Magento CEO Mark Lavelle On How Magento’s Major New Upgrades Benefit Merchants, Super Tips For Entrepreneurs & The Future of Ecommerce Stores Beyond Sites & Apps

Mark Lavelle, the friendly and approachable CEO of Magento, gave me a half hour of his time at their Magento Live UK show! Not at all expected for the CEO of such a large company and at a packed trade show, to boot.

[Click here for early access to the Magento Checkout Grader, when it’s ready. Get 10 hours (worth ~ $1500) of checkout analysis done automatically in a couple of minutes, and the results emailed to you.]

The interview’s a great look into:
– Why Magento is part of Permira private equity now, rather than eBay
– The latest product improvements for Magento, including how the extension marketplace got upgraded significantly to make it better for merchants, their order management functionality and more
– The sometimes-overlooked key things for entrepreneurs to get through tough times (he launched a web payments company – BillMeLater – in the dot com bust of 2000… BillMeLater survived and thrived, clearly thanks to these)
– What motivates Mark at Magento
– Transacting beyond just the ecommerce site/app: where’s the future of ecommerce going?

(For those of you looking for my Mobile Checkout Worksheet discussed at Magento Live UK – get it here (mobile friendly ;).)

For those of you interested in the slides from my talk – How To Preserve Your Conversion Rate While Going Through A Site Redesign – you can get them on my page about Magento Live UK 2016.

And if you’re an ecommerce store that needs to increase its conversion rate, have a look at my conversion rate services for ecommerce and contact me.


Gab Goldenberg:            There you go. Cool. Hey, this is Gab Goldenberg. I’m live with Mark Lavelle. We’re at Magento live. For those of you guys who don’t know, Mark is the CEO of Magento, the world’s number one most popular eCommerce platform. Mark, thanks for joining me today.

Mark Lavelle:                   Thanks, man. Thanks for coming to Magento live, UK.

Gab Goldenberg:            Absolutely, thanks for having me.

Mark Lavelle:                   Yeah.

Gab Goldenberg:            I was just talking with Mark about how they recently sold the company from eBay to a private equity company and helping to focus and be very able to develop the community further and do things that are really helpful for Magento. Tell us a bit more about business strategy and where you guys are going from here.

Mark Lavelle:                   Yeah, it was an important event. eBay-owned the business for about four years. When eBay and PayPal became two separate companies, Magento was offered as a private equity, because it wasn’t strategic any longer to PayPal or eBay. It had grown very well within eBay. We had invested a lot in the product strategy and ended up spinning out of eBay in November of last year. Since then, it’s been very much reestablishing Magento brand. The product is very known in the market. Getting sales and marketing going. You and I were talking about getting the marketing strategy right and developing leads.

It’s a very organic business. As a result, we’ve got a wonderful network of system integration partners all across the world, technology partners. It’s a very partner-oriented business. Our job really, aside from that lead generation is to develop great products that our clients love. We work hand in hand with quite a number of folks outside the company. We also have a lot of internal RND resource.

We launched recently, this has probably been our most exciting, ambitious product launch year ever. We launched today Magento 2 platform, which is a pretty large scale redevelopment of the original very popular one, platform. Launched that with great success. Been downloaded over 350,000 times.

Gab Goldenberg:            Yeah, 1,200 sites already launched on the new platform.

Mark Lavelle:                   Yeah, this is amazing. Great reviews on it. We’ve already … We’re announcing soon the 2.1 version of it. We’re innovating very quickly on top of that platform. That’s all about scale, and performance, and enterprise, and extending the features that make Magento great, which is flexibility, being able to customize it.

We launched a Magento cloud version, which was a public cloud management capability to provision, tunes, scale. We launched a new Magento marketplace, which is us standing behind the extensions of applications that are right now for Magento 2, but we’ll be expanding that.

Gab Goldenberg:            Yeah, that’s very valuable because, for example, one of the things people know about other marketplaces such as the app store through Apple, or the Google Android store, the common perception is that the Apple Store has quality, and that’s because it’s vetted, like what you’re talking about. With the Google store, there’s a lot more lower quality things.

Mark Lavelle:                   Quality is really important in the extension market for a number of reasons. It’s quality, number one. Then, the other problem was duration of search, like telling the buyer who is interested in doing different visual merchandising, or CRM, or implementing the payment gateway, what choices should they make. It’s very hard for them to select between 27 payment gateways. Our job with marketplace is to ensure quality, ensure performance, and then help our merchant or our end user get the most out of the platform. That’s what marketplace is all about.

Gab Goldenberg:            Exactly.

Mark Lavelle:                   We also have released a SAS order management module that comes with Magento, that is critically more important as merchants get into more channels of demand than the consumer. I, as the consumer, may interact with your brand on your home page, or maybe on a mobile app, or maybe coming from Facebook, or maybe walking into your physical store.

The contacts of that relationship is important to capture regardless of channel, because the fulfillment or the payment terms may be different. Helping optimize with inventory as well as with the demand is what that Magento order management platform is about.

Gab Goldenberg:            Exactly. It doesn’t help you if you’ve got the products in Glasgow if they are needed in London.

Mark Lavelle:                   Exactly. You could perhaps get it to Glasgow. Maybe your buyer is in Glasgow, and you can actually run out across the street from them. That’s modern selling today, that awareness on the demand side, and the ability to satisfy that demand, or exceed your customer’s expectations by beginning to offer them unlimited inventory, and great fulfillment offers. That’s the business we’re in with the order management platform. It’s been exciting.

