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What is Magento?

It’s a world-class eCommerce platform that has been powering the online success of companies like Nike, Christian Louboutin, Canon, and Ford since 2008. More than 230,000 companies from all over the world and across every industry trust Magento to help them achieve their most ambitious eCommerce goals.

This eCommerce platform that gives users near complete control over the look, operation, and overall performance of their online stores. As an open-source platform, Magento has also garnered support from a massive group of users and developers who have created a collection of tools that increases the platform’s customization even more.

As Magento developers who have worked with the platform for nearly two decades, we’re obviously big fans. So, continue reading for an in-depth explanation of all things Magento or click on the section below:

 

What Is Magento?

Adobe describes the platform as “a customized commerce solution to get you where you want to grow.”

We’ll delve into its many outstanding featuresbelow, but they all add up to an eCommerce platform that can be completely customized, including creating totally different storefronts for different markets.

Magento is also extremely scalable, which is why so many eCommerce businesses continue to use the platform even as they see incredible growth. No matter how big you plan on getting, this platform will be able to keep pace the entire way.

Are Magento Commerce and Adobe Commerce the Same Thing?

As you research what Magento is and what it can do, you’re bound to find that “Adobe Commerce” gets used interchangeably with “Magento Commerce.” That’s because Adobe bought the tool back in 2018 for $1.68 billion. Since then, they’ve transitioned to the new name for this version of the platform.  However, you’ll find that many people in eCommerce still use “Magento Commerce” when referring to it.  We’ll use a bit of both in this article.

Why So Many Businesses Love Magento for Their eCommerce Stores

Okay, so we’ve established that Magento is extremely popular, but what about the companies that actually rely on this platform?

We’ve profiled two such example of giant businesses that use Magento for their eCommerce stores:

If Magento is capable of meeting these companies’ demands, you can imagine the extent of its many features, customization options, and potential for scalability. From the ability to engage with content to managing your orders and inventory, to shipping and even providing customer service, Magento is a one-stop-shop that can meet just about any eCommerce business’s needs. But here’s the thing: it isn’t just for Fortune 500 companies. While those household names speak volumes about this tool’s capabilities, plenty of smaller businesses rely on this powerful platform, too.

Here are two case studies from our own Magento development agency that shows what the platform is capable of doing:

The 2 Versions of Magento

As I mentioned earlier, there are two versions of Magento: Open Source and Magento Commerce. That link will take you to a much more detailed breakdown of the two, but here is some important information to consider:

What Is Magento Open Source?

Magento Open Source is the free version and is perfect for most businesses no matter what their size. At IWD, we have helped small startups all the way up to large enterprises build fantastic sites using this free version. Don’t let the lack of a price tag fool you. Magento Open Source brings a lot to the table.

Again, check out that comparison, but here are just some of the many features you’ll get with a Magento Open Source license:

  • App Marketplace Access                                          
  • Architecture and Security                                        
  • Basic Analytics and Reporting                                
  • Basic Site Search                                          
  • Catalog Browsing                                        
  • Catalog Management                                
  • Customer Accounts                                    
  • Flexible Couponing and Promotions                                    
  • Full Page Caching System                                        
  • Instant Purchase                                        
  • Layout and Theming                                  
  • Mobile Optimized Shopping                                  
  • Support for Multiple Languages                                    
  • Multiple Store Views                                
  • Order Management
  • Product Configurations

What Is Magento Commerce (now “Adobe Commerce”)?

Previously known as “Magento Enterprise Edition”, Magento Commerce – recently renamed again to “Adobe Commerce” – is the paid version of the platform. It’s designed for larger eCommerce companies that need specific features in order to win over their unique markets. Typically, businesses that invest in this version are doing more than a million dollars a year online, so they require features like:

  • Access to Quick Design-Build Express Packages
  • Adobe Sensei AI-Powered Product Recommendations
  • Advanced Content Management
  • Advanced Site Search
  • Gift Cards
  • B2B Magento Features
  • Account Manager
  • Magento Technical Support
  • Reward Points
  • Rules-Based Related Products                
  • Rules-based Upsells & Cross-sells
  • Visual Merchandising

This is really just the beginning, though. If you want a comprehensive list, here are 40 of the Top Magento Commerce features.

