If you are starting a new Ecommerce business or thinking about migrating from an older Ecommerce site you aren’t happy with anymore, then you will of course have to make a profound decision: what software is going to run this new (or new and improved) shopping experience for your eager customers?
Some of the big players would be: Shopify, Squarespace (with their Ecommerce plugins), BigCommerce, WordPress + WooCommerce, etc., the list goes on and on (and if you have an ERP system, your ERP system may even have some kind of shopping front-end). And you may have heard of a very popular choice, Magento (current version 2.4.2 as of this writing). You may have already done your homework and found out that Magento 2 is a complete Ecommerce solution, with hundreds of popular extensions to fit a myriad of use-cases, with core features that handle product management, to inventory, to complete order/invoicing/shipping flow (and that’s just the core features!)
What you may not have heard is that Magento 2, with all this wealth of features and exciting extensions, can be very time-intensive to get launch ready, requires excellent developers to get you launched quickly, and can have a daunting amount of effort required to get the ball rolling. So, my goal with this article is to answer the simple question, which is: with all the complexity and effort required to finalize and launch a Magento 2 site, when is this platform the right choice for my business?
When Magento Core Features Fit Nicely with Your Business Flow
While there are a ton of Ecommerce software rivals out there, Magento 2 out-of-the-box is undeniably powerful. It has complete product management and inventory management solutions, and includes a multi-source inventory manager since Magento 2.3 was released. It has a robust and (almost) feature complete import and export system. It comes preloaded with PayPal, Authorize.net, BrainTree, PayFlow Pro, Stripe, Klarna, AmazonPay, eCheck, COD, Purchase Order, and Bank Transfer payment gateways as core modules. It has core modules for Flat Rate, UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, and TableRate shipping methods preloaded.
It has a complete Order Management system with extensible modules for invoicing, refunds, credit memos, shipping, and customer alerts for each step. It integrates with common third party Tax systems, has a robust customer system with customer groups and front-end features like Wish Lists, Promotions, Coupon Codes, complex Sales and Cart discount rules, a built in Newsletter, and Shopping Cart Persistence.
Magento 2 also includes a powerful API which could allow you the freedom to create integrations to seamlessly sync products, pull customer data where you need it, and even build a completely unique frontend using Magento’s REST API to really transform your online shop into whatever you can dream up.
All of the above is in Magento Core. If you require most or all of these features, then Magento 2 might be the right choice.
When there is a Magento Marketplace Extension that Does Exactly What you Want
Spend some time on Magento Marketplace. There are hundreds of extensions approved by Magento for a multitudinous number of features, tasks, and full-featured addons that can transform Magento 2’s default installation into exactly what you may be looking to introduce into your Ecommerce system.
You will find tools to enable more obscure payment methods, extensions that transform your site into a multi-seller marketplace, customer tracking and reporting tools, gift card, reward points, and many other customer engagement tools.
Odds are, there may even be an existing solution for ERP systems you use, or shipping management systems like ShipStation or Shipworks integration.
Outside of Magento Marketplace, there are tons of trusted vendors we prefer to work with like Amasty, Aheadworks, Webkul, WeltPixel, and more, with great post-installation support and knowledgebases. If any of these extensions or extension providers fit your use case, then Magento 2 might be the right choice (with some select extensions installed along with it).
When you Need a Powerful Product Catalog Manager and Inventory System
Magento 2 has a fairly robust and complete product system, which supports simple products, configurable products, bundles, downloadable or virtual products, and lots of systems designed to help you tailor your catalog with complex attributes and pricing. There is also a default product import tool, a REST API that you can leverage to build your own, or a bunch of 3rd party extensions designed to make this painless.
Magento 2 has a relatively recent addition to its inventory management called MSI, which is a system that allows you to manage inventory from multiple different sources and stocks (we wrote about the challenges of working with it, and some solutions we found here). Technically this can be disabled easily but does require some testing to make sure everything is all buttoned up how your business logic requires your inventory on the site to work.
If this kind of robust and powerful product management is something you are excited about integrating your catalog with, then Magento 2 might be the right move.
When you are Looking for an E-Commerce Platform with a Modern Development Approach
Without getting too technical, one of the advantages Magento 2 provides is a modern approach to development. This means you can use stylesheet compilation using LESS, open and extendable systems (want to completely customize your payment or checkout systems?), easy to implement custom templates for core and extension features directly into your theme, and MVC architecture to help with writing clean and easy to manage code.
At Watermelon we typically do extensive work to enhance, style, and extend Magento Core and extensions often enough that these design principles are a welcome addition to ensuring we write quality code. If this is the kind of software you want to be working with, then Magento 2 may be the right choice.
Be sure to run through all the possible business use-cases you want to develop, and let us know. We are happy to work with you to make the right recommendations for your business!