MAGENTO. MAGENTO, MAGENTO, I’ve been braying about my e-commerce platform of choice at every turn as if it’s God’s gift to online shopping. In fact you’re probably wondering if I love it so much why don’t I marry it. Well as a matter of fact I did and we’re expecting our first child in December, but that’s besides the point…
Obviously, selecting the right e-commerce platform for your online store is important, so let’s get right to it…
Selecting the right e-commerce platform
Who’s doing the selecting, YOU?
This is a little toss-up as I know there are some of you a little more savvy in the world of web design than others. If this is you then by all means feel free to do your due diligence and make your choice.
For most of my clients (actually all), they’re not at all concerned about the platform as long as it’s a platform, which of course leaves it up to me, i.e. essentially leaving it up to the web designer.
Leave it up to the web designer
For good reason too, he, she, it (?), will be the one charged with delivering the working online store using it. It makes sense that the platform being used is one that’s familiar and comfortable. You wouldn’t want to be the reason why the designer couldn’t deliver because you made him use a platform he never used before just because you liked it.
E-Commerce platforms available
Apart from my choice Magento, there are other very popular platforms:
- Open Cart
- Zen Cart
And then there are some platforms more popular than others…
It’s a matter of preference, there are no WRONG choices
There are no wrong choices as it boils down to personal preference. All platforms have their own pros and cons, lovers and haters, just like every other competing product on the planet and there’s no amount of convincing that would have either side change their minds.
If you care to Google, you’ll see many head to head comparisons- Open Cart vs Magento, Prestashop vs Magento, Open Cart vs Prestashop, cats vs dogs (that’s another article of course) all with valid arguments you can understand.
The funny thing is that for no apparent reason except quirk of human nature, you often latch on to one side or the other and unconsciously pick a favorite.
Would your customers care anyway?
I would argue that they won’t care that much that it would hurt you. I don’t think customers care for bells and whistles as long as they can find what they’re looking for add to cart, checkout and pay. And all shopping carts do that. No one thinks ‘hey I wonder what platform is this?’ when they’re shopping, they just shop. Only you and I care.
But sometimes bells and whistles make a difference. What all shopping carts don’t do equally is provide value added enhancements (bells and whistles) to the shopping experience, either because they are difficult to do, or there aren’t many paid plug-ins, i.e. accessories, available.
Why you should still care
You should still care not because of the platform you choose, but because of the one your competitor chooses and perhaps doing a better job working his than you are working yours. Then the fault won’t lie with the platform would it?
E-Commerce Platforms in use in Trinidad & Tobago
You have to accept that there is a minimal number of truly local online stores. There aren’t any that I would shop at (except my clients’ stores of course), but that’s not because I’m biased, but because there aren’t any I have any confidence in.
The few local online stores (and I use that term loosely) that I’ve ‘macoed’, use typically any one from the above list as well as hosted shopping carts like Big Commerce.
The Magento E-Commerce Platform
A lot of work went into researching the ‘right’ platform for me to offer my e-commerce clients in Trinidad & Tobago. Magento is indeed robust, but is it overkill? Some of the accusations leveled against it are:
- It’s too big for most small/medium stores
- It’s not user friendly for non-techies
- It has a steep learning curve
- It requires too much website resources
- You always have to depend on a developer
All are valid points but all subjective from the point of view of the observer.
There are no certified Magento developers in T&T
Why would there be? Any Trini Magento developer (front-end or back-end) would most likely be be US based anyway as there has been no market for that skill till recently, and there is still not enough to make it viable.
This goes for other platforms too
Same reason as above, there has been no market for them. It’s hardly likely that a person would acquire the skill on the off chance that there would be a demand for it in the future. If they’re true Trini, they usually don’t see beyond the next long holiday weekend.
This means that most development work has to be outsourced
I said most because at the core, Magento, and all other database driven e-commerce platforms operate with the same code. It’s analogous to a mechanic who fixes many makes and models of cars. However, even within that space there are mechanics who may specialize in a particular make, say Audi as an example.
If we follow this train of thought, then you’ll have also observed that there are some who exclusively use their authorized dealer’s service center while some go to top-end shops while others go their mechanic round the corner- and all are happy with their results.
Now, with the above long-winded explanation, it follows that YES, there would be local programmers/coders with the ability to tinker under the hood of Magento without having to be Magento developers. Perhaps they’ll do a fine job too.
Critical elements for long term platform success
Regardless of the chosen platform, there is only one critical element important to you the website owner: TECHNICAL SUPPORT- before, during and after. In this day and age of the world wide web, where it comes from doesn’t matter anymore.
Is it necessary for your web designer to be certified?
A good case can be made both for and against. There’s a difference being an expert on paper and having the expertise. To use the mechanic analogy again, how many excellent mechanics do you know who never finished high school?
But saying a certificate doesn’t mean much is like saying education is a waste of time- which it’s not. The point is, it’s necessary for your web designer to deliver a working online store.
If a certificate is important to your peace of mind, so be it. If experience, expertise, resourcefulness, gives you confidence instead, so be it too. Either, or, both together, a one-man show, a company, local or foreign, so be it, the decision is yours alone to make and live with.
What comprises Technical Support
Everything that affects the smooth running and success of your online store, from site speed to sales order notifications. The question is, who does it? Is it done personally by the web designer or by specialists?
Forward Multimedia’s Magento Expertise
I’m an expert in delivering a Magento e-commerce solution. I am not a coder, I am not a coder, I am not a coder. I have the knowledge, expertise, wherewithal, resourcefulness and management skills to pool together and coordinate all the elements necessary for a working online store that achieves my clients’ objectives and vision.
These elements include third party experts in various fields- databases, servers, point of sale, graphic design, programming, custom coding, marketing. These experts are not always in Trinidad & Tobago but fortunately the web is worldwide.