The Definitive Guide to Launching a Magento Website


This guide is designed for merchants of all sizes who are launching a Magento store, either as a new project, or as part of a replatforming effort. We will cover all considerations around the platform and will help you to get the most out of Magento’s out of the box feature set, as well as extending it further.We’ve written this guide based on our experience of working with Magento Community and Enterprise and version 1.x and 2.0. The core focus of this piece is around launching a Magento store, although some aspects do provide guidance around maintenance and selecting partners etc. A lot of the areas in the post are focused on Magento 1.x, although we’ve tried to make it fairly version agnostic in most places. We’ve launched over 40 Magento stores since 2010, for merchants ranging from tiny startups to household names and that’s the experience we’re drawing on in this piece.

If you need any help with any of the areas listed below, please feel free to get in touch with us here. You can also email with any specific issues.We’ll be updating this guide regularly to ensure that it’s up to date – if there’s anything you think we’ve missed, please feel free to drop us an email or add a comment below and we’ll try and get it added.

Magento Ecommerce

About the Magento platform

Magento is arguably the world’s biggest ecommerce platform (WooCommerce is said to have more instances) and powers online stores some of the world’s biggest brands, including Paul Smith, Hermes, Ford, Nike, Rebecca Minkoff, Ferrari, Mothercare, Christian Louboutin, Olympus and Rosetta Stone. Users of the Magento platform range from startups not making any money online, to household names turning over hundreds of millionsthrough their online stores.

Whether you’re replatforming to Magento or launching a new store, there’s a lot to and think about and things may seem daunting, but this guide is designed to provide guidance around some of the key considerations around moving to Magento and outline lots of actions that you may not have thought of. We’ll also cover lots of points for merchants launching their first online store on Magento too.

The first section of this piece is designed to help you understand the capabilities of Magento and the second section is more focused on your launch.

Magento Community Edition vs Magento Enterprise Edition

There are two versions of Magento. These are the Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition is paid (recently moved to a model where licensing costs are based on turnover) and the Community Edition is free. The two version have very similar feature sets, but the Enterprise Edition also comes with support from Magento, which is one of the key differentiators for lots of merchants. Generally larger merchants will use the Enterprise version. However, there are lots of large merchants that choose to use the Community version as they can’t see the value in Enterprise. Pretty Little Thing and The Watch Gallery are examples of large merchants who use Magento Community.

Some of the key features that Magento Enterprise offers that Community doesn’t, include:

  • Solr search (soon to be Elastic Search in the 2.1 release)
  • Full page caching
  • Private sales
  • Reward points
  • Faster indexing
  • Visual merchandising (via the Visual Merchandiser module, which was introduced into the core last year)
  • Customer segmentation
  • Customer attributes
  • RMA functionality
  • Persistent shopping cart
  • Content staging
  • CMS+

This feature list PDF from Magento provides more detail.

That said, atMagento Imagine a few weeks ago, Magento did make it clear that a lot of the new features they’re working on will only be on Enterprise. Some of these features include improved CMS capabilities, better search (Elastic Search, as above) and enhanced staging and previewing.

Key features of Magento

Magento is known for having a very strong ‘out of the box’ feature set, across both Community and Enterprise, however one of the key factors in merchants choosing Magento is often the modules and integrations available. Magento Connect has a huge number of modules available, which can help to add new features and functionality without significant development work. Although Magento Connect has some lower quality modules, there are hundreds of highly regarded companies who produce Magento modules (such as Aheadworks, MageWorx, WebShopApps etc) that are used (and add lots of value) on stores of all sizes.

Magento also has lots of pre-existing integrations with commonly used technology, like ERP systems, personalisation and merchandising solutions, payment gateways, CRM systems etc.

Other key OOTB features of Magento include:

  • Complex product types (included downloadable products, configurable products and bundled products)
  • Visual merchandising (EE only)
  • Related products and up-sells
  • Flexible pricing options (including promotional pricing, coupon pricing, customer grouping etc)
  • Email management
  • Advanced catalog management options
  • Layered navigation and advanced search
  • Multi-store functionality
  • Options for tax management
  • Wishlist
  • Full order management features
  • Complex checkout
  • Customer accounts
  • Internationalisation options
  • Reporting suite

Again, Magento’s features list doc is handy for seeing all of the key features.

Magento 2 vs Magento 1

Magento 2.x vs Magento 1.x

Magento 2 was finally released fully in November 2015, after around 5 years of it being in development. Magento 2 has a number of new features, but one of the biggest improvements over Magento 1.x is around performance (both front-end and back-end).

Some of the key benefits of using Magento 2 (including newer releases) include:

  • Improved admin interface
  • Front-end and back-end speed improvements
  • Faster indexing
  • Improved search (Magento 2.1 EE)
  • New B2B offering
  • New cloud-based EE option
  • More scalable technology
  • Improved, modular architecture

Magento also recently released 2.1, which has a number of additional improvements, including improved search (via ElasticSearch), improved CMS functionality, further improved performance, staging and preview functionality and various other things. They’re also in the process of releasing an improved B2B solution.

These improvements are quite big for Magento, as they’re addressing some of the core pain points with the platform – which will definitely help to improve adoption rates around M2 and also help entice merchants on other platforms to move over. Currently there’s a bit of stand-off around upgrading or migrating to Magento2, particularly with larger merchants. This is something that’s gradually going away though and there’s a lot more excitement around the platform since the announcement of Magento 2.1.

Magento also announced their new Enterprise Cloud Edition at Magento Imagine – which has again created lots of excitement around Magento2. This solution looks very good and comes with a host of benefits, including:

  • Fully hosted solution
  • Significantly reduced management overhead
  • AWS-based
  • Further performance improvements
  • Far more scalable
  • Competitive pricing
  • One single fee (inclusive of licensing)

We’re now only doing build projects on Magento2, but we have found that some larger merchants are cautious, because of rumours that it’s not yet stable. That said, although there’s been an overhead around learning, we’re pretty happy with it from what we’ve seen on client projects.

Magento Pricing / Cost of Magento

Magento Community Edition is free of charge and the only costs associated with launching a store are likely to be development and the cost of modules, hosting etc. Magento Enterprise Edition is now based on turnover (previously around $18k per server) and ranges from around $20k to $100k in annual licensing fees. The new Magento Cloud Edition is more expensive, but has a number of key benefits. That said, in speakingwith merchants who are going to be using this version, they’ve said that it’s cost-effective when you consider hosting costs and Sys-admin / Dev-ops costs.

Magento developers and agencies are generally fairly expensive in comparison to other platforms (such as WordPress, Shopify etc), however at an enterprise-level it’ll generally work out a lot cheaper than platforms like Hybris and Demandware.

Because of the existing integrations and modules, the cost of maintaining a Magento store is also likely to be considerably less than most other platforms, particularly at an enterprise-level.

Basics of setting up your store

Magento Configuration

There are various configuration aspects of setting up a Magento store that need to be considered – most of which are found in system > config. There are lots of important settings, but the key ones to consider before you launch your site are:

Configuring site security

Site security is a crucial part of launching and maintaining your Magento store. We’ve had a number of clients come to us over the past few years looking for help as their sites have been compromised, and we’ve seen a few horror stories along the way too.

