Magento Blog


USPS API Update

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The United States Postal Service notified merchants that it will be releasing an update to its postal rates API effective January 24, 2014. Details on the API changes are provided on the USPS web site.

Magento reviewed and tested the proposed changes with the latest versions of Magento Enterprise Edition, Magento Community Edition, and Magento Go. Based on this work, we don’t expect Magento merchants to experience any issues with the API update.

Magento Platinum Industry Partner WebShopApps conducted their own tests of Magento Community Edition version 1.4 to 1.8 and Magento Enterprise Edition version 1.7 through 1.13 against this change. WebShop Apps concluded that “based on this research, we expect there will no interruption of service to USPS users on Magento.” Additional details of their findings can be found on the WebShopApps blog.

While the API changes won’t disrupt existing services, they will enable a previously announced price increase and changes to some of the services offered. As WebShopApps notes, notable changes include:

  • Price increase details as announced in the Sept 25, 2013 USPS press release require no action. Customers will automatically see the updated rates.
  • Standard Post service has been removed for zones 1 – 4, for both rates and labels. Customers who rely on this shipping method should ensure this will not have any negative repercussions.
  • Additional services offered by USPS include: “Priority Mail Express 1030 AM Delivery” and “First Class Metered.” Please note that these new services will not be automatically supported by Magento.

If you have additional questions about the USPS API or associated service changes, we recommend that you contact the USPS directly.

Magento Now Supports PHP 5.4

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Magento is continuing to advance its platform and make development more efficient by adding support for PHP 5.4. Moving to PHP 5.4 offers several advantages, including better performance, more efficient memory usage, and access to ongoing updates and security fixes.

To ensure that you can take advantage of these valuable updates faster, we’ve released patches for Magento Enterprise Edition 1.11.0.0 and later releases and for Magento Community Edition 1.6.0.0 and later releases. Support for PHP 5.4 will also be built in to future Magento product releases.

The Magento Enterprise Edition patches are posted in the Support Patches section of My Account and the Magento Community Edition patches are available on the Community Edition download page. More information on applying patches is available in the Magento Knowledge Base. If you are unable to upgrade to PHP 5.4, PHP suggests you upgrade to 5.3.28 as the latest version in the 5.3.x product line that includes security fixes.

A Look Back: Magento at NRF 2014

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It's been an exhilarating few days here at the National Retail Federation's annual BIG show – both for us at Magento and for our business partners. In true fashion, we started the show with big news that Magento and eBay Enterprise are now offering a new solution for mid-market merchants and are advocating omnichannel approaches for success.

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On the floor itself, our booth representatives shared time with existing and potential clients to help each understand the full gamut of our solutions, ranging from Magento’s highly flexible, open source front end customization, to eBay Enterprises' interfaces and tools, including store-based fulfillment and call center capabilities. We also showed off eBay Inc.'s connected glass technology, a shoppable interface that we developed in concert with our business partners Rebecca Minkoff and TOMS shoes -- both of whom presented during NRF.

eBay Inc. executives, including Ben Pressley, Head of Enterprise Strategy and Business Development at Magento, and John Sheldon, Global Head of Strategy at eBay Enterprise Marketing Solutions, discussed with TOMS and SONY their recent customer experience innovations in Monday's panel, “Redefining the Customer Experience.”

With the wide variety of discussions and topics on the event floor this week, we’re curious; what did you take away from NRF’s Big Show? Let us know on Twitter! Share your learnings with @Magento using the hashtag #NRF14.

Advice for Global Expansion: TOMS + Claire’s Stores

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Much of the discussion around the National Retail Federation’s annual BIG show in New York this week has revolved around larger trends in shopping: the growth of mobile, social and local, and the importance of using big data to create personalization for trusting customers. But the conference, which is a true global affair, has also been an opportune time to bring together retailers from all over the world, as new technologies and digital capabilities have made it easier than ever for companies to start thinking of international expansion.

Two such companies explained their thought processes for expansion in Tuesday’s mid-morning session “Beyond Borders: Retail Lessons in Global Expansion.” James Fielding, the chief executive of Claire’s Stores, and Zita Cassizzi, the chief digital officer of TOMS Shoes (a Magento client) discussed how their respective businesses decided to enter new markets.

Claire’s Stores
Fielding, who frequently mentioned the importance of global + local, ticked through a list of internal and external factors that companies need to answer to help them decide whether or not to expand. His internal questions included:

  • What are your company’s growth objectives?
  • Is your home market doing well?
  • Do you have the management bandwidth?

External questions included:

  • Is there regional consumer interest in your brand?
  • Is your target market growing at a fast enough level?
  • Do you have an adaptable business model?

Fielding also shared his learnings after 20 years on the job at Claire’s, namely that retailers—when deciding about expanding—need to:

  1. Do the research
  2. Think "glocal" (global and local)
  3. Acquire brand expertise with brand experts
  4. Stay flexible and nimble
  5. Pick the right partners
  6. Think digital and physical
  7. Expect the unexpected

“Global expansion is a great opportunity but it comes at a great price,” said Fielding. “Be prepared to work hard.”

