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


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 and later releases and for Magento Community Edition 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


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.


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


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.”

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


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:


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.


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


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


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
“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.


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:




Proper SEO Implementation on Your Web Store Can Make a BIG Difference


Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a long-used, vague term that elicits a set of conflicting emotions for merchants. In its most general sense it defines a set of actions merchants take to make sure their site shows up when customers search for their products via a search engine.

Proper SEO implementation on your web store can make a big difference in its visibility and sales. put together a list of SEO statistics that should help you understand its value. To highlight a few key points:

• Search is the No. 1 traffic driver to sites – 3 times that of social media

• 75% of search engine users never scroll past the first page

• Almost 40% of customers come from search

While Google claims that having relevant content that users love is the key to ranking high on searches, SEO practitioners will tell you that there are other things you can and should do in order to improve your search engine rankings.

Content Checklist

● Product names and descriptions
Do your products contain the search keywords you want to attract? If you have a large catalog and tend to upload your product names and descriptions from your suppliers, you should make sure that you are customizing the product names, descriptions and short descriptions to include important keywords. The same rules apply to category names and descriptions.

● CMS pages
A lot of time goes into writing and creating content for the web. Making sure that your site has informational pages with well-written, keyword-rich content will help you attract customers interested in your products. CMS pages in Magento are a great place to feature product guides, videos with descriptions or summaries of their content, and other types of information that are important information. One company that uses the CMS format to their advantage is Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project. His shoe-care guide is an excellent example of high-value, keyword-rich content.

● Blog
Blogs are important places to feature high-velocity content, which can help improve your rankings. Ideas for the holidays, comments on topics trending on twitter or in the news media are great subjects for your blog and will help you attract short-term search engine traffic. While Magento itself does not offer blog functionality as a core function, there are several extensions available that allow you to incorporate a blog in your store.

● Reviews
User-generated content is a magnet for search engines, and product reviews by actual purchasers are a great way to encourage users to add information to you site (besides the fact that shoppers find them useful). You can either use the built-in review system that comes with Magento or a service like YotPo that helps solicit reviews for you.

Meta Data: Use Title and Descriptions Effectively

Meta Data is information on your web pages that is not visible to your users (though the title does show up in the browser tab) but is used by search engines to display results. While optimizing your meta data only has a nominal effect on search engine results, it does help improve your click-through rates when your results are displayed. The meta-title shows up as the link text and the description is the text below it on most search engines.

Meta-titles should be about 60 characters in length and descriptions should be limited to 155 characters (Magento shows a 255 character limit, but search engines have recently decreased the number of characters they display in search results.).

While the meta-data is not visible on your web site, it is in the html section of the code that creates the pages. If you want to see the metadata on your page without viewing the page’s HTML source, visit Exadium’s Meta Data Analyzer and type in the url of the page you would like to see. If you use Google Chrome, you might want to install an extension called META SEO Inspector, which produces a pop-up window showing your site’s meta data.

Kill The Keywords

In Magento and many systems there is a space to enter keywords about a specific page. In the old days of the web, search engines used this information when determining page rankings. However, all major search engines have disavowed the use of this field because of rampant abuse by keyword spammers. In fact, that keyword field is now a negative as it signals to your competitors what your keyword strategy is. We highly recommend you remove any text you have in the keywords field.

Use Canonicals, Please!

If you don’t know what canonical tags are, don’t worry. Magento will take care of them for you automatically. Just make sure you have them turned on in System > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimizations.

Be sure to choose YES next to both Use Canonical Link Meta Tag selections.

And, by the way, canonical tags simply help you avoid communicating duplicate content to Google and the other search engines… a major faux pas!

Focus, Focus, Focus

By focus, we mean focusing the search engines on the relevant sections of your site. Let’s face it, you don’t want Google to crawl your site and index your account log in, cart, checkout and other pages as they confuse Google as to what your site is about.

