Evaluating the Capabilities of Magento Commerce

The Best Ways to Extend Your Magento Platform


We’ve worked with Magento for the past 10 years building eCommerce websites for businesses from all industries. Magento has been our go-to commerce platform because of three main reasons (you can read more here).

  1. Code access: This means it’s extremely flexible and receptive to customization and unique system integrations. We often extend it to meet specific business needs, and have few limitations on what we build since we access the code.
  2. Active development community (And now Adobe!): An active and engaged development community is a sign that Magento will be around for years to come. And now with Adobe's purchasing the platform, the future of Magento Commerce is even more secure.
  3. It’s all about the admin: Managing catalogs, multiple stores, customer accounts, and complex shipping is really straightforward in Magento because of its well-structured admin.

Magento is flexible, capable of scaling to any business. But in some instances, Magento’s size and complexity may not fit your use case. 

Magento Enables Custom Experiences

Magento provides a platform capable of supporting an incredibly custom website. Instead of building each feature individually, Magento provides tools which can be used to manage a unique, enterprise-level website. Here are a few features that can be used to build and customize your eCommerce website:

  • Custom Bundles: You can create product bundles yourself or give your customers the ability to build their own bundles. You can create dynamic pricing and specify products that qualify for bundles. (See an example of custom bundles on Mishima Reserve).
  • Pricing Tiers: Especially important for wholesale sellers, you can build out and customize pricing tiers on your website. You can specify adjusted pricing based on a number of factors, including SKU data or quantity. (See custom pricing tiers on Save A Cup).
  • Content + Commerce: Recently, Adobe acquired Magento and announced plans to extend it with their own AEM tools. In the meantime however, Magento itself supports content that integrates seamlessly throughout the website, rather than being separate from the shopping elements of the website. We go further in depth about strategies for integrating content and commerce in our white paper, Creating an Unforgettable eCommerce Website.
  • Complex Shipping: You can customize your check out process with point of origin, delivery location restrictions, and specific delivery times.
  • Page Builder: A new feature that will allow content managers to build out new page layouts on the fly with drag-and-drop content blocks.
  • Manage Multiple Storefronts: You can manage multiple storefronts from a single Magento platform, allowing you to manage the distribution and display of your inventory from a single backend. (Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and Mishima Reserve are both managed from the same Magento instance - see how they compare to each other).
  • Fastly: Fastly’s proxy service allows administrators to take direct control over the management of URLs and how traffic is directed to their server. Fastly also allows the website to be constructed differently, and load and function faster.

How You Build Custom Experiences With Magento

You Need Development Expertise to Customize 

Even if you opt for Magento’s free version, Magento Open Source, you will still be required to host your website and you’ll need some development support to get your website up and started. In comparison, Shopify—sometimes called a “turnkey” platform because of how easy it is to get up and running—hosts your website, provides templates, a secure payment gateway, and other features right out of the box. You can set up a store in a day or two, but you won’t have anything close to the degree of customization that Magento is capable of.

If you’re doing really straightforward sales and you don’t have the resources to fully manage something like Magento, you would save yourself a lot of time and money by operating from a smaller store.

You can see how Magento compares to other eCommerce systems here.

Ecommerce Platform Comparison Chart

You Need Development Expertise to Add Integrations 

APIs and system integrations are more complex than the plug-and-play extensions offered by SaaS platforms, and will require custom development work to fully integrate with your system.

You Need Development Expertise to Keep Your Website Up to Date

As the web changes, new system vulnerabilities are uncovered, and new methods of optimization are found, Magento releases system patches that can be used to update your website. These patches keep your website secure, and maintain performance. However, these patches aren’t implemented automatically, and you will need development expertise to ensure that your website stays up to date.

Is Magento Best for You?

Magento is an incredibly sophisticated, flexible eCommerce platform that can be used to build and manage a complex website. But for some businesses that need something more straightforward, there may be other platforms that can offer you a simpler alternative.