Ecommerce has become a new norm. No one is already surprised with the ability to order goods in one click from any part of the world. Such convenience contributes to the steady growth of online transactions, with Statista predicting retail eCommerce sales to reach $8.1 trillion by 2026, up from $5.2 trillion in 2021.
For more and more people, eCommerce has turned into a preferred way of buying goods. And if you’re on this page, there’s a good possibility that you’re considering diving into this digital marketplace. First, you need to determine where to base the website on. That’s where you may start browsing eCommerce content management systems, CMS.
How can you choose one when the market provides dozens of options? Let’s zero in on Magento. Today, we won’t compare it with other particular counterparts. We’ll overview the system from various angles in the context of creating your first business on Magento. Ready to dive in? Stay tuned.
Why Pick Magento for eCommerce: Finding the Right Fit for Your Business
Magento is among the established eCommerce systems. It came into existence in 2008 and was acquired by the Adobe company in 2018. Throughout this time, Magento has consistently stood out from the crowd. Why? Let’s break it down.
Magento is unique in the level of freedom it provides to developers and designers. It supports custom solutions, integrations, and add-ons, adapting to the needs of every individual. Plus, with the right configurations and extensions, you can take steps to significantly speed up Magento, enhancing its performance further.
Consider it as a tried-and-true toolset that many companies rely on. It’s renowned for its versatility, security, and abundance of features. Simply put, Magento isn’t the solution to install and forget—it’s a playground to make your bold eCommerce ideas come true.
Now, let’s proceed to the big question: Which Magento edition should you choose?
Magento Open Source
Screenshot taken on the official Adobe website
It’s a free version, formerly known as Magento Community. It offers a complete range of tools for those who want to get started without exhausting their resources. If you know a little about technology or can afford to hire dedicated developers, you can easily set up, tweak, and launch your store. But keep in mind that “free” also means you’ll handle the operations on your own. That is, the company won’t provide any support.
Screenshot taken on the official Adobe website
You may have come across its other names, such as Magento Enterprise Edition (EE) or Magento Commerce. It’s a premium, paid version built for more demanding businesses. It comes with enhanced functionalities, B2B features, and, most importantly, native technical support directly from the Magento company. It’s the same Magento as the open-source option on the common core but with a turbo boost.
Adobe Commerce Cloud
Also known as Magento Commerce Cloud edition, this version contains all the possibilities of Magento Commerce but is hosted on the cloud. Imagine having all the flexibility of Magento but with the benefits of cloud hosting. That’s what Magento Commerce Cloud is about.
You can scale the company up and down, depending on your requirements. You can count on the vendor to deal with security issues. Cloud hosting ensures better performance due to the availability of servers closer to users. Plus, you get the added advantage of Magento’s support to help you sail through.
The choice between these editions boils down to your own preferences, financial constraints, and the desired level of control.
Launching an Online Store on Magento: 12 Essential Steps
1. Laying the Groundwork: Checklist Before Starting
Now that you’ve settled on the suitable Magento option, you can install it. But you also need to have certain essential elements for opening an online business. They will let you use Magento to its fullest potential and lay a solid foundation.
A brand is more than just a name. Imagine Apple’s half-eaten apple or Nike’s swoosh, and you’ll find that these symbols evoke certain emotions and associations. Before you decide on a catchy name for our company, think about your brand’s colors, logo, and tone that will make you stand out. The easiest way to experiment is by utilizing tools like Canva or Adobe Illustrator for designing.
Tax obligations vary depending on the location. In the U.S., for instance, you might need to look into sales tax. The Magento platform can auto-calculate this, but you’ll need to set the parameters. If you can’t navigate versatile tax laws related to your business, consider hiring a certified public accountant (CPA). Or opt for platforms like TaxJar to simplify this. Trust me, future-you will be grateful.
Shipping and Payments
You can get real-time shipping rates by integrating Magento with carriers like DHL or FedEx. Magento also supports integrations with PayPal, Stripe, and other payment processors. Decide whether you’ll offer free shipping. If you consider it too costly for your start-up, introduce free shipping thresholds, encouraging shoppers to buy more to access delivery at no cost. Also, research your target market to discover popular payment gateways among them.
You don’t necessarily have to plan these programs from the get-go. But it’s better to think of how you will not only win over new customers but retain them. Why? Because it’s cheaper to encourage repeat purchases, provided that consumers are satisfied with the shopping experience, than to persuade newcomers to trust you.
