MageNews – December Edition: 2020 overview and 2021 forecast

2020 is nearly complete. The holiday season is now well underway. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. End of year holidays remain in front of us. Even though we have a few more weeks left, this year will clearly be remembered as one unlike any. In reality, this year felt more like a decade than it did a year. For good reason. New norms were instantly forced on all of us. Impacted by a global pandemic and rapid economic change, ongoing uncertainty and instant pivots in market consumption trends, user behaviors, and general working norms — in 2020 we all experienced much and it changed how we now live our personal and professional lives.

For those of us in eCommerce — no matter how large or small, no matter the location or industry — in many ways we shifted from being a part of a business strategy to becoming the central hub of a business’s go-to-market strategy. We moved quickly. We evolved. This year more so than arguably any year before, we accomplished more. It was intense, to say the least. The results of our collective efforts met the moment, though, and we are now seeing the results. This year’s online holiday season spending, in the US alone, could reach as much as $189 billion dollars. That amounts to 33% year-over-year growth. Looking forward, the steps taken to reconnect suppliers online and to meet new user demand (with higher expectations) will serve as the foundation for how the businesses will now operate. New norms born in 2020 will become, well, norms.

With that said and many factors still uncertain, the question we all find ourselves asking is how do we plan for 2021? Welcome the December 2020 edition of MageNews — lets start by looking over 2020 together.

Content

  1. Holiday Shopping 2020
  2. Magento 2.4 Release
  3. Magento PhpStorm Plugin
  4. Magento PWA Studio Development
  5. Adobe Integrations
  6. Magento 1 End Of Life
  7. Digital Commerce Magic Quadrant 2020
  8. Artificial Intelligence
  9. Microservices and Cloud Improvements

Holiday Shopping 2020

Looking at the predictions and trends leading to Cyber Five 2020 (a period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) we can form and build future tactics for the online store.

According to Adobe Magento Commerce analytics, key features that customers are looking for shopping online are:

  • Availability of BOPIS delivery option (buy online, pick-up in-store [also known as Click-and-Collect]).
  • Ability to get free shipping — in a lot of cases the cost of shipping will undermine the sales prices, so free shipping is essential to attract customers by potential cost savings. You – as a merchant – can take advantage of Magento shipping to configure it.
  • According to Adobe — orders placed the day before Thanksgiving are 51% more likely to be returned than orders placed on Thanksgiving. It’s likely that the items are being returned in hopes of acquiring cheaper sales items over the following sales days. Make sure you provide “Best Price Guaranty” if you can — this is not only sustainable from a shipping standpoint (starting shipping orders a few weeks before the Cyber Five) but can potentially lead to fewer returns.
  • Pay a great deal of attention to the mobile version. This year ~40% of online shopping were happening on mobile devices. When optimizing for the mobile experience think of the page load speed, color contrast, size of buttons, ease of checkout — all of that matter even more, as screens become smaller.
  • Deliver good gift experience — gift wrapping options and “to the door delivery” are necessary, as fewer people are traveling to be with family now, but still want to send gifts to close ones.

I think these trends and consumer behavior will successfully move over to 2021 and further. Constantly learning about your customers and improving the shopping experience will bring long-term ROI to your business.

More info:

Magento Roundup 2020

Magento 2.4 Release

Magento as an e-commerce platform is the cornerstone of the ecosystem. We have events, different open source and partner solutions, 3rd party headless storefronts, but the Magento platform remains the thing that unites us and forms the biggest community in e-commerce.

Adobe has shown that it’s ready to invest in the Magento platform to develop it. Let’s see what features and functionality are available in the newest release of Magento and why it is worth to start the update to Magento Commerce and Open Source 2.4.x:

  1. B2B experience enhancements — we did not get major developments in Magento B2B modules since 2017 – when it was first introduced in Magento 2.2. That to say there was a lot of minor improvements since then. However, the acquisition of Accorin and its order approval technology, as well as the introduction of Approval Workflow in Magento Commerce together with features like company-specific delivery methods, improved order approval, and bulk cart actions, make the newest Magento release a great value for B2B merchants and a big leap forward for the platform when compared to its competitors. 
  2. Assisted shopping allows admin users to log in as a customer and do actions on the storefront on the customer’s behalf. It is truly important for B2B and hybrid scenarios when the catalog of the products and shopping options are traditionally more complex compared to B2C experiences.
  3. PHP 7.4 support. On November 26th, 2020 PHP 8 was released. Magento already plans to support it in the nearest future. However, running the latest major version of the software comes with some challenges. Support of PHP 7.4 (version prior to PHP 8) is a great way for Magento to stay up to date 
  4. SWAT (Site-Wide Analytics Tool). Magento Commerce Cloud admin tool is designed to allow merchants and store operators to leverage tools directly from Magento admin. This applies to New Relic alerts, Magento Quality Patches (MQP), module version checks, Security Scan Tool, and much more. Magento Commerce Cloud bundles with a variety of tools – like Magento Business Intelligence, Fastly CDN and Image Optimization, New Relic – give us a solid background to assume how the future of the Magento Commerce Cloud platform will look like, pushing us to better and more effective leverage of these tools.

