Diwali Celebrations in our India Office

Diwali Celebrations in our India Office

Our team in Nagpur have been celebrating Diwali this week. Our development team will be operating a skeleton service over the next two days, as many of the team celebrate this beautiful holiday with their families. We would like to wish our team in Nagpur a Very Happy Diwali - thank you for all your hard work this year, and we hope you have lots of fun - you deserve it!

Why you need Business Intelligence

Why you need Business Intelligence

There are many data collection and analysis tools out there for businesses nowadays. We collect more data than ever before in the bid to target our marketing campaigns to the customer base that will generate the most revenue.

Businesses who use Analytics 5X more likely to make decisions much faster than their competition, which in the world of eCommerce, puts them ahead of the pack for winning the custom. Knowing your audience, best customers and how they shop is crucial for online retailers, but unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as collecting information and sticking it in a graph.

Collecting a lot of data, especially when it is collected and stored in various different places, can sometimes be a daunting thing. This is why Magento Business Intelligence is such a game changer for Magento Merchants.

Magento BI gathers all data from your Extensions, Database, and Integrations and consolidates it into one hub so you don’t have to.

The key features of the Essentials Edition include:

  • 5 pre-built dashboards comprising 75 reports

  • Email summaries

  • SQL report builder and visual report builder. The ability to create and edit reports

  • Data from Magento and Google Analytics

  • Export raw underlying data to CSV and Excel

  • 10 user accounts with advanced user permissions

The whole idea being the new Magento Commerce Platform is that it grows as you grow, so you don’t have to sign up for tools you don’t need straight away. For SMEs and Start Ups, you can start with the Essentials Edition and progress up to the Pro version when you and your business is ready for it. The Essentials Edition is only $100 per month, moving to $500 per month when you upgrade to the Pro version. The additional spend gives you much more depth and scope. Here’s an excerpt from the Magento BI download to highlight the differences in price plan:

Anything that makes data analysis easier for merchants can only be a good thing in our book, and this new tool will certainly improve the way eCommerce businesses on Magento gather information. Knowing how customers browse and purchase online will enable businesses to make smarter choices moving forward, so it’s a great new feature for the Magento platform.

Attending Sheffield Connect

Attending Sheffield Connect

This week, 2J Commerce will be attending Sheffield Connect at Ponds Forge, the biggest gathering of businesses in the region.

The event, which is on Wednesday 18th October, gives local businesses a chance to connect with others in the industry, and showcase the best of their brand.

For those looking to attend, it is free to register, and as well as the exhibition, there are talks throughout the day at the conference, from key business leaders, including Jill Davies, from Westfield Health, and Paul Griffiths on HS2.

Why not book in to attend the event, and come say hi while you’re there? Check us out at stand 6 in the exhibition.

Magento Commerce Starter Edition - The scalable solution

Magento Commerce Starter Edition - The scalable solution

Magento aren’t showing any signs of slowing down towards the end of this year. As we enter the final quarter of what has been an incredible 12 months for the platform and its users, Magento have announced they will now split the new Magento Commerce cloud system into two channels: the Magento Commerce Professional Edition (formerly the Magento Commerce Cloud Edition), and the Magento Commerce Starter Edition.

The Professional Edition still has all the features of the previous Cloud Edition, but for smaller and start-up companies, the new Starter Edition offers cloud hosting at a more affordable price point.

Magento Commerce Starter Edition will be available to companies who meet the following criteria:

  • Less than $10 million USD in revenue per year

  • Have less than 50,000 complex SKUS

  • Have five or less store-fronts or domains

The cost for this new plan will start $1999 per month compared to the usual $3399. This naturally means there will be some limitations to its users. The main ones being the following:

  • No B2B functionality available out of the box.

  • Magento Business Intelligence. However, this can be added for an additional cost.

  • There will be a shared infrastructure for development and live environments.

CTO Jamie Jackson says: “This is a great move forward for smaller business to reap the rewards of Magento Enterprise on the cloud without a huge price tag.

The enterprise cloud in our opinion is an extremely secure scalable platform which developers love.”

Magento have listed the full plan differences, and our team is fully equipped to support each plan as needed for our clients.


 

VAT on Magento

VAT on Magento

One of the biggest issues we see on checkouts for new Magento sites is using VAT. Typically, for B2C businesses, prices on the website will be inclusive of VAT, but if you set this incorrectly, in your admin, your customers could be getting charged for VAT twice, or not at all.

It’s often one of the points that gets missed in discovery sessions because the whole project team is busy thinking about how the site will look and operate. This usually includes customisation, modules and integrations for developers, so things like VAT can get moved to the sidelines, and then forgotten.

There are a few different ways merchants do VAT on their sites. Here’s a breakdown of how to set the VAT in Magento to accommodate each method.

 

My prices include VAT

If your prices are inclusive of VAT, then you need to set Magento to see your prices that way to avoid VAT being added again at the checkout.

On the Magento 1 admin, you need to go through: System>>Configuration>>Sales>>Tax>>Calculation Settings

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This will stop the Tax being added on again at the checkout. You can also do the same for your shipping prices in this section.

