Magento Review – Everything You Need to Know About Using Magento for eCommerce
Whether you’re launching a new eCommerce business or planning to migrate to a platform that can handle your growth, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from. Here at Shogun we’ve got our favorites that we love to work with. While that makes us a little biased, we like to think we’ve aligned ourselves with certain eCommerce platforms for good reason.
In this Magento review, we’ll go over all the reasons we love Magento including the pros and cons you should consider when choosing an eCommerce platform to scale with your business.
What is Magento
Before we get into the meat of our Magento 2 review, we’ll cover the basics of what it is.
Magento, like Shopify, BigCommerce, and other popular names you likely know, is an eCommerce platform. However, unlike other platforms, Magento it’s what is known as an open-source platform.
As it stands, Magento can do quite a bit out of the box. Once you have it, the open-source nature allows you to do just about whatever you like around (and to) that existing framework. It’s a great solution because it allows brands a lot of freedom without having to start from scratch.
The downside of open-source software is that it’s not always user-friendly.
At least not for non-developers.
Magento is one of the most versatile eCommerce platforms with expansive features and a laundry list of extensions, but it takes a bit more knowhow and technical resources to make it work for you.
Don’t let that steer you away from it. There’s a lot more benefits and perks we’ll cover in this Magento review to be considered before making a decision.
Who Uses Magento
Due to the robust nature of the Magento platform, it’s used by a variety of brands from high volume merchants to small brands and upstarts around the world. In fact, Magento is used by some 12% of online retailers, facilitating well over $100 billion in gross merchandise volume annually.
• Land Rover
Magento: Hosted vs. Non-hosted
You don’t necessarily have to handle all the dev work yourself with Magento to get all the benefits of the platform. While the open source software delivers features you need to build and scale a unique eCommerce store, there is another option.
Many brands, including enterprises, often prefer an all-in-one cloud solution that is as easy to deploy as it is to maintain while still featuring robust integrations and extensions. Magento Commerce, like Shopify and BigCommerce, is a hosted out-of-the-box solution that offers extensive customization and seamless third-party integrations.
Magento Review: Cost
Is Magento free? Well, that depends on which version you're using.
The open-source solution is free, but you’ll have substantial costs in terms of hosting your own servers capable of handling scalable eCommerce traffic, maintaining the hardware and software, and the design and development costs.
Magento Commerce, on the other hand, reduces the cost of ownership with a hosted solution based on subscription fees more akin to other eCommerce platforms. Due to the expansive customization available beyond that of other platforms, pricing for Magento Commerce varies greatly depending on business needs.
Magento Review: All The Features You Need
When compared to the top names in eCommerce, Magento offers one of the largest list of features and native functionality with expansion capabilities that are virtually limitless.
Open source Magento allows you to the freedom to create whatever customer experience you like for a truly unique and branded customer journey.
Magento Commerce may not be totally open source, but don’t think the features are limited. You can see the depth of features here on the Magento site, but we’ll list some of the top features in our Magento review here including:
• Simple page builder interface
• Customer segmentation and personalization
• Efficient merchandising and reporting
• Content staging
• Seamless omnichannel commerce and persistent shopping
• Business intelligence on demand
• Efficient inventory control
• Robust product management
• Order management
• Customer service integration
• High performance APIs with scalable performance
• Highly customizable customer interactions throughout the sales funnel
• Marketing, promotions, and conversions
And a great deal more. So many more, in fact, that Magento has a multi-page feature list.
Magento User Experience: Is It Easy to Use?
Here’s the caveat to having a robust platform with unlimited potential and every feature you could want, whether out of the box or available through extensions…
It’s not user friendly.
While the admin and daily operations are straightforward, as with any eCommerce platform, the actual setup and customization of your Magento store won’t be easy.
The open source version of Magento requires a full knowledge of development and code, or skilled developers on hand. If neither of those apply to you, steer clear of the self-hosted open source Magento.
If you opt for Magento Commerce, don’t expect it to be much easier as you’ll have a sea of tools and options to navigate in order to setup your store and configure everything for launch and/or migration.
Those who have experience with other eCommerce platforms may find the Magento Commerce interface a bit less intuitive and, subjectively, has the longest setup time. Like other platforms, you’ll have access to a staging area where you can preview your work from a customer perspective. As the admin, you’ll be able to work from a dashboard that allows you to add and manage your pages, content, and products as well as customize the design of your storefront.
Like many platforms, the dashboard keeps everything close at hand.
So, you theoretically it should be easy to switch between adding products, campaigns, promotions, SEO, content, etc. However, because of all the features, there’s a bit of a learning curve. It’s a complex tool for the uninitiated and will take considerable time to learn how to quickly move between tasks.
Keep in mind there are tools that can help make Magento easier to manage.
For example, our Shogun Page Builder App will integrate with Magento, making it easier than every to quickly create landing pages, launch split tests to improve performance, and create beautiful designs all without editing the code in Magento!
What Separates Magento from other Platforms
Magento Commerce has some additional perks you won’t necessarily find in other popular eCommerce platforms, at least not without some extensions and extra developer work.
