Magento Commerce – A First Look

The hype surrounding Magento Commerce’s official release has lingered for about a year. For those of you who haven’t been privy to the news – Magento Commerce is an open source eCommerce shopping cart platform brought to you by a company called Verian. The shopping cart is quite feature rich out of the box, and is positioned to be the de-facto standard for open source eCommerce platforms. As it stands, this product is expected to oust Open Source frontrunner OSCommerce along with a handful of other open source, PHP based solutions. I won’t get into much detail about what Magento Commerce is and its history, there’s plenty of coverage the company has had over the past year in anticipation for it’s release – which by the way, was March 31st.

What I do want to discuss in this post is my first take at Magento Commerce. Now, I’ll preface this by stating that I’ve only gone so far as installing the software (well, actually the Magento Commerce host Crucial installed it all for me), playing around with it, setting up some products, and toying with its features. My goal is to setup a fully functional production eCommerce site in the near future. But, before we go jumping onto the Magento Commerce craze, let’s tackle a few things we like about it, and a few things we don’t. I’m sure there will be more added to both sides of the table (hopefully in favor of the software) as we get more involved with the application, but for now, here’s our first takes.

Let’s Start With the Negatives

Alright, it’s a new software, version 1, and for those of you with experience in the software industry understand – v1 of any software typically sucks. I usually recommend against anyone rolling out v1 of a software product in a production environment when it is a mission critical system. Hell, I won’t even install the latest Microsoft product until the first service pack is released (trust me, I’m not the only one and I have a Microsoft consulting background). Given that, I’d say that Verian has put forth a very strong first release. But, being the nit-picky software guy that I am, there are a few items that I identified that I have huge issues with that need to be addressed before I jump on board.

  • Inconsistent Use of Rewritten URLs: Not 100% sure if this is a bug or something I just need to configure differently (if it is, I couldn’t find out how to), but out of box, it just doesn’t make sense. Magento Commerce has URL rewriting, like most shopping cart applications, they’re autogenerated (not my personal preference) and applied to each product, category, and page. So, through the navigation, I might end up on a page located at /apparel/t-shirts. One of my favorite features of Magento Commerce (which I’ll discuss below) is what they term “layered navigation” – although it’s more of a filtering mechanism for products within a category. While this is a great feature, it does present itself a problem, in that the links within the layered navigation, along with the pagination links, and the grid settings (like products per page, sorting, and grid preferences) all point to the non-rewritten URLs.Besides this being a huge usability issue, it also presents a duplicate content issue (in regards to SEO) where the non-rewritten pages are now being spidered and indexed in the search engines. So the site is going to have two (at least, see next issue below) URLs for the same page – /apparel/t-shirts and /catalog/category/view/id/19 or something along that line. But, because the non-rewritten URLs are exposed, the search engines can spider all of the way through that and cause potentially damaging SEO issues for the site.Some community members have come up with creative uses of the robots.txt file to stop the indexing of the non-rewritten pages, but that is really a hack and still leaves the usability issue out there.
  • Multiple URLs per Product: Aside from the issue presented above, the URL rewriting of the application also leads to another SEO issue. The URL of an individual product can vary based on the path taken to get to that product. Let me clarify, you might sell a Pepsi T-Shirt, where the user can find it by browsing to Brands -> Pepsi -> T-Shirts but also by browsing by Apparel -> T-Shirts, along with any other categories it might belong to. Well, depending on which path you take, that URL could be /brands/pepsi/t-shirts/pepsi-t-abc or /apparel/t-shirts/pepsi-t-abc, and so on and so forth for each category. Which URL is the right one? How does Google know which one to show in its search results. Having this one page accessible through so many URLs is going to present a problem. One product should have one URL, that is static. Some of the suggestions to fix this has been to choose a “master” category that defines the URL, or, better yet (in my opinion), have the shop administrator the capability to define their own URL.
  • Performance: There’s been widespread complaints about the performance of the application. Slow page loads and response times can be deadly for eCommerce merchants. Now whether this is due to Magento itself, the zend (php) framework it’s built upon, or due to crappy code (which I highly doubt) is not yet determined, but regardless of why it happens, performance trumps all and I won’t be happy until it is able to run smooth and sleek. Now, there’s been some movement on that front – some of the Magento partner hosts have come up with server configurations to maximize the performance of the application. Host Crucial now offers Magento containers – basically a virtualized server environment with more resource allocation and less sites per server (10). Running some basic tests on their demo environment performance seems better than we’ve seen in other hosted environments. But, at $80-$100 per month, we’re talking a pretty serious investment from a hosting standpoint – especially for a PHP based “open source” software which traditionally has the lowest costs of any eCommerce technology (free software, cheap hosting, community based support). When it comes to hosting though, its value should not be underestimated, but the expectation needs to be set that this will not perform well on a traditional “cheap” PHP hosting account where other open source solutions work just fine (within limits, obviously more traffic requires more resources).

