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 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.

6 Responses to “Refresh & Renew – Magento 2”

  1. Great article and perspective!

    A few things I would note: I think merchants above 5 million should certainly be on Magento or strongly consider it for their platform. However, for merchants with 1 to 5 million in online revenue I think Magento is still a great platform and makes sense if you are trying to grow / become more competitive online even with the Magento 2 changes. Shopify, Big Commerce, and Zoey will have major roadblocks for many merchants in this range, especially B2B eCommerce companies.

    As far as the developer requirements being higher I do not think this should necessarily increase Magento costs. Perhaps per hour fees could increase but the overall improvements to the software like making it easier to upgrade should even out the overall TCO so that developers can do certain things faster.

    Additionally I think this will hopefully weed out the bad developers which will ultimately lead to less hacked together Magento sites that end up leaving merchants with an unsustainable future anyways.

  2. Kyle says:

    Well-thought-out, objective, write-up, Karen. Cheers.

  3. Karen says:

    All very valid points Isaiah, I agree with your comments, though I do think the SAAS solutions are making up ground on Magento and could really hit this space very hard, even on B2B.

  4. Rob says:

    Magento 2 released on time!? Thanks for making me laugh first thing in the morning 😀

  5. Francis Kim says:

    You’ve made some great points in this post Karen – thank you for the good read.

  6. John says:

    Thanks for sharing. It is very much explained everything and too much in deep. I think this will help to improve magento performance.

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