What ecommerce platform do you plan on using for your online store? Volusion? Shopify? Maybe Bigcommerce? What about choosing the most popular ecommerce solution in the world? That’s right, none of the platforms mentioned above are the most used in the industry. According to an Alexa study, Magento is used on 20% of all ecommerce sites online.
This may come as no shock to some of you, but I have a feeling that others are shrugging their shoulders as to what Magento even provides. Ecommerce solutions usually come in one of three forms: Built for people with no programming experience, some experience or lots of experience.
Magento falls in the category for people with professional web development experience, and although intermediate level developers can most definitely handle Magento, it’s generally implemented by medium to large ecommerce sites with some cash to spend on a web person or department. That said, keep reading to learn more about what Magento can offer you.
Magento Ecommerce Features
Magento has one of the most extensive features lists you will ever find in terms of ecommerce software. It’s the exact reason why the rates are so high and why all the Magento customers are large corporations.
Everything from marketing to customer segmentation is included. Standard features come along with the open source Magento, so you can work on search engine optimization with tools for Google sitemaps, Google Content APIs and search engine friendly URLs.
Marketing and conversion tools include coupon codes, customer groups, product bundles and newsletter management. The list is truly endless when it comes to features, but here’s an overarching breakdown of the most important areas:
- Marketing, promotions and conversions
- Site management
- Catalog management
- Catalog browsing
- Product browsing
- Checkout, payment and shipping
- Order management
- Customer service
- Mobile commerce
- Persistent shopping
- Private sales
- Gift registries
- Store credits
Magento Ecommerce Ease of Use
Magento is not easy to use at all if you’re a beginner. Honestly, if you have no experience with development and plan on working on the site yourself, skip Magento entirely. It’s only for businesses that are not on shoestring budgets.
Developers find the Magento interface quite reasonable, because it’s a quick and easy self-hosting setup, and everything is consolidated on the navigational menu such as customers, products, promotions, sales and reports.
The Magento system is a local installation, requiring FTP; but that shouldn’t bother developers. In my opinion, I would like an online platform to complement my local Magento setup, but at least it helps for security.
Magento Ecommerce Pricing
Magento provides a few versions for you to choose from. The Community Edition is the open source offering that is available for free.
You also have a chance to sign up for a free demo of the Enterprise plan, but that requires you to send in a message with all of your contact information.
The Enterprise Magento package is a powerful system for large and fast growing businesses. It’s not even fair to compare it to an option like Volusion, because the possibilities with Magento are endless.
Since Magento requires some advanced technical knowledge to configure for larger companies, Magento asks that you call or email them to request a quote. To me, this means that each client receives a different quote depending on the size of the business, but the folks at Shero Designs let us know that $18,000 per year is not an unreasonable expectation.
It’s pricey indeed!
Magento Ecommerce Templates and Design
The Magento company doesn’t sell or give away any templates, but the custom design tools are remarkable if you know what you’re doing.
For locating a pre-built template to customize later on, check out the Magento Connect Store, which highlights nicely designed options from other design companies. Some of the themes on this page are given away for free, but I would expect to pay for the best.
Another place to find templates is at ThemeForest. At the time of my search I found almost 500 Magento themes. Not to mention, ThemeForest is ideal for seeing ratings and comments to guide your decisions. Prices start around $60 and go up to $100.
Magento Ecommerce Inventory
Magento inventory management allows for various modifications to keep up with which items are coming in and going out of your store. For example, you can check up on backordered items and change around the numbers for minimum and maximum quantities.
Sell downloadable products in your store, assign unlimited product attributes, and even moderate product tags and reviews to maintain full control over your own website.
Magento Ecommerce SEO and Marketing
The cool thing about Magento is that you don’t really have to use other marketing tools to get everything you want, from email marketing to ads on the site. SEO is automatically configured, unless you want to go in and change things yourself.
Marketing benefits include the ability to upsell products, offer promotional pricing and give out coupons. I particularly enjoy the email marketing platform and multi-tier pricing for quantity discounts, pushing people to buy a little more to reach those discounts.
Magento Ecommerce Payments
Magento provides one-click payments, guest checkouts and shipping to other addresses, if needed. You can even set up a “bill me later” program to help out your customers and finance the purchases.
Integration with PayPal and Authorize.net makes things easy, and the entire shopping cart is built to work with and display tax and shipping calculations.
Magento Ecommerce Security
If something happens to your site, Magento offers services to resolve the problem. They actually have an entire Security Center dedicated to that task. For example, Magento charges from $1,000 to $5,000 for SQL injection vulnerabilities.
That’s a pricey, but solid service. But what about preventing these types of problems before they happen? Well, the system is just about the best you can get in terms of protecting your company and customer information. Feel free to add an SSL certificate, and execute a two step authentication process for keeping people out of the backend of your site. All Magento sites are expected to be PCI compliant, so customer information is not stored or passed around without their knowledge.
Magento Ecommerce Customer Support
Along with an informational blog, Magento has a knowledge base, forums for chatting with other users and all the contact information you need for calling or emailing the company.
This is one of the easier reviews I’ve ever done, because Magento has never tried to pretend they are something different than an enterprise level software. The company knows its main market, so I would encourage those intermediate developers to download the free Magento version to try and build a site. As for the rest, take a look at the other platforms I recommend for non-technical people: Shopify review, Volusion review & Bigcommerce review.
Also, you might want to read an in-depth comparison between Shopify and Magento.
Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions.