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Webmaster For Hire's CyberBulletin Podcast

Why & When to Use Magento E-Commerce Platform

This podcast episode is about Magento websites for e-commerce. It is also discussed in this podcast on when to use this platform and why would someone choose it over others. 


Welcome to Webmaster for Hire’s cyber bulletin podcast. Get the power to increase your business’ web impact.

Elizabeth Varian:  Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Webmaster for Hires cyber bulletin podcast. Elizabeth Varian here, CEO and president of Webmaster for Hire. Today, I am not alone. We have with us our very own senior production manager, Branden Wansel. I’m close on that spelling because I know it’s similar to Hansel. Branden, how are you doing today?

Branden Wansel:  I’m doing just fine, thanks.

Elizabeth Varian:  I didn’t hack that last name did I?

Branden Wansel:  No, it was close enough.

Elizabeth Varian:  Whoo hoo! I’m just used to calling you Branden.

Branden Wansel:  Branden’s just fine.

Elizabeth Varian:  Branden’s just fine. We’re going to talk today about Magento websites for e-commerce, which is why I asked Branden to join us today. We’re going to jump right in. If you’re familiar with e-commerce out there, there’s so many options for selling products on the internet. You can Open Cart, Zen Cart, CS Cart, Shopify is now becoming a big one, and Magento. Kind of want to help you to identify a bit of an overview of Magento and why would one choose it. Why don’t we start with that question, Branden, and explain to our listeners why would someone choose Magento over all those other options.

Branden Wansel:  Okay. The Magento content management system platform is the most widely used e-commerce platform in the world today. They’re owned by eBay and some of the most leading brands such as Samsung, Nestle, Nespresso. Just got one of those machines.

Elizabeth Varian:  Yum.

Branden Wansel:  Nike, Mens Health, and Olympus used the Magento platform along with millions of other small and and medium size businesses across the world. They go with Magento development verses other CMS platforms due to the fact, one of the main reasons is that they’re open source. That just means that if you’re a PHP development professional and you know Magento, you can easily write your own customized code or modules to give your Magento e-commerce website functions, features, capabilities, anything like that, that you’re looking for. Being open source also means to be free and that makes perfect sense for your business because you don’t want to get bogged down with a limited closed box solution… which Magento is far from.

Another nice feature, they have a really, really good community out there with a great support network if you have questions or you need help with something Magento related. You can pretty much always get your answers out there — if not live, then on one of those bulletin boards.

Elizabeth Varian:  The support is wonderful. I want to stress what you had said is, you definitely want to know code before you go in and play in any of these  open source or —

Branden Wansel:  Absolutely.

Elizabeth Varian:  Or you can break your time consuming to build site. What are some of those top benefits. Just kind of touch on some points of what are the benefits of having the Magento site?

Branden Wansel:  Well, with the ones that I had mentioned, I would add it’s SEO friendly and ready. It was created for e-commerce. It’s scalable, flexible, it has a ton of marketing capabilities. It’s available in three flavors. Community edition, enterprise edition, and Magento Go which is their hosted solution. It contains a WYSIWYG editor to make adding or editing content a snap. Very similar to the ribbon on Microsoft Word.

Elizabeth Varian:  Yeah.

Branden Wansel:  It kind of looks like at the top. The buttons are very familiar so using the WYSIWYG editor makes it so easy anybody can pretty much do it. They have some of the most best and advanced features that a system of e-commerce can offer. Granular access control to assign a particular level of permissions. They have a multitude of modules that can be installed to customize virtual store. They have the ability to incorporate multiple payment options.

Elizabeth Varian:  Nice.

Branden Wansel:  It’s mobile friendly. It’s well built and very strong in the terms of security and stability.

Elizabeth Varian:  Which is very…

Branden Wansel:  To be a server running on … Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. That protects your customers and transactions. Keeps them completely private without any third party access. It’s a good system.

Elizabeth Varian:  Yeah. I like the multi site where you can have multiple stores and one backend inventory.

Branden Wansel:  Yep.

Elizabeth Varian:  It’s definitely way more robust than a lot of them, especially when you have all the components you can add on. We’re thinking about WooCommerce which we also do verses Magento. What are factors to be thinking of? It’s similar to why I choose Magento, but some specific factors, number of skews, functionality that I would go, oh I’m going to go with Magento over WooCommerce.

Branden Wansel:  Okay. Hosted solutions, online storage provided by companies such as Shopify are a good solution if you have no coding skills or just don’t want the hassle of working under the hood. These platforms work out of the box with minimal setup, offer user friendly interfaces, and that helps you get your products online quickly. They come with options of free or paid graphical themes to suit your visual preference. They offer a couple of payment methods which are accessible to your customers and they also provide you with web hosting. They do have some draw backs. Other than the costs which you’re going to have regardless of whether you choose hosted or any other solutions are that they limit your ability to customize the aspect of the website and they usually have a per transaction fee or a certain percentage.

