There are over 250.000 Magento shops live today, making it one of the most popular online store-building platforms. And next to platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce, Magento is an eCommerce platform to seriously consider. Going through this Magento Commerce review, you’ll understand why.
Let’s review Magento Commerce, Magento Open source, and everything you need to know about it. Want to sell products and services with your eCommerce store? Read on.
In this article:
What is Magento and what is Magento Commerce?
Magento eCommerce Review
Magento Pros and Cons
Magento Agencies and Developers
Magento Webshop Examples and Cases
What is Magento and what is Magento Commerce?
Magento is an eCommerce platform used by companies to sell their products online. It is fit for any size from SMBs to enterprise brands. Research shows Magento covers 20% of all eCommerce shops, making it one of the most popular eCommerce systems.
Magento has everything you need to launch a successful eCommerce store. Core Magento features include a shopping cart system, site builder, product catalog management, and marketing tools.
Magento Open Source vs. Magento Commerce
There are two versions of the Magento platform:
- Magento Open Source is the free version of Magento, previously called Magento Community. You can download, customize, and run the platform on your own server or Magento host of choice.
The majority of merchants use Magento Open Source because of the low cost and open nature. For developers, it doesn’t really matter if he develops on Open Source or Commerce. But Commerce has more built-in features that can be used out of the box.
- Magento Commerce: Magento Commerce is the paid version of Magento, previously known as Magento Enterprise. Being the premium version, there are a lot of additional features from Magento Commerce.
Magento Commerce can be hosted on-premise. So you host and develop locally on your own server, or have the choice of your own Magento host. Alternatively, there is Magento Commerce Cloud, the cloud-hosted solution from Adobe.
Here is a quick overview of the differences between Magento Open Source and the on-premise version of Magento Commerce:
As you can see, Magento Open Source has fewer features. But you can run a very profitable eCommerce business on it, especially in combination with extensions and other marketing tools.
Magento Commerce is a full-featured eCommerce platform that comes with additional features:
- B2B functionality, like quoting, custom catalogs, and manage buyer roles and permissions.
- BI dashboards, with Visualisation and custom report builder.
- Magento Chat (powered by dotdigital)
- Advanced marketing tools.
- WYSIWYG page builder.
- Customer Loyalty Tools, like Easy-to-redeem coupons.
- Content staging and preview for Magento hosting.
- Visual merchandising.
When asking: “Magento Open Source vs. Magento Commerce, which is right for me?” The answer is easy. It all depends on your shop and business model.
Magento Open Source is recommended if:
If you’re launching your shop and don’t have the budget or revenue to validate the costs of Magento Commerce, start with Magento Open Source. This assumes that the additional functionality isn’t critical. Open source will need you to find your own Magento Hosting.
Magento Commerce is recommended if:
Alternatively, the functionality might be the consideration. Where BI, or B2B functionality or other of the functions are really needed. There is a price tag, so it isn’t a consideration if you don’t have the budget, but once your business gains momentum, you can switch to Magento Commerce.
Whichever version of Magento you go with, the platform is built as a powerful eCommerce solution.
Magento Software Review
Magento is one of the 5 most used eCommerce platforms, side-to-side with other giants like WooCommerce and Shopify. When it comes to eCommerce platforms, the first thing to look at is the feature set. Let’s see which features made it such a popular eCommerce solution.
Most important and outstanding Magento Features
Magento has everything you need to run a modern eCommerce business. And if there’s a tool that isn’t in, Magento can be extended through plugins, and integrations and further customized. What are the most outstanding features?
1. Order Management
Magento Commerce’s order management helps you walk the tightrope between demand and supply. Even across multiple sales channels and locations, managing your inventory (including returns) is clear and doable. It makes it easy to manage your inventory. The order management function helps:
- Reduce costs as orders and inventory are managed in one place
- Efficiently handle returns and automate refunds
- Improve customer experience by not offering/showing out of stock items
Unless you are selling digital products, streamlining your order management and inventory is one of the most crucial success factors on the backend processes. – good fulfillment makes everything flow smoothly.
