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Yet again, Magento comes out top in a recent survey of ecommerce platforms. The report produced by Tom Robertshaw looks at 33,632 ecommerce sites in the Alexa Top 1 Million sites to see which software the store uses. 40 different systems are ranked, with Magento coming out as the clear leader with 20% of the surveyed market. 

Grow your business with Magento

Magento has recently launched Magento "Go" - which is a hosted/cloud version of the system that lets you get up and running in minutes with no technical expertise needed. This is really interesting because it means that, with the same provider, you can go from 100 SKUs on a low-committment solution all the way up to an international, enterprise product. Don't underestimate the cost of changing ecommerce system when you outgrow your current platform! The Magento product sat between the two extremes is Magento Community Edition (often called MCE) - a free open-source PHP download that you install on your own server. If you don't have the technical knowledge for this, the team here at Brightpearl can give you a hand (email magento@brightpearl.com).

The ageing dinosaurs; osCommerce and Zen Cart
What's also interesting to see is the very large number of stores on osCommerce and Zen Cart. osCommerce and Zen Cart are both, like Magento, an open source PHP download. In fact Zen Cart is actually a branch of osCommerce with a number of community add-ons bundled in, along with some other core changes... but osCommerce is now over TEN years old! Credit where credit's due - osCommerce has really transformed the world of low-cost easy-access ecommerce - but I'm intrigued as to what the future holds for the 21.5% of stores running on this old software. Fortunately there's a huge community of developers and designers behind both platforms so there's no rush to be going anywhere yet.

But what about back-office?
Over the past few years it's become clear that all solutions are focussed primarily on the front-end; delivering quality content to the customer and generating the sale, not the back-end; order processing, accounting and post-sale customer service. But hey, that makes sense. You don't call yourself an ecommerce platform for nothing! Even though Magento is the clear leader when it comes to front-end product listing and shopping cart software, the back office processing still leaves a lot to be desired. There are a number of extensions on the market that interface your Magento store to an ERP system, but nothing works really well for the small business owner that wants everything online. That's where we come in ...

Brightpearl and Magento
Magento's incredible growth curve is one of the reasons we chose them as the first of our 3rd party ecommerce connectors. We want to provide small and medium sized businesses with the best end-to-end solution for multichannel retail, so partnering with the strongest platform in the industry was a logical choice. Magento is also a mature, powerful ecommerce system that shares much of the same data structure as Brightpearl - an important consideration when integrating the two. One the surface you might think that all ecommerce systems share the same entities, but that's not the case. Shopify, for example, does not have a hierarchical category structure; instead they have "collections".

What's also really important when building an integration between an ecommerce store and an ERP system like Brightpearl is considering how product variations are handled, and the way that inventory across those variations is managed. If you're tracking inventory of tee shirts, for example, then you really do need to know how many red ones you have and how many blue ones you have, rather than how many tee-shirts you have overall. BigCommerce struggles to do this well; Magento on the other hand is designed to enforce unique, per-variant SKUs and an excellent structure for stock control.

The Brightpearl-Magento integration handles everything from inventory across variants to tax and accounting - a powerful integration that really does deliver great results. Our original proposition here at Brightpearl was "one system" - which is why we launched our own ecommerce platform in the first place! The addition of support for Magento is something that we've put a lot of effort into however, and we strongly believe that the "one system" mantra is still valid. You can manage pretty much all your day-to-day processes in Brightpearl, and Magento obediently follows along. It's only when you want to work with ecommerce-specific data (like product images) that you need to log into Magento.

In a future blog, I'll be talking about the principles of multichannel data management - and about why it's important to manage your products and inventory OUTSIDE of your ecommerce software - to get this delivered right into your inbox, just sign up for email delivery (link on the right hand side!).

Chris
Head of Product

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About the Author

Having grown and sold two businesses, Chris is vastly experienced in the nature of small businesses and ecommerce, and has a business owner’s insight into the needs of an SME business. Chris studied at the University of Sheffield and has a MSc in Electronic Engineering; he started his first company at the age of 21. Being frustrated by a patchwork of traditional systems such as Sage, ACT! and OS-Commerce, but lacking the budget for the options available, Chris went on to develop Brightpearl. Chris keeps one eye on the wind and is always ready to kite-surf, although he mostly loves to work.