April 11, 2013, 11:47 AM

Magento adds power and PayPal features to its e-commerce platform

The new Magento Enterprise targets sizable online retailers.

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Aiming to sell its software to larger online retailers, Magento today released a new version of its software designed to handle larger product catalogs and transaction volumes. The company, a unit of eBay Inc., also released Magento-compatible versions of two PayPal features that let consumers order ahead and retailers to sell via mobile devices.

Magento Enterprise 1.13 is designed for the larger retailers and brands that are considering Magento, says Roy Rubin, co-founder of the open-source software company and chief operating officer of the Magento unit of eBay. “Over the past year Magento and our diverse ecosystem have continued to innovate on the Magento platform to support ever-larger brands, more robust product catalogues and more complex implementations,” Rubin says.  “We’re committed to building upon the Magento platform enabling greater flexibility, performance and scalability to empower merchant growth.”

One concern has been that retailers have had to completely re-index their Magento sites when adding products or changing prices, images or production descriptions. In the new version, they can partially re-index the site in seconds, Magento says.

If a retailer needs to reorganize the product catalog with a full indexing, that will take under one hour for a site that sells 1 million products, versus nearly six hours, an 83% reduction, Baruch Toledano, director of product management, told the 1,500 attendees at this week’s Magento Imagine 2013 conference in Las Vegas.

Magento also promises faster performance with the new version. An Australian retailer that’s tested Enterprise 1.13 says its pages loaded faster with the updated software.

“We have over 90 bedding stores across Australia offering a wide range of beds, bedding and bedroom furniture for every demographic,” says Danny Smulders, operations manager at Forty Winks. “We were seeing slow page load times, especially for browsing the site. With Magento Enterprise 1.13 our page load times have nearly halved—without having to add additional hardware. The optimized indexing also ensures that new content appears online instantly giving customers immediate access to our latest products.”

The focus of new release is meeting larger retailers’ demand for faster performance, says Michael Harvey, chief operating officer of Corra, which develops e-retail sites using Magento software. “Making it faster and more scalable are clearly issues they have to address convincingly to go upmarket,” Harvey says. He says Corra began working with Magento Enterprise software when it launched in 2009, and in the past four years the average revenue it receives from a Magento deployment deal has quadrupled, “which is reflective of larger and larger companies looking at Magento.”

As part of the release, Magento also announced that two recent PayPal applications have been made available for Magento retailers and developers to use. One lets consumers with a PayPal mobile app to place an order on a smartphone and have it ready when they arrive. Smoothie chain Jamba Juice is testing this “order ahead” feature in California.

The other, called “in-aisle shopping,” lets a retailer that has implemented PayPal Here—a device that plugs into a mobile phone or tablet and swipes payment cards—accept payments away from checkout counters for processing through PayPal. Both PayPal extensions are free to Magento retailers. PayPal is also part of eBay

Magento says 150,000 e-commerce sites run on Magento. Most run on the free Community version, and a new version of that software, version 1.8, will be released in two weeks. Some use a newer on-demand version called Magento Go, which starts at $15 per month for retailers selling up to 100 items. The Magento Enterprise edition, which includes an array of built-in features as well as technical support, starts at $15,550 per year.

Most Magento clients have been small to midsize retailers. But Magento executives point to the adoption of their software by retailers like Stella & Dot, which they say generates more than $200 million a year in online sales, as evidence that bigger e-retailers are moving to Magento.

Magento executives also said today that they aim to begin beta testing of the next major upgrade, Magento Enterprise 2.0, in the fourth quarter of this year.

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