Magento is an ecommerce platform built on open source technology which provides online merchants with a flexible shopping cart system, as well as control over the look, content and functionality of their online store. Magento offers powerful marketing, search engine optimization, and catalog-management tools. We believe that Magento is one of the best ecommerce platforms available today, with editions ranging from community open source, to massive, large-scale enterprise SaaS based systems.
CommonPlaces uses the community-based Magento product for our ecommerce clients. Magento's ability to scale allows shops with only a few products and simple needs to easily expand to tens of thousands of products and complex custom behavior without changing platforms. It offers a variety of plug-ins and themes which can easily enhance a customer's experience. There are a lot of aspects to the online store which need to be configured, and how well that is accomplished is often dependent on business acumen. When it comes to custom functionality, however, that is where more complex programming is required.
Magento is designed to be utilized as an application by someone who isn't a developer. The Magento community is extremely large and very helpful. However, at some point the average person is going to hit a wall.
There are a number of reasons why developers are called upon to adjust a Magento website. It is a very robust system even at its most basic, more so even than a Drupal site (and Drupal is no lightweight). Once you begin to integrate with other systems, or introduce tens of thousands of products, businesses often need the assistance of experienced developers. As an example, we've had clients need additional options for how they view their dashboard. Typically you might be able to select viewing products in groups of 5, 25, and/or 50. We have a client who wants to view 2000. The functionality can be changed only up to a point; beyond that, it needs to be customized by an expert who really understands Magento, and follows best practices.
Experienced developers will also tell you that speed is of the essence in ecommerce. No one wants to have to wait for systems to reload when you're doing a lot of online shopping. With such a robust list of features native to the application, strains can be put on your server. While we haven't yet had a Magento client require more than one server for their online store, I can foresee that situation arising in the future.
In our next blog, Ben Bassi, our CEO and President, will discuss the differences between Magento and Drupal Commerce.