What is our primary use case?
I work mostly with clients who have online businesses and clients who are entrepreneurs who have new online businesses and want to expand them. I sit down with these clients, understand their business, and lay out their online business plan. We set up a framework for the business, then we set up their website and application so that they can sell their products online, very conveniently. I provide a solution to ensure that any brand, user or online merchant can sell their products online.
I am self-employed, but I do have a firm set up here in India for tax purposes. There are certain rules and regulations regarding taxation so my firm who provides certain additional support when we have a large set of tasks and work to support. I do work by myself most of the time, but there is always additional support if there is an influx of tasks or assistance needed.
Mostly, the clients need an e-commerce solution; whoever has an offline business or has any stores or physical setup, but they want to venture into an online business to sell their products. These clients use my services to set up their online business. A few examples would be grocery clients want to sell their products online, or clients from the clothing industries, or from the mechanical industry who have their own registered instruments and they want to sell online. In those cases, they use my services so that they can set up an online shop where they could conveniently manage their inventories and I would be able to handle their online sales. These are the areas where clients use us as a service provider.
How has it helped my organization?
I'll share an example of a site we helped. This is one of our premium clients who only had a physical shop selling fitness equipment within Australia. We understood their product structure. We determined how conveniently and how easily they can set up their online business. We figured out a plan and set it up. Their shipping and payment methods were previously handled via phone and email orders and inquiries. Instead, we streamlined their business to their online presence. Now with the website, all of their offline orders have been converted into the store business and their sales are improving 60% year on year and now they are one of the premium brands selling gym equipment across Australia. That's how we scale this business within the span of two to four years.
I have around another 10 to 15 examples like that.
I'll share another from the US. The company works in feeding equipment and they had certain trademarked products. The problem with their business was that they were not getting coverage. We set up the shop and we ran different online campaigns and did some social media promotion. Now almost 90% of their business has gone from retail to online. That was one of the agreements and they were very happy about. Now they can handle everything in one warehouse whereas earlier they had four to five warehouses because of the retail ordering. Now this online ordering has helped them reduce their cost substantially, by at least 60%. Additionally, their online sales are tied up with FedEx shipping so they also got preferred shipping rates for delivering those items. That's how we helped them on the gross margin level, increasing their sales six to 7%. Our margin on products was somewhere around 12 to 13% and now it improved to around 18 to 20%.
What is most valuable?
Magento has quite a few valuable features. Magento provides a strong backing, meaning it can handle the order processing, customer management, configuration, third party payment integration, and shipping matters. There is a standard, very well set up architecture already present in Magento that helps them set up their online shops with much precision. Clients can see their reports, their daily sales, their best selling products, and their best buying customers so that they can target them through mails or just follow up with them. These are the main default features which make Magento so attractive.
Magento can be set up on the cloud, a shared system, or any dedicated system. It's not SAS based but other than that it can be set up on any kind of server. It just needs to ensure that the server supports certain parameters but that's easily doable on the modern servers.
What needs improvement?
Magento has a solution for every business scale, but there were a few issues in the framework itself where there were minor performance issues which they are now working on. Hopefully within six to seven months, if those performance issues are fixed, they will provide a more flexible headless e-commerce approach to their framework, then there will be a greater scope for them overall to be on the larger scale. They are already a competitor with Shopify, but this can put them more on point on to the merchants.
Because Magento is relatively new, even though Magento 1 has been in market for 16 or 17 years, Magento 2 is only three to four years old, so it is an evolving technology. In certain areas on the front there were some glitches. For example, you can't do certain kinds of filters on data and you have certain speed issues on category pages due to the way it was written within Magento. Those were a few minor tweaks where we, as a community, found that to be a necessary scope of improvement. But I think they are working on it and hopefully they can solve these issues earlier than later.
For how long have I used the solution?