If You Think I’m Not a Fan

Ok, I admit, I’m quite a bit critical when it comes to eCommerce software, but don’t confuse constructive criticism with distaste. The reality is, Magento is a very powerful, feature rich shopping cart – and to top it off – it is free. The issues I list above I attribute to the product being new, and with any new software, there are always issues to work through – this is expected. I used to work for a software company and I can tell you firsthand that releases get pushed out before they’re ready, only a small percentage of features you want actually make the cut, and development always runs behind. That said, the folks at Verian have put forth an online bug tracking system, a product roadmap for planned features, and have a pretty aggressive development plan. I have total faith that these issues, and more, will be addressed by the Verian team over time.

I myself, am a fan of the software. Some of the features offered in this free shopping cart (did I mention that it was free?) are not found in 90% of the small to mid market offerings on top of all of the features you would expect from a strong solution.

  • One such feature is their layered navigation – wow – I love this feature. What an incredible usability feature that I’ve been waiting for from a number of other shopping cart vendors. Most don’t even offer a basic level of product filtering not alone this level of navigation. Assuming my issue listed above is fixed, what a great advanced eCommerce feature that you’d see on Amazon.com, Buy.com, and other eCommerce behemoths.
  • The crazy, twisted, tangled offers you can create. I couldn’t find a screencast for this on their site, but if you need something that gives you flexibility in what types of specials or offers you can create – these guys have it.
  • The ability to create, and manage multiple storefronts from one admin – this is honestly something I don’t think there even is a comparable solution that comes close to this out of the box. You have one backend to manage multiple websites – it doesn’t get much easier than this.
  • Multi-lingual, multi-currency capabilities are included out of the box.

Honestly, this is a small sampling of the many great features offered – most of which are considered “advanced” in the eyes of most small to medium sized eCommerce merchants. It’s these advanced features that really got my attention to them in the first place.

While Magento has been suggested to overtake the open source eCommerce market, I see them as more being competitive to the paid solutions ranging in cost from $500 to $2,000. Why? Well, I mentioned the performance issues above and with some beefy hosting setup, you’re looking at a monthly cost of $75-100 to get optimal performance from the application. Most developers and merchants coming from an open source application are used to paying for the dirt cheap PHP hosting available (as low as $5 a month) and having their sites perform just fine – there’s going to be some sticker shock there. On top of that, traditional open source software has been seen as an “entry level” choice for shopping carts. As websites mature, as sales and needs grow, many merchants look for a supported, more robust solution. I believe it is these merchants, that are looking for the next step up from traditional open source software, that are looking to improve their site and work with Magento partners on improving their presence through its advanced featureset and functionality, that will migrate to Magento. I still see a need for traditional open source applications to fill that entry level need.

So, there you have it, like it or not, my first reaction to Magento Commerce. Overall, I’m excited to see what’s to come, it looks very promising, and I can’t wait to transition some sites. That said, I still think there’s some very important issues to be worked through before I migrate anything here, but I’m confidant that shortly, these issues will have worked themselves out. We’ll be covering more about Magento Commerce in the near future, as we become more involved with the application. They have a great set of resources on the site for you to judge for yourself, but as with anything, I suggest to try it out for yourself – and let us know what you think!

by Founder & CEO
Kevin is the Founder & CEO of Blue Acorn, and he also serves on the Magento Certification Advisory Board. Kevin has worked with a number of companies with online needs: banks, IT companies, consumer packaged goods manufacturers, various software companies, and finally, starting his own eCommerce business. His roles included that of a web developer, a business development manager, a technology evangelist, and a consultant.  When Kevin founded Blue Acorn in 2007, he didn’t want to be all things to everyone who wanted to be on the web. As an eCommerce entrepreneur himself, he wanted to focus on helping other online retailers achieve their goals. At the time, the world of eCommerce “solutions” for online retailers was an overcrowded space of web development generalists that left many online retailers yearning for more – more expertise, more value, and more love. So Kevin started Blue Acorn and blogged about his thoughts and approach towards eCommerce. Those thoughts were well-received, and the demand for services to accompany them would soon follow.