On Magento 2, you need to go to Stores>>Configuration>>Sales>>Tax>>Calculation Settings.

You can set the catalog prices to including Tax here.

 

I want my Prices broken down on the Checkout

This can be used whether your prices include VAT or not.

When your prices include tax, you may still want your customers to know how much of the price is tax. You need to set your Shopping Cart to display tax:

On M1, go to System>>Configuration>>Sales>>Tax>>Shopping Cart Display Settings

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Use the dropdown to configure how you would like your tax to be displayed.

On M2, the configuration is the same. You can find it in Stores>>Configuration>>Sales>>Tax>>Shopping Cart Display Settings.

 

My Prices don’t include VAT

For this, you’ll need to set the above to excluding tax, if it isn’t set like this automatically, like so:

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You then need to create your tax zones and classes so Magento can correctly calculate the tax for your products. All the steps work with each other, so they should all be configured for the best results.

On Magento 1, you need to do the following:

 

Set Up Customer Tax Classes

  1. From the admin, go to Sales > Tax > Customer Tax Classes.

  2. You will need to make sure a customer tax class is available that is appropriate for the VAT, for example, Retail Customer. If have not created yet, click Add New to add it.

 

Set Up Product Tax Classes

  1. From the admin, to go select Sales > Tax > Product Tax Classes.

  2. Click the Add New button and create three new classes:

VAT Standard

VAT Reduced

VAT Zero

3. Click the Save Class button for each new class that you add before creating the next.

 

Set Up Tax Zones and Rates

This works directly with the classes you’ve just created, so Magento will pull the correct VAT rate based on the location and class selected.

  1. From the admin, go to select Sales > Tax > Manage Tax Zones & Rates.

  2. Click the Add New Tax Rate button. For the UK, you can add the following rate:

VAT STANDARD

Tax Identifier: VAT Standard

Country and State: United Kingdom

Rate Percent: 20.00

 

VAT REDUCED

Tax Identifier: VAT Reduced

Country and State: United Kingdom

Rate Percent: 5.00

     3. Click the Save Rate button for each rate before creating the next one.

 

Set Up Tax Rules

A tax rule is a combination of a customer tax class, a product tax class, and a tax rate.

  1. On the Admin menu, select Sales > Tax > Manage Tax Rules.

  2. Add new tax rules as follows:

VAT STANDARD

Name: VAT Standard

Customer Tax Class: Retail Customer

Product Tax Class: VAT Standard

Tax Rate: VAT Standard Rate

 

VAT REDUCED

Name: VAT Reduced

Customer Tax Class: Retail Customer

Product Tax Class: VAT Reduced

Tax Rate: VAT Reduced Rate

      3. Click the Save Rule button for each rate before creating the next one.

 

For Magento 2, you need to do the following:

Configure Customer Tax Classes

  1. From the admin, go to Stores > Taxes > Tax Zones and Rates.

  2. You will need to make sure a customer tax class is available that is appropriate for the VAT, for example, Retail Customer. If have not created yet, click Add New to add it.

 

Configure Product Tax Classes

  1. On the Admin panel, go to Stores > Tax > Product Tax Classes.

  2. Click the Add New button and create three new classes:

VAT Standard

VAT Reduced

VAT Zero

     3. Click the Save Class button for each new class that you add before creating the next.

 

Set Up Tax Zones and Rates

This works directly with the classes you’ve just created, so Magento will pull the correct VAT rate based on the location and class selected.

  1. From the admin, go to Stores > Tax > Manage Tax Zones & Rates.

  2. Click the Add New Tax Rate button. For the UK, you can add the following rate:

VAT STANDARD

Tax Identifier: VAT Standard

Country and State: United Kingdom

Rate Percent: 20.00

 

VAT REDUCED

Tax Identifier: VAT Reduced

Country and State: United Kingdom

Rate Percent: 5.00

     3. Click the Save Rate button for each rate before creating the next one.

 

Set up Tax Rules

A tax rule is a combination of a customer tax class, a product tax class, and a tax rate.

  1. On the Admin Panel, Stores > Tax > Manage Tax Rules.

  2. Add new tax rules as follows:

VAT STANDARD

Name: VAT Standard

Customer Tax Class: Retail Customer

Product Tax Class: VAT Standard

Tax Rate: VAT Standard Rate

 

VAT REDUCED

Name: VAT Reduced

Customer Tax Class: Retail Customer

Product Tax Class: VAT Reduced

Tax Rate: VAT Reduced Rate

    3. Click the Save Rule button for each rate before creating the next one.


 

2J Leaders Gain Magento 2 Solution Specialist Certification

2J Leaders Gain Magento 2 Solution Specialist Certification

It’s been a great start to the week so far at 2J Commerce, with the news that our MD and Founder Jamie Jackson, and Director Steven Morris have passed the Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist exam.

After taking the exam last month, they are now two of only a handful of people around the world to currently hold the certification.

Steven, who joined 2J this year, said he’s thrilled to have passed:

"I was extremely excited by the opportunity to be one of the first in the world to sit the Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist

exam, but it was quite challenging, and much more varied than the Magento 1 exam.