2. Mobile-optimized Magento shops
Mobile eCommerce is expected to be 72.9% of the global retail eCommerce by 2021. You need a mobile-optimized eCommerce store, it isn’t even a question.
Magento supports HTML5, and with the templates, you don’t have to worry about setting up the basic mobile shop. Your store is ready to give customers a good shopping experience on mobile devices.
There is a lot of talk about headless – so that means you’d use Magento for the backend and another modern fronted, using programming frameworks like Vue or React for instance.
Headless allows for a great mobile experience + omnichannel optimization. With Magento PWA Studio, you can easily create PWA’s. These bring a webshop, website, and app into one solution. Fast and with cool personalization options such as push notifications straight from the webshop.
3. Open-source Platform and enormous ecosystem
Unlike most of its major competitors like Shopify and BigCommerce, Magento was built as an open-source and free eCommerce platform.
Since it’s open-source, it is customizable, flexible, and extendable. This is exactly what developers, Magento agencies, and anyone with a knack for code have been doing.
The open-source and self-hosted nature is also a major consideration when you are in a regulated industry like CBD, gambling, health, affiliate, etc. With Saas applications, you always run the risk of them shutting you down. In Magento, you own the platform. You can switch hosting providers, payment providers, etc.
4. Ecosystem and community of developers
You can extend your store’s functionality with the help of a Magento development agency or freelance developer. Install pre-built Magento plugins and modules or (let an integration partner) develop your own.
There are many forums, events, agencies, and developers.
And for example, Meet Magento is held in many countries with a strong Magento ecosystem. Meet Magento is a community hosted Magento event where partners, freelancers, and merchants can meet to discuss trends, features, and challenges.
5. Shop speed and Performance
Performance and page load times affect your eCommerce revenue. Out of the box, Magento isn’t the quickest platform. But there are modules for Magento such as MagePack to enhance frontend speed. Magento Commerce supports horizontal autoscaling to provide stable performance during peak traffic, such as Black Friday sales.
The site speed will depend on your Magento hosting and can be much faster with the use of technologies like a CDN, NGINX, or Varnish.
6. Magento Payment and shopping cart options
Magento Commerce supports the most popular payment options like:
- Bank transfer
- Google checkout
- Amazon payment
- Cash on delivery
Customers want to have control of their payments. Multiple payment options bring your customers a good user experience (UX). For merchants it allows you to reduce or manage gateway and processing fees. And for Magento merchants, it is always good to know you can switch payment providers and be in control of the fees, etc.
Of course, a good experience results in repeat purchases, which, in turn, form the foundation of growth for your business.
7. Magento Chat
Online chat is a way for merchants to staff their virtual stores just as they would brick and mortar (especially relevant right now!) Solving site visitor challenges in real-time. In Econsultancy’s research, 79% of customers who prefer live chat said they did so because they get their questions answered quickly.
Sometimes called conversational marketing is the marketing and sales side of chat and chatbots. Engage, support, convert, and even upsell customers. Or as Research from Aberdeen, shows that companies with live chat can see a 2.4x improvement on cross- and upsell.
Some of the most pertinent uses that directly impact revenue:
- Help people find the right products
- Answer and resolve payment and checkout problems.
- Suggest additions to their current product or cart.
The default Magento Chat bundled with your Magento 2 Store is free, including the first chat agent.
Here is more info on the Magento chat feature, powered by dotdigital. Turning on chat for the first time is as painless as changing the setting to yes inside the admin. Which then allows you to configure the widget, set agent roles, and get chatting.
8. Magento Multi-site multi-store Management
Running multiple online stores at the same time can be a hassle, not so much with Magento. The platform allows you to add and manage several stores from a single dashboard greatly reducing store management time. Adding products and catalogs cross-site is simple thanks to the multi-site functionality.
After some configuration, you can also run multi-language stores, using multiple “store views” and with plugins for auto changing to the right language based on your visitors’ location.