DISCUSSION

58 Comments

  1. This is a very nice write-up and review of the recently released Magento eCommerce open source software.

    As Magento continues to improve it’s overall processes you can be certain that the Magento community and hosting partners will also continue to improve upon the performance of the software.

    Thank you for your insight regarding Magento and Crucial.

  2. Nice detailed review. It’s great to see other bloggers discussing Magento.

    The performance issue doesn’t seem as bad when caching is turned on. The frontend public part of the cart has been more optimized than the backend admin screens, but I’m sure there will be significant performance improvements released soon.

    Please keep us posted as you transition sites over to Magento.

  3. norbolig

    Magento Commerce released a new update 30/04/2008 (release 1.0 19700). Among others, this fixed many bugs, and the speed improved noticeable.

    I run a hosted test site with SimpleHelix (they offer a one-click Magento installer), and after the update I am quite satisfied with the performance of my demo web shop (even though I am located in Europe and run on a server in US).

    I am convinsed that Magento has the potensial to really become a major player for Web Commerce, and no one should overlook it.

  4. Indeed, nice thorough post.

    I’d have to disagree with the $80 – $100 per month hosting being deemed expensive. We have dozens of eCommerce clients and many are on dedicated servers, some at Rackspace, and paying $500+ per month. A serious online business making $20k per month plus should have no hesitation to pay for Crucial hosting. I don’t know of any online retailer, no matter how small, that has used standard shared ($5/month) Web hosting. Maybe if it’s someone just futzing around trying to sell a couple things online, I don’t know.

    I think entry level online retailers should look to hosted solutions like Volusion, Shopify or Etsy. That’s the truly turnkey way to go these days, not open source imo.

    I think Magento will come to replace OSCommerce unless OSC is drastically changed. And we have clients in the $1mm to $5mm per year range that are using OSC and are considering us switching them to Magento.

  5. Thanks for chiming in Jason – I agree that hosting is a scaled cost and that $80-100 is not expensive. However, most merchants on OSCommerce use very cheap hosting even on sites making $20k per month (not that I’d recommend it, but I’ve seen it) and that making the leap from $10-$20 per month to $80-100 is a big step.

    Also, while the hosted solutions you recommend are great for some users, I think their lack of flexibility is what drives most entry level online retailers to a solution like OSCommerce to begin with. I think OSCommerce will be around for quite some time, filling the need for the entry level merchants. Magento will fit in quite nicely for those that want to upgrade that experience, but most eCommerce startups are nickel and diming everything (most don’t realize that eCommerce sites are a business and as such need proper investment up front) and while Magento is “open source” – it’s associated costs are not cheap, like OSCommerce, or Zen Cart, or the others. But like you said, clients that are successful on OSCommerce are going to naturally look at Magento Commerce to upgrade their shopping experience, and that’s where I see most of the business from Magento Commerce. OSCommerce will lose a lot of its top-end users in favor of Magento, but there still will exist a following of small startups.

  6. Hey BC,

    What a great review, and thanks for the mention about Crucial :)

    I’ve been to your site before and saw some traffic coming in from here, thought I’d drop by and say hello. Subscribed to your feed as well, some good stuff here!

    On the topic of pricing, it’s actually quite interesting. We used to compete heavily in the budget hosting market, originally selling hosting as cheap as $1.99/month (crazy, eh) and that slowly went up until we introduced Split-Shared, which is now our cheapest plan at $25.

    Whereas we used to compete with companies like Dreamhost, 1&1, and HostGator, we now deal with clients that are coming from companies like Media Temple and Mosso.

    It’s refreshing for me personally, since more of our clients are developers and designers, and as a developer myself, I enjoy that kind of thing.

