MAGENTO 2.0

Why You Should Upgrade to Magento 2.3

Magento has announced that as of January 2020, Magento 2.2 will no longer be supported. This means new versions will no longer be released for any Magento 2.2 instance, whether it’s security updates or bug fixes. With this news, you should be looking to upgrade to Magento 2.3 in the near future. In this post, I will explain the major differences between 2.2 and 2.3, and why you should be upgrading. There are many minor bug fixes and security updates that have happened in the changelogs for 2.3, but I will be mainly focused on the major changes: new functionality and major security improvements.

Magento Open Source

Magento Open Source 2.3 comes with quite a few new features, such as Multi Source Inventory, PWI, declarative schema, GraphQL, and many others. In this section we will go in-depth for each one.

Multi-Source Inventory

Multi Source Inventory (MSI) allows merchants to have multiple different warehouses, brick and mortar stores, or distribution centers, and ship from each one depending on which location has the product ordered in stock and even which warehouse is closest to the shipping address on the order. This can help decrease not only shipping times, but also shipping costs.

PWA Studio

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) Studio allows for developers to create a much more intuitive mobile application and can increase performance on mobile devices immensely. In 2018, over 52% of all web traffic came from mobile devices, so having a performative, intuitive, and attractive mobile website is vital in today’s day and age.

GraphQL

This is more of a developer’s tool, however it’s incredibly useful. This allows much quicker and easier manipulation of databases. When used correctly, it can send and receive database information much more efficiently than the standard MySQL system that Magento 2.2 uses 

Declarative Schema

This is another developer tool but is also really helpful for Magento when releasing new security patches. Declarative schema allows developers to declare how they want the database to be structured without having to maintain an upgrade or install script in the module. This means that Magento can make database schema changes in patches, which wasn’t previously possible. 

Magento Commerce

Magento Commerce has all of the Magento Open Source changes, along with a few extras. In this section we will go over a few of the improvements that aren’t included in the Magento Open Source Version.

Page Builder

One of the most impressive improvements in Magento 2.3 thus far is the page builder. This has vastly improved the CMS content development and makes it extremely easy for merchants to set up their static content without the need of a developer.

CMS Improvements

In situations where you use the WYSIWYG editor but the page builder isn’t available, the WYSIWYG editor has also had some great improvements. If you’ve used the Magento 2.2 WYSIWYG editor, you have probably noticed a plethora of icons, many of which are hard to understand. In 2.3 they streamlined the WYSIWYG editor to look much more simplistic and easier to understand.

 

There’s a multitude of reasons to upgrade to Magento 2.3. Due to a SQL injection vulnerability found in 2.3.0, we highly recommend skipping 2.3.0 and upgrading straight to 2.3.1. If you are already on 2.3.0 and haven’t applied the patch to fix the vulnerability or upgraded to 2.3.1, upgrade immediately. For those of you currently on 2.2, due to Magento dropping support of 2.2 as of January 2020, it’s best to upgrade soon. We can help you upgrade to 2.3.1 as well! Just contact us here so we can get started. 

Have you heard about our new webinar happening on June 20th? We are going to be discussing about B2B commerce and using Magento 2.3 It will begin at 9:00 AM

Until next time, let’s get social!  Like us on Facebookfollow us on TwitterInstagram and on Linked In.

Thanks for stopping by!