You should have a 3-pronged strategy for this

● A good Robots.txt

● Submit an XML sitemap

● Use robots meta tags

A well-crafted robots.txt file should be sitting on your server. Google has a nice explanation if you aren’t familiar with it, but it basically tells search bots to ignore parts of your site. If you don’t have a robots.txt file on your server, the search engines may get confused trying to index your site. To find out if you have one, simply add robots.txt to the end of your url, e.g., “”. If you get a 404 error instead of something that looks like this, you don’t have one!

You should also be submitting a sitemap to Google and Bing webmaster tools accounts. There is a great blog article on the mechanics of it. It doesn’t require any tech knowledge to set up, though you may have to adjust the permissions of a folder on your site. Your xml sitemap will help the search engines focus on the important pages of your site.

imageResearch has shown that page load times on retail sites are increasing. As we cram more and more code and content into a single page thinking to increase appeal, we may actually increase bounce rates and erode search rankings. Google has been very public about its initiative to speed up the Internet and punishes pages that take longer to load. We recommend our recent post on page load times to explore this area more.

There Is More To It

As a merchant, you should develop a passion for SEO but realize that you don’t have to be an expert at it (or, even hire one) to improve your site’s search engine visibility. For a slightly more technical review of Magento’s SEO capabilities, Yaost has provided a nice overview.

If you need assistance with these or other SEO tasks, you might want to consider reaching out to a certified Magento developer for help. We also encourage you to take a look at “Growing Your Business with SEO on Magento”, an on-demand course hosted by Magento U that’s ideal for merchants.


Learn What You Don’t Know – Top 10 Questions for a Business Leader to Ask His Technical Team


Magento merchants tend to be dynamic, energetic and resourceful people. They pride themselves on their ability to research and learn the technical knowledge required to manage and grow an online business. However, because there is so much to learn, most people on the business side have only a surface understanding of the technologies and terminologies.

Even the most adept merchants often feel they are speaking to someone from another planet when dealing with developers. Almost every merchant has been in a meeting in which they were buried in a deluge of indecipherable acronyms and buzzwords.

While one article cannot solve the merchant-developer communication problem, we would like to present some questions (and the RIGHT answers) merchants should ask their technical folks to help ensure their site is in top running condition.

1. What is our current resource load and how much of a spike in traffic can we handle?
Merchants who run promotions need to be prepared for spikes in traffic. If your server is already running close to capacity, it may slow down, deny access to some users, or, heaven forbid, crash during an important marketing campaign. To make sure you have sufficient CPU power, RAM and disk space, you should provide traffic forecasts to your developers and ask… can we handle it?

2. What are we doing to keep our pages loading fast?
Page load time is critical! Your developer should be able to tell you which caching methods they are using. If you are on a cloud resource pool you will maximize your speed if you are using Nginx (rather than Apache) and have implemented APC caching. If you get a lot of traffic from other countries you should probably be using a Content Distribution Network.

3. What benefits of Magento Enterprise Edition are we using?
It is surprising how many Enterprise Edition users are not taking advantage of full page caching, one of the key features available to improve page load times. Most often, it is turned off because your design (theme) conflicts with it. If that is the case, you should be asking how you can modify your design to allow for it. You should also make sure you your team knows how to segment customers, add banners to timed promotions, set up private sales, stage content and other features unique to Magento Enterprise Edition. It’s important to test, test and test again to determine what works best for your type of products and services.

4. How can a non-technical person update an image or content on my site?
Your developer should have set up CMS blocks that are easy to update for content like banners that are updated frequently. You should also have special users roles set up for designers, writers and other content creators and make sure they understand how to use them.

5. How are we keeping the server secure?
If you have not had this conversation with your developer or server administrator, have it soon! They should make sure only the ports necessary are open, that all passwords are not default and are unique, and, wherever possible, user access should only be allowed from specific IP address.

6. How are we set up to handle cases when we need to roll the site back to a stable, previous version?
If the answer is, ‘we aren’t,’ you may want to consider a new development resource! The best answer is that a version control system of some kind is in place.
You should also have both a production server and a development or ‘staging’ server in place. All of your experimentation should be done on the staging/development server. Changes should only be passed to your production server when it has been thoroughly tested.