    Magento Containers was a big leap of faith for us too, we had no idea what kind of interest there would be, if any.

    We figured no one would spend $100-400/month on this product (or at least, not enough people to cover the cost of an empty server waiting for clients), and were just going to give it a trial run to see what kind of interest there was, if any.

    Surprisingly, the interest has been incredible, and we’re actually looking to add a third tier to Magento Containers in the $1500+ range.

    It’s really changed our direction and focus as a hosting company, and we’re looking more at specialized hosting like ecommerce and SaaS.

    As Jason pointed out, there are a lot of people who make $20-30k+ per month from their online stores (and a lot pulling in 6-7 figures). When you have 100+ users online at once, do 1000+ orders per day, and see 20M pageviews in a month, the $100+ price range is a no-brainer, especially when you don’t want the hassle (and cost) of dealing with a data center, managing a server, and/or hiring an IT guy.

    Even at $10k/month, a cost of business of $100 is really cheap. It is a business after all. Hell, if Crucial’s business costs were even at 10% of our monthly revenue we wouldn’t have much to complain about!

    I’m actually shocked that there are people making a living with online stores like that, yet they still run on budget shared hosting accounts. They spend more money per month on their cable or phone bill, yet their store runs on hosting that costs the same as a pack of cigarettes.

    This is a whole new arena for us though, since we typically deal with shared hosting clients, but Magento Containers and our partnership with Varien has opened the door to a market we never imagined.

    We’re really excited about it and it’s nice to see an ecommerce blogger like yourself talking about Magento. I agree with your negatives about Magento too, and look forward to reading more of what you have to say and watching how Magento matures and evolves.

    Cheers,

    Kyle

  7. Mel

    I find it rather amusing that the hosting companies seem to think they understand the pockets of small business owners. You want our cash, and that’s the bottom line.

    Thank you fr the review! I can’t wait to try Magento. I’m installing it myself…because I don’t spend money all willy nilly.

  8. Kirk

    How does Magento compare with Voluson platform?

  9. Jonah

    I liked the honest opinion write up. I have a question about your reluctance to migrate your shops to Magneto.

    Q: For a newby to the ecommerce world, would you recommend continuing with OSCommerce and they eventually moving over to Magento, or rather sticking it out with the multiple URL’s SEO issue until the fix it if they do?

    Thanks for the feedback!

  10. Thanks for chiming in Jonah, to be honest, these issues aren’t necessarily preventing us from migrating to Magento – in fact, we already have projects to be deployed on Magento shortly. However, this is a big issue, there are some workarounds for the time being (search the Magento forums for details) and I’m confidant these issues will be resolved shortly.

  11. Kyle

    @Mel: “I find it rather amusing that the hosting companies seem to think they understand the pockets of small business owners. You want our cash, and that’s the bottom line.”

    Not sure if this was directed at me, but since I’m the only commenter who’s part of a hosting company, I’ll assume it was.

    We’re small business owners ourselves. It’s not easy and money isn’t a luxury.

    We provide a service, but we rely on our website to continue to generate new income. If our site isn’t up, or isn’t fast, we’re not making money.

    Only a fool builds his house on sand, regardless of what he’s selling inside that house.

  12. I am thinking of switching to Ablecommerce, any opinion about those guys?

  13. @Audio Bible: Ablecommerce is a .NET based solution similar to a BV Commerce or ASPdotNetStorefront. While not being closely familiar with the solution myself, what I do know of them is that they are one of the top .NET based solutions out there in that market. They seem to have a mature featureset, but a few things I noticed rather quickly when looking over their site:
    (1) None of the example sites seem to be table-less in the design
    (2) They tout having “Industry Leading SEO” through their URL rewriting, but basically every cart out there has this and some do it better (see BV Commerce). They use this as a sales tactic although I don’t see anything that makes this industry leading. A couple of sites I checked out used sessionids in the URLs which is a big no-no.
    (3) Developer Wiki was basically useless. If you plan on having someone customize this I’d take a look at their development capabilities and make sure it is extensible.

    Overall, the best thing to do Audio Bible, when selecting a platform, is to document a list of all of your requirements, prioritize them, and then evaluate your options. A large portion of clients that come to us for Consulting are switching from a platform they just implemented in the last two years – make sure, whichever one you go with, that it will grow with you so that you don’t end up in the same boat. Let me know how things work out and best of luck!

