Magento is currently amongst the most popular eCommerce platforms worldwide, with more than 250,000 online stores having been created with Magento. As the market for eCommerce continues to grow, more platforms have emerged, however, Magento has retained its position as the market leader. Merchants using Magento have noted a 3 times faster growth rate as compared to other eCommerce providers. Top brands using this platform include Samsung, Nike, Ford, Coca Cola, Harvey Norman and Christian Louboutin. Over the years, several updates and versions of Magento have been released, making the platform future-ready and up to date. The latest version to be released is Magento 2.4, officially announced in December 2019, and launched in July 2020.
This is due to the immense flexibility that it offers.
Evolution of Magento 2.0
An open-source platform based on PHP, Magento was first launched in 2007, then was acquired by eBay in 2009, and then taken over by Adobe in 2018. There were several revisions and updates to Magento 1 till 2014, and in 2015 a new version Magento 2.0 was launched, with additional features and a revised code base. In 2016 came the launch of Magento 2.1, followed by version 2.2 in 2017, and 2.3 in 2018.
Magento 2.4 Features
The latest Magento 2.4 release comes with a host of changes, including 98 new features, 68 bugs fixed, 7 test cycles, 12 new extensions, PHP 7.4 support, 50 security changes, an external beta program, and 12 packages. Apart from general eCommerce features, several new functionalities have been launched to specifically cater to B2B eCommerce sites.
New General Magento 2.4 Features
The Magento B2C eCommerce platform is one of its flagship offerings, and throughout the years, there have been several updates to further improve the refine the platform available for merchants. Here are some of the latest additions to the Magento eCommerce platform that accompany the version 2.4 update:
1. Better Security with 2 Factor Authorisation
As eCommerce sites become more complex and deal with greater amounts of money, and larger numbers of customers, security for merchants is as important as ever. The Magento 2.4 comes with a two-factor authentication (2FA) for Admin users. Similar to other 2FA procedures, a code is generated and sent to the user, acting as an additional layer of authentication.
2. Improved Default Search
For any eCommerce platform, a search is an important tool that any customer will most likely use. In Magento 2.4, the earlier default search engine powered by MySQL has been replaced with Elasticsearch. Magento has made Elasticsearch mandatory for the 2.4 update, and this helps improve the search experience you can offer to customers.
3. Faster Media Gallery
Another benefit for the website admins is the revamped Media Gallery with a performance of up to 30 times faster than before. Images are a smart way to entice and encourage customers to purchase. With the new Media Gallery, searching, filtering and sorting images is fast and easy. Also, the Media Gallery comes integrated with Adobe Stock so that you can access stock image previews directly from the gallery.
4. Seller-Assisted Shopping
Offering customers effective help when needed is vital, and the Magento 2.4 enables you to do that with sell-assisted shopping. With this new feature, your customer service personnel can use the Magento Admin section to log onto the website as the customer. As a result, they can directly guide customers without having to depend on vague or confusing customer responses. This helps speed up the entire process, impressing customers and saving the time of your staff.
5. In-Store Pickups
High shipping costs or delayed shipping dates can often be a deterrent for customers. The past two years have witnessed a rapid rise in the demand for buy online pick-up in store orders (BOPIS). With the Magento 2.4, you can extend the BOPIS option to your customers. This feature improves conversion, encourages fast purchasing, and increases chances of upselling and cross-selling, for when customers visit the store.
In the Inventory Management section, an option will be available for In-Store Pick Up, where you can choose which physical inventory sites are approved as customer pickup locations. The facility for in-store pickup is displayed at the time of checkout where customers can choose a suitable location. The in-store pickup feature can also be adapted to curb side pickup.
6. PWA Development Faster and Easier
For modern websites, offering customers Progressive Web App (PWA) experiences is important. Magento has released a new version of the PWA Studio along with Magento 2.4. This includes new Venia storefront experiences, and a cart and checkout workflow to speed up transactions. With the new improvements to the PWA studio, it becomes more affordable to launch PWA storefronts.
New Magento 2.4 Features for B2B eCommerce
As more B2B sellers move to an online mode of selling, eCommerce platforms are adapting to offer dedicated features for B2B eCommerce sites. The Magento 2.4 update comes with a number of new features for B2B eCommerce sites designed to improve spending control, sales and customer service, and performance and efficiency. These features include:
1. Streamlined Purchases
The Magento 2.4 update helps streamline the overall B2B purchases with email notifications at each step, full order history and comments, and tracking of the approval flow status. All orders can easily be managed in the ‘My Purchase Orders’ section, and viewed at individual and company levels.
There is an automated approval process, in case the order value does not require formal approval. Based on a threshold identified by the buyer, automatic approval is granted for sub-threshold orders and an email notification is sent to the approvers.