7. Who has access to my server?
If your developer or server manager doesn’t know, it is time for them to find out. Ideally, only they will have root access. If FTP access is set up, each user should have their own user name and password. Whenever possible, SFTP not FTP access should be granted and only to trusted users. Access to the staging/development server can be a little broader, while access to your production server should be limited to a highly-trusted core of users.

8. Which version of Magento are we using?
If you’re more than 1 version behind the latest Magento release, you may be missing out on some important features or security patches if you are running an older version. Visit the Magento web site to see the latest version of Enterprise Edition. If you are more than one version behind, you should ask why.

9. What modules/extensions have been installed on the store and what do they do?
It’s important to know which extensions you have installed to make sure you are using each one to its fullest extent. You may have functionality available to you that you are not aware of. Also, if the list is very long, you may want to look for extensions that handle the functionality of more than one extension. Extension conflicts do happen and managing your portfolio of install extensions will help keep your Magento site lean and mean! Your developer can easily find these by looking in the appropriate folder on your server and if they are maintaining your web store, they should know what each one does.

10. Is any core code or templates overwritten?
Overwriting core code is at the heart of many performance problems and can lead to problems when making any upgrades in functionality (new extensions or when moving to a new version of the platform).

To ensure that you are getting the most out of Enterprise Edition, make sure you are working with a certified Magento developer. Developers spend hundreds of hours learning the Magento code in order to become certified and show their dedication to the Magento platform by taking (and passing) a rigorous test.


Magento Community Edition Is Here


Magento Community Edition is here! This latest release includes many contributions from the Magento developer community and empowers merchants to operate their online stores more easily and efficiently by delivering significant tax calculation updates, functional improvements, and security enhancements, including:

image Tax Calculation Updates
Building on tax improvements made in our most recent release, Magento Community Edition provides more accurate and consistent Value Added Tax (VAT) and Fixed Product Tax (FPT) calculations for the Magento admin, invoices, and credit memos. It also improves tax calculations for cross-border transactions, bundled products, and multi-tax scenarios, as well as supports the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment recycling tax in the EU.
image Functional Improvements
Magento Community Edition includes important improvements across the shopping cart, checkout, content management system, and product import and export. Many of these updates came from Magento community hackathons (see photos of the events below). Please give a big “thank you” to the contributors highlighted in the product release notes for making the Magento platform better!
image Security Enhancements
Magento Community Edition delivers several important security enhancements, helping to further strengthen the platform against potential threats. These enhancements were identified through a rigorous process that included comprehensive internal testing, quarterly penetration testing by expert consultants, and engagement with the Magento developer community. Additionally, one improvement from Magento Community Edition is now available for download for earlier Magento Community Edition releases.
image How to Upgrade
We know that you are eager to start testing out Magento Community Edition But, before you do, please take a few minutes to carefully review the upgrade instructions. We strongly recommend that you do not upgrade Magento Community Edition in the same directory on the same server as your current deployment to avoid any post-upgrade errors.
image Get Started
See how Magento Community Edition can help improve your operations by downloading the software and reviewing the release notes today!


L.A. Bugathon




Zurich Hackathon





Top 5 Magento Coding Recommendations to Optimize Site Performance

In eCommerce, customer satisfaction and conversion hinge on site performance. Yet how do you implement all the bells and whistles to attract today’s elusive consumer without impacting site speed? According to Radware’s Tammy Everts, the average web page has grown 151% over the past three years, with over half that bulk coming from images. No wonder retailers around the world find the industry’s 3-second page load benchmark so elusive! Studies find over 92% of retailers are failing to hit this mark and running as high as eight seconds or more.

Yet with pre-holiday shopping off to a fast start already, the 3-second bar takes on even greater importance, as shoppers just want to get their shopping done to spending time with friends and family.


While web performance best practices abound, Magento’s Expert Consulting Group (ECG) identified the top five Magento coding issues, which represent 84% of all performance issues, encountered in 96% of our client codebases. Most of these are related to inefficient operations, redundant or useless computations, and memory misuse:

  1. Calculating the size of an array on each iteration of a loop
  2. SQL queries inside a loop
  3. Loading the same model multiple times
  4. Redundant data set utilization
  5. Inefficient memory utilization

To learn more about these five issues as well as how to fix them, see the full ECG report Conquer the 5 Most Common Magento Coding Issues to Optimize Your Site for Performance.