Gab Goldenberg:            You’ve been a successful entrepreneur with Magento, with Bill Me Later. What are some of the things that stand out to you as mistakes you’ve seen other entrepreneurs make? Maybe you’ve made yourself or you overcome. Some stories that really marked you as an entrepreneur that you think other people would benefit from hearing.

Mark Lavelle:                   Well, I don’t know that I’ll give any more light than it’s the basics, right? You got to care about what you’re doing. You have to believe in what you’re doing, because it’s always going to be harder than you think, and it’s going to take longer than you think. I think I’ve learned that. In those dark days when things aren’t going well, you do it because you care about what you’re doing.

Secondarily, it’s about the people. You’ve got to be doing it with people you care about and make you better. You get the right people around you that have competencies that extend yours. You work together well, and you all care about what you’re doing, then the execution becomes easier. Then getting through tough challenges, or crisis, or even thrilling things like hyper growth are more manageable.

Then success is always a little bit of that plus luck. You can’t control everything. You can’t control the external environment.

Gab Goldenberg:            100%.

Mark Lavelle:                   My company started in the Dot Bomb era of the last decade where we raised our-

Gab Goldenberg:            You started a company. That’s finished. That just died.

Mark Lavelle:                   Yeah. Hang on, let’s start a consumer online payments company in 2000. We raised money, the 9/11 episode was tragic on a number of levels. We really formed our kind of thinking, like look, the privilege of building a company and being an entrepreneur is about freedom. It’s about getting passionately involved in something and being able to do it. We live in a society, thankfully, that allows us to take advantage of these things. You were talking about Tel Aviv and how vibrant that market is.

I just really came to appreciate what a privilege it is to be able to take capital from investors and go build something with it.

Gab Goldenberg:            What gets you motivated? For some people, it’s just money, but I don’t think you build a big successful company like Bill Me Later, or like Magento just pursuing the money. What’s speaks to Mark Lavelle and your heart that makes you care about it?

Mark Lavelle:                   Well, Magento specifically, I’m at a time in my career where I feel that giving back, helping people do the best work of their lives is what really kind of thrills me. You can find talented people, whether in the company or a partner, and you can set them up for success, that’s really motivating to me now. What I love about Magento is that’s essentially Magento’s business model is to help people achieve their dreams.

We launched our Imagine show, an award called the Trailblazer Award, which is meant to really exemplify the eCommerce WP, or the innovation executive, the person that chooses Magento as a technology is not choosing technology. They’re choosing sort of an entire ecosystem that can help them accomplish what they want to accomplish. It’s not a far stretch to say Magento helps trailblazers accomplish their dreams. That really resonates with us. That’s why we’re here.

Gab Goldenberg:            Very neat. If we’re going to talk about the next six months for a year, what are some trends that you think are really developing quickly in the eCommerce world? Mobile is not a trend anymore, that’s something that’s presently existing. What’s the new mobile if you can identify it?

Mark Lavelle:                   Yeah. Mobile is sort of not even talked about anymore because it is-

Gab Goldenberg:            Taken for granted. It’s just here.

Mark Lavelle:                   You have to start with that. Your users are going to be on devices. They’re going to be on multiple devices.

Gab Goldenberg:            What’s new? Where are we going in eCommerce?

Mark Lavelle:                   There’s a lot of talk about do you drive demand to your site in traditional ways, or do you put content in places where your customers is? I think that’s an interesting new thing that’s coming up. I think intellectually we believe that where people spend their time is where they will ultimately want to transact. They’re spending a lot of time on Facebook, they’re spending a lot of time on Messenger Applications, they’re spending a lot of time in social media. It follows that there’s some business eCommerce opportunity. They may want to discover items there. They may want to have business relations, service relationships in those context. That’s very exciting. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of it and we’ll see where it goes.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s interesting. B-to-B is growing so much for Magento.

Mark Lavelle:                   Yeah.

Gab Goldenberg:            What is driving all these B-to-B marketers and shops to come and rely on an eCommerce platform, which I think traditionally we’ve seen with B-to-C.

Mark Lavelle:                   Right. I think all the things that drove B to C are driving B to B. B to B has the same elements. They want duration, and they want their site or their products to look beautiful. They want their user to feel engaged. They want to reduce friction from the buying process. They want to spur re-buying.

All of the things we talked about in B to C they’re doing B to B. The B to B buyer wants what B to C has, but they have special needs. They have special complexities, order volumes.

Gab Goldenberg:            Order volumes, businesses.

Mark Lavelle:                   They’re don’t want to ship tomorrow, they want it shipped for the spring season. They don’t want one, they want a pallet. There’s a lot of complexities when you talk about B to B.

The nuts and bolts of it are basically connect with the customer, engage the customer in the buying process, and exceed their expectations on fulfilling their demand and then get them back.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s it.

Mark Lavelle:                   That’s where I think where it’s heading. We really see digital, the digital experience going everywhere in terms of we have universities, and hospitals, and financial services.

Gab Goldenberg:            It’s really remarkable how it’s expanded.

Mark Lavelle:                   Yeah, it’s just a … I think we’re in a really exciting time to be in the business that you and I are in.

Gab Goldenberg:            That’s it. Mark, thank you so much.

Mark Lavelle:                   Yes, it’s a pleasure meeting you.

Gab Goldenberg:            Good having you. Likewise.

Mark Lavelle:                   Okay, take care.

Gab Goldenberg:            Do well. Take care guys.

Mark Lavelle:                   See you.

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