2. New Purchase Approval Workflows
B2B sales are often dependent upon the purchasing policies and protocols of the buying company. There are often rules regarding when purchases require approval that are used to enforce corporate spending policies. Magento 2.4 includes a new approval workflow feature which provides B2B buying companies with a simple form to customise their approval process. Approval workflows help B2B sellers as these simpler purchasing policies attract new businesses. For B2B buyers, approval workflows streamline the pre-purchase approval process and ensure spending control for online purchases.
The approval request is added to the checkout process, after the shipping and payment modes have been selected. The approval requirements can be customised by the buyer based on the number of items or SKUs, order value, or shipping costs. The negotiated quotes can also be run through the approval process. Rules can be adapted to include multiple factors. This feature, increases transparency and efficiency of B2B purchases.
3. Seller Assisted Shopping
Similar to the new seller assisted shopping feature that comes with the Magento 2.4 update for B2C eCommerce, there is a dedicated version available for B2B. With the seller assisted shopping feature, you can have admin access to the buyer’s interface, viewing the screen as they see it. This helps in troubleshooting any problems, and you can also place orders on their behalf. Additionally, you can find products, set up requisition lists, manage buyers and permissions, set up approval rules and create quotations.
4. Extra Security and Control
The Magento 2.4 update significantly enhances the security and control of B2B eCommerce sites. There is an option to regulate account access for business representatives, and logging of actions and orders. For the buyers, there is greater security since even the sellers do not have access to customer passwords. Each session is destroyed when the admin logs out.
5. New Search Functionality
Apart from the updated catalogue search function, there is a new and improved search functionality to check for previous orders. Past orders can be searched and filtered by the SKU, product name, order or invoice number, name of the person who created the order, order status or data or value range. Tracking past orders helps buyers manage their shopping with a particular B2B seller, and also boosts buyer confidence.
Magento 2.4 Benefits
In the short period of time since its release, Magento 2.4 is already impressing developers and merchants alike, due to the range of benefits it offers. These benefits include better security, upgrades to the platform, core changes, quick deployments, and improved performance.
Here are some of the top benefits of Magento 2.4
Overall, there are 30 security fixes and improvements with Magento 2.4, including protecting against XSS vulnerabilities. The template filter strict mode is by default enabled to protect against RCE attacks. In addition, there is a new two-factor authentication protocol for the Admin accounts. A multi-factor authentication is also in place to secure access to the Cloud SSH.
A security.txt file has also been supported so that security researchers can report any potential security concerns to the website administrators. Default data rendering has been disabled for UI data providers, thereby preventing execution of arbitrary JS.
2. Platform Upgrades
Several platform upgrades have been put in place to increase the website security and enhance performance. Support has been introduced for PHP 7.4 and deprecated for PHP 7.1 and 7.2. Zend Framework has been deprecated with dependencies shifting to the Linux Foundation’s Laminas Project by.
There is support for Elastic search 7.6 which replaces MySQL as the default catalogue search engine. Although support for MySQL 8.0 is included, it is advised to upgrade to the MySQL 8.X for added security, reliability and enhanced performance. There is no longer support for Internet Explorer 11.x browser.
3. Infrastructure Improvements
4. Sales and Customer Service
Cumbersome shopping experiences and lengthy checkouts are discouraging for customers, B2B and B2C. The seller-assisted shopping features enables merchants to view the eCommerce storefront as seen by the customer. Through the admin access, you can directly view the customer’s shopping interface, and any problems the customer is facing, quickly and conveniently. As a result, customers do not need to spend time on long customer service conversations or discussions to explain their problems.
5. Performance Improvements
The Magento 2.4 release enhances the performance of Redis with multiple optimisation options. There is a new way to invalidate the customer data, thereby avoiding a known issue. With the PHP 7.4 and PHP Unit 9 support and the MFTF helper, a custom action can be created along with schema updates, nested assertion syntax and static checks.
The performance of the quick order and add-to-cart functionalities have been improved by 25-30%. The caching of results has been upgraded and merchants can now load images using the lazy loading feature. The capability of GraphQL has also been enhanced significantly.
Magento 2.4 is the latest version of the popular eCommerce platform to be released in the market. It offers an extensive range of updates, boosting security and functionality significantly for B2C and B2B eCommerce websites. Upgrading Magento software is a great way to stay up-to-date with latest technology and features so that your eCommerce website is the best it can possibly be.
With this latest version release, Magento has further improved its excellent offering, stream lining multiple processes and simplifying them, so that the platform works even better than before. Features such as in-store pickups, improved search engines, and faster performance are all valuable tools for eCommerce websites.
Reach out to our team at 18th DigiTech to discuss your business needs, so we can help you with a customised eCommerce solution, tailor-made for your niche and requirements.