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The cons of Magento

The Cons of Magento

Ok, if you’ve visited our blog before you know we are Magento fans. No doubt about that. So what about the title of this article, the cons of Magento? Well, I felt earlier this week when I was speaking to a client that it’s true: Magento isn’t the ‘one size fits all’ solution. So there are circumstances in which Magento is not the right choice for you. When? Let’s have a closer look at the cons of Magento.

Magento is consumer oriented

Are you searching for an e-commerce solution for B2B? Well, Magento is capable of supporting it, but remember that originally the system has been designed for Business to consumer stores. In a B2B environment there are often very specific requirement that a standard solution like Magento cannot support without using extensions/modifications. I think there are better B2B solutions out there and we even often see businesses having something custom made.

Magento is difficult

Or complicated, what’s in a word? Anyway, we would like to warn anyone that has been using solutions like WordPress or Joomla and thinks that Magento is similar to those ones. It isn’t. Really. Yes, Magento works with extensions, just like to CMS systems. And yes, Magento has a backend that you can use to run your shop. But setting it up and, even more complicated, creating a Magento template isn’t something suited for newbies. Not at all. Magento is a powerful solution, but not ‘beginner friendly’. If you want something very simple then do not go for Magento, or try Magento Go maybe.

Magento has been developed in the USA

So, what’s wrong about that? Well, nothing but if you live in a diferent part of the world you’ll know what I mean. Please check if Magento is able to fit your needs. In most cases it does, although sometimes some extensions or little changes might be needed to adapt Magento to your local requirements.

Magento is too slow

No shared hosting solutions for Magento please. If you’re serious about your online business you definitely need a good hosting package for your store. Magento will still run on some (not all!) low cost website hosts, but it will be sloooooow. You just need to spend money here to retrieve an acceptable performance level. Also here, Magento requires you to know what you’re doing. Or to hire someone who does…

Maintaining Magento isn’t easy at all

WordPress is famous for it: Just click and update. Ok, make sure you have a backup available, but after all it’s a one-click-update process. No such a thing when you’re working with Magento. Updates need to be planned and executed carefully and are time consuming. Still you cannot ignore them, cause running an old version could mean a high security risk. Due to the popularity of Magento it has become an interesting target for hackers and other criminal minds. A problem that you can overcome, but just be aware of it.

The Search function isn’t ok

We’ve seen better things than the default search function of Magento. Ok, you can try to improve the Magento search results, but still it just isn’t top notch.

Ok, we’ll go for something different!

Ho, stop, that’s not what I wanted to say here. We just want to be clear that even a very popular solution like Magento has its downsides. As all Standard e-commerce packages will. What you’ll have to do is to check whether or not Magento fits your needs. Still good chances that it does. And just be aware of the cons of Magento before you start. And make sure that you have some budget available. A couple of hundred dollars just won’t do. That’s all. How do you feel? Any solutions available that do not have these cons and is the perfect e-commerce solution? Please share it, we’ll be happy to test drive!

The Author of this post is robbert

Robbert is working daily on e-commerce websites in his current job. Writer of Dutch books about WordPress, Joomla and Magento. Living in the Netherlands. Follow Robbert on Twitter

10 Responses »

  1. Just couldn’t agree lesser.
    Forget non-techies, even merchants with a technical team or technical background find it extremely hard to kick start with Magento.

    And after all the hassle of getting started they very soon find out that its not really international @ heart.

  2. I also don’t agree, my team and I used Magento for a client’s website. We spent a massive amount of time trying to program a custom module for it, discovered several major flaws and one bug in the stable release.

    Magento is developed to create a non-free community around it. That works (for the vendors) because you’ve no chance of picking it up yourself unless you intend on becoming a full-time Magento developer.

    We learnt the hard way that Magento *really* does suck unless you’re willing to employ people full time to develop with it. It’s unfortunate that it’s programmed in a very strange way too – showing there really is nothing good about it.

  3. I wanted to add my 2cents here… Magento really sucks hard at everything, it’s not even easy to add a menu item…

  4. After developing a few magento sites for clients and I have finally decided enough is enough! It’s an absolutely nightmare. Each time I want to get the site up quickly, I always get pulled into the complexity of Magento. It’s insane.

    More importantly, the admin portal is way to cluttered and slow. Merchants (my clients) want to get in and out quickly to run their store. Magento just won’t let you do this. People call this “flexibility” and “capability” this and that. I call this f’ing headaches and waste of time.

    Did you also noticed, their extensions are much more expensive then other carts? I’m looking into Open Cart. I think I’m in love. At the end of day, the goal is to get the shop up quickly and Magento is hard to do.

    What is said on the blog is absolute right on. You read my mind.

    • Well, as you read around on our blog it’s quite obvious that actually we are Magento fans. But there are downsides as well, just aas with any other solution. That’s what I wanted to make clear with this article. For everyone new to ecommerce Magento seems some kind of Magic solution. But the truth is, Magento is a great product, just not suitable for every occasion.

      • The truth is it is an extremely difficult Engineering challenge to make a product that fits for every Occasion.

        What is the use of a “Great product” if it is very difficult to use and is dog slow?

        As a programmer, this is one of the bl**dy reasons why I hate using frameworks and love using tool-kits and individual libraries. If you have a bit of software engineering and programming experience, trust me it is a lot easier not to use any framework because pretty much every framework has their own way of doing things and a huge learning curve.

