If you are in the e-commerce space, you probably heard of the free open-source platform Magento. It is PHP-based and it is owned by eBay. In layman’s term, Magento allows you to create a great online store.
Before we delve into the inner workings of Magento, it might help to compare it to a more well-known platform like WordPress. WordPress is a content management platform and it can also be used to build online stores. However, you should consider these issues:
- Security: As a dedicated e-commerce platform, Magento has more robust security options which prevent hackers from getting in easily.
- Flexibility: Magento is less flexible than WordPress. WordPress’s large plugin library has more options. Magento is more dedicated to e-commerce only.
- Learning Curve: Magento has a higher learning curve at the beginning. However, WordPress can also get complex as you grow your site.
- Expense: Magento is more expensive to set up than WordPress.
- Future Expansion: Magento is designed to handle large e-commerce, so it can handle a large number of products more efficiently than WordPress.
Getting Started with Magento
If you think Magento is the right platform for your business, then you can get a version from Magento.com. There are multiple versions available:
- Magento Community Edition: The community edition is free and open-source. There is no technical support or hosting.
- Magento Enterprise Edition: The enterprise edition is derived from the community edition. It comes with technical support but no hosting.
- Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition: The enterprise cloud is platform-as-a-service offering which means that it comes with technical support and hosting.
Once you know the edition of Magento that will serve your business needs, you can proceed to install the platform and create your store. Here are the steps to take:
- Hosting: Magento database is resource intensive, so you want to host on powerful servers to prevent a slow online user experience. There are several hosting companies that are dedicated to Magento powered stores and you should choose one of them to get the best support.
- Store Design: Once you have Magento installed on your host, it is time to select a theme that supports your brand. You can decide to build your own theme or you can purchase a pre-designed theme.
- Extensions: Magento extensions allow you to add additional functionality to your store. A large community of developers create extensions that will give you the flexibility to do almost anything you want.
- Database Setup: At this stage, the foundation of your store is ready. It is time to build the internal mechanism through setting up a database. Your database tables will hold information like store name, emails, admin and customer accounts, products, categories, etc.
- Products: Once you have a database design that can support your business, you can populate your store with your products and you are ready to start your online business.
The above gives a brief overview of the overall Magento setup process. Even though Magento provides a robust e-commerce experience, it lacks the content management aspects of WordPress. If you want the flexibility of a content management platform added to your store, you can always look into Magento for WordPress integration. With WordPress integration, you can have a more vibrant community around your Magento online store.