For most ecommerce stores, choosing the right platform can be a daunting task filled with potential pitfalls but Magento has remained a chief contender for many for a lot of reasons. When Magento 2 was released, it heralded an exciting time for retailers because it meant a raft of new and exciting features which would improve the online shopping experience for consumers.
Magento 2 can no longer be considered a new kid on the block and has been around for over 12 months now so should really be hitting its stride and, looking at some of the great sites that are using the platform, it would certainly appear that this is the case.
But what new features did Magento 2 introduce for ecommerce stores to get excited about and what of Magento 2.1 and the future of the platform? Well, that’s what we’re going to be looking at here and we will aim to showcase some of new features and benefits that Magento 2 introduced and also provide a little insight into what has been witnessed so far with Magento 2.1.
The Best of Magento 2
Magento Community and Enterprise have, without question, served their purpose for an awful lot of ecommerce retailers but each had their limitations that Magento 2 aimed to address and those who have begun to use the platform will see that it offers improved features and functionality that help to enhance it from prior iterations of the platform including a much improved architecture which makes it much more scalable for businesses. It is important to remember, however, that a lot of the new features are only available with the Enterprise version so be sure to factor this in if you’re thinking of moving to Magento 2.
The future of ecommerce is a bright one and much of this excitement stems from the excellent new features that Magento 2 has delivered (and will continue to deliver) to those operating an ecommerce store.
The features are only going to improve and though Magento 2 may have had an underwhelming start e.g. the issues with stability that have been witnessed, it’s clear these wrinkles are starting to be ironed out and more and more of the bigger merchants are now moving over to the platform. We’ve outlined our picks of the main benefits that you’ll find by opting for Magento 2 below:
1. A More Straightforward, User-Friendly Dashboard
One of the biggest criticisms of the original Magento platform was how user friendly and intuitive the dashboard was and the limiting factor it had on quickly carrying out seemingly straightforward tasks. Magento 2 definitely addresses this issue head on and it’s clear from the outset that a lot of thought has gone into the interface on the latest version and ecommerce managers are going to be much happier with how simply they are able to interact with it now.
The dashboard on Magento 2 is so far removed from what many struggled with on the original platform that it is a wonder that some online stores managed to cope prior to the release of this much more streamlined and user friendly version of the excellent ecommerce platform. It offers a much cleaner design interface, that has significantly cut down on the clutter that previously caused issues for users. Also, and perhaps most importantly for many, Magento 2 now has a responsive interface which makes it much easier to make edits quickly and effectively on a range of devices.
Magento listened to their users when deciding on the look and feel of the new dashboard in 2 and the call was for a much more simplified, minimalist and straightforward feel to the interface and they delivered this with the new version. Now, don’t get us wrong, it wasn’t that the dashboard on the original Magento was impossible to use – it just took time and practice to get accustomed to it and efficient in its various different quirks.
This is an issue that Magento 2 has addressed insomuch as it’s much more likely that a newcomer would be able to use this dashboard without too much training because it is a much more simplified process and doesn’t require intricate knowledge of Magento as perhaps the original did.
A lack of user friendliness in design and execution was one of the biggest obstacles for Magento Community and Enterprise but after spending a few minutes getting to grips with 2, you’ll realise that is an issue that has been resolved and is one of the biggest benefits of the new platform.
2. A Significant Overhaul of the Code
Another huge benefit that those moving onto Magento 2 from the original version is that there has been a substantial undertaking on behalf of the developers at Magento to completely overhaul and update their code to make it a much more robust and versatile solution. The most important end results of the improvement in the code is the fact that the platform now offers a much more scalable solution to retailers and the ability to increase business efficiency and deal with peak periods more effectively.
The biggest change with the latest version is that Magento’s modular code base has fully adopted HTML5 and, coupled with the fact that it utilises PHP 5.5.x and MySQL 5.6, it is apparent that Magento have been very savvy about the construction of the platform and have clearly an eye to the future of ecommerce and the sort of integrations and innovations that may be just around the corner.
Web design principles are sure to change and evolve over the next few years but the way in which Magento have structured the code in M2 will make it ready for these changes and ensure that ecommerce store owners can rest easy about their platform and how it is integrated going forward. This is something that was much needed with the launch of Magento 2 and the developers have worked hard on the code to make it as versatile as possible and capable of dealing with any innovations we see in web design in the future.
