Magento is among the most commonly used CMS e-commerce platforms and currently powers over 187,500 websites across the globe. With vast customization capabilities and advanced functionality, Magento is loved both by medium-sized and large enterprises. In this article, we will explain all the intricacies of Magento eCommerce development and will guide you through the main dos and don’ts.
Which Magento version should you choose?
Magento is suitable for both B2C and B2B businesses and has three versions to choose from. Let’s discuss each in detail and see what kind of businesses fit for each.
Magento Open Source
Known as Magento Community before, the Magento Open Source version is a free (open-source) version of the platform. As the name implies, its biggest benefit is the fact that this version is free and any Magento developer can tweak its code as needed in accordance with your requirements. However, you will have to pay for the rest, the database, hosting, maintenance, and development itself.
While some entrepreneurs are hesitant about using Magento Open Source, many find this version to be quite suitable for the needs of their business. Magento Open Source has relatively rich functionality that allows the efficient functioning of an online store. It also allows flexible customization (on the condition that you have good Magento developers on the team).
Suitable for: medium-sized enterprises due to a relatively low cost and good out-of-box functionality.
The next version can be called an update from Magento Open Source, and we are talking about Magento Commerce. As the name suggests, this version is mainly used for B2B businesses though B2C businesses can use it. Magento Commerce is a paid platform and, in addition to a standard set of features, offers exclusive features that are not present in the Open Source version. These features include:
- Page Builder: drag-and-drop content creation;
- Content Staging: allows to schedule your content and preview it;
- Integrated B2B functionality: allows scalability and store expansion;
- Automated upsell and cross-sell: contributes to more efficient selling;
- Magento Business Intelligence: provides advanced analytics and recommendations;
- Available cloud infrastructure: simplifies store setup process;
- Database scalability: in Open Source, it’s limited.
While Magento Commerce is not so customizable as Magento Open Source, it has more advanced functionality and better scalability. Thus, it can efficiently serve both B2C and B2B businesses in any domain.
Suitable for: medium-sized and large B2C and B2B enterprises due to high scalability, ready infrastructure, and advanced out-of-box functionality.
Magento Commerce Cloud
Last but not least is Magento Commerce Cloud. This version is almost the same as Magento Commerce in terms of functionality, but it has a very distinct feature: AWS hosting that comes with the version. As well, Commerce Cloud offers the following advantages that are not present in any other Magento version:
- GIT, which is the source code management system;
- 100% configured environment;
- Infrastructure as a Service.
As you can see, Magento Commerce Cloud provides you with everything you might need to launch an online store right away. Not to mention that it displays the same high level of scalability and efficiency as Magento Commerce and hence, is suitable for businesses of any size and type.
Suitable for: medium-sized and large B2C and B2B enterprises.
The biggest Magento features to know about
Now that you’ve got acquainted with Magento versions, let’s look at the most distinct Magento features that make this platform so suitable for e-commerce.
A theme is responsible for the design of your store and helps you display your brand, individuality, and preferred style. There are 11 themes in the official Magento marketplace and over a hundred Magento-compatible themes available in other marketplaces (Envato). Of course, there is always an option to build a custom theme from scratch, but it will require additional time and significant spendings from your side.
Magento offers over 4,000 extensions to choose from, and each can add something specific to your store. These extensions are add-ons that add certain valuable features to your store. Examples of extensions are:
- Loyalty and referrals;
- Contact sync;
- Gift cards;
- Shipping calculator;
And many others - you name it. Some of the extensions come for free, but the price range for others may vary between $50 - $250.
SEO and marketing tools
Magento is well-known for its advanced SEO and marketing functionality that is crucial for any e-commerce store. These features are accountable for the online visibility of your store, its ranking against the competition, and its searchability. The most notable SEO and marketing features that Magento offers are:
- Upselling and cross-selling,
- Multi-tier pricing,
- Support for many languages,
- Generation of unique coupon codes,
- Recently viewed products,
- Google Site Map,
- SEO-friendly URLs,
- URL rewrites,
- 100% SEO-friendliness.
Note that SEO-friendliness is an essential aspect of managing an online website, and Magento deals with it brilliantly. On the condition that you spend some time on fine-tuning, Magento will ensure your store is indexed and ranked appropriately.
Product and catalog browsing
Efficient product and catalog browsing play a significant role in the completion of conversions. If users can seamlessly browse your products and easily switch from one catalog section to another, this contributes to a better user experience and promotes sales.
Magento offers an extensive list of features that help customers quickly and easily find the needed product:
- Layered navigation,
- Static block tool for creating category pages,
- Configurable search,
- Display of recently viewed products,
- Product listings in different formats,
- Product zoom-in,
- Stock availability,
Checkout and payment
This area of an e-commerce website is critical as complex checkout can discourage the customer from proceeding and might result in cart abandonment. While you will be responsible for the checkout page design, Magento assists a lot by offering the following:
- Guest checkout option,
- One-page checkout,
- Support for multiple currencies and multiple payment options,
- SSL security support,
- An opportunity to save a shopping cart for later,
- Shipping to multiple addresses,
- Payment extensions.
For more efficient store functioning, it is essential that Magento can be integrated with third-party services such as PayPal, Authorize.net, Odoo, or Hubspot. In general, the possible integration options can be divided into the following categories:
- ERP software (enterprise resource planning systems like Odoo or NetSuite),
- CRM and CMS systems,
- Payment gateways (like PayPal),
- Product information management systems.
Magento supports many integrations, which adds to its flexibility, customization, and better store management.
Then it’s recommended to consult with experienced Magento developers.
