What is ecommerce?
In a very basic sense, ecommerce is essentially any form of online business transaction but the term generally refers to buying and selling online. The term itself stands for ‘electric commerce’ and can take the form of anything from online shopping and auctions to ticketing and even online banking. If you’re looking to set up your own online store of course, you’ll require a platform from which to upload, organise and maintain your site and Magento is (in the majority of cases) the best platform for the job.
Why do I need a hosting service for my ecommerce site?
Because it is a hosting platform that is specifically engineered to provide a stable environment for an ecommerce site. The software is remarkably elegant and includes a variety of options that allow site owners to build powerful, attractive websites that are able to handle potentially thousands of users at one time. Of course with software as powerful as Magento there is going to be a learning curve, but the company offers not only great customer service, but a dedicated community just waiting in the wings to lend a hand.
What can Magento offer that other platforms cannot?
Put simply, Magento offers everything you could hope from an ecommerce platform and manages to offer it without sacrificing usability. It is remarkably intuitive and ensures speedy and reliable hosting with 100% guaranteed network uptime. Magento is part of the eBay inc. company (one of the internets largest) and over 200,000 merchants worldwide use their services, so you know your site will be in the very best of hands. It also uses UK based data centres, offers free annual upgrades and scalability for cloud servers.
Of course you might worry that with such a lofty name as eBay attached, Magento might be too large-scale a service for the needs of your comparatively humble little online store. Magento is fully scaleable though and is trusted by not only thousands of leading brands, but thousands more smaller, independent brands. If you want a basic, no frills shop setup for example, it’s really as easy as ticking a few boxes. It also accepts the vast majority of payment gateways (including Paypal) and is a web based platform, which means that you won’t need to download, learn and fiddle about with any new software. It should be noted however that Magento is a professional product and would not be suitable for those running very small businesses out of their home offices with very small annual turnovers.
What makes Magento so suitable for my ecommerce site?
Because it works and it does so without its users having to learn any of the jargon or code associated with lesser platforms. Chances are that you’ll be completely uninterested in what’s under the hood as long as it works well and Magento works very well indeed. It offers powerful reporting features, can handle incredibly complex discounting systems (including the use of vouchers) and can be easily linked with other systems like accounting, customer service and stock control. These links will be absolutely vital if you’re running a business with multiple departments that all require immediate access to the same up-to-date sales information.
All of the operation in Magento are done via an admin interface which will be familiar to anyone who has ever used a content management system such as ‘WordPress’. The interface uses modules and plugins in much the same way as WordPress and there is an active and helpful community creating and sharing these plugins, which is constantly growing.
Enterprise or community?
There are two versions of Magento. The cheaper, open source ‘community’ version is more popular with independent users whilst the more powerful ‘enterprise’ version is the one generally adopted by larger corporations. The enterprise version is more fully featured and powerful but is only really a required purchase for those who are expecting thousands of users. For those with less intensive businesses, the enterprise software might prove a little daunting and complex.
Ultimately the question of whether or not you think Magento is the right hosting platform for your site comes down to what you want your site to be. Hobbyists should steer well clear but for those of us with loftier aspirations, the sheer power offered by Magento is unrivalled and the flexibility of the software is unprecedented.
Crispin Jones has being writing about tech issues for half a dozen years – who said he would never amount to anything. He is currently sharing his specialities and knowledge on colocation and cloud hosting with the team at CWCS.