Magento is an eCommerce platform that lets you sell products via a website, as an ecommerce shop.
In this review we’ll dig into Magento including its main features, benefits, customizations, integrations, and payment options. You’ll get a good overview of what Magento can offer you and the insight you need to choose the right eCommerce platform.
- Types of Ecommerce Platforms
- Magento Review: Pros
- Magento Review: Cons
- Magento Payment Processing
- Is Magento Right for Your Ecommerce Business?
Different Types of Ecommerce Platforms
Before we get into what Magento offers, it’s useful to look into the various ways you can sell online. The platform you choose will largely depend on how much customization you want, whether you need to hire a specialized developer, and several other factors. From least to most complex, your options are:
- Third-party marketplace like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy: You typically upload images and price your products to sell through the marketplace, and they take care of payment, inventory management, etc.
- Ecommerce service: Websites like Shopify and BigCommerce provide specialized, complete eCommerce solutions. You open a shop, do some background work, upload products, set prices, and go.
- Website builder: Websites builders like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly all have eCommerce addons to allow you to sell products on the platforms.
- Ecommerce addon to an existing website: If you have a WordPress website or similar you can use addons like WooCommerce to make things easier.
- Specialized Ecommerce integration: This is where Magento shines. It’s a platform you can integrate into almost any type of website or business, online or off.
Magento Review: Pros
There are several pros to Magento.
Popular Ecommerce Platform
Magento is a great choice to sell products, as evidenced by the brands who use it. Coca Cola, Burger King, Peets Coffee, and many other household names take advantage of the platform. Magento claims that over 250,000 retailers sell on the platform around the world, and that it’s supported by over 150,000 developers.
Magento is open source software, meaning it’s openly developed by multiple people who provide consolidated releases of the platform. You can implement Magento in a couple of ways.
To start with, you can host the platform on your own, or a web hosting company’s server. The basic Magento version itself is free to download and use, although you will need to pay for development to tweak it to your requirements.
If you need a more powerful implementation, you can choose to use a “hosted service” for Magento. This is where Magento engineers setup and manage the platform for you. It will be preinstalled and easier to tweak and’ update, but you will need to pay an ongoing subscription fee, which could be tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Magento offers this video introduction:
But the service is not without cons.
Customization at a Cost
If there’s one thing to know about Magento, it’s this: It gives you enormous customization options, but you are very likely to need a specialized web or eCommerce developer to make the most of it. This means it’s best for entrepreneurs and store owners who have a development budget and want the specialized features that Magento provides.
However, developers get access to a large resource library with all the key information they need to install and customize Magento.
Magento provides a complete range of options for selling to customers. This includes everything you would expect from a fully-featured eCommerce platform.
You can upload products, set prices, discounts, categories, and everything else you need. Your customers can browse products, filter and sort in a multitude of ways, leave reviews, and easily manage their shopping carts. They can order online and pickup in stores, will full integration between physical and virtual shopping.
You can segment customers as you wish and show them unique versions of your shop front, including specialized order flow, coupons, and discounts. Magento has an “Instant Purchase” option, where the platform will use the customer’s saved information to make checking out quick and easy. The platform is optimized for tablets and smartphones, so customers can shop wherever they are.
Magento provides complete inventory and stock management across physical, “pop up,” online, and other stores. This is supported by full replenishment, reordering, and order tracking.
Promotions and Marketing
Magento provides complete promotion and pricing features including coupon codes and discounts. It lets you build customer loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases and brand awareness. You can also create product bundles and cross sell or upsell.
Magento provides newsletter and email management to let customers know about special offers and promotions.
Modern retailing depends on having accurate customer, business, and product information. This is an area where Magento excels. The platform provides access to over 100 “standardized” reports and provides unlimited options for customizing any kind of report you need. Magento also collates information into datasets that you can query for business intelligence and insights. Additionally, it integrates with third parties to add valuable information and context to reporting.
Magento provides many extensions to the basic platform. This lets you customize and tweak the service to your exact needs. The marketplace includes multiple options for specialized customer support, payment processing, security, marketing, financial reporting, shipping, fulfillment, and optimization. If you can think of something an eCommerce store should be able to do, the chances are that Magento has an addon that can achieve it, with over 5,000 extensions available.
Your customers get complete customer service through the platform with features for returning goods, authorizing returns, and processing refunds. Call center support in fully-integrated into Magento.
Additionally, Magento provides features for international customers including currency conversion, multilingual support, and specialized shipping to other countries.
Magento Payment Processing
Magento gives you plenty of options for managing payments.
Customers can choose to pay in several ways with Magento, depending on if they’re purchasing online or at a store. Magento offers credit and debit card processing, cash and checks, bank transfer, purchase orders, saved credit cards, and more. They provide credit card security via 3D Secure authentication for payment transactions made with Authorize.Net.
Magento handles all internal payment processing before handing off final payment functionality to payment gateways. The platform handles customer location, shipping costs, currency conversion, and all the necessary supplemental order processing before submitting details for authorization and collection.
Magento integrates with all the major payment gateways including PayPal, Braintree, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments, Authorize.net, World Pay, and many more. Here’s their payment gateways list. We should note that other websites do provide conflicting information on exactly what payment gateways Magento supports, so we recommend contacting Magento or your processor directly with any questions.
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Is Magento Right for Your Ecommerce Business?
Magento is best for eCommerce businesses that need a powerful platform that can do the heavy lifting. Magento is enormously customizable with a vast array of extremely useful features, but this does come at a cost — the time, resources, and money you will need to spend to configure the platform and get the ongoing support you need.
A Magento implementation isn’t for the faint-hearted! That said, if you have the budget, and need an eCommerce platform focused on customer needs, integrations, extensions, and customization, it’s hard to beat.
If you’re a smaller retailer, Magento may be a little more than what you need right now. In those cases, we’d normally recommend a website builder service with a retail add on, or a WordPress and WooCommerce implementation. There’s far less of administrative and support overhead, and you’ll be able to customize the platform fairly easily. Although you may not get all the customization you need, you can grow your business until you have the resources to move to a more fully-featured platform like Magento.