Magento is a preferred e-commerce platform. From support for secure transactions to user-friendly interfaces, Magento facilitates building and designing websites tailored for e-commerce.
What is Magento?
Magento is an open-source platform that is specifically designed with e-commerce in mind. It is written in PHP. Currently there are three distinct Magento platforms: the Community Edition, the Enterprise, and the Enterprise Cloud Edition.
The Community Edition—This platform is open-source, meaning it is available for free to download, use and share. It should be noted this is a full platform, rather than a free but limited trial version. The core files can be modified with plug-ins. The numerous capabilities available through the community edition are discussed in detail below. There is no hosting included with the Community Edition, so for the best hosting for Magento, check out our recommendations.
The Enterprise—This platform was developed based on the Community Edition, but because it has more features and functionalities, as well as annual maintenance fees, the Enterprise is not free. The Enterprise is ideal for larger businesses that will require ongoing technical support in addition to professional services for installation, usage, and troubleshooting. The Enterprise also does not come with a hosting solution.
The Enterprise Cloud Edition (ECE)—Released in 2016, the ECE platform makes use of cloud technology for a more robust website development and management experience. From fully customizable functionalities to scalability, enhanced security features, hosting, and managed infrastructure, the ECE platform is optimal for global businesses and websites with massive amounts of content and high traffic volume. Some consider it the best Magento hosting.
The Premium Solution for E-Commerce
The suitability of Magento for e-commerce is evident from its association with some of the largest retailers worldwide. The company was bought out by eBay in 2011 before becoming an independent company in 2015. Major retailers and global brands—such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Burger King, and BevMo—use the platform for their e-commerce needs.
Highlights of the Best Features from Magento Community Edition
As a full e-commerce platform, Magento provides businesses with all the necessary features to succeed in the world of e-commerce.
Numerous features can be included on product pages for the best marketability and display of products:
- Image gallery for multiple images of a product
- Image zooming
- Options for the product (e.g. colors, sizes)
- In-stock/ Availability display
- Tiered pricing
- Similar products grouped together
- Add to wish list option
- Share via social media, SMS, e-mail
The catalog browsing on the Magento platform is capable of high-degrees of organization, so customers can easily identify the categories they want to shop in and find the products they’re looking for without the hassle of sifting through unnecessary information.
- Layered navigation categories
- Filters for price, relevance, date, etc
- Product comparisons
- Auto-suggest for catalog searching
- Linked, breadcrumb navigation (so customers can return to previously viewed pages)
- Designs and templates tailored for specific products or categories
From Checkout to Payment to Shipping
From a user-friendly interface for fast and simple checkout, to secure payment methods and real-time order tracking, the Magento platform provides a smooth checkout experience.
- Order review and checkout
- Saved items in shopping carts
- Checkout with account or continue as a guest
- Ship items in order to multiple addresses
- Messages for gifts (for entire orders or individual products)
- Estimates for shipping rates and taxes
- Billing and invoice details
- Flat rate or free shipping options
- Shipping fees based on size, weight, and quantity
- Payment options with multiple gateways including PayPal
- Option to accept money orders, checks or POs
- Option to “bill me later”
- Order confirmation number and tracking
Customers can easily manage their accounts, orders, payment options and more with the Magento customer account functionalities:
- Reviews and product tagging history
- Order status checking
- Purchasing history
- Subscription management
- Wish list with notes
- Default shipping and billing address
- Unlimited address slots for ship- and bill-to
- Purchase again option
Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Providing and implementing reliable and professional customer service is easy with the Magento customer service features:
- Simple contact and comment form
- Order editing and tracking for admins
- Reset password or remember username for both users and admins
- Automated confirmation e-mails
The Magento platform is designed to facilitate order management for admins and customer service representatives. Capabilities for managing orders include:
- Create, edit, and view orders for admins
- Shopping assistance and call-center ordering
- Integrated shipping and labeling with major shippers including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and DHL
- Notifications of order confirmations and tracking via RSS or e-mail
With the best Magento hosting platform, developers and website admins will find that organizing, displaying and managing catalogs has been perfected to a science:
- Configuring products by groups and variations
- Downloadable products (e.g. MP3s, e-books)
- Samples or excerpts
- Product attributes (for searching, browsing, or linking products)
- Separate and variable price ranges by group (e.g. account holders versus guests, retail versus wholesale)
- Pricing rules with settings for conditions and terms of service
- Updates to batches or groups of products
- Grouping products by customized attributes or products in the same group
- Inventory management with tools such as RSS alerts
- Auto-generated watermarking
- Auto image resizing (thumbnails, product display pages, etc)
- Search suggestions and/or corrections
- User-generated tags and reviews
Website and Content Management
From fully customizable themes and templates to administrative privileges, Magento puts the power in your hands for managing the backend of the website and the user interface.
