Is Magento Right For You?
For many years Magento has been the go-to platform of choice for many online stores, but with lots of very good alternatives available, how do you know when to use Magento and when to use a different platform instead?
Magento is a very strong platform and out-of-the-box provides everything you could possibly need to get an online store up and running. Anything that is not available can usually be found fairly easily through Magento's huge marketplace of third-party extensions. Magento 2 is a much anticipated update to the popular platform and comes with a bunch of features that continues to make Magento a solid choice in the ecommerce world.
Magento best features:
- Huge marketplace of extensions
- Multi-store and multi-currency out-of-the-box
- Advanced reporting tools and many third-party data analysis tools available
- Magento is widely supported by many third-party integrations, such as Sage or shipment providers
There are many ecommerce platforms available and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Here at Nzime we reviewed many options, looking for a platform that is well-built and intuitive for our clients, their customers, and let's not forget our developers. Today, the main platforms we often recommend are Magento and Craft Commerce.
Craft Commerce is an excellent plugin for Craft CMS that provides ecommerce functionality. Built by the same team as Craft CMS, Craft Commerce has all the advantages of Craft with very powerful ecommerce features, read about why we like Craft CMS here.
Craft Commerce best features:
- Extremely flexible
- Unique frontend and user experience
- Supports standard ecommerce features, such as abandoned carts, multi-currency, etc.
- Supports all the major payment gateways
Another interesting option that we have recently started considering is known as Headless Magento, and this uses Magento to power a website but takes advantage of the advanced APIs Magento provides to build a custom and flexible frontend.
Headless Magento best features:
- All the advantages of Magento
- Frontend is a lot more flexible, creating unique designs and better user experience
- Can power more than one application, such as the website frontend and a mobile app
How to choose which one to use?
Deciding which platform to use can be a fairly long and complicated task as each platform comes with its own strengths and weaknesses; usually there is no easy answer as to which would be best.
The decision is often a combination of multiple factors, from the look and feel of the website to how the sales data is managed. Below are some of the key areas we would think about during the review process and how they might determine which platform to choose.
The current version of Craft CMS is unable to support multi-sites out-of-the-box. Therefore, if part of the project's requirements is to create multiple stores that use the same product catalog, then Magento would be at the top of the list. We could also use Headless Magento to support this feature too.
As Magento has a huge marketplace of extensions it is likely that an extension already exists to integrate with a third-party service, so if the project is going to be integrated into one or more systems it would be worth checking what extensions are available for Magento.
This doesn't mean Craft can't be integrated with these systems, but it is less likely that an extension exists. Although if the third-party services provide well-documented APIs then we can set up a custom integration in Craft.
Magento provides useful tools to be able to generate reports on previous orders, abandoned carts, etc. There are also many extensions available that expand on this and provide deeper analytics.
Craft Commerce has basic order filtering features but to do anything more complex would require integration with a third-party system or exporting the sales data into a spreadsheet.
Content is King
Magento was designed with a focus on products and because of this there is a lack of in-built features to manage other content. If a site has a lot of content then Craft is likely to be able to handle this much better, both for the admin writing the content and the display of that content on the frontend.
Design in Magento will often involve starting with a bare essentials theme and while useful, this does mean that a lot of Magento websites look very similar. There are also certain areas that Magento makes difficult to customise - such as the checkout - and small customisations can often end up being costly.
Craft gives us the greatest flexibility and we have complete control over all of the frontend features.
If you have a project in mind and would like support or thinking of Magento or Craft as the platform for it then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office on 0115 950 9720.