Beginners Guide for Magento

Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform written in PHP. The software was originally developed by Varien Inc., a US private company headquartered in Culver City, California, with assistance from volunteers.Varien published the first general-availability release of the software on March 31, 2008. Roy Rubin, former CEO of Varien, later sold a substantial share of the company to eBay, which eventually completely acquired and then spun off the company. According to the research conducted by aheadWorks in May 2015, Magento’s market share among the 30 most popular e-commerce platforms is about 29.8%. Magento employs the MySQL/MariaDB relational database management system, the PHP programming language, and elements of the Zend Framework.It applies the conventions of object-oriented programming and model–view–controller architecture. Magento also uses the entity attribute value model to store data. Magento 2.0 was released, with an aim to provide new ways to heighten user engagement, smooth navigation, conversion rates and overall revenue generation, it has well-organized business user tools speed up build up time and enhances productivity. Table locking issues have purportedly been considerably reduced, Improved Page Caching and also allows in streamlining Guest checkout process for existing users,Enterprise-grade scalability, improved performance and better code base are some of the touted benefits of newer Magento version. Magento supports a Web template system which generates multiple similar-looking pages and customizes theme.Magento provides a basic theme which sets up an eCommerce website. The theme is designed for customizing all pages by adding or editing the PHP, HTML and CSS. Magento users may install themes which change the display of the website or its functionality. Without loss of content or layout of pages, themes are interchangeable with Magento installations. Themes are installed by uploading theme folders via FTP or SSH and applying them using the backend admin system.Magento developers have created Magento plugins that extend its basic built-in functionality. Magento users can install modules by downloading them, and uploading them to their server, or applying a module’s Extension Key through Magento Connect Manager.Magento allows users to integrate several different domain names into one control panel and manage more than one storefront at a time from a single admin panel. Magento platform keeps growing rapidly as the number one platform for eCommerce ventures, many retailers, business owners and entrepreneurs are seeking to take their business to the next level with Magento.Whether you’re migrating an existing store or starting a new one from scratch, if you’re not a practicing Magento developer, starting out with Magento will require a learning curve as well as a good developer by your side.In order to make that process easier for you, we’ve summarized the different stages in the process, along with some useful resources that will help you get started.
Migrating An Existing Online Store To Magento
Magento uses an Entity–attribute–value model (EAV), meaning that even if you migrate the database, including your customers, orders, categories and products, you’d still need to write a script in order for everything to sync together. There are also many Magento extensions available online that can help with the migration process.If you’re migrating from an existing store, you need to have a developer by your side. To really know what they’re doing, Magento developers normally specialize in either back-end or front-end, so bare in mind that if someone claims to be an expert in both, they’re probably bluffing.
Choose Your Hosting
Magento database is resource heavy and requires strong servers. There are several companies, such as Nexcess and SiteGround which specialize in hosting online stores powered by Magento.If you have many products, or if you expect heavy traffic on your site, bare in mind that you would need stronger servers. The pricing of hosting for Magento ranges between $3.95 per month with siteground and can go up to $114 per month if you want to power multiple stores.
Build Your Store Theme
Most stores have their own developers to build unique themes in accordance with their branding strategy. A cheaper solution would be to purchase a ready-made theme from Themeforest and customize it to according to your preferences. It should be noted though that Magento theme customization only applies for the visual aspect of your store, or in other words, you cannot add functions using a pre-built theme.
Add Store Functionalities Using Extensions
Magento extensions are external modules that can be installed onto your store, built to provide for a specific need within your store and add value beyond what Magento has to offer. Since Magento has such a large community around it, extensions can be found to accomplish just about anything you can think of- and this is what makes Magento the number one choice for serious business owners.Extensions can be found on the Magento Connect Marketplace, with prices varying from 100% free and up to hundreds of dollars. Price is normally determined by how much an extension can increase your potential revenue.
Set Up Your Database
Now that you have your hosting and theme in place, and you know more or less which extensions you’re going to use, you’re ready to start setting up your database
Entering Your Products Information
Magento lets you choose between the following product types:
a) Simple product– A product with no varying attributes or choices at all, i.e a one sizeone color t-shirt
b) Virtual products, AKA paid services, such as hourly support or any other service that requires being in direct contact with the seller
c) Downloadable Products such as e-books, videos and scripts, which are another kind of simple product
d) Configurable or Complex products which have varying attributes such as color, size etc.
e) Grouped products– A bunch of simple products that are sold together, i.e. a camera that comes with a memory card and lens can be sold as one grouped product
f) Bundled products– Join several products together and allow customers to select them out of a list. For example a bundled product could include a whole set of clothes and accessories that go well together where the customer can choose some or all of the products included.
Customer Groups And Pricing
Magento’s Customer Groups give you the ability to offer different pricing and promotions to customers based on their grouping, which can largely increase the number of returning customers.
Groups might be initially set when you add the customer, and change over time. It does not matter how many people are in a customer group- You might have one customer, or thousands of them. The Customer Group might change because you want the specific customer to be in a different group, or you might want to program your customer groups to change in accordance with decisions or actions taken by your customer.
Optimize Site Speed
As mentioned above, Magento’s awesome features are resource heavy, therefore we cannot stress enough the importance of working with a good hosting company that will not only provide the technical requirements, but will also support you in times of trouble. If you’ve chosen a good hosting plan and your site still loads slowly, here are some tips for you:Magento has built-in feature called flat catalog, which fetches product data from a flat table rather than joining all the other smaller tables together. This allows customers to view all products without loading separate items at once, making it easy on the server and improving user experience at the same time.
Recommended SEO Practices
Magento is very well built for SEO, and offers many tools for drawing traffic and increasing visibility. While some of these tools are built-in Magento features, you can also add external extensions to further increase your search engine visibility. Here’s a great guide by siteground for optimizing SEO using the pre-built Magento module.Another great way for drawing traffic to your store in by connecting it to a WordPress blog where you can tell potential customers about the products you sell from a user point of view rather than a marketer. This fast-growing trend lets you manage your blog straight out of the Magento backend interface, while displaying a WordPress layout with its own URL on the front end. If you want to set up this a wordpress blog for your store, we recommend using the Fishpig WordPress integration tool for MAgento.
Using a Magento API
After you’ve set up your store with all of your products, customer groups, categories etc, you can start moving towards the next level of Magento. By integrating Magento API with an external program or code scanning device you can create your unique list of stock items that updates whenever a purchase is made. This means that you can update your physical store inventory to automatically sync with your Magento inventory while simplifying the work of your employees and store managers.
Version Updates
Updating your Magento version is a lengthy process that requires a specialist. As always with web programming, mistakes can lead to unwanted fatal errors, so if you need to upgrade your Magento version, its best to get a developer to do it so you don’t lose data from the database. Version updates, as well as other significant modifications should be made after midnight, so something goes wrong you’d have enough time to fix it.

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