        You are not one of the sales people in Magento, are you? When I see something like “One size fits all” or something like “Product XYZ is suitable for every occasion” by default my brain thinks it is a dodgy product. I have just started using Magento a couple of days ago and This is what I think about Magento.

        1. PHP is not designed to do heavy Object Oriented programming with all sorts of crazy Design Patterns and a hell of a lot of abstractions. Although it makes the syntax look cleaner for the end programmers, the trade off is it can make the system extremely slow running.

        2. Magento uses XML for themeing which is an absolute nightmare for developers.

        3. Because Magento is extremely slow, it has to cache a lot and it can be confusing for the beginners. Google doesn’t like slow websites.

        4. Why should Magento write business logic in Templates? Why can’t they follow a simple MVC or HMVC model?

        5. Magento doesn’t follow the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Software Principle.

        It is making me a coffee addicted. It is frustrating to learn and If I try it for a few more days, Im sure I can find a lot more mess behind Magento.

  5. We have a new Magento (not Magento Go) website (since January 2014) and find it extremely user-unfriendly. Customer comments at checkout on a recent Saturday: “Gee, you guys could sure use some faster computers.” (We do have fast computers and internet.) “It’s taking longer to check out than it took to pick out my plants.” “It’s taking longer to check out than it took to get here.”

    Other customer problems are with the shipping dates. That could take a short novel to describe what we’ve gone through trying to change it from “Delivery Date” (confusing for customer as they think it’s when the product arrives at their door) to Shipping Date (when it leaves our facility).

    The original version of our invoice was very hard to read, especially the things we need to see, like customer names, addresses, emails and comments. Do developers really use the products they are developing?

    Customers who want to pick up plants and don’t live in our state (NJ) must have their “ship to” state changed to NJ in order to pick up at the nursery. (!!!!)
    The admin search when trying to put a product (in our case a plant) in the shopping cart is very weak. It can’t seem to overlook things like apostrophes or find 2 words separated by another word, or not in the exact order.

    We wanted a website that would track inventory (which it does) but the associated problems and klugey Magento site we have to work with is horrible. Adding new products is extremely time-consuming thanks to the group/simple product setup and all of the things you have to remember to check. Our old ColdFusion site did not keep track of inventory but it was far easier to work with.

    I could go on and on but what would be the point? We want out of Magento ASAP! Unfortuantely we are probably stuck with it for at least a year, and will have to spend money on extension that in my opinion is just $$$ down a rathole.

    Do the people who think Magento is so wonderful really have to use it? It doesn’t seem like they do, cause it could be a lot more user-friendly than it is.

  6. I tend to agree with the comments posted here. Magento is a beast to operate and modify — there is no doubt with that! But I am not talking only from the point-of-view of a website developer or module programmer. My background is in the creating of CMS systems like WordPress, Joomla and, yes, Magento.

    On a scale, WordPress is possibly the easiest to customize, reprogram, and extend. Next is Joomla, then Drupal. However, there is a huge gap before we reach Magento! While Magento might pride itself with being a very popular and competent eCommmerce solution, its robustness is greatly outweighed by several key deficiencies:

    – Its codebase is extremely difficult to master. Even ZF, CF and PHP-OOP experts have trouble getting the hang of its obtuse logic flow
    – Its folder hierarchy was organized with a blender! Unlike WordPress and Drupal’s straight-forward approach to installing plugins/modules (either in UI or directly via FTP to a single folder), try uploading Magento extensions using FTP! The folder arrangement weaves in and out of the app, var, skin, etc. folders. Better yet, try removing an extension using only FTP! Yes, although not recommended, it is possible with WordPress or Drupal.
    – Code is buggy and not properly unit-tested. For instance, good programming practise dictates that all input parameters to a module should be checked and validated BEFORE use. We all recognize PHP functions like isset(), function_exists(), and empty(). I cannot count the number of times I have seen parameters being used without validation IN core functions. It’s one thing to find poor programming in extensions or themes, but that is inexcusable for the core system.
    – What happened to proper and extensive documentation? I see several comments here that address the lack of documentation in both the file code and on the Wiki/help sites. I agree that Varien should spend some of the thousands of dollars it receives from clients hiring people to solely write documentation!
    – The CMS mechanism is ugly and cumbersome! Again, we’ve all experienced the fluid ease that is WordPress (BTW I am not even a true WordPress lover myself). I have read several blogs out there that tell people to upload files directly via FTP and modify some esoteric PHP code file just to display a bit out output. Rediculous! Additional coding should only be needed to add or modify system functionality not give clients a new field. While Magento excels at eCommerce it sorely lacks at CMS — it’s almost better to write the HTML old school directly than hunt around for the widget or module that deals with output
    – It bastardizes the MVC structure. I have written code in CF. Better yet I have built two MVC platforms from scratch, mostly to see if I can produce a more user-friendly system for site owners, site developers, plugin/theme contributors, and core architects. Magento’s typical “views” mix in controller and model code.
    – XML files are not the easiest way to extend a system. A proper, tight, robust extension architecture is the easiest way to extend a system.

    So in a nutshell, run away from Magento like the plague. Try PrestShop, osCommerce, even Drupal Commerce or WordPress’ WooCommerce. As a site developer, before purchasing a solution, compare required features against implementation and long-term
    costs!

  7. “Magento has been developed in the USA”
    Not true, Magento was developed in Ukraine, at least 90% of code. Head office also in Ukraine.

  8. A poor core breeds even poorer modules and extensions that people charge a small fortune for. The state of the community is half if the problem with magento, the retarded codebase it runs on it most of the other half. Stay away.

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