The Magento Expert Consulting Group (ECG) is a team of experts within Magento that provides expert insight, reviews, validation, and best-practice recommendations across the Magento project lifecycle to both merchants and partners alike. The group applies its deep domain expertise and experience across thousands of unique use cases and hundreds of implementations to be an impartial facilitator ensuring alignment between multiple entities within the Magento ecosystem.


6 Tips To Pull Off Holiday Shipping Without a Hitch


Shipping can sometimes feel like the bane of a small business’s your existence, but with sufficient time spent outlining a shipping game plan for the holidays, you can pull things off without a hitch. Here are 6 tips to help you avoid the rush and pull off holiday shipping:

1. Plan ahead. There’s no way to pinpoint what your holiday sales will be, but you can estimate a potential range so you have enough inventory and extra help with packing and shipping. Preparation is one of the only variables that you have complete control over as a shipper. Own it.


2. Don’t delay. Try and ship products out the same day you receive the order to keep you, your carrier and customers happy. Also remember that shipping times will vary because of the high volume over the holidays. Use this helpful printable shipping calendar from ShipWorks that will provide “ship by” dates for all the major carriers so you get it there on time.

3. Communicate in advance to customers and carriers. December 17 is “Free Shipping Day.” If free shipping isn’t a standard option for you, consider providing free shipping on the 17th as an extra incentive for customers. Also, communicate to carriers and let them know any changes you may have to your business during the holiday so that they can handle your pickups.

4. Manage customers’ expectations. During the holidays, you want your shipping terms to be more crystal clear than ever. Misunderstandings about the finer details of shipping can breed unhappy customers and take up valuable time to smooth over on your end—time that could be spent on other important tasks.

5. Pack wisely. Remember, carriers’ process more boxes during the holiday peak season than at any other time. Extra packaging is worth it to avoid possible damage en route.

6. Protect your investment. Thousands of packages will be sent this holiday season. Chances are, your packages will arrive at the destination, but you also don’t need to take undue chances. Consider using insurance on larger shipments.


ShipWorks is a Magento Gold Partner and supports Magento Enterprise and Community Editions. ShipWorks helps thousands of merchants ship more in less time by automating post-sale tasks, including processing hundreds of shipping labels with one click. Learn more


Developer Spotlight – Sergey Ostapchik


In the spotlight today is Sergey Ostapchik, Magento Certified Developer Plus at aheadWorks, and a Magento Platinum Industry Partner based in Minsk, Belarus. His recent projects include the aheadWorks Advisor Project, an eCommerce Gamification Module, and the OnePulse mobile administration extension.

How did you make a decision to become a Magento developer? Was it made by chance?

I decided to be a programmer about eight years ago. The choice was not accidental, because I’m that kind of a person who is always eager to simplify, accelerate and automate processes.

I got acquainted with Magento while applying for a job at aheadWorks. Now it makes me smile, but back then it was not particularly fun. I had to deal with a great flexible system containing a bunch of components and options and at the beginning I got really scared. Over time I reached a “comfort zone” in relationships with Magento.

That initial experience enriched me with an excellent knowledge of Magento functionality, the most common mistakes and good practices that I still try to use in my work.

What types of projects have you worked on?

Usually I’m busy with various projects as long as we release several extensions per month and constantly update 100+ modules in aheadWorks.

The last project of mine was the Magento Product Color Swatches module. It allows merchants to replace configurable product options with swatches and show different product images according to selected attributes.

You passed Magento Developer Plus Certification in April 2013. What changes has this certificate brought into your life?

Now I feel that my Magento knowledge base, proved by the certificate, is truly solid. This milestone gives confidence to me and sets the bar, which I’ll try to outperform.

What dreams do you have as a Magento certified developer?

I am planning to make a tool to simplify the development of Magento Enterprise Edition modules—so-called “two clicks” for generation and configuration of a new module database. Currently, there are two issues Magento developers face every time they create new modules manually:

  1. Too many similar actions.
  2. Very often logic blocks need to be overwritten anew, despite the availability of numerous ready-made solutions.