While this solution offers a platform perfectly tailored to your needs without other bulk and no limitations, this option is usually high cost, high maintenance, and time consuming. I’m talking about the proprietary platforms.

Elizabeth Varian:  Mm-hmm —

Branden Wansel:  Then you have your open source platforms. This is some of the reasons why Magento is my top pick. It’s a robust platform. Magento offers an enterprise version of their software. Most if not all the features end up in their community edition of giving you an enterprise level platform constantly up-to-date with security and out of box enhancements. It is user friendly. The interface on both the front and back end are intuitive, familiar to you and your customers. While Magento is complex, it’s not complicated. That gives your clients a rich shopping experience. Like you had mentioned before, the multiple store and catalog management, you can have several stores under one hood. You don’t have to go to three different log-ins to manage three different stores. You can manage it in one location.

Elizabeth Varian:  We use that for one of our clients who has numerous stores and so it saves her tons of time. The other thing is, when you get companies that are told, “Hey you now need to be on the internet,” and you have hundreds to hundreds of thousands of skews, one of the benefits I think with Magento is, it handles it way easier than some of these very low cost, low maintenance products out there.

Branden Wansel:  Exactly. A couple of the other features they have is the whole internationalization. E-commerce, different countries, different currencies…

Elizabeth Varian:  Yes.

Branden Wansel:  It implements it so much easier how it handles any currency with automatic daily exchange rate updates. It has multiple language support. There’s translations available for both front end and backend in pretty much any language, which can be even triggered by the users IP address. If you’re in that country, you have it kind of set up to automatically change languages for you. Which is really nice.

Elizabeth Varian:  That explains why the larger corporations would choose it.

Branden Wansel:  Exactly.

Elizabeth Varian:  Many of them that you mentioned earlier, they’re global.

Branden Wansel:  Mm-hmm —

Elizabeth Varian:  How much easier to base it off of someone’s IP or allow them to choose what language. Like, with WordPress, you would have multiple sites or you would have to go in and add a very complex plugin that can be tricky with other plugins. With Magento, all in one, easy-peasy … once it’s set up for you.

Branden Wansel:  Mm-hmm —

Elizabeth Varian:  What … Go ahead.

Branden Wansel:  I was just going to say, ease big businesses use Magento, but I don’t want that to intimidate a smaller medium size business owner because it has out of the box functionality. I mean, when you go to set it up, you have the ability to choose any popular shipping method you want for your product, UPS, FedEx, and USPS. It’s built right in. There’s not much you have to do to get it set up.

It’s got payment processors already built into it. PayPal,, COD, and credit cards already integrated into the system ready to go. You just plug in your account details and you’re ready to rock and roll basically. Smaller businesses shouldn’t be intimidated just because a company like Nike or Nespresso is using Magento. It’s really great for huge businesses enterprise size, and medium, and small businesses as well. I just wanted to stress that.

Elizabeth Varian:  Yeah, no, that’s good. With WooCommerce, whenever we have a client using that, we have to go buy those plugins for It only comes with PayPal standard. It doesn’t come with the languages, it doesn’t come with all of those options. You’re right, smaller businesses may have a need of those functionalities, but it’s easier to get it from an all in one capability verses adding on plugin, after plugin, after plugin.

Branden Wansel:  Yep, and it’s extensible to so if they need to add something to it that’s not already baked in, they have access to a ton of free and paid modules that extend the functionality of the Magento system. That’s available to them as well.

Elizabeth Varian:  You had mentioned the small and medium sized businesses. What type of businesses should consider Magento? Let’s get more specific.

Branden Wansel:  Just any business who believes that having an online store will bring them more revenue.

Elizabeth Varian:  Whoo hoo!

Branden Wansel: They can consider using Magento. Seriously, it’s made for all business sizes, no exception. If you’re a real small business, it’s made for you. If you’re a medium size business it’s made for you. If you’re a huge business, it’s definitely made for you. It’s got the flexibility, and the control, and the extensibility to suit all of those businesses, business types.

Elizabeth Varian:  Perfect. You know, keeping up with the security patches is definitely imperative. A lot of people, when they shop around for Magento programmers or people to help them build Magento, they may get a little sticker shock, not in Magento itself, but in how much you have to pay to have programmers help you fix it. Obviously, not everyone can go in and play in the code. You guys typically slap my hands when I try and play in the code. Not going to discuss any specific issues, but it isn’t as cheap as hiring someone to build a WooCommerce site.

Because it’s so robust, what are some other reasons that may attribute to why a Magento programmer as not as inexpensive as someone to do WooCommerce?

Branden Wansel:  There’s a number of factors why Magento can tend to be a little more expensive to have a programmer hired to make changes or to fix portions of it, or to set up a module, or even a complete setup from the ground up. As far as Magento itself goes, I guess that’s more of a concern there.

