Small businesses form the bulk of commerce in Australia and around the world, leading to a profusion of competition in nearly every niche. There are more than 2 million small businesses in Australia that employ less than 19 people, accounting for 97% of the total businesses in the country. At a global level, approximately 90% of the business population is represented by small and medium enterprises, with around 445 million micro, small and medium enterprises in emerging markets worldwide.
The best news is that the internet provides a massively levelled playing field for all kinds of businesses of all sizes. By making smart choices, a small business can easily grow and move past competition, growing both domestically and internationally. There are anywhere between 12 million and 24 million eCommerce sites currently available online with more new sites being launched every day. However, less than 1 million manage to have sales worth more than USD $1,000 per year, leaving plenty of scope for new entrants.
Magento is one of the leading eCommerce platforms available online, and it offers dedicated solutions specially for small businesses. With the scalability of the Magento platform, it can effectively support the growth of your business, helping you achieve greater success. The open-source nature of Magento and its complex features can intimidate small businesses, but harnessing its advanced features can help you rise above the competition.
Why You Need An eCommerce Platform
Online shopping is quickly becoming the new preference for shoppers everywhere, due to the convenience, flexibility and variety it offers. With an eCommerce site, you have an abundance of customers available and distance does not become a deterrent. An effective shipping solution can help you deliver products to customers wherever they may be located.
An eCommerce platform is a cost-effective way to quickly and easily setup an online shop. A minimal investment in setting up the online storefront can bring you extensive profits. Management is made easier and modern tools enable you to expand and flourish. A good quality eCommerce platform will give you in-depth insights into the performance of your digital store, facilitating improvements and helpful integrations.
A physical offline store has multiple recurring costs for everything from rent to utilities, staff and more. Additionally, you have a limited geographical region to cater to. An eCommerce platform removes all those restrictions, and you have a single affordable recurring cost for the platform services. Extra features can be added for a minimal cost, or for lower expenses, you can make use of the plethora of free features available.
Based on your current business goals and future aspirations, an eCommerce platform can be used in many ways. It can serve as an addition to a core business or physical store, or as a precursor for another business initiative or as an independent eCommerce store. An eCommerce site helps you establish branding for your business, solidifying its digital presence while increasing your profits.
Why Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform Is Important?
Once you make the decision to launch an eCommerce site, it is imperative that you choose the right eCommerce platform. Creating an eCommerce site involves an investment of time and money. Even free eCommerce platforms will involve a significant amount of effort and time. After spending time, money and effort on an eCommerce site, if that site is not reaching its full potential, that can be an immense loss.
For a small business, it is even more important to choose a suitable eCommerce platform that will not waste their money, or require too much monitoring. It is a priority that the final eCommerce site be efficient, easy to use and manageable. A good quality eCommerce platform can be an investment, but it also provides a good ROI in the following ways:
- Stability and Security: A single security error can be one too many if personal data is lost or if the website crashes. The right eCommerce platform will have full provisions in place to avoid any such events. Overcoming a security lapse can be challenging and expensive, and is better to avoid such a situation altogether.
- Lower Overhead: An eCommerce site should be able to add to your profits without significantly increasing your expenses. This is done by supporting higher profit margins and lower overhead costs. A suitable eCommerce platform can help you with reducing operating expenses by having automated workflows and supporting powerful tools. The wrong choice in eCommerce platform can result in expensive operating costs, and need for multiple personnel for adequate management.
- Built-in Features: For small businesses, budget and expenses are a concern, making it important to choose an eCommerce platform that gives the best value for money for its price. Most eCommerce platforms can be integrated with other tools and features, adding on the capabilities of the eCommerce site. However, this can be expensive, which is why it is important to consider the built-in features supported by an eCommerce platform. An ideal eCommerce platform will offer good quality built-in features, reducing expenses without sacrificing on functionality.
- Good Quality Support: Online shoppers expect instant and constant support, and are highly likely to abandon their cart and purchase if there is inadequate customer support. For an eCommerce site to be able to provide optimal customer support to their shoppers, they need full support from their eCommerce platform. The right eCommerce platform will have fulltime support and assistance available for businesses in case there are any issues with their eCommerce site. If there is inadequate support, you may have malfunctions or outages on your eCommerce site, damaging operations and your business reputation.
- Regular Updates: Technology advances at a steady pace and falling behind on new trends can be damaging for your eCommerce site. To keep your eCommerce site up-to-date and relevant, it is important that the eCommerce platform continually improves itself. Top eCommerce platforms will have regular updates scheduled so that your eCommerce site is operating to the best of its capabilities. Updates also include security patches, enhancing the security and stability of the eCommerce site. Lack of regular updates can significantly slow down an eCommerce site, and also put it at a greater security risk.