9. Magento Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Building meaningful relationships with your customers is essential to retention and your shopper loyalty program. That’s why every interaction and customer touch can be stored in the Magento CRM.
The CRM is part of the Magento admin panel, with an easy to navigate dashboard. With insight into all customer interactions, you can create the right content and message for each stage of the buyer journey.
You can integrate Magento with marketing automation software and use Magento CRM data to power your automated campaigns. An example comes from LensPlaza who integrates Magento with their dotdigital automation to personalize and automate their newsletters and use data-driven product recommendations in their campaigns.
10. Promotion and personalization tools
One reason many eCommerce brands like Magento is the way the platform makes it easy to promote your products. Some promotional tools include:
- Personalization tools. Segment customers using your set criteria and display content and promotions tailored to each visitor.
- Product recommendations. By analyzing customer behavior, Magento offers the right product recommendations to your customers. Magento also allows you to set rules that determine which products should be recommended as upsells or cross-sells or as related products. Since 2020, smart product recommendations by Adobe Sensei are included for free with Magento Commerce, but there are many different options.
- Visual merchandising. Drive more sales and optimize product category pages with Visual Merchandising. Arranging products according to rules and filters such as bestsellers, color, highest margin, new releases, or any other rules that work best for you.
Magento Commerce makes it a bit easier to direct the eyeballs to the right products and turn visitors into paying customers.
11. Catalog Management and on-site search
As your product catalog grows and grows, it can become difficult for customers to find and browse the site. This is where a sound catalog management system comes in.
Using Elasticsearch, Magento has a strong product search engine for customers to find the product they are looking for. It offers suggestions for misspellings, synonym management, attribute weighting, support for stop words, and more. Proper search makes it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for. As a result, your conversion rates go up.
12. Reporting and Analytics
Data and analytics are the foundation of any business that wants to improve their sales and revenues. And they need to be monitored closely. That’s why the Magento Commerce Business Intelligence feature is one of the platform’s most valuable selling points.
It helps you know your business’ health with insights on:
- Average order value
- Customer lifetime value
- Customer Retention rates
Apart from that, Magento BI turns the data into visuals you can share with your team. Raw numbers aren’t information yet, you need to transform data into actionable steps that can help you grow your business.
With this core tool-set and more, launching and running your store becomes super-easy. Well, easier than it would be on other platforms, at least.
Now that you’ve seen what you can get from Magento, let’s look at one of the most pressing issues every business has to consider when investing in software – pricing.
Magento Open Source Pricing
While Magento Open Source is 100% free, running your website certainly isn’t. Here’s a general outline of how much you should expect to invest when creating your eCommerce store on Magento Open Source:
- Hosting: $100 – $200/month or $1.200 – $2400/year
- Developer costs: $70 per hour (on average) for freelancers
Depending on the type of hosting plan you opt for, the amount of development needed, hosting an eCommerce store on Magento Open Source will need about $7,000/year. Of course, that is a very very rough estimate, many smaller shops can be happy with a $70 virtual dedicated hosting package. Real pricing wildly varies and is dependent on many factors.
How Much Does Magento Commerce Cost?
If your business is about to generate a healthy revenue stream and you’d like to take it to the next level, you can consider the premium version, Magento Commerce. So how much does Magento Commerce cost?
The starting price for Magento Commerce is $1,988/month. Pricing is based on your gross merchandise value (GMV), which is the total value of merchandise you sell over a given period.
Other costs to consider, include:
- Themes and plugins
- Development and maintenance. This will set you back, on average, $80-$200/hour if done by a professional Magento development agency or $60-$170 if you hire a qualified freelancer. If you opt for an in-house developer, they will cost anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 per year.
- Customer support
When it comes to pricing, Magento Commerce isn’t the cheapest option. But for example, a basic Shopify Plus license also starts at $2,000/month. The higher your GMV, the more you’ll have to pay for your Magento Commerce license. That’s not counting other things like credit card processing fees, but these are the same for any eCommerce shop. But more on eCommerce system comparisons in a bit.