Whilst your site is in development, it’s quite possible that Magento have released a number of security patches which need to be applied to your website, and you can find a list of the security patches here.

Magento have also put together a security centre, which keeps you up to date with all the the vulnerabilities within Magento, along with some of the third party extensions and recommendations on best practices.

We’ve put together a few simple tips to keep your site secure:

  • Ensure that, prior to launch, all patches are applied and sign up to the Magento newsletter to receive updates. You can verify the patches are correctly applied by using tools such as MageReport
  • Avoid using common usernames for administrator accounts, e.g. admin, administrator, user etc.
  • Use strong passwords for administrator accounts – these should also be regularly rotated.
  • Setup roles for each administrator (security breaches can be from members of staff too)
  • Protect the /downloader directory, the API interface and setup WAF rules for your admin login page. Ideally, you want to lock your admin URLs to a static IP address so no other users can access this from outside your main locations.
  • Install an SSL certificate
  • Check your file permissions on the server are correct.
  • Carry out regular PCI Compliance scans and complete your SAQ questionnaire to ensure you’re PCI compliant. Recommended vendors are SecurityMetrics, TrustWave and HackerGuardian
  • Discuss securing your server further with your hosting provider. A good hosting provider will regularly update their WAF rules to block common attempts to infiltrate their network.

Setup Base URL (Secure and Unsecure)

Ensure that your Base URLs are correctly configured for your Secure and Unsecure pages. It’s important to test that on the frontend of your website, when a user enters the checkout process, any confidential information isprocessed behind a HTTPS page.

Remember to check for insecure assets on these pages too, which can be a common mistake when developing themes and then applying an SSL at the end of the process. You can also choose to run your full site in https mode if you wish by updating your base URL to include the https prefix as shown above.

Enable Web server rewrites

Web server rewrites can be quickly configured by going to System > Configuration > General > Web and changing the ‘Use web server rewrites’ option to ‘Yes’. Prior to switching this option on, ensure you have the relevant .htaccess or nginx configuration files in place.

By enabling this option, you will have nicely displayed URLs, along with removing the ‘index.php’ tag from showing in the URL of the site.

Auto redirect to base URL (301 moved permanently)

Inside System > Configuration > General > Web, ensure that the ‘Auto-redirect to Base URL’ is set to ‘Yes (301 Moved Permanently). This forces your domain to and applies a 301 message in the headers so that search engines know this is a perminant redirect.

Setting the countries you’re going to sell to

Not every store wants to sell worldwide, so you can restrict the countries allowed easily within the Magento admin. To update this, simply go to ‘System > Configuration > General > General and select your default country, along with which countries are allowed.

Within here, you can also select which countries you allow an optional postcode for, where state options are required and which countries are within the European Union. It’s also worth checking your payment gateway settings, as companies such as SagePay also give you a separate control for selecting where you want to accept payments from.

Settings for different timezones

With the System > Configuration > General > General settings, you can update your locale options to select your Magento timezone, locale and weekend days. It’s important these settings are correct, as if not, you can end up with orders showing an incorrect timestamp.

It’s also worth checking your server configuration to ensure the timezone on the server is correct. We’ve seen instances in the past where users are based in the United Kingdom, but the server timestamp is incorrectly configured so orders appear one or two hours out of sync.

To check your server timestamp, login via SSH and type

date +'%:z %Z'

This will provide you with your numeric timezone, e.g. +01:00 BST.

Setting up VAT and taxes

Setting up tax and VAT in Magento is generally quite time consuming, but it’s important you get it right before you launch your website. The following areas are the ones you should be focusing on when setting up tax for your store:

Sales > Tax > Manage Tax Rates

Your tax rates are the different rates you charge customers, typically you’ll have something like ‘VAT – Standard’ for your normal tax rates, and ‘VAT Exempt’ for products which are zero rated. If you sell within the EU to businesses who provide a VAT number, you’ll have some additional rates in here.

Sales > Tax > Manage Tax Zones & Rates

This is where you configure the different tax zones for each country / region. In here, you can add a row for each country along with a rate you charge for VAT – an example being the UK, where VAT is currently set at 20%. These are then linked to the Tax Rates above.

Note: You can Import tax rates into Magento, which will give you a good headstart on configuring the zones. A great starter import file can be found here.

Sales > Tax > Customer Tax Classes

Customer tax classes are assigned to different customer groups. In some areas of the world, tax is not applied to wholesale customers, or if you’re trading within the EU, you can set Magento up to remove the TAX if a valid VAT number is entered at the checkout. There is quite a lot of complexity in setting this up, but Magento have created a step by step guide for managing taxes on their site which is a fantastic starting point.

Sales > Tax > Product Tax Classes

Different products may have different tax rates, for example, children’s clothing has a different tax rate to adult clothing. Within here, you can define your different tax rates based on your product rate. These then become available within each product for you to select against.

System > Configuration > Sales > Tax

This is where you select how tax is actually calculated on your products. For example, you may want to enter products into your catalog including tax, or excluding tax. You may also need to charge tax on shipping, or enable cross border trade. You may also have specific requirements about how you want to display product pricing to your customers, so everything is as easy as enabling and disabling within this page.

Catalog > Manage Products > {your_product}

Within each product, you’ll need to set the tax class. For example, you might have some items which need to be charged at 20% VAT and others which are zero rated. This is always set on a per product basis.

Tip: If you need to bulk update your products, go to Catalog > Manage Products > Select All, then go to the Actions dropdown and select ‘Update Attributes’. Within here, you can bulk update your tax rates all in one go. Don’t forget to reindex afterwards!

There are a few things to think about:

  • Will you require the calculation of VAT for B2B sales within the EU? – If so, you need to ensure that you capture VAT numbers at the checkout for these customers and segment them into their own customer group with specific tax settings.
  • If you’re unsure how you should be charging tax, speak with your accountant. Different types of businesses have to account for Tax in different ways, so you’re best to get this cleared up with your accountant before moving forward.

Tax configuration can be quite complicated to setup correctly, so we’re going to put together a second guide in the near future which contains example set up CSVs and correct configurations for different types of businesses.

Setting up Customer Groups

Customer groups are used to segment your customers. Usually this is for assigning different tax classes or pricing levels. For example, you might have a ‘Retail’ group and a ‘VIP’ group, where the VIP product pricing is on average 10% less than the retail group.

Pricing is set on a per product basis and you can apply separate catalog price rules and shopping cart price rules dependant on the group of the customer too.

In Magento EE, you have an additional option called ‘Customer Segmentation’. This allows you to personalise the experience your users have on the website based on customer attributes (for example, you could segment all customers based in the United Kingdom, or based on customers who have placed 2 or more orders in the past).

You can also use customer groups for extending your store functionality further down the line. For example, if you wanted to have a customer group for ‘Trade’, you may choose to extend your store to allow specific payment options to only be applicable to that specific group, or to be able to run a report based upon the group of your customers.

