When you set up an eCommerce website, you can consider building it from scratch or using one of the industry leading eCommerce Platforms, Magento. Magento is a CMS (content management system) that provides all the tools you need. It’s free for it’s Open Source version (formerly Community Edition) and paid for it’s Enterprise version. All that’s necessary is to put it on a server, customize its appearance, add products, and set up payment and shipping channels.
While other CMSs let you set up eCommerce as an add-0n, Magento is designed specifically for that purpose. And everything about it aims at making it easy to set up an online store with rich functionality.
The Enterprise edition provides additional features and functionalities that large scale customers will need such as scalability and performance. In addition, an active community has grown up around the software, with answers to questions as well as plugins to provide your business with all the tools you require to run a successful online store.
Magento includes not just the basic functionality for eCommerce, but a huge set of features covering the many ways businesses like to set up online sales. Here are some of the areas covered:
- Site management: One administration panel can control multiple websites and stores. It allows adding and changing products and prices, viewing current information on sales, and customer review and management.
- Customizing the appearance: Many themes are available as starting points. Adding CSS and images to create a unique appearance is powerful and dynamic.
- Product management: The store can group products in categories and offer them in bundles. And Magento supports downloadable products as well as physical merchandise.
- Flexible pricing: The store can issue coupons for all products, specific products, or categories. Promotional prices can be set for a designated period. Tax rates can vary by location, customer group, and type of product. Multi-tiered quantity discounts can be set up.
- Customer browsing: Customers can view category pages or search for products.They can sort their results by price and other attributes. When they find products they like, they can set up comparisons and go back to ones they’ve recently viewed.
- Purchasing: Customers can check out as guests or set up an account. With payment options include credit card, check, and PayPal, and extensions for more forms of payment are available. And integrations with major shippers allow shipping rate calculations based on the latest rates.
- Mobile support: An online store absolutely has to be mobile-friendly today. And Magento uses responsive design so that customers will get the best experience on their phones and tablets. The platform supports mobile front-end applications.
Magento provides excellent SEO capabilities, provided the developer sets it up well. Which includes XML sitemaps, which help search engines to index a site, and the feature has been significantly improved in Magento 2. Site administrators can send their sitemap directly to search engines from within the software.
Administrators can customize the robots.txt file, which directs search engines to index or ignore particular pages, from within Magento. This helps in weeding out pages which shouldn’t be directly reachable from a search engine.
Support for canonical URLs avoids the problem where different URLs point to the same content or some links have parameters that make them appear to be distinct. Canonical category and product URLs avoid search engine penalties for duplicate content.
Magento 2 supports Schema.org metadata, which aids search engines in identifying the products and services offered on a page.
A rich selection of payment gateways are available with Magento Open Source, and the Enterprise edition comes with more. Gateways are available to add to the standard software, and developers can create their own. Plus Magento’s design supports PCI compliance, provided the gateway is compliant and the site is set up properly.
Online merchants like to avoid handling credit card information, which makes PCI compliance difficult. Magento’s design keeps credit card numbers and other sensitive information out of the application’s database. Furthermore other kinds of payment, such as PayPal and Amazon Payments, are available as alternatives to credit cards.
Tax calculations are part of the payment handling, based on the merchant’s location and tax status and the purchaser’s location. A site can specify multiple tax classes, including tax-exempt sales. Many options are available for shipping rates, including per-item or per-order flat rates, handling fees, and shipper-specific rate calculations.
If the built-in features of Magento aren’t enough, there are many ways to extend it. And some of the additional software is free. Software with customer support generally requires a license fee. The Magento Marketplace offers a large selection, and independent developers sell their own.
Themes are layout packages designed for particular kinds of businesses. Every site requires a theme. Most of them are oriented around product lines and markets. Magento’s impressive theme structure and layout can further customize them to create a unique brand.
Extensions add functions to Magento. Some allow connections to Web services like MailChimp, QuickBooks, and Salesforce. Others add blogging support, social network connections, accounting capabilities, and more.
Magento publishes its APIs, so anyone with the necessary skills can create themes and extensions. So many developers specialize in producing custom extensions. And they can get Magento certifications by passing an examination. Think Forward Media has extensive experience designing and developing custom extensions for Magento.
Developers can even build mobile applications which use the Magento API. Than customers who install them can place orders just as if they were on the vendor’s website.
Magento can serve a simple, personal store or a business with lots of products. With powerful enough hardware, caching, and a CDN, it can handle hundreds of simultaneous users. If a business gets into the tens of thousands of products, it may be time to consider Magento Enterprise. Since it provides faster page loads, background indexing, and more efficient processing of large catalogs.
A Magento Open Source site can move to the Enterprise edition without a lot of trouble. If the Open Source version of Magento is not using extensions that are incompatible with Magento Enterprise, no significant changes will be necessary. The team at Think Forward Media has experience working in Magento Enterprise and can help you migrate your growing eCommerce website.
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