  14. Marc

    Hiya, thanks for providing this forum and sharing your knowledge.

    I am considering overhauling my website, built by a friend two years back but I have never attmepted anything like this before.

    I am presently using Page down tech due to the ease of managing the backend on my own with limited knowledge and Magento was recommended to me.

    I have someone who will transfer all the date from old to new once built, but is it possible to go from 0-60 with this application ie, can someone who has never built a website before do so with Magento?

    I welcome any and all constructive critcism,

    Thanks,

    Marc

  15. @Marc

    Thanks for the comment – to be honest, Magento and most other eCommerce platforms really need to be setup/built by someone who has experience working with those platforms – or with a background in web development that can pick it up. Not saying that you wouldn’t be able to manage it ongoing, but to set it up, you’ll need someone to assist you in setting it up that has that expertise – but you’ll have all of the tools necessary to manage the site on an ongoing basis. Best of luck to you!

  16. Matt

    Marc,
    Magento does not require to be necessarily set up by a very experienced man in those platforms, you can get an automatic install from a kind of fantastico script in your hosting. You don’t need as well a very expensive hosting, I just paid 50 dollars for one year and my new store in magento works fast.

  17. Shawn

    I’ve downloaded Magento and set up a test store, but I really don’t see why anyone with a serious ecommerce site would use it with all the current bugs… shipping, payments, security issues, etc. It looks like a wonderful script in its initial version, but I think I’ll wait until a more stable version appears before going live with a store.

  18. Thanks for the great review. It’s the most informative Magentoa review that I’ve been able to find. However, I was wondering if you had an opportunity to review the newer version of the software to see if they’ve succeeded in fixing some of these flaws. I love the features magento offers and really want to build a site on it, but I don’t want to keep pushing off my next project waiting for the software to develop further. Do you know of any other blogs with more recent reviews that you can point me to?
    Thanks!

  19. NO To Magento

    This will be a negative post. Magento commerce is the largest piece of garbage I’ve ever used. Their is no support to their user base community, and if there is, they’re a bunch of assholes when it comes to a reply, you pay outrageous fees for an open source product and their platform no matter what host you’re on is slow as hell. This is not a plug for the following, I’m just a user, but get CubeCart. Best ecommerce product for small businesses I’ve ever used for around $200. Oh, and you can process credit cards offline with the CVV code, unlike Magento policing this functionality and insulting businesses that require this function.

  20. @NOtoMagento – thanks for your input, everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion but in regards to the CVV issue, this has actually been much-debated within the Magento community and Verian has decided to err on the side of law and your agreement with your Credit Card merchant provider, as they clearly state that in no way, shape, or form, should you or your system store CVV codes. I understand this presents a problem for many online merchants that actually process cards offline or after the fact, the reality is that any eCommerce solution that allows you to store/view CVV codes for credit cards is putting the business owner in violation of the terms of their agreement.

  21. PingbackMaking personal development goals for 2009 :: Aaron Russell

  22. I’ve been using Magento to run my site (www.condomgirl.co.uk) for about three month now and I would agree with this article. As I write Magento is at 1.2.0.2 and I would consider myself to be an early adopter. Having said that, if you know what you are getting to Magento is very powerful and very flexible – if you’re a competent LAMP (php) developer, I’d def. recommend Magento

  23. The installation process of magento is a nightmare.
    I’ve struggled for more than 4 hours trying to install magento, and I keep getting one error after another.

    There is no indication of where the errors are coming from, or what’s causing it, and the community forum is no help at all!!

    I would not recommend magento to anyone, unless your willing to pay for a professional installation service.

    I wish the magento community would spend more time fixing the installation errors than they would adding new features.

  24. Mike in Delaware

    Anyone heard of TMDHosting? They install Magento and transfer domains and all as part of their service. The price is definately affordable. Like $119 if you pay ahead for two years plus $65/year for the SSL. Any feedback would be helpful since I’m considering transferring. Thanks.