    We can observe a slight improvement in this field. Several modules have been already created on the basis of such a tool.

    Do you have funny stories related to your Magento experience?

    Once, when I was too tired after spending the whole day focused on a new module, I began to talk in my sleep. The most amazing thing is that my answers were absolutely meaningful and clear. My wife told me about the night talk the next morning and specified it was something about stores reinstall connected to the move to a new server. That moment I realized how deeply Magento affected my daily life.

    What is your favorite quote? Of course if you have any.

    I have several, but my favorite one says: “The most severe illness in the world, it is the habit of thinking. It is incurable.”

    What could you advise to junior Magento developers?

    I would recommend looking for solutions in the Magento code, not in Google. As practice shows, most of the Google search results are not optimal and are often obsolete.

    Don’t create interfaces and processes that are too complicated. Try to follow the principle of one click, one button and so on.

    Read a lot and spend time on self-education. Browse through web-based resources covering Magento-related news (like aheadWorks Magento blog) and stay tuned to Magento community.



  3. Mothercare Turns to Magento For Global Expansion


    Mothercare, a U.K. retailer and longtime provider of specialty products for expectant mothers and their children, has recently completed another milestone of their global expansion by launching their Mothercare Ukraine storefront on Magento Enterprise Edition. The newly launched website is fully localized with language, currency, checkout, and shipping, reflecting local market needs and serving as the platform for a seamless brand experience–online and offline–through Mothercare Ukraine’s loyalty system.

    Mothercare International was challenged with building a local presence through integration with the local line of business systems and operations. Magento Solution Partner Crimsonwing was engaged to design, build, and implement a global solution for Mothercare International that can provide common functionality via a core system to enable swifter international expansion for all franchisees. In addition to online expertise, Crimsonwing demonstrated a key understanding of Mothercare’s business operations and business model to deliver a dynamic, scalable solution that could demonstrate consistency across Mothercare’s global footprint.

    Chris Hodge, Mothercare Group’s International eCommerce Program Manager commented that, “This is a true example of a real international project involving multiple third parties across four locations and three countries. The project has included implementing the eCommerce solution, setting up a new team in the Ukraine, and all operational changes to support a new eChannel in the Ukraine for our brands.”

    We’d like to congratulate Mothercare International, Mothercare Ukraine, and Magento partner Crimsonwing on their successful collaboration that serves as a true testament to the power and innovation of Magento products and the Magento community.


    Three Ways Free Shipping Can Help You Grow


    When it comes to your online store, there are many factors to take into consideration when you want to increase your sales. Undoubtedly, the actual value of what you are offering is the most important aspect of your business. However, just because you have a great product doesn’t mean it will sell like hotcakes.

    Other factors such as the design of your website, a competitive market cost, and customer service are also vitally important. But when it comes to online sales, how you offer shipping can be either a source of costs, or a driver of profit for your business.

    One of the most important sources of sales for your store is free shipping, so here are three ways free shipping can help you grow.


    1. Free Shipping Will Increase the Volume of Your Sales

    Today, convenience is king. If you are not making the shopping experience easier for the consumer, then there are few reasons why someone should come to your online store. According to’s Online Shopper Intelligence Survey, 93% of the people surveyed said that free shipping is the biggest source of encouragement to buy online.

    When you offer free shipping, you are cutting out the alternative costs that are attached to the shopping experience. For example, if I am shopping at a brick-and-mortar business, then I will have to pay for gas to get to the actual store. When I shop online with free shipping, then I save on the cost of gas, which can save me some big bucks over time.

    Moreover, shipping costs are the most common reason for abandoned carts. Whether you are shipping domestically or internationally, it is the idea of unexpected costs that will deter even the most loyal customer away from future purchases.


    2. Free Shipping Increases Order Value

    Unless your products are rare or truly unique, free shipping will instantly increase your order value. Because of the nature of incentives, consumer psychology says we are more likely to take action and buy when promotions are offered. This is evident by the fact that shoppers spend 30% more when free shipping is available. We want to know that we are receiving the most value for our hard-earned money.

