17 Steps to Magento Success

To get the most out of Magento as a business owner, you need to make sure you’re covering all the bases and have everything set up to achieve your goals. It can be useful to have a complete guide, but here are the key steps that need to be followed to start maximising your site efficiency.

Pick your store name
Picking a name seems one of the most basic parts of the entire process, but just remember – that name is going to be on everything: your merchandise, your web-pages, your communications, everything.

You also need to think domain names. To maximise site cohesion, this should be the same as your store name – which means you need to check whether the domain is available and what its history is – you don’t want to inherit a bad back-link profile.

You should also think about what top-level domain to use; that is, .co.uk, .com, .net, and others. They help to target specific audiences, and often give different impressions to your customers.

Pick the right host
Now that Magento Go (Magento’s hosted edition) has shut down, you have to host your own site if you want to use the CMS. The Magento platform can take up a lot of memory, so you need to make sure you’ve picked the right hosting for your purposes, and that it has enough memory to support your site.

Decide which Edition is right for you
The Magento CMS comes in two editions – the Community Edition, which is free, and the Enterprise Edition, their premium model.

Both are viable for all sizes of business – but the Enterprise Edition comes with more developer support and more features from the start, but can be quite expensive if you’re just getting your business of the ground.

The Community Edition takes a little more work to get it working right, so it’s vital to check out whether you should upgrade right from the outset.

Install Magento
It seems basic, but if you’re coming in with no experience in content management systems, it might not always be obvious how to install it. Get it right once and you won’t have problems – get it wrong, and nothing else will work.

Choose the right theme
Once the site’s up, it needs to look how you want it to look. It’s as important as the name – the theme affects the entire design.

Install extensions
The real advantage of Magento is that it’s open source – if you’re not using some of the extensions built around that, then you’re not taking full advantage of Magento’s capabilities.

The customisation options are even more prominent when looking at the platform’s dedicated extension library, Magento Connect. Not only is it the largest library of eCommerce extensions in the world, a significant proportion of the extensions are free.

Endless extensions and features can be added without any cost requirements – which is a huge advantage when scaling your business up from a framework.

Install the right extensions
You should install extensions, but not random ones. The right ones can bring a Community Edition site up to the same standard as an Enterprise Edition.

Examples include MatrixRate, which help account for shipping costs, Bronto, which helps target customers with personalised and targeted email campaigns, and XML Map Creator, which helps build sitemaps so search engines and crawl your site easier – making it more accessible for your customers.

Set up your database
Your database is where Magento stores all your information. Accordingly, you need to make sure that the database is set up correctly, and that your CMS has the login details available, otherwise you’ll encounter errors and be unable to proceed.

Add your products
You’re not going to sell anything if you don’t have anything to sell. Getting your products up and running should be a priority once the site framework is in place.

You can continue to add stock as your site increases in size, without concern for limitations or price boundaries. There are no fees for having higher numbers of products, product lines and SKUs. Size-wise, even free Magento – the Community Edition – has no upper limits.

Create categories
Categories help customers locate items and improve your ability to upsell and cross sell your items. Categories are also an excellent place to include keywords and thereby boost your organic search rankings.

Put a payment gateway in place
Sorting out how your customers pay for your items is more than just security – the more accessible the gateway, the more likely customers are to follow through with buying items.

Make sure your site is PCI compliant
PCI compliance protects both you and your customer – and both should be protected in order to keep your site’s reputation intact.

If security is a major concern, the Enterprise Edition includes a Secure Payment Bridge with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) for that extra peace of mind.

Setup your Google Shopping Feed
Google Shopping lets potential customers easily locate your products on Google – and keep the product information up to date.

Optimise your site for speed
Pages that take forever to load are more than an inconvenience. By the time they do, your customer has lost interest – the quicker you can get it, the more likely they are to keep browsing and buying.

Optimise for SEO
Customers have to be able to find your site to buy your products. Right out of the box, Magento has strong levels of search engine optimisation, with search engine-friendly URLs, a sitemap setup, and meta tags.

But the easier it is for search engines to crawl through your site and present customers with useful information, the higher your traffic will be. Do more than the basics in order to get your site fully optimised, or you’ll miss out on potential customers.

Monitor your traffic
Magento has Google Analytics, Google Base and Google Checkout built in, so you can monitor site visitors, shopping cart abandonment, most viewed products, the most popular search terms, and a variety of other facts and figures core to improving sales rates and site accessibility.

Knowing what’s happening on your site helps you fix problems and capitalise on successes. Make sure you keep an eye on your traffic so you can see what’s working and what isn’t.

Secure your store
Security is vital, not only for protection, but for your website’s image and reputation. Purchasing an SSL certificate is a valuable investment – both reinforcing customer trust and adding a layer of security.

Finding answers

If you’re intending to start up a Magento-based web-store, this interactive flowchart is sure to help you on your way with answers to all of this and more.

It addresses these tips step by step, with links to useful guides, resources, and information – all the hard work is done so you can focus on getting your products out there.