It’s important to get the grouping of your customers correct at the beginning, as moving customers to new groups can be quite time consuming as you scale. In a standard install of Magento, you would have General, Not Logged In, and Wholesale as the initial customer groups.

Adding your store information

One of the first steps of setting up a Magento store is to add in the store name, contact number, hours of operation, country, VAT number, contact address etc. This information is added within the configuration area and should be added either as soon as you install Magento or before you can launch.

Add site favicon and logos for main site and transactional emails

This is one of the more simple requirements – remember to add a site logo and favicon in system config before you launch.

Configuring currencies

Within the admin panel under

System > Configuration > General > Currency Setup, you have the ability to set which currencies you want to allow on your store. If you’re using a single store setup on Magento, chances are, you’re only going to want to accept the one currency. That being said, store owners sometimes want to offer customers multiple options to see what the cost of a product would work out in their currency.

There are two ways to set up currency rates within Magento – Manual and Automatic.

For manual payments, you’ll be required to go into System > Manage Currency > Rates and manually update the exchange rate for the currencies on a manual basis.

As standard, Magento uses Webservicex to automatically update currencies via the Magento cron, however, this is sometimes a little unreliable and if you’re wanting to ensure the currencies are always up to date, you might want to look at another service such as

It’s worth pointing out that with this method, your customers will always be charged in your base currency and the rates are merely used to show customers roughly what they will be paying. For example, if you have a store trading in GBP and a customer views the pricing in USD, the charge will ultimately always be carried out in GBP.

If you want to allow multi-currency setup, you’ll need to configure your Magento instance as a multi-store setup and discuss having multiple currencies setup with your merchant provider. For this, we would recommend companies such as Ingenico, but this is covered in more detail in our payment gateways section further in the guide.

Store Email Addresses

Within System > Configuration > General > Shop Email Addresses, you have the ability to configure multiple email addresses within your Magento setup. These are used for outbound emails and you can configure up to five within a standard install:

  • General Contact
  • Sales Representative
  • Customer Support
  • Custom Email 1
  • Custom Email 2

These emails can then be used for different email triggers which are sent from Magento. For example, if we look in System > Configuration > Sales > Sales Emails, you can choose which sender you want to use for each email template. Within System > Configuration > General > Contacts, you will also want to enter an email address. This is the email which is used to receive messages from your default Magento contact form.

Account sharing on multi store setups

On a multi-store setup, you have the flexibility to set whether customers can use the same login credentials on each of your websites, or whether you’d require customers to have individual logins for each store.

To edit this, go to System > Configuration > Customer Configuration > Account Sharing Option > Share Customer Accounts.

In here, you have two options:

Global – This means that users can login to all of the websites set up on this Magento instance using the same email address and password. It also means that if you take orders over the phone, you don’t end up with ‘Admin created user accounts’ and ‘Frontend user accounts’.

Per Website – If you have a multistore setup, for example a shop selling shoes and a separate store selling kitchen goods, you might want to completely separate your customer base. Using the ‘Per website’ setting allows you to have completely independent user accounts setup.

For most Magento setups, we’d recommend leaving this set as ‘Global’.

strong > Note: You can’t change the setting from ‘Per Website’ to ‘Global’ once customers appear in both sites, so you’ll need a merge customer accounts extension to make this possible.

Name / Address Options

Within System > Configuration > Customers > Customer Configuration, you can set the information you want to capture from your clients. We have various different options available in here:

Most of the options can be left in their default mode, but pay attention to the last three dropdowns as on some stores, capturing a date of birth and gender can be used for future segmentation of your database. You may also need to capture the Tax/VAT number for EU tax deductions further down the line.

Setting up your product catalog and product types

Magento provides various options to defineproducts, allowing for different types and complexities. The main product types are:

  • Simple products – simple products are just standard products that don’t require variants around price, colour etc and don’t have any associated products. A simple product would have a SKU and could be used as part of other types of products – an example could be a Size 5 Mitre football.
  • Configurable products – a configurable product would be made up of individual simple products, which would represent options / variants. An example could be a TV that comes in different sizes and colours (which would each be simple products).
  • Grouped products – grouped products are just a set of simple products grouped together. This could be something like a t-shirt, a hoodie and a pair of trousers.
  • Bundled products – a bundled product allows the user to select different options, so maybe it’s a computer and they choose to have more RAM and a different processor, which would then impact the end price. This type of product is perfect for technical items which allow for more expensive upgrades.
  • Virtual products – a virtual product is designed for things that aren’t tangible, usually a service. It could be something like an car wash.
  • Downloadable products – downloadable products, as you’d imagine, are items that are downloadable.

Setting up your products is always a time-consuming process, whether you’re adding them from scratch or importing them, but the different types of products that Magento allows for is a key feature. Magento also allows for CSV import / export, which can make product management a lot less laboursome – there are also various additional tools and resources that can be used.

Product attributes in Magento

Product attributes are primarily used in Magento to allow for products being associated with categories / filters, which again is a key feature of the platform. They also have various other purposes, including categorisation in product feeds and back-end grouping. Product attributes are created in the Magento admin and there are 66 preset attributes that tend to cover most requirements. Examples of attributes could be size, colour, brand etc.

Attribute sets are used to group types of products and these can be managed in the attribute sets section of the admin area (within attributes). Magento has 14 default attribute sets as default. You can add attributes to attribute sets – so if the example attribute set is ‘footballs’, you might add size, brand, or material.

As a merchant you would primarily want to setup your product attributes in order to manage the filtering and categorisation of products.

Managing the Magento category tree

Adding categories in Magento is very simple and easy to manage – you simply need to click ‘add new category’ and add either a parent category or a child category in the back-end. Once you’ve added a category, you’ll be able to edit the meta data, copy (standard copy block is above product listings) and add products etc from the settings within the main tabs. It’s important to remember that if you’re looking to target category-level keywords from an SEO perspective, you should be creating static categories, not using dynamic filter pages, as these cause lots of issues if left indexable.

Post Launch


Payment gateways

Without a smooth and reliable payment processing facility, a Magento store will not be able to trade online. Customers simply will not tolerate problems or erratic service during the checkout process, so it is vital that a store’s payment gateway is chosen carefully. There’s also a lot of variance in pricing / percentage of order. Fortunately, Magento has readily-available integrations for just about all of the leading payment gateways. Here we take a look at a few of the most well-known and well-supported gateways available for the platform.

Ingenico – Ingenico (formerly oGone) is a French payment services company who also provide widely-used payment gateway services for Magento stores. Ingenico work with Magento merchants of all sizes and often promote the scalability and security of their service. We use Ingenico for a number of our client’s websites and have had very positive experiences from them through integration and support. Ingenico’s costs start from just £0.15 flat fee on each order.

Braintree – Braintree is a highly regarded payment gateway that is owned by payment giants, PayPal. Braintree has become one of the most popular options for Magento merchants over the last few years, because of it’s relatively seamless integration, nice reporting dashboard and simplicity to use. Braintree don’t charge anything for your first $50k and then take 2.9% of the order and $.30 on orders after that. Fees are returned to the merchant if an item is fully refunded and there are charges for chargebacks. Braintree also have an additional 1% charge on orders on other currencies.