Crimson Agility Team

Crimson Agility Receives Two Nominations from Magento

Crimson Agility Receives Two Nominations from Magento
Most Innovative Commerce Experience and Best B2B Buyer Experience
Crimson Agility, a full-service e-commerce consulting and development firm, has
been honored with two nominations from 230+ entries, for the 2019 Imagine
Excellence Awards by Magento, an Adobe Company. Crimson and its clients,
Amped Innovation and Performance Health, snagged highly-coveted nominations
for the Most Innovative Commerce Experience Award and the Best B2B Buyer Experience Award, respectively.
The winners will be announced at the Imagine 2019 event in Las Vegas.
Amped Innovation sells much needed solar appliances in Africa. The problem was
affordability. More than 80% of Amped customers earn less than $2.50 per day.
“By working with Crimson to incorporate micro-payments into the Magento
platform, we tapped into emerging markets in Africa and Asia making our solar
products accessible to the poorest customers,” said Andi Kleissner, Co-Founder
and CEO of Amped Innovation. “Our customers can now buy previously
unattainable products on a payment plan they can afford.”
“The collaboration enabled Amped to achieve triple-digit growth, while introducing a
life-changing line of products in previously untapped markets,” added Kleissner.
Performance Health is a leader in consumer healthcare and the largest global
manufacturer and distributor of products to the rehabilitation and sports medicine
markets.
Crimson’s nomination alongside Performance Health for the Best B2B Buyer
Experience Award stemmed from the positive results of the features and capabilities
Crimson added to Performance Health’s e-commerce sites.
“With multiple, highly-complex e-commerce sites, we’ve put Crimson and Magento
through the ringer, testing their knowledge and capabilities beyond what we ever
imagined,” said Kristin Greenwell, E-Commerce Director at Performance Health. “They
have exceeded our expectations since day one.”
These capabilities provide a user experience that rivals the performance of the best-
designed B2B websites. The e-commerce sites accommodate power users who
manage thousands of ship-to addresses, many requisition lists, negotiated pricing, and
hundreds of employees buying online for the company. “Crimson’s knowledge of Magento and e-commerce is unmatched. We have been so impressed with their accountability and determination to make our website look, feel and most importantly, PERFORM how we and our customers expect,” added Greenwell.
“We are proud to stand with both our clients as finalists for these two prestigious
awards. We credit our success to a shared vision, collaboration, and hard work”, says
David Baier, Managing Partner at Crimson Agility

Until next time, let’s get social!  Like us on Facebookfollow us on TwitterInstagram and on Linked In.

Thanks for stopping by!

Crimson Agility Team

UPGRADE TO MAGENTO 2.3.1

Magento is making increasing headway in e-commerce innovation and that trend continues with Magento Commerce and Magento Open Source 2.3.1. The new update offers merchants better control, creation tools, and will save you time and money when interacting with your e-commerce site.

There are over 200 improvements included in this update. You can look forward to merchant tool enhancements such as improved order creation workflow, Distance Priority Source Selection algorithm (SSA) option in Multi-Source Inventory, and enhancements to mass inventory transfers. Additionally, the Progressive Web App (PWA) studio now has more tools than ever before to help you build and deliver state-of-the-art mobile experiences. The update also offers the latest version of PayPal Express Checkout, Venmo, Shipment Cancellation, and enhancements to many of Magento’s existing features. For B2B customers, 2.3.1 now supports address books of more than 3,000 entries.

If you’re interested in upgrading your Magento site, contact us to schedule a complimentary assessment and estimate. Crimson Agility is nations’s fastest growing and Magento Professional partners in North America, providing local and nationwide brands both e-commerce and Magento consulting and development services. Simply fill in your information to contact us to schedule your complimentary Magento assessment.

For more information about Magento 2.3.1.

5 Keys to Successful Magento Support

“Managed Services” is a service offered to businesses that rely on a software or service that requires support, maintenance, and or customizations.  Crimson Agility provides Magento Managed Services as a services offering to its clients or any Magento merchant on Magento 1 or Magento 2.

As your business grows, the impact of unexpected downtime, security issues, or a stale site can result is huge losses of revenue, customers, and credibility.  Our clients at Crimson Agility depend on us to ensure that their site is stable, performing at a high level, and secure. Additionally, many of our clients are constantly evolving their site to grow sales, gain competitive advantage over competitors, and exceed their customers expectations.  As both consultant and developer, Crimson Agility is viewed by our clients as a trusted partner.

When you are looking for Magento support, help or development services, the following critical success criteria should be evaluated.   

