What are the benefits of Magento over other shopping cart solutions?

Magento has pretty much taken over the ecommerce technology space, and we get that question more than any other. So for everyone that stumbles on this article in your search for your ecommerce technology, I hope this provides a little help on your journey.

Is this real insight? Or just more marketing babble? Well, Redstage been in the ecommerce business for 7 years now, and we’ve worked on over 150 Magento sites over the past 3 years. So this list is a personal account of our experiences. Let’s start with the feature set…

#1) Out-of-the-box Features

Of all the e-commerce systems that I’ve worked with, Magento really has the most impressive set of features right out of the box. I was actually planning on spending a few paragraphs discussing them, but I ended up stumbling on Magento’s new features page: http://www.magentocommerce.com/product/features. It’s a pretty comprehensive listing, so go check it out before moving on to #2.

#2) Open Source

OK this is an obvious one, but I felt like I couldn’t write a benefits list without including it. The platform is not only free to download but you are free to build upon it for your specific business needs.

#3) Extensions

Magento Extensions and the Extension Community have really set the platform apart from the rest of the pack. One of the main goals of the Magento core development team was to create the most extensible ecommerce system on the planet. And they succeeded, in a big way.

It’s a little bit of a blessing and a curse, actually. Because developing a Magento site is actually much harder than other platforms before it. To properly develop any custom functionality for Magento, you must basically create an extension so you’re not touching any of Magento’s core. It’s a whole lot more complicated than just creating a custom hack. But with that extra initial investment, comes HUGE savings in the long run.

Back in the OSCommerce, Zen Cart, and CRE Loaded days, an ecommerce site was a big hack job of custom code and “addons” that were basically just instructions for additional hacks. The more complex your site got, the more of a hack job it would become. Random errors and stability problems were a frequent result. Many times, complex additions would mean a full redevelopment of the whole site.

Magento, on the other hand, is properly architected to be able to extend its functionality in an elegant and stable way. And it’s really a huge advantage for your business. For instance, I wonder how much it cost Amazon to develop their Frequently Bought Together or Who Viewed This Also Viewed up-selling interfaces? Well, with Magento, you can have either one of those for about 50 bucks as extensions, and about 3 minutes of installation. Shameless plug… you can actually pick up both of those extensions at our extension store: http://store.redstage.com.

Also, I think it’s safe to say that Magento now has the largest and fastest growing community of developers of any ecommerce system. Thanks to the community, Magento’s feature set is growing at the speed of light. Perfect example: When Google +1 came out, I think it was less than 24 hours before a Magento extension came out to place +1 buttons on all of your product pages.

#4) Admin Interface

Magento really has the best admin interface of any that we’ve ever seen in an open source system that came before it. It’s more of what you would expect from a hosted SaaS platform. Hosted solutions aren’t usually appropriate for anything other than very small business, though, since they are almost impossible to customize to your needs. So with Magento, you get the benefit of a much more customer friendly interface but the power of having your own flexible solution.

When I first started working with the platform, I was especially surprised by how complete the order and customer management sections were. The promotions manager is also very cool, but I guess that’s more of a core feature than just the interface. Oh, and category management is also great too.

#5) Regular Updates

For the incredible burst in popularity that Magento’s received over the past 3 years, I have to applaud the company for keeping up as well as they have. I’m sure that they’ve gotten 10’s of thousands of bug reports and feature requests in that time. With Magento, you can confidently expect a new release, packed with bug fixes and probably a few new features, every few months.

Alright, I think that about sums it up. I’m also putting together an article on the limitations of Magento, that I’ll link to as soon as its complete.

For more information on Magento, please call us at 888.335.2747.