Magento is very handy for e-commerce and you certainly do get a lot for free. However, it can also be very, very frustrating so here are 5 resources for getting the most out of Magento and hopefully making life a little easier too.
Easily Setup Table Rate Shipping
Want to ship internationally and charge different rates depending on the location? You’ll need to create a .csv file that specifies each location and the price of shipping. Not only is this tedious when you have many countries, but it also becomes easier and easier to make mistakes with so many to do by hand.
I found myself facing this exact problem and I was determined to find a lazy way round it! Enter: http://elgentos.nl/tablerates/ – this will generate the .csv for you. There’s plenty of handy shortcuts within this handy shortcut tool – set the default price, check all European countries, set the condition for the shipping price etc. This saves a lot of time!
If you want to sell on Amazon/Ebay (and an ever increasing list of other online stores) from the comfort of your Magento installation then try M2EPro. This extension allows you to manage inventory, listings, prices, themes and more from within Magento. Best of all? It’s currently free!
It’s not without drawbacks though! Initially the process of creating listings for Ebay was rather confusing. It uses 4 different templates that control different aspects of the listing process – so it is difficult to get your head around at first. Coupled with patchy documentation and a current lack of tutorials it can be a struggle – but persevere it’s well worth it.
Some retailers may also struggle with Amazon listings if they don’t have barcodes for products – this is more Amazon’s fault than M2E’s – there is a work around but it’s quite fiddly.
Unless you’ve the time, or inclination, you’re probably going to want to buy a theme to apply to your Magento store that functions as a decent base for you to work from & customise to your liking. You can’t go far wrong with something like Theme Forest which has hundreds of themes to pick from.
Once you’re up and running you’ll perhaps be turning your attention to marketing and in particular SEO. The good news for an SEO novice is Magento is pretty good for SEO out of the box with many ‘best-practise’ settings already in place. It’s not all done for you though, so take a look over the following couple of handy guides: http://yoast.com/articles/magento-seo/ & http://www.gpmd.co.uk/blog/a-guide-to-doing-seo-on-magento-websites/ – they’re pretty thorough and specifically targeted at setting within Magento that aide SEO. You’ll still want to tackle general SEO however.
Magento’s Website & User Forums
There’s a wealth of resources on Magento’s own website in the knowledge base, so if, for example, you want to crack a multi-store installation (a truly headache inducing experience the first time around!) you can find that information here.
If you have other questions take a look through their forums – most googling leads there anyway – you may just find what you need. Beware though that a lot of guidance may relate to earlier Magento versions. So frustratingly, what solved one person’s problem in say 2009 may not solve yours now! The other thing to watch for is the shills – many extension vendors seem to jump into threads, promote their extension as a solution and move on without really contributing.
So there you have it, 5 top Magento resources to make life easier. I hope that helps you out – Magento is very powerful but can also be incredibly difficult. If you have any helpful resources let me know in the comments.