Migration to Magento: a checklist
Say your current store does not satisfy you anymore in its performance and scalability, and you need a more robust solution. Or maybe you want to switch from Magento 1 to Magento 2 and have been thinking about it for a long time. In any way, it’s time for your store to be migrated - and the process is not so complicated once you list down all the needed steps to take.
In general, there are three main stages of the Magento migration process:
- UX/UI design
- Frontend and backend work and data migration.
Of course, each stage involves numerous processes - let’s have a look at them.
The planning phase
During this stage, you will need to estimate your current website by the following factors:
- Current functionality: existing modules and integrations, extensions, customizations.
- The store size
- Current SEO indicators (you’d want to retain them in the future)
- Changes to be made during the Magento migration.
You will also need to create a new customer journey map and a website map following your goals and needs. For example, say, you want your website to be more converting or you want customers to access products more easily - such things should serve as a base for creating a user journey map. This map will visualize your website’s possible user journey and highlight the most significant interaction points between a customer and your store.
Because you want your new store to look more appealing to customers, you will need to invest a significant amount of time in rethinking its design. Usually, the processes involved in the design include:
- Creating wireframes for desktop, mobile, and tablet
- Reviewing the wanted structure of the store
- Creating new navigation logic (remember the user journey?)
- Rethinking the branding and the overall design (if needed)
- Creating new UX/UI elements following the renewed design.
This stage is critical as it sets the scene for further work. Besides, an appealing design will allow you to stand out from the competition and seamlessly lead visitors to complete their transactions.
The actual migration (frontend + backend work)
Now comes the hard part, but don’t worry: you and the dev team will ace it with careful planning.
You’ll start with getting the migration tool that is available on the official Adobe website. The device will take care of migrating your data and components to the new website. First, you will need to set it up and configure it - the process is described in detail in the official documentation.
In addition to migrating the existing data, you will need to develop custom functionality. This may include:
- Developing new functions,
- Creating new modules and/or extensions (or replacing them).
The thing is, Magento may not support the extensions that you use with the current version of your website and vice versa. Hence, prepare for finding new extensions or creating them from scratch.
And remember we talked about SEO? Of course, you’d want to retain your ranking though it will inevitably drop when migrating the website. To minimize the damage, make sure to take good care of your SEO once the significant part of the store is migrated, so your most converting pages do not get lost.
The last parts are server configuration and testing. Before making the site go live, you must ensure it’s 100% functioning, and there are no broken links (watch your SEO!) or non-functioning elements.
Magento implementation: available options
By now, you should probably make your mind about whether you want to try Magento or not. Considering the complexity of the platform and possible challenges, you can go with two options: create an MVP or work by Agile.
An MVP stands for a minimal viable product and is basically a fully working prototype of your final product. MVP allows users to get the taste of your product and what you can offer and for you, it’s a great chance to test the product with users and collect their feedback. An MVP normally has a minimal set of functions so don’t expect any fancy add-ons from the start. And if customers like your store, you can gradually add more features and extensions to it, turning your MVP into a full-fledged product. Also, MVP development is less costly and risky compared to the development of an actual product so it’s another benefit (especially for clients with a limited budget).
Agile development implies the full-cycle development process but in a very flexible manner. You will be creating your store from scratch and will include all desired features but the development process will be broken down into short sprints. The project manager of the team is usually responsible for allocating tasks and watching their priority and the client usually has a final say in deciding what features to add next. The biggest benefit of this method is an option to tweak the product on the go, fixing any errors and adding/eliminating features.
However, there are also two options by the solution type: headless e-commerce and PWA.
Headless e-commerce means the backend and the frontend parts of the store are separated and the frontend does not rely on the backend. So instead of requesting the database for the data, front-end developers use APIs to deliver content to users via a presentation layer.
If you think it doesn’t make any sense, think about the following. In a traditional e-commerce platform, backend and frontend are tightly connected and that leaves little room for creativity and customization. With the frontend part being completely independent of the backend, developers have all the needed flexibility and the brand can do whatever it wants.
Here are the biggest benefits of headless e-commerce in a nutshell:
- Endless customization possibilities,
- Quick response due to API use,
- Rich user experience,
- Suitable for all mobile devices, such as smartwatches or kiosk screens,
- A very high level of flexibility.
PWA stands for progressive web application and has been gaining popularity in e-commerce in the last few years. PWA is used to build a web application that would look and feel like a native mobile app on your device. Needless to say, native-like performance significantly boosts user experience as users have zero problems browsing your store on their mobile devices and even accessing it in offline mode.
Other benefits of the PWA approach include:
- Low development costs and development time compared to the development of a native application,
- High speed and high accessibility,
- Suitable for most mobile devices and platforms.
Magento implementation cost
Okay, so Magento is powerful, efficient, rich in functionality, and can be integrated with an overwhelming number of third-party services. The big question is how much does it cost to launch a Magento store?
As for now, the pricing for licensing is the following:
|free||~ $24 000+/year*, depending on your average gross sales revenue/year||~ $32 000+/year*, depending on your average gross sales revenue/year|
Of course, these prices are approximate - you will need to contact Adobe for an exact quote. As well, don’t forget “hidden costs”:
- Fees for extensions (may vary between $50 - $250)
- Customization fees
- Development fees
- Hosting fees.
Why work with Geomotiv?
Considerable question number two is where and how to choose a reliable Magento development company with whom you can entrust your business? Say no more - the Geomotiv team is at your service.
Having served international businesses across various domains for over 11 years, we confidently state that Geomotiv is highly experienced in delivering and converting user-friendly solutions powered by Magento. The range of our Magento services includes:
- Full-cycle Magento store development and setup
- Magento migration and/or update of your current store
- Customization of your Magento store
- Integration of required third-party services.
And did we mention quality control, client-first approach, daily reporting, and a balanced solution cost?
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