Recently I’ve had the opportunity to implement ecommerce solutions for two small companies in the Denver area. Both companies had an existing ecommerce platform with limitations in functionality, performance, and reliability, and it was time to move onto a more professional platform. The clients that I work with generally don’t have an IT department to handle server maintenance, so I was solely interested in hosted solutions with live support.
There are three big players in the market of hosted ecommerce platforms: Volusion, Shopify, and Magento Go. Any of the three would have fit our needs, so it came down to which offered the most for the best price. Magento Go won out this time around.
Having implemented two sites, here are my thoughts on what I like and what I dislike about Magento Go.
- Support has been very good. Whenever I’ve run into questions about the platform, I can join a chat session with their help desk and have an answer quickly and easily.
- Product options are excellent. Having worked on several platforms, this is an area where lesser platforms fall down – you just can’t get them to do what you need for a given array of products. Not so with Magento Go, I’ve been able to accomplish everything I’ve needed with a wide variety of products and product types.
- Very flexible coupon/discount abilities. Running coupon and discount codes is core to online campaigns. Magento Go is flexible enough to handle any type of discount we’ve run.
- Integration with MailChimp. I love MailChimp and it is a requirement in my mind to have an email sign up form that seamlessly integrates with our MailChimp lists. Magento Go does that perfectly.
- Active community. The Magento community is consistently coming out with new videos, articles, and documentation on how to improve your site. The one caution I have is that much of the focus goes towards the enterprise and community edition of the product, less so towards Magento Go. I’d love to see more of the plug-ins make it to the Go version. Hopefully with time they will. I still count the community as a positive.
- No Responsive Design. At the time of writing this, I haven’t seen a Magento Go site that is anything near responsive. Perhaps in the future, themes will be coming out that are responsive. I would personally cringe at the thought of trying to modify an existing theme to be responsive given how cumbersome modifying a theme is. This is a major area of need.
- No support to host .pdf files. This seems like a no-brainer. There is the ability to upload photos, but not .pdfs. So for product documentation or other information that often exists on a site, it has to be hosted elsewhere. Big bummer.
- Email Templates. Though the email templates are fully customizable, you have to first make a copy to customize it, then associate the new copy to the event that kicks off that email. There are several events that kick off different emails, so to change something as simple as a common word across all templates, you have to make a copy of each template, fix the word, then change all events to use the new copy instead of the old. To change one word could be a half hour of work. I’d like to see the ability to just alter each original email template to my needs.
- Featured Products on the homepage. There is no way that I know of to have featured products on homepage, only new or recently viewed. There is a plug in that provides this functionality, but it’s at an additional cost. I’d like to see this built-in.
- Lack of documentation on page layouts. The page layouts appear to be very customizable. For the enterprise version of Magento there are plenty of examples of how to customize, but the layouts work differently in Magento Go. I’d like to see better documentation on this area to allow me to take better advantage of this feature.
- No attribute template. If you have several products that have similar attributes, you have to enter the different attributes for each one. I’d like to see the ability to set up a template and just inherit from a given template to help save time.
- Footer links have to be there. I’m not a fan of design decisions being made for me. I can hide the links with some jQuery magic, but that’s a hack. Just give me complete control over the look and feel of my site.
- No intrgration with Quickbooks payment gateway. The Quickbooks payment has some nice features that Paypal doesn’t have, at least if you are a Quickbooks user. It would be nice to see this gateway added.