Best Magneto Hosting

Are you trying to build an eCommerce site? You are probably looking for an easy to use and low-cost platform from which to build your site. You might just find that Magento ticks these boxes.

What is Magento?

Magento is a popular, free, open-source eCommerce platform that allows you to start selling your goods and services online easily and quickly. It offers users flexibility and usability, regardless of what you are selling.

 It is owned by eBay, one of the world’s largest retailers, which explains why it is such a successful platform for digital entrepreneurs. As well as being available in an open-source community edition, you can also use a premium enterprise version. 

What is especially good is that the open-source version is not a limited taster of the premium one, but has more than enough features to manage a successful eCommerce website, if you are prepared to spend a little time setting up and configuring the software.

Here, we are going to look at some of the key features that are common to both versions.

Marketing Features

One of the most critical features of any successful business is its marketing strategy. Without these, customers are not going to know they exist, and so sales won’t happen. Magento can help you with this. They offer a number of key features to help online store owners grow and promote their sites. These include:

  • Upselling and cross-promotional offers to encourage customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product than the one in question or related and complimentary items
  • Opportunity to create customizable coupons
  • Tiered pricing configuration and discounts for bulk purchases
  • Category landing pages to increase conversion
  • Showing customers recently viewed items
  • New product promotions
  • A variety of shipping options
  • Email newsletter management
  • Wishlists 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization, or SEO as it is often known, is essential for businesses. Essentially, it is using keywords to help your site rank highly on search engines, thus driving more traffic and more sales. Getting it right can be difficult for a novice, but Magento offers a range of tools to help you become more visible online. These include:

  • Attractive URLs, with complete control over the settings
  • An XML site map, which can be submitted to Google, Bing and other search engines to help them crawl your website better.
  • HTML metadata to encourage crawling of your site
  • A popular search terms page
  • Google Content Application Programming Interface (API)

Site Management

When you are running a business, the last thing you want to do is be spending unnecessary time on the administrative functions and settings of your site. Not only can it be complicated, but time-consuming as well. However, Magento offers several helpful site management tools.

  • Manage multiple sites from one login
  • Customizable permissions
  • Complete customizable themes and templates
  • Built-in internationalization and localization, including currency support.
  • Web Services API for third-party integration
  • The ability to import and export of all data in batches 
  • CMS built-in
  • Measures to prevent SPAM

Catalogue Management

Another important thing to bear in mind when managing an eCommerce site is the product catalogue and how it is displayed and organized. One of the big draws of Magento is that it offers an extensive range of catalogue management options. These include:

  • Simple configuration of product groups and variations
  • The ability to set different pricing for different groups of customers
  • Digital products 
  • Unlimited product attributes
  • Group custom attribute fields into sets 
  • Tools to aid inventory management 
  • Watermarking and resizing of product images
  • Rewrites of search terms and result-page redirects
  • Crowd-sourced tags and reviews
  • Personalized product support

Product Browsing

One of the most important things when running an eCommerce site is to make sure it is intuitive and straightforward for your customers to use. If you make it complicated for them to find what they need, they will go elsewhere. To make it simple, Magento offers the following catalogue browsing options.

  • Multi-layered navigation with search results and product categories
  • Filter and order by price 
  • Product comparison
  • Catalogue search
  • Breadcrumb navigation

Product Display Options

Magento gives you the following features to enable you to maximize the visual appeal of your products and show off your inventory to the very best advantage.

  • Multiple images for a product
  • Image zoom
  • Availability
  • Tiered pricing upsell
  • Product options
  • Grouped products
  • Wishlist
  • Send to a friend
  • Share to social media options 

Checkout, Payment, and Shipping Options

eCommerce sites need to have robust, secure and reliable checkout and payment systems. Customers are putting a lot of sensitive financial and personal information into your sites such as their address and credit card data, and so need to be able to trust your processes. 

There also needs to be a range of shipping options available to your customers for them to have the greatest flexibility over their purchasing decisions – shipping times and costs can be the difference between them using you or their competitors. Magento offers the following options when it comes to checkout options, payments, and security:

  • Single page checkout
  • Checkout as a guest or with an account
  • Ship to multiple addresses in a single order
  • SSL / HTTPS support for orders
  • Saved shopping carts
  • Gift messages 
  • Invoice billing
  • Integration with various payment gateways, including PayPal and
  • Accept checks, money orders, and purchase orders
  • Order tracking

Order Management 

To help business owners with their order management, Magento offers a range of tools to ensure reliability and accuracy. These include:

  • Being able to view, edit, create and fill orders from the backend
  • Ability to create multiple invoices per order
  • Shipping integration and label printing, with up to date rates from various shipping companies
  • Custom order statuses
  • Order duplication and reordering
  • New order notifications by email 

Customer accounts and service

One thing that customers really appreciate is being treated like their custom really matters and that they are valued, and that means providing high levels of customer service. Of course, this is something that Magento can help you with:

  • Unlimited ship-to and bill-to addresses
  • Wishlist with commenting
  • Tracking
  • Order status and history
  • Reordering
  • Email subscription management
  • Product reviews 
  • Access to downloadable products
  • Contact form
  • The ability to create and edit orders as admin
  • Order tracking from an account
  • Resetting of passwords from either the admin or front-end
  • Automated emails for activity.

What Does Magento Enterprise offer?

As we mentioned earlier, there are two versions of Magento- the open-source community version and the enterprise version. While the open-source version is more than adequate for many businesses, if you feel like you need just a little more, you might want to look at the enterprise version. The main benefit of it is the ease of use. The community version expects you to put a lot more effort into building and to customize it. The enterprise version also offers a higher level of support, amongst the other features:

  • Customer segmentation targeted promotions & merchandising: These features allow you to create groups of customers based on their shopping behaviour, demographics and other factors, and send out targeted promotional offers.
  • Cookies: A long-term cookie allows the customer to continue shopping over multiple sessions without needing to log in every time.
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery: This allows you to send automated emails to customers who have put products into their cart but not completed the sale.
  • Private Sales: This feature enables you to offer limited-access products or deals, restricted to particular customers or customer groups
  • Page Caching: Any page that does not need to be dynamic to a specific customer can be cached, which improves loading time and general site performance.
  • PA-DSS Certified Payment Processing: Any store run on Magento has a fully integrated payment gateway
  • Gifting Options: At the checkout, you can enable both physical and virtual gift cards, gift registry, and a variety of gift-wrapping options

Now we have looked at all of the individual features, let’s summarise the main advantages and disadvantages of Magento.

Advantages of Magento

  • It is a free, open-source eCommerce platform
  • It is easy to install on most hosting plans
  • It does not require special server software for a basic site

Disadvantages of Magento

  • Speed can be an issue
  • It can be quite complex
  • There have been some security breaches, so regular updates are vital

Magento Hosting

Your Magento site needs a hosting plan that makes your website fast and responsive and keeps it secure. Most providers have a one-click installation feature for the community version of Magento. If they offer this, it is pretty much guaranteed that all of the technical requirements are met. However, if you are installing either the community or the enterprise version yourself, you need to check that your host supports it and the following requirements are met:

  • Linux x86-64
  • Apache 2.x
  • Nginx 1.7x
  • MySQL 5.6+
  • PHP 5.4+

You will also need a hosting plan that supports an SSL certificate. This, at minimum, requires a dedicated IP address. Although not essential, we do recommend using a virtual private server (VPS) rather than a shared hosting account due to the complexities and size of an eCommerce site. A shared hosting account is likely to slow down your site, which is offputting to customers and can cost you greatly in traffic and custom.