Magento Commerce Is Ideal for B2B Businesses

While Open Source is a fantastic eCommerce platform for all kinds of companies of all sizes and from all kinds of industries, Magento Commerce has B2B features that make it perfect for businesses serving these markets. From making wholesale purchases easy to creating buyer accounts for companies and even designating different permissions for different users, Commerce is an absolute game changer for B2B businesses.

Magento Commerce On-Premise vs. Magento Commerce Cloud

One last note on Magento Commerce before I move on: there are actually two versions, On-Premise and Cloud.

Magento Commerce (“Adobe Commerce”) On-Premise

On-Premise means you handle the cost of hosting on your own. That could end up saving you some overhead, but keep in mind this means you also need to handle all of your company’s hosting needs on premise.

There are some really great Magento hosting providers out there, but if your business doesn’t have experience with this arrangement, contact us so we can help you understand what it’s going to entail.

Magento Commerce (“Adobe Commerce”) Cloud

The other version is Magento Commerce Cloud (formerly “Magento Enterprise – Cloud Edition”). As you probably guessed, this version comes with hosting. Your site will be powered by AWS (Amazon Web Services) and you’ll have access to Magento’s dedicated developers.

That’s not all.

Among many other things, Magento Commerce Cloud will give you extra features like:

  • The Ece-Tools Package
  • Enhanced Page Speed
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Faster Loading Times
  • Improved Security with Fastly WAF and DDoS Services
  • Performance Monitoring Tools

Once again, this breakdown of Commerce will detail a whole lot more. Unless you’re completely comfortable with hosting your own site, I definitely recommend you look into the advantage of Magento Commerce Cloud.

Magento Commerce vs. Magento Open Source: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Fortunately, there’s no wrong answer here. Both Magento Commerce and Open Source are fantastic eCommerce platforms. As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’ve worked with both for nearly two decades for a reason (well, MANY reasons).

The right choice for your business will depend on a number of different factors unique to our specific needs. Obviously, it’s easy to recommend Adobe Commerce. It has WAY more features and is truly amazing for B2B purposes.

But if you’d like advice that’s tailored to your actual company, contact us for a free consultation.

9 Main Features That Make Magento Stand Apart

To really understand what Magento is and why so many businesses rely on it over every other platform on the market, it might help to look at some of the many features that make it stand out.

“An Enterprise Platform Designed for Endless Growth”

That is how Adobe describes Magento on their site.

In other words, it supports endless customization, which is the main feature that attracts so many businesses to this powerful eCommerce platform.

User-Friendliness

Magento is renowned for being a user-friendly platform, ESPECIALLY when you consider everything it can do. This makes it an ideal choice for companies with developers on their team (if you're looking to hire one, check out our recent post on how to write a Magento developer job description). The installation process for both Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce is designed to be seamless, provided that the hosting service meets Adobe's system requirements. For those opting for Magento Commerce on the cloud, Adobe simplifies the process even further by offering an automated hosting platform. This platform comes pre-equipped with essential software like PHP, MySQL, RabbitMQ, and Redis, streamlining the setup.

Once installed, developers can easily customize the store's appearance by selecting a default theme, opting for a third-party theme from the marketplace, or even crafting one from the ground up. The global Magento community is a treasure trove of knowledge, offering a wealth of online resources and collaborative support for both common and complex issues. Adobe enhances this support with a plethora of official resources to guide developers through the Magento ecosystem.

The platform's intuitive interface is another plus, allowing even those new to it to navigate and troubleshoot with ease. When it comes to managing an eCommerce site's content and products, Magento shines with its integrated features. The Page Builder, for instance, offers a simple drag-and-drop interface for content creation, eliminating the need for coding. Inventory and order management tools provide real-time insights into product availability, while business intelligence features offer straightforward monitoring of business metrics. Additionally, Adobe Target presents marketers with powerful tools for content personalization and experimentation, ensuring a tailored user experience. All in all, Magento's comprehensive yet accessible suite of tools empowers users to manage their eCommerce platforms effectively and efficiently.