    When we are offered free shipping or a promotion, we feel as though we are being treated in a special way. This shift in the consumer’s perspective stirs up positive emotions towards the merchant, and will thus be more likely to spend more as a positive relationship has now been established.


    3. Free Shipping Makes Your Company More Competitive in a Global Marketplace

    As internet usage and online shopping continues to grow each year, new markets and industries are beginning to emerge and grow even faster than ecommerce in the US. According to, in 2013 online sales in China and Indonesia grew by close to 70%. Furthermore, by 2016 the Asia-Pacific region will exceed North America in online sales by 2014.

    Free shipping will be one of the most effective way to get into and stay competitive in international marketplaces.


    Shipwire provides eCommerce fulfillment services, shipping software, and cloud-based logistics from warehouses around the world for companies of all sizes. Shipwire’s industry-leading enterprise logistics platform helps you grow sales, expand into new markets, and delight your customers by eliminating the hassles of shipping and storage.


    Expanding Opportunities for Magento Merchants, Partners and Developers

    Today marks a new chapter in the evolution of Magento. What started out as a simple vision to enable retailers to drive online sales has evolved into the world’s leading ecommerce platform. We are proud of what we have accomplished as an ecosystem and we are excited about our future as we continue to transform the retail landscape.

    Today, we’re announcing that Magento has become part of eBay Enterprise. By combining the extensive capabilities of our leading organizations, we are bringing the ecommerce technology, multichannel operations and marketing services capabilities of eBay Inc. together under one umbrella. Moving forward, retail and brand partners of all sizes will find an unmatched portfolio of offerings that seamlessly deliver integrated commerce solutions to drive their revenue and growth. For Magento, it’s business as usual.

    The organization will report into Mark Lavelle, who was most recently Senior Vice President for Strategy and Business Development at eBay Inc. Mark has particular talent in imagining the future of online commerce, developing thoughtful strategy and finding untapped business value in new areas, something we know all of us will benefit greatly from. Mark will report directly into Chris Saridakis, President of eBay Enterprise.

    We’re excited about the future of our combined organizations. In the coming months, you will be hearing more about how we plan to deliver more ways for our clients to compete and win in the ever-changing retail landscape.

    image Roy
    COO and Co-founder
    image Chris
    eBay Enterprise


    Announcing Magento Enterprise Edition


    Building on the performance and scalability improvements released earlier this year, Magento Enterprise Edition advances overall product quality and eases operations by providing significant tax calculation updates, a wide range of functional improvements, and several security enhancements.

    Highlights include:

    image Tax Calculation Improvements
    We made many tax improvements for shopper-facing pages in Magento Enterprise Edition In this latest release, we’ve resolved similar Value Added Tax (VAT) and Fixed Product Tax (FPT) issues for the Magento admin, invoices, and credit memos so that you have access to more accurate and consistent tax calculations and displays. We’ve also addressed:

    • VAT tax calculation issues for cross-border trade
    • Tax rounding issues when multiple taxes are applied
    • VAT and FPT calculation issues for bundled products
    • Support for the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (W.E.E.E.) recycling tax in the EU
    image Functional Improvements
    Magento Enterprise Edition also includes functional improvements across important feature areas, including the shopping cart, checkout, content management system, and product import and export.

    Many of these updates come from Magento community developers. We truly appreciate their active support in advancing our solution. You can see which developers contributed fixes in the product release notes. These improvements will also be available in the upcoming Magento Community Edition release, which is expected in December.

    image Security Enhancements
    Magento is committed to following a rigorous process to identify and resolve potential security issues so that you can feel more confident that your store is protected. Our team does comprehensive internal testing, has expert consultants conduct quarterly penetration testing, and actively works with the Magento community to help us identify weaknesses. Magento Enterprise Edition addresses several important issues identified through this process and helps to further harden the platform against potential threats. More information on these security updates and the community members who helped us find them is available in the release notes.
    image Updated Magento Secure Payment Bridge
    You may have missed the recent news that an updated version of Magento Secure Payment Bridge is now available for Magento Enterprise Edition 1.13.x releases. It has successfully completed PA-DSS certification and includes several feature improvements. We encourage everyone using Magento Enterprise Edition 1.13.x to upgrade to this latest version.
    image Get Started
    With its combination of performance, scalability, product quality, and security, Magento Enterprise Edition is the perfect solution if you are using an earlier version of Magento or if you are new-to-Magento and looking for a flexible, enterprise-class ecommerce solution for fast-growing and large businesses.