Magento Review Pros and Cons
To make an informed decision when it comes to choosing whether to go with Magento or not, let’s look at the Pros and cons of Magento. While we’ve looked at many of Magento’s good attributes, we’ll hone in on a couple more in this section.
Magento is Highly Customizable
One of Magento’s greatest strengths is the way the platform is highly customizable. From the design, templating and functionality, you can have the exact kind of store you envision. It may take a bit of work, but with the right developer, agency, and plugins, your Magento store can be customized to offer users the best shopping experience possible.
Flexible Magento Content Management
Content is the lifeblood of every online business. Having a flexible content management system is a must. Fortunately, Magento offers you just that. With the WYSIWYG page builder, you can display your web pages any way you want and customize the product, category, sales, and content pages. Catalog management for shops is important and in Magento Commerce, you can create custom catalogs, pricing for individual customers, etc.
SEO-friendly pages and shop
Research shows that the first 5 organic results on Google’s SERPs account for 67.60% of all clicks. So yes, SEO isn’t dead. If anything, it is more important than ever. Magento was built with SEO in mind. Optimizing your product pages for SEO, Magento:
- Generates SEO-friendly URLs
- Loads fast
- Is mobile responsive
- Offers a great user experience
With all these features, ranking well becomes easier. Well it is probably still hard as a mofo, especially in competitive niches. But at least the system is there to work with you as opposed to against.
Scalable eCommerce system
Every business has one primary goal, no matter the industry – growth. Magento is very fit to help you do just that.
The main reason Magento is so scalable is its large ecosystem of partners and extensions which is much more comprehensive than for example Shopware. So, as the business grows and new needs for a shop arise, Magento offers a lot of flexibility for added functions:
- there are a lot of good quality and stable extensions
- there are a lot of certified programmers available who can build customizations
- the open-source architecture of Magento allows for much more flexibility than “closed” systems
What to know before starting with Magento (cons)
So what’s the other side of the story of Magento? What flaws should you be on the lookout for? Here are a couple you need to know:
Watch out for over-customization
One of Magento’s biggest cons is the way the platform can become quite complicated. While the platform is 100% customizable, doing so requires you to jump through some hoops. This is why an experienced Magento agency or developer is needed when any significant changes have to be done on the platform.
Going premium is costly (compared to free)
Another drawback with Magento Commerce is the pricing. While Magento is not the most expensive eCommerce platform on the market, it does ask for a premium that puts it among the pricier eCommerce platforms around.
As they say, nothing is perfect. However, when it comes to eCommerce solutions, Magento does come pretty close.
It’s impossible to talk about Magento’s flexibility, scalability, and customization without looking at the Magento integrations that make all that possible. You can find a ton of Magento plugins to extend your online store’s functionality on the Magento Marketplace. The popular categories include:
- Customer support
- Security enhancements
- Site optimisation
- Payment gateways
- Site optimisation
Magento Agencies and Developers
Apart from extensions and integrations, you can also consider one of the Magento agencies to get the most out of your store. Certified Magento experts deliver high-quality code and are able to implement above standard Magento customizations.
Why partnering with a Magento agency is a good idea:
- Get to market faster and speed up your growth.
- Experience in updating, staging and development minimizes downtime
- Optimize your shop for usability, conversions, SEO and speed
- Let them make and design custom elements
Magento agencies can help you with everything from building your store to designing positive customer experiences to merchandising and sales. And remember updates and upgrades can do with some expert knowledge.
There is a big ecosystem with lots of agencies. The following are excellent Magento Agencies (that also provided the case studies below).
Creativestyle is an agency for data-driven marketing and responsive e-commerce since 2001. Providing creative solutions for e-commerce shops with enterprise requirements, creativestyle offers concept, design, technical implementation, and online marketing. They are the developers of MageSuite, a comprehensive open-source CMS for Magento 2.
PHPro builds durable digital solutions like enterprise websites, webshops, PIM, web2print applications. And of course a lot of Magento, as all are based on open source. With 60+ employees PHPro is one of the biggest PHP web development agencies in the Benelux and one of the few Magento Enterprise Solution partners in Belgium.