Support, Community and Extensions

Magento's robust support network and extensive range of extensions make it a powerhouse for users and developers alike. The platform is supported by a passionate community where peers exchange insights and solutions, ensuring that help is always at hand for any challenges encountered. For more structured support, Adobe provides dedicated assistance to users, with detailed information available in their Customer Support section.

The versatility of Magento is further enhanced by the availability of third-party extensions and plugins. These tools serve a multitude of purposes, from introducing new features and optimizing store performance to enriching the customer experience and speeding up webpage loading times.

Moreover, this tool’s architecture is designed for seamless integration, allowing for advanced functionality and connections with a variety of systems and services, including ERP, CRM, PIM, and accounting software. This interoperability is crucial for businesses looking to maintain a cohesive and efficient operational flow.

For developers seeking to expand Magento's capabilities, Adobe’s Marketplace is an invaluable resource. It offers a comprehensive selection of both free and paid extensions, catering to every aspect of a Magento project. Whether it's content management, localization, marketing, SEO, customer service, shipping, fulfillment, or customer relationship management, the Marketplace provides the tools needed to enhance and streamline the eCommerce experience.

Themes and eCommerce Templates

Magento's themes and templates offer a blend of styles, layouts, images, and templates to craft a distinctive appearance. At its core, Magento provides two foundational themes: the Blank theme, which serves as a starting point for custom theme development, and the Luma theme, set as the default. However, these both provide a ton of room for customization. And again, the Adobe Marketplace is a full of other themes for sale, ranging from free options to premium paid versions, allowing merchants to either commission a unique theme, utilize the default offering, or select from a plethora of marketplace themes to find one that aligns with their brand.

 Speaking of which, customization is a core feature of Magento, enabling the alteration of both themes and templates. Developers can easily create a new theme where customized templates can be safely housed, ensuring that any updates to the default Magento files do not overwrite custom work. This practice safeguards the unique design elements of the store through updates and modifications, maintaining the merchant's desired aesthetic and functionality.

And with that said, let’s review the two of the most important themes you’ll want to understand before migrating your eCommerce store to this platform.

Luma Theme

As we just touched on, the Luma theme stands as the quintessential default theme for Magento 2, having made its debut in 2015. Since then, it has evolved, embracing the full spectrum of features and functionalities introduced in subsequent updates of the platform. This theme is entirely free and comes with no usage restrictions, even for commercial stores.

Luma's design is modern and tile-based, boasting a responsive layout that ensures a seamless display across various devices, coupled with a wealth of customization options to tailor the look to any brand's needs. These features make it a great fit for B2C and B2B stores across every industry.

On category pages, Luma offers both list and grid view options, complete with star ratings and call-to-action (CTA) buttons that become visible when hovered over. Product pages are crafted with a minimalist aesthetic, highlighting large, high-quality images to showcase items effectively. The shopping cart and checkout processes are designed with user-friendliness in mind, making for an intuitive and straightforward navigation experience for visitors to your store.

For eCommerce merchants at the outset of their online journey or those looking to streamline development costs, the Luma theme is an excellent starting point for their stores. It provides a professional and polished look without the need for significant investment, allowing merchants to allocate resources to other aspects of their business while still offering a compelling and customer-friendly shopping experience.

Hyvä Theme

Hyvä represents a revolutionary approach to Magento theming, designed to be a complete reinvention of the frontend experience. It's not just an ordinary store theme, though. It's a comprehensive toolkit, an extension ecosystem, and a community, all designed to streamline and enhance the frontend of your store.

In stark contrast to the standard Magento theme, which typically loads an excess of 200 JS/CSS resources, Hyvä dramatically reduces this number to just 2. This significant decrease leads to a simpler development process and notably faster page loading times. Right out of the box, Hyvä will provide a perfect score on Google PageSpeed Insights, successfully meeting the stringent criteria of Core Web Vitals across all metrics. Its fully responsive design ensures that the theme adapts flawlessly to a variety of devices, providing a consistent user experience for your store.

