My last post gave some the impression that I am not a fan of Magento anymore. While the fact exists that among our SMB clients, many are moving to Shopify rather than upgrading to Magento 2, that’s not true in all cases. Nor, as an agency focused on recommending the best solution for our clients, will we ever focus solely on one platform as the “end all” solution.
First, let’s cover some background. I have written or co-written three books on Magento (Mastering Magento, Mastering Magento 2, and Learning Magento 2 Administration). The process of creating these best-sellers gave me a tremendous appreciation for the power and graceful execution of Magento. It would be difficult for anyone to claim I don’t know Magento, especially how it can work to help merchants sell online.
Secondly, we do not believe any e-commerce platform should be the center of a merchant’s e-commerce operation. The online store should be one channel for creating sales. And it should be tuned to do that well. But back-office activities, especially in larger, high-volume stores, should be handled in other systems (e.g. Order Management, Shipping & Logistics, CRM, etc.). E-commerce platforms do some of these functions well, to be sure, but the most efficient architecture is to let the store sell and to let other systems handle the other business processes.
The truth is that Magento is not the best solution in all cases. Nor is Shopify or DemandWare or NetSuite or any other platform. No one platform has satisfied all the possible requirements of merchants trying to compete for the online consumer.
Given that, let’s discuss some scenarios that, based on our experience, would most likely lead us to recommend — and build — a Magento-powered solution.
Magento for Business to Business
If you’re a merchant engaged in selling to other businesses, particularly when your wholesale business is complex (e.g. terms, quotes, etc.), it’s hard not to like Magento. Out of the box, the platform better facilitates multiple pricing levels, customer group pricing and more. In addition, if you want to create separate websites for your B2C and B2B businesses, operating multiple storefronts is a unique strength of Magento.
Magento for Custom Scalability
We’ve worked with clients who have to manage as many as 100,000,000 product records. That’s a huge quantity! But, combined with Elastic Search and a creative configuration of servers, Magento made the process doable — and affordable.
Our preferred Magento hosting partner, MageMojo, works with our clients to bring them from start-up to large-scale enterprise. This means the client is achieving maximum accessibility and speed without paying for more than they’re using. Magento gives us the ability to perform this level of scaling without having to re-platform a client because they outgrew their solution.
Magento for Flexibility
We have been impressed with the ability to shape many current platforms to meet our merchants’ needs. However, unless you can dive into the actual code base, developers will always have some ceiling in terms of what they can do to shape a platform to meet a client’s needs.
Our developers — many of whom are Magento Certified — understand how to carefully and methodically modify Magento to realize any particular and unique needs a client might have. Believe me, this skill is not common, either. In fact, novusweb has earned a lot of clients by fixing what other developers have messed up. But, in the right hands, you can configure Magento to handle just about any business need.
Hopefully, you notice that I’m not getting into the technical weeds on Magento as a solution. There are a number of reasons the Magento architecture is great — and a few why it can be challenging. However, the bottom line is whether the platform can do the job needed.
Some readers are saying, “yes, but Magento can be quite expensive.” Sometimes it can appear that way. However, the bottom line for our clients is ROI (return on investment). If you’re spending $50,000/year for a solution, but it’s not delivering the returns you expected, then it’s not economical even if creating a productive Magento store might cost more. Plus, if the system you’re using is requiring a huge amount of time for your staff, complicating workflows, or not integrating well with your back-office systems, then the true cost is much higher.
That’s why we never recommend a technology solution without doing a deep dive into a merchant’s operations. We analyze and quantify all the true costs of their operation, lost and potential revenues, market opportunities, and target ROI. Then we make a recommendation. Might be Magento; might not.
But, I can tell you unequivocally: we truly like having Magento in our arsenal of possibilities. Combined with our overall expertise in several platforms and technologies, we can expertly meet any client’s online selling requirements.