  25. Kevin

    @Mike, not familiar with that hosting specifically, but in general, when you look at the prices for hosting it comes down to a few things. When you think of the costs to hosting companies, it all comes down to hardware and infrastructure costs. These co

  26. Pingback37 Shopping Cart Options for Developers | Vandelay Design Blog

  27. Article Update: Verian -> Varien
    Keep in mind – This is a developer’s cart.

    I have worked with Magento from .6 -> 1.2x, a lot of work is needed to get to a Production ready environment, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wouldn’t go as far as to compare Magento to OScommerce or the other lightweighters – nor would try comparing them.

    If you have serious clients with a real focus on e-commerce, you can’t go wrong with Magento.

    The Magento community is strong. Many of your questions, concerns and issues can all be resolved via the forum. See you soon!

    Advice, Don’t skimp on hosting.
    Real Resources @ v1.1.6x: 18,000 Product Sku DB, 50GB of monthly transfer, 7GB Memory usage.

    ~Josh

  28. Adrian

    Thanks for all the great posts it is a great help!

    I have a few burning questions that I really hope somebody can help with:

    I am starting an online shop (+- 50 different products with about 10 different brands) and am considering e-commerce solutions from high end design companies to setting this up myself using open-source. I am really new to ecommerce and to be honest feel completely overwhelmed by the varying options and prices!

    I love the look of Magento and was wondering what the chances were of someone with a little web design knowledge (no scripting or development knowledge at all) could realistically look to create and setup a Magento driven e-commerce solution themselves or with a little help?

    I understand people have highlighted that they get someone to help them with the install but I was wondering where I could find someone who could help me and what would it cost me?

    At the risk of sounding completely daft, how do you go about actually designing the site around a product like magento? I understand you can edit product details in the admin console and can apply templates, but is this the only way (besides programming/code changes) to create a unique look and feel and change the layout?

    If there is a newbie ecommerce blog out there, where I probably belong , please let me know because I have too many questions for one post ! (e.g. what Payment processing companies Magento supports, what are some good hosting companies for Magento in the UK etc.. etc..)

    Thanks,
    Adrian

  29. @Adrian – thanks for chiming in. In regards to your questions about setting up Magento yourself – it really does require someone with at least a basic understanding of PHP, but aside from that, to design any website you should also be knowledgeable of ht

  30. PingbackMagento’s momentum | Lacisoft's

  31. Adrian

    Thanks very much the response Kevin. I will continue my search!

  32. Hello, I was curious, I am putting together plans to open up a webstie, and have fallen in love with the features that Magento provides! My concern was though that I had been looking towards Shopify, and I cannot get costs for Magento> I saw that you are a certified partner. As a startup wanting webdesign and with around 2000 skus, is they a soft round about quote? I am building my expenses needed for startup and want to factor these in as I am wanting to ensure I am built for growth!
    Thanks!

  33. I have been using Zen-Cart for several years now and need more functionality. Have you looked at Magento lately? Have the performance issues and duplicate URL’s been dealt with?

    Thanks
    JOhn >

  34. This is an exceptionally good alternative to OSC. In fact it’s not only give the competition a black eye it’s going to be guilty of murder.

    Initial install was a bit of a headache and certainly not for the great unwashed, but that aside if you can get your snout into what’s going on at the back-end there is some very exciting goodies to play with.

    Yes there’s going to be a bucket of teething problems with any new release but if you think back to when OSC first hit the shelves, this is quite a remarkable first attempt.
    Let’s face it I would expect to see this sort of development from a well-funded commercial entity and by the looks of it, that’s exactly what we’ve got here.
    Grant it, Zend underpins much of what I’m looking at but as the OP pointed out, the layered navigation feature is like a christmas present to hobbits not to mention the multiple sites stocking fillers all under the one roof.
    So far, it hasn’t vomited MySQL errors all over the screen like many of it’s other brethern and I’m still trying to figure out where everything goes with all the extra shelf-space.

    But am I impressed? Hugely! Shocked even! I just did not expect Magento to look so good straight out of the box. OSC as standard is an awful looking behemoth by comparison and reminds me of those Helicopters the Russians produced in the 50′s. Ugly as sin but got you from A to B albeit in a sweat. But only for those over-subscribed templates from Monster Template and other such vendors I’d have got the bus instead.
    My opinion, for someone who has looked at every single shopping cart worth looking at, Magento is well worth sticking with. I’m looking forward to seeing the cling-ons from developers and can’t wait to start fecking about with some contributions of my own. Nice one!!

