Magento Is not Hobby Material - an Interview

Written by Guido Jansen in
May 2013

This is is a re-publication of the interview with me that was published on the Cart2Cart blog on May 10, 2013.Today we present to you an exclusive interview with Guido Jansen. Every Magento Community member knows Guido as a passionate evangelist of this platform, organizer of annual Dutch “Meet Magento” and speaker at numerous Magento events all around the world.

Read on to find out who shouldn’t use Magento, what’s the hardest part of switching to this solution and how to deal with it without causing yourself too much trouble.Guido, you are well known firstly as a Magento evangelist. Actually, why Magento out of all eCommerce solution? What’s your reason for singling it out as the most deserving one?

I was already hooked to the internet and open source mindset from early 2000. When I first came in to contact with Magento in 2008, it was a very big step forward compared to other open source alternatives. Looking at the software and the drive of the company and community behind it I knew it was bound to be a very popular product and even a very competitive alternative to commercial products.

Different platforms are suitable for different kinds of businesses. Have there been any cases when you said to your client: “No, you shouldn’t use Magento. Try a simpler/different solution instead”?

Sure, quite a few times actually. The first group is people that want to start with e-commerce as a hobby, on their own, without a budget and without any prior experience. I.m.h.o., Magento is not meant for those people. I do believe Magento can be a really good starting point for a serious business since it can help small, medium and large companies just as well. But it's not a hobby material. In the early days, I would also advise companies looking for a simple B2B solution not to go with Magento because that would be like using a Porsche while you need a Van or a small truck. But because of changes in the B2B online market (more demand for B2C-like (marketing) functionality) and extra B2B functionalities in Magento, it became a good option even for that market. Magento still lacks the workflow many larger B2B companies demand though so that can still be a point of attention when using Magento for B2B.

Do you frequently deal with clients, who wish to switch their current stores to Magento? How do you resolve the task and what are the biggest difficulties with migration to Magento?

I do. The hardest part (most work) is transferring data, especially if the customers demands orders to be transferred too.

Magento is undoubtedly the most elaborate and complicated solution. What would you advise to the newbies? How to get the hang of Magento? Where to start?

For a new developer: get certified For a merchant: get an official Magento partner For both: go to local Magento meetings and conferences and get to know people and companies in your community so you know where to ask around when you're in need of something specific.

Magento is either adored or hated. And, let’s admit, one can find numerous reasons for the latter feeling. We at Cart2Cart know how hard the upgrade alone can be. Any recipes on how to deal with this and other frustrating aspects of Magento management?

Sadly, I still see Magento shops where core files have been changed. That causes a lot of frustration and things falling apart so never ever touch the core. Also: get a decent server and let someone with a lot of Magento experience audit your setup. Saving on hardware is a silly thing to do as this will cost you money. Magento has a lot of power in it, but it also needs a decent base to run on.

With the upcoming release of Magento 2 many merchants will definitely doubt: to upgrade or not to upgrade? What’s your opinion: is it always a good idea to switch your old stable version to a fresh one? How often should one upgrade their store for it to function correctly and efficiently?

You should always apply security fixes right away and applying bugfixes can save you a lot of headaches. Upgrading to the next version only makes sense if you can make use of the extra functionality. Most new Magento versions also contain a lot of performance improvements which alone almost always makes it worth your while to upgrade. But always make a business case for it to see if the cost of upgrading make sense compared to the expected improvements. We are grateful to Guido for sharing his thoughts and experience. If you have any question concerning this post or Magento in general, please leave them in the comments below - both Guido and Cart2Cart Team will be happy to answer them.

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