This week we are at the Magento Imagine 2016 conference in Las Vegas.

The first Imagine conference started 5 years ago with a vision to connect the global eCommerce community. This week it’s bringing together 2.5k experts including merchants, agencies and providers from more than 45 countries.

Our day began with a welcome breakfast and talk moderated by Andy Barker, Head of Strategy & Growth, Global Payments, Magento eCommerce.

Merchant & System Integrator Payments Panel

At this talk we heard from a panel of food merchants about their experiences with payments, and how positive incremental changes increased their orders.


We heard a series of “Aha” moments from the panel. Here are a few that stood out;

  • Shane Vaughan, Agri Beef
    When he added Paypal Express in the course of 12 months 30% of their orders were using it as their payment method.
  • Daniel Nettleton, Espresso Parts
    Adding additional items to orders pre-magneto was a pain. It was a huge burden on customer services, adding Paypal helped simplify and streamlined their processes.
  • Rick DeWalk, Le Creuset
    Originally didn’t want to change platform to Magento or necessarily change their payment methods. They were complacent, nothing appeared to be broken, why change anything? They then started experiencing problems adding new payment methods to their proprietary platform. This made them look closer at the “problem” and they fast realised that there were better options out there.

Rapid Sound Bytes

The panel then moved on and shared some rapid soundbites to take home.

  • Look at all aspects of payments, especially fraud detection.
  • Payment types are also a marketing decision, not just a financial one.
  • What can your provider do? Find out everything.
  • If you’re in the B2B space, find out about level 3 data capture.
  • Needs to be efficient, look at how many points you have to touch.
  • Understand how your customers want to buy.
  • Look at revenue protection and growth.
  • Just because your customers say nothing doesn’t mean that there isn’t something wrong.
  • Payment will be the driver for mobile conversion growth. Smooth payments on mobile are key – look at Paypal Express, Amazon Payment, tokenisation; providers that retain payment details securely. And watch closely for Apple Pay emerging online!

Magento 2 Developer Deep Dive

Next up was a Magento 2 Developer deep dive session.

Here we learnt about several Magento 2.0 technical topics from Magento Engineering team members. The BIG news was that Magento Marketplace was launched today!

Magento have hand picked trusted developers, that they will invite into the Marketplace. Magento themselves will be managing the quality, their key goals include;

  • Increase buyer trust
  • Improve the quality
  • Manage inventory; a curated list of extensions

Tanya Soroka, Sr. Product Manager of Magento Commerce, provided a walk-through of the new Magento Marketplace, advice on how to boost your sales and reviewed the rules of the road including Marketplace store policies and new quality checks instituted to improve inventory selection.

Kristof Ringle, founder of Fooman, from whom iWeb buy many of his companies extensions, shared the lessons that he had learnt developing Magento 2 extensions.

One stand out concept he shared was of a “4 hour challenge”. And that if as a developer you can spend 4 hours coming up with something that saves you 4 minutes a day, then firstly this will make you more efficient in the future and secondly, you’ll get more buy in from your employer to spend more time in the future doing more “challenges”. The time that you spend on the challenge will pay off in 12 weeks. This is something we have embraced with our Thursday afternoon breakout sessions.

We heard how Magento have invested heavily in Magento 2. Finally Kristof talked about Magento integrating its own testing framework that saves him, as a developer, a lot of time.

Magento U – Introduction to Requirements Gathering for Magento Implementations

Magento U

The aim of this seminar was to acquire effective strategies and best practises for gathering requirements when planning a successful Magento implementation.

This Magento U session was run by Steve Kukla, a certified solution specialist for Magento. As one of iWeb’s in-house solution specialist I thought it would be a good session to attend.

One of Steve’s key messages regarding Magento development, and a practise iWeb already try to adhere to, was to keep development as close to the out of the box native functionality as possible. Where you’re able, use Magento’s native functionality, either without changes, or to repurpose existing functionality – an example provided was creating a ‘saved cart’ feature that was a repurpose of the wish-list feature.

