What Is Magento? How to Implement and Develop It?
If you're thinking about starting online sales, you have probably heard about the Magento platform, but you may not know what it is, what opportunities it offers and how to implement it. In this article, we answer all these questions – happy reading!
What Is Magento?
Magento is a popular software for online stores written in PHP. It is based on the Laminas framework (formerly Zend). It comes in two versions: Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce, and is currently developed by the software industry giant, American company Adobe. The current version of the software, Magento 2, is constantly developed and updated, while its previous version, Magento 1, is no longer supported, although you can still find some people on the Internet who offer technical support to its users.
Magento Open Source (formerly Community) is a free version of the software, available in the open source model that requires installation on your own hosting. It is a feature-rich package that allows you to create a professional, technically advanced online store without having to use – as in the case of, e.g., WooCommerce – additional, paid plugins. You can extend the default set of feautres of the Magento platform with paid modules, but some of them are underdeveloped or cause conflict with other modules.
Magento Open Source does not offer official technical support, but you can count on a free and professional help from the global community of its users.
Magento Commerce (formerly Enterprise), in turn, is a paid version of the software. It was created with very large international companies in mind and can handle a very big number of transactions daily. Along with the software, you also get Magento Hosted Cloud, i.e. the cloud infrastructure in which your store will operate. The price for a Magento Commerce license is determined individually and depends on the client's revenue. Interestingly, in the case of Magento Commerce, you can e.g. connect the store with your own call center at no additional charge; in addition, the system allows for the automated sending of personalized email marketing campaigns – its content is customized individually, based on the customer's behavior in the store.
Magento Implementation – How Is It Done?
Here are the main steps of this process:
1. Pre-Implementation Analysis and/or Product Design Workshops
The first step on the way to implementing Magento should be a pre-implementation analysis or product design workshops, during which the client's needs are identified, goals and priorities are formulated, and the strategy and schedule are jointly established. This is the stage at which the IT agency proposes solutions tailored to the needs of a specific business, which are developed together. This stage results in producing a complete specification that defines the scope of activities, as well as the cost estimate, IT architecture diagram and work schedule.
2. UX/UI Design of the Magento Store
The course of this stage depends largely on the needs and readiness for individual customization of the planned product by the customer. In the minimum version, the customer may buy a ready-made store template at the price of a cheap module – which, however, is not the best solution; it is better to use templates prepared by us, which are fully compatible with Magento. In the maximum version, a complete design of UX (functional mockups) and UI (graphic layer) is performed in the mobile-first approach, i.e. focusing on the mobile users in the first place. The resulting set of UX/UI projects consists of over 100 mock-ups, which give you a full control over the appearance and functionality of your eStore.
Of course, between these two extreme proposals, there is a lot of space for intermediate solutions, and those are the ones we use most often for our clients.
3. Development of the Magento Store
Development means installation, configuration and writing additional code for a previously designed store. This stage consists of three big tasks:
Installation of the basic version of Magento and additional modules.
Configuring the Magento platform and writing additional code, including the front-end, to give it the desired, previously designed look.
Integration with external platforms, enabling, e.g. payments or delivery tracking. At this stage you can also migrate your customer database from another platform.
4. Functional Tests of the Magento Store
At this stage, both the IT agency implementing Magento in a given company and its employees test the store in action, using the platform in the way that end users, i.e. store customers, will do it. The so-called test scenarios help to organize these tests, describing step by step what the so-called critical paths should look like, i.e. the shopping path or the registration or login to the store.
Any noticed deviations from the intended effect or errors are reported by the testers to the agency, which then makes the final corrections before the final release of the store.
5. Release of the Magento Store
The last stage of this complex process is the installation of the ready store on the client's environment and production domain. It does not always have to be associated with the official launch of the website and the commencement of marketing activities – for some time it may be hidden, e.g., behind a password. However, this does not change the fact that such a store is ready for sale.
How a Magento Store Is Maintained?
The implementation and launch of a Magento-based online store is one thing, but ensuring its proper and continuous functioning is another. Customers should be able to use the website without any problems, and the data should be secured at all times. For this purpose, you need to work on server maintenance, create site backups, archive content, and immediately respond to any malfunctions or failures.
In addition, you must regularly update the system and additional modules to protect the website against hacker attacks. You should also make sure that you pay for your domain and SSL certificate on a regular basis – this is usually done once a year, but can easily be missed. So as you can see, maintaining your online store will require some work and attention from you. Therefore, to ensure a peace of mind, it is best to entrust these tasks to an external agency.
What About Further Development of the Magento Store?
Proper maintainance of the store alone will not ensure effective sales. There is a fierce competition out there, with online stores constantly implementing new solutions to attract customers – so, in order not to fall out of this race, you have to develop your website. You may follow your gut feeling but it is better to act on the basis of data analysis.
First of all, look at the activities of your competitors, i.e. the content they publish, their promotions, discounts or changes within the website, e.g. the appearance or new features. And then respond to these actions, e.g. by granting greater discounts to your customers or launching your own loyalty program.
Secondly, measure and evaluate your own actions: the number of customers who visit your store, their behavior – what content they are most interested in, do they encounter any problems on their shopping path, how they convert, etc.
What actions can you take as part of your online store development? Anything from making your store more mobile-friendly, through updating your UI/UX, to speed and SEO-optimization. You should also invest in online ads to bring new traffic to your eStore and periodic newsletters to ensure the retention and loyalty of those who have already bought something from you.
How Much Does the Magento Implementation Cost?
It depends on many factors, including the level of complexity of the store, the amount of free time you have and your programming skills.
If you use the open source Magento without additional modules and take care of its implementation yourself, your only cost will be the infrastructure – buying a domain, hosting and an SSL certificate. However, you must remember that in this case the implementation and subsequent maintenance of the store will take a lot of your time.
If you do not have IT knowledge or time to spare, ask an external agency for help. Not only will they design and implement your Magento-based store, but also they'll take care of its maintenance and further development. The cost that you will incur in this case will depend on the size of the project and your individual needs, with any non-standard solutions, individual graphic design, and the need to install or design a new module increasing the overall cost. You can assume that the costs associated with maintaining the store in the basic version are at least 220 euro. If it's above your budget, get started by creating a simple WooCoomerce-based store, and once it starts gaining traction and bringing satisfactory income, migrate it to the Magento platform.
An Effective Compromise for the Ambitious
Our ready-made e-com.SHOP Magento 2 online store can also be a good solution for you. It contains as many as 30 additional modules extending the basic capabilities of Magento, as well as extensive instructions to facilitate the use of CMS, improved SEO-optimization options, and also it can be implemented in just 30 days without compromising on quality.
But if you prefer a more traditional licensing model, we also offer this option. Contact us about your idea for an online store, and together we will find the optimal solution for your company.