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The History of Magento

Today Magento is the world’s leading ecommerce platform. Over twenty per cent of Alexa’s top ecommerce sites run on Magento and it is also used by global brands including Samsung, Ford, Nike and Christian Louboutin.

Magento is the fastest growing and most powerful ecommerce platform in the world.

Since being launched in 2007, Magento has grown to become one of the most powerful ecommerce platforms in the industry. It is backed by an enthusiastic community of merchants, developers and programmers who work together to improve the platform and make it the best it can possibly be.

If you are looking to set up your first ecommerce website or migrate from another platform, Magento will make the most versatile, scalable and beneficial choice.

History

A company called Varien developed Magento after identifying many limitations of the ecommerce platform osCommerce. They felt that osCommerce lacked stability, features and flexibility and wanted to develop an ecommerce platform that could offer much, much more. The development of the Magento platform began in early 2007, with the first public beta version being launched on 31st August 2007. It was originally going to be called ‘Bento’ however another company had already trademarked the name. Instead they fused it with ‘Mage’ to form Magento, the name which the platform still goes by today.

After much success with the first beta version, Varien released Magento 1.0 on 31st March 2008 under the Open Software License 3.0.

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eBay bought Magento in February 2011.

In February 2011, it was announced that eBay had invested in Magento and owned a forty nine per cent ownership share of the company. Later that year, eBay went onto buy Magento, with plans to incorporate it into its new X.Commerce initiative.

Different versions of Magento

As it currently stands there are three versions of Magento. The first of which is the Magento Community Edition. Magento Community is a free, Opensource platform that is designed for developers to build upon.

Since the first public beta version was released in 2007, the Magento Community Edition has been developed and customised in order to provide a basic ecommerce platform for businesses from all industries. The latest version: 1.9.0.1 was released on 15th May 2014.

In order to use the Magento Community Edition, you need to have your own hosting. Check out our page on link to hosting considerations when implementing Magento for further information. The Community Edition boast a wide range of features and customisation options, so to get the most out of it, you will benefit greatly from working with Magento developers (like Online Media Direct).

Unlike the other Magento software, which we will go onto talk about later, the Community Edition does not have technical support from the company itself. Instead merchants gather the information and support they need from the Magento forums. As we mentioned before, there are hundreds and thousands of Magento developers and merchants all over the world who make up a community dedicated to improving the Magento experience.

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Magento merchants and developers all over the world support the Magento Community Edition.

After the success of the first public beta version released in 2007, the Magento Community Edition was developed and launched under the open source license in 2008. It is fair to say that the platform became an instant success. In such a short period of time, it grew so much that even Fortune 500 companies were using it to power their websites. However Magento soon realised that these companies required more from the platform and spotted yet another gap in the market they could fill. This lead to them creating and launching the Magento Enterprise Edition in 2009.

Magento Enterprise

The Magento Enterprise Edition is designed for large businesses that require technical support and extensive features including expert consulting, professional training and 24/7 customer support. The basic package costs $14,420 but businesses can pay up to around $50,000 for the premium package. 

Magento Enterprise is basically designed for merchants who sell a lot of products and need a professional platform to meet their requirements. If you are just starting out, the Magento Community Edition will make a much more appropriate choice and it will also save you a lot of money!

The latest version of the Magento Enterprise Edition is 1.14.1.0. It was released on 13th May 2014.

Magento Go

Magento Go is a cloud-based ecommerce solution and the only Magento option that includes web hosting by Magento Inc. It was launched in February 2011 in order to support new and small businesses that had different needs and requirements to the medium to large size businesses Magento were used to accommodating.

Unlike Magento Community and Enterprise, Magento Go prevented the need for software installation and also took care of all of the backend work, so there was no need for companies to hire a web designer or developer. It really was a quick and easy way to set up your first ecommerce store. 

Whilst Magento Go is fully supported and secure, it lacks many of the features and customisation options offered by the Community Edition. Businesses also had to take into the consideration the fact that it was not free or Open Source like the upgraded, Community Edition of Magento.

