Magento is a complex multi-functional eCommerce platform, with a list of benefits that has earned it clients as prestigious as Burger King, Nestle and Coca-Cola. Since the release of Magento 2.0 in 2015, the platform has even more to offer online retailers.
Magento is widely regarded as one of the best eCommerce platforms available, and, with approximately 250,000 current users, it is also among the most popular. The software itself is highly inclusive, with a wide range of options and features, in addition to great scalablility and opportunities for customisation. Best of all, it is free to download.
The 2015 release of Magento 2.0 has ironed out many users' initial issues, thanks to improvements such as a more streamlined checkout process, new shopper experience features, quarterly updates to the platform, and a more user-friendly approach.
Magento boasts a clean and intuitive dashboard, and there are a number of free add-ons and widgets available, both from the company itself and its user community.
What are the key features?
Magento’s full list of features is extensive and includes unique and helpful benefits such as related product recommendations, polls, CAPTCHA functionality to protect sites from bot logins, social media sharing buttons, support for different currencies and EU cookie notifications. There are also options to create coupons and adjust taxes for different locations, product types and customer groups (retail/wholesale).
In addition to the features already installed in Magento, there is a variety of free add-ons available from the wider user community, including automatic tax calculators, tools to assist with email marketing, search engine optimisation and filtered searching.
The Magento user community
Magento hosts a comprehensive user forum within its parent site, and members are free to pose questions, offer advice and share Magento-supported 'extras'.
Considering the advanced programming skills required to set up Magento, this forum can be a lifeline for less experienced users, as well as a source of free add-ons. These add-ons include (but are not limited to): security patches, themes, enhanced modules and payment options.
There are almost 222,000 registered users of the Magento user forum, and almost 58,000 posts have been listed so far. There is, therefore, an extensive network of experienced users willing to give assistance and advice to novices of the platform, as well as offer new features and methods for building a dynamic eCommerce page.
What are the downsides?
Although the initial software download is free, additional costs can be incurred for web hosting, domain names, SSL certification and payment processing. Although these may seem almost negligible for a large or medium-sized organisation, a small enterprise may find them prohibitive.
Hosting a Magento site can be time-consuming and complex. Although 2.0 is more user-friendly than the original Magento, implementation still generally requires a developer, in collaboration with a designer. Alternatively, Magento Enterprise Edition (MEE) has a more straightforward setup, and can be purchased at a starting rate of between £17,000 - £25,000.
Other common complaints include the lack of customer support offered by Magento and its occasionally sluggish performance. Fortunately, the large and diverse user community can provide extensive support and advice for new users, and issues with slow running are generally considered to have been corrected by the release of Magento 2.0.
Working with a cloud hosting provider to not just host Magento but also support its development and implementation within your business can help you mitigate the difficulties associated with the software. This outsources the responsibility of the setup and maintenance of Magento to a specialist eCommerce team, which can be invaluable in times of crisis and provide a more user-friendly interface to help with customisation and personalisation.
Cloud hosting for your Magento site offers a number of scalable options, such as improved capacity planning and cache management systems for a faster performance, as well as additional security benefits, disaster recovery options and specialised technical support.
Is it worth it?
The answer inevitably depends on the individual situation of each business. Magento offers a great many benefits, but with this comes the intellectual and financial costs of implementation. For those enterprises willing and able to properly set up Magento, the rewards can be highly profitable.
For more help deciding whether Magento would be the best option for your business, or just to learn more, download our free e-book.