Some of the questions you’ll be able to answer after reading this page are:
What is Magento?
What are its pros and cons?
What should I look for in a web host for Magento?
We’ll also take a look at Magento’s top features in both their Community and Enterprise editions. Furthermore, I’ll share pitfalls you need to avoid in choosing a Magento host.
Plus I’ll offer my recommendations for hosts. Let’s get started!
What is Magento?
Magento is a popular e-commerce site system that offers site owners a uniquely powerful combination of flexibility and ease-of-use.
Do you want to sell downloadable products? T-shirts from a drop-shipper? Your own handmade creations?
Magento will work for you, regardless of your business model or the type of inventory you offer for sale.
The Magento platform is one of the most popular standalone e-commerce platforms available. It isn’t hard to see why. The company is owned by eBay, Inc., which is one of the internet’s largest retailers.
The software is available in an Open Source Community Edition, as well as in a premium Enterprise version.
The open source version of Magento is a complete e-commerce platform, not a freeware preview edition. If you are willing and able to take the time to set up and configure the software, there is very little you can’t do with the Community Edition.
The following list highlights the most important features shared in both versions.
How Do Magento’s Marketing and Promotions Feature Support Selling Online?
The right marketing and promotional tools can make all the difference between a failed e-commerce business and a highly successful one.
Magento offers a number of key features to help busy online store owners grow and promote their storefront sites.
Display related items on product pages
Upsell offers and cross promotions
Create highly customizable coupons and special pricing rules
Configure tiered pricing and volume discounts
Create category landing pages
Packaged products and bundling
Display recently viewed items to customers
New item promotions
Multiple shipping options, including support for free shipping
Display polls and surveys
Manage email newsletters
Enable customer wishlists and send-to-friend functions
Magento Commerce created “Magento U” to offer on-demand training. They also hold in-person training events as well. Check out their YouTube channel to find tutorials.
How Can Magento’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Help Me Sell?
In a crowded digital marketplace, a well-optimized site and product pages help you attract more shoppers and make more sales.
Magento offers the following SEO tools to help searchers find you online:
XML Site Map
Pretty URLs, with full control over URL settings
HTML metadata for products, categories and content pages
Popular search terms page
Google Content API
Simplified Site Management Can Be a Time-Saver
Managing your e-commerce site’s administrative functions can be a complex and time-consuming matter. Magento makes the job somewhat easier with these site management tools:
Manage multiple sites from one administration login
User types with customizable permissions
Full customizable theming and templating engine
Internationalization and localization built-in, including currency support.
Web Services API for third-party integrations
Batch import and export of all data (product, orders, customers, etc.)
Built-in CMS (Content Management System) for pages, blog posts, announcements, landing pages, and other content
Tax calculation, based on multiple areas and customer types
Anti-spam measures such as CAPTCHA
How Does Catalog Management Work in Magento?
Managing the display and organizational aspects of the product catalog is another vital aspect of online shopping site management.
Magento provides some fairly extensive catalog management options, including the following:
Easy to configure product groups and variations
Variable pricing for different customer groups (retail vs. wholesale; members vs. visitors, etc.)
Digital/downloadable products and sample excerpts
Unlimited product attributes
Group custom attribute fields into attribute sets for quickly creating similar products within a class of items
Complete inventory management tools, with RSS alerts
Batch updates to product groups
Automated product image resizing and watermarking
Specialized pricing rules with multiple options and conditionals
Search term rewrites and result-page redirects
Crowd-sourced tags and reviews, with full moderation capability
Support for personalized products (embroidering, monogramming, photo printing, etc)
Multiple configurable options for customer input
What Options Does Magento Offer for Browsing Products?
Customers appreciate an easy, intuitive approach to catalog browsing on e-commerce sites.
A well-featured e-commerce solution should make it as simple as possible for your visitors to find the products they’re most interested in purchasing.
Magento provides the following catalog browsing options:
Multi-layered navigation with search results and product categories
Filter and sort by price or price range
Catalog search, with auto-suggest
Category and product specific page designs and templates.
Product Display Options
E-commerce optimization includes maximizing the visual appeal of your products through a variety of display options.
Magento provides the following features to assist you in creating a product display system that shows off your inventory to its best advantage:
Multiple images for a product
Tiered pricing upsell
Send to a friend
Share to social media.
