in 10 years. Shopify is a lightweight offering that suits the needs of merchants in particular verticals, but with growth you probably are going to have issues (maybe not in all cases).

What frustrates me is that Merchants are in the middle of all this with really no-one to help them navigate it. Some merchants obviously reach out to the agencies and developers (and I would strongly encourage you do this if you are a merchant), and nowadays SIs(Agencies) are often multi-platform and have a wealth of knowledge about what solution is right for you. But often I’m seeing merchants either just totally lost/mis-informed or running from one platform to another just because they don’t know what else to do. Or actually just like a deer in headlights.

Let’s stop that. Because its not good for you, for me, for the platform, for ecommerce, for the future of retail. Each of us has a responsibility to help merchants, and that always has to be our number 1 priority.

Magento needs to clear up their messaging IMO. The rumour clearly is they are going upmarket. I get it, I totally get it. Stop screwing around with merchant’s lives by pretending to be in SMB or even mid. If you are there get some people on the ground to go and talk to your Magento 1 merchants and re-assure them. Your recent announcements re 2010 switch off and PHP version issues (you do realise a lot of your merchants know very little about what PHP is right) are doing nothing to allay people’s fears.

On top of this SI’s are leaving. They can’t say, they have their hands totally tied because of agreements with Magento. No-one can have a discussion anymore. It’s drying up, thats not me making it up, thats a lot of SI’s telling me so. It might be booming at the top, down in the mid-market/SMB level Magento are losing it. And actually probably not because of the product itself.

I was listening to a podcast the other day (thanks Rebecca Brocton) and the woman on it raised about spending 600 quid on her site, the presenter kind of laughed at the smallness of the money, but this lady(Julie Deane) said “600 Pound is a lot of money, then and now’. We could all do to remember that, esp those of you that about to get compensated big (16 months and counting right) for the work ultimately this community did at least half the effort for. None of us are pawns, we aren’t here for your Silicon Valley game, step up or step out I say, you helped create this.

Even extension providers like us have been caught off-guard. We were thinking okay lets switch off support for M1 in 2020 and also stop supporting later PHP versions (Magento has just patched M1 to support 7.2/7.3), but after discussions we will now continue support. Yes I know these things move on, Magento has moved on, you know what a lot of merchants and businesses haven’t yet and we have a responsibility to them. I’m stepping up to that responsibility are you?

Google API Usage – Big Changes Coming

Posted by: Genevieve Friday, May 25th, 2018

What Is Changing ?

Google are changing their Maps API pricing and terms of use in a big way from June 11th, 2018. Up to today, they’ve allowed users to access their APIs at no charge up to certain daily limits. From the June 11th deadline this will end.

From this point on you will no longer be able to use the APIs without an API Key

Examples of the Google APIs that are included are the Geocode, Geolocation and Places APIs to name a few.

Who Will This Affect?

  • WebShopApps DropShip customers
  • WebShopApps ShipManager customers
  • WebShopApps In Store Pickup customers
  • WebShopApps UPS Access Point customers

In fact, this will likely impact many millions of websites world wide.

For more information on the impact of Google’s announcement, read our CEO Karen’s thoughts on this change and the wide ranging impact

What Should I Do Now?

  • DropShip customers & ShipManager customers
    • contact us to discuss migration over to ShipperHQ before June 11th as your extension will no longer accurately calculate distances to your nearest warehouse after this date.**
  • In Store Pickup customers
    • contact us to discuss migration to ShipperHQ before June 11th as your extension will no longer calculate the nearest pickup location after this date, and you will likely see an impact on displaying maps of your locations.**
  • UPS Access Point customers
    • you will need to register for a Google API key, if you have not done so already, then head over to the Google maps API page and set up billing now


Nailing Migration To New Software

Posted by: Karen Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

This post is really about the lessons we learned (and are still learning) as a company about the art of nailing migration from one software product to another. As many of you know we made the big decision a few years back to move to the ShipperHQ platform for our paid offering, away from the highly successful WebShopApps brand. This tells our story in the hope that it helps some of you, including merchants, agencies, platforms and technology parters.

So Why Move?

It’s often easier to stay with what you know, the formula that works. I read some years ago an article about this which said you have a couple of choices in software, you can ‘make hay whilst the sun shines’ or you can re-invent yourself, and to that you have to be prepared to throw away what you have today. For us at WebShopApps I can honestly say our company was something that evolved, we learned from our customers, we produced new extensions, more extensions, more complexity. And it became clear that we needed something bigger, our dreams and aspirations for the product could not be fulfilled by continually going down the pure extension route. We also saw lots of problems with the Magento marketplace, rampant copying, and it was very hard to forecast and grow revenue, we couldn’t give our customers the service they demanded in many cases as we found it hard to differentiate their needs on this ‘buy first, get support later’ model.

For us we also saw that our reliance on Magento was a danger, we needed to go cross-platform, it was necessary for our survival. We wanted to be able to follow our customers wherever they went.