Telling people, “Come back again!” may not work the way you expect. Offer buyers a reason. Maybe it’s a point system where every purchase gets them closer to a discount. Magento has extensions like “Reward Points” by Amasty to handle this.
Think about features. Do you want a live chat? Maybe user reviews or an integrated blog? Make a list from the most wanted and accessible ones to more advanced and costly ones that can wait. Platforms like Trello or simple spreadsheets can help prioritize these features.
2. Choose a Unique and Memorable Domain Name
Before your ship will sail the digital waters, you need to name it and choose the closest domain name for the website. The domain name serves as the website’s primary address. It need to represent your brand and be SEO-friendly.
Let’s say you’re selling organic teas. A domain like “pureleafteas.com” can work wonders. Use domain-checking tools and registrars like Namecheap or GoDaddy to ensure availability. At the same time, if you sell premium goods, avoid words like “cheap” or “bargain” in your domain. Here we mean names like “discountedshoes.com” for high-end stores.
3. Set the Infrastructure: From System Requirements to Hosting Providers
Magento has specific requirements, including the PHP version, required extensions, and database support. You can find a detailed checklist on Magento’s official documentation. Ensure your hosting partner supports these.
As for hosting, if you don’t purchase Magento Commerce Cloud, you’ll need to find a place to store your resources. Nexcess, Hostinger, and SiteGround are known to be Magento-friendly hosting providers. Explore their uptime guarantees, customer reviews, and whether they offer SSL (for site security).
4. Coming Closer to Installation and Setup
Finally, implement a Magento installation package provided by the supplier and upload Magento files to your server. Whether you’re on shared hosting or a dedicated server, follow the official documentation to avoid pitfalls. Note that this process isn’t for merchants. Magento is a tricky platform to install and configure without professional help from developers and agencies.
One of the notable features of Magento is the ability to manage multiple stores from a single backend. So if you plan on selling in different regions or languages, open Magento’s backend and set up your stores under ‘Stores’ -> ‘All Stores’.
Screenshot taken on the Magento 2 Commerce demo
Configure general settings. For instance, set a default currency, time zone, and language under ‘Stores’ -> ‘Configuration’.
5. Think Through Design and User Experience
Ecommerce stores go beyond functionality. They should also be user-friendly to guide shoppers from one page to another, where they can complete the order and check out. Magento allows you to create frontend fast with the ready-made templates, either provided by the vendor or third parties. You can find them on the Magento Marketplace.
Choose a responsive theme that looks good on both desktops and mobiles. Yet, remember that pre-built solutions are universal. You’ll need to adapt them to your store with the help of custom development.
Convenient design involves several aspects:
- eye-pleasing layouts with all the essential elements, clickable links, conspicuous buttons, and a clear hierarchy;
- handy search functionality that returns relevant goods, understands typos, and never presents “Nothing Found” results;
- logical navigation with items grouped under broader sections;
- configurable shopping cart with the ability to review the contents, add/remove items, and calculate the total order sum;
- easy checkout with no more than four steps required to complete.
6. Establish Product Management Processes
As products are the reason visitors come to the website, you should craft effective product pages to boost conversions. Here is what every product should have:
- clear images demonstrating goods from multiple angles;
- detailed descriptions (materials, sizes, care instructions);
- transparent stock levels.
You may also need specialized software for managing inventory. Magento 2 offers one. Its multi-source inventory lets merchants get their commodities in different locations under control. This way, customers won’t face an issue of a product suddenly going out of stock.
7. Take Care of Transactions and Operations
Under Magento ‘Stores’ -> ‘Configuration’ -> Sales’-> Payment Methods’, you can configure various applications like PayPal, Braintree, Klarna, etc.
Screenshot taken on the Magento 2 Commerce demo
Access ‘Stores’ -> ‘Configuration’ -> ‘Sales’ -> ‘Shipping Methods’ to explore more than seven shipping options as well as integrations. Would you like flat-rate delivery? Do you want to give a “Table Rates Shipping” option? Decide and configure here.
For order management, you can install an order management extension like:
- Mageplaza’s Order Management Suite;
- Magento Order Fulfillment by Magestore;
- Magento 2 Checkout Custom Field by BSS Commerce;
- Order management suite by Amasty, among others.
These solutions streamline various order management processes, reducing the unnecessary workload, for example:
- order fulfillment;
- item tracking with a barcode;
- order dropshipping;
- applying mass actions.
