In the world of ecommerce, the platform you use is everything. Ecommerce solutions need to have it all – customization, security, and variety.
There are plenty of ecommerce platform choices on the market. While some people already have their preferred platform chosen, others are still searching for one.
There’s also a chance that those who have a platform they currently use may think of switching. Today we’ll examine one of the most popular ecommerce website builder tools going today – Magento.
It’s a popular solution for creating a high-quality business website that facilitates sales. A good website is the key to keeping customers happy.
We’ll cover the perks of this platform, including its plugins, pricing, themes, and more. Is Magento right for your business? What does it offer that its competitors don’t?
Magento Ecommerce: Basics and Beginner Information
Before we delve into the details, let’s cover the basics. We know that Magento is an ecommerce platform – but what all does it offer?
This ecommerce solution is a cloud platform, built to extend beyond the shopping cart and offer conveniences throughout the entire buying experience.
The platform is touted as one that offers capabilities for analytics, promotion, content creation, and more. It’s built for flexibility and convenience, but just how popular is it? Even two years ago, nearly a third of the top 100,000 websites ran on this platform.
One company reported a 45%+ increase in online revenue through the use of this platform.
There are two major variants of Magento available.
Magento Open Source
Previously known as Magento Community, this is the free version of the platform. For those who are unsure about Magento and want to try it for the first time, this is a great choice. It’s also great for those startups and freelance entrepreneurs who are working on a limited budget but need robust and reliable ecommerce solutions. It can be downloaded, customized, and hosted, completely free.
This platform was once two – Enterprise and Enterprise Cloud. Now, these two versions have been unified into one. When most people talk about Magento ecommerce, this is what they’re referencing. This premium, holistic version offers cloud-hosting for a subscription fee.
We can see that Magento is a forward-thinking platform. Utilizing the cloud, and offering a holistic approach to ecommerce is a great way to help users excel in their efforts.
But what about the specifics? Let’s delve into what makes this platform unique, and discuss both its plugins and pricing.
Magento’s Themes and Design Options
When you’re thinking about using an ecommerce platform, one thing may come to mind before anything else – design.
Sure, things like security, value, and usability are also hugely important. But, the design of your store could determine whether or not the customer sticks around. A poor design could leave them confused at finding the things they want. This could make them frustrated enough to leave altogether.
Why are themes so important? Surveys have shown nearly half of people call a website’s design as the most important variable for determining whether to trust it.
Magento’s ecommerce platform utilizes a page builder to let users create their own custom themes and designs. There are templates to use for starting points, but the handy drag-and-drop tool opens you up to plenty of new possibilities.
The advantage here is that a user doesn’t need to know any coding to succeed. The page builder also makes it extremely easy to add new content. Adding a new category of products? Want to put some new modules on your landing page to answer common questions? These changes and more are easy to implement with no coding knowledge or additional software required.
But what about the other features of this product? Let’s explore them.
Magento Plugins to Improve Your Ecommerce Website
You know that Magento aims to help your ecommerce business by providing plenty of themes. However, there are some features which a person may need to add to their site that don’t necessarily involve design. For these, themes won’t be enough. You’ll need plugins. Luckily, this software is compatible with many, which can be found at the Magento Marketplace.
Here are some of the categories for their extensions and add-ons:
- Customer Support: You can get extensions to add handy features like live chat, phone support, and more. Integrate a help center to give a retention option to your ecommerce business. This helps you keep customers happier, and allows you to avoid delegating your support tasks to third parties.
- Payments and Security: Looking to enhance the checkout experience? Integrate new payment methods? Prevent fraud? Magento Marketplace offers plugins for all these functions, letting you make the most robust checkout process and more.
- Marketing: If you’re looking to promote your site, consider this line of handy plugins. You get tools for customer relationship management (CRM), search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and even automation to streamline those tedious, recurring tasks.
- Accounting and Finance: Whether you’re looking to integrate enterprise resource planning functions, or simply improve your bookkeeping, there’s a plugin for that. Users can even get help to keep taxes and other recurring expenses in order.
- Shipping and Fulfillment: These are two of the trickiest aspects of running an ecommerce business. There are plugins to help you verify shipping addresses, manage warehouse inventories, fulfill orders across borders, and much more.
