Magento is the world’s biggest ecommerce platform which has been chosen by over 200,000 retailers world-wide, ranging from small start-ups to the likes of Fred Perry, Harvey Nichols, Warby Parker and many more. You can find more examples of Magento websites in my Magento showcase blog post here.
Magento was only officially released in 2008 but it quickly gained traction and became one of the biggest open source ecommerce platforms on the market. In 2011, Magento was acquired by eBay.
There are three versions of Magento, there are:
- Magento Enterprise – premium version which offers more functionality that adds value to enterprise-level retailers. This version of Magento is very expensive and is not necessarily the best option for mid-level retailers.
- Magento Community – the free version of Magento, which is used by the majority of Magento users. Community has lots of great features and is suitable for most retailers.
- Magento Go – Magento Go is their hosted solution, which is similar to popular platform, Shopify. Magento Go is more suited to smaller retailers but does allow for users to upgrade.
Magento’s Community and Enterprise editions also benefit from Magento Connect, which features thousands of free and paid third-party modules / extensions to provide additional functionality for stores.
Right, so you’ve read my introduction to the Magento platform, here are nine potential reasons to move to it. There’s every chance that I’ve missed some reasons here, particularly as I’m not a programmer – please feel free to add any others within the comments below.
Possibly the biggest advantage of using Magento over other ecommerce platforms (especially premium ones), is the huge global developer following it has. This adds a lot of value as lots of common issues and errors are documented on various different forums and blogs, helping store owners to overcome issues without having to use a consultant / agency / contractor.
There’s also lots of developer resources / guides around online, as well as MagentoU and the Magento certifications, which cover lots of the Magento core and validate a developer’s ability.
The community edition of Magento is highly scalable and is suitable for retailers of all sizes. With larger retailers based on the community edition, I’ve seen lots of the functionality from Enterprise implemented on Community, such as full-page caching.
There are retailers that are turning over £20m+ online using the community edition of Magento without having any reason to look to migrate or move onto the enterprise edition.
Smaller retailers who are using Magento Community can operate knowing that their platform will allow them to grow considerably without hindering them.
Because so many different solutions integrate well with Magento (such as Salesforce and various different EPOS systems), retailers can also grow with the help of third-party software that can be fully integrated with the platform.
Magento is / can be SEO-friendly
Although out of the box Magento isn’t particularly good for SEO (because of the amount of duplicate content – read my Magento SEO post for more info), it can easily be tamed with the help of third-party modules.
The basic elements of SEO are already covered with Magento, such as meta content, use of the canonical tag, top-level URLs, search-friendly URLs, redirecting functionality etc.
Open source code
One of the key benefits of using Magento over other platforms is that it’s open source, meaning, amongst other things, it’s more flexible for developers, it’s more accessible (in terms of cost) and it’s more secure.
Lots of developers and agencies
There are thousands of Magento developers and agencies all over the world, meaning that if you get burnt by an agency / developer and want to move away, you’ve got the option. This is one of the main reasons I’d use Magento, because there are so many good agencies out there with experience and you’re not tied to a single provider unless you sign a contract.
Lots of functionality and features
Magento is filled with all kinds of functionality out of the box and has everything you need to run a standard ecommerce shop. In addition to the obvious things you’d expect out of the box, you’ve got a flexible product catalogue (which can be built into a product feed), a Magento module to help you create a mobile app / website, gift code / card functionality and lots more!
Some other examples of Magento features:
- Built-in upselling / cross-selling functionality
- Configurable pricing
- Multi-store (can be ideal for internationalisation, managing multiple shops etc)
- Product bundles
- Newsletter management
- Customer groups
- CMS pages
- User management
- Advanced stock management
- Multiple image per product
- Advanced shipping method / supplier control
Magento Connect is an extension marketplace that features thousands of modules for Magento Enterprise and Community. There are apps for anything from SEO and blogging to image handling and affiliate marketing. All of the apps have ratings and reviews, enabling you to decide whether to install or purchase one.
There are lots of good and bad extensions on Magento Connect, which you’ll get with most platforms, but they are vetted which helps to give the user piece of mind from a security perspective.
I know I’ve already mentioned the different versions of Magento about 10 times in this post, but they’re very different and it’s key that you pick the right one.
Magento Go is relatively new and is designed for startups and small businesses who want a one-stop solution for ecommerce. Magento Go is a hosted solution and it has everything built in to allow you to sell products online.
Magento Community is a more robust platform that you will need to install and host yourself. One of my biggest recommendations for people starting out is don’t use Magento Community unless you know what you’re doing, far too many people make that mistake and end up in all kinds of trouble.
Good Magento developers are hard to find, but I’d suggest you need one to run a decent Magento store. If you’re in the UK and are looking for an agency or developer, you can drop me an email on email@example.com.
Magento Enterprise is a very expensive solution, but it’s well suited to large retailers. Examples of retailers who use Magento Enterprise include Dreams, Ford, The North Face, Harvey Nichols, Fred Perry and Paul Smith, although there are lots more.
When you’re paying for Magento Enterprise, you’re paying per server, so if you’re using multiple servers, be aware that the annual cost of additional servers is around $10,000 for each.
The fact that there are different versions of Magento for different sized retailers adds a lot of value in my opinion, as ecommerce platforms are not one size fits all.
Hundreds of software providers integrate with Magento and there are also lots of great agencies who work on bespoke integrations too. The agency I used to work for (who are very good with Magento), GPMD, built the integrations for Locayta (a well know merchandising solution) and PayLater (a new payment solution).
Other examples of readily available integrations for Magento include PayPal, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, SalesForce, Zendesk and many more.
If you have anything to add to this, please feel free to do so in the comments or tweet me on @paulnrogers or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I also provide Magento SEO audits, please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss a project.