“I'm proud to have passed the test at the first time of trying and I'm looking forward to continuing supporting our new clients to Magento Commerce as well as clients migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2."

Jamie Jackson, who founded 2J Commerce, has been working on the Magento platform since its first platform launch. He’s been working on Magento 2 projects from the beginning of the release, and says the certification is a great validation of his work within Magento for this new version:

“It means a great deal to be officially recognised as a solution specialist on Magento 2 after two years of working on the platform.”

A huge congratulations to our two team members on gaining this certification.

Magento News: Patch SUPEE-10266 release

Magento News: Patch SUPEE-10266 release

Magento have released a new patch for Magento Commerce 1.14.3.6 and Open Source 1.9.3.6.

SUPEE-10266 is a very important security patch that includes protection against several security-related issues, which include;

  • Closes cross-site request forgery (CSRF)

  • Solves unauthorized data leak

  • Closes authenticated Admin user remote code execution vulnerabilities.

  • Includes fixes for issues with image reloading and payments using one-step checkout.

  • Includes a fix for issues related to checkout with a zero order amount on Magento Commerce (Enterprise Edition).

You can read more on the full specs of the patch here via the Magento Technical Resources Centre.

What you need to do

You must apply this new security patch as soon as possible. It can be downloaded from https://www.magentocommerce.com/download

If your current development partner or inhouse development team hasn't already got this on their backlog we would recommend prioritising this task as soon as possible.

 

2J Diagnostics: How often should I upgrade my site?

2J Diagnostics: How often should I upgrade my site?

Magento release updates to their platform at regular intervals. This can be to fix bug reported in previous versions, or to remove security risks identified by the Magento Community. Your Magento development partner will normally contact you when these are available. Upgrading your store does come with a cost, as it involves development time and testing to deploy, so you’re probably thinking: “Why bother?”

For some releases, it’s true that you probably don’t need to jump straight to the phone and get your team on it. Some are very standard upgrades, and you probably don’t need to upgrade each and every time a new release is available. But there are some times when it’s really important to schedule an upgrade for your site. Our Senior Magento developer, Sagar Kharate, explains why and when it’s important to keep on top of new Magento releases:

“Ideally, Magento users should upgrade whenever there is a new version essential for security purposes. Upgrades also come with lots of bug fixes, so it’s always a good idea to check if the fixes available would help with an issue you might be experiencing on your store.”

The team here at 2J review any new releases from Magento and assess their ‘usefulness’ to our clients. If an upgrade offers a security fix, then it’s always recommended and this is something your team should be looking for when it comes to your Magento store.

You should also discuss any problems you’re experiencing on your store to see if the latest upgrades cover the issue. You could save yourself time and pain if the problem is fixed in a later release.

The last thing to consider when looking at Magento upgrades is how many you can miss without causing problems later on.

It is true that you probably don’t need every upgrade available to you. You can wait and upgrade at a later time without any problems as long as there isn’t a huge gap in releases. Skipping multiple upgrades however, can cause headaches when you do decide to upgrade.

“Third party extensions can sometimes break when there’s a big gap between upgrades, as they aren’t always compatible and need to be updated too.” Says Sagar.

If you’re concerned at all, or if you’re simply not sure about a recent upgrade and whether you need it, it’s always better to talk to your development team, and they can advise you on the best course of action for your business.



 

GDPR - what you need to know

GDPR - what you need to know

By now, you’ve probably heard about GDPR, but if you haven’t and you capture any type of customer data on your website, it’s something you need to be aware of.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will come into effect from 25th May 2018. It brings all variations of the current data protection laws across Europe under one roof; essentially simplifying things for sellers, but also toughening up the laws. If you live in the EU, this will apply to you. If you sell into the EU, this will apply to you - Brexit or not…

A lot of the regulations follow the Data Protection Act (DPA), but there are some key additions that it’s definitely worth jotting down, especially when the fines set out will be up to €20m of 4% of the global turnover - whichever turns out to be higher.

The key changes have been outlined by the EU General Data Protection Regulation body, and here are some of the main ones you need to be aware of:

 

It applies to E-YOU:

Many people think that because we’re leaving the EU, they won’t need to comply with the new GDPR, but if you trade at all in the EU, or collect any data of anyone in the EU, you need to comply.

 

What you keep:

You need to document what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with.

 

Why you keep it:

Your customers should be able to find out who you are, how you’re going to use their information and why you keep it. You’ll need to be able to tell them how long you keep their data for as well, and this should all be in clear, easy to understand language.

 

Consent:

Your customers need to give consent to have their data collected now, but there are ways to conceal consent with things like “Tick this box if you don’t want to be contacted”. That won’t be acceptable any more.

Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. There must be a positive opt-in - consent cannot be inferred from silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity.

 

When there’s a breach:

You need to inform the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) when there is a breach if it’s likely to affect the rights and freedoms of your customers. You’ll also have to notify your customers directly in this case too.

 

Get a DPO

You need to get yourself a Data Protection Officer - someone who will take responsibility for being compliant with the GDPR. They need to be in the know with all aspects of the new regulation, and should be able to enforce this within your company.

