Magento is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms and is implemented by numerous small businesses. But as widely used as it is, it’s not without its faults. Here at Crucial we have many customers approaching our team with questions about which ecommerce CMS is right for them.
That’s why we’re going to outline the main benefits and drawbacks of this ecomm-specialised CMS. Hopefully it’ll let you assess how well it would suit your particular situation.
Magento was developed as an open source CMS by Varien Inc. and a community of developers and users. It was later sold to eBay, and while it is still offered in a free version, you’ll have to pay for some of the more advanced features.
This means that even if you are using the free version, you can hope to get quite a bit of support from the community. Even though it may not be as timely as you might wish.
Benefit: Community support
Seeing how using it can be much more complicated that one would perhaps assume considering its popularity, having someone to turn to when faced with an issue can be invaluable. Support for paid version is more than adequate, so when it comes to troubleshooting (which you’ll probably need a lot of) you’re covered regardless of the version you decide to go with.
This solution is quite versatile and comprehensive when it comes to the features it offers. Depending on your version, it will allow you to do anything from managing your catalogue and orders to dealing with payments and shipment.
Benefit: Mobile friendly and advanced analytics
It comes with support for mobile and advanced analytics tracking, so you can not only measure the site’s metrics, but also keep a close eye on your sales. Again, some of the features you might need only come with a paid package, but if you are running a relatively simple operation, you’ll be well served by the free version.
Due to its complexity and large community based around the platform, Magento is highly customisable, which is also to say that its scalability is quite impressive. If you need a less orthodox functionality, chances are you should be able to find a way to implement it, with our without help from the community.
Apart from allowing you to manage your content and operations, Magento is very SEO friendly. Seeing how the success of ecommerce websites depends heavily on their online visibility, it is hardly surprising that the developers made this CMS with SEO in mind.
Because of vast databases, numerous pages, dynamic content and canonicalization issues, ecommerce websites can be a technical SEOs nightmare, which is why Magento’s attention to this aspect is especially important.
Magento is PHP based, which causes two separate issues. For one, its reliance on complex PHP necessitates hiring someone who is proficient in this language for maintenance and modifications. If you are only moderately tech savvy and hope that you will be able to do all the work yourself, be prepared for quite a bit of frustration and hours spent in getting to know the intricacies of the system.
While it does allow you to do just about anything you want, it doesn’t allow you to do it without quite a bit of trouble.
Drawback: Php-coded backend can be tricky to work with
Apart from requiring an expert, the choice of language also makes this CMS very resource demanding. This means that if you were hoping to go with shared hosting, you might want to reconsider. Seeing how most small businesses can’t afford a dedicated server or high powered cloud servers, hosting providers are often offering Magento managed hosting. Which not only tries to find the right balance between the resource requirements and price, but also strives to meet other demands of the platform.
Drawback: Performance overheads can be costly and a headache
The Bottom Line
While this platform is not exactly perfect and beginner friendly, it is important to remember how demanding ecommerce solutions usually are.
With the long list of demands that a platform of this type has to meet if it’s going to be of any use, simplicity shouldn’t be your first requirement if you want a flexible and comprehensive solutions, which is what Magento offers.