Ecommerce has revolutionised the way people shop. Now there is no need to step outside as almost anything can be bought online. There are multiple benefits of online shopping, for example, convenience, affordability and variety. Currently, there are estimated to be more than 2 billion digital buyers in the word– resulting in a massive potential market for ecommerce businesses of all kinds.
To stand out from the crowd of ecommerce websites springing up in the market, it is vital to use a powerful and effective ecommerce platform. Magento has emerged as a popular open source ecommerce platform. More than 250,000 sites are already using Magento, including famous brands such as Ford, Coca Cola, Nike, Harvey Norman and Christian Louboutin.
What is Magento?
Magento is an ecommerce platform that is built with open source technology, presenting immense potential for customisation in its content, functionality and look. First launched in 2007, Magento was acquired by eBay in 2009, and subsequently in 2018 it was acquired by Adobe. Over the years, Magento has also won multiple open source technology awards.
With a flexible shopping cart system, Magento also offers tools for catalogue management, search engine optimisation (SEO), and marketing. One major benefit of Magento is its easy scalability. A business can start out with only a few items for sale and scale up to accommodate tens of thousands of products.
There is an abundant range of plug-ins and themes supported by Magento. Among the many native functionalities are multi-source inventory, support for 50+ payment options, and Amazon and eBay integration. Magento also offers comprehensive online support, both in the form of a Stack Exchange and Community Forum. However, while the basic functionalities can be accessed by anyone, in order to make the best use of the plethora of Magento features a developer would be needed.
Magento is primarily available in two different editions: The Magento Open Source, earlier known as the Community Edition, and Magento Commerce Edition, previously known as the Enterprise Edition. The basic Magento functionalities are common to both the editions, but there are differences.
Magento Open Source
Available for free download, the Magento Open Source offers all the basic Magento features, for example, product categories, coupons, user groups. This is suitable for businesses wanting to try out and experiment with the Magento setup. Although relatively simple, a developer would still be required to properly establish an ecommerce platform. Community support is available and greatly beneficial for those new to Magento.
Magento Commerce Edition
The Commerce Edition of Magento is a premium and paid ecommerce solution that can be tailored and customised by the right developers. There is a greater performance and more scalability for rapidly growing businesses. Apart from the basic features, there are additional databases for product data, order management, and checkouts. There are also hundreds of more plug-ins, extensions, and Magento-unique features such as up-sells, cross-sells, multi-stores and related products. Magento Commerce Edition offers more control over the ecommerce platform and comes with cloud hosting and 24/7 customer support.
Features of Magento
There is a plethora of features offered by Magento that help your ecommerce portal in achieving success.
1. Marketing Tools
Marketing and promotion are important aspects of any e-commerce business and Magento has dedicated tools for effective conversion of leads. There are options for cross-sells, up-sells, related products, catalog promotional pricing, flexible coupons that can distributed offline and online, multi-tier pricing options, product bundles, customer groups, product comparisons, and persistent shopping carts. You can also support setting up of wish lists, newsletters, and polls.
2. Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is a vital part of any online business as it draws leads from search engines to your business. Magento ecommerce platforms are 100% search engine friendly with search engine friendly URLs and full control over re-writing URLs. There is meta information for all the product categories, content pages and products themselves. Also, there are auto-generated site map and popular searches pages.
3. Site Management
Site management is convenient and easy with Magento. There is a single administration panel from where multiple websites and stores can be controlled and administration permissions can be adjusted for different system roles and users. The site design is 100% customisable and there is support for multiple languages and currencies. Web services API is supported to easily integrate Magento with any other third-party application. Further CAPTCHA functionality dissuades fake logins.
4. Catalogue Management
The catalogues are extensively configurable and customisable, with options to bundle and group projects. Different pricings can also be set up for different customer types, for example, retail and wholesale. All products can be shown virtually with unlimited product attributes, and inventory management tracks minimum and maximum quantities along with back ordered products. There is also support for downloadable or digital products complete with samples.
5. Checkout, Payment and Shipping
The process of checkout, payment transaction and shipping becomes streamlined with Magento default checkout available in guest mode and for account holders. Saved shopping carts are accompanied with tax and shipping estimates. Designated employees can create, edit, view and fulfil orders directly from the admin panel, create invoices, and manage shipments. Multiple safe payment modes are supported with SSL security support and integration is possible with PayPal gateways.