3. Increased Emphasis on User Experience (EE)
At the end of the day, Magento, be it the original or version 2, is a platform that is built for ecommerce stores so the overriding objective of it is and should always be, facilitating conversions. An increased level of conversion will be achieved through an improved customer user experience and this is another benefit which can be found through switching to Magento 2 because a lot of time and effort has gone into making the user-facing aspect of the platform much more enriching and geared towards conversion.
The search functionality of Magento 2 is a big improvement over the predecessor and Elasticsearch which offers rapid search results, autocomplete, the ability to manipulate search results and much more are all of benefit to an ecommerce retailer in ensuring the effectiveness of their search function.
There are also a lot of improvements on the horizon for Magento 2 such as further improvements to the CMS, a more robust and reliable recommendation engine and the fact that Magento have recently purchased RJ Metrics shows that they are putting an increased emphasis on providing better analytics and reports for Magento 2 users.
One of the first benefits that you’re likely to see with Magento 2 compared to the predecessors – at least as far as customer experience is concerned – is the fact that there is now a much more impressive diversity of API integration and one that makes it more versatile for developers and conducive to delivering the sort of UI/UX experience that consumers demand when shopping online today.
Whilst the original Magento platform wasn’t awful at this sort of capability, 2 has really pushed on in this area and placed a much higher emphasis on making sure retailers can provide a good user experience for their consumers online.
Facilitating conversions is a must for any online retailer and the Magento 2 platform has worked hard to remove any of the obstacles and issues that were preventing this in the original version and this is compelling a growing number of retailers to consider moving across to the latest version of the ecommerce platform. Things like one-click account creation have been introduced to help keep consumers on the site and more likely to convert and more features geared towards this end are sure to be added in the future as well.
4. The Introduction of DevDocs Community Support
Any developer that has worked on Magento 1 will likely have a few choice words about the documentation available to them when it comes to answering problems that they might be having with the platform.
This is another key area in which Magento 2 has upped its game. Listening to the pleas of the community, Magento have introduced a system called DevDocs with Magento 2 which is essentially a community-driven documentation portal moderated by Magento. The fact it is moderated by Magento is crucial because it will lead to much more reliable documentation and results and, in turn, mean developers can concentrate on coding rather than spending large proportions of their time looking for problem resolutions.
With Magento 2 putting an effort into consolidating all the documentation about the platform into one place, the amount of wasted time by developers struggling to find an answer to a code query will be cut significantly and this is something which can only be of benefit to ecommerce stores because it means their developers can spend much more time on what they’re being paid to do – code.
The above are just some of the stand out benefits to us about making the move to Magento 2. There will, of course, be plenty of other pros and, indeed, cons to consider when deciding whether or not it is the platform for your ecommerce store. It is a question of weighing these up (and speaking to us, if need be) to come to the right decision for you and your online business.
A Little About Magento 2.1
As we said at the outset, we also want to speak a little about Magento 2.1 and the additional benefits that this supplies on top of those which we’ve already outlined. As you would expect, this update provides a few minor fixes and isn’t a comprehensive overhaul by any stretch of the imagination but the changes that it does implement are all welcome ones and will serve the purpose of helping online retailers run their stores more efficiently.
A few of the updates that stand out to us with Magento 2.1 in terms of supplying a better solution for ecommerce stores include an improved admin search for increased management efficiency, the ability to more straightforwardly stage, preview and schedule content in your store backend and deliver promotional updates and events much more effectively.
There are also a number of improvements in relation to integrations with Magento 2.1 which are worth highlighting. There have been changes made to the PayPal checkout to make it a more streamlined experience – a fact that will help boost conversion rates. Similarly, there has been a focus on improving PCI compliance issues through the use of Braintree Hosted Fields.
Last but not least, there have been noticeable improvements made to the search functionality on Magento 2.1. A feature often chastised with Magento is the quality of its search but with the latest update, there have been some noticeable improvements to the results it serves which will help consumers find what they are looking for more quickly and efficiently and thus more likely to make a purchase.
Magento is improving its service all the time and deciding whether now is the right time for you to move your ecommerce store to 2.1 is something that will be better understand by speaking to professionals about your requirements.
We have years of Magento experience at Pinpoint and have helped a number of retailers make this step from Magento 1 to Magento 2 a seamless and worthwhile one.