Paypal – Easily the most well-known payment method in the world, Paypal is something of a no-brainer when it comes to ecommerce. Back in the early days of online shopping, offering Paypal as a store’s only payment method was seen as slightly amateurish or unprofessional. But Paypal has long since shaken off that image, and is now a global leader in payment processing. Magento’s relationship with Paypal is a long one, and Magento comes with built-in support for Paypal as a payment method. Whatever other payment methods you choose to offer in your online store, Paypal should definitely be there alongside them. It’s simple, trusted and reliable.

Paypal’s business account fees are relatively modest, with no monthly costs and fair transaction fees that come down as transaction volumes increase.

Setup within Magento is straightforward, since the Paypal payment method is already installed with a default Magento store. It’s simply a question of entering in your Paypal business account details and verifying the integration with some test orders. If extensive testing is required, Paypal offers Developer Sandbox accounts, and the Magento Paypal module supports sandbox transactions also.

The downside for a business accepting payments via Paypal is the sometimes lengthy clearance period before funds can be withdrawn to a business bank account. This is particularly likely for startups with no trading history, and adds a degree of financial pressure to a business at a time when cashflow is at its most vital. This issue isn’t exclusive to Paypal however, and is something that all new businesses will face with their merchant provider, so it’s important to find out what that settlement period will be when choosing a payment gateway provider.

SagePay – Sage Pay is one the best-known payment service providers in Europe, processing more than 4 billion transactions annually. Sage Pay offers merchants a robust interface for managing online transactions as well as extensive fraud protection screening during the payment process. To integrate Sage Pay payment processing with Magento, a commercial extension is required. Whilst there are a number of extensions available, the clear leader is Sage Pay Suite Pro, from ebizmarts.

The Sage Pay Suite Pro extension isn’t cheap, but it is reliable, well-documented and well-supported. It supports checkout via an external page or via a hosted form on the merchant’s site. The extension supports immediate and deferred authorisations, as well as recurring payments and refunds. Merchants can also control 3DSecure and AVS/CV2 checking.

It’s worth pointing out that ebizmarts do not offer an upgrade path for their extension for merchants moving from Magento 1.x to Magento 2.0. The customer moving to Magento 2.0 would need to buy a new license for the Sage Pay Suite Pro extension, in order to use it on a Magento 2.0 site.

WorldPay – Another big name in the online payments world, WorldPay is also one of the oldest payment processors around. WorldPay processes on average 31 million transactions a day, and is the leading UK processor, processing around 42% of all online payments in this country.

Again there are a number of extensions available to integrate WorldPay into your Magento store. The stand-out extension to use is perhaps that offered by, a development firm which is both a Magento Industry Partner and an official WorldPay software partner. The extension supports WorldPay’s Standard Mode, where payments are captured on a WorldPay-hosted form, and Hidden Mode, where the payment capture form is embedded inside the Magento checkout page. It’s common for Magento merchants to install a one step checkout extension to improve the default checkout process, and have tested their WorldPay extension alongside a range of the best one step checkout extensions to ensure compatibility. That’s not something all extension providers would do, so it should offer an extra level of reassurance to those thinking of purchasing the extension.

eWay – Whilst eWay is a relative newcomer to the online payments market, the company is now well-established as a global processor, trading in 8 countries. Originally launching in Australia, eWay only reached the UK in 2011, but has gone on to become a strong choice in this country, due to its competitive pricing and customer-focused systems and support.

eWay has produced its own integration extension for Magento, available free of charge via Magento Connect. The extension can handle immediate and deferred authorisations, back-office payment processing, full and partial refunds and stored payment details for repeat purchases. Fraud protection is robust and fully integrated. Again, eWay has committed to ensuring full compatibility with the main third-party one step checkout extensions.

Stripe – Stripe is very much the new kid on the block in the online payments world, launching in the UK in 2013. Charges are competitive, and based on volume. There are no setup fees or monthly standing charges, so you pay only for what you process. Stripe is also a lot more transparent up-front about how quickly a business will receive payments – operating on a rolling 7-day settlement process.

To integrate Stripe payments into Magento, there is a wide choice of third-party extensions, with the most popular being Cryozonic’s $75.00 extension. The extension supports all the standard transaction types, including authorisations and pre-auths, refunds and back-office MOTO payments. Card details can be saved on Stripe’s secure servers, for faster checkout on future orders.

Cryozonic has also built an optional add-on for the extension, to support subscription payments, opening up additional retailing possibilities for online stores.

If you have an offline store, your choice of online payment gateway provider may be dictated to you by what processing facilities you use there. For startups however, it pays to do plenty of research to identify which provider will offer the best solution for each individual business. By shopping around, requesting demos and taking full advantage of pre-sales support teams, it should be easy to find a payment processing solution that meets your exact needs now and in the future.

Magento checkout

Magento’s out of the box checkout is fairly highly regarded by merchants and agencies, but often people will opt to use a one step checkout or a different option instead. We tend to use the OneStepCheckout module, which is by far the most popular third party module and is installed on over 12,000 Magento stores. There’s a lot of arguments around a single step checkout vs a multi-step checkout, but to be honest, in our experience it depends on the merchant and their customers.

Magento’s OOTB checkout is a multi-step process and they provide the option to checkout as guest (as well as login to your account), which is good. The other steps are delivery address, billing address, delivery method, payment method and then summary. This process is for new customers – it would differ if your account is already pre-populated with information.

Lots of merchants opt to use third party checkout solutions – here are some of the most popular ones:

Here are a few other tips that we’ve used around optimising the Magento checkout experience:

  • Test everything – there’s not a one-size-fits-all option around checkouts
  • Try siloing the checkout – this can help to remove distractions
  • Make it easy for the customer to go back to previous steps
  • Add trust signals – security logos etc can help to reduce abandonment and general instill trust
  • Make the promo code box obvious
  • Use services like Klarna and PayPal to provide more flexibility around payment

CMS with Magento

Content management is another weakness of the Magento platform and lots of larger merchants (such as 3663, The Watch Gallery and Paul Smith) opt to build hybrid solutions with a third party CMS. A combination of Drupal and Magento is probably the most common, but there are third party extensions out there that are designed to make managing content easier.

We work with a few clients who use a WordPress / Magento hybrid, but generally we’d just try and add features to the existing CMS solution where needed. This is an area where Magento could be improved, but it’s something they’re addressing in the new Magento 2 releases.

We don’t recommend hybrid builds and tend to provide custom improvements for clients instead, purely because it makes the store more manageable and stable in the long-term. Here are a few third party solutions that can help to improve the CMS side of things for Magento:

Multi-store / Multi-website

Magento’s multi-store functionality is one the platform’s core strengths, allowing for merchants to manage multiple storefronts from a single Magento installation. This is great for retailers who are looking to sell internationally, have separate brands or have B2B requirements.

