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Magento eCommerce: Separating Fact from Fiction

Fri, 1st August 2014, 11:58

Regardless of statistical model, the economic forecaster are all in agreement of one indicator. E-Commerce, the buying and selling of goods and services online, is only going to continue to increase expeditiously year over year. Possibly this trend has you thinking about creating your own e-commerce website.

Building an online business is a most efficient and sustainable solution when adopting the right strategy. All that is needed is a product, (goods or service), an eCommerce software platform to showcase it on, and a web host for hosting your platform. A marketing plan helps, but that’s for another day. One possible suggestion is the e-Commerce suite called Magento, which offers three different variations of its popular eCommerce platform.

Magento is one of the most trusted platforms built on open source technology and it’s the creation of Varien Inc., an American company headquartered in Los Angeles. First released in 2008 , the software was known as “Bento”. Because this name was already used by FileMaker Inc., Varien and osCommerce had to come up with a different name, so they combined Bento with Mage and came up with a new term – Magento.

Later, in 2011, Roy Rubin, the former CEO of Varien, sold the company to eBay, after accepting massive investments in Magento, in the previous year, from eBay. Shortly after the acquisition, the corporation revealed its intention to make Magento an integral part of the X.Commerce initiative.

X.commerce is the result of the collaboration between eBay, PayPal and Magento and its purpose is to allow online shop owners to sync sales. The sellers get a package with codes and documentation they need in order to understand better how to build and test their websites based on this open source platform.

 

Platforms and pricing 

 

If you’re a skilled developer who can improve it by adding new plug-in modules, then choose the Magento Community Edition (MCE) open source software. This platform was released in 2007 as a beta version and in time it received a lot of improvements. You can now download for free the 1.9.0.1 version, which is the latest update released in the mid-May.

 

Magento Enterprise Edition (MEE) emerged from Magento Community, having more functionality and features, but it costs you 15,000 dollars per year. This is the right solution for large size businesses and for this price you receive technical support (installation, configuration, usage, troubleshooting). The latest version of MEE was released two days before the new MCE update, being available as the 1.14.1.0 version.

 

Magento Go comes to the aid of small businesses that don’t want to install the software, but need web hosting. The cloud-based eCommerce was released at the beginning of February 2011 and it will be shut down next February, so the customers will be forced to transfer their stores to another hosting company. The reason behind this closure might be related to the fact that Magento Go didn’t have the new functionality found on MCE and MEE, and eBay decided that it’s better to focus more on these two products and improve them. Meanwhile, until February 1 2015, the customers will pay between 3.95 dollars per month (shared hosting) and 170 dollars per month (dedicated servers) to have their websites hosted by Magenta itself.

 

Fake Magento Speed Testing 

 

Once you have downloaded the Magento Community Edition or purchased the Magento Enterprise Edition, customized your website by adding or modifying an existing theme (PHP, HTML, CSS) and added some Magento plugins, your website is now ready to use. Or you’re already the e-Commerce whiz looking for a more experienced company that hosts Magento websites.

As expected, all the companies specialized in Magento hosting promise their customers that their websites will run very fast and to prove they are not babbling, they use Magento Speed Test to generate a speed result and then they publish it on their websites to impress their visitors.

There are companies that use fake Magento speed testing and run some automated HTTP testing tools such as Joe Dog’s “Siege” and brag about the results, and often inexperienced or naive clients are taken in and fooled by fake speed tests.  But there are also reliable and legitimate companies that offer realistic speed testing results. They’re committed to doing their best to provide rock solid hardware infrastructures for Magento websites.

 

Web Hosting Providers for Magento 

 

In 2014, a group named Magento2X, which has been working with Magento since 2008, asked its customers to vote the top three providers that offer the best ecommerce security hosting.

So, the winner was SiteGround, with a price of 3.95 dollars per month, free domain for life and free site transfer, Magento Optimized Server with Top Hardware and Network, Magento Security, Auto Backup and Auto Upgrade etc.

The second in line is Nexcess, with a price of 11.95 dollars per month, free site transfer, Magento Security Enhancements, Auto Backup, Nexcess Magento Optimization Server etc.

To host your Magento website at A2 Hosting you’ll pay 4.97 dollars per month, but you’ll receive Unlimited Disk and Bandwidth, Server Rewind Backups and Perpetual Security w/ Free HackScan etc.

A common complaint among reviews is the frustration exhibited towards web host support monkeys regurgitating the canned response that they don’t support 3rd party software. So in the coming days, HostJury will profile some of the most popular Magento web hosts, all who claim to be ‘Magento Experts’ and providing Magento support. We’ll interview these “hoster”, find out more info about the companies, and learn what makes their services superior to the other companies making similar claims with promises to host blazing fast Magento websites.

 

The Pros of Magento 

 

Magento users love the large community which has developed around Magento. It continues to grow and the support forums are a great source of information for resolving many common issues.

The application is customizable, coming with lots of cool features – product management, marketing, SEO etc., it’s available in multiple languages and most important, is open source, offering a free edition for those who are not ready to invest money to build their online stores.

You can use the built-in functionalities that come along with the script or you can install other functionalities, although you’ll be charged.

You can also incorporate more payment options to your website so your buyers can choose the right payment gateway.

Magento is mobile friendly, running perfectly on most of the smartphones or Apple devices etc. 

You have access to the records of your customers, the products and transactions made through your website and no third party is allowed to access this information.

Also, as a Magenta CE user, you get coupons and promotions every once in a while.

A major advantage is the mobility of Magento.. if your webhost starts to suck or gets consolidated into one of those mega-hosts, you can move it!

 

The Cons. Complaints against Magento 

 

It seems that some of the customers are not very pleased that Magento runs in PHP and not all of them are expert programmers, so it’s kind of difficult to use for beginners. So, if you don’t have a coding experience, don’t rush to purchase MCE.

Not everyone can afford a dedicated server and also it’s slow loading sometimes. Magento is a hog on ram that can bog down a server. A common complaint of new users is that Magento exceeds the limits imposed by many traditional hosts.

Many of the users get common errors like: “Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in ...”. A simple enough solution is just increase the execute time. Still not everybody wants to be a code monkey.

While Magento Community Edition may be free of charge, you’ll still need to pay for the hosting service, security and other fees but these are not likely to exceed the traditional costs imposed on brick and mortar entities.

Even if Magento Community Edition is free of charge, you’ll need to pay for the hosting service, security and other fees.

The MCE users don’t benefit from Customer Support, so when they have technical problems, they can express their frustrations on the forum.

There are customers that complained of software glitches and incompatibilities when they upgraded the software. Other customers found hard to implement templates.

For a Magenta Go Store, you can use 3rd party themes, but there is a list of approved themes you can choose from. Magento doesn't support third-party software.

You’ll need a powerful server with a large disk space and high memory, if you want your website to run properly, so you’ll have these options: VPS, Cloud Server or Dedicated Server, but these solution are sometimes expensive.

 

Conclusion 

 

Ecommerce business owners have many choices when it comes to shopping carts and e-Commerce platforms -- almost all of which claim to be easy to deploy and manage. Despite other platforms, like Shopify and woocommerce, gaining traction in the eCommerce marketplace, Magento continues to remain one solid option as an e-Commerce solution. The  reality however is that most business owners will eventually wind up hiring a designer and a Web developer to help them create and maintain that perfect eCommerce site.

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