First, there was Magento 1, then Magento 2. There is a Magento Community Edition and a Magento Enterprise Edition. Now, these editions are all under the umbrella of “Adobe Commerce powered by Magento.” It’s all very confusing, which begs the question: How straightforward is the software is for merchants building an ecommerce site?
In a previous article, we reviewed the WooCommerce community on Quora to gather key insights for ecommerce merchants seeking hosting services. In this article, we’ve done the same, only this time for Magento.
We found some conflicting viewpoints on ease of use where WooCommerce was concerned, but this was less the case for Magento. In fact, a consensus of the Quora community shared similar opinions on Magento’s complexity, customization, security, scaling, and cost.
Read on to find out what type of merchant Magento is best suited for and why.
What Exactly Is Magento?
Magento is one of the leading platforms for hosting ecommerce websites. It has been around since 2008, but Magento Commerce was recently consolidated into Adobe Commerce. Magento is open-source software and a content management system (CMS) that allows merchants to build an ecommerce website.
Magento software builds the familiar shopping cart systems on ecommerce sites, designs the look and functionality of the site, and facilitates payment gateways. Well-known similar and competing products for ecommerce site development that do the same are WooCommerce and Shopify, but there are plenty more players in an increasingly saturated market.
Sites that use Magento include Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, Ford, Lenovo, Nike, Samsung, and Warby Parker. That’s quite the A-list, but are you quite ready to join that list, particularly if you are a more minor player experiencing your first joust in the metaverse?
It would be helpful to know that Magento software is written in the open-source code, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor). Open source means that anyone can access and modify the code, so that tells you that doing so will likely be part and parcel of using the Magento platform successfully.
What Are the Various Versions of Magento?
The different version of Magento combined with the many extensions are confusing. Currently, Magento offers two versions: Magento Open Source and Adobe Commerce (formally two separate versions called Magento Community and Magento Enterprise).
Magento Community Edition (Adobe Commerce) is free and targeted to small businesses because merchants can add various extensions to customize their site, but without being overwhelmed by complexity.
Magento Enterprise Edition (Adobe Commerce), on the other hand, is a fee-paying version and is better suited to large businesses. Magento Enterprise offers a higher level of security, better performance, and enhanced scalability.
Here’s an overall summary of who can make the most of Magento and who should probably look for an alternative.
Who Is Magento Best For?
- Merchants who want the benefits of WooCommerce, but don’t want to use WordPress (which is a requirement for WooCommerce.
- Large businesses looking to scale or create different stores in different regions.
Who Is Magento Not Best For?
- Ecommerce and coding novices.
- Smaller stores that lack resources.
- Merchants that want to run a blog or business site alongside their store (WordPress with WooCommerce might be a better choice).
To give you some idea of how Magento works and what merchants will experience using it, here’s a very brief outline of the setup process.
How Easy Is It to Set Up a Magento Website?
Let’s just say that the ease with which a merchant can set up a Magento ecommerce site is directly correlated with their experience in this area and the level of their coding expertise. Here’s a brief overview of what is involved.
Step 1: Install Magento
Before installing the software, you’ll need to check your server meets the minimum requirements, and your hosting plan can support the CMS. Otherwise, your store may be slow to load pages, particularly if there is a surge in traffic.
Next, you will need to install the software, which can be a complex undertaking if you are unfamiliar with the code.
Step 2: Set Up Your Store
Once your software is successfully installed , a Magento Installation Wizard guides you through configuring your store, which includes customizing the store and creating an admin account. Your admin account is where you will manage the site. For example, this is where you add products, manage orders, and change the appearance and design of the store.
Of course, there is much more to learn about adding products, changing themes, and incorporating search engine optimization (SEO), but at least this gives you an idea of how Magento works.
Remember that you can always use a SaaS (Software as a Service) ecommerce service provider to set up and maintain your Magento site.
Now you have a twenty-thousand-foot view of what Magento entails, here’s a closer look at some of the high points and low points other users have experienced using Magento. We compiled comments from Quora to help you decide whether Magento is the right product for your ecommerce store.
1. “Even if your server meets the requirements for robustness, there is still a risk the system can be slow.”
Slow page loading is the last thing an ecommerce merchant wants to see. It frustrates visitors to the site and is a major reason visitors abandon carts and find other vendors. Slow page loading speed could also affect your rankings on Google and other search engines.
Magento uses large database program files, so ensuring that your servers and hosting environment meet the requirements can help you to avoid slow page loading.
2. “Magento is a system that is not easy to work with.”
A mostly uncontested viewpoint among the Magento-Quora community is that Magento is not for newbies or non-coders. Another comment along these lines was, “you cannot manage it yourself (if you are not tech-savvy.”
Merchants without coding expertise who still want to use Magento should find an ecommerce hosting provider or SaaS (Software as a Service) provider to set up and maintain their ecommerce site.
3. “Magento is a bit more expensive compared to other ecommerce platforms.”
This could be an understatement where big enterprises are concerned. While the Magento Open-Source version is free, one commenter on Quora estimated that the Magento Enterprise version costs approximately $15,000, and for a premium enterprise version that targets large businesses, the cost could exceed $50,000 for a year.
But let’s put this into perspective. Magento Enterprise edition is geared toward larger businesses. Larger businesses will have more complex sites, possibly serving different geographic locations, international currencies and markets, and definitely greater security concerns. It makes sense, then, that Magento will be more expensive than other ecommerce platforms that cater to the smaller merchant.