Hyvä is celebrated for its flexibility and customizability, offering a user-friendly interface that developers find approachable. It builds on Magento's PHP framework to simplify frontend development, thereby accelerating the time-to-market for eCommerce stores. The theme also stands out for its ease of maintenance and the robust support provided by the Hyvä community.

To harness the power of Hyvä themes, merchants are required to purchase a license. Fortunately, the cost covers unlimited updates and access to compatibility modules for third-party extensions, among other advantages. This investment ensures that merchants can leverage a high-performance theme that is both modern and efficient, which is a giant competitive edge in the eCommerce space.

Built-in Marketing Functionality

Magento's built-in marketing tools are a huge help to eCommerce merchants aiming to efficiently attract more visitors to their sites. Many store owners end up choosing Magento specifically for how easy the platform makes it to launch effective online marketing campaigns.

It equips merchants with a suite of sophisticated marketing tools, both native and from third parties, designed to deepen customer understanding and drive targeted product promotions. These tools are instrumental in enhancing conversion rates and boosting sales.

Here are just some examples of marketing tools and features available to merchants who utilize Magento:

  • Email Marketing: Magento allows merchants to craft and dispatch a variety of email communications, including promotional emails, newsletters, and reminders for abandoned shopping carts, which can re-engage customers and prompt them to return to your store to complete their purchases.
  • Customer Segmentation: The platform offers the ability to categorize customers into distinct segments based on diverse criteria such as geographic location, lifestyle characteristics, purchase history, and loyalty levels. This segmentation enables merchants to tailor their marketing efforts to each specific group, enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of their campaigns.
  • Promotions and Discounts: Magento provides robust capabilities to create and administer various promotional campaigns. These can include discounts, special offers, and other incentives that not only encourage purchases but also foster customer loyalty and retention.
  • Product Recommendations: To leverage opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, Magento can suggest related products to customers while shopping at your store. These recommendations are based on the customers' browsing patterns, purchase history, and overall behavior, which can lead to increased average order values.
  • Customer Reviews: The platform supports the integration of customer reviews, which serve as social proof and can significantly enhance credibility and trust among potential buyers. Positive reviews can influence purchasing decisions and contribute to a more persuasive product presentation.

By utilizing these tools, Magento merchants can create a more personalized shopping experience, engage customers more effectively, and ultimately drive their eCommerce success. Whether through targeted email campaigns, strategic discounts, or personalized product suggestions, Magento's marketing capabilities are designed to support merchants in building a strong connection with their audience and achieving their sales objectives.

Magento’s Built-In SEO Features

Magento is also fantastic for SEO, too, which is vital for driving organic traffic to your online store. Amongst other things, the tool supports the following SEO features out-of-the-box:

  • Meta Tags: Merchants can easily specify meta titles, descriptions, and keywords for their products, categories, CMS pages, and the homepage to better inform search engines about the content of their pages.
  • Product URLs: It allows for the inclusion of category paths in product URLs, which can help to define the site's structure and improve SEO.
  • Canonical Tags: By using canonical tags for products and categories, Magento helps prevent duplicate content issues, signaling to search engines which version of a page is the main one. This is hugely important for online stores with lots of products that have several variants.
  • URL Rewrites and Redirects: Magento provides the ability to create search engine friendly URLs and to manage redirects, which is essential for maintaining link equity and page rank when URLs change.
  • XML Sitemap Setup: Merchants can generate and customize XML sitemaps for their Magento store, ensuring that search engines can easily discover and index their pages.
  • Robots.txt File Modifying: Control over the robots.txt file allows store owners to guide search engine crawlers on how to interact with their site pages.
  • Image Alt Text: Adding descriptive alt text to images not only makes a site more accessible but also provides search engines with important context for image searches.
  • Pagination Optimization: Magento helps optimize pagination on category pages, which can improve the indexing of products and categories.

For more advice on this topic, check out our blog post on Magento SEO tips. It’s also no surprise that there are all kinds of third-party tools out there that make SEO even easier for companies that use this platform for their stores. And if you need further help once you've transitioned to the platform, we offer Magento SEO services.

Security

Magento's inherent security features are a cornerstone of its appeal for eCommerce store owners, distinguishing it from other platforms where security might be a secondary addition. With Magento, robust security measures are integrated directly into its core, offering a secure starting point for any online store.

