Building an eCommerce business is a monumental task. There are so many things involved that an insufficiently planned out development project can crumble under its weight due to improperly allocated resources, lack of expertise, and a chain of unfortunate technological decisions. All of these issues multiply with the complexity of the project that’s defined by the scope and technical requirements. One thing is building a small online store for your mama, where she could sell her hand-made scarfs. Creating a store that handles thousands of visitors and encompasses multiple product categories will have a larger footprint.
Magento is no exception for these bottlenecks, and its inherent complexity and diversity influence the success of a business that has chosen it as its preferred eCommerce platform. To properly execute a successful Magento project, business owners have to carefully plan and analyze their goals, match them with what Magento offers and identify possible issues along the way. It’s monumental even if you’re just switching between Magento versions.
In this article we will talk about some of the high-level concepts that business owners and executives have to keep in mind when starting a Magento project. If you’re considering this platform for your store, you’ll learn some business and development insights specific to Magento.
Since these tips don’t come in any particular order, we decided to start with the design because it’s going to be crucial for user experience. The design doesn’t just incorporate some basic visuals, banners, and images. It includes user interface and user experience details that are going to affect your store’s performance.
One of the most significant choices that business owners have to make with Magento’s design is whether they’re going for a custom design or a pre-made theme for their store.
Why going for a custom design might be a bad idea for your Magento store?
- You’re time-constrained, with a strict deadline for the project.
- You have a very limited design budget.
- You don’t have a clear understanding of functions and features that your store must have.
Why can a pre-made theme drag your Magento project down?
- You’re never going to fully standout within your market, as design customization is limited for many of these themes.
- Some themes suffer from inherently lousy code, and in many cases, you’ll learn this way down the road.
- You may be limited in the choice of extensions, as some of them might not work with your theme.
- Want to update to a newer version of Magento? You’re out of luck. Some vendors take months and ever years to update their templates. You’re better off buying a new one.
All of these things often boil down to a couple of important strategic goals. Are you building a B2C business or a B2B one? B2C Magento websites tend to be pretty similar, as you’re going to be working within the consumer market, and online shoppers prefer familiar interfaces that have developed over the years. For these kinds of stores, a pre-made Magento theme is an excellent choice, both technically and financially.
If you’re building a B2B website, rules of the game are a bit different. You might want to put the spotlight on your brand and express its uniqueness, differentiating it from the rest of the vendors within your market. These projects favor custom Magento designs.
Complexity and Scalability
What are your business goals? Are you expecting a rapid expansion? Do you have specific digital security requirements? Are you just focused on a small market?
All of these questions are important when deciding on the scalability and complexity of the eCommerce platform that you might want to work with. Magento is widely adopted among the biggest businesses due to a variety of reasons. One of the primary ones is the fact that it’s highly scalable.
This reason alone should not be a deciding factor, with the abundance of eCommerce solutions that are turn-key or far less complex than Magento. But it is crucial for businesses geared towards explosive growth.
What scalability factors contribute to the success of Magento projects?
- Support for massive inventories of hundreds of thousands of SKUs.
- Support for virtually any scalable cloud hosting.
- Open-source nature of Magento allows you to modify its code extensively.
What scenarios will make Magento an overkill for your eCommerce project?
- You’re building out a small business without any growth plans
- You can’t support a rapidly growing site financially or don’t have the workforce
So if you want your Magento project to be successful, you have to understand the limitations of the platform. You have to be ready for the constant state of optimization that a platform like Magento requires. Not because of its limitations. But because of its vast capabilities.
If you’re just building a sidekick to your original business, Magento might not be the right choice for you. But if you’re looking for a flexible and scalable eCommerce platform that will support your business for years to come – Magento is going to be a contributor to your success.
Resources and Limitations
As we previously mentioned, Magento is a resource-heavy eCommerce solution. If you want your Magento project to be successful, you have to plan. You have to either prepare for a hiring spree when your project picks up or have an outsourcing plan in place.
You have some options here:
- Rely on the experience of your team and let them have a go at it.
- Look around Upwork and other similar sites to gauge how much a freelance project like this would cost you.
- Get a quote from a professional team of developers.
If you don’t have at least a couple of experienced developers who can handle Magento, we suggest going with the last option in the list above. Not because we offer Magento eCommerce development services, but because it’s the next best thing after your team of Magento developers. Why?
- Freelance platforms are often filled with low-quality developers. You’ll be getting what you paid for.
- If they screw up your project and get punished by the platform, they’ll have other freelancing sites ready to accept their company.
On the contrary, development companies rely on their reputation, especially the bigger ones. These companies often have dedicated development squads and project managers, so they’ll work as an extension of your team.
Creating a Solid Customer Journey
It all comes back to the fact that Magento is not going to just babysit your funnel, like the restrictive eCommerce platforms with the lower technical bar and less flexibility.
There is virtually an endless selection of Magento solutions for each segment of the customer journey. Some are free, some are paid, some have to be custom-made. So in order to understand the final complexity of the project, you will have to spell out how you want your sales, marketing, and conversion funnels to work.
Here’s a short checklist. It’s pretty rudimentary, but it’ll give you a rough idea of how a basic customer journey plan for a Magento project should look like.
- How do you want your customers to find the store?
- What do you want them to see first?
- How does the ideal visitor funnel look like – from the discovery to the checkout?
- How does the returned customer’s experience look like?
- Which marketing channels do you want to use in your daily business activities?
- How would you like to interact with the suppliers?
- How would you like to manage your shipping?
You also have to consider the technical elements intertwined with the customer journey, similar to what is pictured below.
Image Source: Greyloud
You need a rough idea of how these things should work in your store. Focus on the things that your eCommerce destination can’t possibly launch without. This will help your developers build a better ecosystem of features that are going to be available from both the backend and the frontend. These will have to be then compared to what’s available with third-party vendors for Magento. Other functionality will have to be designed and coded from scratch, depending on your specific requirements.
Launching a successful Magento project is a pretty complicated task. To succeed, you have to build a detailed roadmap of the functionality that you want. It also has to spell out a wide variety of aspects that deal with customer interfaces and customer experience, like the overall design and specific details about the product pages.
Magento is a commitment, and you have to treat it with all seriousness. In exchange, you will get a scalable, highly customizable store that can sustain rapid and steady business growth while offering a plethora of added functionality through a highly diverse ecosystem of third-parties.
What is your routine when you plan a Magento project? What other important aspects have we missed? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.