  35. Tim

    Just thought I would chip in, I am no developer or designer, I have been using Actinic for some years now, I have been testing Magento as I like other posters like the functions on offer,

    Magento installation (1.3) is tricky but I did manage it with the help of searching forums and not magento’s website, they really could do a better job on installation instructions.

    When I finally cracked it it all seemed worth while looked great but the speed is the main issue I am dealing with now.

    My host 1and1 suggested going onto a dedicated server to set it up for Magento which I would consider at £50 per month, there is also a company (ontapcreative) who I met at the London show last week has offered to set up and host.

    I think if anyone is considering using Magento and your real interest in getting on and doing business then use a third party that is used to hosting and setting up then it is a really good product.

    Good write up Kevin…

  36. Hi,
    First off Thanks Kevin for the post and everybodys input. It is always great to hear everybodys thoughts and opinions.

    Ok so I dont know anything about programming (except what I teach myself and that dosn’t even scratch the cover of programing and designing)

    I am working on getting some one hired through Elance.com to design and program my shopping cart site.

    Basically I have a some one that insist on CubeCart than I have another one that insist on OScommerce + ZenCart and another for Magento.

    If I am looking for the best SEO Google Friendly cart that sells products to an older age market what should I look into? I can learn the back end if needed if it’s not EXTREAMLY complicated if it means a more friendly SEO. ALSO I have been shopping for hosting aswell.

    Kevin if you have a personal recomendation for hosting that would be great! My site will grow to have approx 10,000 – 15,000 visits a month with as basic design as possible.

    Anyway thanks again
    Jon S.

  37. I found this very very useful. I am looking into something with magento, however I don’t have a huge amount of products to sell. I am going to do a lot of research so that when I am ready, I’ll hopefully know how the install goes.

    Wondering if there are links out to forums and other blogs about it

  38. I am looking for review about Magento, I heard there is a numbers of bad comments, however one of my development partner highly recommend Magenta. Anyway thanks for the review t least I will take a deeper thought before implementing using this.

  39. Please do not use in production with out magento expert

  40. Newbie

    For a small non-profit organization that just wants to collect payment for membership via their web page, would you still recommend magento over osCommerce? (And are either set-up to do simple collection like that?)

  41. PingbackMagento | Top Rated Shopping Carts

  42. Hi Kevin, Thanks so much for this article. Both that and the comments have helped me tremendously. The comment you posted on March 11, 2009 was cut off and I am dying to read it. That person asked the questions I need answered! ; )

    I have a small website that is ready for the next step but I want to take the next step preparing for the following 2. Hence why I am looking at Magento and the Enterprise Edition… I am in love with what they say it can do. But the cost is high for a smaller company and the risk seems higher.

    Any updated thoughts would be greated appreciated.

  43. Mark

    Thanks a lot for the great article Kevin and to all who commented on it as well!

    I read somewhere and I believe someone also told me that Magento can now be hosted on Amazon’s cloud. Does anyone know if this is true, and if yes, would it actually speed up the software to host it on the cloud?

  44. Thank you Kevin and all the guys who left replies… this page is very useful for everyone who’s testing Magento right now and pondering about switching from another ecommerce solution.

  45. Upgraded from from virtuamart to Magento;

    Lessons learned:
    1. Had to triple to the hardware to have load time less than 10sec per page. Joomla virtuamart run fast on on a single core zeon with 4Gb of ram, Now I run on dual quad cores with 16Gb of ram and max out cpu / disk io at each newsletter send.

    2. Virtuamart was not perfect – but once it was fixed it run with no admin / coding for months at a end. Magento keeps on crashing out of the blue, with random error messages which are hard to reproduce.

    3. No easy upgrades – expect to spend many late nights fixing failed upgrade scripts and restoring database dumps.

    4. Magento has a lots of cool features, but they come at a price, we lost nearly 30% in sales after [upgrading] to Magento.

    In the end, its the number of sales not the amount of widgets that keeps you going.

    If you like to tinker with php and xml and / or have the money to sign up for Enterprise, Magento comes highly recommend.

    If you would like to have something stable / fast / reliable; Magento is not for you.

  46. @NoMagento – well it sounds like you’ve had one hell of a time with Magento. I’m not going to deny these things do happen, but it’s all about how the developer you’re working with knows Magento. I’m not talking about someone on elance or odesk that says they know Magento, I’m talking about someone with true experience working heavily with the platform. What we’ve found with most companies that have problems with Magento – is that more often than not, all issues were attributed to poor development. Each one of your complaints is readily addressed by someone who knows what they’re doing:

    (1) We have many, many clients with production websites on virtual servers with much less resources than you point out. It all depends on your load and the size of your catalog, but as a complex platform, Magento does require more resources than your typical. When you take into account it has 10 times more features than Virtuemart you might expect this kind of thing.

    (2) Not an issue for our clients, if you’re getting lots of errors and crashing with Magento – something is wrong with your Magento site/code and whoever developed it.

    (3) We just did an upgrade from 1.3 to 1.4 in about an hour – no issues (and there were numerous customizations to the site). Certainly it could take more time than that, but if your site was developed correctly you’ll avoid lots of issues here.

    (4) Lost sales is rarely attributed to any one platform or another – but more to do with performance, and the design of the site, and the ordering process.

    “In the end, its the number of sales not the amount of widgets that keeps you going.” – Agree with you there

    “If you would like to have something stable / fast / reliable; Magento is not for you.” – disagree with you there, and we have many clients to back that up on Community Edition

  47. Magento changed my company so far, it’s amazing how professional it is comparing it to oscommerce and virtuemart.

  48. I’ve been using http://1automationwiz.com/ for some time and I really like the ease of which it can be inserted into WordPress installations but there are some drawbacks one being that I cant publish to mobile devices easily. The mobile cart alone is a huge reason to check out Magento.

    Thanks a lot =D

  49. Folks

    A great post that has lasted quite sometime by the looks of it. We’ve got quite a few magento sites running and its been a constant learning curve.

    To date it’s one of the best, using silver stripe, expression engine and word press.

    shivun

    Interactive Hive

    The web design & Search Marketing Agency

  50. I have been an e-commerce developer (Perl/PHP/Javascript) for years and have worked with many different carts, some free and some commercial, and Although I have only just installed Magento 1.5.0.1, I found the wiki very well written for the multiple installation options and I installed Magento in minutes via the shell which is an option that most carts dont even offer. The installation went very smoothly and the Magento front end is fast enough. There is alway room for improvement but the speed is acceptable.

    Overall, my INITIAL impression of Magento is that is is a solid open source (GPL) e-commerce application and is miles ahead of OSC/ZenCart.

  51. Vikram

    Can anyone comment on how far Magento has come form where it began. Kevin wrote this piece in 2008. I want to know, in 2011 is Magento all set to be patronized as a long term solution for churning our E Commerce websites by E Commerce development companies?

  52. Hi Kevin, Currently Magento 1.6.0.0 is available. Can you please confirm if it has taken care of those issues you have mentioned above 1) Multiple URLs and 2) Slow page loads. Please give your opinion on it.

  53. Damu

    What a great review. @Mudassar yes it still has the issue with multiple urls for same product and is extremely slow. But, the system is amazing. Only thing we need is powerful server and lot of space to store cache.

  54. Leeds

    Also interested in an updated review of the new version. Seeing some horror stories in reading about the software tonight but it looks very promising at face value. Is it all marketing hype or is this a great package?

  55. sara

    A great post that has lasted quite sometime by the looks of it. We’ve got quite a few magento sites running and its been a constant learning curve.

  56. Monty

    Magento ecommerce solution has become the most demanding open source platform of today’s online retail store businesses since it provides a tremendous advantage. With Magento Ecommerce Platform, online store owners are being given the capability of handling multiple stores and facilitate a more systematized browsing of items for sale. Improved management of customer’s orders and having more developed promotional or advertising tools also comes possible with Magento Ecommerce.

    Thanks

    Monty
    iLoveMage

  57. Good post. Magento ecommerce is one of the best opensource platform for building an ecommerce store. Many of my clients are interested in building their ecommerce store on magento, as it provides the best features and functionality with all readymade extensions.

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