- Customizable admin privileges and various admin user accounts
- One login to connect to multiple sites
- Customize themes and templates
- Proprietary content management system (CMS) for extensive design, layout, and content presentation capabilities
- Data import and export in batches (for managing orders, accounts, products, etc)
- Built-in localization on a global scale (including multiple language support, currency conversion)
- Localized tax calculations for various areas and types of customers (e.g. guest versus account holder)
- Anti-robot and/or spam functionalities with CAPTCHA
- API service applications for integrating third party software components
Designed for Search Engine Optimization
The Magento platform design is search engine optimization (SEO) friendly, so search engines can crawl through the content website with ease and make sure customers see your content pages.
- Integrated site map in XML
- Clear-cut URLs and customizable URL settings
- Meta-data in HTML of content, products, categories
- Page of trending and popular searches
- API for Google content
Analytics and Data Reportage
In addition to making it easier for customers to find your site through SEO solutions, Magento’s compatibility with Google analytics makes it easier to find out what types of customers are viewing certain pages or products, identify trends in customer behavior, and assess what leads to successful click-through rates.
- Compatible and easy to integrate with Google analytics
- In-depth reporting and data breakdown
- Reporting on all aspects of customer activity and website performance, including cart abandonment, most popular products, frequently viewed items, keywords and most searched terms, inventory, revenue, invoices, refunds, coupons, etc.
Promotions and Marketing Strategies
As an e-commerce platform, Magento comes packed with numerous, multi-tiered marketing strategies that drive customer engagement and enhance the website’s online visibility from many angles.
- Similar items displayed on each product page
- Cross-promotional suggestions for items frequently bought together
- Upsell customer purchases (e.g. “customers who bought this also bought…”)
- New item announcements
- Customizable discounts, coupons, and special pricing
- Discounts for bulk purchases
- Landing pages for categories
- Display of recently viewed products
- Surveys and polls (e.g. customer satisfaction)
- E-mail subscriptions and newsletters
- Wish lists and reminders
- Share with a friend feature
Features of the Enterprise Edition
The Magento Enterprise edition offers all the same features as the Community Edition and more. While the Enterprise does not have the perk of being a free, open-source platform, it provides the technical support and additional marketing features that are lacking in the Community Edition. The Enterprise Edition is the preferred choice of large-scale businesses that require technical assistance as well as help with installation and usage. The main features that distinguish the Enterprise from the Community Edition include
- Targeted marketing based on customer groups (groups based on demographics, shopping activities, etc)
- Abandoned cart e-mail reminders
- Limited offer sales
- Gift-ready options (including registries, gift wrapping, customized notes)
- Customer loyalty and reward programs
- Store credit
- Stay logged-in cookie settings (viable throughout multiple sessions so customers do not have to log in every time)
Since both the Community and the Enterprise Editions lack hosting plans, it is best to choose a hosting plan that already has been proven to be compatible with Magento platforms. Magento platforms operate on LAMP stacks, which are a collection of web server components that work together. The LAMP stack consists of Linux x86-64, Apache 2.x, MySQL 5.6+, and PHP 5.4+. It is also possible to use a Nginx1.7x for a web server.
What is Magento?
Magento is an open-source platform specially developed for e-commerce.
What are the capabilities of the Magento open-source option (Community Edition)?
The Community Edition is free for use, but that does not mean it is a limited, trial version. The Community Edition is a fully developed platform.
What is better, the Community Edition or the Enterprise?
That depends on what you expect from the platform. The Community Edition is free, so in terms of budget, it is the best Magento hosting since it also comes loaded with extensive e-commerce features. The Enterprise edition is better in terms of providing technical support and having more functionalities that are geared to support larger-scale businesses.