27 June 2023 9min.
Magento versus dedicated platforms
A store built from scratch specifically for you is the only option to perfectly tailor an e-Commerce platform to your business needs? Not necessarily. Open-source solutions provide a great alternative to dedicated online stores.
If you have your own online store based on custom code, there’s a good chance it has caused you numerous problems. You might even be in the process of searching for an alternative solution for your e-Commerce. Find out how the open-source engine, specifically Magento, can address your issues related to a dedicated online store.
Why do we choose dedicated e-Commerce development?
When selecting an e-Commerce platform for your online store, various factors come into play. For some, the overall implementation cost is crucial, while others prioritize integration with their chosen ERP tool. Yet, others make decisions based on order management methods. There are several reasons why dedicated e-Commerce is chosen: a high level of customization, a unique store appearance, and no subscription fees.
It cannot be denied that dedicated solutions have their advantages. Therefore, they still enjoy considerable popularity. However, like any other system, they also have their drawbacks.
Who usually decides to move away from dedicated e-Commerce solutions?
Mainly, it is growing companies that, at a certain stage of expanding their sales system, encounter a barrier that they cannot overcome with a dedicated solution. Very often, these are businesses operating in the B2B sector that require advanced configurators, custom integrations, and a high level of automation.
It also happens that e-Commerce businesses decide to move away from a dedicated sales platform due to conflicts with the implementation agency. However, the most extreme case is when an online store is forced to create an entirely new sales platform because the agency implementing their system has exited the market.
What problems do owners of dedicated online stores face?
This, of course, depends on the individual situation of each e-Commerce business. However, there are several issues that arise in almost every conversation we have with clients who are transferring their store from a dedicated solution to Magento.
Dependency on a single agency
This is the most common problem associated with dedicated online stores. Why? Because it poses a threat to the business stability of an e-Commerce based on this solution.
By using a tailor-made platform, only the agency that developed it knows the code of your store. They built it from scratch and designed its structure. No other company will take on its maintenance or modifications. Even if the code is well-written, understanding it and analyzing its logic will take a lot of time and, consequently, cost a significant amount. It’s simply not worth the trouble.
By relying on a single implementation agency for your business, you also have to consider the possibility that your online store may stop functioning overnight. Why? Because the company implementing and maintaining your e-Commerce could cease to exist or terminate your contract. The reason for ending the partnership doesn’t matter. What matters is that by relying on a dedicated solution, you are at the mercy of the implementation agency.
The Magento Solution:
Open-source engines, including Magento, are characterized by the fact that the stores built on them have a single, unchanging core. You can freely change the business logic or the appearance of your e-Commerce, but the source code of the platform remains unchanged. All stores built on Magento follow a similar modular-based structure. As a result, any Magento agency can take over your project at any time. Of course, the timing for changing implementation agencies can be better or worse, but by building your store on this platform, you have the option to switch development teams if needed.
Time-consuming changes and modifications
If your store is a dedicated solution, there is a high risk that you will have to wait for any modifications to your sales platform. Each new store feature, configurator, or change in the purchase path will need to be developed from scratch. And unfortunately, that takes time.
When working with an agency, you are likely not their only client. Therefore, you should expect your tasks to wait in a queue for coding. There would be nothing wrong with this if the waiting time to start work on your e-Commerce was relatively short. However, if each change in a dedicated store (including changes for other clients of your implementation agency) takes a long time, it means that you will wait significantly longer for new functionalities compared to an open-source or SaaS-based store. As a result, having a dedicated online store will make it difficult for you to be a leader in innovation within your industry.
The Magento Solution:
By having an open-source-based online store, you open the door to faster development of your e-Commerce. If your current agency is unable to implement the changes you have planned, you can turn to another agency that can execute the task more quickly. Magento does not tie you to a single agency. If your current implementation company is dragging its feet, you can change it. That’s all there is to it.