Setting up for Migration

This has been very hard. Its knowing where customers are going, not just where we are going. Are they moving to Magento 2, to Shopify, BigCommerce? Then what features do they use, how is it configured. Shipping rating is not always easy to setup and its all in their database, we have to define processes for making this migration easy. Its taken us some time to get this right, I think we are still learning, there are always improvements, and sometimes unfortunately we have to say no to edge cases, you have to consider the whole because ultimately keeping the company going for the masses is what you need to do. Customisations can be the death of a technology company, so as much as we have complexity we have learned the art of just easing back on accepting these.

Putting the Business Case

So incredibly important. You can see with Magento that when people are looking at Magento 2 they are also evaluating other software. Your software needs to do something that improves things for the merchant. If its not then well you are in trouble. With ShipperHQ we have our whole interface in one place, we have advanced the technology so its way ahead of what WebShopApps ever did, and we offer a comprehensive support service with staff in the US ready to answer queries. You have to get this right, the support is needed of our agency partners (direct through slack in many cases), the merchants, and we need good communications with our logistics providers (i.e. having a direct line for UPS/FedEx/DHL queries helps).  Its also about being that centralised expert, the knowledge that is so necessary for this society today, people want accurate answers fast, they don’t want to be having to spend hours working things out themselves, especially around shipping rating which can really make or break a business.

Managing Migration of Many Customers

A tough one, we have been careful around our marketing to ensure we have had our processes right before we go sell. We still are trying to manage this, we know that if 30K+ customers come in at once this is a problem for us to be able to provide support. Whats important here is to test and be ready, don’t pull that trigger too soon else you may get a kick back.  The way we tackled this was probably around the wrong way to most, we initially dealt with the very hard Magento 1 enterprise customers that couldnt use WebShopApps, then we made sure the platform was ready for mass usage by focusing our efforts on other platform integrations with Shopify/BigCommerce. Luckily with the delayed move to Magento 2 we have had some breathing space and the last 6 months we have been managing the switch over of customers here, I expect it to ramp much more in the new year.

So How does a Customer Cope?

So what if you are a merchant and you are looking at migrating to new software?  Well evaluate carefully and I would suggest you look not just at the product but also the company underneath. Do you trust them, whats their support like, do you need someone that can get on the phone, etc.  If you arent sure make a checklist and have a chat to each company. This is your business, these decisions affect you. In terms of costings you have to really be aware of the quality side, its not always the cheapest that works out best in the long run, be very careful of cheap extensions that then have hourly based support attached as you can end up spending a fortune either with your own developers or with them and still not have a solution that works.  Taking advantage of free trials helps mitigate this.

When to Migrate?

Well not now just before Black Friday :). Plan well, find a time when you have time, or get the company to work out a plan with you. At ShipperHQ we are very conscious of the lack of time many merchants have and are able to assist with a full migration if necessary, we throw in upto 4 hours migration for free on WebShopApps customers, in many cases thats enough to get the job done.


In conclusion migration is definitely disruptive but it can be made much easier by the software providers of today. Its necessary, we all have to move forwards, you just have to think about the best way to do it and ensure you make it as painless as possible!


Upgrading your Ecommerce platform? We’ve got your shipping covered.

Posted by: Alana Twelmeyer Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Whether you’re upgrading to Magento 2 or considering a move to another platform moving shop is a big job! Making sure you can keep offering the shipping options your customers love is a critical part of that move. Let us help!

You’ve been getting a great value from WebshopApps extensions for a while, but with a platform upgrade on the horizon, consider giving your shipping strategy a boost. Upgrading to ShipperHQ gives you maximum flexibility allowing you to offer the kinds of shipping options your customers are demanding.

Introducing ShipperHQ from WebshopApps.

We’ve taken all the powerful features available from each WebshopApps shipping extension, added more flexibility, broader carrier integrations, and leading-edge advanced features you can control from one place. Plus, as long as you have an active ShipperHQ account you’ll automatically have access to the latest features and never have to worry about putting a patch in place when a carrier updates their API. Easy Peasy.

ShipperHQ is the most sophisticated rate calculation and manipulation engine in the world today and it integrates seamlessly with Magento 1 and 2! Upgrading? No problem. ShipperHQ will preserve your critical shipping settings no matter which version of Magento you use. One less headache to worry about with the upgrade process.

See what you can do with ShipperHQ

Learn More!

Get Live Rates from 30+ Carriers

And More!

Still Not Sure If You’re Ready for ShipperHQ?

Free Migration ConsultationWe are so confident you will love ShipperHQ’s improved features when you migrate to ShipperHQ from any WebShopApps extension and we offer a free migration consultation with our shipping experts in the UK/US.

We want you to be getting the most out of your shipping rates strategy and are committed to helping you get set up stress free.

The team at ShipperHQ is ready to offer you some impeccable customer service. We can’t wait to see you get creative with all this new tool will offer you.

Contact sales@shipperhq.com today to set up an appointment for your free migration consultation.


See what our customers are saying about ShipperHQ

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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.

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: Alana Twelmeyer 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.