Remember you’ve got until May next year to act on these new regulations, but it’s a good idea to start thinking about making the changes now - especially in larger organisations where it might take some months to unify everything and get the new processes into effect and running smoothly. The ICO have also released a handy guide on what to do to prepare for the changes. You can read it here.

There’s been a lot of bad press around the GDPR reforms, and it’s naturally sent people into a panic. But a lot of the hype is just that - hype. This post from the ICO is great in myth busting the most panicked about points when it comes to GDPR. Our Partners UK Fast are also running Webinars for it’s clients to help bust through some of the chatter.

If you’re unsure at all if it’s something you need to comply with, it’s always safer to check, and it’s never too early to start implementing the new processes - you’ll simply be ahead of the game.



 

2J Diagnostics: How important are patches?

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2J Diagnostics: How important are patches?

Every so often you’ll be notified that there is a new patch available for Magento. Your web development partner will usually contact you to recommend this is actioned, and this usually has a cost, which will automatically make it something you don’t really want to do.

We all know that keeping within an operating budget is not easy, and anything that involves an additional expense is moved to the bottom of the list, but making sure your website is kept up to date with patches is not something that should be de-prioritised, especially in this day and age.

For those of you who are new to this side of running an online store, patches are changes to the Magento core files that fix any identified security issues. Magento always work to ensure the platform is secure, but as we all know, the people out to get your customer data are coming up with more and more imaginative ways of getting at it. Any new launches of Magento include the latest patches to make sure they are fully up to date with security, but if there’s a problem identified in between new releases, you need a patch to keep your site secure. Just as it’s important to have a good security system installed on your physical premises, you need a good security system for your digital one too. You can keep on top of what patches are available yourself by subscribing to the Magento Security News page.

If this isn’t something you’re aware of, or if you’re unsure of the status of your site, you can check which patches have been applied using something like Mage Report. This is a great tool because it will also give you insight to the wider status of your site and any potential risks.

Installing a patch is not something we recommend doing yourself, but it’s definitely something we want to include in this diagnostic series to avoid larger, and much more serious problems for you and your customers in future. Think of it as a preventative measure - a patch is a safeguard against digital burglary. If you combine this with wider measures such as keeping your site up to date with the latest version of Magento, the risk factor will drop significantly We can also run a full site audit to highlight any potential problems with your core code build if you are concerned.

It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but trust us when we say it is definitely worth the cost. It’s also worth noting that some shared hosting providers may move to terminate your contract if your site is not deemed as secure, so it’s definitely something to be aware of. The bottom line is that a patch is a preventative measure to keep you and your customers protected. If you keep on top of your patches, your site will be less at risk of an attack, which could be extremely costly long-term.

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Attending eCommerce Show North

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Attending eCommerce Show North

Here at 2J, we’re preparing for the highly anticipated eCommerce Show North event on the 11th and 12th October.

The Event is run by Prolific North and Don’t Panic Events, and is the largest eCommerce exhibition in the North.

The show is being sponsored by our hosting partners UK Fast, and is a massive gain in securing the North’s status in the eCommerce industry.

On the announcement of the show, Martyn Collins, director of eCommerce Show North, said: “The north is home to some of the finest eCommerce talent in the country and it is only right that we recognise and reward those individuals, businesses and brands that are contributing so much to the economy of the north.

“And that’s the point about eCommerce – it’s about money, about bringing new money into the local economy, creating jobs and increasing prosperity. For me, eCommerce is the fuel that drives the Northern Powerhouse.”

2J’s founder and CTO, Jamie Jackson, will be on our stand, talking about our recent projects, and showcasing the best of what we have to offer in the world of eCommerce:

“As a Magento Enterprise based in the North of England, we’re thrilled to be taking part in this event. We’ve recently expanded into Manchester itself as well, so it will be great to strengthen that move by exhibiting in a city that brings so much to the table when it comes to all things digital.”

Will you be attending eCSN? We’d love to hear from you!

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2J are finalists for the DEAs!

2J are finalists for the DEAs!

We are very happy to announce that 2J Commerce are finalists for two of the Digital Entrepreneur Awards 2017.

Shared from the DEA website

Shared from the DEA website

We’ve been selected as finalist contestants for the Digital Agency of the Year, which is a great achievement for the team. We’ve been putting some serious graft in over the last 12 months due to several big changes in our company structure as well as the arrival of Magento 2. To be recognised for this effort gives us great pride in our work, and no one had worked harder than our Founder and CTO, Jamie Jackson, who has also been shortlisted for the Digital Entrepreneur of the Year Award too.

For those of you who don’t know Jamie, he started 2J Commerce 15 years ago from his bedroom; making websites free-lance to cover his bills. In the last five years, 2J Commerce has become a limited company, more than doubled in size, and become an Enterprise level Magento partner with more Cloud releases to our name than any other agency. This ultimately, is all down to Jamie, so it’s great to see his individual efforts being recognised as well.

Jamie at the awards (2016)

Jamie at the awards (2016)

A massive congratulations to our whole team for their efforts towards becoming finalists this year, and to all the other entrants. We look forward to seeing you in November for the Awards!