8. Make the Store Discoverable
So now you have a store. What’s next? You need to make sure people can find it online from search engines. That’s where you need search engine optimization. Keep in mind that having an online store is a never-ending process of enhancing. Consumer requirements shift, and search engines, namely Google, introduce new updates, affecting your search rankings.
SEO best practices encompass:
- Page titles & meta descriptions: These are your store’s first impression on search results. Make them relevant and enticing. However, writing unique metadata for every page may seem daunting. Extensions such as “Meta Tags Templates” by Amasty or “SEO Meta Templates” by MageWorx can speed up this task, making your product pages SEO-wise.
- XML Sitemaps: A document for search engines specifying the web pages, content, and relationships between them. Head to ‘Stores’ -> ‘Configuration’ -> ‘Catalog’ -> ‘XML Sitemap’ in Magento to set one up.
Screenshot taken on the Magento 2 Commerce demo
- Robots.txt: Think of this as a “Do Not Disturb” sign for search engines. Click ‘Content’ -> ‘Design’ -> ‘Configuration’ -> ‘Search Engine Robots’ and give instructions to search engines.
Integrate Google Analytics and Tag Manager to track the store’s performance. They’ll let you know where you’re outperforming and where you’re lagging behind. Go for advanced eCommerce tracking to understand visitors. What are they buying? When? This deep dive will give you insights to shape the store’s strategy.
10. Sell Beyond the Website
The store is the final destination where you’ll direct the audience. But what about other channels to promote the brand and communicate with potential customers? Expand the touchpoints to social media and global marketplaces.
You can even sell directly on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. This phenomenon is known as social commerce. It’s possible via shoppable tags and “Buyable Pins”, enabling consumers to buy right where they hang out.
Check the example from Verie in the screenshot below. This Instagram post contains shoppable tags in the image and description. You can click on them, open the product information, and order goods on the website.
Screenshot taken on the official Verie Instagram account
On the other hand, Amazon, eBay, and others can drastically amplify your reach. Use Magento’s integrations like CedCommerce Amazon Integration extension to push products to these platforms seamlessly. And if you’ve got a physical store, blend that experience with your online presence. Maintain consistent stock levels, pricing, and branding.
11. Wrapping Up and Going Live
You’re set to go, but before you hit that launch button:
- Test everything, not just the “Add to Cart” button. Act as a buyer. Test your site on mobile, different browsers, and even different internet speeds. Hunt for glitches and patch them up. Use staging or local environments to preview how everything works before submitting Magento files to the web server.
- Train the staff. Your team should know Magento inside out. Hold training sessions, create operation manuals, and be ready for common customer queries.
- Once you’re done, ask the development team to make the site live. Depending on the project size and complexity, this process may take several days and highlight some new issues. The coders may need to go back and forth between the frontend and backend to make edits, but it’s part of the normal course of events.
Here is what the process of launching a store on Magento looks like. We’ve walked you through all the steps, from choosing the best-suited edition to going live. Conclusion? If you’re a young entrepreneur planning to grow into a renowned enterprise or enter international markets, Magento is right for you.
If you’re ready to rack your brains over its technical intricacies, Magento will reward you with:
- seamless integrations;
- robust performance;
- hundreds of satisfied customers.
It’s a solid foundation for skyrocketing sales. And now, it’s time to take action and make your online store dream a reality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Magento free for eCommerce?
Yes and no. Magento offers an open-source version that’s free to use. It’s a fantastic starting point for emerging entrepreneurs. However, as your business grows, you might want to explore its paid versions packed with extra features.
How much does it cost to build a website on Magento?
While Magento Open Source is free, costs can pop up with hosting, themes, extensions, and customization. A basic setup might typically set you back a few hundred bucks, but a fully customized, ultramodern store can run into thousands. The price depends on your needs and Gross Sales Revenue (GSR).
Is Magento a good eCommerce platform?
Sure, why not? Due to its versatility, scalability, and extensive feature set, Magento stands out in the eCommerce space. Whether you’re beginning a small business or running a vast online empire, Magento can grow along with you. However, just like any tool, it works best in the hands of someone who fully understands it.
About the Author
Kate Parish is a chief marketing officer at Onilab. She has almost a decade of experience in the company and is still enthusiastic about every aspect of digital marketing. Kate sees the marketing mission in ensuring sustainable business growth. For this purpose, she helps companies and readers create efficient campaigns, solve common problems, and enhance crucial website metrics, such as conversions, bounce rates, and others.