FIRST‘s developer Alice Athens shares her experience with working with eCommerce platform Magento.

1. What is Magento?

Magento is an open source eCommerce software package, which can be fully customised. The software enables businesses to build online shopping environments based on their needs, as Magento allows the user to have complete control over the look, content and functionality of the eCommerce store.

Magento is great for either big or small businesses that want a highly flexible and robust eCommerce presence. Here at FIRST we have used Magento for big and small clients and the results have been great!

Thanks to the software’s flexibility, it’s fully malleable and can grow with the business. Magento also features marketing, search engine optimisation and catalogue-management tools, and it can be integrated with in-house systems, such as Point of Sale (POS). It can even be used to run multiple websites off a single product catalogue and  one administration system.


2. Why would you recommend it?

I’d recommend Magento because it’s open source and very flexible. The software is both versatile and adaptable both as a Web platform and an eCommerce platform.

The eCommerce solution offers several Web and mobile templates, transaction options, multi-store and multi-site functionality, loyalty programs, categorisation, discounts and promotions – if you want it, Magento will let you do it.

What’s really exciting about Magento is the multi-site integration. In one instance or install of Magento you can have multiple websites and stores, which allows you to have a different look and feel to the website by brand or country to country – and this can all be managed in one central admin area.


3. Examples of where FIRST has used Magento and your experience.

We recently built a Magento site for Syntec and Seduce.

In the initial phases of the Syntec development we realised that this was a prime opportunity to use some of the great cutting-edge tools available to us when it comes to portable devices such as the iPad, iPhone, Android phones/tablets etc. This is where responsive meets Magento, and you don’t need a rocket science degree to realise that responsive sites would out-perform non-mobile-optimised sites.

Magento’s templates are so flexible that during the development we implemented the Twitter Bootstrap framework, which gave us the ability to turn on a world-class responsive grid system that would allow users on smaller screens the ability to browse and use the site just like on a desktop, but with the ease of elements on the page rearranged to better suit the smaller device.

FIRST also used Magento as a multi-site integration with the Syntec site. Syntec’s site contains two main websites, an Australia site and a New Zealand site, as well as 36 brands at different physical URLs and with different site designs, including a responsive template that adapts and fits on smaller screens, such as mobile phones.

In this instance we were also able to turn on or off the responsiveness of the site by detecting what device the user was using. What this allowed us to do was show the full site on large retina displays like the new iPad, so users can now browse on the iPad just like they would on a desktop computer.


4. What are the advantages?

Magento is open source meaning that the community edition is free to use, so here at FIRST we have the ability to take Magento (a product straight out of the box) and customise it to each individual client’s needs. For developers this can involve a steep learning curve as Magento is very large and powerful in the functionality it can provide.

But it allows us to make things complicated and simple at the same time. One of the biggest advantages of Magento is its template system where graphic designers are able to create new and exciting layouts and site designs for desktop and other portable devices alike.

Other advantages to using Magento are:

  • SEO friendly
  • In-built marketing and promotional tools
  • Options for shipping and tracking
  • Analytics and reporting on how the site’s doing
  • Multiple payment options
  • Multi-language and multi-currency capability


5. What are the disadvantages?

While the software can be used across multiple devices and screens, which can be upgraded over time to suit any future changes, only a professional developer can build on its flexibility.

You really do need a professional or knowledgeable developer to use Magento to its full potential. As you would use a builder to build a home, you’d use a developer to develop a fully functioning and sexy eCommerce site with Magento. The software uses PHP and HTML, which means a very good understanding of coding to utilise the software’s features is required.


FIRST has built multiple successful eCommerce solutions and has the knowledge, abilities and expertise to create completely customisable modules, code and add-ons to create beautiful-looking and fully functional Magento stores with the latest tech that are user-friendly and easy to use.

Want to learn more about Magento? Get in touch with FIRST and we can talk you through how Magento could benefit your business.