What is Magento and Why is it Important?
Magento is excellent software that helps retailers to sell their products online. It is a feature-rich, open-source ecommerce solution to help the merchants with the design, content handling and functionality of their e-commerce website. It was developed by Varien (now Magento Inc) with a strong support from programmers within the open source community.
Magento helps the merchandisers to create a customized website with a variety of content management tools.
After its launch on March 31, 2008, it brought a revolution in the e-commerce platform market. Along with that, a significant number of online shopping started occurring through mobile phones. In fact, Magento mobile was released on May 30, 2010 which facilitated a spurt in the development of native mobile storefront applications.
Such was its ability to transform the way online business operates that e-bay, a major online retailer, completely bought Magento in June 2011. Magento, written in PHP, is based on Zend Framework web application. And it uses EAV-based MySQL database to store data.
As of now, Magento has been adopted by myriad online retailers across the world from small business owners to multinational companies like Harvey Nichols and Samsung Mobile Shop.
How does Magento help online store owners?
Magento provides a store owner a platform to operate in a systematic way with various options for payment and shipping. To minimise the privacy concerns of the store owner as well as the customers, Magento is equipped with a highly secured platform using a private SSL certificate. By offering safety and convenience to its customers, Magento-based websites have placed themselves among the top rated websites of the world.
Let’s take a look at how you can manage your store with Magento:
• Product browsing –
Magento makes product browsing experience smooth for the visitor. The visitor is able to see multiple images per product, zoomed images, product reviews, stock availability, wishlist, sharing with friends through email and many such exciting capabilities.
• Order management –
Magento websites equip the customers to re-order previous orders, get email notifications, print invoices and get RSS feed of new orders. Besides this, website administrators can have complete view of order histories. Magento also creates customized offers and discounts as per the customer shopping patterns which are forwarded to the call center for follow-ups.
• Analytics and reporting –
Magento provides a thorough insight to the customer’s needs by integrating with Google Analytics and Website Optimizer. Its inbuilt reporting suite helps the administrator to monitor consumer trends and design strategies accordingly. Apart from that, Magento’s reporting feature allows you to get data on total sales, best viewed products, best purchased products, sales return, orders taken per day and so on.
• Catalog browsing –
Magento allows you to create a highly customized and feature-rich website. Catalog browsing includes features such as layered navigation, product comparison, reviews and ratings, recently view products, search with auto-suggested terms, filter items by product tags, grid listing, cross-sell and up-sell related product items.
• Catalog management –
Magento supports a vibrant catalog management system. It allows you to define products on the basis of size, color, design, features. What’s more, you can batch import and export the catalog, batch product updates, tax rates per location, customer group and product type. Magento enables you to create store-specific attributes instantly; approve, edit and delete product tag. You can also create low inventory alerts by enabling RSS feeds.
• Customer accounts and service –
Magento gives the facility to save unlimited addresses in the Address Book. Magento not only let customers check order status and track them, they can even save items to a wish list and share it with their friends and family. Customers are also able to view order history, get emails on order update.
• Payment facility –
Magento integrates swiftly with various payment gateways including PayPal, Amazon, Sage Pay Direct, Braintree, Google etc. Other facilities offered include saved credit card method for offline payments, accept checks/money orders/purchase orders, customer store credits.
• Shipping services –
Magento facilitates integration with shipment service providers like UPS, FedEx besides displaying real-time career rates including offers for special customers. Shipping services on Magento websites offer a great convenience including shipping to multiple addresses in one order, flat rate shipping per order, flat rate shipping per item, free shipping etc.
• Checkout –
Magento facilitates an efficient one-page checkout besides giving multiple payment methods to the customers. It also allows guest checkout.
Other check out features include SSL security for both front-end and back-end orders, saved shopping carts with configurable expiration time, gift acceptance messages per order and per item, shopping cart with tax and shipping estimates.
• Search engine optimization –
SEO plays a major role in attracting the customers to your online retail store. Magento furnishes search engine friendly URLs and the Magento Rewrite tool assures control over meta-tags for product/categories and structure of product pages. Other than that, Magento enables auto-generated popular search terms page and site map for display on site.
• International support –
Magento helps you expand the reach of your online store at a global level. Magento can be presented in multiple languages and currencies. The user interface can be translated to over 60 languages. Besides, the product availability can be customized as per the local demand and availability.
• Marketing promotions and tools –
Marketing plays an essential role to create awareness about your company, increase footfall on your website and thereby increase sales. Magento websites offer bundled products, multi-tier pricing for quantity discounts, landing page tool for campaigns, recently compared products, online surveys and newsletter management. It is interesting to note that even private sales including events, invitations and category access permissions are provided on Magento based platform, a feature, specific to enterprise edition.
• Site management –
As a small business owner, you could be running various stores for different brands and products. Magento enables the administrator to manage multiple stores from one administration panel. Moreover, updating Magento to newer versions with enhanced features is just a click away. In its enterprise edition, Magento offers content staging and merging with support for both on-demand and scheduled merges and rollbacks of content. It also offers flexible tax rate management with support for US and international markets.
• M-commerce –
Mobile commerce is growing at an exponential rate as it makes shopping convenient for mobile customers. Magento makes it possible for the store owners to provide customers with a fully mobile, multi-channel platform for purchase. Administrators can have a customized mobile version of their website with a comparatively smaller product portfolio or develop a mobile application of their store which customers can download and install on their phones.
• Social shopping –
Of late, shopping via social media has grown tremendously. So, it is important to integrate your online store with social media websites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter etc. You can do so by including like button for your Facebook page, product tagging, tell a friend, share wishlist with friends etc. Magento uses Beetailer integration to integrate with social media websites so that your customers shop on your Facebook page but checkout through your regular website.
• Hosting and security –
Magento hosts a fully secured website with PCI compliance, tier-4 data center, total data security, image delivery via content delivery network (CDN).
Types of Magento
Depending upon the size of your business, Magento is available in four editions:
• Magento Community–
Magento Community has all the basic features in it but it may require technical guidance from your own Magento experts. Its functionality can be explored using extensions from Magento Connect marketplace.
• Magento Go –
Magento Go is specifically designed for small business merchants with easy to handle technology. Without having to maintain your own servers, you get full technical support. Though they are different plans available as per your business needs, Magento Go has plans starting at $15/month. Most of its features have been discussed above. For the complete list of features, please click here.
• Magento Enterprise –
Magento Enterprise offers you world class features and performance with a gold-level technical support best suited for medium-size business. The license fee at $15,550/year is competitively priced with virtually infinite flexibility.
Following are some of the highlighted features of this edition:
* It includes optimized catalogue indexing, improved content caching, streamlined checkout flow, and improved tax recommendations.
* Implementation of new quality control requirements for extensions to remove the extensions that do not meet Magento Connect product standards.
* The platform is so robust that business expansion is not a hassle as it easily handles businesses with more than one million SKUs.
* It also includes new developer extensions with PayPal, including order ahead and in-aisle selling for merchants.
• Magento Enterprise Premium –
Enterprise premium provides 24/7 assistance to its customers from expert team with platinum-level SLA. With its package starting at $77,990/year, it is the perfect e-commerce solution for large businesses.
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