Magento: 7 years of Development

As I write this at Star Digital HQ in October 2015 we’ve been developing web sites for clients using the Magento platform for 7 years now. So are we getting the 7 year itch? In that time we’ve seen the product grow from a virtual beta to one of the most in demand ecommerce solutions for mid size B2B and B2C retailers on the planet. It hasn’t come without its own set of problems. The key issues and learning we have had over the years have been as follows; •    Quality of hosting •    Understanding how to optimize properly •    The variability of quality in the extensions market •    The importance of staff training •    The importance of creating a full functional specification •    Managing customer UAT expectations •    Staying on top of the upgrade path •    Converting sites to be fully mobile responsive What we’ve learnt over this time is that customers see the out of the box platform with a theme as the answer to everything. They don’t realize that it all needs to be configured and tested. As a rule we don’t like marketplace themes and if a client is serious about their store and their desire to deliver a unique experience we recommend against it. The time taken to modify and move elements around negates the effectiveness of themes over time. Then there is the question of licensing. A lot of clients with build budgets in the region of £40k still want to ‘try’ it on Community edition first as they feel the licensing is prohibitive at c$18K USD per annum. We don’t push the Enterprise licensing piece ourselves, we explain to the client what the options are and then pass them through to our partners at eBay that explain the benefits. (Although eBay Enterprise at the time of writing is being sold to a venture capital consortium) What we do know is that the Enterprise platform is an essential consideration for clients in the £5+ Million sales per annum as it comes with a full SLA from Magento, access to the ever growing and knowledgeable support team and has features that make it run faster and more efficiently than Community can. We’ve been building and supporting Enterprise since 2010 and we can honestly say that the reduction in developer time on that platform is also a consideration for clients. In 2012 we joined the partner community and put a series of developers through certification on both the back end and front-end disciplines. It was a good learning curve for all involved and helped us to really understand the best ways to develop complex integration to the platform. It earned us our Silver partner status and since then we’ve gone on to develop our agnostic integration solution ‘Magenector’ that allows us to pull data in from multiple external sources and technologies, process it and inject it int Mganeto using the standardized and custom models. In the main, that work has taken place on behalf of B2B customers looking to make the most of ecommerce with their trade customers, but we’ve also been involved in B2C projects where the ERP systems have managed complex deal rules and dynamic pricing. Overall the back end development team at Star Digital has probably seen most of the scenarios that B2B data can throw at us, and our integrations have become robust and solid over time. With the advent of Magento 2 on the horizon, launch set for November 2015 at the current time, the back and front end teams here are busy working through the pre-launch training to make sure we are able to help with upgrades and new project RFP’s. The next 18 months should be very interesting as we watch how Magento 2 impacts the market. Its clear that new enquiries have been quiet since the Spring of 2015 no doubt caused by clients holding off for the new platform. Let’s see what the next 7 years bring! Star Digital is a Magento Silver Partner working in both Community and Enterprise Editions of Magento. They specialize in complex integrations between Magento and back office ERP/CRM systems using their agnostic middleware solution known as ‘The Magenector’.  

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