Best get our suits cleaned….

My Checkout is not Secure

My Checkout is not Secure

When you run an online business, the main thing you need your customers to be able to do is checkout, and checkout securely. So it is a huge problem when you see something like this…

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An error like this causes massive problems for online stores. Many people cannot checkout at all if there is no secure connection, and those that could will more than likely go elsewhere for fear of a security risk. These errors can easily be fixed and your site made secure again with an SSL Certificate.

When people purchase products online, it’s important for them to know their details are being protected. Payment gateways like PayPal can be used to protect buyers with their built in security. Online businesses need to take certain steps, like having an SSL Certificate to protect their customers and ensure their checkouts are secure.

What is an SSL?

An SSL Certificate is a ‘secured socket layer’ that encrypts sensitive data on websites, like credit card numbers, when connecting with browsers so that the data being passed between the two is protected.

If there is no SSL Certificate in place, there can be no encryption, which leaves the data open to attackers and as we all know, that can have a major impact on your business and your client.

Depending on which kind of certificate you go for, when you get an SSL Certificate, you get the green padlock on your checkout link. There are different types of SSL Certificates, so we can help you determine which is right for your business.

When you’re setting up an online business, it’s easy to get carried away with features you don’t really need that can rip through a budget, especially for a start-up company. But an SSL is definitely something you should not cut corners on. At the end of the day, it will protect your customers, and it will make your site trustworthy, which will encourage people to return.


 

2J Diagnostics: Why is my site slow?

2J Diagnostics: Why is my site slow?

You’ve spent months getting your site just right. You’ve agonised over designs, structure, navigation and imagery, and now you’re live. You’re trading online - whey hey!!

Everything is running smoothly, except you’ve noticed that your website is running slowly. Things might be taking a long time to load, or you may even be presented with, what I like to call: ‘The Rainbow Wheel of Doom’. With online shoppers wanting everything to be instantaneous, slow site speeds causes fewer sales, which is obviously not what you want.

The speed at which your site pages load is dependent on both the front end, and the server where it is hosted. The two components need to do different things to load the page, so the speed can be improved from both sides.

There will more than likely be some server side changes that could be made to really maximise the efficiency of your online store.

You can check your overall site performance with google developer tools. This technology does a lot of the hard work for you, because it isolates where the main issues are so you can then either alter this yourself if you feel able, or you can talk to your developer team about them.

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You can also make changes to the front end without any developer input to reduce the load time on your store.

The main culprit for slow site speeds on the front end is images

Images on a website can cause massive load issues when they are not properly optimised for the web. One of the most common issues is that the image that has been used is larger than there is space for, so your downloading more content than you need to. You can make the image smaller to reduce the load. Be sure to make sure the new dimensions scaleable to avoid distortion, e.g, reduce both dimensions by 20%, don’t reduce both by 20 pixels. You can also compress the images on your site to reduce the file size, but the more you compress an image, the more quality you lose.

You can, however, reduce the load of an image without compromising the quality of the image. Developer Tools on Google has a handy guide for how to do this. You can even download ready-optimised images from there.

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For a fully in-depth investigation, you can have a site audit, which will fully highlight where improvements can be made for not just speed, but for the route to purchase journey as well.

 

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Magento 2 - Speedy, Scalable, Secure

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Magento 2 - Speedy, Scalable, Secure

The latest research from BuiltWith shows Magento is still one of the most popular platforms for online stores since it’s launch in 2008, and more businesses migrate to Magento than other checkouts.  The launch of Magento 2 in November 2015 was one of the most anticipated launches in the eCommerce sector. It had been on the cards for some time, and many businesses have been planning new online stores and updates around the new release. We’re now well settled into Magento 2, so as the new platform approaches it’s second birthday, Here’s a few reasons to make the move if you haven’t already.

 

Speed

One of the most important factor for online shoppers today is speed. We want it all and we want it in an instant. Magento 2 boasts up to 50% faster loading times for web pages across an online store when directly compared to Magento 1, thanks to the addition of Full Page Cache as standard, and Varnish 4, available to plugin out of the box. The checkout process has also been drastically streamlined for faster purchasing. A guest user can now check out in an average of 4.00 seconds compared to 6.50, and logged in users’ checkout times have been cut from 8.22 to 5.89. This is 38% faster than on M1. The out of the box (OOTB) checkout allows for streamlined purchasing with less friction and less distractions; ultimately leading to more conversions.

The admin has also been streamlined for speed and efficiency. Product imports are now up to 4X faster than with M1, and the new user interface of the admin makes the whole process much easier to do.

 

Scalability

Magento 2 offers vast customisation, allowing businesses to scale their online stores up as they grow. For peak times, multiple master databases allows for extra capacity across your store at peaks times, which means you can process up to 117% more orders per hour. There are also more Magento approved modules on the new Magento Marketplace, like our new Indexing Module, which means you won’t need to go to a third party for the extension you need. There’s much more room to add to and change your store as you need.