Checkout, Payment, and Shipping Options in Magento
An e-commerce site will not last long if its checkout and payment systems are not strong, secure, and reliable. Customers must be able to trust the security of their sensitive personal and financial information, including addresses and credit card data.
Likewise, shipping options should ideally be available to customers so that they can make the best purchasing decisions; often, shipping costs can add substantially to the overall price.
Magento offers the following options for configuring checkout, payment, and shipping:
Single page checkout
Checkout as a guest or with an account
Ship to multiple addresses in a single order
SSL / HTTPS support for orders
Saved shopping carts
Gift messages (per order, per product)
Shipping and tax estimates
Integration with multiple payment gateways, including PayPal and Authorize.net
Accept checks, money orders, and purchase orders
“Bill Me Later” option
Flat rate and free shipping
Shipping rates calculated by weight, volume, and number of items
How Does Magento Handle Order Management?
Order management options offered by Magento include a number of tools to help ensure accuracy and reliability of the purchase process:
View, edit, create and fill orders from backend
Multiple invoices per order
Shipping integration and label printing, with real-time rates from UPS, USPS, FedEx, and DHL
Call-center order-taking interface and assisted shopping
Custom Order Statuses
Order duplication and re-ordering
New order notifications via email or RSS
Magento supports B2B as well as B2C e-cmmerce.
Customer Accounts in Magento
Customers appreciate being treated like valued individuals. Customer account systems empower e-commerce brands with value-added tools that help engender greater levels of trust and goodwill.
Magento offers the following tools to set up, administer and manage customer accounts:
Unlimited ship-to and bill-to addresses, with a default selection
Wishlist with commenting
Order status and history
Email subscription management
Product reviews and tagging history
Access to downloadable products
How Does Magento Support Customer Service?
Customer service is a crucial component of a successful e-commerce business. Problems and complaints are inevitable.
As long as the business provides the essential tools for the site owner and the customer to address those issues as they arise, the business’s good reputation can be maintained. Magento’s features include the following customer service tools:
Create and edit orders as admin
Order tracking from an account
Password reset from admin or front-end
Automated emails for account and order activity.
Analytics and Reporting
Finally, e-commerce site owners require access to continuing, reliable data to monitor the core metrics that measure the health of the business as a whole.
Magento provides analytics access through the following integrations and tools:
Easy integration with Google Analytics
Admin reports dashboard
Detailed reporting on virtually every facet of the store, including sales, tax, cart abandonment, most viewed, top performing products, search terms, review activity, inventory, coupon use, refunds, revenue, and invoicing
What Features Does Magento Enterprise Edition Offer?
If Magento Community edition is insufficient to meet your e-commerce needs, the Enterprise edition offers additional functionality and greatly enhanced support.
Why Select Enterprise Edition Instead of Community Edition?
There are two reasons not to use the Community Edition and pay for the premium version instead. The first reason is the high level of support and general ease of use as compared with the DIY nature of the Open Source version. The second reason is that you need access to one or more features only available in the Enterprise Edition.
The following list highlights some of the most important of the features only available to Enterprise customers.
The right hosting plan for your needs will largely depend on the size of your site.
How Large is Your Magento Store?
The larger your store, the more resources are needed for your Magento shop to load quickly for visitors. If your site has any significant revenue, shared hosting is likely going to be too slow, and cost you sales.
It will usually make sense to upgrade at least to a VPS.
The Dedicated Hosting Option
Monitor page load times from there, and if they’re still too slow, you can always upgrade to the more expensive dedicated server options.
My Top 3 Recommendations for Magento Hosts
Speed is a major concern with Magento.
If not handled correctly, it can load slowly, especially for developers making changes to the e-commerce store, and more importantly, it can slow down response time for visitors.
SiteGround for Fast Magento Hosting
SiteGround is a great Magento host if you’re trying to reduce or eliminate speed issues.
Hosting plans come with SSD storage, as well as SiteGround’s proprietary SuperCacher speed technology.
Magento will run fine on shared plans, a VPS, or a dedicated server; just pick the right one for your shop size.
Finally, you can pick the server location you’d like, as Siteground has multiple datacenters around the world.