Rising costs of maintaining and developing the sales platform
While the implementation of a dedicated store itself may be cheaper than using the Magento engine, you have to be prepared for the possibility that your agency can raise their rates at any time. Unfortunately, with a tailor-made solution, there isn’t much you can do. No other agency will be willing to work on code they are not familiar with. You can certainly try to negotiate with your implementation company, but that rarely ends successfully. In the end, maintaining and developing your dedicated e-Commerce can cost you much more than a store based on an open-source or SaaS platform.
The Magento Solution:
If the agency responsible for Magento development decides to increase their rates, you can easily switch to another agency. In the market, you will find several truly good implementation agencies (including Satisfly) that can assist you in maintaining and developing your online store, even if they had nothing to do with its initial implementation.
Limited system development capabilities
At a certain stage, when you want to grow your business, you need to invest in expanding your sales platform. It might seem that a dedicated online store would be perfectly suited for this purpose. After all, agencies specializing in such implementations often advertise the high level of flexibility of such solutions. However, there is one caveat. In the case of tailor-made stores, it is very easy to encounter errors in the logic and code correctness. As a result, at some point, the structure of your system may no longer allow for further modifications. Consequently, your e-Commerce reaches a ceiling it cannot overcome. This is particularly significant for B2B platforms, which usually require more advanced functionalities than B2C online stores.
The Magento Solution:
Thanks to Magento’s modular architecture, you can easily add the functionalities your business currently needs to your sales platform. Even the most complex online stores built on this engine still rely on a single core. The structure of your system will never be too complicated to implement advanced features (at least it shouldn’t be). However, everything depends on the skills of the developers handling your store and the budget you have.
Issues with integrations with external systems
The ability to integrate your e-Commerce with external systems such as ERP, PIM, marketing automation, or payment gateways is extremely important. Without it, running online sales smoothly becomes very difficult. However, when using a dedicated online store, you have limited flexibility in this regard.
Firstly, the team of developers handling your e-Commerce needs to build the integration from scratch, which naturally takes time and money that you will have to allocate for this purpose.
Secondly, integrations specifically developed for dedicated e-Commerce often fall short. As the system grows, even in completely different areas, the logic of the code becomes more complex. This can lead to issues with the functioning of existing integrations. Over time, the current structure of your system may prevent the full utilization of all the features of the external tool.
The Magento Solution:
Many external software providers for e-Commerce offer official extensions for Magento, which allow you to integrate them with your online store easily, quickly, and, above all, affordably. Official modules guarantee the proper functioning of integrations, so you don’t have to worry about whether all the data will be transmitted correctly. Even if the external software does not offer an official plugin for this engine, there is a high probability that someone from the Magento community has already created a suitable extension and offers it for free or for a fee on the Magento marketplace. If there are no ready-made solutions available on the market, or if the offered plugins are of low quality, your developers can build a custom integration from scratch. Thanks to Magento’s modular architecture, you minimize the risk of communication errors between the external system and your store and maximize the flexibility of your shop.
Challenges in implementing advanced configurators
The nature of your business or the purchasing preferences of your customers may require the presence of an advanced product configurator in your online store. The agency implementing your dedicated e-Commerce can certainly code such a feature for you, but it will typically take a significant amount of time and cost a considerable amount of money. Similar to integration with external systems, it may turn out that the current structure of the system hinders the implementation of a configurator that meets your and your customers’ expectations. Unfortunately, a dedicated sales platform has many limitations that impede the further development of your business.
The Magento Solution:
Advanced configurators are one of the most frequently mentioned reasons for choosing this engine. We have already mentioned the modular architecture of Magento multiple times. It is thanks to this architecture that e-Commerce stores implemented on this platform can boast tremendous flexibility and performance. Implementing an advanced configurator in a Magento-based store may take some time (depending on its complexity), but it is definitely possible.
Is Magento a panacea for all problems?
Unfortunately, no. Like any other e-Commerce platform, Magento has its pros and cons. Even as an agency specializing in Magento implementations, we won’t claim that it’s the solution for everyone. However, from the perspective of a dedicated online store owner dealing with certain technological problems and limitations, Magento can be a great alternative. Its modular architecture, extensive catalog of ready-made extensions, and the ability to transfer the project to another agency at any stage of implementation make it one of the most flexible e-Commerce platforms.