TOMS
After TOMS decided to expand internationally, Cassizzi says the company tried to pick its first new locations based on the ease of entry, the market size, the country’s affinity for the TOMS brand, as well as the social engagement of the population, given how active the brand is on social networks. The business also considered the customer, “of course,” said Cassizzi with a laugh.

The expansion has been a success, notes Cassizzi, who is more than happy to share her five key takeaways from the experience:

  1. It’s all about the customer, customer, customer
  2. Determining a larger holistic strategy
  3. Test > Measure > Learn > Refine (and Repeat)
  4. Communicate what your business is doing
  5. At the end of the day, it’s still all about your people

Do you have any useful tips for expanding into new markets? Reach out to us via @Magento using #NRF14 to continue the conversation, or follow us on Facebook. For those at the event, be sure to stop by the eBay Inc. booth (4245) to check out the awesome Connected Glass, Digital Storefront experience featuring Rebecca Minkoff and TOMS.

Magento Attends National Retail Federation’s Annual Big Show: Day One

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The first full day of the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual BIG Show 2014 was sure not to disappoint. Following an opening keynote by former President George W. Bush, which touched more upon his legacy than retail, thousands of NRF attendees caught a full day’s worth of panels, breakout sessions and one-to-one chats, which roughly revolved around the importance of these five key themes for retailers: innovation, big data, personalization, omnichannel and mobile.

Here are a few of our favorite takeaways from the day:

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1. Leverage innovation to dominate the larger conversation. As online and offline stores continue to merge, and more and more audiences go mobile, retailers need to figure out creative ways to attract new customers without alienating existing ones, while staying true to their brand proposition.

One company that has seen success in solving this puzzle is the shoe brand (and Magento customer), TOMS. In a panel on “Redefining the Customer Experience” Monday afternoon with Ben Pressley, Head of Enterprise Strategy and Business Development at Magento, and John Sheldon, Global Head of Strategy at eBay Enterprise Marketing Solutions, TOMS Digital Business Development Lead Jordan Glassberg described how his company’s recent “shoppable windows” pilot with eBay Inc. not only positioned the company at the forefront of ecommerce, but it also provided an innovation twist in true TOMS spirit. By transporting their Marketplace experience of being able to shop by causes (such as children or education) into a digital storefront, they were able to stay true to their roots while expanding their business.

Electronics giant, Sony had a similar experience with eBay Inc. when they set up a shoppable window in a San Francisco mall. Sony Electronics’ Director of Guest Experiences for Sony Store, Megan Farrell Ragsdale noted that the holiday–only pilot was “a great expression of the brand.” Not only did the company appear technologically advanced and innovative, but they also received a treasure trove of data (such as time spent engaging with the windows) to learn from and enhance future experiences.

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2. Keep mobile and omnichannel top of mind when it comes to online strategy. These two other big retailer themes—mobile and omnichannel—were discussed in a second eBay Inc. panel, “Mobile Innovation as a Roadmap to Customer Success.” During the session, Bernardine Wu, Fred Argir and Healey Cypher, altogether discussed the importance of engaging with customers at multiple touch points. After first clarifying the difference between cross-channel (engaging with a brand in one channel and finishing in another) and omnichannel (seeing one brand experience across multiple touch points), the trio launched into how customers differentiate. Argir noted that while Toys “R” Us now has roughly 80 different ways of providing a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels, the company is still very focused and has an intentional route for all of them. Cypher also encouraged retailers to embrace different uses for different devices, and offered multiple tips for mobilizing one’s website, such as improving the site itself (quick load times, high quality graphics), improving the product (include category and search boxes, include a QR barcode), and improving your checkout process (adding checkout button on the top and bottom of every page, offering guest checkout).

3. Retailers need to figure out their online and offline strategies as they continue to make inroads with customers. As Jon Stine, the Director of Cisco Consulting Services noted in an Expo session early Monday morning, there is $99 billion at stake in the Internet of Everything—and that includes innovation, big data, personalization, omnichannel and mobile.

What did you take away from NRF’s Big Show? Let us know on Twitter! Share your learnings with @Magento using the hashtag #NRF14. For those at the event, be sure to stop by the eBay Inc. booth (4245) to say hi and to check out the awesome Connected Glass, Digital Storefront experience featuring Rebecca Minkoff and TOMS.

New eBay Enterprise and Magento Solution Powers Omnichannel Growth for Mid Sized Retailers

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Imagine a new retail enterprise solution that leverages new technologies while maintaining a low total cost of ownership and an accelerated time to market. Today, that possibility becomes a reality with eBay Inc.'s new retailer solution.

Specifically geared towards enabling omnichannel success for mid-sized retailers, the new solution leverages existing gateways within eBay Inc.'s latest version of Magento Enterprise Edition and provides access to eBay Enterprise's omnichannel enabling capabilities. Working jointly, Magento and eBay Enterprise can now provide emerging retailers with the same capabilities leveraged by the top 100 Internet Retailer companies.