InMotion Hosting: Strong Support and Magento Alternatives
InMotion Hosting is an excellent choice is you’re creating an online store for a business in the United States. It has server locations on both the east and west coasts, with exceptional 24/7/365 U.S. based support.
The server technology easily surpasses the minimum requirements for running Magento 2, with PHP 7 fully supported.
Finally, if you’re not quite sold on Magento for your business, or have problems down the line, you can always switch to PrestaShop, a free e-commerce platform included for free on all InMotion plans.
Bluehost: a Magento Budget Option
Not everyone needs premium performance or support. If that sounds like you, and you’re looking to find a budget host plan, you might like BlueHost.
It’s not blazing fast, and the support isn’t amazing. In fact, there’s very little documentation on Magento specifically in their knowledge base.
However, all plans are cheap, fairly reliable, and have decent performance.
What are the Pros and Cons of Magento?
Even the top dogs have their downsides. Make sure you consider the below points side-by-side, to ensure Magento is the right platform for you.
Magento is a mature and free open source e-commerce platform.
You can easily install Magento on most hosting plans through script installers.
Many hosts configure their servers to maximize Magento hosting performance.
Magento doesn’t require any special software on a server to get a basic site up.
Magento can slow down your site, depending on your server performance.
Magento has quite a learning curve, as it’s a complex collection of e-commerce software.
There have been a few significant security breaches in the past, so you need to update Magento as soon as an update becomes available to avoid disasters.
Other features in How to Choose an Ecommerce Host for Your Online Store
Magento is an ecommerce platform, a software application used for building online stores.
Is Magento free or open-source?
There are two version of Magento, a Community Edition and an Enterprise Edition. The Community Edition is free and open-source. The Enterprise Edition is proprietary and subject to an annual licensing fee.
Is Magento Community Edition a substantial application?
Sometimes commercial software providers create freeware versions of their software, hoping to get people interested in purchasing the premium version. That is not what’s going on here. Magento CE is a full-featured, open-source ecommerce system. If you are technically savvy, and willing to put the work in, there is very little you can’t do with Magento Community Edition.
Why would I pay for the Enterprise Edition if the Community Edition is free?
There are two reasons someone might want to use the Enterprise Edition.
The biggest reason is support. The premium version includes a high level of support that might be attractive to someone not comfortable with the DIY nature of open-source software.
The other reason is that there are some additional features available in the Enterprise Edition, which are geared to larger, more demanding sites
What additional features are available in the Enterprise Edition?
The Enterprise Edition offers a number of additional features. Here are just a few:
Dynamic Rule-Based Product Relations
Automated Email Marketing Reminder
Private Sales, Gift Registry
Customer Loyalty Programs
Multiple Wish Lists
Advanced Customer Attributes
PA-DSS Certified Payment Processing.
Is there one-click installation available for Magento?
Many hosting companies provide one click installation of Magento Community Edition from their dashboard.
What alternatives are there to Magento?
Two of the more popular self-hosted ecommerce platforms are osCommerce and Zen Cart. You can also build ecommerce functionality on top of a larger content management system like WordPress or Joomla, using a plugin or extension. The most popular options here are two WordPress plugins: WP E-commerce and WooCommerce. Finally, depending on the type of products you are planning to sell, you could use an online marketplace like eBay, Shopify, or Amazon instead of setting up your own online store.
Will Magento work on shared hosting?
It is likely that you will be able to get Magento installed and running on shared hosting, but it is usually not going to be an adequate platform for this type of website. Ecommerce requires a high degree of security and concern for user privacy, which is harder to guarantee in a shared hosting environment. Additionally, an online store is almost certainly a mission-critical website, and shared hosting is not the most reliable option for this kind of project.
What is the best type of Magento hosting?
If you are serious about building a successful e-commerce system on Magento, it is probably best to use a scalable VPS hosting solution. This will allow you to expand over time, and only pay more as you generate more traffic.
What operating systems does Magento run on?
Magento only runs on Linux.
About Dale Cudmore
Freelance blogger by day, developer by night, Dale is a freelance writer who specializes in technology and digital marketing. He studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. After finding that unfulfilling, he moved onto a career in freelance writing, while self-teaching himself web development on the side.
Connect with Dale
Who's Best for Magento Hosting?
We think SiteGround is the best choice for Magento.