Small businesses who want to use Magento Open Source can do so for free with no initial investment. A range of third-party extensions can be integrated to enhance a site, such as Google services, shipping solutions, CRMs, and chatbots. A small business could feasibly start with the free Magento Open-Source platform and then upgrade to Enterprise Edition if necessary.
Costs to be aware of are ongoing maintenance costs, updates, additions, and changes to functionality. SaaS services can range from $30 to $120 per hour for support.
4. “Due to the number of people who use this software, there are many discussion forums … every person who has trouble using the platform can quickly and easily get an answer to their questions.”
There is a huge Magento community of 360,000 developers, bloggers, project managers, and others willing to offer support and guidance to merchants regardless of their level of expertise.
5. “Plenty of built-in functions.”
Magento can be customized depending on the needs of a business. It offers many integrations, extensions, and plugins to support the branding.
Magento offers enterprise-level functionality such as multi-language support, multi-currency support, responsive design options, and email marketing tools. It can also improve customer retention and loyalty by supporting customer reward programs, such as points, gift cards, and certificates.
For international merchants, there are extensions for converting currencies and prices so that international consumers can shop on the site, see the prices in their local currency, and pay in local currency.
6. “It has the capability to handle a surge in traffic seamlessly.”
A Magento store is scalable both in terms of product offerings and entry into international markets. The architecture can also handle surges in traffic, something every merchant would like to experience.
7. “A seamless shopping experience.”
While the back-end architecture is crucial to building an efficient ecommerce site, the customer experience is what will ensure conversions and, ultimately, sales. Merchants can set up one-step checkout and one-click account creation, so customers don’t abandon those over-filled carts.
8. “The SEO feature can help your products reach the top pages of Google.”
The SEO features boost online visibility for merchants and reduce the SEO workload with sitemaps and an SEO-friendly URL structure. Magento 2 has advanced SEO features that will achieve a high ranking on search engines.
9. “It’s scalable.”
Developers find adding pages and other features like linking and navigation easy. However, this comment contradicts an earlier comment that suggests Magento platforms can be slow when there is increasing load.
Here’s the comment.
“Magento runs on PHP, as it is designed like an enterprise Java application. One of the disadvantages of that is that heavy load handling becomes difficult sometimes.”
So, does the site slow down or not when a site scales and traffic increases?
It is unclear whether this last comment refers to Magento Open-Source or Magento Enterprise. The latter is designed for larger enterprises with more traffic on their site, so larger businesses should opt for Magento Enterprise and make sure their servers meet the requirements.
10. “It’s resource intensive.”
This commenter suggested that the software requires “heavy” servers and is bulky, which could slow the page-loading speed. The commenter also suggested that Magento requires intensive data input and plenty of time to get it up and running optimally. It’s not surprising that the more data there is, the more time it will take to setup the platform, customize, and change.
11. “Supports multiple payment alternatives.”
There are multiple options for processing payments in Magento, such as PayPal, credit cards, debit cards, Amazon payment, Authorize.net, cash on delivery, Google checkout, and bank transfer to maximize customer satisfaction rates. Customers can also view shipping estimation time, tax information, and use guest checkout when paying.
12. “Magento has secure payment getaways.”
Finding the right payments partner for Magento is easy. Also, Magento integrates secure payment gateways and chargeback protection for merchants.
Magento’s security is a regularly updated, out-of-the-box feature built into the platform’s core. Some of Magento extensions offer two-factor authentication (2FA), and you can get a secure HTTPS/SSL URL. This is critical for your Magento website to be compliant with the PCI data security standard.
These features are designed to protect payment gateways and reduce security hazards such as data leaks, information theft, unlawful transactions, and malware attacks.
Find out more about fraud prevention, read “eCommerce Fraud Management: Best Practices”
13. “You can manage multiple stores in multiple languages through a single admin panel.”
Managing multiple stores in different geographic locations from one admin panel is quite something. But what’s even more mind-blowing it that the Magento mobile extension allows business owners to manage global ecommerce operations from the palm of their hand.
14. “The platform is highly customizable.”
Merchants can customize layout, size, style, the number of products, details, checkout procedures and payment methods.
15. “Magento has in-built statistics reporting.”
Merchants can track orders, products, customers, and use the analytics to plan business growth.
16. “Magento 2 allows users to set promotional pricing for specific customer segments or products.”
Moreover, this platform allows retailers to create coupons for specific customer segments, time periods, or product categories. Another useful feature sends automated reminders to customers who abandon their shopping carts and wish lists.
17. “Too many developers.”
This person was trying to say there are too many mediocre developers. Magento is one of the most popular ecommerce solutions, so many self-claimed experts will tell you they can help you build your Magento website, but buyer beware!
The prices for developers can vary from $20 per hour to $200, and the price does not always correspond with the quality. Find a qualified and reputable Magento developer; the community forums can help here.
Is Magento the Right Choice for You?
Our takeaways from our survey of the Quora and Magento community are that if you are a small business owner, Magento might not be the best choice unless you have extensive coding experience. If you do, or are prepared to pay for SaaS, Magento could be a good choice because the basic platform is free with plenty of accessible customization options.
If you are a large enterprise with resources for expert developers and the desire to scale, Magento is powerful, flexible, customizable, and scalable. The biggest complaint about Magento centered around speed performance and cost. However, the right developers or SaaS service could ensure the right hosting environment and setup to make your site is the best it can be.
Cartis Payments understands the challenges merchants face with ecommerce infrastructure. Speak to a Cartis Payments representative today about payment solutions for Magento, Magento chargeback protection, and ecommerce fraud prevention tools.