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Magento review

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An open source e-commerce platform that requires advanced technical skill — or a development team.

Magento hosts some of the world’s largest e-commerce sites — Nike, Ford and 3M, to name a few — and provides the framework for companies that need high-level customization and bespoke functionality in their digital storefront. But it requires a significant amount of technical skill to launch and can be costly to maintain over time.

  • Choose Magento if you need a highly customized website and have an in-house development team or a budget of at least $50,000 to hire an agency.
  • Consider something else if you prefer straightforward pricing and need to get up-and-running ASAP.

Details

SolutionsE-commerce
ProductsWebsite builder
Monthly fees start atFree
Processing fees start atNone
Cancellation feeNone
HostingHosted

Magento’s services

Among the actions you can take on Magento’s platform:

  • Build an e-commerce site
  • Integrate third-party software
  • Customize your site with extensions and themes
  • Manage orders across channels
    • Including multiple in-house brands, sites, warehouses, physical stores and third-party sites like Amazon
  • Track and analyze business data
    • Create custom report tools
    • Visualize data with charts and spreadsheets
    • Store data in its cloud-based warehouse

Magento features, pricing and fees

With Magento, you can choose between its free Open Source platform — which requires you to build a site from scratch — or Magento Commerce, which includes prebuilt tools to help you get up and running more quickly. The only way to know exactly what you’ll pay for Magento Commerce is to contact a sales rep for a quote.

Magento Open Source Magento Commerce
CostFree$2,000+ for small businesses annually
$22,000+ for enterprise businesses annually
Features
  • Integrated checkout, payment and shipping
  • Mobile optimized shopping
  • Global selling
  • Catalog management
  • Access to the extensions marketplace
  • Instant purchase for returning customers
  • Site search to help boost conversion rates
Includes all features of Open Source, plus:

  • Business intelligence dashboards with over 100 reports
  • Integrated B2B functionality including quoting, custom catalogs and company accounts
  • Advanced marketing tools with custom promotions
  • Content staging and preview
  • Built-in customer loyalty tools
  • Enhanced content management system with drag-and-drop interface
  • Visual merchandising tools to organize web page
  • Optimized cloud environment
  • Cloud availability service level agreement (SLA) up to 99.99%
  • Faster page loading with its content delivery network to help handle peak site traffic
  • Performance monitoring tools for real-time site data
  • Enhanced security with Fastly web application firewall and DDoS services
  • PCI compliant
  • Streamlines infrastructure upgrades, performance enhancements and patches
  • Dedicated accounts manager
  • 24/7 live technical support
  • Access to express packages from Certified Magento Partners for a fee

Magento implementation costs

After you sign up with Magento, you need a team of developers to build and maintain your online storefront. If you hire an external agency, make sure it’s Magento Certified.

According to a Magento Certified agency, design implementation costs an average of $50,000 for Magento Open Source, and ranges from $100,000 to $250,000 for Magento Enterprise — and can take months to complete.

And that’s just to launch your site. You’ll also need to pay developers to maintain it over time, which could mean hiring a team of full-time experts, or maintaining a relationship with a Magento-Certified agency.

  • Good to know: To become Magento Certified, a web developer must complete a course and online proctored exam to prove thorough knowledge and understanding of how to leverage Magento’s platform for optimal e-commerce functionality.

How much technical experience do I need?

You need quite a bit of technical experience to use Magento, and in-depth knowledge of:

  • HTML
  • CSS/JS
  • PHP
  • MySQL

You could also outsource this work to a web developer or internal developing team.

How do I contact Magento support?

Contact info for Magento’s support team isn’t publicly available, though you’ll get 24/7 access to live technical support if you pay for Magento Commerce.

However, if you’re using the free version, you’ll need to troubleshoot issues by browsing articles in its help center and posting in the public forum. And as a small business owner using Magento, you’d likely need to hire a developer to fix any issues with your site.

What design options does it have?

Magento’s design possibilities are unlimited — a key draw of the platform. One IT manager on Capterra states, “the only limitation is your imagination”.

