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Unfortunately, Magento is not a turnkey solution. Out of the box, Magento is a demo. Your site and emails are, by default, splattered with references to “demo store”, which is sure to uninspire confidence with your customers.
This article is a rough attempt at documenting everything that is required to remove the “Demo” references, and get a store production ready. If you find any mistakes, feel free to correct them in the wiki.
Magento has come a long way in this regard since the original posting of this article. Magento 1.4 fixes the worst of the original issues. As a result, only Magento 1.4 (and above) are covered by this article now. Read more on the magneto wiki.
Also check out the Zen Cart Review and E-commerce guide.
A Review of Magento
What is Magento?
Magento is an open source ecommerce platform, produced by a team of developers who go by the name Verian. Unlike most other open source ecommerce solutions, Magento was designed from the ground up to be secure, robust, scalable and search engine friendly. In fact, Magento is possibly the only open source shopping cart, which was designed from scratch, as opposed to evolving as a development fork from another software product. Magento was a long time in development, and much was expected of this package upon release, so how do things shape up now that Magento has been available for some time? Is it really as good as it was supposed to be, or was it mostly hype? Read on and find out.
Under the Hood
Magento uses the usual PHP and MySQL setup, making it suitable for use on even the most budget of hosting solutions. However, if you need secure (HTTPS) commerce, then make sure your host can provide such services. If Magento uses such a tried and tested (and some would say old) technology platform, why is it considered so cutting edge? Quite simply, Magento goes above and beyond every other free shopping cart out there. Offering an entirely modular system, which can be used for vending anything. The backend is rather daunting at first, Magento comes with a full range of ecommerce features, this really is not a shopping cart for the feint hearted. However steep the learning curve is, it is entirely worthwhile, as choosing Magento as your shopping cart will mean you will never have to change your software down the line, as you find your current solution lacking.
Magento does it all, it does it well, but it is not simple for the newcomer to ecommerce. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in getting your catalogue onto your home page. Out of the box, Magento does not do this. Other ecommerce packages will automatically produce a storefront, based upon your product catalogue. Magento does not do this; instead, it aims to be a catalogue management system, with complete flexibility. Setting up and Magento page will require the user to have some knowledge of HTML.
Magento leaves it up to the user to make things look pretty, do not expect setup wizards and automatically generated code here. The trade off is that Magento is really the most powerful open source ecommerce platform out there. Nevertheless, nothing is for free; you will need to spend time and effort to get your store online. In fact, it is highly likely that it would be more cost effective to contract a third party expert to take care of the store setup for you.
Magento in Action
Once you have setup a Magento store (which is not an easy thing to do without professional help), your ecommerce site will outperform just about any other ecommerce platform. Speed wise, Magento has been optimised in the extreme, page loads are fast, database queries are made at lightning speed. All of this is rendered in HTML very quickly, using standards compliant code. Let us take a step back here for a moment. Magento was never marketed as an out-of-the-box solution that could be set up in hours.
It was marketed as a state of the art open source ecommerce platform, which would become a serious contender in the market. It outperforms every other open source solution in every way, and most of the paid solutions. As a shopping experience, when set up properly, it is supreme, but do not come here looking for an eight hour ecommerce site setup. Magento has never proposed to do this. Comparing Magento with the likes of osCommerce and other open source shopping carts is a futile exercise. Magento takes over where these old, imperfect solutions leave off. However, with a cost, and that cost is the effort required to set it up.
Magento in Summary
If you are a business looking for a serious ecomme4rce solution, which will not cost thousands of dollars to implement, then Magento is for you. If you are a dabbler, sitting at home looking to set up an ecommerce site to sell a limited range of goods that may or may not turn a profit, then look elsewhere. Magento is for professional corporate use, and requires an amount of investment in resources to implement successfully. However, if you want the very best in open source, and have a few hundred dollars to invest, Magento is the best solution available. Magento outperforms every other open source shopping platform in every way, and by a huge measure. Magento is open source meets corporate software. Used correctly, and with due diligence, it is an ecommerce platform that can service your business for a very long time to come.
Written by Raine from Rubik Integration. The article reflects the opinion of the author, and not necessarily of Shopping Cart Reviews.
Article courtesy of Shopping Cart Reviews.
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