Kate Pioryshkina is Ecommerce Technology Observer at Iflexion
Building an ecommerce business with Magento is a challenge, but an exciting one. This sophisticated PHP-powered platform requires a deep web development expertise but, as ecommerce developers admit, this pays off with top-of-the-line results apart from having a modern, self-sufficient webstore. To lead a Magento project to success, business owners need to meticulously analyze their goals and match them with what Magento has to offer.
Which high-level concepts should business owners have in mind when mapping out their future Magento stores? Which key questions should they consider before giving the green light to their development teams? The article will dissect five core Magento capabilities and bring forth workable insights about online retail and web development.
1. What Look and Feel Do You Aim For?
An average visitor decides whether they like a website or not in mere seconds, and if not, in most cases they will leave immediately. That’s why web design choices are the most crucial for an ecommerce project owner to make.
In a nutshell, there are two alternatives: a ready-made theme or custom development, each with its benefits and weak points.
Since a pre-made theme requires installation and initial configuration only, this is a viable option for a time-constrained project. Working around a template is also budget-friendly, as you buy not only a web design but the continuous support and updates from the theme developers. Apart from this, a template package deal is a top choice for novices who haven’t yet learned the ropes of ecommerce and are unsure of what they want.
Custom design is a more demanding path to follow. It requires greater investments and considerable commitment from business owners. In return, though, they get unique webstores that precisely convey they brand messages.
Magento and Web Design
Magento is geared toward both templates and custom design, so regardless of the path you eventually choose to pursue, you will face little complications.
The official Magento marketplace and other services like ThemeForest, TemplateMonster, and Creative Market offer an extensive selection of themes for any taste, budget and Magento version. Today, it is perfectly possible to find a Magento theme that is packed with advanced features and hits the mark in terms of your brand style. However, be ready to pay a hefty price for it.
If no ready-made theme suffices, then it is wise to opt for custom Magento web design. This is indeed a more expensive option, with an average design freelancer rate ranging from $10 to $30 per hour at Upwork and even higher fees asked by Magento development agencies. In exchange, though, you get a highly original online store that is bound to make a statement.
2. What Are Your Growth Plans?
What is your key business goal? Do you clearly envision your ecommerce expansion? Do you aim for the global market or several local ones? How fast do you expect your online traffic and turnover to grow?
These and similar business development questions are vital at the early stages of an ecommerce project. Outlining the targeted scale and growth rate ensures that you implement all the needed functionality early on and aptly lay the groundwork for future success. And if you want an online business geared toward explosive growth, Magento is the right tool for that.
Scaling-up with Magento
A Magento-powered online store can support constantly increasing inventories of hundreds of thousand SKUs without its performance declining. Magento’s multi-store capability allows creating separate stores, each with individual inventory, language, currency, and promotion settings, and manage them from a single admin panel.
Apart from that, Magento is compatible with a plethora of scalable cloud hosting solutions. This means you can smoothly switch over to a more suitable provider as soon as you reached the limit with the current one. Magento is also exceptionally integration-friendly, allowing to connect the store with dozens of third-party services on the fly, without time-consuming development.
3. What Is Your Conversion Strategy?
An online store alone doesn’t guarantee your financial sustainability. In 2019, when the competition in every ecommerce niche is cut-throat, a store owner can’t take chances but should devise and enact a unique sales strategy to win consumers over.
The formula of an ecommerce sales strategy is tried-and-true: awareness, interest, desire, and action. However, the exact actions and techniques used at each stage of the journey are for you to choose. Among the variety of factors, the strategy is determined by the ecommerce platform in use, as well as the promotions offered.
Magento and Customer Journey
Unlike other solutions, Magento does not offer a single turnkey sales strategy. Instead, it gives store owners an opportunity to customize each step to their liking, with both out-of-the-box and third-party solutions.
You can create eye-catching landing pages with cleverly placed CTAs directly in the store’s admin panel using the recently introduced Page Builder tool, or download a pre-made template to save yourself the trouble.
If you want to publish engaging blog content, both free and paid Magento blog modules can be found in abundance at specialized marketplaces.
If your goal is to level up the average cart value, Magento allows store owners to enhance a product gallery with a video presentation, offer an enticing discount, or set up irresistible up-sell and cross-sell promotions. In short, the conversion optimization possibilities with Magento are practically endless.
4. How Will You Accept Payments?
Online payment is a sensitive matter that is still regarded with suspicion by older generations. So a properly selected payment gateway stack can become your competitive advantage, while poor choice may result in a cart abandonment rate increase.
According to a Baymard Institute study, 17% of respondents admitted they abandoned their shopping carts because they did not trust the store with their credit card information; 6% named the lack of payment options as their cart abandonment reason.
When it comes to your future store, more payment gateways are not necessarily better. To find the balance between a sufficient choice and a disorienting multitude, study the globally popular gateways first. Then conduct a bit of research among your target audience to determine which payment methods they trust most.
Since every gateway charge different transaction fees, the matter of cost-effectiveness is highly likely to guide your choice as well. Besides, the security and compatibility of your ecommerce platform and payment gateways should in no way be overlooked.
Magento-supported Payment Methods
Magento supports a wide selection of payment gateways. Although the platform officially recommends PayPal and Braintree (a PayPal service for payments via credit and debit cards and digital wallets), such popular gateways as Klarna, Amazon Pay, eWAY, Cybersource, and Authotize.net can also be seamlessly integrated within a Magento checkout.
Beyond that, other no less popular payment gateways like Skrill or Stripe can be found on the Magento Marketplace and installed as modules.
5. How Will You Fulfill Orders?
Shipping is the pain point for both parties of an ecommerce deal. A significant number of customers harbor a negative attitude to shipping costs: 18.5% of the BigCommerce 2019 survey respondents cited it as the most adverse aspect of the whole online shopping experience, while the whopping 60% admitted they abandoned carts due to high delivery fees.
Delivery times is another disappointment. The younger the customers, the more negative their attitude: the same BigCommerce survey found out that about 20% of Gen Z shoppers think waiting for their purchase to arrive as the number-one problem associated with shipping.
In their turn, the store owners go to great pains to streamline domestic and foreign delivery processes, make arrangements with fulfillment companies, and handle shipment accidents, while curbing persistent customer dissatisfaction in the meantime.
This is why it is essential to map out a clear-cut shipping strategy from the very beginning and have an ecommerce platform that is functional enough to support your initial vision and flexible enough to allow for on-the-fly shipping strategy modifications.
Magento and Order Fulfillment
Magento is by default connected to the world’s largest carriers: USP, USPS, FedEx, and DHL. It’s up to a store owner to offer all four as delivery providers or only the ones with the most beneficial rates and conditions. If none of the carriers suits well, it’s possible to diversify shipping options with third-party extensions, which can be found in abundance on the Magento Marketplace.
Moreover, Magento provides diverse shipping configurations. A business owner can choose to render free shipping as well as deliver at fixed or conditional rates, with the possibility to easily change these conditions if needed.
With Magento, Sky Is the Limit
Magento is a robust ecommerce platform that is second to none in terms of its built-in functionality, scalability, and freedom of integration. It allows building a high-capacity online store that can sustain a rapid business growth and drive continuous profit margins.
Still, driving a Magento development project to success is not a walk in the park. As a business owner, you will have to investigate a variety of disparate aspects, from checkout to database and hosting, to achieve the results you envision. It is not uncommon to get overwhelmed, especially when you lack certain technological prowess; in this case, bringing in external talent into your in-house team would be a recommended solution.