In previous blog posts, we’ve examined some of the most popular and easy to use ecommerce platforms for entrepreneurs wanting to sell online. We’ve highlighted how quick and easy it is to get up and running with Shopify, the customisation freedom that WooCommerce (the ecommerce plugin for WordPress) offers and how Ecwid streamlines social commerce, the act of selling on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
While these are all amazing platforms for small businesses to sell online, what about platforms that give you the freedom to customise the build of your online store from the ground up, and grow your website as your business grows? While WooCommerce is open-source and popular in the developer community, there’s another popular open-source ecommerce platform trusted by several big brands from around the world: Magento.
What is Magento?
Other than being enablers of ecommerce, another thing that both PayFast and Magento have in common is that we were both founded in 2007. While Jonathan Smit was developing PayFast in South Africa, Magento was being developed on the other side of the world in California, USA by Varien Inc. in collaboration with volunteers and open-source software contributors. Over the years the ecommerce platform changed hands and was acquired by several big names, including eBay in 2011 and, most recently, Adobe in 2018.
Magento is written on multiple PHP frameworks, including Laminas and Symfony, and its source code is distributed under Open Software License (OSL) v3.0. By being developed as open-source, users have total control of how they want their online stores to look, feel and function. Even though Magento has a reputation for being rather difficult to use, due to its impressive flexibility and scalability it’s made a name for itself as one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world, with over 100,000 online stores using the platform to sell online, including big names like HP and Liebherr. In 2015 Magento 2 was released, offering improved functionality, which we’ll touch on more when we look at Magento’s features.
What are the benefits of Magento ecommerce?
Magento offers a range of tools and features that can help businesses create their perfect online store. Other than the ability to quickly and easily update content and inventory, some of its biggest selling points are as follows:
- Vast customisation – If you have the skills or budget to hire a developer, you can build and customise your online store. If not, you can choose one of their themes at a cost.
- Comprehensive dashboard – You can view and manage things related to orders, including new, last and average orders, top search keywords, bestsellers and more.
- Mobile-friendly – Magento online store interfaces are responsive to different mobile devices, catering for a good user experience and an easier checkout process.
- Plugins and third-party integrations – Through Magento Marketplace you can find and integrate your online store with over 3,300 extensions. These include payment gateways like PayFast, SEO, marketing automation, customer support, accounting and finance, security enhancements and shipping and fulfilment. All of which can be used without any technical knowledge.
- Marketing features – Other than the extensions mentioned above, Magento’s other useful marketing features include the generation of gift cards, store credit and reward points, creating landing pages and managing newsletters.
- Robust capacity – As Magento was developed with big industries in mind, you’ll have the ability to sell up to 500,000 products and manage 80,000 orders per hour.
- App development – Magento supports Progressive Web Apps, allowing you to create a mobile app for your online store, which can cater for a superior mobile shopping experience.
One thing to keep in mind though is that running and managing a Magento online store will get more complicated as you grow, i.e once you handle millions of customers. In such an instance you’ll most likely have to hire outside help to manage your website. Another thing to take into consideration is that while Magento Open Source doesn’t offer customer support, it does have an excellent global user community that can assist you. Through the paid, Adobe Commerce package, customer support is offered.
What’s the difference between Magento Open Source and Adobe Commerce (previously Magento Commerce)?
Magento has two products: Magento Open Source, which is their free to download solution, and Adobe Commerce, an all-encompassing ecommerce packaged solution, which was previously known as Magento Commerce.
Although Magento Open Source is free, it’s important taking into account that its features are limited and you’ll have to fork out costs associated with hosting, development, design and security. Adobe Commerce, on the other hand, is an ecommerce solution suited for larger, enterprise-level businesses with high sales volumes or medium businesses that are looking to grow their business. This is due to the costs associated with the platform, which we’ll explain further down in this blog.
What is Magento’s pricing?
Magento Open Source is free to download and use to set up your online store. However, you will be required to pay for your website domain, a hosting provider, security and for a developer and designer, if you’re not tech-savvy that is. The available Magento themes also come with a price tag of up to $499 (USD). While there are a number of free extensions on Magento Marketplace, it’s also worth noting that there are some that cost up to $1,500. So with everything you’re looking at quite an expensive bill at the end of the day to launch, maintain and update your online store.
On the other hand, the more inclusive Adobe Commerce cost is based on the size of your business, which according to this article can cost anything from $22,000 to $125,000 per year. The license for Adobe Commerce Cloud starts at $40,000 up to $190,000 per year, which is why it’s more suited for big, profitable businesses.
How do you integrate Magento with PayFast to accept payments?
Once you have signed up and verified your PayFast account you can integrate the online payment gateway with your Magento ecommerce store to accept a variety of popular payment methods. For instructions on how to integrate Magento and PayFast, read this ‘How do I integrate PayFast with Magento?’ knowledge base article which explains everything you need to do, including the installation requirements, installation steps and how to test that the integration is working correctly.
While Magento has its perks in its scalability and powerful features, it’s not a realistic solution for small businesses that don’t have the money or capacity to start, run and manage their online store.
As with choosing any ecommerce solution, it’s important to do your research to understand your specific needs and to determine how much you can afford to invest in your ecommerce website. If you feel like your business can realistically scale and manage high volumes, then Magento may be the right solution for your business. In which case, visit the Magento website for information on how you can start using their platform to sell online.