More Info:

Magento PhpStorm Plugin

This year was also remarkable thanks to the re-birth of one Magento Open Source project — Magento PhpStorm Plugin. This project is led by Vitaliy Boiko and even though it is not a part of the Magento platform itself, Magento is a PHP application, and the value that this plugin provides to the whole developer community is hard to overestimate. If you want to learn more about the project and join it — you can find all the needed information on our blog:

Magento PWA Studio Development

Magento PWA Studio and Magento GraphQL allow merchants to build Magento mobile-like app and were clearly the most active projects in 2020. Atwix team together with other top contributors greatly contributed to the projects.

Our recap of GraphQL efforts in the projects are described in “The open source for Open-source — a look into GraphQL” article on Atwix blog.

Say it simple — results that we can see in the PWA/GraphQL projects are amazing. Only in the latest Magento PWA Studio 8.0.0 release the PWA/GraphQL team has added support of Apollo Client 3.0 as well as following B2C features:

  • Complete cart and checkout experience,
  • Branding updates — Venia v8,
  • Basic functionality of My Account,
  • Basic multi-currency support.

By now, we already have the support of many B2C scenarios, so developers and partners can take advantage of Magento PWA Studio to create new PWA storefronts.

More info:

Adobe Integrations

2020 was also the year of the first 2 Adobe integrations with Magento — Adobe Stock for Image Gallery and Adobe Sensei for Product Recommendation. These integrations are not necessarily game-changers, but seems like they are a proof of concept and strong foundation (Adobe Sensei in particular) for the further Adobe/Magento products integrations. For me personally, Site Search powered by Adobe Sensei is the most exciting project that will hopefully happen in 2021.

More info:

Magento 1 End Of Life

Magento 1 was on the market for 12 years (from March 31, 2008, to June 30, 2020). A whole generation of eCommerce stores was powered using Magento 1. Now, as its support from Adobe has dropped, it’s time to move on — you can learn about options in MageNews July 2020.

Digital Commerce Magic Quadrant 2020

Magento Adobe Commerce was recognized as a leading platform in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce.

Main strengths of the platform are:

  • Global span — providing global solutions for B2B and B2C business, Magento leveraged its partner network to grow customer base.
  • Commerce scope — Magento offers an extensive features list and a robust app marketplace. Magento Commerce includes a CMS module (Page Builder) and provides additional solutions for order management and analytics.
  • Adobe ecosystem — under Adobe’s ownership, Magento is beginning to benefit from Adobe’s ecosystem of capabilities, especially in complex B2C commerce scenarios.

That said, the main shortcomings of the platform are:

  • The platform is not cloud-native — moving into 2021, the Magento team is planning to leverage microservice architecture to advance the scalability and configurability of the platform.
  • Adobe’s eco has both pros and cons. Adobe should not only focus on the integration of Magento into its ecosystem but also on the development of the commerce product itself.

More info:

What’s in store for eCommerce and Magento in 2021?

Artificial Intelligence

This year the first Magento Commerce integration with Adobe’s AI platform was released — it was Sensei. The first project that we saw on Magento, powered by Adobe Sensei was Product Recommendations. But this is just the beginning. In December, Adobe introduced a new type for its Product Recommendations — Visual Recommendations — merchants will be able to work with related products based on visual similarities. For example: if you are looking for the black headphones, Sensei will go ahead and recommend more similar *black* headphones that are available, taking into account other factors such as material (plastic, steel), shape (over-ear, ear-plugs), size, style, etc.

Later in 2021, Adobe plans to introduce Live Search in Magento Commerce — it will be an advanced site search, powered by Adobe Sensei, featuring “search as you type” feature and more. This feature is intended to replace Magento 2 Elasticsearch that is the default option for Magento right now.

More info:

Microservices and Cloud Improvements

Magento is planning to take advantage of microservice architecture to be able to scale Magento Commerce Cloud applications. Microservices architecture allows for a truly decoupled platform. For example — you can use Order Management and disable Inventory. Or use a different platform like WordPress for content management without a need to introduce additional 3rd party integrations. We will surely see developments of microservices architecture in 2021.

Looking forward to 2021

Many of us are looking forward to 2021. I know I am. We are all looking for a safer, more secure, healthier, and more prosperous year ahead. The world over. While looking forward, let’s not forget what we experienced and what we learned this past year. I believe we are living in a new normal that is here to stay. I am forever grateful for those in the Magento community. I am optimistic about our future because of what we accomplished this past year. We work within a community committed to bettering realities. My new year’s resolution is to continue to connect, contribute, and shape the future of commerce, together. Please join me!

– with warmest regards and holiday wishes, Alex on behalf of MageNews Team.

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