On 1st July 2014, Magento announced that they would be shutting down the Magento Go platform on 1st February 2015. This means that merchants can no longer sign up to Magento Go and those currently using it will need to either upgrade to another Magento platform or migrate to another ecommerce provider. We have provided information on link to how to migrate from Magento Go here.

Benefits of Magento

One of the main reasons why the Magento Community Edition is one of the fastest growing ecommerce platforms is the fact that it benefits businesses of all sizes in so many different ways. Below we have outlined some of its key benefits and features for you to consider.

Open Source

The Magento Community Edition is an Open Source platform. This means that users can download the core software for free and have permission to extend, modify and develop it. The fact it is Open Source means that the possibilities for customisation are endless. Whatever you want to do with your store’s aesthetics and functionality is possible – providing you have a good Magento developer on your team.

It is however important to remember that whilst it is free to download and install the Magento Community Edition, customising and developing it can cost a significant amount of money. This is due to the fact that you will need to work with an experienced Magento developer. The cost of developing a Magento website can vary greatly depending on the size of your ecommerce store, the features you require and what you want your website to achieve.

Not only do you need to factor in the cost of having your Magento website set up by an experienced developer, but you also need to think about the cost of themes, extensions and other integrations. If you want your website to have a bespoke theme or require bespoke extensions that offer unique functionality, you will need a much higher development budget.

These costs shouldn’t deter from Magento’s open source licence being a benefit though. The fact that Magento Community Edition users don’t have to pay on-going subscription fees or listing and selling fees can help them make significant savings.

The community

We have already mentioned the Magento community twice, but once more won’t hurt right? The community behind Magento is probably up there as one of its best features. Not only do members of the community provide support in the forums, but also continually work on bettering Magento and improving its features. 

If you have a question about the platform or come across a bug, you can have the peace of mind that all you need to do is head to the forums and someone will be there to answer your question and provide you with the solution you need.

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Got a question about Magento Community? Head to the forums to get it answered!

Highly Customisable

There may be a number of great ecommerce platforms out there, but none of them are quite as customisable as Magento. Simply head to the Magento Connect store and you will find a wide range of link to Magento Themes and link to Magento Extensions for you to use to customise your site and create a unique shopping experience for your customers.

One of the main goals of Magento’s core development team was to create the most extensible ecommerce platform on the planet and thanks to the team of developers that make up the Magento Community they have far exceeded everyone’s expectations. The wide range of themes and extensions available are what sets Magento apart from the rest of the ecommerce platforms. 

Excellent functionality

Experience of running an ecommerce store will tell you that a good-looking site alone will not generate sales. In order to make a good impression on your customers, you need to offer them an outstanding user experience. Luckily, Magento makes this easy. 

Not only does it boast a high level of functionality but it can also be customised and configured for further improvements. For example, it allows merchants to create layered navigation. This means they can organise their product inventory so that customers can quickly access the products they need by choosing to view specific categories and attributes. For more information on layered navigation see: link to How Does Layered Navigation Work in Magento.

When it comes to comparing Magento with WordPress and other platforms, you will find that it always comes out on top in terms of functionality. The thing about Magento is that whilst it was initially designed to be an ecommerce platform, it also offers a content management system, allowing businesses to create articles, landing pages and blog content, just as they could on a platform like WordPress.

Unlike with WordPress, you don’t have to use a plugin in order to access basic ecommerce and CMS functionality. It offers businesses the ‘full package,’ which is why it is the most success ecommerce platform on the planet.

Selling subscriptions

Whilst the majority of ecommerce platforms allow businesses to sell products and services online, not all of them are set up for selling subscriptions. One of the benefits of Magento is that you can set up recurring profiles, so that you can sell subscription products and services to your customers. This will give you a competitive advantage and will help you to improve customer retention.