  1. Work with a team of Magento Certified and Trained developers.  Magento is a powerful platform and framework for e-commerce, not just a PHP application.  If the team you entrust to work on your site is not trained and certified, they will likely take the path of least resistance to doing things, leaving your site vulnerable and performing poorly.  Always work with a team that follows Magento best practices. Doing things the “Magento Way” ensures your site remains supportabe, stable, performing well, and secure.
  2. A good managed services or support team is going to have a clearly defined methodology built around principles that promote communication, control, and transparency.  I found this resonates with our clients as what they’ve been missing or lacking prior to working with Crimson Agility.  The lack of any of these when you are paying for services and support is incredibly frustrating.
  3. “Continuity of Care” is an important concept that I first learned about from my wife, who as a nurse, pointed out to me the importance of “continuity of care”. Basically, the same nurse is assigned to the same patient as much as possible resulting in better care and a more personalized approach to care.  By assigning a single point of contact to our clients and one or two developers that consistently work for you; you benefit from a relationship where our team understands your vision, the nuances of your site, and the history. There is no bouncing around between different developers or overseas staff in remote time zones that you’ve never met or talked to.  
  4. No risk, no long-term commitments, quality Magento support.  There is no need to sign a long-term contract until you are ready to do so and it is in the best interest of your business.  Crimson Agility offers an ad-hoc approach to support and development that allows you to pay as you go. If our support is not working out for you, you can stop at any time.  This approach is the equivalent of a “trial”. Most of our clients started this way. After working with us for a few months, they switched to a managed services plan that provided discounts and additional services that aligned with their needs.
  5. The thing that our clients value most is responsiveness and quality results fast, they want to know that when there is a problem, we’ll respond quickly; if they call with an emergency, someone will always answer the phone.  At Crimson Agility, if we get a call due to an emergency you will always be connected with one of your team and they’ll typically have the issue resolved within 1-2 hours.  In addition, when it’s not an emergency, we are able to take most simple requests and complete them within a day or two of being logged by you. The pace and rhythm of what to do and when is completely governed by you – important for planning.

As your business grows you’ll want the piece of mind that you have a trusted Magento partner to help manage, support, maintain, and grow your Magento site.  Crimson Agility offers several plans including the ad-hoc support plan and accommodates to clients big and small.  Your dedicated team of certified professionals awaits your call. Call us today or visit our Magento Managed Services & Support page on our site.

Crimson Agility Team

GDPR DEADLINE IS MAY 25, 2018… ARE YOU READY?

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is one of the most significant pieces of legislation passed relating to technology and the internet. It was approved by the European Union in April 2016, and set to come into force on May 25, 2018.  GDPR looks to bring together several existing laws and regulations to harmonize rulings across the EU. Primarily, GDPR aims to provide new guidelines that provide a better fit for today’s technology-dominated world.

The main points of GDPR concern the privacy rights of everyday users and their online data.  It will affect businesses of all sizes and will have a great effect on how companies gather, store, and look after their user’s data.  Companies will also need to give explicit notice when collecting personal data, which implies that consent will need to be explicitly given by the user and the purpose for gathering the data will need to be disclosed. Once data is collected, personal data will need to be encrypted by default as part of a process known as pseudonymization, meaning that it can’t be linked to a specific person without being accompanied by extra information.

What is considered personal data?

The concept applies to anything that could be used to directly or indirectly identify a person online. This could include names, email addresses, images, bank details, social network posts, medical information, web-based cookie data, or even a computer IP address.

What is the “right to erasure”?

Your website’s users will also have the right to know exactly what details you hold about them, and will have the right to request that any of this information be deleted if they feel their rights to privacy are being infringed upon.

How does this affect you?

Companies outside of the EU must abide by the same rules as EU companies if offering goods and services to customers in the EU.  If you have mailing lists for newsletters or promotions, and some of your prospects or customers are EU citizens, GDPR applies to you.

What are the requirements?

The requirements for online retailers that have EU customers at this point are outlined below:

