Melbourne Magento User Group catch up

The Melbourne Magento user group (organised by our friends at Fontis) is meeting again, on September 14th, 2010.

This time it is an information event, designed for developers/agencies, clients and those people interested in the platform to catch up and chat.

As Magento Developers and consultants it is always nice to meet people interested in the product that we work with every day, so I look forward to seeing a few people there!

Click here for details!

eCommerce Cowboys, the ‘Yes’ Men.

We don’t profess to be the world’s best eCommerce company. Probably far from it.

But we have a lot of experience in online  retail and development (10 years+) and we use that experience to help our clients in the best way possible.

Recently we have been getting a few Magento & other eCommerce clients coming to us for assistance, for reasons that fall into one of the categories below:

  • Previous developer is unreliable
  • Spent too long trying to get something up and running, need it finished
  • Have tried number of devs, need someone to help
  • Don’t have many sales or much traffic, help!

Our most recent client came to us with a Magento site that had been built by a 3rd party. They wanted someone reliable to help them with development and some consulting. They wanted to know why after spending all this money and 3+ months of development and effort they hadn’t received a single sale.

What frustrates me isn’t the clients that want to get something done economically. It is the ‘I.T. Consultants’ out there that say ‘Yes’. These cowboys might be ok at I.T, and might have a little experience but please be honest when dealing with customers. If someone comes to you and says “can you build me a solid site that functions well and will get some traffic and generate sales’, don’t say Yes when you know it will be a learning curve.

Don’t waste their time.

Don’t waste their money.

Don’t ruin your reputation.

Reputation in the online world (and development in particular) is key. You simply can’t afford a bad reputation or you can lose business.

So why did this nice looking site not have any sales yet?

The answer turns out to be the contents of Robots.txt on the server

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

*sigh*

Simple fix that makes us look good. But it’s a pretty basic thing to overlook!

A Magento to eBay Extension

So, Magento to eBay extension. Now it’s a reality… I bet Magento users will be interested in this!

eBay has been a great platform for us, and so is Magento. Bringing them closer together is an interesting strategy, and for some of our websites, a Magento to eBay Extension would be great.

Being long time users of ChannelAdvisor software to manage our listings for mulitple accounts and countries, I think we have been able to make good use of our inventory and the few channels available to us in Australia.

Magento became our online store of choice about a year ago, and we have since become quite adept at Magento development.

And as times change, you naturally look at longer term solutions to problems, and we have started investigating a Magento to eBay connector that has recently been released. (more…)

Can’t access admin area after upgrading to Magento 1.4?

Me neither. Well, I can now after a manual fix.

The upgrade via MagentoConnect seemed to run successfully, but I immediately got a server 500 error when trying to access front and backend. *Sigh*. I reset all file permissions, and cleared cache folders (/var/cache and /var/session). The front end worked then, but no back end.

I was a little surprised by a problem like this, given that Varien had bowed to much open source public pressure to tighten up its release process to ensure that ‘stable’ releases were in fact stable. It was evident that nearly every man and his dog would immediately run an upgrade on their production website every time a .1.1 release was put out without testing first.  I felt for them!

I had expected therefore that the 1.3.2.4 dev site that I had installed on a shared host we use for ourselves and clients would upgrade to Magento 1.4 CE via MagentoConnect smoothly…

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List of Australian Magento Stores

Magento is popular in Australia.

Here is a list of Australian Magento stores that I built up a little while ago, just as a reference. This list is a few months old, there are probably more aussie magento stores active now.

I don’t intend to actively maintain this list, but if you come across any other good sites, then please add a comment below.

Click read more to see the list…

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Magento Fraud Detection Module Released Today.

3d-box2-websitenhJust a quick blog post to mark the launch of our first commercial Magento Module, the Magento Fraud Alert Module featuring MaxMind.

We had developed this for our eCommerce arm or the business to make it much easier to identify possibly fraudulent orders. Using the MaxMind minfraud services we check all available data about the order to determine a ‘fraud risk score’.

And we have managed to get a 20% discount for all new Maxmind minFraud service users, for your first purchase. So check out minFraud here!

This is then populated in the order view and order detail view for the customer service officer to look at.

It works great, has caught a lot of orders for us (some that we would have shipped, even IF our staff had looked over them).

We think for the small cost, it could really save some Magento store owners a ton of money!

Check it out here.

PS, as a special for my blog readers, use coupon code 15offx10 in checkout for a discount. First 10 readers only!

Magento Performance – Magento 1.3 Benchmarks

Magento Performance is a hot topic at the moment. We recently installed Magento Commerce version 1.3.0 on a test server with a current production database to do some performance testing and I thought I would publish a few results. They aren’t exhaustive tests, but indicative I think.

Although we haven’t done a huge amount of testing yet there are some interesting results (and some performance improvements over a ‘standard’ non cached install).

First, any figures should be interpreted with respect to our own current configuration for this test. These results were NOT for a standard demo data set.

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The Fast Rise of Magento Commerce

I follow Magento Commerce and it’s development rather closely. This is because on of my businesses retails online using the Magento ecommerce software and my other business leverages this knowledge (and a lot of other online retail experience) to develop Magento modules and code and shipping automation software.

I have written about some of this in my blog before, and will write a little more shortly as we release our Fraud Prevention Magento Module (using fraud screening technology from Maxmind.com) and some improvements to our shipping automation software ReadytoShip (which now supports Magento).

I have noticed a steady increase in the amount of traffic coming to this blog because of Magento keywords searches in Google. I just happen to rank fairly highly in Google for the term “Magento Performance” which is good, maybe I should write a little more about it!?

But I have also noticed a larger number of online stores in Australia either developing in Magento, or already using Magento. There are a few big brands too, like Durex and Homedics using it now too.

I did some Google searching this morning for the .au domain to see how many stores I could find built of being built in Australia and there are already over 120.

The Magento name is being searched heavily worldwide now, see Google Trends from All Regions and Australia here.

Google Search Trend all regions

Google Search Trend all regions

Compare the Magento trend to that of ‘oscommerce’.

google-search-trend-all-region-oscommerce1

Not a bad start for Magento Commerce down under, especially when the product is only at an early version 1 stage and there is not a huge amount of developer and designer support for it yet (although this seem to be growing as well).

What will Magento become in 2009?

magento_chicklets_02Magento Commerce is quickly growing, and according to the Magento website is the fastest growing eCommerce platform at the moment.

Magento is still young, but I peronally know more and more online retailers looking at it as a solution. The underlying structure, robust and powerful API, and complete separation of design/themse and core code make it pretty appealing.

That, and the fact is it open source, so you won’t pay them a cent to download and install it. Awesome.

Roy Rubin’s keynote speech at “Meet Magento Germany” is worth a watch if you are interested in Magento Commerce, but I have summarised the key points for you here :

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Magento Commerce online store performance

We have been using Magento Commerce for about 3 or 4 months now as a new online store platform for a few of our websites.

Magento is a new product, but already growing very quickly in users and features.

We are currently ChannelAdvisor customers and had been using the standard ChannelAdvisor store for some time. We took part in the beta test group for ChannelAdvisor premium stores (which look pretty good) but we have decided to use Magento Commerce instead.

Why did we do this? Well, there are a number of good reasons…
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