For example. Magento is built around an attribute-driven system that designed to cater to the shopper. It lets users sort products by any attribute or data element you build into product pages, making for a streamlined shopping experience.
In addition, Magento Commerce features:
• Auto-populated related products based on business rules you establish
• Robust lightboxes built into any image for sales and promotion of products
• Dynamic categories based on product attributes
• Product visibility based on customer type (like only visible to registered users or VIP users)
• Customer segmentation based on business intelligence tools (built in)
• Built-in staging so multiple users and developers can work and test workflows
• Scheduling product and content launch times
• Manage multiple locales from a single console (managing multiple brands from one place)
• Dozens of page templates to easily populate with data
• An expansive marketplace of extensions to add more features to any store as needed
• Marketing reports to enhance and target the shopping experience of customers
• Email integration to send wish lists by email
• Multi-store capabilities including stores in multiple currencies
• Bulk important/export for streamlined management
• Unlimited product attributes
• Advanced pricing rules including custom advanced pricing discount options
• Abandoned cart recovery
• Rewards programs
Magento Service and Support
Service and support vary based on whether you're using Magento Commerce vs. Magento Open Source.
Either way, Magento hosts an extensive knowledge base and documentation center to help with tutorials, learning, troubleshooting, and development. There’s also a vast community of expert users sharing knowledge and support with one another, and no shortage of developers to assist with virtually any modification you need (at a price.)
For Magento Commerce, even the most basic plans provide 24/7 monitoring and email support along with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection. Stepping up the plan to a higher tier adds things like extra business intelligence reports and support, additional servers for backups, as well as a dedicated account manager who can help with initial setup and launch.
Beyond that, support is limited to what you can access on your own, but Magento doesn’t leave you dry.
They provide a substantial database of information.
As you can see in the image, Magento offers plenty of support including:
• A Detailed User Guide
• Knowledgebase Articles
• Community Forums
• Developer Documentation
• User Guide for Magento Marketplace
• Resource Library: Webinars, tutorial videos, topical guides.
• Sales Portal: Sign up for a demo of Magento Commerce.
• Phone: For sales and general info, but not specific tech support questions.
• Magento U: Training courses & certification. Cost ranges from free to several thousand dollars.
Magento Payments Review: The Top Options
Right out of the box, Magento comes with the ability to accept purchase orders, money orders, and checks. For open source users or those on Magento Commerce, you’ll still need to setup a payment processor for accepting other forms of payment online.
Thankfully, you have plenty of options. There’s no shortage of payment gateway integrations, and a quick search in the Magento extension marketplace will bring back dozens of options ranging from free to premium, with costs varying among merchant processors.
Like Shopify, Magento has also included an in-house processor option in partnership with PayPal/Braintree.
There’s also a number of pre-built processor integrations available with Magento:
• Sage Pay
• Amazon Pay
Magento SEO Review: Is Magento Good for SEO?
A lot of hosted eCommerce platforms providers users with some measure of eCommerce SEO control. This tends to be limited to image optimization, meta tags, and identifying keywords for pages. Outside of additional fields made specifically for SEO, admins have some control over headers, title tags, and page slugs/URLs.
Magento gives a bit more when it comes to SEO, including:
• Creating search-friendly page URLs
• Managing rich snippets
• Canonical URLs for products
• Cross domain canonical URLs
• Noindex/nofollow tag management
• Category and product specific metadata management
• Sitemap creation and management
• Product-specific SEO
• Advanced caching to improve page and site performance
That last benefit is huge, especially with the way search engines like Google are now ranking sites based on load speed. Likewise, load times have a direct impact on customer conversion. Just a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% drop in conversions.
Magento comes packed with more ways to ensure your store is optimized for mobile and organic search.
Magento Extensions Marketplace: Integrations to Expand Your Store
While Magento comes feature-packed, the open-source nature of the platform has made it easy for developers to create applications and extensions that expand or add new functionality. Like other eCommerce platforms, there’s an expansive marketplace with over 1,000 free and premium extensions available.
The marketplace includes some of the most popular integrations like:
• Aliexpress (Dropshipping)
• Salesforce CRM
• Microsoft Power BI
• Google Analytics
Review Your Options with Magento Commerce and eCommerce Platforms
The most popular eCommerce platforms offer ready solutions for smaller brands, and for smaller brands in the early stages of growth those platforms may be an ideal choice. Magento, on the other hand, isn’t geared toward the startup and small growing business. Magento Commerce certainly has all the features a growing business would need. However, it’s complexity, cost, and learning curve, make it more appropriate for larger, enterprise brands in need of a more-scalable solution without limitations.
If you choose to work with Magento, even with tools like the Shogun Page Builder App, know that it can still be more difficult to setup. You’ll want to have knowledgeable resources at the ready including developers and partners familiar with the day-to-day management of this robust eCommerce platform. Once you dive in, Magento’s customization makes the possibilities limitless and the Shogun Pagebuilder App makes that customization even easier.
Still not sure which platform to choose? Checkout our Shopify Plus vs Magento review.