What do Warby Parker, Harvey Nichols, Olympus, Samsung and Nike have in common? All their websites are built on the Magento platform. In fact, over a quarter of all e-commerce sites in the world run on Magento.
Website developers are spoilt for choice when it comes to platforms to build them on. In the last couple of years there has been a veritable explosion of plug and play e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Volusion, BigCommerce and more to pick from, there is a platform for every imaginable type of e-commerce store you might want to create.
Given this plethora of choices, what makes Magento so special? Why is it such an overwhelming favorite of developers for building e-commerce sites?
Here are my top 11 reasons:
Magento Is Open Source. Open Source = Free!
True, Magento has 3 versions in total:
Magento Community Edition (free)
Magento Enterprise Edition (paid)
Magento Go (paid & hosted on Magento’s servers)
The most popular of them all is the Community Edition, which is completely open source and boasts of probably the largest and most active developer community for e-commerce platforms on the internet.
Magento is free to download and install. You can tweak the source code any way you want to suit the type of website you are building and install extensions that are easily available through the Magento Connect Marketplace. Magento Connect, by the way also happens to be the world’s largest e-commerce app marketplace.
The platform gets upgraded regularly by the developer community working on it, security flaws are spotted and plugged making it extremely safe from an e-commerce perspective. If you are looking for even higher security standards, you could always opt for the Enterprise Edition which offers a Secure Payment Bridge that comes with PCI Data Security Standard.
The best part is the free and easily available troubleshooting that you can fall back on from the large developer community and forums.
Tailor-made For E-commerce
Magento started life as a platform intended for e-commerce unlike WordPress, Drupal or Joomla which are primarily content management platforms which also offer the option of e-commerce plugins.
The core features that Magento comes with make building e-commerce sites on it a real breeze. Some of Magento’s key e-commerce features are:
- User Dashboards
- Customer Segmentation
- Inventory Management
- Advanced shipping and supplier management
- Allows bundling of products
- Built-in cross sell and upsell capabilities
- CMS option
Freedom To Choose Hosting Service
Unlike other ‘made for e-commerce’ platforms like Shopify or Volusion, Magento allows you to pick the hosting service you want. This keeps your costs down and offers you the flexibility of switching hosting services if you run into problems with your existing one.
If you still need the convenience of a hosted platform, Magento Go offers you exactly that along with all the benefits that come with the Magento Community edition platform.
Magento Does Not Penalize You For Growing Bigger
One of the main complaints from users of other e-commerce platforms is the incremental cost that comes with every little feature that is added to the site. With Magento being open source, that issue is a complete non-issue. Add as many features as you want to your site, without spending a dime.
Another problem is the limits on the number of products, product lines and SKUs that can be uploaded and displayed on a platform. As you grow bigger and your store becomes more prolific, you start paying exponentially higher fees to your e-commerce platform provider. This is another area where you end up spending nothing on Magento.
Expand and grow as much as you like, and Magento will grow with you at no additional expense.
Easy To Integrate Third Party Apps
It is natural to want to make your life simpler by plugging in ready-made apps or plugins that integrate new features into your website, instead of coding each new feature from scratch.
With other e-commerce platforms, integrating third party apps is entirely in the control of the service provider. You can only integrate the apps that they allow you to and often there is a substantial price tag attached to the process.
Magento’s extensible API allows you to connect to any kind of app or plugin of your choice extremely easily. So be it payment gateways, web analytics or shipping and tracking; find the app of your choice and plug it into your Magento site with in no time.
Modular And Customizable
E-commerce businesses come in different shapes and sizes. What works for a fashion retailer may not work for a hardware and power tools seller. Similarly size and scale of operations, customer service requirements etc. pose different challenges in the e-commerce environment.
Being an open source platform, Magento is expected to be inherently highly customizable and modular. However, with the right coding smarts, Magento becomes like putty in your hands.
Its extremely modular technology allows you to develop beautiful front-end customer experiences by modifying or plugging in layouts and templates of your choice. Backend workflows can be redesigned to suit your business and made rock solid by rewriting code, modifying events and grids.
Fast. Really Fast.
47% of today’s web users expect a site to load in under 2 seconds. Any longer than that and they simply close the tab and move on with their lives. Every customer that leaves without buying leaves behind yet another dent in your overall conversion rate.
With such pressure on performance, you would want a platform that loads fast, allows caching of pages easily, while still allowing you to have as many bells and whistles as you need on your e-commerce site.
Magento gives you each of the above and more. It allows you to cache your pages easily using Varnish, retrieve data from gigantic databases in milliseconds, process queries in no time and load pages fast enough to please your impatient customers.
Built For SEO
We all know how important it is to make our websites as SEO friendly as possible. We also know the drudgery involved in optimizing every single aspect of each page on the site for SEO. This can be a bigger drag for large e-commerce sites running into hundreds or thousands of pages.
Magento saves you the development trouble of creating SEO optimized URLs, meta tags, descriptions, URL rewrites, site maps, navigation and category structures and more. Its source code comes with all of these features built right in, saving you a lot of trouble and time, while still ensuring that your site is search friendly.
Go Mobile From The Word Go
As on January 2014, 66.8% of US consumers owned smartphones. Americans now spend more time surfing the web on their smartphones than on desktop computers.
Having a mobile optimized site has never been more pressing than now. The good news is that it’s now real easy for to develop mobile friendly websites using the HTML5 capabilities of Magento. Magento gives your mobile site audio visual and drag and drop capabilities, gesture based controls as well as image scaling for varying screen sizes.
Run Multiple Websites With One Common Backend System
While almost every other e-commerce platform – open source or otherwise – lets you have only one store on one system; with Magento, you can run multiple websites on the same common backend system.
Every website can have distinctly different layouts and design with their own stores. You can even have different domains for each site. Control all of them simultaneously through a single unified admin panel using Magento. This capability is a boon for e-commerce businesses that operate in multiple niche categories.
Go International With Magento
A large and growing number of visitors to US e-commerce sites come from Europe, Asia and Australia. They spend more than domestic visitors per visit and have higher stickiness.
Unfortunately, most websites do not allow payments in international currencies, hence preventing the share of international users from growing as fast as it can. Fix this problem by building your site with Magento which supports multiple currencies and tax rates. It supports customization of your site in local languages, right to left text wherever needed as well as local cookie notification policies.
Magento offers almost everything an e-commerce site would need to showcase products, carry out online transactions, offer customer service and run all your backend processes efficiently. However, it’s not a plug and play e-commerce platform, it does need some level of coding knowledge to build the site in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, new e-commerce businesses have a mind boggling array of choices when it comes to platforms they want to build their websites on. Some are plug and play, while others need work. The plug and play ones come with standard features that are of the ‘take it or leave it’ variety. They also become progressively more expensive as your site grows bigger and needs more teeth. The open source or custom made options like Magento give you a free hand in design, features and future extensibility of your site, while keeping costs minimal in the long run.
The trick is to know exactly what your needs are – now and in the future – and then zeroing in on the right platform for your business.