“As our customers scale beyond $100 million dollars in revenue, flexibility and extensibility of ecommerce technologies become mission-critical to survival and success,” said Roy Rubin, chief operating officer of Magento. “We are excited to announce that new and existing Magento Enterprise Edition customers now have an unprecedented competitive edge in the marketplace with eBay Enterprise’s comprehensive omnichannel solution suite.”

More specifically, the new joint solution combines the highly flexible, open source front end customization of Magento Enterprise Edition with eBay Enterprise’s modular omnichannel solution suite that includes a retail optimized order management platform comprised of: distributed order management, omnichannel inventory visibility, store based fulfillment and drop ship management. The joint solution can also include modular options from eBay Enterprise’s Demand Generation, Fulfillment and Customer Service capabilities.

Additionally, the joint solution will be supported by a robust partner program leveraging Magento’s massive partner and developer network and specifically aligned to the unique needs of mid-sized retailers, and is available to both new and existing Magento Enterprise Edition customers.

“By integrating Magento with the eBay Enterprise omnichannel solution suite, new and existing Magento merchants can take advantage of our leadership in large scale retail technologies, and get access to the solutions they need to grow without having to re-architect or re-evaluate their existing storefront implementations," said Chris Saridakis, president of eBay Enterprise. “Retailers large and small understand the importance of swift technology enablement as a strategy to win in an increasing competitive environment.”

Lessons from a Year of Magento U

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As you’re planning for 2014, think about fitting in time to get to know the Magento platform better. Getting educated might seem like an obvious way to gain understanding, but too often we skip those opportunities because we’re just too busy. In 2014, make time. We’re speaking from experience. Hundreds of developers have trained with us, and here are lessons they have to share:

Developers Don’t Know What They Don’t Know
image “The Magento U course has helped me get to know Magento in so many ways, and it has made me realize how much I did not know about the framework,” said Phumlani Nyati from Invent Commerce. Developers tend to be pretty smart and self-sufficient people, which is good because they’re often thrown into the deep end head first when they join a team. No matter how clever they are, without education on the Magento platform, they’ll tend to focus on what they can see, and likely miss useful and important aspects simply because they don’t know they exist.

An Educated Developer is an Efficient Developer
“For the past year I have been blindly working with Magento, but after the week of training I now can see the light. I can't wait to bring my new knowledge back to work,” says Dave Bonillas from Build.Com, Inc. Magento platforms are pretty awesome, but they’re not magical. They need to be implemented and managed by developers, and, since most development is tied to a budget, it’s a really good idea for developers to know what they’re doing. Saving time means saving money.

Experts Are Better at Answering Complex Questions
“The instructor had incredible knowledge of the material and was able to explain and demonstrate real life situations flawlessly,” says Ashley Bush from Ringside. Developers have questions too. Sure, developers can probably “read the book,” but isn’t it better, and often faster, when they can just ask someone? Especially if the person they ask is an expert? Not only do they know their subjects, but experts are often a great source for filling in all of those things you didn’t know you didn’t know, and helping you with efficiency. Because they’re experts. It’s what they do.

Check out the courses coming up in 2014.

Meet Magento U Instructor Kevin Schroeder

Along with being a published author, Kevin Schroeder teaches performance and system optimization classes for Magento U.

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1. Where are you from?
Originally a very small town in Manitoba, Canada. Now, Texas.

2. What classes do you teach for Magento U?
I teach Performance and System Optimization as well as fix broken virtual machines. Sometimes I break fixed virtual machines.

3. What do you love about Magento U?
I like seeing “Oohhhhh, now I get it” in the chat. It’s even better when it happens in my class.


4. What’s the funniest thing that has happened in one of your classes/since you’ve been working with Magento U?
Nothing. I run a completely tight ship, devoid of humor, completely focused on the task at hand. Sometimes I even beat a drum during exercises. Bom, bom, bom be dum.

  • 5. What is your favorite movie? TV show? Musical artist?
  • [Movie] Aliens or Sneakers. The Expendables is pretty darn good too.
  • [TV] Pingu (Nug! Nug!).
  • [Musical Artist] Me! (released two albums and working on a third) Or James Horner (his old stuff) or Danny Elfman (his new stuff) or Chris Broderick or Juno Reactor. In all honesty, I have no idea. Anything without a Banjo… except for the theme song from Firefly. But only because Nathan Fillion is in it.

6. If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go and why?
Fhloston Paradise, but only because I’m such a big fan of Ruby Rhod.

7. If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?
A giant spider, so I could finally catch those filthy Hobbitses.

8. What is your favorite food?
Usually, whatever is about to enter my mouth. Or Thai.

9. What is a Magento tip you want to share with people?
"We’ll just cache it” is not a performance strategy.

Want to know more about Magento U instructors? Visit us on Facebook!

Upcoming Magento U Courses:

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