The Magic of Magento for E-Commerce
I’ve spent my entire day buried in documentation for Magento, playing around with the test server I setup. Installing themes is horribly inefficient compared to what it should be, but otherwise, this open source platform is truly revolutionary in terms of what it’s doing for e-commerce.
It reminds me of WordPress, which quickly standardized and came to dominate content management systems. I think there is probably a huge business opportunity for someone to build a dedicated Magento hosting business that specializes entirely in providing turnkey services for clients who want stores as the demand outstrips the supply at the moment. If I were younger, and hungrier, that may be something on my list of potential ideas so I could ride what appears to be an inevitable wave. A good operator could make a heck of a lot of money working for himself or herself if they possessed basic business acumen and technical skills in this area.
I’m learning it through total immersion; dive in, look around, break it apart, and flip switches. Whenever I screw something up terribly, I restore a server image stamped this morning so it rolls back everything I did as if it never happened.
The Magento platform definitely isn’t perfect, nor the right solution for everyone out of the box. It requires a lot of resources, an aptitude for software systems, and a basic understanding of server hosting environments. I’m learning fairly quickly that my database optimization skills are not even remotely up to my own standards, so I’d hire that out were I to ever do anything with it. It’s strength is the opportunity to customize it how you want by tapping into the source code. Being open source, if you have (or can hire) the technical staff to do whatever it is you dream, it can probably happen. You can even run multiple stores, on multiple domains, from a single consolidated backend administrative panel if you plan the foundation correctly.
The community edition is absolutely free, so those of you who love this sort of thing can check it out. There’s a decent amount of documentation out there explaining how to get it up and running by creating a server on your local system if you don’t have a web hosting service already established, which is how I’m testing it at the moment. I created a dummy DNS zone with a fake domain registration name then modified my IP hosts file to connect to it so it’s not visible to anyone else, but I can still mess around with it however I want.
This makes me want to sell something. I don’t know what, but it puts me in the mood to launch a store like my youth because I’m getting that odd combination of frustration, elation, discovery, and triumph.