So if you are building a custom-made e-commerce website, or need custom plugins they can do it all. Besides development, PHPro also provides digital strategy tailored to your web project. From CRO analysis to digital marketing strategies.
Experius is Professional Magento solutions partner, realizing successful Magento e-commerce platforms and strategies together with ambitious companies in B2B and D2C. The Dutch agency has over 60 employees and the most Magento certified developers in the Netherlands. Whether it is a Magento webshop, PIM system, or an e-mail marketing automation platform, they aim to add customer value.
Magento webshop examples and Cases
One important question that can help you decide whether Magento is the right eCommerce platform for you is – who was Magento built for? In other words, who uses Magento?
Magento was built to be an eCommerce solution for SMB and enterprise-level businesses. That makes it a great option for businesses of all sizes and in every vertical. Here are examples of eCommerce stores that run on the Magento Platform:
Orac Decor Magento 2 Commerce site
Orac Decor is all about interior decoration with innovative materials and design. When it was time to transform their simple webshop into a full eCommerce platform they went all-in and implemented Magento eCommerce together with Belgian Magento agency Phpro.be.
What we like about this Magento Commerce site:
- It is a multi-store concept with 11 websites, 19 storeviews, and 14 languages.
The visitors land on the correct store automatically based on GeoIP redirect.
- Custom crafted CMS content blocks make sure that the visitors get the right User Experience and editors are able to easily re-use the content blocks and save time.
- Full synchronization of products and assets like images in one central place with Akeneo PIM and SAP integration.
Being a combined B2B and B2C concept includes helpful functions like a Glue calculator, Dealer locator, search bar on all levels, and Inspiration including filters.
Lensplaza, Magento 2 Store with a focus on Automation
Lensplaza is a pure-play online retailer of contact lenses and related care products in the Netherlands and Belgium.
For their eShop relaunch they wanted a new and contemporary design – mobile-friendly, clearly arranged, and high-performance and got just that together with creativestyle, a Magento agency based in Germany.
What we like especially about this store:
- Fast delivery times – Interaction of Magento 2 and the merchandise management system (PostNL) of Lensplaza makes sure they can live up to their promises.
- Smart shipping costs and shipping date calculation. Using 3D Bin Packing (3DBP), an automatic calculation of package size and shipping costs is made on the fly in the shopping cart. The shipping date is also automated through Magento stock levels and replenishment time. The expected shipping date is dynamically determined and displayed.
- Effective use of Automated eCommerce Campaigns. For instance, Lensplaza sends personalized newsletters with product recommendations, displays Product Recommendations in the store, and sends an abandoned cart email series. Integrated with marketing automation software dotdigital, Lensplaza is able to use different channels such as email, chat, social media, and SMS for retargeting and customer engagement.
Peeze Magento site, Coffee for B2C and B2B
Peeze is a Dutch coffee roaster that offers sustainable coffee, tea, coffee machines, and coffee-related products for the office, catering industry, and at home. Their roastery is one of the most environmentally friendly in the world, they are known as a CSR leader.
Developed together with Magento agency Experius, their Magento shop serves both B2B and the B2C markets.
What we like about Peeze and their Magento shop:
- Peeze focuses on unique, high-quality, and sustainable products and this is clearly reflected in the shop.
- Personalized ordering environment for both B2B and B2C customers
- Full integration with ERP back-end
- A Loyalty program to stimulate recurring sales. Set up together with dotdigital, they reward regular customers and incentive recurring orders.
A brand like this is always in motion and a renewed branding and shop relaunch is in the works together with Experius. Expect even more Magento and client goodness. We can’t wait to see.
Magento Commerce – one of the best eCommerce platforms around.
When it comes to launching an eCommerce store, the platform you use can make or break your success. That’s why going with a platform that has a proven track record is important. As you’ve seen above, Magento is such a one. Giving your store both beautiful form and impressive functionality, you can’t go wrong.
