The e-commerce industry continues to see enormous growth and businesses of all sizes are looking to get their online sales operations up and running. Within this industry, the open-source e-commerce platform Magento is proving to be a popular choice for companies looking to establish their digital marketplaces. Its multiple features have been designed to enhance the appearance, function and marketability of retail sites, and its Enterprise Edition is being used by major online retailers, including Nike, Oneida and Papyrus.
Since the prices of Enterprise services are beyond the budget of most small retailers, a hosted version designed for smaller organizations, Magento Go, is an affordable option for business owners looking to utilize the platform’s extensive features on a budget. Here we’ll examine how Magento can be an effective means for a building an effective e-commerce website.
On the consumer side of the retail equation, Magento helps online retailers create attractive, highly functional stores with custom-designed tools, product descriptions and bundling options. The retail-specific features offered by Magento provide extensive utility over other potential platforms and is one of the top reasons business owners flock to Magento. The platform also includes built-in SEO and other marketing tools, international currency exchange plug-ins, customer retention options and customer engagement features, including wish lists and product comparisons.
On the business side, Magento offers extensive analytics. These reporting tools help business owners keep track of sales, refunds, reviews, new customers, tax reports, consumer behavior and more, providing consistent insights into site operations and areas where improvements could be made.
The Potential Obstacles
Something as sophisticated as Magento comes with some complexities, and the difficulties in learning how to use it may make the platform inaccessible for some business owners. The Enterprise edition, which comes with the most features, including advanced customer targeting, gift registry options and advanced return management, has a licensing fee that starts at $15,550 per year, putting it out of reach of many small- to medium-sized businesses. Due to the extensive features of the Magento platform, the lag time of retail websites may also increase on Magento, putting consumers off if they don’t like the long wait times.
Making Magento Work
When it comes down to it, the starting cost of Magento Enterprise is a nonissue for a small to medium-sized retail business. However, Magento Go, Magento’s hosted platform, has plans starting at only $15 per month, providing a good way for smaller businesses to get started with Magento for their retail businesses. Also, the open-source Magento Community platform, which is used with Magento Go, is a great resource for most smaller retailers.
Although a learning curve still exists, regardless of which version of Magento a company uses, Magento Go and Magento Enterprise both come with tech support, which means newcomers will have a place to get help when they need it.
Like any retail platform, Magento experiences down time, but the active open-source community means that patches and upgrades are quickly available when a plug-in doesn’t properly work, and sites get up and running again quickly. Issues with Magento lag time may also be kept to a minimum by working with a reliable Magento hosting service.
Overextending a retail company’s budget is no path to success, but using lesser platforms simply because they save money is no way to succeed either. The powerful tools of Magento are worthwhile for retailers who want the best back-end tools for site building and reporting and want to provide customers with a great user experience. Although million-dollar retailers will benefit from Magento Enterprise, small- to medium-sized businesses will get the most out of Magento Go.