The first thing you’ll need to figure out is what type setup you need. Within Magento, you’ve got three sections:


A website has it’s own unique customers and orders, so this could be two completely independent companies trading from the same Magento administration panel. For example, you may own a company selling Shelving and you may own another company selling Home Furnishings. In this situation, you’d want full control over each store (different payment gateways, different base currencies, different products etc) but you might want to utilise the same administration panel for ease.

You can set up as many websites as you require, each one of which can sit on a separate domain.


One ‘website’ can have multiple ‘stores’. You may set this up because you want to have a ‘trade’ and a ‘retail’ store, or you might want to sell your products under two separate brand names. Stores have the same base currency and the same price, but can use different menus, have different products assigned to each and you can choose to have separate customer accounts or global customer accounts.


A store view is usually only used to show different languages to a customer. For example, if you had a store selling clothing, you may want to translate that store into 5 different languages but still charge in the same base price with all the same settings. It’s worth pointing out that if you want to set different pricing for different currencies, then storeviews won’t work for your requirements as this purely works on an FX exchange rate.

Product & merchant reviews with Magento

Product reviews represent a big opportunity around SEO and conversion rate optimisation / user experience, as they inject content into your product pages and install trust in you as a merchant and in the product. Magento has a built-in product review function, butit’s not as strong as some of the third party products available. Here are some of the services we recommend to clients:

  • Yotpo – this is probably the most cost effective review option in our opinion as it’s nowhere near as expensive as something like BazaarVoice, but offers a lot of the core features. Yotpo are a Magento gold partner and it’s probably the most commonly used review module for Magento.
  • BazaarVoice – – this is the best review tool on the market in our opinion, however it’s very expensive and require a lot of management to get the value out of it. It does offer some excellent enterprise-level features though, such as moderation, video reviews, various types of annotations etc.
  • Reevoo – Used by lots of merchants and provides most of the commonly required features. Different packages available and easy to integrate.

A lot of our clients tend to use the out of the box Magento review functionality along with a third party module (usually the Aheadworks one) to send the post-purchase emails. The only issue with this is that you’ll have to manage the moderation side of things yourself (also be sure to find a solution to deal with spam submissions).

We’d also recommend that you try and make the process as simple as possible for the user – ideally putting the review form into the body of the post-purchase email.

For merchant reviews, we generally use something like TrustPilot or Feefo, which are very common across all ecommerce platforms.

Email with Magento

Email is a big consideration around ecommerce and there are various different types of emails that need to be setup before you launch your Magento store. These types of email include:

  • Contact form email (customer confirmation and admin)
  • Account sign up (confirmation and success)
  • Order confirmation emails
  • Shipping confirmation emails
  • Newsletter subscription emails (password confirmation and success)
  • Product review email (if applicable)
  • Merchant review email (if applicable)
  • Share product info email
  • Share wishlist email
  • Birthday email (if applicable)
  • Forgot username and password emails
  • Abandoned cart email (if applicable)

There are more emails that may need to be setup, depending on how you run your store – this list from Demac is a great resource. Other types of email include loyalty points emails, refer a friend emails etc. We generally recommend Sendgrid to clients for sending out Magento emails, although alternatives include Mandrill and using a third party SMTP provider using an extension such asSMTP Pro by Aschroder (which you would also require for use with SendGrid). All of these services are very cost effective and easy to manage.

For email marketing, we generally tend to recommend DotMailer, purely because it’s very easy to use for merchants, it’s easy integrate with Magento and they offer most features needed for any level of retailer. Some of our larger clients use their automation features and run programs based on user behaviour and what customers have bought etc, others just use it to send out emails.

For abandoned cart emails, which is something we’d strongly suggest doing, lots of our clients will use their ESP (another feature that DotMailer provides), although we’ve also had great results from MageMail, which is paid on results abandoned cart platform specifically for Magento.

Marketplace management and Magento

Lots of our clients and Magento merchants rely heavily on third party marketplace websites, whether it’s the obvious ones like eBay and Amazon, or more niche ones specific to their industry. We often use M2E Pro for marketplace management, although it does take time to integrate properly and it’s not just a one-time thing. Lots of clients we take on have had issues with it previously, but it’s great when it’s working correctly. M2E Pro integrates with eBay, Amazon and Rakuten and allows merchants to fully manage which products are listed in which marketplace and the listings themselves. M2E have various packages available and it’s a monthly subscription.

M2E Pro is a very mainstream solution and they used to be very involved with Magento – they also provide on-boarding support and help with the integration if you need it.

Veeqo is another potential option if you don’t like M2E.

Our preferred approach is to use a system like Channel Advisor, Linnworks, SellerDynamics etc which allows for a more modular approach to marketplace integration and will make it easier to scale. Lots of our clients opt to get with M2E though as it’s usually cheaper and is easier to setup.

Blogging with Magento

Lots of Magento merchants struggle with managing a blog alongside Magento and tend to install it on a different domain or server. There are plenty of options available, but they don’t all provide the same level of features and customisation as a standalone WordPress install would. Here are some of the options we recommend:

  • Fishpig (WordPress-based)
  • BlogPro (WordPress-based)
  • The Aheadworks blog extension – this is a separate blog system and isn’t based on WordPress
  • Separate WordPress installation – this will require more development, but is more of a long-term option in our experience

If you’re looking to use a lot of features / functionality of WordPress and you’re going to be investing heavily in content, we’d generally suggest that you invest in the development required to use a full WordPress installation on a sub-domain.

Weaknesses of Magento

Weaknesses of Magento

Despite being the world’s biggest ecommerce platform, Magento does have a number of potential issues, especially when it’s not configured correctly.


Customers are getting more and more impatient online when it comes to load times and wanting to get to the information they require quickly. Unfortunately, Magento can bea very resource intensive system if not properly optimised. To help with this, we’ve put together a few quick tips on how to get some performance gains from your website:

Write clean code

This is probably easier said than done, because as a merchant you’re not necessarily going to know whether the code that’s being added to your store is done inline with current best practices. Use an agency that looks to have a good reputation, whether by talking to some of their clients, seeing whether they contribute to the Magento community, researching awards they’ve won, or taking a look at Magento certifications they have etc. You could spend time increasing server capacity and spending more money on better performing hardware, but if your code isn’t up to scratch it will always run slowly.

Use a good hosting company

Once your code is in a good state, look for a reputable host. As mentioned above, Magento is resource heavy and we’d always recommend going with a host that has a good level of understanding of the platform. There are lots of specialist hosting companies available now for Magento, so take a look through and test drive their hardware. Many companies will provide free demos of their software before you buy or free trials to see what they’re like.

Enable the Magento Cache

Magento out of the box has cache facilities built in. Whilst there’s a lot more than can be done to optimise your site from a performance aspect, you should make sure these are turned on as standard.

Optimise your images

We quite regularly see websites where someone has uploaded an image much larger than it’s displayed on the page (for example, a 400x300px image which is uploaded at 2880x2160px and then scaled down). This can be a huge waste of download time. By correctly resizing your images and then compressing them using lossless compress, you can save a huge amount of resource.

