Are you looking for a way to take your store online but worried that your business is too big, too complicated, or too integrated? Do you already have an online store but feel that your operation has outgrown the platform that it’s built on? If so, you may want to consider whether Magento is right for you and your business.
Many online stores appear simple: stock, shelves, shopping cart, checkout. Those are the basic elements. They’re good if you’re selling a single product to a limited audience. One size doesn’t usually fit all, however, and adapting the basic store to your needs can create problems.
Too many options can make your website unattractive or difficult to use. Integrating different parts of your online store could streamline your business, or it could mean that everything breaks when one part does. There’s also the question of volume: if your website can only handle so much, and too many people start to use it, it’s probably going to break.
Advantages of Magento
Magento is well-equipped for these problems. Customers on Magento can make complicated, highly specific orders. Different parts of the business, like manufacturing or analytics, can be plugged right into the storefront. The platform is scalable and well-suited for those who are doing quite a bit of business and need to be sure that their business won’t crash.
This is possible because, like WooCommerce, the base version of Magento is open-source. It’s free to use, you can modify it as you please, and you own anything you build in it. Use a platform like Shopify, and your online store is leased: if you like a feature and it’s discontinued, it’s out of your hands. That’s not the case here.
Is Magento right for you and your business? The open-ended nature of the platform might end up being more trouble than it’s worth. On the one hand, it gives you a powerful array of tools. On the other, those tools may be troublesome. If your project is relatively straightforward, navigating them may be more trouble than it’s worth.
In short, to know some code to make it work. Alternatively, if that’s not your thing or you’ve already got too much on your plate, you could hire someone who knows some code.
Magento Opensource vs Magento Commerce
There are open-source and premium versions of Magneto. Magento Opensource is free. You can download it, change it, and host your own version of it, all without having to pay a cent. Magento Opensource extensions add new features and functionality to the platform. Built by the community, they’re available free of charge to peruse and use depending on your needs.
Opensource is free. Hosting is not. You can pay to host yourself, or you can pay someone else to do it, but it’s a cost either way. Putting a website together costs, too, as it requires skill and experience. You may have someone in-house who can do it. If you don’t, feel free to reach out to Arcada Labs: building websites is what we do.
If you don’t want to sort out the hosting situation, you could look into Magento Commerce. That’s the premium version of Magento. Although you have to pay for it, your money gets you a host of features that are developed in house and supported by the Magento team. Those features include advanced analytics, targeted advertising, on-call technical support, and hosting. If you’re willing to pay, Commerce will package these features for you, which saves you the trouble of contracting them out or doing them in house.
Case studies and possibilities
Grasping the possibilities of the platform while considering whether Magento is right for you and your business can be difficult. Let’s consider an example of how it’s been used to see what it can do.
A large soda company wanted to sell products that are customized with the names of customers. The drinks were available in stores, but the names on the bottles and cans were random, with no guarantee that you could find what you were looking for if you wanted a specific name.
For those needs, the company set up a website using Magento. There was an order form where you could select a product, enter the name you wanted, pay for it, and have it shipped.
To support this deceptively simple operation, quite a bit happened behind the curtain. Each order expanded a database of names. Manufacturing was integrated closely with the website so that labels could be printed on demand. Eventually, the website was expanded further: you could elect for a custom label on different brands of the soda. Then, you could print it on a t-shirt. Later, the page included all kinds of different merchandise, much of it customizable, integrated with various departments and aspects of the business.
All of this illustrates a few things: Magento is robust, capable of supporting a large operation. Within a year, more than a million bottles had been sold through their website. It’s also flexible, and well-equipped to integrate with different aspects of the business. Finally, it’s established, and thus trusted by established businesses. In this case, as you may have guessed, the company in question was Coca Cola.
If you’re looking for a robust, flexible, and established open-source e-commerce platform, Magento may be the platform for you. If you’ve read the above and feel like it’s not quite right, feel free to look around at other articles in our e-commerce series. The perfect platform may be out there for you yet.