Benefits of Magento Commerce for a Small Business
Magento is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms worldwide, with over 260,000 merchants choosing Magento for their eCommerce sites. Even through Magento is known for its support of mid-size and enterprise level eCommerce platforms, it has dedicated solutions for small businesses.
There are two editions of Magento, the Magento Open Source available for free download and Magento Commerce Edition, a paid eCommerce solution. While it may be tempting for small businesses to consider Magento Open Source since it is free, there are significant advantages of Magento Commerce for small businesses. Apart from additional features, Magento Commerce is an all-in-one cloud solution with hosting, giving small businesses an excellent foundation for business growth. For small businesses, there are two Magento Commerce Cloud plans available, the Magento Commerce Starter Plan and Magento Commerce Pro Plan.
Here are some of the top benefits of Magento Commerce for a small business:
Costs can be a major influencing factor when it comes to the eCommerce platform a small business chooses. However, it is vital to weigh the investment against the benefits the platform provides. Magento Commerce for small businesses is an all-in-one cloud solution, so for an affordable monthly subscription fee you get a powerful and scalable eCommerce solution. As it includes hosting, you can eliminate additional costs of hosting, maintaining and monitoring hosting, reducing the overall total cost of ownership of an eCommerce site.
Magento Commerce provides a wide range of built-in essential and cutting-edge features, eliminating the need for expensive integrations. By reducing integration, maintenance and support costs, you can focus your efforts and budget on the growth of your business. As and when your business needs to grow, you can move up to more comprehensive Magento subscription plans to seamlessly increase the support for your growing eCommerce site.
2. Fully Customisable
An open-source platform, Magento Commerce has limitless potential for creating a fully customised eCommerce site designed to meet your business needs. Due to the open-source technology, with the aid of developers, merchants can have complete control over their eCommerce site’s look, interface and functionality. There is no limitation restricting you to prescribed templates, and the look and feel of the eCommerce site can be personalised entirely. Apart from the site, customer experiences can be tailor-made to suit the customer type, and targeted promotions can be launched as desired.
Even after launching the site, you can easily create and schedule site changes, and review all planned changes before applying them. The customisation capabilities extend to any new components you want to incorporate into your growing business, such as multiple brands, stores, catalogues, and distribution channels. With the help of experienced and certified Magento developers, you can effectively bring to life your vision for your eCommerce site.
3. Comprehensive Capabilities
The capabilities of an eCommerce platform define its usefulness and ability to succeed in a growingly competitive market. Magento Commerce for small businesses offers a wide range of built-in features and thousands of affordable extensions through the Magento Marketplace. The many built-in features include support for international sales, instant purchases, advanced within site search, and visual merchandising. There are business intelligence dashboards, advanced marketing tools, customer loyalty tools, PCI compliance, performance monitoring, and fast page loading.
The Magento Marketplace has a comprehensive collection of extensions available at a variety of price points, including for free. All the extensions are already thoroughly tested and reviewed, saving time and money that would have been required for additional programming. The categories for extensions are Accounting & Finance, Marketing, Content & Customisations, Customer Support, Payments & Security, Reporting & Analytics, Sales, Shipping & Fulfillment, and Site Optimisation. There are plenty of reviews available for the extensions, and many have a demo mode as well for preview.
For growing businesses, especially small businesses with a firm growth trajectory, having a scalable eCommerce platform is necessary. Lack of scalability support with the rise in traffic can lead to reduced site speeds, few purchases and more abandoned carts. With a scalable eCommerce platform, the same look, appearance and features can be maintained while the capabilities of the site are boosted with business growth. Magento Commerce is by far the most scalable eCommerce solutions currently available in the market, supporting and facilitating the seamless expansion of small business eCommerce sites.
A four-tier layered architecture enables Magento to provide optimised performance and scalability. The cloud hosting of Magento Commerce is fully capable of supporting high and fluctuating website traffic volumes without affecting the performance of the eCommerce site. Payments and checkouts are fast and straightforward, discouraging abandoned carts. With the Magento Commerce Starter Plan, there is support for up to 50,000 effective SKUs, while the Pro Plan supports up to 4 million effective SKUs. Depending upon need, new catalogues and product lines can be setup, even new stores for different product categories. Global sales are supported by Magento Commerce, with automatically loaded languages as per the region, supporting expansion internationally.
