Ahh Magento, released on the 31st of March it is already widely considered by many to be the new rising star of Ecommerce. Developed by Varien, Magento is open source and boasts many powerful features as well as a slick and modern design.
Some of the general features include:
• An excellent backend (see demo site admin/123123)
• SEO and keyword options
• Checkout and shipping
• Analytics and reporting
• Customer accounts
• Order management
• Catalog and product browsing
• Newsletter and email management
This post is a walk through of an installation for a live and functioning UK-based online furniture site. With no coding skills the process was a bit of a learning curve but manageable, with almost 400 products the most time consuming aspect was definitely building the catalogue.
- Download the zip or tar file, upload it to your host and decompress. Decompressing can be done via the file manager in your hosts Cpanel or within your FTP client. Do not decompress the files locally on your computer before uploading as there are about 8000 files
- Create a MYSQL database with a user/pass that you will need to input to Magento later
- Make the following writable (777) by your web server: magento/var/.htaccess – single file magento/app/etc – directory
magento/var – directory
magento/media – directory and all the directories under
- Browse to the location that you uploaded the files. http://www.yoursite.com/magento/install/ If you do not want the Magento folder in your URL path simply upload the files to your root directory. You can change the access in your FTP program, usually right clicking on the desired file/folder and selecting ‘change permission’; ensure these are set to 777 which is basically full permission
- Follow the install wizard – this process is relatively straightforward, you will need to enter your MYSQL details and change some file permissions. There are options for custom installation but most default settings should be guessed for you
- Finished! Now goto http://www.example.com/magento/admin to access the backend and start uploading your products
In the end, the person I set this site up for was very happy with the finished product and now has a fully functional open source Ecommerce website. For me, the most challenging aspect was the lack of a WYSIWYG editor, though this is rumored to be added in a future release.
In case you plan on giving it a blast, some of the major lessons I learnt during the process were:
- Install the sample data – this helps so much to learn how static-pages are created and gives you a great head start on a sexy front page
- Resize all product pictures – pics with a high resolution (2000 x 2000) will not display properly
- Decide on your shipping price and if you are going to have different shipping prices BEFORE uploading and creating all your products
- Make sure you spend enough time learning the product creation process and understand the implications of all the different features
- Decide what products you want to be ‘related products’ or ‘upsells’
The next step for Furniture Depo is a Google Adwords PPC campaign in order to bring some instant traffic to the site before investing in expensive and long-term organic SEO. If there is enough interest I will post a follow up of the progress and success of the site.
Overall I found Magento to be a powerful and feature-rich software suite. For those wishing to sell only a couple of products it might be overkill as it can take a while to learn and configure. However if you’re willing to invest the time, Magento has many features to help you stay ahead of the game and the polished feel really goes a long way to reassuring your customers that you are indeed a genuine Ecommerce business.
This post was by Jack, creator and author of Nubtub