Regardless of whether you are venturing into a new business, or want to grow/ develop on your existing e-shop, choosing the right shopping cart is going to be a crucial decision. Having said that, it is not to say that there is one ‘perfect’ solution for your need. There are plenty of choices, especially today, to choose from. You have weigh the pros and cons of your business needs before you can zero in on one.
Among the many popular shopping carts available today, one of the most widely used is the Magento platform. There are reasons galore. Like OSCommerce, Magento is a PHP based framework built on open source. Meaning, anyone can download it, and edit it to one’s need and purpose, without a purchased license. (Of course there is the Enterprise edition, which comes for a fee!) There are plenty of plug-ins and widgets available in the market which are free to download and can be used to integrate with the framework to give the store your desired functionality and features. Besides, you can always take help from qualified PHP / My SQL developers to further customize a plug-in for you, if it is not readily available. Besides, technically, it is a more stable and robust eCommerce solution and more immune to outside attack.
One of the main worries today is SEO – how to ensure your website reaches the maximum number of online users. With Magento, SEO is an integrated feature. For example, with most shopping carts, while you create a product page, an URL is automatically generated, and more often than not, it is an alphanumeric jumble. With Magento, you get to name your URL in sync with what you are offering, making it legible for the search engines.
There are other key benefits of using Magento including the integrated Google Analytics section, with which you can track the website in-depth statistics of your website’s performance. In fact, with a single Magento download, one can develop and maintain multiple sites across different domains. So once you have created a store after a Magento installation, any additional store from here on would just mean adding stores to the initial install. This feature is a great deviation and advancement from what was previously available in the market by its competitors. What’s more, the flexibility that Magento allows in terms of managing the catalogue of the store is amazing. You get multiple options to categorize products and services under an array of categories, and whatever your business, you will be able to set up your own product catalogue. The pricing structure and the discount engine too are out-of-the-box. These in turn result in a good customer experience. For the online visitor, he can openly compare different products simultaneously. Magento also allows features like zoom-in on products like never before. Support functions which come handy with the cart are real time rates of major shipping companies. This further ensures that customers always get the exact quote for the goods they purchase online. The overall shopping experience is also simplified with a one page check out.
For most small to medium businesses, a free edition of Magento download coupled with a bunch of free plug-ins work just fine for their ecommerce needs. There are numerous free themes available on the internet. In addition, you can get several free extensions from www.MagentoCommerce.com that offer front-end and back-end functionality enhancement. And Magento works on a model which allows simpler modification settings from the source code. However, if you want something fancier or more functional, you would need a knowledgeable team to custom develop your cart. This may not be so difficult if your team is qualified in Open Source development/ PHP. This will save you a lot of time and brain, against building your own ecommerce store from ground up. Magento, being a product of Varien, keeps updating the codes with constant upgrades against any malware or bug attack. So you can rest assured that you are safe against any potential threat.
In no time, Magento as an eCommerce solution has been greeted with great success, and has been welcomed by thousands of online small to medium business owners. And it is slated to grow. With constant updates making it stronger and more immune, it is today one of the most stable and user friendly ecommerce platforms, even for non technical merchants to maintain and manage the backend of their eStores. It is also more economical for most businesses looking to get a better share of the online audience and sell their products with lesser hassle.