Our company uses many types of ecommerce platforms for various customers, and we particularly like working with the PHP open source ecommerce system called SquirrelCart by Lighthouse Development. We also work with Oscommerce, WordPress Ecommerce Module, Zend Cart and X-Cart, and we are always open to new carts that will make programming an ecommerce system cheaper and easier for our customers to maintain. In the coming year we have decided to give Magento a try due to a few shortcomings in SquirrelCart that we believe Magento will correct by default.
We’ve done a bit of research on Magento already, and found that while it is very powerful and flexible, there is very little documentation and some people have found that the layers of programming and thousands of files are tricky to customize, and this makes it take up to 5 times longer to customize. In addition, I have read that the cart runs slowly, requires at least a semi-dedicated server, and can be costly to host as the number of products increases.
Magento allows for multiple stores to use one cart, an obvious savings to our clients. It also allows for multiple product images so that customers can get a really good look at what they are purchasing. It also allows coupons and different pricing for customer groups. Google checkout, PayPal, and PayPal Pro are all integrated, and there is a one-page checkout process.
As far as SEO goes, this cart has the ability to add unique titles and descriptions and keyword rich URLs on pages, just like Squirrelcart. It also has a nice CMS which allows your customers to add informational pages which can be used for SEO as well.
You can download the cart for free from http://www.magentocommerce.com, and there is also a fully supported enterprise edition of the cart for just under $9,000 for larger businesses that want to integrate their carts and inventory systems. The cart is coded with the latest PHP 5 object oriented standards and uses the Zend framework.
Check back to our blog in early January after we complete our first Magento ecommerce website, when we will review our coding experiences using the software.