Being a realist, one can say that Magento 2 did not come out with any revolutionary functions although the big hype around the first release and controversial pre-release discussions prepared us that it should be many.
To put this briefly what Magento 2 in any editions can deliver absolutely new and fresh are these native features:
- Backend management is not only looking much prettier in terms of UI but it is more simple in understanding, utilization and deliver a shorter and easier path to any admin process in backend.
- Checkout became quick and simple. You are not even instructed to log in to buy stuff and customer now explore Ajax cart out of the box.
- Magento guys took care of Magento sites performance. Some experts did tests that demonstrate 35% and more pages loading faster. Of course, it is far-fetched results but Varnish Cache does it work and you really can achieve good results for a store with more than 10 000 SKUs. Needless to say that they improved architecture to handle scalability better than before and separate master tables and child tables to avoid tables locked on peak loads.
- The native Magento Theme is mobile adapted out of the box. The customer UI looks more elegant and modern. The layered navigation won’t allow you lost in navigation and retreat bored and irritated.
- And of course. IT IS RECONSTRUCTED TO MAKE CUSTOMIZATION EASIER, PRODUCTIVE AND MUCH SMARTER IN APPROACH. I am speaking about developer’s kit and entire new architecture. Probably, Magento 2 was conceived as a constructor for developers but due to code complexity it has been achieved only in some aspects but done very well. IT IS CERTAINLY MORE OPENED TO CREATING BESPOKE MODULES THAN MAGENTO 1.
If we look at the direction of its costly brother we will see more native features and even big new opportunity for larger businesses a Cloud solution. Yes, I am speaking about Magento 2 Enterprise Edition 2 and Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition.
What we can mine in Magento 2 Enterprise Edition if we are fine to shell out 22K per year as a minimum package.
- Elastic search. Excellent thing to influence customer’s choice and help customers to find what they really need. It is also smart and fast in processing huge products catalogs.
- Slightly improved list of embedded Payment methods. In Magento 2 it is supplemented with Sybersource built in payment plugin. Needless to say that all payment gateways and bridges in Magento 2 EE are delivered with PA-DSS Certification/Payment Bridge.
- Massive B2B built in functionality.
The shortlist presents the following good features:
a) Quotes requests and negotiations. A powerful tool to negotiate custom prices for different segments and customers.
b) Multiple payers per account with various permissions and visibility levels.
c) Payment on accounts. It includes the possibility of giving customers a credit so they can make orders on postponed payment basis.
d) Each customer sees its personalized customized products catalog and categories
e) Extended API for integrating ERPs, CRMs and other solutions to outstretch business representation to a wider almost physical reality.
- Improved promotion and loyalty engine. The set of attributes now includes such attributes as “age” or “gender”, allowing admin to target custom segments more precisely. Gift options and gift registry allows producing different gift wrappings for different customers and customer groups. Reward points functionality is now built in. Multiple wish lists.
And it is scalable scalable scalable and no need hosting if you buy expensive Enterprise Cloud Edition that assures you that you can forget about peaks downturns, slow page loading and abandoned orders.
It is all good on paper but we do not forget about visible drawbacks when you start dealing with Magento 2 in reality. I would distinguish those: a huge lack of good working modules, which overweighs your choice to customization rather than pursuing reliable extension, the performance promised as fast as Formula 1 is not that good out of the box and requires very meticulous server and database adjustments and very strong and expensive hosting package to cope with heavy databases and code architecture of Magento 2.
Another inconvenience about development and maintenance on Magento 2 Enterprise and partly Community Edition is that it cost too much in developing and qualified maintenance. Top tier agencies want up to 200$ per hour for their programming efforts.
However, the question is still vital whether to repurpose native features or go for customization in a context of Magento 2?
Well, I will highlight the trendiest business models ecommerce now explore and we elaborate whether it is doable with native features or customization is inevitable.
1. Dropshipping. In traditional Magento 1 way it can be organized by uDropship module or alternatives but in Magento 2 EE one can arrange dropshippers scheme by creating multiple users with administration functions and associate them with specific products catalog they can only track orders from. I presume it won’t go so perfect out of the box and certain code tweaks will be necessary but overall idea can work out as an alternative to dropship plugins.
2. Auction. Before Magento 2 made his way in the world we can use old school Magento 1 Auction modules where users have an interface for dropping bids and site owner to accept, set up a preferable price and expire auction when he needs. In Magento 2 Enterprise Edition we can try to use Quote requests and negotiations engine to handle this business model. Customers can request prices on the same product and through custom quote negotiation interface site owner can negotiate the best offer for the product and arrange the order at this price.
3. Marketplace. The Marketplace site, where multiple Vendors sell their stuff and do delivery themselves is a very popular ecommerce business startup nowadays. That’s why modules manufactures rushed to occupy the niche with solid modules, which deliver many functions of Marketplace out of the box. I save my time listing all of them but there is an impressive list. Some of them are very rough, some are good. However, custom intervention is usually a necessary step to tune it to your idea. If you choose Magento 2 you are in possession of powerful toolkit to construct the ideal Marketplace and build it to your idea precisely. You can use multiple administrators option to create each Vendor as administrator and associate them with the limited set of products and open the access to only orders connected with these products. These admins (aka Vendors) can upload their products, assign prices and attributes and track the orders made on these products. The Multistore engine of a Magento can be transformed into Marketplace scheme so that each frontend store will be a separate store of the Vendor linked with Master Magento admin, where all child-admins are logging in. Design of each Store can be amended so that personalization is achieved. The task, which left to allow monetization of overall mechanism. One and simple way to do it to put a commission on each product Vendor sold from its store. It can be achieved by creating a custom attribute “commission” for each product and master admin can assign a value of commission in its master backend. When a product is sold the developer can create a sales grid where it will populate product’s attributes “commission” and its total is broken down by Vendor (the child admin who added the product). Then the master admin can manually transfer the amount to the Vendor in the end of the month via bank transfer or Paypal. The other possible way is to take a native subscription mechanism of Magento and hook it up to the backend where child admins upload their product so that each child admin will be forced to pay a subscription to upload the first product on its store.
4. Mobile Responsive Theme. The choice is usually between Off-the-shelf responsive Theme and custom design Theme. Magento 1 comes with an abundance of cheap and good looking commercial Themes some of them are getting in conflict with the code upon installation. To save you from the potential headache one can rely on Magento 2 and its Blank Theme. First of all, it is a Responsive Template, which lies behind it. Secondly, the Blank Theme is a stripped down version of a theme so frontend developer can mold unique features in the theme by laying these stripes as a sculptor puts a clay on the statue. Needless to mention that new Magento 2 changed its concept of container wrapper, dealing with layout blocks. It gives a frontend developer a freedom of reconstructing and moving blocks around, redirecting them from one container to another and within blocks could be multiple child blocks. Visual Design Editor is a tool, organizing blocks in an intuitive way and facilitating the creative work.
To resume the said above.
To customize or rely upon native modules depends on many factors. If you are tight in budget and this is your first startup you can try building your solution using Magento native features and I tell you it is a very powerful toolkit.
If you are a big company and looking to build something ideally tailored to your business processes where automation is the key to success you can go for customization. But be smart not to overpay and lose momentum.
- Make a simple version of your business solution first without abundant features and put it live to see feedbacks from customers.
- Use Off-the-shelf Themes where you can.
- Use extensions where you can. Customize only super unique things
- Remember that simple and intuitive UI always wins.