5. Excellent Support
Capable and helpful support can make all the difference when you are launching and maintaining an eCommerce site. Magento offers excellent support for small businesses in setting up, launching and maintaining an eCommerce site. There is a large Magento developer community, many forums and self-help resources. With Magento Commerce, you get dedicated 24/7 live support available with real personnel and a dedicated account manager. There is specialised launch support to help you get your eCommerce site up and running on Magento, and ongoing technical support to help in any problems that may arise.
Furthermore, Magento has a partnership and certification program with developers and agencies, helping you identify capable support. An eCommerce development agency designated as a Magento Solution Partner has Magento Certified Developers that are specifically experienced and qualified in Magento development. If you want personalised support for an existing Magento website, want to develop a new Magento site, or migrate from another platform to Magento, consider certified developers only.
Top Magento Commerce Features
Magento Commerce provides a vast range of features to help your eCommerce site succeed. Some of the top Magento Commerce features are:
- Optimised Cloud Hosting
The importance of good quality, secure and stable hosting continues to rise, as the hosting can have a major impact on site operations. With Magento Commerce Cloud, there is a cloud hosting service that is specifically optimised for the Magento eCommerce platform. It has global availability and operational uptime of 99.9%, so that there is no limitation to the performance of your eCommerce site. There is fast page loading with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) ready to manage any traffic level even during busy periods. Fast page loading gives customers a better online shopping experience, increases sales conversion rates, reduces website bounce rates and helps with SEO.
- Multiple Storefronts
The interface of Magento Commerce sites is fully customisable, allowing you to firmly differentiate from common template-based eCommerce sites. Apart from the main eCommerce site homepage, you can create multiple storefronts for different category products and regions. As per your preference, you can have similar colours and entirely different designs, or mix and match any style preferred. Unique storefronts can also be created for specific events or promotions. Product recommendations can also be setup for each of the storefronts, based on product popularity, similarity, and customer shopping behaviour.
- Easy to Create Pages
Adapting the look and feel of a Magento Commerce based eCommerce site, or adding new pages is an easy process. There is a Drag & Drop Page Creator with a bult-in enhanced content management system so you can directly create new pages by dragging and dropping desired elements. The staging and preview feature supports advanced viewing of finalised pages and scheduled launches as required. Visual merchandising enables merchants to easily organise products on the catalogue pages in a customised manner to faster attract customers. Products can also be sorted and displayed on the basis of highest sales.
- SEO and Marketing
Search engine optimisation is a useful tool for eCommerce sites, as it increases the organic traffic to an eCommerce website through search engines. Magento Commerce platforms are entirely search engine friendly and the URLs can be re-written as needed for a simplified navigational structure. All the eCommerce site pages, including content pages, category pages and product pages have customisable Meta content, such as page headers and meta descriptions. It has index management so that you can control the links being passed to search engines. Magento supports fast and simple internal linking by directly using the internal Magento editor.
- Fast Checkouts, Payments and Shipping
Cumbersome and lengthy checkouts, confusing payment methods and unclear shipping are the leading causes for cart abandonment. Magento Commerce has a streamlined process of fast checkouts, payments and shipping, with complete transparency each step of the way. Checkouts can be completed in guest mode without registering and multiple popular payment modes are securely supported. Registered customers can also opt for ‘instant purchase’ checkouts by using previously stored payment and shipping details, further speeding up the checkout process and encouraging sales.
- Catalogue Management
With Magento Commerce, a massive number of diverse products, physical and digital can be sold through customisable catalogues, with options to offer downloadable samples. The products can have any number of attributes and special catalogues can be created for bundled, customer-personalised, simple and configurable purchases. Product details and images can be uploaded from other sources for faster creation of catalogues. Prices of the products can be adjusted as desired, or set up for particular types of customers, or purchase rules such as buying multiple items. Inventory management can be integrated with Magento Commerce by setting up notifications whenever supply of any particular product falls below a particular limit.
- Business Intelligence
Understanding and analysing the performance of your eCommerce site is the first step to improving it. Magento Commerce Business Intelligence (BI) dashboards provide access to over 100 reports and actionable insights. The BI tool directly integrates with your Magento database with a central cloud-based warehouse to store the consolidated data. Analytical reports are provided on everything from average order values to customer lifetime value, retention rates, bounce rates, customer sources and more. Users can be granted access based on permission levels, and analytical insights can be scheduled and sent directly to concerned personnel.
- Enhanced Customer Experience
Offering customers a positive online shopping experience is vital for sales conversions and to encourage repeat customers. Magento Commerce enables you to personalise the customer experience, and has dedicated customer loyalty tools. A reward points system can be setup for customers and they can create wish lists and gift registries.
