If you are a business owner interested in starting an online shop to expand your enterprise, you’re probably familiar with some eCommerce platforms on the market, specifically Magento. Currently standing as the most popular eCommerce service in the industry, Magento is definitely a solution well worth looking into if you’re interested in expanding your business.
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Ready to find out why Magento could be the perfect solution for your online business?
Magento is one of the leading eCommerce store-building platforms in the industry, with 200,000+ online companies using it to run their online businesses. The software offers its users everything they need to create, manage, and promote a fully customized online shop that will take their business to the next level.
As with other, similar platforms, the Magento eCommerce service has two versions:
- Magento Open Source – a free, downloadable version of the platform, which comes with various basic features. This option is typically used and preferred by small business owners.
- Magento Commerce – a paid version that provides its clients with access to all of its features and is targeted more towards enterprise-level businesses.
Both alternatives have their positive and negative sides, which we’ll discuss in more detail as we get further into the article.
Who is Magento best suited for?
Generally speaking, Magento caters to any business that has an established model. However, mid-to-large businesses typically benefit more from this solution due to the fact that they have the financial and time capacity to explore and use the Magento platform, taking advantage of its full potential.
How Magento can benefit your online business
Amongst all of the eCommerce platforms out there, Magento is probably the one that has every feature that you could ever want or need for your online business. As we mentioned earlier, this makes it one of the best options for anyone operating a bigger business or a full-blown corporation.
And when we say every feature, we basically mean anything from marketing and conversion tools to actual customer segmentation. Now, the entire list of features can be used only after purchasing the full version of Magento; however, the standard, open-source option still comes with basic components, like metrics and tools for search engine optimization.
To get a better picture of what you get from investing in Magento, we’ve broken down the most important aspects that the paid version offers:
- Inventory management features that let you control, organize, group, sort, price, and show any item in the shop
- Admin features that offer the ability to run multiple stores and websites, manage permission, create and edit orders, and print any information you might need, such as invoices, shipping labels, etc
- Built-in SEO features that include Google site mapping, customizable URLs, and meta information
- Marketing features that help you manage coupon codes, create customer groups, send wish lists or newsletters, and more
- Built-in multilingual support features that offer you the chance to reach a wider audience
- Checkout and shipping features to help you organize one-page checkouts, guest checkouts, split orders, and calculate the shipping and tax charges for your clients
Web design options
Magento doesn’t offer its clients pre-build templates, which means that you’ll have to either commission someone to create one from scratch, purchase a template from a third party, or use the platform’s range of customization tools to design it yourself.
Of course, these options can be combined in multiple ways, so in the end, you will get a template that suits your vision and your shop’s needs.
Note that if you decide to handle the design of your website yourself, it won’t be easy. The above-mentioned customization tools require coding experience, a skill typically found in the resume of a Front-End Developer or Designer. That said, you can always purchase the new Page Builder extension, which is based on the drag-and-drop system, which is far more user-friendly, doesn’t demand code knowledge, and gives you the opportunity to see a live preview of the storefront.
Inventory management system
Magento has developed a next-generation, simple-to-operate inventory management system that has made tracking your store’s items extremely easy. You have full information on what’s coming out of the store and the ability to tweak any aspect of the system. For example, you have the option to create and manage unlimited product attributes and configurations, moderate the product tags and reviews, and even sell downloadable products.
The system also comes with one huge advantage – it’s automated. This means that you get an algorithm that calculates shipping and tax for you, which is a major time saver.
In terms of global selling options, Magento also gives its clients the opportunity to have a store that supports multiple currencies and languages, which significantly widens the business’s range of potential customers.
The payment processing system, created by Magento, provides one-click payments, guest checkouts, a ‘“’bill me later’”’ option, and shipping to other addresses. The features are available both for Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce, which, to put it simply, means that you don’t have to purchase the full version to use the payment processing system of the platform.
However, what you need to do is integrate a third-party payment gateway that is compatible with Magento. This will help you accept and process card payments from most of your shop’s clients. You have two choices – purchase an already existing payment integration or get a Developer to create a custom one for your shop. Both options have their advantages, and, of course – disadvantages.
Credit and debit card payment processing is also something you need to think about, especially in terms of cost. Do your research, find out which payment providers are integrated with Magento, and select the option that best suits your budget.
When it comes to the security of the platform, you can rest assured that your online shop is in safe hands. The company has invested a lot into their client’s online safety and even has a Security Center to keep track of it.
However, keep in mind that Magento offers these kinds of services only to their commerce customers. If you decide to run your shop using the open-source version, it’s your job to get an SSL certificate installed.
One essential thing to mention is that it’s the client’s responsibility to update their Magento version with any new security patches. By doing this, they ensure both their business’ and customers’ safety. And while on the topic of customer data protection, Magento also offers two-factor authentication and Google reCAPTCHA to all of the business owners who’ve decided to invest in the platform’s full version.
No matter what goes wrong with your online shop, you can always count on Magento for help. The platform offers various resources that can answer both your business and technical questions, which you can find categorized in their substantial blog. Besides the content uploaded by Magento, you can also find more information by using the company’s forum to chat with other users of the eCommerce platform.
There is also Magento U – the platform’s official training program. By enrolling in it, you get access to both free and paid courses that will help you better navigate Magento.
With all of this being said, like many other open-source solutions on the market, direct communication with the company is restricted, meaning that there is no live chat, customer support phone number, or email to which you can forward your questions.
The platform’s hardware and software requirements
Now that you basically know everything there is to know about Magento, you are probably asking yourself what the platform’s requirements are. Well, for starters, there is the web hosting question – Magento is a very specific eCommerce platform that demands an equally specific web host, and by this we mean a powerful one.
Besides that, you also have system requirements that you can find described in the installation guide for the version of Magento you’re using. That said, here are some of the basic things that you need to be aware of:
- Operating system
- Web browser
- Scripting language
- SSL certificate
And finally. How much does Magento cost?
As we mentioned earlier, Magento has provided their potential clients with two alternatives – a free version, called Magento Open Source, and a paid one – Magento Commerce.
The free version of the platform enables you to download and set up the page yourself. It comes with a few basic features that will help you manage and market your online business.
With Magento Commerce, you need to contact the Magento team and share specific information about your current or future online business. From there, the company will provide you with a custom quote that can range from $15,000 to $50,000 per year. The price may sound steep, but in reality, you get access to all of the above-mentioned features on the platform, which makes it a worthwhile investment.
Additional extensions and add-ons
Due to the open-source nature of the system, the company’s customers have the opportunity to upgrade their platform with eCommerce software integrations developed by Magento community members. Such extensions can be found in the so-called Magento Marketplace and in the form of accounting, shipping, marketing, customer service, and security tools and applications. In terms of price rates, you can get a completely free integration, invest in one that comes with a monthly subscription-like plan, or single-purchase an extension for a couple of hundred dollars.
Magento is a very powerful software tool capable of bringing your online store vision to life. With its impressive list of advanced features and numerous benefits, the platform is your all-in-one solution for eCommerce. However, the software is not for the faint-hearted and poses a very serious challenge to beginner online store owners with little-to-no tech experience. With that said, if you think that Magento is the right choice for your online business, there is no harm in giving the platform a try, and who knows – maybe the software is exactly what your company needs.