  • Understand what “personal data” you are collecting and storing in Magento as well as in upstream and downstream systems (i.e. names, e-mails, addresses, credit card details, etc.). Special safeguards should be taken if collecting any data about race, sexual orientation, religious, and political beliefs. We recommend doing an inventory the “personal data” and where it is flowing to/from, like data to/from ERP, third-party services, reporting tools, etc.
  • Tell your customers who you are when you’re requesting their data – About Us, Contact Us, Customer Service, and Help pages that are informative and do not shield or make it difficult to contact you.  Provide physical addresses, phone numbers, and names of key personnel (i.e. owner, support, customer service).
  • Tell your customers why you are collecting their personal data, how long you will keep it and who you share it with – this should be clearly outlined in your privacy and use of personal data policies on the site and linked to a customer registration and checkout.
  • Get clear consent from your customers to process and store their data – this can be accomplished by adding consent or requiring agreement with your privacy policy during registration and checkout.  This includes clients using your site as “guests” also be acknowledged on the order and their consent stored with the order.
  • Provide your customers access to their personal data – ensure customers can view what personal data you have collected about them.  The Magento ‘My Account’ area clearly covers most if not all of the personal data you might have as it relates to orders and transactions.  This gets trickier if you are collecting other identifying data through marketing services.  Make sure that your third-party partners have a clear and coherent GDPR plan for compliance that you are comfortable with.
  • Provide your customers the “right to be forgotten” or “right to erasure” – this is new to Magento and still unclear on how to best implement this, but GDPR is expecting online retailers to allow their customers to “erase” or “take their personal data”.  This means names, e-mail address, physical addresses, credit card details, and possibly order details or at least the elements of it that are deemed “personal data”.  This may extend to logs including their IP address as well as other personally identifiable source of data (i.e. reviews, social interactions, etc.).  As you can see this one opens the door for a lot of questions and a burden on small online retailers.
  • As an online retailer you are expected to be proactive in maintaining best practices as it relates to security and protecting your customer’s data.  In addition, if there is ever a breach and data is compromised, you are required to communicate the breach and any “serious risk” to your customers.
  • Provide your customers the right to “opt-out” of direct marketing that uses their personal data – Magento has always supported this as it relates to Newsletters and E-Mail promotions and allows your customers to subscribe and unsubscribe from these forms of direct marketing.  This right to opt out is something that it is important to review with third-party partners who you may be sharing customer’s personal data with.
  • Ensure that any transfer of “personal data” to other parties is highlighted in your privacy and use of personal data policies.  Contact your customers for any changes to these policies.
  • It is ultimately your responsibility to be aware of the data usage policies and behaviors of any extensions or third-party system you choose to use.

What are the consequences of non-compliance? 

Companies outside Europe will also need to ensure they’re compliant with the rules, as they could also be subject to fines if found not to be up to speed. GDPR is a huge deal. Any organization found out of compliance to the new regulations after the May 25 deadline could face heavy fines, equivalent to 4% of annual global turnover, or €20 million, whichever is greater.

This blog post is not providing legal or regulatory advice. It is an interpretation of the GDPR and emerging “best practices” to help our Magento customers.  The team at Crimson Agility can help (from a technology standpoint) to get your online retail shop ready in time for the GDPR deadline of May 25th, 2018.  It remains to be seen exactly how GDPR will be monitored, and if fines will be issued…but for now it is best to be safe than sorry and prepare as much as you can.

Ask us and we can do an assessment of your site and provide you with a free estimate for what it would take to get your site GDPR compliant.

Until next time, let’s get social!  Like us on Facebookfollow us on TwitterInstagram and on Linked In.

Thanks for stopping by!

Crimson Agility Team

WHAT IS YOUR WEBSITE STORY?

Have you ever heard that when you first meet someone, you have just a few seconds to make a first impression? Well it’s pretty much the same with websites these days. How many times have you searched on the internet, clicked and landed on a site that was totally not what you were expecting?  Or […]

USING MAGENTO 2 TO COMMUNICATE BRAND IDENTITY

As a business owner, your brand is your identity. Twizel Goods, provider of sustainable clothing, approached Crimson Agility with a very specific mission. The owners wanted their e-commerce site to not only function perfectly, but to also beautifully represent the brand and vision they had worked so hard to hone.

For Twizel, clothing should be crafted with “care, quality, and humanity.” The focus is not on cheap and easy goods, but instead on ensuring the way the goods are created and distributed supports a healthy and vibrant planet. Understandably, a company with this global mission needs a site that will represent its identity completely.

When we began to build Twizel’s e-commerce site, we knew a Magento 2 platform could align with the vision Twizel had in mind. We followed these three principles to create a site that aligns with Magento best practices, responsive web design (RWD), and Twizel’s vision.

COLLABORATION

Like most companies, Twizel had a specific brand image in mind. The Magento 2 platform allowed Crimson Agility to reflect that brand in Twizel’s e-commerce site. In order to do this effectively, our e-commerce engineers worked directly with the design firm that Twizel contracted to create its brand. This collaboration allowed us to get a clear vision for the style and layout of the site while providing the opportunity for us to influence the design in a way that allowed Magento 2 features to shine through.