Move your assets to subdomains

Another fairly quick win is allowing browsers to download your assets in parallel. We’ve seen some fantastic speed increases by moving the skin, js and media directories onto sub-domains, which allows users to download multiple assets at the same time rather than having them queued.

Don’t get into the habit of constantly installing new modules

The last thing you want on your website is code bloat. Not only does this make your site hard to maintain, but it opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to performance and debugging issues. Consider every extension you use and use your agency’s expertise to ask for advice.

We put together a comprehensive guide on Magento performance optimisation towards the backend of 2015, which contains more in-depth information about how to configure your store for optimal performance.

Site search and Magento

Magento’s out of the box search function is commonly criticised and is widely known for being unable to handle complex queries, often leading to merchants replacing it with a more capable third-party solution.

Magento Enterprise does have Solr search included, which does provide improved performance, support for stop words / synonyms and a number of other features – but the quality of the results still isn’t great generally and it remains widely criticised by retailers. As part of the Magento 2.1 release, Magento 2 EE will have ElasticSearch built in, which is likely to deliver some improvements. However, it’s still unlikely to provide an enterprise-level search experience for a variety of reasons.

First, let’s understand bit more on what is going to be under the hood of search for Magento 2.1 enterprise edition. As far as we understand, the search accuracy will be very similar to Solr out of the box. With the new solution, it will be possible to exclude stop words from search queries that are fired to the backend. It will also be possible to manually add synonyms for search words, which is something merchants are already likely to be handling via meta tags in the catalog.

Using a premium solution (we use Klevu) will allow for things like auto-merchandising results based on user performance, the ability to deal with spelling mistakes and errors and generally much strong query processing.

Some of the key features we suggest looking for in improving your Magento search results are:

  • Ability to boost products, categories and attributes
  • Self-learning results
  • Auto suggest / auto complete
  • Content search
  • Strong reporting suite
  • Support for faceted navigation within the results pages

These are just a few examples of features that we feel are important in search, but there are lots more. The key thing really is how relevant the results are and how the queries are being processed, which is the issue with the Magento OOTB search really. If you’re in the process of launching a store, we’d suggest having a look at Klevu and Algolia, both of which are capable of delivering all of the features above.


Merchandising has always been a weakness for Magento platforms and it’s one of the appeals of other platforms at an enterprise-level, particularly Demandware. Magento did add OnTaps’s Visual Merchandiser extension into the core of Magento Enterprise 1.14.1, which is a great addition, but Community merchants still have the same issues.

The biggest requirement for stores is the ability to boost products and attributes, as well as visually merchandising top categories. The Visual Merchandiser extension allows for all of this and a screenshot of how products are dragged and dropped into position can be seen below.

The Visual Merchandiser module is probably the best answer for merchants using the Community edition, as it gives you a lot more control over which products are being promoted and where and it only costs $290.

Product recommendations

Magento does have product recommendations available OOTB, however we generally use a third party to enable clients to serve better suggestions to users. Our preferred solution is NOSTO, which is a fantastic solution that does a lot more than just recommendations. NOSTO is essentially a personalisation tool, so it allows users to serve highly relevant suggestions for products to users based on how they’ve used your store. In addition to this, they have other features around using this data with cart abandonment emails and Facebook and Instagram advertising.

Although we love NOSTO, some merchants prefer to use a cheaper and less advanced option – we generally recommend this Aheadworks module in this instance.


Magento is widely known for having SEO issues out-of-the-box, particularly around things like layered navigation, session IDs etc. Most mainstream ecommerce platforms have issues though, and the core technical SEO issues associated with the Magento platform can be fixed relatively easily. Here are what we consider to be the most common Magento SEO issues:

  • Layered navigation pages being crawled and indexed
  • Search pages being crawled and indexed
  • Other dynamic pages being crawled and / or indexed
  • Category paths being used in product URLs
  • Issues with redirects and Magento’s rewrite tables
  • Headings not being assigned correctly
  • Performance
  • Session ID URLs being indexed

In order to solve these, we recommend that you either use the MageWorx Ultimate SEO extension or you do the following manually:

  • Prevent layered navigation pages from being indexed, ideally using the canonical tag
  • Block the search pages in the robots.txt file
  • Block other unnecessary dynamic pages using the robots.txt file (or use the canonical tag if the pages are similar enough)
  • Ensure that you’ve set your product URLs to top-level (not using category path) in the Magento back-end
  • Make sure that your headings are assigned correctly
  • Always be working on optimising the performance of your store (to aid crawlability mainly)
  • Block session ID pages in the robots.txt file

As a minimum, your robots.txt file in Magento should look something like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /*.php$
Disallow: /*?SID=*
Disallow: /*?p=*&
Disallow: /catalog/product_compare/
Disallow: /catalog/product/gallery/
Disallow: /catalog/category/view/
Disallow: /catalog/product/view/
Disallow: /catalogsearch/
Disallow: /newsletter/
Disallow: /review/
Disallow: /sendfriend/
Disallow: /tag/
Disallow: /wishlist/

You may want to add in additional parameters if you want to block additional dynamic pages via the robots.txt file. These are just some of the most common issues – there are others, particularly when you’re replatforming to Magento. This guide covers Magento SEO in more detail.

Magento vs other platforms

Magento vs other platforms

Magento has a lot of competitors in the eCommerce platform market, ranging from enterprise-level options which have more of the household names on their platform, to the smaller options, who tend to be more appealing to startups. The below represent a few examples of platforms that are commonly compared to Magento – along with details on our opinion on why Magento is better.

Here are some statistics around Magento’s usage:

  • Over 250,000 Magento stores globally
  • Over 3,000 Magento Enterprise stores
  • 2,400 active Magento 2 stores
  • Over $50b annual revenue across Magento
  • #1 used B2C and B2B platform
  • #1 platform for the IR500 (83 of the top 500)
  • More than twice as many merchants in the IR top 500 than any other platform

Magento Community vs WooCommerce

WooCommerce, which is an extension of WordPress, is a very popular ecommerce platform that is mostly used by SME-level merchants. In a lot of ways it’s comparable to Magento CE, however it doesn’t allow for the same level of scale and often merchants will migrate from WooCommerce to Magento as they grow and require more flexibility.

WooCommerce, which is said to be used by over 350,000 online retailers, is now owned by Automatic (who own WordPress) and it is often used by businesses who already have a WordPress website.

A mid-level WooCommerce store is likely to cost less than a mid-level Magento Community store, in initial development costs and on-going maintenance costs, due to Magento being a lot more complex. Magento provides a lot more flexibility when it comes to requirements around ecommerce, as a result of being built solely for online retail, as opposed to WooCommerce, which is an extension of a publishing platform. That said though, some merchants do opt to use WooCommerce because of it’s superior CMS features.

Further reading on Magento vs WooCommerce:

Magento Community vs Shopify

Shopify is a very strong ecommerce platform that, again, is suited mostly to the SME end of the market. Shopify’s solution is very strong and is widely considered to be the best option for smaller retailers – but again, often merchants who have grown a lot tend to migrate up to Magento Community from Shopify.