Security Patches

One of Magento's key security strategies is the regular release of security patches by Adobe. These updates are essential for safeguarding eCommerce stores from the latest threats and vulnerabilities. By frequently incorporating these patches alongside platform feature upgrades, Magento ensures that online stores are fortified against potential compromises, maintaining a secure environment for both store visitors and customers.

SSL and TLS

Magento's support for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates is another critical feature. These certificates are vital for the encryption of data as it travels between your shoppers’ browsers and your servers, creating a secure channel for the exchange of sensitive information.

PCI Compliance

Compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a mandatory requirement for eCommerce websites to avoid hefty fines. Magento's compliance with these standards is built-in, particularly in the realm of payment processing. The platform's integrated payment gateways are designed to transmit customer credit card data securely, ensuring that sensitive information is not retained on Adobe's servers. This not only helps merchants meet regulatory requirements but also provides customers with peace of mind during the checkout process, knowing their data is handled securely.

Inventory Management

Magento's inventory management capabilities are designed to cater to the needs of both small online retailers and large-scale enterprises, ensuring that real-time product inventory is always visible and available. This feature is crucial for fulfilling orders efficiently and effectively.

Here's a closer look at what Magento offers in terms of inventory management:

  • Real-Time Inventory Visibility provides up-to-the-minute inventory levels, allowing businesses to keep track of their stock across various locations and sales channels. This real-time data is essential for maintaining accurate stock levels and ensuring that customers can always find the products they need.
  • Seamless Integration Across Channelsfor eCommerce businesses that operate multiple sites, stores, or brands. The inventory system integrates these various entities to deliver a consistent customer experience. Whether a customer is shopping online or in-store, the inventory management system ensures that the service is seamless.
  • Product Management is highly flexible, allowing for the creation and management of various product types, including simple, configurable, and grouped products. It also handles products with multiple variations, such as size and color, enabling merchants to offer a wide range of options to their customers.
  • Stock Control, so that merchants can easily create, organize, and edit product listings, set prices, and manage stock levels within the platform. This control is vital for meeting customer demand and avoiding stockouts or overstock situations.
  • Fulfillment Flexibility supports a variety of fulfillment options, including shipping to the customer's address or the increasingly popular Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) model. The platform's algorithms suggest the most efficient fulfillment methods, helping merchants to meet customer expectations and deliver a satisfying shopping experience.

By leveraging these inventory management features, you can optimize your stock levels, streamline your operations, and ensure that both are always ready to meet their customers' needs, no matter how complex your business model may be.

Magento 1 vs. Magento 2

Magento 2 is the successor to Magento 1, but what exactly sets it apart? Let’s look at a comparison between the two.

However, to be clear, Magento 1 is no longer an option, so the following comparison is more for people who haven’t upgraded their Magento 1 sites yet.

Architectural Advancements

Magento 2 introduced a revamped technology stack that enhances website optimization and customization capabilities. This overhaul means that transitioning from the initial version to Magento 2 is more than just a simple data transfer. It's an upgrade to a more advanced platform. Key technologies exclusive to Magento 2 include:

  • Composer: Facilitates the reuse of third-party libraries and minimizes extension conflicts.
  • NGINX: Acts as a reverse proxy, HTTP cache, and load balancer to streamline web traffic.
  • Redis: Serves as a database cache and message broker to enhance performance.
  • Symfony: A framework that simplifies content management and boosts site functionality and aesthetics.
  • Varnish: A caching solution that significantly speeds up website loading times.

Enhanced Website Performance

Magento 2 has addressed the performance issues that sometimes hampered the original version, with a strong focus on speed and efficiency. The integration of new technologies has led to quicker loading times and reduced server response times. Additionally, Magento 2 offers a wider array of extensions to further enhance website performance.

Mobile-Friendly Features

Recognizing the paramount importance of mobile-friendly websites, Magento 2 has been built with mobile optimization at its core. It offers more responsive themes and a streamlined checkout process, along with support for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), which enrich the mobile user experience.