    You can get all the details about Magento Enterprise Edition here.

    Ready to learn more about Magento? Contact us and we’ll help you get started.

    If you are already a Magento Enterprise customer, you can immediately access the new Magento Enterprise Edition release in the My Account section of the Magento website.


    Magento Live Germany Highlights


    Our first Magento Live Germany event was a great success! Many thanks to the 300+ merchants, partners and developers that traveled to Munich to share insights, best practices and fun. We had a packed program of keynotes and multiple breakout tracks spanning merchant stories, partner best practices and technical and business sessions.

    Magento and eBay executives kicked off the day:

    • Roy Rubin, Magento’s COO and Co-Founder addressed the current industry trends as well as Magento’s strong momentum, with a special focus on opportunity, growth and innovation.
    • Jimmy Duvall, Head of Product, Magento reviewed Magento Enterprise 1.13 and Magento Community 1.8, and invited developers to provide feedback on Magento 2 updates available on GITHUB.
    • Matthias Setzer, Senior Director Merchant Services, PayPal Germany spoke about the challenges and opportunities of a dynamic eCommerce environment where the consumer holds all the keys.


    Surprise speaker and former top-level German football referee Dr. Markus Merk inspired attendees to tap their emotions, identity, courage and responsibility when making difficult decisions whether in soccer, commerce or in life.

    Here are some highlights from the breakout sessions:

    • The basis for a great customer experience online is the underlying technology, especially if you’re coordinating that experience across multiple geographies. is able to update their site daily, adjust country-specific pricing quickly, and customize caching to split channels by business needs. The site now has over 1.5M unique monthly visitors and 2,000 orders per day.
    • “Users focus on content rather than the technical features so write for your reader and not for the search engines!” Vinai Kopp, Manager of Developer Education at Magento reviewed on-page search engine optimization basics and Magento best practices.
    • In today’s increasingly competitive search marketing environment, just getting ranked in a top search position is no longer sufficient to drive traffic to a website. Danny Essner, Head of Merchant Marketing at Magento, spoke to the relationship between ranks in organic search and click through rates and how to increase these rates through engaging content.
    • Noam Inbar, VP of Business Development at Zooz Payments explained how to address consumer fears and barriers to transaction completion by improving the payment and checkout experience. The easiest way to maximize conversions: minimize the number of steps at checkout and don’t ask for the same information multiple times.
    • Several sessions focused on mobile best practices and speakers agreed that regardless of the design approach, it’s important to consider what content users will want on a mobile device and how they will consume it.
    • More broadly, Thomas Husson, Vice President and Principle Analyst, Forrester challenged attendees to prepare for the digital mindshift, noting that the only choice is to “disrupt yourself or become disrupted”.

    Big thanks to those who were able to join us! Special thanks to all of our presenters and to our sponsors for making this exciting event possible!

    To learn more about these sessions and the many other presentations at Magento Live Germany, and check out our Website for pictures and video from the event that we will be posting soon.

    Click images to expand











    4 Underutilized Magento Enterprise Edition Features to Meet and Beat Your KPIs

    In commerce, change is the norm! That means that retailers are always looking for ways to improve and optimize their sites to keep up with new trends and developments. Most have a running wish list of site additions and improvements. Surprisingly, many are not tapping some of the powerful features, which come with Magento Enterprise Edition, right out of the box.

    We’ve compiled a list of some of these underused Magento Enterprise Edition features that will provide you immediate benefits and increase your online sales.

    Rule-Based Product Relations

    Click images to enlarge.

