Magento is considered among the most flexible and scalable e-commerce platforms. The keywords are flexible and scalable. These characteristics allow Magento to be used for growing online stores, which start from a few product lines and gradually keep adding products and brands. At the basic level, Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform which allows owners of online stores considerable freedom over the front-end design, content and features provided on the store. Since the source code of Magento is composed of powerful marketing, merchandising and content management tools, the software is SEO-friendly and can be used to design websites tailored to unique business process flows, without any imposed constraints.
Magento is written in PHP and uses a MySQL database. It has become the preferred option for online merchandisers since it was first introduced in 2007. After crossing 1 million downloads in the first year and a half, Magento has not looked back and is still dominant in the e-commerce market. At present, Magento is owned by eBay, which acquired it in 2011. Magento gets its flexibility from a highly modular architecture, which allows users to mix and match functionalities as per their needs.
The major advantages which Magento offers over its competitors are:
1. Flexibility in design to meet varied and very specific user requirements.
Magento offers access to its source code, allowing merchant users to adapt the functionalities to meet their specific requirements.
2. Thousands of modular extensions, which can be mixed and matched.
Online store owners can support diverse and frequent marketing schemes using the wide variety of modules.
3. Scalability to support business growth – both vertical and lateral.
Magento provides stability in the face of rising traffic volumes and increasing product and brand lines.
4. An engaging and attractive front-end experience for visitors.
Apart from controlling the back-end database, Magento can also be used to develop and maintain a database of customers and frequent visitors, thus guiding them to their favorite pages and items faster.
5. Enterprise-class features with resources to promote business growth.
Magento offers lower deployment periods of less than a year. However, actual deployment time is a function of the overall project scope, resources and subsequent modifications during the development period.
The main features of Magento, which make it an easy to use e-commerce solution, are:
1. Specific marketing tools
Since Magento allows maintenance of a customer database, it can offer customer-oriented banners, content, e-mails, newsletters. Its modularity can be used for selective promotions and rule-based promotion. This rule-based promotion can be used to cross-sell and up-sell related group products to the identified customer sets.
2. Promotes customer loyalty
Magento can identify key customer segments and offer them category access and sales, apart from product reviews. It can be used to manage loyalty and rewards programs. For specific customers, Magento can be designed to maintain products of interest even when the user logs out and logs in again, or logs in from multiple devices. It can send e-mail reminders to customers who have an un-purchased/pending shopping cart. Regular users can be offered gift certificates and store credit.
3. Better customer management
The Magento WYSIWYG editor allows store owners to easily design their web-pages to reflect exactly what they have in mind. A single admin can manage multiple languages, currencies and sites. While customers are offered access to categories and sales, the admin retains overall control over pricing and promotions, which allows sales at low prices, but within the manufacturer’s policy limits.
4. Improved search abilities
Magento allows visitors to cache complete web-pages for easy recall with minimum waste of time. Magento allows the open source enterprise search platform – “Solr”. With this, users can opt for full-text search, faceted search, dynamic cluster search and integrate their databases. Orders can be archived for future recall in case of high volume business.
5. Analytics tools
Magento offers a user-friendly front-end, not just to visitors, but also to the store admin. It can be used to provide analysis reports on visitor travels on a per store/site basis, including conversions and sales.
Magento uses data encryption for better security. It can be used for multi-currency, multi-location, multi-tax-slab payments under a completely secure, PCI-compliant payment processing module.
Overall, the Magento platform allows the store-owner to control the online store using a flexible and scalable solution at a cost-effective price. Using Magento, the admin can control the content, functionality, look and feel of the online store.