Automated rules can be programmed for upselling, cross-selling, related products and recommendations for each customer segment to increase average order values and overall sales. Customer segmentation and personalisation features facilitate displaying content, pricings and promotions to specific customers based on factors such as order history, location, gender, wish list items and more. Integrated Elasticsearch technology makes searching for specific products amidst a large catalogue easy and fast so that customers can quickly find what they are looking for.
- Mobile Integration
Online shoppers value flexibility and convenience, being able to switch between devices when browsing and shopping online. Mobile eCommerce is growing in demand, and is a great way to boost sales. Magento Commerce has mobile optimised shopping, providing a responsive shopping experience across a variety of devices including mobile phones, tablets, iPads, laptops and desktops. Apart from the mobile-friendly interface, all eCommerce features are also supported, including mobile checkouts. Mobile browsing is fast and easy to navigate even for new customers. With Magento Web Applications (PWAs), you can create a mobile shopping experience that has the utility and convenience of mobile apps, and the searchability and buying experience of desktop shopping.
- Centralised Admin Dashboard
Apart from the features for customers, an eCommerce platform should be easy to manage, requiring minimal personnel for effective management. Magento Commerce has a centralised admin dashboard with an intuitive user interface that helps you monitor your business with easy access to data on sales, orders, products and more. It gives a real-time overview of sales and customer activities with a snapshot of average order amounts, lifetime sales, recent orders, and search terms. The dashboard is updated with every completed order. The management dashboard can be customised as desired, and varying levels of access can be granted to desired personnel. For a simplified appearance, default viewing of data can be switched off.
Magento Commerce Subscription Plans
Magento Commerce for small businesses is available with two types of subscription plans, the Starter Plan and the Pro Plan. While the Starter Plan is more suited to smaller businesses, the Pro Plan is ideal for relatively larger businesses. A majority of the features remain the same for both subscription plans, with the primary differences consisting of server size. Upgrading from the Starter Plan to the Pro Plan is a streamlined process, adding to the capabilities without disturbing the sales and performance of the eCommerce site. The exact cost of Magento Commerce depends upon your business needs and turnover.
1. Magento Commerce Starter Plan
The Magento Commerce Starter Plan subscription package is ideal for small B2C merchants that are expecting to grow to twice their size, with online sales of up to USD $10 million. There is support for up to 50,000 SKUs, and service availability of 99.9%. It is suitable for small businesses that want flexibility and a good quality eCommerce platform within a small budget, or are upgrading from limited eCommerce solutions. Although B2B functionality and features are not a part of the Starter Plan, they are available as an add-on.
A comprehensive range of features are included with the Starter Plan, including the Magento Commerce Application, core application support, global cloud delivery, managed cloud services and a multi-tenet shared infrastructure. There are also deployment tools, performance monitoring tools, Varnish-based CDN, and image optimisation. In addition, you get a technical account manager and access to Business Intelligence Pro analytical tools. Data backup is manual, and should be taken periodically.
2. Magento Commerce Pro Plan
The Magento Commerce Pro Plan subscription package is ideal for already established B2C merchants and B2B merchants expecting a growth of more than twice their size. It is capable of withstanding frequent surges in website traffic and can support up to 4 million SKUs, with a service availability of 99.99%. Dedicated features for B2B sales functionality are included in the Pro Plan.
All the basic features offered in the Magento Commerce Starter Plan are included in the Pro Plan, and there are numerous additional features available as well. It has a single-tenet dedicated infrastructure with a larger dedicated staging environment and faster support response time. There is high availability architecture, disaster recovery and data retention with automated data backups taking place every 2 weeks. The Pro Plan has expansive monitoring and alerting, with performance monitoring tools and increased customisation available. There is a full capacity of 50 GB available for testing and support for scaling globally on AWS and Azure clouds.
As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow, launching an eCommerce site is an excellent option for small businesses. With powerful yet affordable eCommerce platforms such as Magento, it is easier than ever to launch a profitable and manageable eCommerce business. Magento has dedicated eCommerce solutions for small businesses through the Magento Commerce Starter Plan and Pro Plan that are accompanied with cloud hosting. An all-in-one solution, Magento Commerce plans for small businesses are all you need for a good quality, secure and fast eCommerce site, whether it is independent or in support of a pre-existing businesses.
Magento Commerce boasts of a rich collection of in-built features, full customisation capabilities and complete scalability. To set up your dream eCommerce site, take the help of certified Magento developers to design and create a Magento-based eCommerce site. With the aid of developers, you can have an eCommerce site that matches your vision and is easy to manage. As a certified Magento Solution Partner, 18th Digitech has a team of Magento Certified Developers that are fully capable of creating an excellent eCommerce site for your brand. Reach out to us today to discuss your eCommerce needs.
All information is correct at the time of publishing this article.