    “Do you want fries with that?” “Would you like to supersize that?” How many times have we all heard those questions? They are most likely the world’s most used and most recognized cross-sell and up-sell messages of all time.

    In eCommerce, cross–selling and upselling are two simple product recommendation methods that will increase your onsite conversions.

    To create a more relevant shopping experience, Magento Enterprise Edition comes equipped with “Rule-Based Product Relations” that enable these marketing tactics and target customer segments with specific product recommendations.

    What’s great about this feature is that Magento designed it with your busy schedule in mind. Once you write the rule for this feature, you can forget about it. Magento will automatically assign the associated cross-sell, upsell and related products to each item in your catalogue.

    To utilize this feature, navigate to “Catalog > Rule-Based Product Relations”

    Rules are simply defined as:

    • When these types of products are displayed (Products to match)
    • Display these products as related items (Products to display)

    You could create advanced rules such as:

    • Display other products endorsed by the same celebrity, where celebrity endorser is a custom attribute of yours into which you populate relevant data (i.e. “Will Smith”)
    • Display products of the same gender but which cost more than the currently viewed product (See the “Product price” condition, and screenshots below)

    Upsell products will be displayed on the product detail page along with related products; cross-sell items will appear in the shopping cart.

    Search Term Management


    You spend countless hours in discovery to learn what your customers desire, how they shop online and what terminology they use to describe your products. Your entire user experience and visual design are a result of these findings.

    Once launched, how do you continue your discovery to make your site, your customer’s “go-to” shopping site? One simple way is through on-site search.

    Magento Enterprise Edition comes equipped with “Search Term Management” to make your products easier to find. With this feature, you can:

    • add and edit search terms
    • review all the key words and phrases your customers are searching for on your site
    • review which terms are the most popular and least used to update your product detail page (PDP) key words accordingly
    • review and assign recommended terms to your PDP
    • expand your ability to capture a broader range of search terms by entering either synonyms (sofa, couch, loveseat) or common misspellings (rod iron, rot iron) for each product; by doing so, you will capture all your customer’s requests and redirect them to the correct search results

    To utilize this feature, navigate to “Catalog > Search Terms”

    Inventory Alerts


    Sales forecasting is an ongoing process in an effort to avoid out-of-stock or overstock inventory scenarios. Occasionally, no matter how accurate your reporting or planning, unexpectedly high or low sales may sometimes result.

    Magento’s “Product Alerts” feature will help you manage these instances and help increase conversions.

    With Product Alerts, your customers can request that they be alerted via email when a product comes back in stock or when a product goes on sale.

    To enable this feature, go to the Product Alerts section and set to “yes” next to:

    • Allow Alert When Product Price Changes – this permission will allow customers to sign up for price change alerts
    • Allow Alert When Product Comes Back in Stock – this setting will enable customers to sign up for email alerts notifying them when the product is back in stock

    When either is enabled, subscription links will appear on the specified PDP.

    Customer-Assisted Shopping


    No matter how intuitive your site is, sometimes your customers will require assistance with product, shipping or payment details.

    The Magento Enterprise Edition “Assisted Shopping” feature empowers you to provide a better shopping experience and easily respond to your customers’ requests.

    With this feature, your customer service representatives can:

    • review a customer’s shopping cart
    • move items from a customer’s wish list and recently viewed products, into their shopping cart
    • apply a coupon code to a customer’s cart

    To utilize this feature, your representatives simply:

    • request the customer to log into their account, if he hasn’t already
    • navigate to “Customers > Online Customers” within the administration screen
    • select the customer from the list to open the customer account view
    • click the “Manage Shopping Cart” button to begin assisting the customer

    The Magento Enterprise Edition platform helps you drive more traffic to your site and convert browsers into buyers. By utilizing these out-of-the-box features, as well as the complete feature set provided, you will be able to grow your business, encourage customer loyalty, and manage your inventory more efficiently.


    WINNER, 2011 & 2012 MAGENTO PARTNER EXCELLENCE AWARD and founded in 1993, Guidance designs, builds and hosts highly customized eCommerce solutions for today’s leading retailers. For additional information, visit their page on the Magento Partner portal.