Magento eCommerce alternatives
Commerce isn’t the only eCommerce solution for your online store. While it is an excellent option, it is interesting to list some Magento eCommerce alternatives and see how it fares against its competitors.
Magento vs. Shopify
Shopify is one of the top 3 of the world’s most popular eCommerce platforms. One thing that makes Shopify a crowd favorite is the easy to use interface. Development costs are usually lower than Magento. Its main weakness compared to Magento is that it’s not as customizable.
When it comes to pricing, Shopify has several plans you can choose from with their basic plan, Shopify lite starting at $9/month. Magento Commerce’s Shopify equivalent, Shopify Plus will set you back a minimum of $24,000/year.
Magento vs. WooCommerce
WooCommerce isn’t a standalone eCommerce platform, it is a WordPress plugin to transform your WordPress site into an online store.
Like Magento, WooCommerce is open-source, meaning it’s free to download and use. To increase its functionality, however, you’ll have to buy premium plugins and extensions.
WooCommerce has a lot of templates and with a very involved community of developers, you can easily get help when something breaks.
PrestaShop vs. Magento
If you like open source eCommerce platforms, PrestaShop is another option for you to consider. With over 270,000 merchants running on the platform, it’s gaining momentum to become one of the best eCommerce solutions around.
Like Magento, you’ll have to purchase Modules (Magento’s equivalent of Extensions) to increase your store’s functionality. You’ll also need to hire developers to help you build and maintain your store.
Bigcommerce vs. Magento
Another big player in the eCommerce platform space is Bigcommerce. If you have basic HTML and CSS knowledge, you can customize your Bigcommerce store. There are over 500 apps and integrations, to design the eCommerce store of your dreams.
As for pricing, Bigcommerce comes with 4 plans:
- Standard: $29.95 per month
- Plus: $79.95 per month
- Pro: $249.95 per month
The major drawback of Bigcommerce’s pricing is that the amount of sales is limited according to each plan. For example, the Standard plan limits your annual online sales to $50,000.
Bigcommerce’s Magento Commerce counterpart would be a hosted Magento Open Source plan.
Magento vs. Volusion
Do a casual search for ” best online store builders” and Volusion pops up frequently. It’s a trusted eCommerce platform that you can consider when looking for a Magento alternative.
The biggest difference between Magento and Volusion is that Volusion leans more toward streamlining your eCommerce operations than the marketing aspect.
That includes operational functions like Volusion inventory management and customer management. When it comes to the marketing side, like conversion and promotional tools, Magento wins this battle hands down.
Pricewise, Volusion has 5 plans you can choose from:
- Personal: $29/month with an annual sales cap of $50,000 and one staff account.
- Professional. $79/month with an annual sales cap of $100,000 and 5 staff accounts.
- Business. $299 with an annual sales cap of $500,000 and 15 staff accounts.
- Prime. Pricing is customized according to your business needs.
Volusion is an option to consider if you’re looking for an alternative to Magento Open Source.
Magento vs. Opencart
Opencart is another open-source eCommerce platform that makes for a good Magento alternative. Being lightweight, Opencart has the advantage of being cheaper to host when compared to Magento.
The major drawback of that is that Opencart is only suitable for small to medium eCommerce businesses while Magento can easily handle everything from small businesses to large enterprises.
Magento vs. Spree Commerce
Spree Commerce is a Magento alternative you’ll want to consider if you’re looking for a truly free eCommerce platform to launch your business. Being open-source, using it is free. An added advantage is that the extensions are free. The only costs you’ll incur involve front-end customizations and additional functionalities you’ll want to develop on the backend.
Being open-source and having a lot of free extensions, Spree Commerce allows you to set up your store pretty fast and with a minimal budget. The extensions also help you customize your store to suit your business model.
So, Magento vs. Shopify vs. Bigcommerce, well, all the alternatives we’ve looked at?
It depends on several factors that include, budget, how much flexibility and customization you need, as well as your business goals among others. But it goes without saying, going with Magento is certainly a decision you won’t regret.