User-Friendly Admin Panel

The admin panel in Magento 2 is a significant improvement over its predecessor, offering a more intuitive navigation experience. While there is a learning curve, the management and setup processes are more straightforward than in the initial version. The dashboard provides valuable insights, including new and last orders, average orders, lifetime sales, top search keywords, income tax, and bestsellers, all of which are instrumental in running a business effectively.

Simplified Checkout Process

Magento 2 condenses the checkout process from six steps to just two, streamlining the experience for customers. This simplification, along with accelerated payment options, makes completing purchases faster and easier.

Security Features

With Magento 1 no longer receiving support or security updates, sites still on this version are at increased risk. The newer version offers ongoing security patches and updates, allowing for a more secure site. However, merchants are responsible for ensuring PCI compliance, which can be straightforward unless excessive customization complicates the process.

Extension Ecosystem

Magento 2 has resolved the extension conflict issues common in its predecessor, allowing for smoother installation and use of third-party extensions. While extensions can enhance a store's functionality, it's crucial not to overburden the site with too many, which could affect performance.

Customer Support

The original version of this platform now lacks support, which means users are on their own for updates and troubleshooting. Magento 2, however, offers varying levels of support depending on whether you choose Open Source or Commerce—the former being free but without customer support, and the latter being a paid version with support included.

Choosing Between Magento 1 and Magento 2

Again, the choice here is very simple because Magento 1 isn’t an available anymore. Magento 2 is literally your only option. Even if you’re currently running your eCommerce store on the original version, it’s imperative that you switch to Magento 2 ASAP. Otherwise, you risk exposing your business to all kinds of security risks and other potential problems. In fact, upgrading to Magento 2 is not just recommended. It's essential for compliance and for taking full advantage of Magento’s many capabilities.

If you're currently thinking about updating to Magento 2, take a look at our Magento upgrade services.

How Much Is Magento?

As we’ve already touched on, Magento Open Source is absolutely free.

Magento Commerce pricing is a little more complicated, so click that link if you want the full breakdown. Otherwise, here’s a quick primer on how much the On-Premise and Cloud versions cost.

The Price of Magento Commerce

First, let’s look at the costs of On-Premise:

The Price of Magento Commerce On-Premise

The cost to run your store on the On-Premise version of Commerce starts at $22,000/year, but the total price will go up based on your site’s revenue:

  • $0 – $1,000,000.00 = $22,000/year
  • $1,000,000 – $5,000,000 = $32,000/year
  • $5,000,000 – $10,000,000 = $49,000/year
  • $10,000,000 – $25,000,000 = $75,000/year
  • $25,000,000+ = $125,000/year

The Price of Magento Commerce Cloud

If you want to outsource hosting, Commerce Cloud is a great choice for your store, but that’s going to up the price, too. Once again, the cost of the Cloud version of Magento will be based on your annual revenue, but it starts at $40,000/year:

  • $0 – $1,000,000.00 = $40,000/year
  • $1,000,000 – $5,000,000 = $55,000/year
  • $5,000,000 – $10,000,000 = $80,000/year
  • $10,000,000 – $25,000,000 = $120,000/year
  • $25,000,000+ = $190,000/year

Is the Magento Price Tag Worth It?

If your store is making at least $100,000 a year, Commerce is probably perfect for your eCommerce business. This decision could be enough to greatly increase your business’s revenue all by itself. Between its incredible functionality and features, how user-friendly it is, the amazing selection of third-party tools, and the constant improvements Adobe releases every year, Magento is an absolute force-multiplier for any eCommerce store.  

How to Save Up to $30,000 on Your Magento License

As an Adobe partner, we might be able to help you secure a rebate that can take off as much as $30,000 from your license. Contact us to find out more about how to qualify for these savings.

Magento Alternatives

If you’re curious about how other options stack up, here are three blogs we’ve written comparing Magento to other platforms popular with all kinds of eCommerce stores:

Should You Switch Your eCommerce Platform to Magento?

It would absolutely be worth considering.

The many features and functionality we covered above make Magento stand out for all the right reasons. And no shortage of household names rely on Adobe Commerce to reach their most ambitious eCommerce goals.

So, whether you’re ready to switch or have more questions, feel free to contact us.

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