Magento is one of the most popular open-source E-commerce platforms available today. It is powerful, scalable, highly customizable, and offers a feature set complemented by both shop owners and developers.
Magento is entrusted by top brands, including but not limited to Nike, Samsung, Ford, and Nestle, proving how robust and useful it can be when properly utilized.
Getting started with Magento will seem a bit intimidating at first if you’re new to the scene of ECommerce/online shopping. However, once you complete the initial setup process with a good plan, you’ll get an amazing, highly customizable product with built-in SEO optimization and multilingual support, along with tons of other features that will help you grow.
In this article, we’ll be covering some essential facts you should know for getting your Magento store up and running.
Strategize Your Online Store
Before moving into building your new e-store, it’s crucial to have a proper plan to ensure that your store will be backed with a convenient process.
First, you’ll need to have branding ( brand logo, a domain, proper email addresses, a slogan, etc.) for your store. It’s vital to choose a brand name that will represent your business and have a close relation to it. Try to have a unique, easy to remember, and notable distinctive brand name related to the products you’ll be selling.
Further, devise a plan whether you are going to sell (or you’ll get better profits) to consumers or organizations. You will need personnel and necessary equipment for having a customer support staff. You will be selling in lower volumes if you deal with organizations, yet you’d be getting overall high revenue since a sale would usually be worth a lot. You can build better customer relationships by investing in some marketing, which will ultimately result in better revenue and more customer support staff.
Along with the business, you should have a well-researched, hassle-free, and cost-effective delivery system for both you and your customers. Decide beforehand whether you should have your own warehouses or implement a dropshipping methodology. Even though owning and maintaining warehouse(s) will need an upfront investment, it will offer more benefits than dropshipping methodology.
Devise a plan and define the roles and responsibilities for each and every person in your team.
Make sure you’re working legally, and getting legal advice is recommended.
Have a well-devised financial plan on expenses and revenues. Always keep it updated and give it your utmost attention. Furthermore, make sure everyone in your team is committed to the agreed plan until the end.
Analyze and devise marketing and sales plans for your targeted market audience. Presenting products using the proper keywords and in a way that will draw attention will help get more and more “right kind” of visitors into your new store.
Setting up Your New Store
The next step will be setting up the online store. There are few things you’ll need to decide there.
Magento offers three different plans for setting up your store. Analyze all three and decide which plan will best fit your requirements and spending limits. The community/free edition will be a great place to start, yet it has some limitations and other things you’ll need to configure.
You’ll need to find your own hosting service to host the Magento server, with the free plan. While there are many hosting services, you’ll get the best out of the services that provide dedicated Magento service plans. When deciding on a hosting service, make sure it provides more than the bare minimum system requirements for Magento. With every plan, you’ll need to connect your domain, an SSL certificate, and a way of getting technical support.
It’s recommended to have a design plan on the website structure and how products are presented within it. Magento offers multiple store views within a single installation so that you can choose any view for your store. However, it’s essential to have uniformity in the design across the website. The built-in language support of Magento allows you to create an all-in-one multilingual store or a different store for each language/area.
This is the most crucial step in developing your website since it represents the public face of your online store. A visually stunning, clear, clutter-less, and productive design will help a potential customer to prove that you are serious in the business. Thus, it establishes the legitimacy and the trust for a healthy relationship when combined with excellent customer service and marketing.
The front-end design of your website will be implemented using a Magento theme. There are pre-built customizable themes, and you also have the ability to create a brand new theme (this will require sound technical knowledge in the Magento platform).
There are tons of free and paid Magento themes available, and you can choose from them or hire someone to create your own theme and apply it to your store. There are few things to check when choosing a theme, such as customizability, scalability, responsiveness, and SEO optimization. Moreover, it should be clutter-free, optimized for better performance, and have a straightforward layout and navigation.
Products, in this case, will be the items you’ll be selling in your new online store. Magento offers six different product types, and it’s important to understand how to utilize these types best with your items.
A simple product is a basic type that represents just one product without customizations or variations. (Ex: A Black long sleeve shirt). A configurable product will be an item with variations such as color and/or size and any other variation(s) you have. (Ex: Women’s Pajamas: Yellow, Small or Green, Large, etc.). A download product is a virtual item that you don’t need to do physical shipping. (Ex: Song, an Ebook.). Virtual products are similar to Download, yet they can contain any virtual item such as services, consultation, etc. Bundle and Grouped product types are also there.
Magento provides multiple ways to display products and product information within the website. It provides product categories and tags for better product grouping, product listing pages to display product categories, and a separate view for each product.
Additionally, you can choose which information to be displayed on where. Each product has its own properties, such as product name, SKU, price, description, category(s), tags, and product image(s). You can customize which information to be displayed and where it should be displayed along with additional customizations of Magento, which will help provide all the information of a product.
Payments and Payment methods
By default, Magento provides non- general online payment methods, such as Pay on Delivery and Bank transfers. As the store owner, you have to choose which payment methods are acceptable for you. You can even choose any third-party payment service provider that provides API access even if Magento does not offer ready-made support for it (You’ll need to hire someone to implement this).
Often stores will support multiple payment methods, providing their customers a wide range of choices, which would help attract more customers. You can choose which currency your website will be operated on and use any local payment service for local customers, which will help reduce their costs for currency conversions etc.
You should have a way to deliver the purchased items to the customers. This is called a Shipping method in Magento, and it offers built-in support for few popular shipping services such as FedEx, USPS, and DHL.
Magento lets you choose from Free shipping, flat rate shipping (same price regardless of delivery location), and online and table rates. Similar to payments, you have the ability to connect to any shipping service provided they support integration with Magento.
Shipping rates are calculated in real-time and displayed to the customer before proceeding to the final steps.
Magento provides the ability to integrate with a number of third-party services on different aspects. These services include payment gateways, shipping methods, POS, service providers, accounting, ERP/CRM, stock management systems, Product information management systems, analytics, and much more.
Suppose your business relies on and/or needs to have an integration with a third party (or your own) service outside Magento. In that case, you should first consult with the services on their support and ability to connect with Magento API. There could be few different ways to connect to the same service, and you should decide the best way for your shop and go with it.
Magento is a robust and feature-rich e-commerce platform. However, you should consider and analyze multiple facts before diving into this idea to get the best out of Magento. These include having a good business strategy, choosing the best Magento service plan, getting an appropriate visual design, and proper sales and marketing strategies. Jumping blindly into e-commerce without properly analyzing the niche and the resources at your disposal will not provide a good outcome with any platform, including Magento.