Based on the feedback and input we received, our team was able to create a Magento 2 custom theme that aligned with the vision Twizel had in mind. In addition, our team was able to positively contribute to the theme design by sharing and implementing ideas that demonstrated how the Magento 2 features and functionality meshed with their vision. This partnership of Twizel’s team and Crimson Agility’s Magento professionals resulted in a site that perfectly suited the Twizel brand identity.

MOBILE-FRIENDLY (RWD)

As a company with a visual product, the visual aesthetic of the e-commerce site is very important. Ensuring the Twizel vision translated to smartphones and tablets was especially important with the growing trend in online retailing towards mobile. Our team created and tested the Twizel Magento 2 site to work seamlessly across a range of devices. We wanted the site to operate perfectly and look great on laptops, tablet, and smartphone screens. Responsive Web Design (RWD) was a critical success factor and at the forefront of theme design at all times. We thoroughly tested the site across a range of monitor sizes to ensure the site functioned as exquisitely on a smartphone screen as it did on a large desktop screen. This included validating style, layout and functionality across a variety of web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, iOS and Android. Nowadays, this is critical for any e-commerce site, considering mobile devices makes up 65% of all digital media usage. Your user is mobile and so your site needs to be too!

THE TWIZEL STORY

It was important to Twizel that their site be an extension of their vision, ideas, and philosophy as it relates to sustainable clothing and how we live – this was done in large part through beautifully captured high-resolution photographs that tell the “story.” We worked with Twizel to make certain that the images on each page told the story of their company, products, and partners. We were careful to balance the impact of large high-resolution images with high-performance.

Check out Twizel Good’s custom Magento 2 site at http://www.twizel.com/

5 WAYS TO OPTIMIZE YOUR MAGENTO SITE FOR THE UPCOMING HOLIDAY SEASON

The holiday season is fast approaching, but is your website ready to handle the shopping frenzy? It is essential that you optimize your homepage, product pages, and the overall Magento site structure to enable you to drive more traffic to your site, and convert those visitors into buyers. To help you better prepare, here are 5 ways you can optimize your Magento site for the upcoming holiday online shopping season.

1. First Impressions Do Matter

It’s no secret: first impressions do count. If you are intending to convert more visitors into customers, you must ensure that a quick glance at your homepage is appealing enough to entice the visitors to stay and browse your store. Consider adding a holiday appeal to your homepage. Some simple ideas are listed below:

  • Add some high quality holiday-related images.
  • Highlight your “bestselling” products and consider promoting your “best selling” products from last holiday season.
  • Offer promotions like free shipping and discounts that encourage early shopping.

2. Generate Sufficient Leads

A simple investment in things like social media ads and display advertising, as well as free/paid search campaigns is essential to generating new leads on your site. You can then work on converting these leads into new, and hopefully, repeat customers.

3. Speed Up Your Site

A slow website can be a real deal breaker.  A typical visitor to your site will get impatient if your pages take too long to display. Some tips to speed up your Magento site include:

  • Ensuring that your server is adequate for the holiday rush.
  • Consider using a CDN like MaxCDN to ensure your pages load quickly regardless of where your customers are in the country.
  • Optimize your images for quick page loading.

4. Reach Your Current and Past Customers

Your current customers and past customers can be a goldmine.

  • Identify your customers during last holiday season and target them with an e-mail or social campaign that offers them a gift or discount for their loyalty.
  • Setup an abandoned cart e-mail to entice visitors to come back and complete their purchase.  Consider a promotion to entice them to come back.
  • Offer Gift Options at checkout like a gift message, wrapping paper, and gift receipts.

5. Prioritize Your Best Sellers

It is much easier to convert and increase sales on a product that is already a favorite to your customers (particularly products that sold well last holiday season). As such, you should determine your best selling products, and focus more on them by writing rich promotional content and adding links, as well as customer reviews.

If you haven’t upgraded to Magento 1.14 or 1.9 yet, consider doing that now.  It can be completed within a few days in most cases and the performance improvements and the new Visual Merchandiser can help organize your product selection for the holiday season easy.

If you’re interested in learning about more ways to optimize your Magento site for the upcoming holiday season, we invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our Certified Magento Professionals.