6. Mobile Integration
These days more consumers are shifting to shopping on ecommerce websites through mobile devices. Magento has full support for mobile devices, and a storefront optimised for mobile devices can easily be setup using HTML5 technology. Android, iPhone and Mobile Opera browsers are supported with a user friendly interface that makes maximum use of the touch screens to swipe products, drag and drop to shopping cart, zoom in or out, and scale images. Cross-selling and up-selling capabilities are also available along with a user friendly search option and results page.
7. Reporting and Analytics
Analytics is immensely valuable in understanding sales trends and planning future business moves. Magento ecommerce platforms are integrated with Google Analytics and provide reports on sales, taxes, search terms, product reviews, tags, coupon usage, refunds and more. All the reports can be accessed and examined from the Admin dashboard.
Advantages of Magento as an eCommerce Platform
There are multiple advantages of using Magento for your ecommerce website.
- Scalability: Size of your existing business is not a limitation when it comes to Magento. Small, large or in the process of growing, the Magento ecommerce platform can easily be scaled up to match growing needs.
- Easy Migration: Whether you have an existing store on another platform or an earlier version of Magento, you can conveniently migrate onto the latest Magento version with some help from a developer.
- Marketplace Integration: With Magento it is possible to conveniently reach out to a wider audience by integrating desired products and services with established marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
- Extensive Customisation: The flexibility of customising Magento means that you can have your ecommerce portal look and function exactly the way you want. The customisation potential is further boosted by Magento allowing 3rd party integrations.
- Fast Loading Time: Google statistics show that if a page doesn’t load in 3 seconds, 50% of users abandon the page. Magento provides you with fast loading times so that you can keep up with the users, even when there is a large influx of people.
- Independent Hosting: There is no obligation to choose a specific hosting for a Magento ecommerce platform. You have the utmost freedom to choose whichever hosting service is suitable for you, thereby adding another layer of safety to all the business data and files. With Magento Commerce you have the flexibility to use hosting provided by Adobe or go with on-premise version and choose your own host.
- SEO: At a time when search engine optimisation has become vital for a successful online business, Magento offers inbuilt SEO functionality. As a result, it becomes very easy to optimise your website for search engines with minimal effort.
There are numerous features and advantages of using Magento, but there are some disadvantages as well.
- Developers are needed: If you opt for the free to download or Commerce edition of Magento, you will likely still need the help of a developer. An experienced developer will be required to help navigate the Magento set up process and to put in place the customisations required. An experienced Magento developer can help you get the best out of the platform and set your business for growth.
- Regular updates and upgrades: Considering the open source architecture, regular updates and upgrades are required to keep your website secure and performing. A developer may be needed to effectively manage the updates or upgrades.
How to Find the Right Developer?
If you want to reap the maximum benefits from a Magento ecommerce platform, it is crucial to have a capable and qualified developer. Instead of depending upon a single developer, using a Magento development agency is a safer option to get the end result that you want. Here are some of the aspects to consider when looking for the right developers:
- Certification: Magento has a formal certification system and partnership program with developers and development agencies. When you are reviewing any developers, check if they hold Magneto certifications and if they are a Magneto Solution Partner. In order to become a partner, an agency must have Magento Certified Developers and develop a minimum amount of projects every year on Magento Commerce.
- Experience: Always choose a developer with proven experience in Magento ecommerce platforms. Consider which industries the developer has made Magento platforms for and how many websites have been developed in the past. Learn about which technologies, versions, and plugins have been used.
- Examples: A great way to see if a developer is a good fit for your business vision is to check out previous samples and Magento platforms that the developer has worked on. Thoroughly explore and try out the websites to get a feel of the functionality, design, interface and customisations.
- Support: Magento ecommerce platforms require a certain amount of upkeep, especially to keep up with all new updates and upgrades. When you consider developers for your site, check their maintenance support and availability after your ecommerce business has been launched. They should be able to help you maintain your Magento platform as required.
Magento has easily emerged as the most popular ecommerce platform currently in the market. It’s wide range of features, easy scalability and comprehensive customization options result in ecommerce sites that are appealing and convenient for users. SEO capabilities help in bringing users to a Magento platform and excellent performance retains them, converting views into leads. The accompanying analytics further aid in improving business strategies.
Although Magento has abundant potential, it requires skilled and qualified developers to unlock the possibilities for your specific business. Whether it is designing the UI/UX or the page layouts, coding, development, implementing customisations and integrations, or setting up the hosting, developers are needed. The developers you select will have a major impact on your Magento ecommerce platform, so choose wisely!