With digital experiences taking pole position throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, customer expectations in both the B2B and B2C sectors have evolved dramatically. Even now, as our lives slowly begin to recoup some elements of normality as restrictions gradually lift, buyer habits that have developed over the last 2 years are certainly here to stay. Those expectations and habits have resulted in a dramatic evolution of the digital landscape in order for businesses to meet the needs and demands of customers and clients, but they’ve also provided businesses with an array of accelerated opportunities to not just meet those expectations, but to exceed them.

How Magento has evolved for digital merchants in 2.4

With the release of Magento 2.4, Adobe provided digital merchants and businesses with new capabilities that enabled that to do just that. The 2.4 release adds a vast range of new functionality (98 new functionalities to be precise), 68 bug fixes, 50 new security enhancements, 7 test cycles, 12 packages and extensions, and full PHP 7.4 and MySQL 8.0 platform support.

The 2.4 release has been built to deliver a considerable upgrade to previous versions, ensuring that retailers and businesses are able to provide competitive, high-quality customer experiences and business functionality through one of the most trusted digital commerce systems available today. Some of the most noteworthy improvements and new features within 2.4 include:

· Platform support for MariaDB 10.4, PHP 7.4, PHPUnit 9.x as well as Elasticsearch 7.x and MySQL 8.0 and a multitude of infrastructure improvements

o The MySQL catalogue search engine has been replaced by Elasticsearch

o Code and module removals – Signifyd fraud protection code and Braintree module (Braintree integration has migrated to Vendor Bundled Extension)

o Added support for Venmo, Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as improvements to extensions from vendors such as DotDigital, Klarna, Amazon Pay, Braintree Payments, Vertex, and Yotpo

o Zend framework migrated to Laminas project

o Upgraded PayPal JavaScript SDK with PayPal Express Checkout integration

o Partial word search capabilities

· The ability to provide intuitive seller-assisted shopping to reinforce customer-centric experiences

· Significant platform performance improvements

o Enhancements to the customer data section invalidation logic

o 43% faster page loading speeds at higher traffic volumes, and 50% faster re-ordering and checkout processes

o Faster ‘Quick Order’ functionality and 30% faster ‘Add to Cart’ performance

o Optimised Redis performance for lower CPU consumption

o Improved SQL queries, and improved lazy loading for images

· In-store pickup/collection to allow customers more diversity in their delivery and fulfilment options

· Enhanced two-factor authentication (2FA) security alongside overall improved platform security, quality and performance

o More than 30 security fixes to prevent threatening vulnerabilities

o Default two-factor authentication for the Magento Admin Panel that can’t be disabled (supports trusted authenticator keys such as Google Authenticator, U2F, Authy, and Duo)

o An improved content security policy

o A new Magento ‘Security-Only’ patch to fix any vulnerabilities from the previous release

· A new redesign of the media gallery, plus streamlined asset management

· Improved ‘headless commerce’

That list barely even scratches the surface of the features and benefits that 2.4 brings for digital merchants, so let’s dig into what Magento 2.4 can do for you in a bit more detail…

B2B enhancements

A vast range of B2B enterprises are reliant on Magento to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers and clients. With Magento 2.4, those experiences have been refined thanks to a number of improvements for B2B retailers. Significant upgrades for B2B experiences include:

· New purchase approval workflow functionality that enables B2B organisations to configure approval rules based around order values, shipping costs, numbers of SKUs and more

· Quick viewing of purchase orders

· Viewing actions performed on purchase orders with complete logs

· Email notifications for various stages throughout purchase order actions

The ability to deliver customer-centric service through ‘Seller-Assisted Shopping’ feature

As we mentioned earlier, customer expectations in every industry and sector have evolved with a significant focus on high-quality, positive digital experiences. Individuals engaging with businesses have grown to expect a high level of service from beginning to end, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a dramatic shift to digital-first retail. Magento 2.4 helps to meet these expectations and requirements, particularly with the new Seller-Assisted Shopping functionality.

This new feature allows retailers to provide a significantly higher level of customer service through the ability to enable store admins to login as a customer from the Magento Admin side. This allows the administrator to troubleshoot and resolve any potential issues at any stage of the purchasing process (such as finding specific products, setting up wishlists and much more). It also gives the store’s customers a distinctive experience of custom functionalities within the store and can dramatically save time by creating orders and quotes on behalf of the customer. Plus, administrative tasks can be handled with ease.

New fulfilment options for customers

Despite a dramatic shift towards digital, physical store locations are still important, and Magento 2.4 enables seamless integration between the digital storefront and physical premises thanks to the introduction of new ‘in-store pickup’ fulfilment options for customers shopping online. This has been introduced thanks to the innovative tracking carried out by Adobe which showed an increase in BOPIS (buy online / pick up in store) orders in the first quarter of 2020.

This added functionality allows merchants to manage this new option, including which physical inventory locations are available for this service. On the customer’s side, they can intuitively find and select a suitable location that’s close to them for pick-up, alongside the ability to review important information such as the location’s opening hours. Once a customer has made a purchase, the platform allows store administrators to notify them that their order is ready for collection with just a single click.

Enhanced platform performance

Speed and performance are vital ingredients when it comes to meeting modern buyer expectations and demands. Our world constantly evolves at a dramatic pace, and having the ability to keep on top of changes and manage key content in a quick, efficient manner is incredibly important. With Magento 2.4, those requirements have been addressed thanks to improved performance capabilities and streamlined asset management with a new media gallery.

Improved asset management capabilities and an updated Adobe Stock integration within the media gallery can be used to move your workflow management into the media gallery itself, reducing the time and resources required for creatives and designers to carry out tasks and operations. This new, more efficient workflow management is complemented by the fact that the media gallery itself has been rebuilt, delivering performance that’s up to 30 times faster complete with the strong integration with Adobe Stock.

Overall, this enables creatives to directly manage the media gallery and the assets within, images for the site can be taken care of with exceptional efficiency, and new image tags and attributes etc. allow for intuitive image searching and filtering.

Ready to upgrade?

Despite covering quite a bit above, we’re only just scratching the surface of how Magento 2.4 could benefit your business and operational workflows. If you’d like some more information, or you want to know how we can help you upgrade, get in touch with us today.