Magento 2 reached ‘General Availability’ as of November 17th, 2015. Put simply, that means it’s ready for Merchants to use in a production environment and to run stores on.
So – what’s so great about it? What new features can you expect? In this article, I’ll highlight some of the benefits to the new platform.
If you were expecting a whole new set of features, I think you’ll be heavily disappointed – Magento 2 was never about adding new features and, given how feature rich Magento 1 already is, I think that’s an understandable and acceptable stance.
What Magento 2 is about is refreshing the technologies that the platform is founded on, improving the shopping experience for customers and refining the management of a store from a merchant’s point of view.
I’m not going to go into any detail on the technological advancement of the platform in this article – since most merchants won’t really care or understand what they are – but I will say this, Magento 1 supports two PHP versions that were released in 2012 and 2013. In technology terms, 3 years is a lifetime.
So, let’s get onto the new ‘refinements’.
Oh, no… did you just spend ages adding a product only to realise it’s a simple and not a configurable? You’d better delete it and start again… – Not any more!
In Magento 2 – the product types are fluid. What does this mean? Well, as an example, a product with no weight will be considered virtual; add a weight and it automatically becomes a ‘simple’ product. Associate some products – now you have a configurable product.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to explain to Customers using Magento 1 is using configurable prices. Conversations such as “The price you put on that associated product isn’t the price the customer will pay. It’s actually the price you place on the configurable with any +/- during the associated selection that will represent the price the customer pays”.
Well – now in Magento 2 – the price of the product is the price the customer pays – no more messing around with price increments! Hooray!
Adding product configurations (e.g. this t-shirt is available in S, M, L and also Red and Green) used to be very time-consuming – adding images to each, adding a price to each and stock quantities.
Now this process is pretty much painless – you can do all this during the associate product creation steps!
With Magento 1 if you wanted an extra column adding to the one of the many grids inside of your admin – then you’re jumping straight into customisation land. In Magento 2 – this is built in. Don’t use the order statuses in Magento? Then it’s a few clicks away from being gone.
You can also change the order of columns too so you can put the information most important to you right where you can see it – all from the admin without any developer intervention.
Imagine you have to correct a small typo in the name of a CMS page; previously you would have to load the admin, login, go into the cms section, locate the page, click edit, make the change and then click save; I make that 7 actions for a quick text amend. In Magento 2 you can now edit directly from the grid – so the new process would be – load the admin, login, cms section, locate page, click to inline edit the relevant product, hit save.
On my count, that’s 6 actions, a whole whopping ONE action less… Okay, perhaps one action isn’t ground-breaking, but not loading the edit page is a huge time-saver and it definitely feels more satisfying doing this inline.
One thing to note, this doesn’t work for EVERY grid. For example, the product grid doesn’t allow inline editing. We’re not sure why and can only hope that more editable grids will be introduced in future versions.
Pretty much any new website is expected to be responsive (work on all devices and screen resolutions) by default nowadays, so why should an admin area be a exception? Magento 2’s admin area is now responsive so you can administer on the go. By going responsive the whole admin has had a face-lift and is now much more user-friendly and organised.
Although changing the URL to the admin has always been present in Magento 1, Magento 2 takes this a step further now and by default encourages users to have a unique admin URL e.g. www.mystore.com/admin_35fed/
This will make it more difficult for automated scanners finding your admin URL and attempting to brute force / guess the username and password – the result for you; a more secure website.
There is a new streamlined checkout that minimizes the steps that users need to go through to complete their transaction. By default it will assume a guest checkout – however if the user already has an account it will automatically recognise them (based on their email address) and provide them with the option to checkout faster with their saved details (no more confused users who are not sure if they already have an account.)
Users can now elect to create an account with one click from the Order Success page –
that’s one less blocker between the customer and a conversion.
During a chat at one of the Magento conferences – Ben Marks (Magento’s Community Evangelist) stated that their new stance for features is – performance for everyone (e.g. CE – Community Edition); scalability for Enterprise Customers (e.g. Enterprise Edition). The biggest benefit to this new stance is that EVERYONE gets Full Page Cache now – this feature was previously reserved only for EE stores.
What this means is that your store will be capable of handling lots more traffic (did someone say Black Friday?) without the customer seeing any slow-downs.
It’s not a simple upgrade process. Magento have provided tools for upgrading your data (Customers, Products etc.) to Magento 2, however things such as modules and theme customisations are not straightforward and will require work from a developer to get things going for you.
Once that’s all done, it should be plain sailing on the eCommerce waters from here on for you… queue Rod Stewart!
I am saaiiillliing…