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Why You Should Choose Magento for your eCommerce Platform

27/01/2015

We’ve worked on a wide range of shopping carts and supported an array of different ecommerce businesses over the years. From our time within the industry we’ve become very fond of Magento for a wide range of reasons and is the platform we recommend the most for people’s needs.

Scalability, usability and a strong community are just three of the reasons that help us put together our case.

Other shopping carts of course hold their own advantages, but here is a list of some other reasons why we are particularly fond of the Magento shopping cart.

1. It’s free and open source!

The community edition platform itself is free. Of course, to customise it, time is needed for design and development, but it offers an excellent framework to build upon.

As it’s open source, everyone is free to make changes to any element of the code they wish. There is also a dedicated team of developers working on new versions regularly.

In addition to developers being able to edit the code as they wish, there is a wide range of plugins and add-ons available to download, which can offer additional features with minimal coding and time required.

2. It’s adaptable to your requirements

One of the great features of Magento is that it works well, whether you’re a small startup just starting out online, or whether you’re already a big player and have lots of products and categories.

If you have a few different stores, and you’d like the ease of managing them all from one central admin area and login, you’ll be pleased to know that Magento also supports multi-sites, which means you only have to login to a single site, and from there you can make changes to any of the sites you wish.

If you’re planning to accept larger orders or have wholesale clients, multi-tiered pricing levels are a standard feature which allow your customers to get a bulk discount that is automatically applied at the checkout with no need for you to manually discount the order.

3. Support for International websites

Magento is perfect for multi-currency and multi-language ecommerce websites, and natively supports over 60 languages. This means you only need a single Magento installation for all of the different countries you sell your products to, saving the hassle of multiple admin areas and cross site management.

One way this works is to have multiple versions of your store (one for each country) running from one admin area. You simply assign a product to all the stores, then go into each store and change its native language.

There is a great extension available by Aheadworks that actually switches the store and currency for you based on the IP of the consumer.

4. Search Engines Love Magento!

Out-of-the-box, Magento is relatively SEO-friendly, making use of clean and well-structured URLs which search engines love, and will have no problems indexing. You won’t see any ugly /index.php?route=product/product&product_id=459 URLs (this is an example of a product URL on OpenCart), but instead /category/product-name or even just /product-name.

Magento also gives you a lot of control over your page attributes as well as generating an automatically updated XML sitemap for a better crawler experience.

Magento Search Engine OptimisationIt has to be said though, it does need a little tidying up before launch to make it even more compliant with search engine guidelines.  For instance, the robots.txt file needs working on each store to prevent bots crawling unnecessary directories. Decisions need to be made in regards to which framework links are to be followed and slight tweaks need to be done in the way it requests images and data from a page to improve page speeds.  These are the things that you’d need a search consultant that understands Magento to help you with (like us!).

With the last point said, it really can be a great bit of kit from an optimisation point of view and we have seen a lot of instances were natural traffic has increased as a result of moving to Magento in a relatively short space of time.

Magento comes with a number of SEO-friendly features as standard, including:

  • Edit meta titles and meta descriptions (products, categories, pages)
  • Google Sitemap
  • URL rewrites (have full control over URLs)
  • Redirect URLs within admin area
  • Google Content API (allows for products to appear in Google Shopping)

The configurable products feature allows site owners to create multiple product variations, without having to worry about duplicate content issues which could be caused if you created them as separate products on different URLs. Redirects can also be done through the admin panel without the need to edit your Apache .htaccess file.

5. Selection of Payment Gateways

Magento offers a wide array of payment gateways by default but you can add more by downloading and installing plugins, created by the company itself or a third party.

Not just PayPal and credit card, but also other payment methods such as BACS, Cash on Delivery and Purchase Orders (with the help of an extension).

6. Integration with Shipping Carriers

Plugins are available for all the major carriers, including Royal Mail, UPS, FedEx, DHL and more. These plugins fetch shipping prices either direct from the courier, from an XML file, or from a spreadsheet you upload. If you want to take a simpler approach, you can make use of weight-based shipping or simply set a flat rate for all orders. However you plan to charge shipping prices, Magento has you covered.

To make shipping as hassle-free as possible, you can view, edit and print labels for all the major carriers from within the Magento admin area if you have a carrier account. If you have a label printer such as the Dymo LabelWriter 4XL, you can print professional-looking shipping labels without having to use a normal printer.

 

Magento Shipping Label Printer

7. Extensive Magento API System

The extensive API system (SOAP, XML-RPC, REST) in Magento allows for easy integration with external platforms such as shipping management systems such as AfterShip, accounting platforms and more.

8. Security & PCI DSS Compliance

HTTPS (SSL/TLS) is supported in both the front-end and back-end, with PCI DSS Compliance also being a big focus.

By offering and recommending externally-hosted payment platforms such as PayPal and Stripe, which process payments on their own systems rather than directly on your site with the payment details being stored on the site’s server, we reduce the compliance burden for you. We also change the admin area URL from the default to make it harder for hackers to try and force entry.

Most smaller startup clients will only need to meet the Tier 4 (<20,000 transactions per year) PCI DSS requirements by completing a basic self-assessment form to become PCI Compliant.

9. Detailed Reporting

When you log in to Magento, you’ll see the main sales figures on the dashboard, but there are many more reporting features available to you in the admin area.

A few examples of popular Magento reports are:

  • Sales reports (can be broken down to only show fully completed orders, tax paid on orders etc.)
  • Coupon usage reports (see which campaigns were most successful)
  • Low stock reports (easily see which products you need to get more of)
  • Search terms reports (see what your visitors are searching for)
  • Abandoned shopping cart reports (useful when doing Conversion Rate Optimisation to test the result)

Magento eCommerce Reports Menu

All of these can be filtered to only show exactly what you’re looking for.

Additionally, Magento is fully compatible with Google Analytics’ ecommerce Tracking, so you simply need to enable it within your Google Analytics account (step-by-step instructions here), then Magento will do all of the work for you – no code edits needed. This a major benefit, since many other ecommerce platforms require custom development to enable the feature to work correctly, whereas Magento has this functionality as standard.

10. Continual Development & Wide Selection of Plugins

The core Magento system is constantly being developed, which means the platform is being optimised and new features released on a regular basis. Having been acquired by eBay, Magento definitely isn’t going anywhere and will have plenty of funds to keep growing.

Our ecommerce websites are developed in-house, so we rarely need to use plugins for the site itself, though often make use of plugins for additional payment methods and shipping options, along with a plugin which offers advanced custom options for products. Take a look at the Magento Marketplace to get an idea of what types of plugins are available.

11. Used by the largest eCommerce websites

Many popular online shops use Magento, including Missguided, Radley, Fred Perry and Olympus all use Magento. Why not join them and benefit from the same features?

P.S. A full Magento features list can be found here. It’s 10 pages long!