 

Security

Online security is a big issue. Digital Fraud, online theft, and site hacks are becoming more popular and more complex. Magento 2 developers have worked hard to make the platform as secure and stable as possible. By keeping modularity at the core of the build, you can turn features off when needed to remove the potential threat and protect the rest of your data. The open source community also allows other users to supply fixes to the code to be reviewed by Magento, so it is always being updated.

 

Support

This is the scary one for existing Magento 1 users… With more and more focus going into Magento 2, Magento announced that the technical support available for Magento 1 will be ending in November 2018. Don’t panic too much - your site will not simply get turned off. Many agencies will maintain support for the M1 platform beyond this point, but this will start to dwindle down the less support from Magento themselves there is available. Magento 1.9.1 is the last upgrade available for Magento 1. If you feel your business is ready for more capacity, you need to think about magento 2.

Magento 2 is not a migration from Magento 1, and we know it’s a big thing to consider a replatform, especially when so much effort and time goes into creating an online store. Even if it’s not on the cards for the next quarter, a Magento 2 store should be a real consideration within the next two years.

Inspired? Let's Talk...

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2J Diagnostics: Re-indexing

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2J Diagnostics: Re-indexing

Last week, we covered how to refresh your Magento cache when content isn't pulling through to the front end, but that does not cover the catalog data, such as special pricing. Here’s some information on updating this front end.

So you’re planning a sale, you’ve got all your channels promoting the discount and you’re expecting lots of traffic. Then you realise the special price isn’t showing correctly. Now seems like a good time to panic…

Never Fear! You probably just need to re-index Magento.

I appreciate that to some people, phrases like “you probably just need to re-index Magento”, might as well be “you just need to build an F1 car”, and I am one of those people, but it’s easier that it sounds.

Here’s the background:

Magento stores merchant data (your prices, catalog data, customer data etc) in database tables. This is to improve the speed and performance of the site. Imagine if Magento had to calculate the price of a product, factoring in shipping, discounts, tiered pricing and the rest of the shopping cart each time a product was added to the cart - it would take a while. This would probably lead to users getting frustrated and abandoning their carts.

Every time a price, for example, is changed, Magento will need to be re-indexed so the correct catalog information is stored in those tables. If it’s not re-indexed, the new prices won’t show on the front end, so it’s a handy thing to know how to do if you decide to start a sale at 5am and your support doesn’t kick in till 9.

So what do you need to do?

For Magento 1, you can follow this sequence:

Please note, you will need to be an administrator for this to work, or have the correct access set in your user settings.

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  1. Log into the Magento admin

  2. Go to Index Management from the system dropdown

  3. There will more than likely be a message banner at the top left of your admin; telling you that one or more Indexes are not up to date. This is also good to watch out for in general just in case it appears when you’re editing other things in the admin. You can access the index management from the link in this banner as well.

  4. You can either:

    1. Multi-select the indexes and then click re-index data in the action list and click submit

OR

    1. Click the re-index data link in the action column on the right hand side for each index

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You should now be able to see the changes to your prices and catalog data on the front end of your site.

You can’t re-index from the admin in Magento 2 as standard, but you can use this handy module we’ve build for this very purpose to make your life a little easier when you’re running promotions. You can check it out here.

We can also install this for you, just drop us a line.

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The Navigation Maze

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The Navigation Maze

One of the most important things to think about on a website is the navigation. If you’re navigation isn’t up to scratch, your customers will struggle to find your products, and your conversion rate drops. As digital technology and platforms have developed, things like mega menus and layered navigation have evolved to direct people to the type of products they are looking for straight away.

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Nowadays, it’s common practice to have a menu stemming from your header and a filter option on your products pages, which reduces the product and secondary filter options down selection down as you go.

That being said, it’s not always the best idea to have a million different ways to shop, search and filter on your website. Sometimes, a busy menu can put people off, and having a huge list of options can make customers feel overwhelmed. Finding the right balance can be difficult - It’s a maze out there. But there are a few standard things that can really boost not just your navigation, but the overall look of your site to help your customers get where they need to be.

Here’s a look at seven of the best practices today for a good navigation system on your online store.

 

Why seven?

Good Question! Research shows that we best retain seven chunks of information at any given time. Remember in psychology when your teacher started talking about Miller's Magic Number? It’s seven, and this is what they were talking about. Our brains can hold around seven chunks of information in our short term memory - anymore than this and we are likely to forget most of it. If you give your customers a list of 15 things they could look at all at once, chances are they will miss important links and pass over many categories simply because it’s too much to take in. Try and keep your sections to seven or lower so customers can retain everything they need to find what they are looking for.

 

First things first (and last)...

People remember the first and the last of a list more than the middle. If you ever played the brain training game then you’ll know that when recalling word lists, you’ll probably remember the first few and the last few, but the middle section will be harder to remember. Get your customers where they need to be (and where you want them to be) by putting the most important parts at the beginning and end of your menu. You often find the Sale category at the end of the header lists on sites, for example. Customers love a good sale, so they will remember seeing that category if it’s at the end, but it shouldn’t necessarily be placed in front of a different, full-priced category you want customers directed to before they hit the sales.

The Sale category is best retained at the end of the list so it's not the sole focus of the customer

The Sale category is best retained at the end of the list so it's not the sole focus of the customer

 

They know where to go...

