We’re often being asked what we think the best Ecommerce platform is, usually by store owners who want to make sure that they’re making the right decision. It’s a great question, and the answer is far from straightforward. If you’ve been reading our blog for a while then you’ll know that we’re huge fans of Shopify and have significant experience on that particular platform. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t a significant number of great Ecommerce platforms out there. We often speak to store owners who aren’t clear on what the advantages of Magento are and want our opinion. In this article we’ll be looking at Magento and considering when this might be the best option for you.
Introduction: What is Magento?
Magento is an open source Ecommerce platform that is owned by eBay. It is now available in two guises: Magento Community Edition and Magento Enterprise Edition. The Community Edition is free and allows you to build an online store using plug-ins from other developers. In many ways Magento is a lot like WordPress – it’s free, powerful and constantly being developed and improved by the wider community. The Enterprise Addition involves a paid subscription and is geared towards larger organisations who require a bespoke Ecommerce content management systems. Like many CMS options, Magento allows users to choose from a range of themes which can then be customised to deliver the functionality and visual results that you require.
What are the Advantages of Magento?
We’re going to focus on the positive attributes, so in this article we’ll simply be asking “what are the advantages of Magento?” Besides, the strengths and weaknesses of Magento go pretty much hand-in-hand. When you get a powerful bit of open source source software that can be configured in a multitude of ways then you’re always going to have a wide range of options – but normally at a cost, namely requiring a high level of personal technical ability or the resources to outsource this to a dedicated team.
1. It’s Free
The fact that Magento is free is an obvious advantage. Magento has all the strengths of open source software. You’re not reliant upon a central network of developers and administrators to keep things updated, and you won’t have to pay for updates or the latest plug-ins and apps. If somebody’s made it, then the chances are that you’ll be able to get hold of it. There’s something quite old fashioned about open source developers’ values that we like a lot.
Please note that Magento Enterprise edition isn’t free – costing around $15,000 a year.
2. What You See is What You Get (“WYSIWYG”)
Magento allows users to edit web page content in a WYSIWYG format. For many people this is a very attractive option because it allows for more interesting content arrangements without having to work with code. In larger organisations it means lower-skilled staff can contribute to the content portion of the site without needing significant training. Entry-level CMS options tend not to give users this level of control, quite simply because it’s easier to give users access to a back-end system and keep this quite separate from the design and development of the site itself.
3. It’s Powerful
Magento is used by some of the world’s leading brands – such as Nike, Olympus and Samsung – and for good reason. It’s an incredibly powerful high-end Ecommerce platform. If you’re going to build something unique and complex then Magento is a great option. It’s fast, dynamic and incredibly robust, which is exactly what leading global brands are looking for. Yes, it’s not the most accessible platform to lift out-of-the-box, but if that doesn’t bother you then you’re probably wise to consider Magento.
Not convinced that you need something as powerful as Magento? Here’s an example that might change your mind. Let’s say you’re selling hand-made shoes using a social enterprise model. How do you think you might want to filter and organise your products? By colour? By price? By style? Into ‘kits’ with multiple products for a discount, By country of origin? By material? By fitting? By manufacturer? By size? By availability?
Get our point? That’s just a store that’s selling shoes – and we’ve probably missed several variables. We recently bought a new oven and wanted to search for products that offered maximum efficiency, capacity and flexibility. In other words, we wanted to buy a standard-sized single oven with a capacity of more than 67 litres and three shelves. Unsurprisingly, most sites didn’t allow us to quickly and efficiently sort out their inventory using these filters. There was one site that did – and it was that site that won our business. If you’re looking for a powerful solution then Magento is well worth a look.
4. It’s Secure
Unlike Drupal Commerce and many Ecommerce platforms, Magento is PA-DSS compliant. What does this mean? Essentially this means that Magento meets a global standard for payment security and satisfied 14 key protection criteria. For larger organisations who are concerned about having security of the highest order – and letting their customers know that they have met this standard – Magento is therefore a great option.
There hasn’t been loads of legislation or much in the way of industry measures since 2011/2012 so quite how significant a factor this is today is debatable. However, the fact that Magento is deemed to be secure is a huge advantage for many larger stores for whom reputation is a huge selling point.
5. You Can Have Multiple Store-Fronts
Here’s where we start to get to the crux of the issue. What are the advantages of Magento? They have to include the fact that Magento allows you to run multiple store-fronts from a single backend system. If you’re running multiple stores for multiple brands but want to maintain one harmonised backend system – in other words, you’re a global brand with significant resources – then Magento can do it. It’s an incredibly efficient way of running a series of stores with different designs and functionality within the same business structure.
The Enterprise Edition of Magento is particularly exciting, giving you the option to run multiple sites from the same administrative framework. Want to run highly customised landing pages for new products you’re launching? Want to tailor your user experience for different groups of users in different countries or market sectors? Want to run multiple brands in multiple sectors that look completely different but are run by the same administrative team? Magento can handle it.
6. It’s Popular
Magento is estimated to be used by around 250,000 stores worldwide, which is a pretty good share of the Ecommerce market. It’s thought to have about a 7% share of global Ecommerce sales, which is not to be sniffed at. If you’re worried that you haven’t heard loads about Magento, don’t – it ticks the credibility box.
7. Magento Supports a Huge Range of Payment Gateways
Reinforcing the notion that Magento is the Ecommerce platform of choice for those who want to keep their options open, if you’re looking for flexibility in terms of payment gateway options then you really can’t go wrong. Most platforms limit you to a handful of choices – typically the likes of Paypal, Stripe and Worldpay. However, Magento store owners can pretty much go for whatever gateway they like. If you want to run Google Checkout or Checkout by Amazon, Magento can handle it.
This certainly won’t be a make or break factor for most smaller store owners, but if you’ve already got an established store and you want to continue using the same payment gateway then Magento will let you do this. Similarly, for stores with an strong international reputation it’s a huge plus.
8. It’s Got Hundreds of Apps and Extensions
Don’t be put off by the idea that Magento is just for those with serious development skills. There are still hundreds of apps and extensions to give you the functionality that you’re looking for from your site. Whether you’re looking for a shipping app or an upselling tool, you’ll still be able to find it on Magento. It might be a powerful platform that’s used by seriously large organisations, but you’ll also find the range of products that you’d expect from any entry-level Ecommerce service.
Conclusion: What are the Advantages of Magento?
If you’re looking for an incredibly powerful Ecommerce platform that can be tailored to fit your requirements then Magento is a great option. It’s trusted by some of the world’s most innovative brands to deliver high-class performance and unique functionality. For more information about what Magento is capable of we recommend that you check out some of the Magento success stories and see just how impressive this tool really is.