If you are looking at developing an ecommerce website for your business, should you go down the route of using Magento? It is a big decision to make as by choosing the right platform to build your website, you should not only provide a streamlined service to your buyers but as processes become far more optimised, you should save time and money as manual procedures are eliminated.

Figuring out Magento

But how do you know if Magento is the right ecommerce platform for you? We have already touched on the must-haves of any tool that you use, and this is that it must do the following when it comes to your ecommerce development:
• Streamline activities, saving time
• Make your business more cost-effective
• Provided users with a fully optimised experience

Before you make the final decision and spend money on a Magento ecommerce platform, you should talk with your web designer and look at similar platforms such as Zencart and Shopify; take the time to check out the advantages and disadvantages of each one and see where Magento comes out in the equation. With so many options to choose from, don’t make the mistake of believing that all platforms are pretty much the same and that either one will do for your business. They all vary and just because one is more popular does not necessarily mean that it is perfect for you.

Let’s take a look at Magento and ask a few questions about what you want it to do for your ecommerce business website. If you don’t fully understand some of the technology, do run it past your website develop as it is far better to ask questions now rather than later, when you have committed.

Do you want your website to be hosted or self-hosted? Hosted meaning that the platform will store your ecommerce store on its server and self-hosted meaning that you will need to find your own hosting provider. As Magento offers a self-hosted platform you won’t have to worry about the extra costs involved in finding web hosting elsewhere if you go for it.

Will Magento fit well with your business size? Magento is fairly complex and may be too much for you if you just want basic functionality. SMEs may be better served with an alternative platform that is easily set up and comes complete with a simple interface. But it is a different story for larger businesses that demand more and need the level of complexity provided to cope with their unusual needs; for them, Magento ticks every box. Whilst other platforms may allow you to add plug-ins and can be easily customised, nothing really compares to Magento if you are looking for superb sophistication and flexibility. No matter how specific your marketing processes and systems may be, Magento takes them all in its stride.

Are you going to be integrating your ecommerce site with any other software? If so, you will have no problem with Magento as with a potent API, it will connect easily with many packages, integrating well with all platforms including CRMs and ERPs. Not all packages do this, so do take this into consideration.

Will you be looking for a lot of support? Because Magento is so complex, it does need ongoing support. However, because it is open-source, you will find a lot of free support online from the community of users. If this is not enough, then opt for the Enterprise version; it is more expensive but comes with integral support, full indemnity insurance and extensive functionality. For smaller companies that do not need this level of intricacy, then alternative open-source platforms may be better suited and less costly.

Are you looking to scale-up fast? This is never an issue with Magento as it literally can accommodate thousands of products so you can never outgrow it. If you are an SME that is looking to grow fast, you can launch with Magento in a small way and expand easily.

Are you on a limited budget? If so, Magento is not the best choice as it doesn’t come cheap. If you are looking for something far more affordable then there are plenty of other options around including WooCommerce, Opencart and Zencart.

Are you happy about taking the time to learn to use the system? As you would imagine, this complex package takes some time to get used to for everyone involved, from the admin team through to management. If you lack patience and are not very IT savvy then mastering Magento may be too much for you. Much will depend upon the level of training that you can find and how masterful the agency is at delivering it. If you have someone in your business that has previously used Magento, this will be a great help.

Magento – to be or not to be?

Much will depend upon the size of your company and how much you need the ecommerce site to deal with. Bigger retailers that need to have a platform that will do it all, from managing products, stock levels, VAT and sales reports through to linking to their accounting and warehouse management software love Magento, and it is easy to see why.

If your chosen web designer is a Magento developer, then take the time to sit down with them and tell them exactly what type of ecommerce platform you are looking for and what you need it to do. Talk about your budget and business objectives; these are all pivotal factors when it comes to deciding whether to go down the Magento route or some other.

For those just starting out in ecommerce, Magento may just be too much to handle in terms of cost, complexity and training. On the other hand, if you already have an online store that is doing extremely well and want to expand and grow, then Magento is most likely the ideal ecommerce platform for you. Take the time to consider your Magento development carefully, find an expert and professional website developer to discuss it with and that way you will end up making the right decision for your business.