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?

One Response to “Let’s Get back to the Merchant”

  1. elfling says:

    Caught off-guard for sure and treading water as companies disappear into the night.

    EOL double annoucement – Poorly handled to say the least.

    The middle market is now a real struggle 🙁

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