Magento Imagines a New Enterprise Offering for Retailers

If you're an ecommerce merchant running your digital business on Magento - or even thinking about doing so - there's a lot to talk about.

The biggest news coming out of the company's annual conference (Imagine 2016) held this week is that there is now a Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition, a release Peter Sheldon, head of strategy at Magento, says is bolstered by Magento's strategic partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other vendors, making it a highly scalable environment.

While the vast majority of current Magento Enterprise customers are on version one of the software, retailers will need to upgrade to Magento 2.0 in order to migrate to the cloud license (the cloud admin dashboard can be seen below).

One of the selling points of upgrading to Magento 2.0, according to Sheldon, is Magento's firm commitment to releasing quarterly updates (e.g, 2.1 in spring, 2.2 in summer), and the new functions and features are only available to those on version 2.0.

Among other updates, Magento 2.1 will feature enhanced paging and preview capability, a long-requested feature according to Sheldon. Merchandisers responsible for campaigns and pricing will now be able to preview what they are doing (makes sense). In the past, when they clicked save, it was live on the website or otherwise they'd have to test the changes elsewhere. With 2.1, retailers can hit save and the changes (like to prices, content, promotions, etc.) won't go live until the merchant is ready.

Another update that will be included in Magento Enterprise Edition 2.1 is the migration of search engine technology from Solar to Elastic Search, which will allow retailers to offer more innovative on-site search and navigation. For the shopper who is on the site, they will receive more relevant search results.

The business case, according to Sheldon, for merchants currently on Magento 1.0 to update to 2.0 is these quarterly launches as well as now, the ability to migrate to the cloud. While merchants had some hesitations initially (nobody wants to be first), there have now been more than 800 site launches on Magento 2.0 and 200,000 downloads - a huge confidence builder for moving forward.

Another major announcement from Magento this week revolves around its extensions library - a popular feature that extends the functionality of the Magento platform. The problem with Magento Connect (what the library has been called to date) is that the extensions were not regulated - anyone could build one or pass one off as their own but that is changing.

"What we are doing now is pressing the reset button on the way we do extensions," said Sheldon in an interview with Website Magazine. "We're retiring the Connect portal and relaunching Magento Marketplace, now the focus is on quality rather than quantity with a much higher barrier to entry."

Magento extensions now have to pass a code audit and their developers have to show very specific marketing and value proposition material. Magento Marketplace will be a managed curated environment, so retailers have peace of mind that what they are considering adding to their site has been fully vetted. With ratings and reviews, for example, only merchants who have bought and used the extension will be able to rate it (similar to the App Store).

Extension developers have been aware of this update, as Magento has whittled down about 6,000 extensions to 400 that matter - this week is just the public unveiling.

For those retailers running on Magento Enterprise - or considering it - there's certainly a lot to consider when it comes to deciding whether to upgrade to 2.0 in order to take advantage of the cloud and/or quarterly updates, or remain on 1.0 where, perhaps, they are performing well.