Shopify have now released Shopify Plus, which is comparable in price and feature-set to Magento Enterprise. One of the previous restrictions of Shopify was integrating it with third party technology and not being able to do back-end development – but Shopify Plus allows for this.

Shopify does provide a lot of the core ecommerce features that SMEs and mid-level retailers require, but it doesn’t provide the development flexibility that Magento does. Shopify is a fully hosted platform that doesn’t allow for any back-end development and even front-end development can be tricky – whereas Magento is self-hosted and open source, so you have a lot more freedom around technical changes and developing new functionality.

Pricing-wise, building and maintaining a Magento store is likely to work out more expensive, despite the CE software being free to use. Shopify’s monthly packages are very reasonable, but as you get bigger the higher costs are going to come from the transaction charges (they take a percentage of orders). We’d still generally recommend Shopify for very small merchants as it’s a lot easier to manage at that level.

Magento Enterprise vs Demandware

Demandware is a very popular ecommerce platform for enterprise-level merchants, as a result of the services they provide out of the box and their ability to scale well. Demandware is quite different to Magento in that all code has to be approved and the costs are a lot higher in almost every area.

Demandware has very strong OOTB features, including lots around omni-channel, personalisation, merchandising etc – which is why it’s generally considered more of an enterprise-level solution than Magento Enterprise. Demandware is also cloud-based and it comes with far more pro-active support – but it is a lot more expensive. In our experience, Demandware website builds have come out around 300% more expensive than Magento and the on-going costs are considerably higher too.

Demandware is more suited to retailers turning over £25m or more online who are looking to move to a new platform for scalability.

Magento Enterprise vs Hybris

Hybris offers similar benefits to Demandware for retailers, but generally comes with even higher costs. We’ve seen lots of larger Magento retainers choose between Magento and Hybris, but cost is often the biggest separator.

Hybris again has a lot of enterprise-level features that Magento doesn’t, but like Demandware, it’s nowhere near as quick and easy to integrate with third party systems. Hybris development agencies are also going to cost a lot more, with most builds costing over £1m.

Hybris is arguably at a different level to Magento and is suited to retailers doing £40m+ online.

Further reading on Magento vs other platforms:

Pre launch considerations


It’s very common for online retailers to see a drop in search traffic and visibility following a replatforming project – which can be catastrophic if you don’t take mitigating action. I’ve worked with merchants who have lost up to 60% of their organic traffic as part of a platform migration, because they didn’t put enough emphasis on the SEO parts of the project.

There’s a very good chance that you’ll see a drop as part of a migration, but if you ensure that the key actions are built into your project plan and you have someone focused on them – you’re far more likely to be able to minimise the impact on your trade.

One of the key aspects is applying 301 redirects to all pages where the URL is changing – this can be extremely time-consuming if your URL structure is changing dramatically, but it’s something that should be at the top of the list.

Example: the URL structure from your previous platform may have looked something like:, but your new platform structures URLs like so: In this instance, you would ideally use rewrite rules to map the product URLs, but it may be tricky if the identifier at the end of the URL isn’t part of a convention or based on product ID or SKU. In an ideal world you’d be able to map redirects using a single rewrite rule – but often this isn’t possible and you’ll need to at least have some manual mapping input.

QA / testing of redirects at various different stages of the project is vitally important – we would usually recommend havingthe redirects applied to a testing site and QA’d early on, with regular testing carried out from there just to ensure category / product changes (e.g. re-import of product data, changes in URL structure, changes to category tree etc) don’t impact the redirects.

Once you’ve applied all the redirects we’d suggest list crawling all of the old URLs (at a minimum create a list from Google Analytics, a live crawl, all legacy redirects and the product feed) and ensure that redirects are in place, the destination URL returns a 200 response code and has an active meta title (good way of ensuring it’s a real page), and that there aren’t any obvious issues with redirect loops.

This is just the redirects – other key considerations around a migration from an SEO perspective include:

  • Retaining ALL content on the site (across all page types) – we always recommendkeeping as much of your copy the same as possible, as it reduces the risk of Google thinking you’re applying big changes to the site. I’d also suggest ensuring you’re carrying things like product review content etc over.
  • Retaining all meta data – again, try and keep all meta content exactly the same.
  • Keep the structure of the site the same
  • Ensure the site remains crawlable – lots of merchants move to new ecommerce platforms and don’t think about how search engines will crawl the site – leaving lots of dynamic pages accessible. This is something to think about (e.g. layered navigation parameters, search pages etc) and whether or not they should be crawled and whether they’re impacting how search engines can crawl the rest of the site.
  • What’s being indexed – in the same vein, it’s important to think about what you want to be indexed and how you’re using things like robots directives, canonical URLs etc. This should be considered alongside the crawl aspects.

Data migration

Consider the types of data you need to transfer and how you’re going to do it well before the replatforming begins. Data migration from one platform to the next can get complicated, so you want to cover you bases early and make sure it’s planned well. Some of the things you should think about are:

Migrating product information – How will you transfer product and category information (plus images) into your new platform? Can the data be exported as a CSV file and imported into the new platform? Is this something that agency is going to manage or are you going to do this manually?

You also need to think about how the data should be formatted when you’re migrating to the new platform. Take note of any differences in terminology or fields. For instance, some platforms may use the term “Categories” while others use “Collections”. Things that often get missed here include product review content, meta data etc – which can be really important.

Assign someone from your team (or hire a contractor) to sort out your CSV files and ensure that product data is formatted correctly for your new ecommerce solution. QA is really important with data importing – so ownership is key. There are third party solutions available, such as Cart2Cart, which assists merchants in migrating data from one ecommerce platform to the next. Although, generally we’d say this is best managed by the agency – it’ll just take additional time.

Customer data – Migrating customer information is even trickier. In addition to transferring names and contact information, you may also need to migrate passwords and other personal data. Such types of information are encrypted, and how you migrate will depend on the encryption method used.

Blog posts and other pieces of content – If you have articles, pages, and other similar types of content on your website, will you be migrating them to your new platform? Again, the process for this will depend on what you’re transferring and the platform you’re migrating to.

Whatever the case may be, ensure that you’ve ironed out the process and backed up the information before proceeding with migration.

Process variations

No two platforms are the same, so there’s bound to be a number of operational differences between your old and new ecommerce solutions. Expect certain tasks to be carried out differently once you’ve moved to your new system. For instance, the process to update product pages might be a bit different, or you may need to alter some of the steps when it comes re-ordering products or fulfilling orders.

To ensure a smooth transition, study and document how your existing processes would change once you replatform your online store. Keep your staff informed throughout this step, and if necessary, conduct training sessions so they know exactly how to carry out their tasks after the replatform.


If you have existing back office solutions for your store (ex: ERP, CRM, accounting, POS etc), you need to figure out if it’s possible to integrate them with our new platform. Work with your solution providers to make the transition as smooth as possible.

If an integration isn’t feasible, you’ll need to either find compatible solutions or ensure that your new platform has built in features that can carry out the necessary back office tasks. Go through the feature list of your new solution or explore its add-on marketplace for integrations that you can use in your business.