Steve then ran through a series of steps that could be undertaken to ensure that a projects requirements were successfully gathered before a technical specification was produced.

User stories and use cases were key to gathering requirements, this enabled features and functionality to be laid out in document form. These could then be reviewed by all project stakeholders to ensure there were no last minute panics, when functionality doesn’t meet the expectations of a stakeholder, because it wasn’t communicated.

The user stories followed the format of who, what and why. Who will benefit from the requirement, What is the benefit and Why is it a benefit.

Steve also discussed the benefits of following SMART requirement guidelines and prioritising with MoSCoW.

This two hour session was a sample of the full training course offered by Magento U. More information about this course can be found here.

Magento 2 (M2) deep dive session

This afternoon I’ve come to another Magento 2 (M2) deep dive session, this one is talking about front end, integration strategies and performance.

M2 now features out of the box

Magento’s senior architect started off, it sounds like M2 has made numerous improvements to front end development.

  • mobile first responsive (at last)
  • a UI library
  • and built in PHP less

Vitally spoke about how to maximize the benefits of the M2 front end improvements in our projects. Listed here are just some of the front end advances M2 brings.

Magento 2 front end advances

  • M2 theme is now a composer package
  • M2 themes are light
  • M2 themes are more granular
  • M2 layout XML now has containers
  • The M2 theme is more configurable than M1
  • It supports multiple rendering engines
  • It has built in CSS pre-processing
  • Javascript in M2 has now become modular
  • M2 themes now allows localised static content

Chuck Choukalos touched on M2 Integration Strategies and how that not one web store lives in isolation, and that eCommerce requires ever increasing integrations with external systems for product updates, stock updates, order management, and more.

We finally heard how the Magento team is continually optimizing Magento 2 for performance. More in the coming days on this!

Start Up Success

What makes or breaks a startup? Mark Lenhard, SVP of Strategy & Growth lead this session where four successful start-ups spoke about their journeys.

This was an inspirational session where stories were recalled about the tough journey a start-up has to take.

Food for thought included:

  • Competition will always exist, and is a good thing. Just ensure you stay ahead.
  • Create a well loved brand.
  • Love what you do.
  • Have difficult discussions.
  • Align yourself with smart people.
  • Become a master.
  • Test, learn, iterate.
  • Focus on the destination.
  • Listen to good advice.
  • Be more agile.

Magento 2.0 Merchant and System Integrator Perspectives

In this session we got to hear first hand from Magento 2.0 beta merchants and their system integrator parents about their journey with Magento 2.0.

The merchants present were SOL Lingerie, Loom Decor and Leading Lady.

All merchants cited speed and responsive layouts being key to deciding to move to Magento 2.0.

Leading Lady migrated data from 1.7 to 2.0 using the Magento migration tools. It did require 100 hours additional development to the migration tool, but they were still able to migrate a store in a very short amount of time.

They also reduced the module count from 77 extensions, to 44 with 2.0 – the reduction comes from functionality that now exists in core, and also removing modules that are no longer required.

Lessons learned from the merchants:

  • Speak to extension developers early about Magento 2.0 modules.
  • Identify the MVP, and the benefits from moving over to 2.0 rather than trying to build everything upfront. A MoSCoW approach was taken by SOL. More functionality is coming, but the benefits of launching quickly outweighed waiting for all of the functionality.
  • The admin panel is different and will require training, but it is nothing too drastic once you’ve spent time with it.

How did the System Integrators come up to speed with Magento 2.0?

  • Online training sessions, video documentation.
  • Example projects were given to the developers to help bring them up to speed.

Benefits for moving to Magento 2.0 seen by the merchants so far:

  • Speed.
  • Better import and export.
  • Visual merchandiser, based on rules has been a great improvement.
  • Felt like it a was good investment based on moving a 1.7  > 1.9.

This brings to an end out day one of Magento Live 2016. More tomorrow….