Magento is one of the best-known ecommerce platforms. It has 2 versions:
- Magento Commerce is the subscription-based version.
- Magento Opensource is the free version that you can download, customise, and self-host.
In 2018, it was acquired by Adobe. The paid version, Magento Commerce, runs in the cloud serviced by Adobe. It therefore is also dubbed Adobe Commerce Cloud. It’s a fully managed cloud service and is part of the Adobe Experience Cloud. It offers a few features that are not supported in the open-source version but comes with a hefty price tag. In fact, the pricing is not even listed on the website.
The open-source version is free to download for everyone, and you can extend and configure the software as you need.
Magento is a robust, yet flexible, and expandable system. It’s used by big brands like Samsung or Blizzard, but also by smaller retailers.
- Pros and cons of Magento
- Who is Magento for?
- How easy is Magento to use?
- Magento themes and templates
- How to manage your ecommerce store in Magento?
- Magento integrations
- What marketing and SEO tools does Magento have?
- Payment options
- Magento security
- Magento customer support
- Magento pricing
- Is Magento the right ecommerce solution for you?
Pros and cons of Magento
TL;DR Magento is one of the popular ecommerce solutions with Shopify and WooCommerce. It offers one of the most extensive feature lists you can find for ecommerce software.
- With its extensive feature list, it offers tools like customer groups, newsletter management, promotions, and store credits
- Once installed, it’s easy to grasp for those without technical skills
- It’s flexible, customisable, and scalable
- It’s a stable and long-running project and so has a huge community
- It provides a very granular and flexible catalog management system
- It supports multiregional stores along with different currencies, languages, shipping, and tax calculations, all from the same backend so that you can manage a single product database for multiple sites
- As its feature-rich, it is also very complex
- Speed to launch of a Magento site can take up to 12 months
- A Magento store is costly, it takes time to develop, and it needs maintenance
- You need a dedicated server to cater to Magento’s scalability and complexity
- There is definitely a learning curve and you need to factor in the time to learn
- It can be time-consuming to make any modifications
- If you choose Magento Commerce, it’s costly
Who is Magento for?
Usually, ecommerce platforms comes in 3 flavours: A solution for people without technical skills, one for people with intermediate skills, and the last one is for people with advanced knowledge.
Magento is not for people without technical expertise. Further, you’d need to be big enough to have funds to spend on a dedicated web developer or team. You’d also need to take things like hosting or code maintenance, into consideration.
If you have an established business or know that your store will do will, have the cash to back it up, and the time to design and develop everything according to your needs and specification, then Magento is a great solution. It’s designed for a store with a large catalog of products, a big number in sales, and a lot of traffic.
How easy is Magento to use?
As with other one source content management systems, you need to have sorted your domain and hosting before you can install the software. Then you download the software, create a database, upload the software to your server, and run the Magento installation.
In the dashboard, you can extend and manage your store. It provides real-time insight into sales and customer activity. It is configurable so that you can change it to show what is important to you. The navigation aggregates everything into customers, sales, marketing, and reports. This organisation makes the dashboard quite easy to understand and easy to work with on a daily basis.
Magento themes and templates
With the open-source version, there are 2 built-in themes. So strictly speaking, the company Magento doesn’t offer any themes. If you want a high-quality theme, you have to design and build a theme yourself or go with a third party.
You can check out the theme catalogs on the official Magento Marketplace or ThemeForest.
Even if you find a suitable theme, it is most likely you’d want to adapt it to how you want it to look. For that, you or your development team needs PHP and other web development expertise.
Magento includes a basic page builder. You can create your pages and drag & drop the elements in the layout.
How to manage your ecommerce store in Magento?
The inventory is easy to navigate. Under the section Catalog, you can manage your products. When you add a new product, you can also add variants like color, size, weight. Magento handles physical and downloadable products.
Under Sales, you have an overview of your sales and you can handle refunds and other essential tasks for your store.
Magento gives you the choice to use a wide variety of sales channels like Amazon or Instagram, and even better, it is synced with the inventory of your store. This means you will not get disappointed customers who tried to buy something that was unfortunately out of stock.
Shipping and tax calculation are automated, once set up. If you need multiregional stores, you can set up different stores for each region with their own payment and shipping methods, and currencies. You can also set up your store to be multi-lingual.
A multitude of integrations can be found on the Magento Marketplace. Many service providers also offer the one or other plugin. Note that you need an account with each of these service providers for the integration to work.
If you have customised your codebase or installed too many plugins, some integrations may need more coding to work with your site.
What marketing and SEO tools does Magento have?
Out of the box, Magento has included powerful tools for marketing like customer segmentation, coupon codes, product bundles, conduct surveys, and email marketing.
When adding or editing a page or a product, there is a section for SEO. You can edit easily the metadata.
You can do your email marketing directly in Magento.
You can add social media icons to your site as usual. If you install the paid integration Magento Social, you have the choice to generate product listing on social media that are synced to your inventory.
The blog functionality is not included by default. You need to install an extension or it.
You can connect your Magento store with Braintree and Paypal out of the box. You can also accept check, bank transfer, and cash on delivery. All payment options can be configured for specific countries, minimum, and maximum order totals.
If you need other payment options, you can install an integration.
The shopping cart will display tax and shipping calculations.
Magento Opensource is PCI compliance-ready. It means you have to do all the work to be compliant yourself. You need to buy and install an SSL certificate, apply regular maintenance, and update schedule.
The open-source version rolls out patches and security updates regularly that need to be applied in your maintenance plan. As easy as it sounds, the manual update process can be a huge headache breaking your site or some of the plugins.
On the bright side, it can handle tons of traffic, if your hosting plan allows it.
Magento customer support
Magento Opensource leaves you to fend for yourself, but there is Magento Community with a huge number of developers and designers. You can find comprehensive documentation developed by Magento and the community. Even if the software supports multilingual stores, the Magento Community only has content in English.
If you have chosen magenta Commerce, then you have access to the official support with experienced engineers. If you work with an agency, you can also ask them for support.
Magento Opensource is free to download and install. Still, you need to plan for hosting, domain name, themes, and integrations. You have to calculate costs for development, maintenance, and managed support.
As mentioned, running Magento Commerce comes with significant costs. There is no public information about the pricing and the price is bespoke for each individual business. The pricing depends on the merchant’s yearly sales. In general, the more you turn over, the higher the pricing. You can expect the fee for most retailers to be between USD 20k and 100k per year.
Is Magento the right ecommerce solution for you?
Magento was created for medium or large ecommerce business specifically. If you run a large ecommerce store and want or need as much automation, configurability, flexibility, and features as possible, Magento is great.
A typical Magento project easily takes 6 to 12 months from the idea to going live. Keep in mind, the more complex the store, the longer it takes.
If you’re a multiregional or multinational business with a large and complex catalog, or need to finely configure your store and your products, and have enough funding, Magento is a good choice.
If you’re new to the ecommerce world and want to dip your toes into online retail, you’d be better served with Squarespace or Shopify.
You can sign up for a free demo of Magento Commerce, if you’re willing to hand in all your contact details. You can also install Magento Opensource and see for yourself if you can use all the features of the ecommerce solution.