Magento is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms for a reason. It offers a ton of flexibility, and its diverse range of features really allow you to personalize the Magento store experience you provide to customers. This is why it is used not just by smaller, independent brands but by some of the world’s most recognizable companies like Nike and Coca-Cola.
Unlike its main competitors, Magento is open source with a free community version as well as a paid version. Whichever version you use though, you will find a multitude of functions to help you manage every part of your sales and marketing processes. And, with such high competition in the ecommerce space, making the most of these features to optimize your Magento store and stand out from the crowd should be a strategic priority.
But with so many options and features open to you, it can be hard to know where to start. Here is our quick and easy guide to taking your Magento store to the next level.
1. Start With Security
For all the benefits that come from Magento being open source, it does mean that you are going to have to take care of the security of your store. Security is the logical place to start because it is the foundation of trust in the ecommerce world.
If you are storing customer personal and payment information, you need to make sure your store is as watertight as possible. Even if you aren’t directly processing card transactions, a compromised site can still direct customers to a false page and alter orders.
Here are a few essentials to look at first:
- Make sure your passwords are strong (mixing upper and lower case, numbers, and symbols) and that you change them regularly
- Keep your software up to date and install updates as soon as you can
- Use software like Mage Report to scan your Magento store regularly for malware
You can find more detailed information from the Magento team about all the ways you can boost the security of your store.
2. Make Sure Your Hosting Is Up to the Job
There is no getting around it: if you want your store to run smoothly and quickly for every single user, you need to look at your hosting. Magento is a big platform and if you are making use of a lot of extensions and features, it can start to slow downloading times.
You may be tempted by shared hosting, but this won’t do much to boost your loading times. Using a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated server is better, although potentially more expensive, options. While a VPS will host your Magento store, taking care of all the maintenance and security requirements for you, using your very own server gives you much more flexibility.
Not having to share CPU or storage with anyone else can have an immediate positive effect on your site. But, you will be solely responsible for maintaining your server and dealing with any issues.
3. Boost Your SEO
Now that you have taken care of your hosting, you need to start driving new customers through your virtual doors. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps you get seen more on search engine results pages and is vital in the fiercely competitive world of ecommerce.
In fact, one of the main reasons people love Magento is its long list of SEO-friendly features, which definitely makes the task of standing out from the crowd a little easier.
Among other things, these features allow you to:
- Change the title tags that Magento automatically creates (the best thing to do is use your product names or groups) – same goes for descriptions
- Use header tags properly, with the correct hierarchy (here’s a handy guide)
- Only use top-level URLs – you can edit this option by turning off the ‘use categories path for product URLs’ option in the SEO section of the stores configuration menu
- Make sure there is no duplicate content, such as generic product descriptions
- Use ‘nofollow’ links on the pages you don’t want to show up on search engines, such as checkouts, admin and cart pages
- Change your homepage title from ‘home’ to something that briefly describes your offering
- Ensure all product images have a unique tag and a description
4. Set Up Your Notifications
Another really important feature of your Magento store to utilize is the notifications option. These little nudges can really boost your sales if you use them correctly. For example, if a customer has visited your store and browsed some products before leaving, a timely notification can convince them to complete the purchase.
This is especially the case if they put items in their cart and then fail to complete the purchase process. By sending them a quick email, you greatly increase the chances of getting that customer back.
Product notifications serve a slightly different purpose. They tell customers when certain products are available or have had their prices discounted. If done in a clumsy or overly aggressive way, this can be annoying.
But if done with an authentic tone, it can be powerful way of increasing brand loyalty among your customers by letting them know that you understand their preferences. The insight you gain into consumer behavior can also be a valuable tool when it comes to further optimizing your site later.
5. Don’t Slow Your Site Down
Of course, you want to make your Magento store as flashy and unique as possible, but there are some common mistakes that can really hamper user experience. Avoiding them can make a considerable difference when it comes to your total sales.
An example of this is the kind of images you use on your site. While you may feel it is important to fill your store with vibrant images, too many can slow your site down. But there are a couple of things you can do.
Firstly you can resize your images in the ‘advanced’ section of the store configuration menu. By setting a maximum pixel width and height, Magento will automatically apply these settings to all images. Secondly, you use full-page caching to make sure your pages load fully-generated instead of in blocks.
Some other potential sources of slow load times are:
- Too many redirects
- Broken links (you can use a tool like this link checker to scout for them)
- Large and clunky social sharing buttons (these can often be the last thing to load on a page)
6. Get The Checkout Process Right
As an ecommerce business, you depend on your checkout process. As with any other checkout, there are a few golden rules to apply to your Magento store.
Firstly, the fewer steps there are the better. One thing customers hate is a long-winded purchase process with lots of different pages to navigate and information to input. If you condense the whole checkout process to a single page, you could see a drop in abandoned carts because people can see the end of the process as they start.
Other common errors include making it difficult to reset a password or not optimizing your site for mobile. Addressing these two issues can have significant effects on the number of completed sales you see, as you are effectively removing two potential ‘pause’ moments that may make a customer reconsider.
Your Magento Store is an incredible asset, especially if you take the time to really get it performing at the highest level. One thing that the platform cannot help you with, however, is making sure you have the most competitive prices.
Repricer.com can optimize your prices on Magento, as well as the other major ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Amazon. It allows you to create custom pricing rules that mean you always stay competitive. Start your free 14-day trial now.