3 WAYS TO ACCELERATE YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS USING THE MAGENTO PLATFORM

Online businesses continue to go through transformations in their quest to provide exceptional shopping experiences to customers across all channels and devices. Businesses that are looking to provide an exceptional customer experience turn to the Magento platform, an e-commerce platform that can help drive more customer traffic and repeat purchases to your site. Magento is the #1 e-commerce platform when it comes to reliability, flexibility, and growth and it can help accelerate your online business in the following 3 ways:

  • Engaging Shopping Experience: The Magento platform can help boost your customer traffic and purchases by offering:
    • Personalized content – Website content based on your customers’ profiles, online behavior and purchase history.
    • Responsive, mobile-friendly design – Deliver the same shopping experience across all channels and devices anytime, anywhere.
    • Search & Navigation – Drive fast and easy product discovery through precise, relevant search and product filtering with layered navigation.
    • Better merchandising – Improve product merchandising with multiple images, videos, recommendations, ratings and reviews.
  • Customer Loyalty: The Magento platform can help you improve shopper engagement, incentivize repeat purchases, and reward your high-value customers by offering:
    • Rewards points – Customer rewards for activities such as registrations, product reviews, and new customer referrals.
    • Gift registries and “wish lists” – Bring new shoppers to your site to purchase from gift registries and wish lists to help increase sales.
    • Gift cards – Convenient gift option can help increase sales and encourage repeat purchases.
    • Exclusive events – Recognize your high-value customers with private sales and other exclusive shopping experiences.
  • Fast Deployment: The Magento platform seamlessly integrates with third-party solutions, can be deployed in any environment, and is backed by a vast network of experts, like Crimson Agility, that are ready to help you. Magento can quickly and cost-effectively build a site that is unique to your business by offering:
    • Customizable platform – Customize your site quickly and easily with a platform that offers flexible, configurable features with a wide range of extensions.
    • Complete design control – With Magento custom themes, you can completely control your site design and easily create variations for new brands, markets, and campaigns.
    • Flexible deployment – Choose any deployment option to match your business needs, including cloud, managed hosting, and on-premise.

Once you are ready to make the switch to the Magento platform, the key is finding a knowledgeable, reliable partner that can help you with your Magento migration. Crimson Agility is a certified Magento silver partner with an in-depth knowledge of the Magento platform, along with a broad set of design, development, integration and marketing skills, and years of industry experience and successful implementations.

If you are looking to re-platform your website to Magento, we invite you to schedule a complimentary assessment with one of our Crimson Agility professionals today!

HOW CAN A CONTENT DELIVERY NETWORK BENEFIT MY MAGENTO SITE?

When your customers shop on your Magento site, they are actually accessing a website hosted on a physical server at a single geographic location. The majority of your customers are likely accessing these sites from entirely different geographic locations. Speaking in terms of performance, this presents a challenge to delivering a consistently excellent experience to all your customers regardless of where they are located. This is due to latency; the customers located closer to the server will have better performance than those further away.

The farther your customers are from your servers, the longer they must wait for your site to be usable. In today’s world of mobile customers, fierce competition, and Google’s “three-second rule”, you need a way to deliver your content and products quickly regardless of location.

To combat these delays, you can implement a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for your Magento site. A CDN is a service that you subscribe to and then configure your Magento site to leverage. The use of a CDN serves your site’s static content and files to your customers from the closest of many geographically dispersed “Edge” servers. A good CDN has a network of “Edge” servers geographically dispersed across the globe.

Setting up a CDN is a fairly simple process that can offer several benefits for your Magento site. The content files on a Magento site that benefit from a CDN are product images, static pages, style-sheets and JavaScript files. These files represent some of the elements on your site that take the longest to download.  The CDN ensures that your customers that are furthest from your servers have the same great experience that those nearest are experiencing. If you are wondering whether a CDN is right for your Magento site, the important factors to consider are the number of images on the site, the speed of your site, the amount of theme files and the frontend JavaScript being loaded. If you are looking for a CDN provider for your Magento site, we recommend one of our strategic partners, MaxCDN, as they have the support, network, and features to help both individuals and growing businesses.

The health and performance of your Magento site are critical to growing your online presence and business. We invite you to learn more about the Magento Health & Performance Assessment with one of our Magento certified professionals.