Let’s first say that there’s a couple of versions of Magento that are out there. The community version is absolutely free. You don’t have to pay anything for that. If you’re using the enterprise version, then you do have to buy the license for it. Depending on the size of your market, this will vary. You will have to be prepared that Magento does want its own little wind turbine to power it. In other words, your web server needs to offer sufficient processing power for your store and your projected visitor numbers. That’s a cost associated.

Elizabeth Varian:  So you have a hosting cost.

Branden Wansel:  There are banning for online payment gateway charges. There’s security certificate charges and so on. They also have to be prepared to invest in performance tweaking after the site is run for a few weeks or months. That’s another cost. Another important aspect of running a store is the ongoing monitoring, the tweaking, the maintenance, maintaining. Just like anything else.

They should make sure their Magento developer is around when they need them and they should be engaged with their developer about their store on a regular basis. They should definitely consult with them best strategies to improve their store performance and ultimately their sales. All these things cost money but it’s a necessary evil. With all the flexibility it has extensibility, everything that it can do. It literally is the one stop shop for everything an e-commerce store would require.

Maintenance for that type of platform can get pricey depending on what your needs are.

Elizabeth Varian:  Mm-hmm — And, pricey is subjective, but yeah it all depends on budgets. You should keep that in mind and everything you touched on is very valid and there’s way more files to Magento than there is to a WooCommerce.

Branden Wansel: Oh yeah.

Elizabeth Varian:  There’s a lot more  pieces to touch.

Branden Wansel:  There’s so many pieces you can do.

Elizabeth Varian:  There’s way more to do that just a layman off the street who doesn’t know any code or barely is schooled with code to jump in may be overwhelming. Whereas, something like a WooCommerce is a plug and play kind of concept. That’s why we love Magento is it’s got that power behind it. While you are considering Magento, do keep in mind that your costs don’t end once you build it out. You do want to keep your site secure. We’ll talk about security on another day, but I tell everybody if Target, if Microsoft, if Target, if the government can be hacked, then you want to make sure you’re secure because anybody can. You mentioned earlier about being SEO ready.

Branden Wansel: Oh yeah.

Elizabeth Varian:  Now, this is my love of life  — is marketing on the internet — and I came from being an SEO expert at CBS Sportsline and so on everything I do I’m always going, can it be optimized for search engines and some e-commerce sites it’s pretty tough to get optimized. You had mentioned that it was. Tell us more about that.

Branden Wansel:  Is it optimized for … You mean out of the box? Its SEO functions?

Elizabeth Varian:  Yeah.

Branden Wansel:  At Magento websites…

Elizabeth Varian:  Yeah. Not all the key words are plugged in because you still have to do that yourself, but it can be optimized. The Magento sites, when you type them in, they actually have rank.

Branden Wansel:  Oh yeah. That’s one of the business critical decisions that people need to make to ensure their website is getting found online is to have something SEO friendly. You want to appear in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and so forth. Going with Magento, you are choosing an e-commerce platform that is built with SEO in mind. From the ability to customize their URL for SEO best practices, to having site maps, or even adding meta tags or multi layered navigation. Magento has it all and then some from an SEO perspective. If they’re looking for an e-commerce platform that is SEO friendly which is crucial to get found online for products or services, then Magento CMS platform is one of their best choices. That just goes with the Magento territory. Not every solution provides for SEO like Magento does.

A lot of them, you have to get this plugin. You have to put that plugin there. You have to make sure you add this. You have to add the tags, the keywords, all this other stuff. Magento has a lot of that already baked in and it’s SEO friendly and it’s just great. I love it.

Elizabeth Varian:  Nice. Well, I’m glad that we stole some time away from your job today. Everybody, definitely consider Magento when you’re looking at your e-commerce solutions. I don’t recommend that you try to learn code by installing your own Magento site.

Here at Webmaster for Hire, we are always willing to help you out as we are Magento experts and we are always available to help our clients throughout the process. If you’re looking to get a Magento site, give us a call at 561-822-9931, or check us out on the web at Thanks again, and I wish I was in the same office as you right now to go get some of that Nespresso, Branden.

Branden Wansel: I’m going to make latte in just a minute.

Elizabeth Varian: Oh, so jealous. All right, everybody, we’ll talk to you the next time on our next podcast. Until then, see your blessings. Thanks so much.

Thank you for listening. Webmaster for Hiring, helping companies thrive in the digital world. Connect with use today for impact tomorrow. Located online at or call 561-822-9931.

AUTHOR - Beth Varian

Beth Varian has been working on the internet in some capacity since 1995. Working for such companies as a small chemical lab contractor to digital media sports mogul, CBS SportsLine. When starting Webmaster For Hire, she wanted to focus on the personalized experience and customer services for clients. Though the internet has been around for decades now, it is still a mystical place for many business owners.