Magento Uncovered: Strengths and Weaknesses
After 4 years and over 50 Magento web design and builds, we think we’ve got to know it pretty darn well. As our preferred platform you would expect us to sing its praises, which we do, but if you’re considering moving to Magento then you probably want to know what’s good about it and what isn’t, so we thought we’d answer some of those questions.
A Huge Magento Community
As the world’s most widely used and fastest growing ecommerce platform, Magento has been downloaded over 2 million times and with over 200,000 brands using Magento as their platform of choices it has come a long way from its early days. As the leading open source platform, Magento has a huge development community providing extended features and functionality that it doesn’t have out of the box. That means plug-ins for everything from image hot-spotting to video merchandising. If you want to do something, then someone, somewhere, will have done it.
Magento out of the box has all you’d expect from an ecommerce platform. It’s user friendly which is a must nowadays for any piece of software. It supports multiple payment gateways with standards compliant security. It supports multiple languages and multiple currencies so is ideal for traders with overseas markets to service. If you’ve more than one ecommerce brand it supports multiple fascias.
Magento and Search
Of course, ecommerce sites are not just about on site conversion – it’s also about being found, and Magento is very SEO friendly. Back end components to add tags, descriptions, meta descriptions, URLs and all the other things Google requires are all there.
Creativity on Magento
Of course, one of the most important points for a creative digital agency like us, is that Magento is a great creative palette. It allows you to create a look and feel that’s unlike anybody else. Our clients are fashion, luxury and lifestyle clients; websites that are destinations are usually a crucial part of the brand experience so that creative freedom is extremely important.
Open Source = Portable
For those that are unfamiliar with open source and proprietary – open source software is free to use and is usually developed and supported by a large community as opposed to proprietary software for which you pay a license.
Magento Community is entirely free (there is a licensed version, Enterprise, for larger retailers which is supported and gives you the best of both worlds). Furthermore the fact that it’s open source brings particular benefits. You own your code which keeps your developers on their toes and means if they’re not performing you can just take it to someone else.
And you’re not locked into the platform provider’s development schedule meaning you don’t have to wait for the next version for improvements – somebody has probably already done what you want and it tends to be more up to date because of the vibrant community making money out of extensions and in fact if you want to see some of them, click here to have a look at Magento Connect.
So Magento is a first-class ecommerce platform, trusted by lots of great brands, such as Paul Smith, Gant, Mothercare, Paperchase, Fred Perry and Hi-Tec.
Any serious ecommerce platform needs to integrate with 3rd party payment providersWith the right technical know-how Magento can fit seamlessly with all the leading retail software. From payment providers and fulfilment to stock management and EPOS systems, we can Magento talking to whatever infrastructure you use. The common integrations- FEDEX, DHL, Futura, BrightPearl, Prima, Pursuit, Esperus, Xero, TradeGecko, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage.
Comparing Magento with Other Ecommerce Platforms
We are often asked to compare Magento with others, typically cheap and cheerful options like Woo Commerce, Shopify and WordPress. In our view these are really starter options that are neither as feature rich nor have the scalability to grow as you grow. They are free but if you have serious ecommerce aspirations you should start with something more grown up otherwise you’ll quickly outgrow them.
At the other end, Magento Enterprise competes with the likes of Hybris (recently bought by SAP), Demandware, CommerceServer, Oracle’s ATG, IBM’s WebSphere Commerce and the like. These are top class ecommerce solutions – but they are proprietary therefore considerably more expensive, and are generally aimed at the enterprise end of the market.
Downsides to Magento
Like any technology Magendo does have downsides, but they can undoubtedly be overcome if you have the right knowledge and skills.
We have heard Magento described as overcomplicated, with too much going on and too many bells and whistles. We haven’t found it that way but like any powerful piece of kit, you need someone who knows what they’re doing in order to drive it properly.
In the early days of Magento there were some high profile bad implementations and we still encounter them now – problematic, buggy sites where all of the maintenance budget goes into keeping it working rather than incrementally improving and increasing sales. However, there is no doubt this is down to the developer. Magento nowadays is a mature platform so a good implementation should be stable and as problem free as any other ecommerce platform.
Some agencies struggle to use Magento for easily managed editorial content, a challenge that our development team overcomes by using an advanced CMS module with a simple and intuitive back-end interface.
The other criticism we’ve heard of Magento is speed, but again, that’s an implementation issue. If you go with Magento make sure you have someone who knows how to optimise your hosting solution and set Magento up correctly.
Magento is ideal for…
Magento – a free, powerful, up to date creative palette for your website that’s scalable and easy to use. It’s quick to deploy and easy to improve. It’s ideal for our clients – fashion, luxury and lifestyle brands that want to deliver an online experience that does justice to their brand.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Magento, get in touch with us, or have a look at some of our Magento sites: http://www.theofennell.com/, http://www.alwaysriding.co.uk/ and http://www.lestroissoeurs.co.uk/