Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

When it comes to Magento, I feel somewhat bipolar. I am so incredibly frustrated with the fact that Web Services just don’t work with Magento. It’s not like there is some complex issue here. All I’m doing is making a login attempt using a SoapClient in php. Pretty simple, but it just doesn’t work in Magento 1.3.2.4 (latest version at the time of this posting).

I’m not the only person with this problem either. It is clearly a problem for several other people on the various Magento message boards. There are no answers that I can find to this problem at all, and it has now put an integration with an important fulfillment system at risk for my business. Magento just might be migrated away from because of this serious problem.

I’ve had my ups and downs about Magento, and I’m sure I love for this amazing open source ecommerce platform will waiver for the remainder of my existence. However, at this moment, my Magento love is strong… Very strong. A good deal of my love of Magento is due not to the hard working folks at Varien (although they certainly deserve praise) but from the module developers at aheadWorks.

Artyom and the gang over at aheadWorks have really put together a series of phenomenal modeles for Magento! My personal favorite has been the Help Deak Ultimate module. It has saved my company countless hours of telephone support and made our ability to manage customer returns so much easier! They keep adding modules that add tremendous value to the ecommerce experience when shopping at my company’s website. I don’t like to publicly heap praise upon developers unless they really develop some killer apps, but the folks at aheadWorks definitely deserve props for their Magento modules!

A couple of tweaks in the latest version of Magento (1.3.2.1) and we’ve got ourselves a VERY nice update! I am quite pleased with the bug fixes they have put into place. All of my complaints over the last few weeks can go into the digital recycle bin! I’m looking forward to the next release in the coming weeks.

I use 0.5 clippers on my hair, so I don’t have a lot to pull out. However, I’ve certainly rubbed quite a bit of it off my head the last couple of days dealing with Magento’s disappearing shopping cart promotional logic. I don’t know exactly what happened. It just mysteriously happened!

Suddenly, all of my coupon logic no longer works! It was amazing. It started with the coupon logic crashing my shopping cart page. Sure, you can add items to your shopping cart, but don’t expect to actually be able to checkout. You didn’t really want to make purchases on an ecommerce website anyway, right?

Looks like a rebuild is in order šŸ˜¦

Before I get started on my rant about Magento, I need to make it clear that I LOVE open source software and I absolutely LOVE this particular open source ecommerce platform. I think that Magento has tremendous promise and is an excellent choice for a company’s ecommerce platform. Now that I’m done with my praise, I’ll get to my rant…

Honestly, they have to be kidding! I know that the whole point of open source is to get the programmers work where they get paid. Hey, WordPress is open source. It’s not like these guys are independently wealthy and just make cool software out of the kindness of their hearts. However, Magento is far from an enterprise level platform. Even with the additional features, Magento is not at that level. Case and point… They can’t even process sales tax correctly.

The latest release of Magento (1.3.1.1) didn’t fix a bug that was created when they released 1.3.1. This bug is a rather serious bug that makes Magento practically useless for ecommerce. Since ecommerce is what this platform is supposed to be used for, Magento 1.3.1 and beyond are worthless until they fix this bug. The bug is that no matter how you setup your tax groups, there is no way to enter an order into the Admin interface that doesn’t get charged taxes if you have a tax setup for that postal code.

Now, a careful ecommerce guy will read that last sentence and find another flaw with Magento. Yes, Magento does their taxes based upon zip codes. There is no state in America that allows you to base your taxes on a postal code. Postal codes are setup by the US Post Office (which is NOT a government agency). Our local and state governments recognize cities and municipalities ONLY, not zip codes.

In my opinion, Enterprise level software should be able to handle sales taxes properly. Magento doesn’t. There is plenty of work left for the folks over there before they have an Enterprise level application. How about the fix the community edition tax problems before releasing “Enterprise” software.

I’ve been a very vocal proponent of Magento since it first stormed onto the market. I think it is an excellent ecommerce platform, but the latest update should be completely avoided. There is a MAJOR bug in how it calculates taxes in that it completely ignores your customer groups when determining the taxes to charge for an order.

This becomes a major issue when you have retail and wholesale customers. Even when you set everything in your backend to not charge shipping for your wholesale customers, Magento 1.3.1 calculates and charges taxes. Obviously, this is not going to fly with any business. I have a site right now that is stuck without the ability to sell anything via their wholesale store because taxes are being calculated on every order despite the fact that everything was setup to not charge taxes for their wholesale customer group. This site did not have this problem until we upgraded to 1.3.1.

Micromanagement is often seen as the root of all evil in the workforce. Employees who are “micromanaged” (whether they are or not) can become severely disgruntled, making for a poor work environment.

Most of the time, micromanagement is the result of an inept manager, a manager who has been raised to his level of incompetence. However, when used effectively, micromanagement is a highly effective tool for getting projects back on track. In a five part series on WordsCause, I am sharing a recent experience I have with a derailed ecommerce project that I was able to not only get back on track, but the team delivered more than what was promised in less time than was originally projected!

The end result? A website that doubled the conversion rate from 2.5% to more than 5% consistently. Read the first part of Successful Micromanagement in Information Technology.