I am a Magento certified professional and I have been using Magento since 2012, around seven, eight years. My area of expertise includes everything with Magento, even a headless e-commerce approach and development in other frameworks like full commerce, WordPress and others. But my major expertise is Magento development and design.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It is very stable. It's in league with any major e-commerce framework. I would say stability-wise, it has improved drastically in the last six, seven months with its latest updates and improvements. To prove on this argument, you can see Magento is constantly rolling out security patches and performance updates through its open source platform. (Ref URL:- https://devdocs.magento.com/gu...). With strong developer community working towards goal of stability, it is likely to get much more stable reliant in next six-nine months.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Magento is a fully scalable framework. Right now you can use it for any scale of business. Magento has two types of solutions. One is community and the other is enterprise. The community edition is for slightly smaller merchants that have revenues somewhere around $30,000 to $50,000 per month. And the enterprise solution is for customers who have sales somewhere around a million dollars per month. They do have various options for each kind of merchant. So this framework can handle our requirements depending on the merchant and what scale of business he has.
Depending on the scale of business, normally what happens is that a small merchant has a manager who probably handles the online order part and another who handles the promotion part. So for small stores, I think three to four people are more than enough to handle the back end. But on large systems, normally 10 to 15 people are employed to handle the back end of the system.
A small merchant is one who has sales of around or below $15,000 US dollar per month and larger ones where the sales are around the half a million to million dollar mark. That is the larger scale of businesses. That's where a lot of different things need to be done on a regular basis which is why they employ people to handle different parts of this tool.
How are customer service and technical support?
I have actually used the customer support. Magento has an extension system also, where you can publish your extension and sell it in your own way. During that time I have used their technical support for enterprise solutions, they have their own technical support that is very dedicated and professional and works 24/7.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I have worked on Shopify, Ruby on Rails, and on Laravel. Also on an Angular JS has NJS frameworks. The difference between them and Magento has evolved very rapidly in the last six, seven months in the handling of the scalability part of the business. With other frameworks what happens is, after achieving a certain scale, you might have to migrate to either custom e-commerce or get onto a Magento or a similar kind of framework that can handle a B2B system or large enterprise system. But with Magento, there is a greater level of flexibility when we have to scale our business. That's one of the major differences I see. I would say Magento is slightly complex at the code level for shop owners or merchants to understand, but if you have a reliable partner or development partner who can work along with you, then it's worth the time. That's one of the cons also, because shop owners cannot do all the things like they can do in Shopify or any other straightforward e-commerce platform. But in Magento he would need a development partner to handle those stats.
How was the initial setup?
The initial, basic setup setup is more open and straightforward. A single business day will be enough to set up a straightforward shop and then we can do the customizing part after depending on the client's requirements. That's how we do it.
What about the implementation team?
The basic deployment is straightforward, but the specific solutions and how the shop should be set up is done on a client to client basis, depending on their requirements. We actually modify it to the UI's, and the behavior of the shop, depending on how the client wants it. But I would say 60% to 70% of process is straightforward and identical for all the clients.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Magento is an open source framework. For the community edition, anyone can set up shop and use it. But overall what you have to keep in mind is just choosing the right solution within Magento also, depending on the scale of the business. That's the only thing they would have to keep in mind.
What other advice do I have?
They should have a ready-made plan or know if they want to integrate their shop or they want to use this solution, and they should have a proper plan before going ahead. That is because this is a slightly complex e-commerce system, so you have to be ready with all the requirements in very great detail, much more than just going randomly with notes. Everything should be well documented in the plan before the execution. If that's done, then I think Magento will help in a greater way to solve your problem.
Magento offers a certification program. I would say developers should learn the right way and they should get the certification. Those certifications help us to be a credible source so that merchants can approach us and you can get the work right away.
The lessons I have learned are that overall it is a good e-commerce framework and it helps to understand certain programming concepts in depth. Because e-commerce is a slightly complex framework, before giving any estimates or before determining anything, there is always a physical checkup needed to be done on the server or whatever shop the person is trying to set up. On the personal side, it has helped me to evolve as a programmer because the program metric concepts are all getting used here. So it's a great framework for all the developers who want to work on proper programming and want to do things the right way. For them, it's kind of a knowledge bank. It has been helpful in learning other e-commerce frameworks more efficiently once I had a full knowledge of this framework.
On a scale of one to 10, where 10 is best, I would rate Magento as an eight. It has already achieved what needs to be done, but I feel that to get a nine, they have to do certain things right, and I hope they will be able to achieve it within six to eight months. It is a good product to have for businesses who want to set up online businesses. That's the main unique selling proposition of this product.