For quite some time, Magento was the de facto standard when it came to enterprise-grade ecommerce solutions. The fact that it was free and completely open-source made it hugely popular and as a result it got and continues to have, excellent third-party developer support. Its robust, modular architecture made it a solid choice for complex ecommerce operations that wanted to have deep integrations with internal systems such as ERPs and CRMs. However, with the emergence of convenient hosted solutions such as Shopify and BigCommerce, Magento started to face tough competition in a landscape that was shifting towards user experience and convenience.
However capable it may be, Magento remains a difficult piece of software to work with. It has been built with robustness in mind, so customizing it is not the easiest of tasks and requires extremely skilled developers. A steep learning curve coupled with aging technology meant that Magento started losing real ground to its hosted competitors and the open-source and free WooCommerce platform. To overcome these challenges and to spearhead the platform into the future, Magento 2 was announced.
To fully understand Magento 2, a hard look must be taken at Magento 1 and its limitations. For one, it’s quite a complex piece of software and requires expert development skills. Due to this, there is a dearth of Magento expertise in the market and developers who’re fully versed with the platform tend to be relatively expensive. This factor alone is enough to convince merchants to look for cheaper and more convenient ecommerce solutions.
Magento 2 addresses the issue of difficulty and accessibility by coming with extensive support documentation. Magento 1 also had terrible issues regarding performance and scalability, and often relied on third-party plugins to achieve these essential ecommerce objectives. Magento 2 comes with an architecture that supports scaling by default. What’s more, the free Community Edition comes with Full Page Cache support which vastly improves the platform’s performance. With Magento 1 this feature was exclusive to the $18,000-per-year Enterprise Edition. Clearly, Adobe (Magento’s owner) is serious about penetrating smaller ecommerce segments with Magento 2.
Magento 2 also brings with a brand-new look for its administrator dashboard – a very welcome improvement over its predecessor indeed. Magento 1 had a dashboard that looked like it was designed in the 80s using nothing but command-line programming. The Magento 2 dashboard looks thoroughly modern, and while it can’t really compete with the likes of Shopify and BigCommerce for user-friendliness, it’s still a massive improvement compared to its predecessor. With Magento 2, routine tasks such as uploading images and adding products no longer require a development task force to always be at hand, something that merchants with limited developer resources will appreciate.
There’s one area where Magento 2 does not improve upon its predecessor, and that’s in the pricing for its Enterprise Edition plan which costs $22,000-per-year, a full $4000-per-year more.
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