Magento Go is a hosted Magento solution that allows business owners to run a store quickly without having to invest in a web hosting company, web designer and web developer. With the endless options available to create a plug ‘N play Magento store it can be very tempting for a first time web store owner to invest in it. I can see the benefit of such a solution but I can also see the downside and it all depends on what the store owner is looking for. Here are some pros and cons for Magento Go platform and, should you ever be in a position where you have to choose between hosting your own Magento store or using Magento go, I hope this list is useful for you going forward.
You do not have to host your store with another web host as it is handled for you. All you have to do is have the store set up, add your products and images. Another benefit of a fully hosted store is that the technical support you received is geared to supporting the Magento platform as opposed to a standard web host which may not have a technical team familiar with the software and all the aspects involved in properly maintaining a Magento storefront.
No Technical Skills Needed
The Magento Go platform will not allow you to edit html files (or .phtml files to be more accurate) and the php code so there is no risk that you would have to find yourself in a position to edit key configuration files in order to maintain your store. It is a fully stress free experience for the store owner who has no technical skills.
You can start with a 30 day free trial in order to see if it is a right option for you. Afterward, you can convert your plan to a steady monthly hosting plan if you wish to stay with them. The plans start out at $15/m and run up to $125/m.
If something is wrong with your store you have support available to you all day every day so you do not have to worry about serious downtime with your store or being stuck with a configuration problem that would keep you from getting your store online.
Customizable Design Templates For Your Store
Instead of spending money on a web designer you can choose from a variety of professionally built storefront templates that will allow you to edit the content without having to get your hands dirty with photoshop files, images or html/css code. The Magento Go system includes a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor for your themes and you can easily re-arrange elements of your web site design without having to possess any web design skills. If you just want a simple store up, inexpensively, then this is a terrific feature for you.
Magento Go Is Not Open Source
One benefit of the Magento Community version, as opposed to a self hosted Magento Go platform, is that you can customize the entire system to your liking. If you are somebody who wants full control over where you can extend the functionality of your shopping cart or any other aspect of your website, you will not be offered this opportunity.
So if you are looking for full control, both visually and behind the scenes, of your Magento store than it is wise to stick with Magento Community and host your store yourself with a web host such as Nexcess Web Hosting.
Cannot Create Custom Theme
To create a custom theme, or to use a design built by a web designer, you have to edit what are known as template files (.phtml files). The ability to do this is not available with Magento Go as you are limited to the pre-built templates that are available for you to choose from so if you feel that you cannot go forward without a custom web design theme then it would be wise to avoid Magento Go.
Limited Storage And Bandwidth
The basic plan allows for 200 MB of storage (Web space files and database) and 4 GB of bandwidth and the most expensive plan allows for 5 Gigs of space and 32 Gigs of bandwidth. There are a lot of web hosting plans that are less expensive and offer far greater storage capacity and similar, if not greater, bandwidth. This is something to consider before choosing between Magento Community and Magento Go because you need to take into consideration how many images you will have and how much traffic you will have.
Limited Product SKU’s For Large Businesses
If you are a company with a large inventory you will need more than 5,000 SKU’s and that would cost $125/m as of February 2013. If you plan to host a large database of products you must take into consideration the SKU limitation going forward so you can provide a full list of your entire inventory.
Non Dedicated Hosting
When you run a Magento site, you must factor in that it can be a resource hog and is technically built to run on a dedicated server with a large web space and a database server optimized for heavy transaction usage. Should you feel the need to run a large store while wanting Magento to load quickly over time, you would probably need to have the flexibility to fine tune the server hosting your Magento store and, with Magento Go, that would not be possible.
Magento Go is a fantastic solution for somebody who wants to run a simple store or a medium sized store that doesn’t require a custom theme or support for more than three languages (Magento Go offers a maximum of 3 by default in their largest plan)
I think it is a terrific idea for business that are run by people who are not tech savvy and just want to get their store out there and not worry about the stress of hiring web designers and developers. It offers an opportunity to contact technical support, modify the look of their site and give them full control over their newsletters, coupons and other promotional tools that come with Magento.
If you are choosing between the two options, both self hosted and Magento Go, make sure to consider how much growth and traffic you anticipate and weigh the benefits over ease of use and full control. Doing this will help you make the right decision for yourself and your business.