My last post covered the benefits of Magento, so I figured it would only be fair to discuss the other side of the coin.

What are the limitations of Magento?

You didn’t think you were going to get all of this awesome functionality and endless extensibility without a few catches did you?

1) Speed

We’re just going to tackle the big one right off the bat.  Yeah, Magento is slow, really slow.  I’m sure that’s what you’ve heard anyway.  The truth is, that it’s only really slow in the wrong hands.  Let’s start from the beginning.

Magento was designed to be the most extenisble system ever made.  And the original developers definitely made it happen.  To accomplish this, the system had to be architected by isolating each feature so that changing (extending) that feature wouldn’t affect the rest of the system.  The result is a whooole lot of files.  Magento is reading hundreds if not thousands of different files in hundreds of folders for every single visitor that’s on your site.

So with Magento’s biggest strength, it also inherited its biggest weakness.  I’m pretty sure that if Magento hadn’t gotten so popular so rapidly with tens of thousands of feature requests piling up on their site, then they would’ve gotten around to this speed problem.

What is one to do?  Based on our extensive experience on the subject, there’s actually a lot you can do.  First and foremost, GET A GOOD HOST.  And by good, I also mean that specializing in Magento.  If you throw just default magento onto a Godaddy dedicated server, it’s going to be very slow.  We’ve worked with at least a dozen different hosts, and have had our biggest success with a company called MageMojo — top notch hardware, Magento knowledge, and service.

Next you’re going to want to check out 101 Ways to Speed up your Magento.  It’s a very comprehensive guide.

The hosting is probably 80% of the problem, then the tweaks in the guide should make up the other 20%.  If you have a custom theme, and you’re site’s still really slow after both of those suggestions have been explored, then your problem most likely lies in one of two areas: 1. Your Extensions or 2. A custom Query.

Often times an extension developer will release something that works on a demo store, but is crippling when throwing traffic at it or a DB or more than 10 products.  A great example is a shop by brand extension that we once used that queried every single brand to see if it had products in it just to build a dropdown menu of the active brands.  It added a full second or more to the site’s load time.  That’s one of the reasons that we built our own Shop by Brand Extension.

Similarly, a query written by your site’s development team, may be seemlingly innocent, but under load it kills you.  Usually it’s a very small, simple query that ends up being repeated hundreds of times to build a menu or find bestsellers.

2) Documentation

Well, there really is none.  The code isn’t really documented at all, and the manual that Magento has for sale isn’t really that useful.  To be honest, most open source platforms have been very poorly documented, but Magento hasn’t really even given it a shot.

For administration of your magento site, you’re best bet is to get your staff some Magento training, whether by webinar or 1 on 1.  The system has its fair share of quirks and unique terminology that take getting used to.  On the development front, it’s incredibly important to use a firm or developer that has extensive Magento experience.  More on that in #4.

3) Upgrades

Again, one of the main benefits of Magento, regular updates, is also a bit of a curse.  Magento’s never really had a good upgrade path, meaning a documented and well thought out process to go from one version to another.  And it doesn’t seem like that’s ever going to be a priority.  The result is that, when upgrading, things tend to break.  Most of the time it’s because a site wasn’t developed using Magento best practices.  But often it’s actually because Magento changed the name of something that was even being properly extended.  I remember one upgrade that Magento removed like 18 DB tables and added 30 new ones.  That was annoying…

There’s no real great way to overcome this limitation other than just ensuring that your site is always properly extended and properly developed with Magento best practices. That’s definitely a great start and will avoid most of your problems.  Anytime you upgrade, though, do it on a separate development environment with some Magento experts on hand.  There’s a great chance that something will break and need to be patched up before you can go live with the new version.

4) Complexity of theming and development, Cost of development

Developing a Magento takes about 5 times as long as your old OSCommerce, Zen Cart, CRE Loaded, or similar.  The theming system is, well, tedious.  However, the extra time put in in the beginning is well worth it.  Since Magento is a modern system built to modern standards, you won’t end up with the crazy hack job that you used to get customizing an older shopping cart.  This means that the total cost of the site over time will actually be much cheaper.

About 30% of our projects that come into our office are recoveries from other developers or other firms that have screwed it up.  About 70% of the sites that we have touched, that weren’t built by us, were not built with Magento best practices.  Although, to be fair, that’s usually why the end up in our lap in the first place.

5) Search

The out of the box search is, well, awful.  It’s pretty much as basic as it gets, and is totally useless in this age of e-commerce.  It does have some built in tweaks that you can play with, but still, useless.  You do have some options though.  Firstly, there’s Better Store Search, a well established Magento Extension that’s pretty popular.  Then there’s Blast Search Lucene, which upgrades your search to use the Lucene library.  If you want to get really fancy and compete with the big boys, you’ll need a Semantic Search like Celebros for Magento.  (Shameless plug: Redstage is the first certified solutions provider of Celebros for Magento).

————————————

I think that about covers it.  Hopefully I haven’t scared you all off!

In my opinion, Magento’s strengths far outweigh its weaknesses.  Magento is really one of the most powerful and extensible e-commerce platforms that I’ve ever worked with.  It’s important, though, to at least know what you’re getting yourself into.

For more information on Magento, please call us at 888.335.2747.

Benefits of Magento

What are the benefits of Magento over other shopping cart solutions?

Magento has pretty much taken over the ecommerce technology space, and we get that question more than any other.  So for everyone that stumbles on this article in your search for your ecommerce technology, I hope this provides a little help on your journey.