- Site Optimization: You need to make sales – but you need to do more than that. Tweak your website with plugins that help you monitor performance and gather analytics about how things are going.
These are the main categories of Magento plugins you can enjoy. You may not always need plugins. However, they’re always a good option to have around. Given Magento offers so many possibilities, it gives users the benefit of variety.
Magento Pricing Structure: What Will it Cost You?
Every ecommerce website builder has its own pricing structure. Magento is no different – and in order to know whether this platform is right for you, it is wise to consider the cost beforehand.
Unmanaged hosting of Magento websites on the open source version can start as low as $10, and reach up to $250 per month. For managed hosting, expect to pay around $190 per month. As for websites on Magento Commerce, managed hosting starts at $500 per month to include dedicated servers.
You could pay extra for themes on the Magento Marketplace if you prefer, with the costs starting around $29. The thousands of extensions vary in price, though many of them are free. Paid modules’ prices start at around $50.
Add in the cost of maintenance, support, and any other addons you wish to get, and you’ll have a rough estimate of your final price. While some people may be satisfied with their current product based on its price, they can potentially get a better deal here.
The pricing is important, but the value matters more. It’s better to pay a little more for your ecommerce platform if it means getting a bigger return on investment.
You could potentially save by opting for cheaper platform options, but you may not make nearly as much revenue.
Pros and Cons of Using Magento for Your Ecommerce Business
Magento is a popular ecommerce provider, though there are plenty of options to choose from. In order to properly narrow your decision, you need to know what the pros and cons of this platform are. For the sake of helping users choose between Magento and its competitors, we’ll talk about the platform in comparison to others.
The main benefit of this platform is its flexibility. Ecommerce marketing requires a person to be versatile in their approach. Therefore, they need a web platform with the same qualities. Magento lets users customize their site, integrate plenty of plugins, and enjoy real-time information about how their changes impact the site.
This platform also has some features you’d be hard pressed to find in the competition. One example is the ability to vary prices. When you’re dealing with different customer groups, this is a valuable feature to have – and it’s one you won’t find in many of Magento’s competitors.
If you’re someone who believes the consensus is reassuring, you’re in luck. Magento has a huge community of users, and they swear by it as one of the most effective platforms in existence. The benefit isn’t just that it’s popular. Since it’s popular, more people use it. Therefore, you’re more likely to find answers to your questions and proper support resources.
It’s also scalable, so you can grow and expand your site along with your business. New inventory? New product lines? New locations? Magento can handle it. Finally, Magento is mobile friendly. In an age where more people than ever are shopping on their phone, this is important.
There’s no such thing as a perfect ecommerce platform. Despite all Magento has going for it, there are some downsides people should know about.
The first downside is the price. While the free version is handy, the overall costs associated with the paid version can get very high. There are premium enterprise versions which can cost thousands and thousands of dollars per year. Some may say their features are worth it, but there’s no denying there are cheaper options out there.
While the user base is large, the number of authentic developers is actually very small. The primary reason is that few have in-depth knowledge of Magento’s complex software. There are hundreds of thousands of things to master to truly be a fully knowledgeable developer. Therefore, trying to find one of these people may be extremely difficult.
The platform has also been criticized for slow load times, which are often a killing blow to retention. Users won’t spend time on a site waiting for it to load – they’d prefer to visit another site to shop for what they want.
The last downfall is a big one. Some have accused the product of having poor support. There have even been reports of scammers lurking on the support forum.
It’s bad enough not to get the help you need – but it’s worse to get tricked while seeking it.
Conclusion: Is Magento Ecommerce Worth Checking Out?
Despite its downfalls, Magento is a popular platform for a reason. Plenty of customers have used it, and swear by it. It’s easy to see why. Though it is admittedly a little pricey and sometimes sluggish, it has tons of features and enough add-on options to satisfy nearly any need.
Should those seeking an ecommerce website try out Magento? It’s worth checking out, at least in comparison to other popular options. Comparing them side-by-side can help you know what works best for you.
What are your experiences with Magento’s platform? Do you think it’s one of the top options out there?
Share with us in the comments below.