Your customers know that if they look in the header, they will probably see category options. They know that if they go to the footer, they will probably see the social media options. They know the basket is usually in the top right of the screen. It’s pretty standard for online stores, so why put your menu somewhere they won’t look for it? It’s a really good thing to want your site to be different; to stand out from the crowd. But if your customers can’t navigate the site, no matter how unique it is, they won’t buy.

 

But don’t give them the same spiel.

Use titles specific to your product types

Use titles specific to your product types

As equally important as having a menu easily accessible, is having a menu that gives a customer something new to think about. Because people look to the same place each time they browse, links like “About” get glanced over, but rarely clicked. Customers have been there and seen that. If you have analytics, investigate what your customers were searching for when they landed on your site. Will your navigation links take them to the product they were looking for when they clicked on you? Did your customers search for “our services” or did they search for “stilettos”?

 

Dropdowns are dead (mostly)

Recent research into how people browse a site shows that dropdowns are annoying. Our eyes have already moved elsewhere, while our finger is still on the scroll option, so we can accidentally click where we don’t want to go and get annoyed. Also, if you’re clicking on a first level category, the odds are you want to go there, so being presented with more options in a long list causes a delay in the RTP journey. But dropdowns are not wholly bad. If you use a mega menu, this is thought to be the best option for dropdowns. Usability testing by the NNG shows that because there are lots of options, usually very well laid out on the page, so the disruption is worth it.

Use a dropdown with expanding options

Use a dropdown with expanding options

Reduce your clicks

We, as a species, are lazy. We don’t like doing things unless we have to, so clicking through to find something on a site can be a bit of a turn off for us. We don’t want to dig, we want to be hand-fed the grapes whilst relaxing on a chaise lounge. This is most evident when it comes to hidden navigation. If we can’t see it, we don’t use it, so your customers could be missing vital links for their purchase journey. A user study by the Nielsen Norman Group shows that hidden navigations on desktop reduces in people using it less and taking longer to use it when they do. Unless it’s on a mobile, hidden navigation is just another thing a customer has to go and find.

 

Navigating on the go

Speaking of mobile, navigation for these devices will be different than desktop, because the screen size means it’s even easier to over-face your customers. Another study by NNG highlights the best ways to put your navigation into a mobile screen. The most common way to get your navigation accessed, without it eating into the screen space permanently, is an accordion style drop down behind what is universally known as the ‘hamburger icon’. This way, people can get to the information they need to see without being bombarded with everything all at once.

The hamburger icon is well known as the menu button on mobile

The hamburger icon is well known as the menu button on mobile

Use it with accordion style filters for the side menu to reduce over-facing customers

Use it with accordion style filters for the side menu to reduce over-facing customers

When you’re thinking about your navigation, think like a customer. What do you want to see when you’re shopping? What will you search for when you shop? Talk to us today about how to implement these best practices for navigation with your online store.


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2J Diagnostics: Magento Caching

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2J Diagnostics: Magento Caching

A lot of our customers contact us for help on their front-end content. You often find you go in to change/update something on your store, click save, but then when you go to check it on the website, it’s not there. Naturally, you’re going to be concerned about this.

Don’t panic...

The likelihood is, you haven’t done anything wrong. You just need to clear your Magento cache.

When you visit a website, that site is cached in your browser - stored temporarily to speed up load times. This works by the browser only looking for the files that have changed since you last visited the site, which reduces bandwidth on both the viewer’s and server’s side.
As important as having the cache there in a browser is, it’s also important to have the cache cleared every so often to clear up your space and to remove old stored websites you won’t visit frequently, or ever again. It’s also useful to clear it every so often just incase a fresh version of the changes has not been correctly downloaded the next time you visit a page. This is particularly important for sites you visit two or three times a day - mainly your own.

Magento Cache is quite similar to this - having it enabled makes things faster in the backend. But if you’ve made a lot of changes all after the other and then saved to see it on the front end, it may not all appear at once, because a previous version has been cached.
This is the most common reason as to why a change might not be appearing on the front end of your website, when you can see it in the admin, so it’s worth noting how to clear it as a first pass as fixing the problem.

For Magento 2:

  1. Log into your Magento Admin
  2. Go to system on the left hand menu
  3. Go to Cache Management under Tools
  4. You can flush the whole cache, but it is advised that you only refresh the individual cache types you have been editing, e.g. the layout of the blocks html.
  5. You can then refresh the Magento cache for items with the Magento tag alone and flush the storage cache for all items.
The Cache Management link is located under Settings > Tools.

The Cache Management link is located under Settings > Tools.

You can select individual cache types, or Flush all.

You can select individual cache types, or Flush all.

For Magento 1:
Log into your Magento Admin
Go to System in the nav bar and select Cache Management from the dropdown.
Click the ‘flush Cache Management’

Where possible, find the individual element you need to refresh, and flush just that section. This will help with the speed of your site.

If you’ve made changes to do with your product pricing, you may need to re-index, which we will cover in our next article, so stay tuned.

Not fixed the problem? You may need to talk to your development team. We offer support contracts to suit all budgets. Talk to us today.
 

