So, Magento sucks and you need an alternative [opinion]

Yes it’s true, Magento sucks, here’s why and what you can do

Hopefully, you aren’t months deeps into a Magento project when you realize the developers you hired for tons of money aren’t even able to create the proper functionality you need within Magento. If this is you, well I guess this post should have been written a bit earlier. Before you embark on a deep a$$ rabbit hole, be sure to do your homework. Magento has an immense following (probably because there wasn’t really an open source option 10 years ago quite like Magento. For this reason, so many people adopted it and now find themselves stuck in an endless trap of configurations, bugs, limited functions and slow site performance. This is not your fault. Many people have issues with Magento, because it is hard, even for experienced developers. Managing all the infrastructure required for Magento is extraordinarily challenging, and will require big bucks to support, or a full-time effort to keep it up. Almost by the time it’s too late you’ll realize there are too many apps running parts of Magento here and there, the infrastructure strain is killing development time, and you’ve got a ton of things you’d like to try but aren’t able to because Magento doesn’t support it so you realize Magento sucks and you need an alternative.

People are switching from Magento

It seems like droves are flocking to Magento, but the reality is more are dropping Magento for alternatives than are picking it up. It’s hard to tell exactly what is causing this exodus, but you can be sure it is probably a combination of a few things. As you can see by the chart below the sites onboard compared to drops isn’t exactly positive. Not to mention the number of sites using Magento from 2015 to current dropped from 240,000 to 101,000 according to Datanyze.com (6/9/2017).

I have to admit I was kind of shocked to see this as well, but then once you dig in you realize that there actually are quite a few options providing far more value for money and time than Magento, and lots of people are using them. After a bit of digging through Quora, G2 Crowd, and Magento Community sites I came up with a few points I saw represented over and over to bring them here in search of an answer.

The Magento Architecture Issue

Part of a repeated series of comments on Magento was the seemingly endless architecture requirements to set up and operate Magento. This is no child’s toy, it really requires some knowledge of computer engineering, infrastructure engineering, and understanding the Magento developer structure as well as their design framework. For any startup or anyone with smaller teams, this presents a whole lot of work, and/or money to get set up and going. Some of the comments we saw on architecture for Magento:

  • “Learning curve. It’s pretty steep. If you aren’t familiar with OOP/Java, or if you hate/don’t know the PHP Zend Framework very well, then go buy some books and spend a month or so learning the ins and outs of the system. Even an experienced programmer will need some time to learn Magento. It’s not you. This also includes skinning/creating designs for Magento. The design/layout system is unbelievably (and beautifully) sophisticated, but learning how to implement a combination of “layout XML,” PHP templates (.phtml files), and Blocks to bring functionality, structure and design all together can make for an interesting course in ‘What’s the smartest possible way to abstract content, from design, from code?’”- From: Jonathan Fenocchi — Magento: What are the major advantages/disadvantages of using the magento platform?
  • “The Magento Security Center charges heftily to resolve the issues, in case the eCommerce site faces troubles.” and “Requires an experienced professional to create a store using Magento.” — From: Ankur — Magento: What are the major advantages/disadvantages of using the magento platform?
  • “Unless it got significantly better/redesigned in the last couple of years, Magento is a piece of junk.”

Arguably it’s been years since I worked with it, but installation was weird, developing is slow a cumbersome, documentation was lacking, search was pretty much broken and it was slow. I can’t image running it on a shared host, performance must be terrible.

On the positive side Magento does have an impressive amount of features.

From: mrweasel on Hacker News

In digging around for other Magento user stories this chart came up which includes the 15 different components required to set up and operate a Magento storefront, which is no small task to accomplish. Compare this to something like Epic Commerce as a hosted open source solution and you’ve eliminated more than half the tasks, with still infinite scalability, and easier customization of the front-end as well as the flexible development of the backend available in any client language. This also enables omnichannel out of the box, with a super easy and powerful logic and AI center which automates multiple aspects of your whole eCommerce site, something nowhere near Magento. Have a go at this with a free trial here. Yes, I may be biased, but we’ve built to the advantages of logic and AI, architecting to optimize the weaknesses of Magento.

Operation Overload: Magento is too open

So far you’re probably feeling overwhelmed already. This is the feeling behind many Magento first timers, experts, and specialists alike. Now, another reason Magento sucks is one of the same reasons a lot of people like it. The Magento marketplace enables access to a lot of cool apps. However, by the time you realize all the apps you need to grab in order to operate your eCommerce business successfully, you’ll notice it is yet again more overwhelm and more costs that you didn’t expect. The Magento app store has many options don’t get me wrong. While I do understand not ever eCommerce store is the same I also feel many of those apps can be replaced with a few core integrations and features. If you look at the variety of the apps, it handles simple functions or makes connections with providers from various vendors. These apps range in price from freemium to over $1,000 per month depending on their functionality and perceived value. With so many options, it makes it easy to keep adding apps. Unfortunately, many are ineffective, buggy, and can have a dramatic effect on slowing down the performance of the platform and experience for your customers. With all the apps, it’s no wonder people install so many, but lots of sites we’ve replaced with Epic Commerce have ended up coming to us because they realize all the essential components are within the platform itself. In the cases it’s not, you work together to build the proper function you need. Chances are there is a repository or other simple scripter which will allow you anything you need. So why do we need all these apps? It just makes Magento suck.

All these apps can be replaced with a single one. This happens over and over yet we see people using similar apps for similar functions and it creates a heavier load to manage and for infrastructure page speed.

Use something that doesn’t suck

While there are a million options for what you might use to operate your commerce system, there is something that makes sense. This system ideally should offer the flexibility of the Magento platform without the complete wreck of a complicated way to make it all happen. On the other end, it should have more than enough power to handle the omnichannel capabilities needed, referrals, rewards, accounts, checkout process etc. without a million apps to rely on. Most important it should be smart and it should enable you to automate many tasks from marketing to shipping labels, to follow-ups, a similar product and more. Magento sucks so here are a few things to keep in mind while selecting the right new commerce system for you:

  • Don’t go for limitations on product count
  • Use something with automation sequences
  • Find a happy balance with the right product and customer
  • Leverage logic and AI to make your job easier
  • Encourage omichannel product availability
  • Use an API from the platform to customize
  • Design custom, this gives Google less reason to penalize
  • Custom product fields for those tough products with finickey product features
  • Custom user properties for integrated AI tracking algorithms

Of course, there are always more things we can include here. The most important thing, do what works for you. If something simpler and easier to start with works, go with that. If Magento with it’s complex full stack and design mediums, it’s up to you. For a commerce system that adapts to the current needs of the customer, it’s crucial to use the power within logic and AI, while also making sure your operations aren’t harder than they need to be with too many apps, scripts, servers and more. Try Epic Commerce for free today and see if it makes sense for your business needs or email a specialist@orkiv.com

Original article published on the Orkiv blog

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