Is this real insight? Or just more marketing babble?  Well, Redstage been in the ecommerce business for 7 years now, and we’ve worked on over 150 Magento sites over the past 3 years.  So this list is a personal account of our experiences.  Let’s start with the feature set…

#1) Out-of-the-box Features

Of all the e-commerce systems that I’ve worked with, Magento really has the most impressive set of features right out of the box.  I was actually planning on spending a few paragraphs discussing them, but I ended up stumbling on Magento’s new features page: http://www.magentocommerce.com/product/features.  It’s a pretty comprehensive listing, so go check it out before moving on to #2.

#2) Open Source

OK this is an obvious one, but I felt like I couldn’t write a benefits list without including it.  The platform is not only free to download but you are free to build upon it for your specific business needs.

#3) Extensions

Magento Extensions and the Extension Community have really set the platform apart from the rest of the pack.  One of the main goals of the Magento core development team was to create the most extensible ecommerce system on the planet.  And they succeeded, in a big way.

It’s a little bit of a blessing and a curse, actually.  Because developing a Magento site is actually much harder than other platforms before it.  To properly develop any custom functionality for Magento, you must basically create an extension so you’re not touching any of Magento’s core.  It’s a whole lot more complicated than just creating a custom hack.  But with that extra initial investment, comes HUGE savings in the long run.

Back in the OSCommerce, Zen Cart, and CRE Loaded days, an ecommerce site was a big hack job of custom code and “addons” that were basically just instructions for additional hacks.  The more complex your site got, the more of a hack job it would become.  Random errors and stability problems were a frequent result.  Many times, complex additions would mean a full redevelopment of the whole site.

Magento, on the other hand, is properly architected to be able to extend its functionality in an elegant and stable way.  And it’s really a huge advantage for your business.  For instance, I wonder how much it cost Amazon to develop their Frequently Bought Together or Who Viewed This Also Viewed up-selling interfaces?  Well, with Magento, you can have either one of those for about 50 bucks as extensions, and about 3 minutes of installation.  Shameless plug… you can actually pick up both of those extensions at our extension store: http://store.redstage.com.

Also, I think it’s safe to say that Magento now has the largest and fastest growing community of developers of any ecommerce system.  Thanks to the community, Magento’s feature set is growing at the speed of light.  Perfect example: When Google +1 came out, I think it was less than 24 hours before a Magento extension came out to place +1 buttons on all of your product pages.

#4) Admin Interface

Magento really has the best admin interface of any that we’ve ever seen in an open source system that came before it.  It’s more of what you would expect from a hosted SaaS platform.  Hosted solutions aren’t usually appropriate for anything other than very small business, though, since they are almost impossible to customize to your needs.  So with Magento, you get the benefit of a much more customer friendly interface but the power of having your own flexible solution.

When I first started working with the platform, I was especially surprised by how complete the order and customer management sections were.  The promotions manager is also very cool, but I guess that’s more of a core feature than just the interface.  Oh, and category management is also great too.

#5) Regular Updates

For the incredible burst in popularity that Magento’s received over the past 3 years, I have to applaud the company for keeping up as well as they have.  I’m sure that they’ve gotten 10′s of thousands of bug reports and feature requests in that time.  With Magento, you can confidently expect a new release,  packed with bug fixes and probably a few new features, every few months.

Alright, I think that about sums it up.  I’m also putting together an article on the limitations of Magento, that I’ll link to as soon as its complete.

For more information on Magento, please call us at 888.335.2747.

Related articles

Everyone is looking to boost sales one way or the other. Here at RedStage we strive to permanently provide you with the ideal combo of virtual tools and ideas to help you reach your desired numbers faster than ever. He have got the right kind of experience, expertise, and dedicated team of people to work with you and for you. Today we decided to share with you some inspiring tips on how to increase your sales using a few simple ideas. For further assistance feel free to get in touch with us.

 

Clean Your Home Page    

It is advisable to only provide one product or service at a time on your website’s home page. Statistics show that displaying fewer products in a single location and attaching longer and more effective descriptions to them will generate better results. Customers and simple site visitors will much rather see a smaller number of products on a single page and read more about each of them, rather than see a lot of products/services briefly presented on your site. Throw the focus on the benefits and advantages of using the respective products and services and try to formulate your copy as to answer potential customer questions.

 

You will save more time, generate quicker sales, and keep your site visitors/buyers happy. No one really likes to write emails asking about an unspecified detail of a product they are interested in buying. They will solely be wasting their time and spend energy – and competition might very well have all the details nicely listed on their site. The best way to try this approach is to create a brand new sale letter using this few products; pattern and test in on your targeted audience for a while and see what sort of results it generates.

 

Use Hover Ads For Greater Impact

It is also recommended to use hover ads that can significantly increase your sales. They are superior to pop-up ads due to the fact they cannot be blocked. They are also capable of displaying much larger portions of information including details on your one-time limited offers and special discounts. Your targeted audience is going to count among the first to learn all about your new promotions with the help of these ads.    

 

Change The Position Of Your Opt-Ins

You can create a much larger list of your most loyal subscribers while changing the position of your opt-in offers. The opt-in offer is going to allow you to obtain the email addresses of your customers and help you build your powerful email lists, so you can constantly keep up with subscribers. You will need to play your cards right and create powerful bonds and friendships with them, so their loyalty can eventually turn into bigger sales.

Long, boring sales letter few people actually read till the very end are not as successful as opt-in offers. Place these helpful tools on the top left side of each site page and your site visitors will immediately be attracted by the writing and act accordingly.  

For those of you looking to immediately get in touch with professional locksmiths to rekey your locks or unlock your car or house, the locksmiths-search.com directory will prove highly useful.

NYC Headquarters
200 Washington St. FL 4
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(888) 335-2747
LA Office
1007 20th Street Suite 8
Santa Monica, CA 90403
© 2014 Redstage Networks LLC.
All rights reserved.