Thursday, October 27, 2011

Magento E-commerce Website Development

What is Magento?

Magento is an open source e-commerce platform written in PHP with a wealth of built-in functionality & extendability through plugins. Magento was purchased by eBay in 2011 to form the cornerstone of its e-commmerce offering. It is used by 100,000+ merchants ranging from micro businesses to large corporations like Nokia, Salomon, Ford, Pentel & Mothercare.

Mangeto e-commerce websites can be simple, fast & cheap ... or sophisticated, customised & expensive. As an open source platform, code can be modified to reflect each client's unique requirements. Essential Magento functionality (with plugins) includes:

  • Add/update/delete template content pages via CMS
  • Add/update/delete products via CMS
  • Blog/news functionality via CMS Search functionality (search content pages / products)
  • Shopping basket (add to basket, remove, edit quantities)
  • Delivery cost calculations (e.g. free if order over £50)
  • Promo/coupon codes for shopping cart
  • On-line payment processing Inventory management (and future proofing to connect to accountancy packages)
  • Add/save items on website & e-mail the 'wishlist' to someone else for processing
  • Track order progress through 'my account' pages
  • View website stats via Google Analytics
  • Marketing e-mail list management (via MailChimp plugin)
  • Automatic uploading of products into Google's product comparison engine
  • Facebook 'Like', Twitter comment & Google+ buttons
  • User's reviews of products
  • Cross-sell/associated products (attach related products so they are easy to add to basket)
  • Favicom (icon just in front of the www...)
  • Website visible on iOS, Android & Blackberry operating systems
  • Contact us form (separate to ordering process)
If you are looking for measurable ROI from an e-commerce website, Magento has built-in & plugins that allow you to measure:

Google Adwords Campaigns
Google Analytics & Adwords can be integrated into Magento to provide ROI performance reporting on specific keyword campaigns. When combined with other ROI reporting, businesses can measure their what is their most effective investment path for an e-commerce site, whether it be using eBay, Amazon, Google Ads, SEO or e-mail marketing, in order to deploy marketing budgets most effectively.

MailChimp integrates into Magento's front-end (providing subscription management facilities for website visitors) and backend (providing conversion & revenue performance for e-mail marketing campaigns, enabling you to adjust & tune your e-mail marketing to maximise ROI). MailChimp continues to function as a powerful list-management / e-mail delivery platform (with minimal cost) but feeds information into Magento for additional reporting.

eBay integration
eBay now owns the Magento e-commerce platform 100%. eBay is the largest e-commerce marketing place on the Internet (generating $2.5 billion dollars of revenue in Q1 of 2011) and is a key 'showcase' channel for products sold online. The eBay plugin for Magento allows e-commerce retails to automate the listings/order management in eBay.

Google Merchant/Shopping
The 'Shopping Results' area of Google search is a fantastic way to push products into the top of search results. Magento's built-in support for Google Merchant automates product upload into Google's e-commerce product database for display in 'Shopping Results' and price comparison engine.

Social Media
Numerous plugins are available for Magento to enable Facebook Like, Twitter posting & Google+. Amazon Magento enables the creation of Amazon shops within / .com creating an alternative distribution channel.

Typical costs & timescale for Magento e-commerce website implementation (excluding design process)

Magento has a wealth of complex functionality built in and the key cost in terms of time involved creating bespoke layouts, marketing plugins & complex configuration of products / functionality. If the client has few products (e.g. <100), then development costs are reduced since the need for elements such as cross-sells, product comparison, wish-lists, mail to a friend & complex product groupings are not required.

  • Consultancy, scoping & documentation with client of Magento & available plugins (2 days)
  • Setup of basic Magento website instance with basic configuration (1 day)
  • Implement of design to the Magento instance including DHTML animated elements (4 days)
  • HTMLing & integration into CMS of content pages (1 day)
  • Setup & configuration essential plugins such as MailChimp, eBay & Google Merchant (4 days)
  • Configuration / import of products via Excel document (1 day)
  • Training in how to use the CMS, catalogue, order & customer management system (1 day)
  • Testing / bug fixing of site (2 days)
This results in a typical Magento project duration between 15 and 20 days (a cost of £9,000 to £12,000).

Examples of variation in design & functionality in Magento-based e-commerce websites: