I have had experience in developing Magento for the past 5 years. It is probably the most powerful of the PHP shopping carts with its ability to integrate with third-party business intelligence software, accounting software and various payments systems. The downside to this is that a custom Magento site runs slower and takes longer to develop compared to pretty much any other shopping cart.
Magento was developed in early 2007 and released later that same year. As of 2011, it is owned by the eBay Corporation. There are two platforms that are offered. These platforms are Magento Community Edition and Magento Enterprise Edition. The difference between the two are their features and cost. Magento Community Edition is available for download to the public at no cost. Magento Enterprise Edition, on the other hand, is one of the more expensive shopping carts widely available but contains features that can support a multi-million dollar business.
Magento Enterprise Edition includes features that will support the business logic for large growth enterprises. At a cost of $15,000 a year, Magento Enterprise Edition is not intended for the needs of a small business. These requirements can be satisfied by using Magento Community Edition which is more than enough to run the needs for those businesses at less than an enterprise level.
As Magento is an open source software, there is a large and active development community. This community has developed numerous plug-ins and models to enhance the already powerful native functionality. In addition, there are many out-the-box themes to match almost any need. Magento supports a template system that can be modified to allow for a custom design. This system is more complicated than many of the other traditional cart-based template systems.
One caveat to using Magento for your eCommerce need is the server requirements. Even a standard Magento installed with minimal traffic will require a dedicated server. There are 28,000 files that make up a Magento. If you compare it to Open Cart which has around 2500 files, the difference is pretty obvious.