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Just Checking In; Google App Engine, Hosting Reviews, but no actual Magento

Wow, where did November go? It’s been over a month since my last post and I thought I should probably just drop a quick note here to let you know what’s been going on, and what’s coming up. There’s no Magento tips or advice here though I’m afraid – but there is a little sneak peek at a project I have been tinkering around with – I’d really love some feedback on it.

What’s new

Firstly, if I haven’t been making Magento extensions or writing Magento articles for a month, what have I been doing?!

It’s been a very busy time in online retail, we’ve been exporting products to the US all year and Q4 is really the business end of the season – on top of that we have several new suppliers coming on board, and that presents more challenges in terms of merchandising and logistics.

I did take an opportunity to document the results of our email marketing tests over on our WWA blog. We’re running a little internal competition where the person who gets the most views on a blog post, in a month, gets a bottle of wine. I lost last month – but with a bit of twitter/blog spamming – this month I plan to take it out – I’ll need your help!

We’re also working on some very cool software in-house, codenamed ‘Channelytics‘. Basically as we operate more and more stores, in multiple geographies on multiple platforms we’re starting to experience real pain just knowing what is selling, how and where. The software I’m writing is grabbing data from Magento stores, plus several other sales channels (e.g Amazon) and aggregating it into summary RSS feeds, daily and monthly summary emails, and pretty OFC graphs. Think Google Analytics meets Ecommerce. It’s also running on Google App Engine, which has been a fun and interesting development exercise.

Our intention is to roll out a beta for other companies in similar situations, so if that sounds like something you’d be interested in, please let me know.

Lastly, and most excitingly, While having a few drinks earlier in the month with a couple of techie people I floated the idea of a social network CPC, where friends advertise to each other because it’s so much more targeted than anything Google or The Facebook can do; I’d tell my mate about a new Apple laptop on sale I saw because _I know_ he’s looking for one this weekend.

Anyway, the logistics of social CPC are still a bit difficult to work through. Instead I made a slimmed down version over the last few weeks that just uses a coupon code that get’s activated if you get enough clicks.

So for example. If you are an ecommerce business and you want your customers to tell their friends and followers about your website, you could use to do it. First go there and create an offer, like “Save 20% when you get 20 clicks”. will generate some javascript to put on your page, you do that.

Now when customers come to your store, they see the 20% offer and can get themselves a simple short (unique) url which they share with their friends. If they get the required number of clicks, they get sent the 20% coupon. Everybody wins. Except me, I haven’t figured out how it would actually make any money, but step 1 is to find out if people even want to use such a service. So please, take a look, try it out – I haven’t really finished it yet (it’s also on App Engine btw), so be gentle with it! I would really love to hear any feedback.

What’s coming up

I have a few cool things coming up. The first is a thorough review of MageMojo Magento optimized hosting. They have kindly offered me an account to test on, so I am setting up a Siege test (Siege was the cool-tool to use for performance testing at the Magento Developer’s Paradise – so it’s an excuse to try it out for myself).

Also I have in my possession German translations for SMTP Pro (Thanks to Thomas at Netresearch), so I’ll roll those out really soon too. I have been sitting on them for over a month, tut tut.

Lastly, I need to do a decent round of bug fixes and improvements on a couple of the newer Magento extensions I’ve released, so I’ll try to squeeze in a few hours to look at those over the next couple of weeks too.

That’s all – stay tuned for more information!