As many of you know, we’re fans of Magento as an SMB ecommerce platform. It’s versatile, contemporary and, in the right hands, incredibly powerful. Magento has its critics, of course. We’ve long resigned ourselves to the fact that the Magento architecture requires diligence and patience to learn, and configuring Magento is not straightforward, especially if you rely on documentation from their website. The last point is the main reason Bret authored Mastering Magento.
However, we have uncovered an architectural flaw that can have severe repercussions for store owners selling items often shipped to multiple locations.
One Purchase, Multiple Orders
With Magento (and we find this in some other platforms, as well), each destination creates a separate order. Each order creates a separate payment. Each payment creates an invoice; each invoice a shipment, etc. Therefore, if a customer is buying 10 gifts to send to 10 different friends in 10 different destinations, the customer — even when using the Multiple Addresses in checkout feature — may feel like they’re creating one order, but in fact, their purchase is creating 10 different orders.
Each order will be charged separately through the payment gateway, which means that if the customer is using a credit card, some of the orders may be declined. We’ve seen this happen, because if the 10 gifts are all the same, resulting in the same charge each time, to the credit card processor it looks like someone is rapidly trying to use the card to make multiple charges. The processor will many times regard this as a fraudulent activity and cut-off the credit card. This creates a huge customer service mess for the store owner.
Even when successful, the customer is now receiving 10 confirmation emails, 10 invoice emails, 10 shipment notification emails, and so forth.
One Invoice, Multiple Orders
What is needed, however, requires a major change in the Magento architecture. We’ve looked into this, and it’s daunting. Unfortunately, in our initial look at the upcoming Version 2 of Magento, this aspect of the architecture doesn’t appear to be changing.
Ideally, we’d like to see Magento employ a “One Invoice, Multiple Orders” configuration. That is, allow multiple destinations, multiple orders and multiple shipments, but provide an umbrella Invoice over all orders made within the same transaction.
In this way, the customer is only charged once on the credit card and, if done correctly, will create an Invoice email receipt itemizing the multiple orders. Each listed order would show the destination, gift message, items and cost.
As with any platform, we have peeves with Magento. However, this aspect of its architecture, we believe, will continue to raise its ugly head and prevent Magento from being a suitable platform for many businesses, especially gift-related ones.