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Magento Review: Best Enterprise E-Commerce Software

Magento Review: Best Enterprise E-Commerce Software
Credit: Magento

We recommend Magento as the best e-commerce software for enterprises and fast-growing online businesses. We chose Magento from dozens of e-commerce software. To understand how we chose Magento, you can read our methodology and a list of shopping cart and e-commerce software on our best picks page.

Magento is an advanced, open source e-commerce solution. It requires developer implementation, and as such offers flexibility, complete customization and the ability to scale the software as your business grows.

Magento offers different solutions based on your business needs. See below for general pricing information and contact a Magento representative for a custom quote. 

E-commerce business owners who use Magento told us they love the software's cost-effectiveness. You don't have to pay for monthly subscriptions like with other e-commerce software choices, which typically limit things like the number of products, users and transactions available to you. From free versions of the software to free and paid plug-ins and extensions, Magento can get your online store up and running at little to no cost. 

Magento offers different types of solutions to fit your business. For many small businesses, Magento Community is a great way to get started with the software. This free version of Magento is fully supported by a community of Magento users who can help you modify the software for your business. You can also host this open-source software on your own server, giving you more choices to fit your Web-hosting budget and control your back-end processes.

The company also offers Magento Enterprise, which gives you enterprise-level functionality and support to configure your website and back-end workflows. This version requires substantial investment, however. Magento's sales team told us the base bundle starts at $17,900 per year, but this bundle offers the entire open architecture, customized solutions and server implementation. It also gives you access to Magento's partners and certified developers who can help you get started and manage your Magento Enterprise-powered online store.

Editor’s Note: Looking for an e-commerce website builder for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

 

Magento offers everything you need to launch and manage your e-commerce business. And with a focus on growth and scalability, Magento also provides a wide range of tools to help you boost traffic, sales and customer engagement. 

Here are just some of the e-commerce features Magento has in store, all of which can be customized with plug-ins and extensions:

  • Web design: No tech skills? No problem. There's no need to create your website from scratch. Choose from thousands of themes across the Magento platform and third-party providers, then customize the look, feel and functionality to fit your brand, company values and mission.
  • Shopping cart: As a full-featured e-commerce software, Magento takes care of everything from checkout to secure payment processing. Customers can easily check out by signing up for an account or by using the service as a guest. You can choose from multiple payment-processing options offered by Magento or use your preferred payment gateways; options include Simple Pay, PayPal, Amazon Payments, Google Checkout, Authorize.net and more. 
  • Customer service: Give customers instant access to the purchase-histories and tracking information for current orders. Customer accounts also allow users to save products to their wish lists for future purchases, as well as save their information for faster, more convenient checkout.  
  • Order management: Use the admin panel to manage transactions, fulfill and ship orders, issue invoices, extend credit and do more, all from a single location.
  • Mobile commerce: Magento uses browser detection and responsive design to create a better customer experience by optimizing your online store and product pages on mobile devices.
  • Product management: Easily export, import and manage inventory. Customize product pages with images, zoom-in capabilities, special pricing options and other storefront customizations.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Use Magento's SEO tools and configurations to boost traffic to your store and individual product pages from search results. Offerings include metadata for products and categories, site maps for Google and other search engines, and full control over URLs.
  • Marketing. Maximize marketing opportunities within your storefront and website. Drive sales with promotions like private sales, sale invitations, special pricing, free shipping and other discount options. You can also use customers' shopping carts and individual pages to up- and cross-sell products with product reviews and comparisons, recently viewed products, "Send to a Friend," and social sharing.
  • Analytics and reporting. Measure your online store's performance with full analytics and reporting. Options include traffic monitoring with Google Analytics integration, as well as the ability to generate detailed sales reports, shopping cart reports, most-viewed and best-purchased product reports, stock and inventory reports, search term reports, coupon usages, best customers, and many more.
  • Multiple websites. Own more than one online store? Run multiple websites using a single Magento account for fast, easy store management.

The biggest benefit of using Magento is that it is one of the most popular e-commerce software options available, for merchants and developers alike. This means you have endless options and support resources when designing, launching and maintaining your online store and website.

First, you're not stuck within the confines of the Magento platform just because it's the e-commerce software you chose to use. Although the company offers a ton of resources to customize your online store, you can also integrate third-party solutions for additional functionality if these options work better for your business. Not only does this give you more flexibility, but it also gives you more options and capabilities than if you were to rely on Magento alone.

Similarly, Magento Sales confirmed that the software doesn't force you to use Magento's servers. While many e-commerce software choices offer and even require you to host your online store on their servers, Magento can be installed on your preferred Web-hosting provider, giving you more control over your website and the entire platform. 

Moreover, as a top open-source e-commerce software, Magento is continuously being developed by the company and improved upon with contributions from the Magento community of users and developers. This applies to the software itself and the vast, growing collection of plug-ins and extensions available to customize the platform. If there is a feature you'd like to add to your online store, chances are it already exists and there's someone to help you. So, you don't have to develop the functionality yourself; all you have to do is implement it.

Need help using Magento? The software comes with a wide range of support resources to resolve any issue. 

Magento Sales told us that Magento Enterprise users get unlimited support, including via phone and the online customer portal. Both work using a ticketing system, so you can expect a support turnaround time anywhere between one and four hours, depending on the type of Enterprise package you purchased.

Magento Community users don't have access to phone support, however. But this doesn't mean you're left in the dark. Head on over to Magento's Help section, and you'll find everything from a knowledge base to consulting services:

  • Knowledge base: Access articles, tutorials, webinars and screencasts, white papers, and an e-commerce library to help you successfully run your e-commerce business. 
  • Magento wiki: A community-run wiki filled with helpful articles on setting up your Magento store, managing products, processing payments, designing your website and store, implementing plug-ins and extensions, adding functionalities, and more.
  • Magento forums: Get help from a community of Magento users on the Magento website or at magento.stackexchange.com. Post your own questions or search through existing posts to find the answers you need.
  • Consulting services: Contact Magento's Expert Consulting Group (ECG) and certified Magento partners and developers for one-on-one help. Services include designing and launching your website and online store, implementing the software, conducting marketing, completing performance assessments, and more.

For business owners who love the tech side of Magento and want to learn more about the software, Magento Sales referred us to their training, certifications and other courses, which can help you get the most out of the platform. Programs include Magento development classes, customization classes and on-demand video training straight from your Magento account.

Magento is the best customizable e-commerce software for businesses — if you know how to use it. 

If you're not tech-savvy, Magento may not be the best option for you. This isn't to say that you need to be a programmer or developer to use the software — as mentioned above, Magento offers plenty of resources to get even the least tech-savvy merchant up to speed. But there is a learning curve for some merchants. Unlike with plug-and-play solutions, you'll need to invest a little more time customizing the software before you launch, or simply use the software out of the box to get started right away.

At worst, you may need to hire a developer to get the most out of Magento. The good news is that Magento is popular enough that you likely won't have a hard time finding a Magento expert. The bad news is that it's going to cost you; according to business owners we spoke to, the market for Magento programmers and consultants prices them at around $150 to $250 per hour.

Furthermore, because you run Magento on your own server, the company isn't responsible for upgrades, maintaining your back-end architecture, or fixing any bugs or glitches. So if you can't or don't know how to update the software or fix a server-related problem, you may need to invest in tech support beyond the Magento platform, such as your Web host or Web programmers.

Ready to choose an e-commerce software? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage: 

Editor’s Note: Looking for an e-commerce website builder for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.