Not only can you implement any functionality you can think of, Magento Marketplace provides thousands of prebuilt extensions that you can purchase to quickly install tools for live chat, SEO, email marketing, payment processing and more.

Magento offers templates and themes to get started with a ready-made aesthetic, but these cost extra and require coding knowledge to implement.

Magento partner community

Another way to manifest your Magento site is to hire a contractor from Magento’s partner community, powered by Adobe. Magento partners are agencies and independent contractors with experience working with Magento software — a way to hire external developers to get the job done.

You can hire a technology partner to optimize your site’s functionality, a community insider to assist with the design implementation or a solution partner to approach and solve the unique challenges of your company.

Pros and cons

Magento can be an excellent solution for companies with the manpower and resources to launch a highly customized site. Before investing, weigh the benefits and drawbacks:

Pros

  • Open-source technology. Magento Open Source is free, which means tech savvy business owners can use it to build a fully functional site without paying a monthly subscription.
  • Super scalable. Allows for flexible e-commerce solutions that can grow as your company evolves. If your developer can code it, Magento can host it.
  • Partners with over 50 payment gateways. It integrates with a wide range of payment processors, which means you have more POS options to choose from.

Cons

  • Costly to maintain over time. Magento requires a significant investment of time and money compared to competitors like Shopify or WooCommerce, so it’s not a good option for companies that need a low maintenance e-commerce presence.
  • Lack of transparent pricing. If you want to use Magento Commerce, contact its sales team to get a quote and sign up. Compare that to a provider like Shopify, which charges a set monthly price starting at $9.
  • No customer support for Open Source. The free version doesn’t come with any kind of technical support, other than articles in the help center or chat forum.

Customer reviews and complaints

Magento has a 4- out of 5-star Great rating on Trustpilot, compiled from 10 reviews. Most users praise the customizability — though one reviewer reports that it took him 40 hours of work to program a single website.

A noteworthy complaint from one small business states that they ended up paying far more than they originally intended after signing a three-year contract with Magento — $66,000 for a website that it won’t use in the long run because the Magento developer partner didn’t deliver as expected. The same user reports difficulty getting in touch with Magento customer service.

How do I sign up with Magento?

Here’s how to sign up with Magento Open Source:

  1. Click Community
  2. Click Get open source
  3. Click Get started
  4. Click Download Open source

However, to sign up with Magento Commerce, you’ll need to complete a contact form and a sales rep will be in touch to talk next steps.

What other products will I need?

While Magento provides a platform to build and manage your website, you’ll also need:

  • A payment processor. Get a payment gateway and merchant account to facilitate transactions.
  • A web hosting provider. Choose a hosting service such as Bluehost, HostGator or GoDaddy that supports the following:
    • Linux x86-64
    • Apache 2.x/Nginx 1.7.x
    • PHP 5.4+
    • MySQL 5.6+

What is Magento?

Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform released in 2008 by developer Roy Rubin. It handles over $100 billion in gross merchandise volume yearly, and hosts sites for over 250,000 merchants worldwide, including Nike, K Swiss, Ford, Land Rover and Birchbox.

Today, it’s owned by Adobe and is part of the Adobe Commerce Cloud.

Compare merchant services providers

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Products Monthly fees start at Processing fees start at Hosting
BigCommerce
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
$29.95/month
2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
Hosted
BigCommerce is an all-in-one e-commerce platform created to help you sell more.
Helcim
Payment processing, POS software, POS hardware, Website builder, Inventory tracking
$20/month
1.92% + $0.08 per transaction
Hosted
Conveniently packaged into three service tiers for in-person and online sales.
Square E-commerce
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
None
2.9% + 10¢
Hosted
Create an online store with beautiful layouts to help drive business.
Shopify
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
$29/month
2.9% + $0.30 online; 2.7% in person
Hosted
Shopify offers both e-commerce and in-person POS systems designed to help you build a new online store from the ground up.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Magento may host some of the most complex e-commerce sites in the world, but the money and manpower resources required to make it happen might make it unrealistic for many small business owners.

If you need an e-commerce provider that requires less technical skill — or just desire more straightforward pricing — browse other e-commerce platforms.

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