In order to sell subscriptions, you will need to understand the process of recurring payments, which is something we have explained in our article about managing subscriptions and recurring payments in Magento.

SEO benefits

It’s a known fact that if you want your ecommerce website to be a success, you need a clever SEO strategy. One of the great things about Magento is that it is already very SEO friendly. Not only does it have a clean and organised code (easy for crawling and indexing) but it can also be optimised for further SEO improvements. To find out how to edit meta data and create SEO friendly content using Magento, see our page on link to Optimising Magento with SEO.

Another benefit of Magento that is closely related to SEO is that you can use it to generate XML sitemaps for your store. Magento XML sitemaps are the best way to inform search engines like Google where your content is at so they can crawl and index it efficiently. XML sitemaps are particularly useful for new ecommerce websites or those that have a lot of pages of content that search engines may struggle to find alone.

Whilst XML sitemaps will not improve your Magento website’s SEO in any way, using them can help you to get your ecommerce site indexed quicker. The sooner your website has been indexed by a search engine, the sooner you will be able to benefit from the traffic it sends your way.

Integration

We have already mentioned that Magento can be integrated with a wide range of extensions and themes, but did you know that it could also be integrated with other platforms and tools? Yes, you can increase the efficiency of your operations and widen your product reach by integrating your Magento store with other outlets e.g. Amazon. Check out our page on link to integrating your Amazon store with Magento for more information.

Another fantastic tool that you can integrate with your Magento site is Google Analytics. This gives you an into both page views and ecommerce sales, providing information such as where your customers come from, how they get to your site and what content they spend the most time viewing. See our page on link to how to add Google Analytics to your Magento store to find out more.

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Magento is a scalable solution, meaning it can grow with your business.

Scalability

One of the top reasons for ecommerce businesses choosing to power their web stores using Magento is the fact that it provides a flexible and scalable solution. Magento can grow in line with your business, so whether you are selling fifty products or fifty thousand products, it will always meet your needs and requirements.

Although there are so many different ecommerce platforms available today, Magento tops them all. Don’t believe us? Check out link to 7 Reasons Magento is Better than Shopify.

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Shop for Magento themes and extensions by visiting the Magento Connect store.

Magento Connect

Magento Connect – The Marketplace for Magento Extensions is your one stop shop for themes and plugins. Whether you are looking to upgrade the look of your shop front or want to improve its functionality for either you or your customers, Magento Connect is the place to start your search for relevant themes and extensions. There you will be able to find popular extensions like One Step Checkout (more information on link implementing one page checkout in Magento here) and responsive themes created by members of the Magento community. 

Although there are over three thousand different themes and plugins available from the Magento Connect store, if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, don’t panic! There are talented Magento developers all over the country capable of creating bespoke themes and extensions. A word of advice – if you’re going to have a theme built for your Magento website, make sure it’s responsive. See our page on link to the importance of selecting a responsive Magento Theme for further information.

Magento Certification

Speaking of Magento developers, if you are looking for the crème de la crème, a certified Magento developer is the one to hire. Since launching the Magento platform and building up a community of talented developers, Magento also decided to create a certification programme. As it currently stands there are four different Magento certifications, three of which are aimed at Magento developers (both frontend and backend.) You can find out more information about link to the Magento Certified Developers qualification here, as well as the benefits of hiring a certified developer to build your web store.

Conclusion

We hope this brief history of Magento, its features and benefits has provided you with the information you need to confirm that it’s the right ecommerce platform for your business. If however you are still deciding whether Magento is the right platform for you, be sure to check out the link to 8 Amazing Magento Videos on YouTube.

Once you are ready to download Magento, head on over to link to #8 how to download Magento to get started and then read our page on link to basic configuration options for Magento to help you get your store set up!

Any questions? You know where we are! Simply give the Online Media Direct team a call on 01706 830 965.

Image credits: ebayink, Ryan Fanshaw Photography, lumaxart, lumaxart, lumaxart and lumaxart

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