Is Magento the right eCommerce platform for you?

When you want to launch your online store or improve the one you have, which eCommerce platform do you turn to? There are so many available, each offering many of the features shopping-savvy customers have come to expect. One of the best is Magento.

What’s so good about Magento?

Magento has too many features to list in this article (you can check them out here), but here are a few key drawcards.

  • Magento offers an open source version, which allows developers to download its core files for free, and make whatever adjustments they wish to make to land at their desired website.
  • Magento has a large Magento web development community who create an exhausting number of extensions that anyone can access.
  • Magento has a range of built-in SEO features, so you won’t need to search for them.
  • Magento is well suited to larger businesses, or businesses that look set to expand their online offering.

It’s worth reading the full list of features accessible with a Magento site, but if you want to know what you’ll actually need for your business, it’s a great idea to speak with an agency that specialises in Magento development. They can look at your needs and suggest the best platform for you, before you make any financial investment.

Why work with a Magento agency?

To specialise in Magento web development, you’ve studied the platform intimately, stayed up-to-date with developments via participation in Magento online communities and forums, and last but not least, are a proficient coder.

A Magento agency worth its salt will offer personnel with coding and design experience. They will also be able to show off a portfolio of successful websites they’ve developed using the Magento platform.

This is not to say there aren’t very good freelance developers out there that aren’t working with an agency, but it’s hard to know how good they are if they haven’t worked on significant projects. Agencies select the best people (they can’t afford not to) and have the portfolios to prove it.

In addition, working with an agency adept with working multiple eCommerce platforms is of great benefit. They’ll easily assess your aspirations for your site, look at what makes your business special, and review your budget to determine which platform suits you best. (A reputable agency won’t push you towards a platform that doesn’t fit your needs.)

Why would an agency suggest a Magento site for my business?

Agencies choose to work with Magento because it allows them to create very individual and functional websites for their clients. This is important for businesses who stake a lot on the success of their online stores, especially as the popularity of online shopping blooms.

If an agency’s expert developers have a great idea, Magento allows them the flexibility to employ the numerous free extensions available in the Magento community, as well as using their own coding prowess to make changes themselves, so that you receive a truly custom-built eCommerce website, rather than a one-size-fits-all template. (Certain businesses are fine with a template. It can work well. Others need something a little extra special.)

Is working with a Magento agency more expensive?

Because Magento has so much functionality for creating bespoke websites with unique incorporated features, you can really go to town with time and money spent on development. Hence, it may require numerous accomplished developers to arrive at the site you desire, and this will naturally require a more handsome budget.

Businesses with bigger budgets will often be best suited to Magento, as they’ll be able to invest in the many features Magento offers, (customisable themes can vary in cost hugely, and it may only be larger businesses who could afford the pricier ones).

Also, businesses with expectations of fast growth are well suited to a Magento site, as it is more adaptable and easily scalable. (If you’re a small store with a limited product range, you’ll find that a Shopify or WooCommerce site will suffice, as the skill level to maintain the site is lower, and you won’t necessarily need to spend as much on development and ongoing site maintenance.)

Which Magento model is right for us?

There are a few models of Magento available.

Magento Open Source is free and available for download, and allows developers to not only use its core files, but to add new plug-in modules, provided by other developers, to extend functionality.

Magento Commerce is a platform as a service (PLAS) model that caters to small business, mid-market and enterprise. It has features and developer tools that are a little different from Magento Open Source.

Magento Commerce (On-Premises) is similar to Magento Open Source, but has more features and functionality. It isn’t free, as it includes annual maintenance. It’s suited to large businesses that need support with installation and configuration, and assistance with ongoing usage.

Again, an agency will recommend the most appropriate version for your needs.

What does an agency need to know about my business to get started?

Richard Fuessel, Director at Melbourne Magento development agency Salt and Fuessel, suggests you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, before you consider your platform or meet with a web development agency.

‘I recommend looking at a bunch of eCommerce sites and considering which ones you like and don’t like, and why. This could include your competitors’ sites, and even your own website, if you already have one.

‘A tip for working out which platform the site is on is adding /admin after the domain name of the website, or if that doesn’t work, using Built With to find out. (If you can’t work it out, it doesn’t matter too much as your agency can probably tell you.)

‘Next you need to think about the sort of design you want, and the features your online store needs. Be ready to tell us how you see your site growing into the future. Do you envisage it going global?

‘Lastly, what’s your budget? How much can you throw at a good development?

‘Those considerations are a good starting point. You can discover more when you meet with your agency, but it’s handy if you’ve had a think about it already.’

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