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Our New Magento Module - Index Management

Our New Magento Module - Index Management

We’re very happy to announce the launch of our new Magento Marketplace module ''Index Management'' by 2J Commerce.
The module gives admin users the ability to reindex all or individual indexers manually from the Magento admin panel so they can see catalog changes immediately on the front end. It also adds a configuration setting to increase the PHP memory limit for the stores.

Magento Merchants making frequent changes to their stores need to be able to see their changes on the front end of their site. On Magento 2, this is done by reindexing; either by using the shell command, or through the cron schedules. This can only be done if you know how to setup a cron schedule or run a shell command. You also need to have the right access, which can pose a problem for Ecommerce teams making changes to their catalog data when they don’t necessarily have the skillset of a developer to hand.
'Index Management'' by 2J Commerce enables Admin users to manually run individual, selected, or all indexers through the Admin configuration with one click; without the command lines or waiting for the cron to run. This helps store owners and Ecommerce teams to see their changes immediately on the front end. 
The module also allows the PHP memory limit to be exceeded from the Admin configuration. This should be handled carefully, as increasing the memory to a certain extent can result in memory issues on the stores.  
Following the simple user interface, the installation and code structure makes this module easy to implement and use for Magento 2 store owners.

Please note: This is not necessarily the best solution for M2 merchants as triggering too many reindexes can generate problems on the front end of your store. The load can sometimes cause the site to crash temporarily. It is always advisable that merchants use the command line for reindexing where possible. This extension is to allow specific indexers to be reindexed from the admin when changes need to show on the store front when it is not possible to use the command line or cron schedule.

You can check out our module here.

If you need it, we can build it. Let’s Talk…

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Do you need an app?

Do you need an app?

You’ve probably seen that Digital Agencies tend to bang on quite a bit about mobile phones and their role in the eCommerce sector, and for good reason. Mobiles make up a massive chunk of the market.

So how do people shop on mobiles? They often browse reactively - from an advert they have seen whilst on the go, or when they are sat on the bus and suddenly realise they didn’t buy their wife a birthday card (whatever, I’m over it).

Some of these mobile purchases are done through apps - especially from well established online marketplaces such as Very, eBay and Amazon. The idea is theoretically sound - an app on your mobile screen to enable customers to buy straight from your store, with no need to search or type urls into a browser. However, it may not be for everyone.

Apps really took off in 2008, when the Apple Store opened up, and people have been churning them out ever since. You name it, there is quite literally an ‘app for that’, heck, you can even buy diamonds through an app now. Recently though, the app has been on the decline, with the average mobile owner in the USA downloading 0 apps per month according to ComScore’s study on app use. The profit from app production has reduced by 20% in the last year; the market is just too saturated.

App Downloads went down to less than one per month in 2014 for over 65% of users.

App Downloads went down to less than one per month in 2014 for over 65% of users.

That does not mean to say there isn’t money being made via apps anymore. Uber and Snapchat had their users increase by over 100% last year, and Facebook still has over 1.5 billion users. But these are established names in the app world, and the fresh new idea is becoming increasingly harder to find, as it’s usually already been done.

So creating a new app to provide a specific service is probably not on the top of the priority list right now, but what in-app purchases?

Regardless of the decline in new apps, according to smartinsights.com, 90% of our mobile time is spent on an app, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we are buying through them. Their research also shows only 26% of online purchases are through an app, with the top three sectors of these purchases being finance, electronics, and beauty. There are many reasons people don’t buy from apps. Business Insider UK say that people are put off from buying on apps, usually because they prefer the actual website anyway.

It’s not all doom and gloom for apps. Many people often frequent their favourite brand’s apps for purchases. It again, comes down to the reward you’ll get for the effort required. If you’re familiar with roadmapping, you’ll have heard of the effort:impact scale before, and it needs to be applied to the app question.

For new project ventures, the aim is to get as close to the top left box as possible. The least amount of effort for the most impact on your business is the first thing to start with, and develop from there, so the question is, where does the app fit in this grid?

If you’re in fashion or you’re a well known brand, an app will probably generate a lot of impact, but that doesn’t factor in the effort required, and it probably won’t generate a lot of impact at all for SMEs who sell construction tools. There are a few things to consider when deciding if an app is the right step for your business:

Will people find my app?

Will people searching for your products look for you in an app store? If they are on your site and get notified of an app, are they the type of people who will download it to use in future? If they see it on the site, thy’ve probably already committed to purchasing at that point, so is it really needed?

Do you get repeat custom?

An app is very handy for companies with repeat customers or a brand-loyal customer base. If you sell products people will buy again and again, you’re more likely to benefit from an app compared to a company with a lot of single-purchase customers.

How will people search my products? 

If your customers visit your site through searches, or come across your site via lead generation, and not specifically searching for your business, you may create more of an impact on your business by making sure your site is accessible across all devices, and is clear and simple to navigate.

An app is definitely beneficial to some businesses, and it can generate a lot of repeat custom if it’s something people will use regularly. But the reality is, for many companies, having a mobile site that is not just visually stunning, but easy to use on the go as well, is a smaller effort for a larger impact.


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