Recommended Magento extensions and add-ons

One of the biggest benefits of using Magento is the number of great modules and extensions that are available via Magento Connect and directly from module providers. We’ve listed out some of the services and extensions that we recommend to our clients and use in our internal Magento stack.

  • NOSTO – NOSTO provide personalised product recommendations, behavioural popups and personalised social ads. We use NOSTO with lots of clients and have seen great value in their service.
  • Klevu – Klevu provide a very advanced search solution, that offers natural language processing, self-learning results, advanced merchandising and very strong reporting.
  • MageWorx SEO Suite – We use this module to help reduce the development overhead in implementing technical SEO fixes. MageWorx covers lots of the core requirements around using directives, managing redirects etc.
  • Visual Merchandiser – We use OnTap’s Visual Merchandiser module to help merchandise category pages.
  • BubbleLayer Layered Navigation Pro – We use this module to improve the UX, performance and general effectiveness of layered navigation.
  • OneStepCheckout – we use the OneStepCheckout module for clients wanting a single step checkout process. The module is great and they provide fantastic support.
  • WebShopApps Premium Matrix Rate – We use the WSA Matrix Rate extension on the majority of stores we build. It provides store administrators with much more control over shipping rates by allowing CSV uploads with price changes and offering multiple shipping rates to customers based on their shipping address.
  • Aheadworks Review Follow Up Emails – We use this module to extend the OOTB Magento review function – allowing clients to automate the post-purchase review prompts.
  • Fishpig WordPress Integration – We use Fishpig to allow clients to manage their blog within WordPress.

Pre-launch Magento / ecommerce checklist:

  • Be vigilant with checking all products are imported
  • Be vigilant with checking all orders are imported
  • Be vigilant with checking all customers are imported
  • Consider how passwords migrated from an alternative store may be handled
  • Ensure all transactional emails are setup
  • Check your store opening hours, telephone number and address are populated in the admin panel
  • Check all checkout processes (checkout as guest, creating an account, different payment methods etc.) are functioning correctly
  • Check account functionality is working correctly
  • Ensure load balancing has been tested
  • Ensure server monitoring has been setup
  • Ensure all other emails are setup
  • Ensure all security patches are done and are up to date
  • Check your SSL certificate is installed correctly
  • Check all extensions have valid licenses for your production environment
  • Run performance testing from different areas and on all page templates – we use GTmetrix for this, but there are various different solutions out there. This is something that is often ignored as slow page load times are attributed to the store being on an unoptimised server or caching not being on – but this is something that should be fully investigated and addressed prior to launch.
  • Check all product attributes have been mapped / setup correctly
  • Ensure product reviews are working and emails are setup
  • Ensure merchant reviews are working and emails are setup
  • Ensure all product review content is migrated
  • Ensure all coupon/promotional codes are correctly migrated
  • Ensure CRM and email platforms are integrated (with same or improved level of data etc)
  • Ensure all meta data has been carried across
  • Ensure all content has been carried across
  • Ensure Magento Cron is setup and working (AOE_Scheduler is an excellent extension for this)
  • Disable any logs which are not required and enable log rotation
  • Ensure XML sitemap is working, contains all of the right pages and is listed in the robots.txt file and is uploaded in Google Search Console
  • Ensure Google Analytics tracking code is on all pages
  • Ensure any event tags are replaced in page templates for Google Analytics
  • Ensure all campaign tracking parameters are re-done (as previous ones are likely to be impacted by redirects)
  • Ensure all Google Tag Manager tags are changed to work with new site
  • Ensure that Google Analytics ecommerce tracking is working
  • Ensure PayPal orders are being tracked correctly in Google Analytics (if using PayPal)
  • Ensure goal funnel is setup for checkout process
  • Ensure all device and browser testing has been completed
  • Ensure your search terms are being tracked in Google Analytics
  • Ensure Google Search Console is created or re-authenticated
  • Ensure all pages have correct canonical URLs
  • Ensure robots.txt is in place
  • Ensure there are no broken links on the site
  • Ensure payment gateway is setup correctly
  • Ensure all contact forms are working correctly
  • Ensure all feeds are setup and are working (including any feeds for resellers, marketplace feeds, merchant center feeds etc)
  • Ensure all URLs are changed for paid advertising campaigns
  • 301 redirects – this is a fundamental SEO requirement of launching an ecommerce store and not doing this properly can result in huge drops in organic traffic and visibility. This is priority number one!
  • Double check all redirects by list-crawling organic landing pages from the last two years from Google Analytics
  • Ensure categories are merchandised well – make sure your top performing products are being merchandised well and that the products being served on key product list pages are representative of your range
  • Perform test searches – Magento’s OOTB site search isn’t the best, and it’s important that you test your most important queries before you launch. We suggestusing a premium solution (like Klevu) which will allow for better results, improved query processing (via natural language processing), better manual merchandising and auto-merchandising of results.
  • Ensure production IPs are added to any third party systems (E.g: SagePay for accepting payments)
  • Ensure your production server is correctly configured for performance
  • Enable all caching settings
  • Change website to INDEX,FOLLOW mode
  • Update DNS

Summary for replatforming

To avoid headaches throughout the replatforming process, extensive research on the platform you’re moving to is fundamental, as well as the tasks you need to complete to migrate successfully.

Also be sure to test everything – including features, integrations and servers – before formally launching. Run multiple test orders and to ensure that your online store is running smoothly.

But the most important advice we can give you is this: if you’re replatforming your ecommerce store, do it with the help of an expert. Look into ecommerce consultants – particularly those who specialise in the solution you’re moving to. They’re the ones who deal with replatforming on a regular basis, and the most well-equipped people to help you with the process. They can assist you in planning the move, sorting out the process, and resolving any issues that may arise.

By hiring an expert or an agency, you’re giving yourself more time and energy to work on other parts of your business. As Kiva co-founder Jessica Jackley put it, “deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Replatforming is one of those things that you shouldn’t do on your own. Delegate the task so you can devote more energy on other aspects of your enterprise, such generating revenue or keeping customers happy.

Conclusion on Magento as an eCommerce solution

Magento is a highly scalable eCommerce platform that is proven at every level of online retail, in both B2B and B2C. Magento 2 represents a big shift for the platform that is likely to drive lots of improvements across key areas. At present, Magento 2 is still very much in it’s infancy and there are very few enterprise-level merchants that have gone live on it – which is likely to drive the next phase of growth amongst merchants who are holding off.

We’re in the process of developing multiple Magento 2 projects currently and there is no doubt that ultimately, this is going to be a much better platform in the long term. Magento have announced that they’ll be supporting the Magento 1.x platform for three years from the launch of Magento 2.x (roughly November 2018), but we’d recommend looking at building new stores on Magento 2.x from this point onwards.

Overall, the Magento platform is a fantastic system that is built to scale and handle merchants of all sizes. We work with brands who have thousands of orders per day on Magento and the flexibility and scalability of the platform has enabled them to grow year on year.

About Pinpoint

Pinpoint are a multi-award winning Magento ecommerce agency, based in Harrogate, UK. We’ve worked with Magento merchants of all sizes, from all over the world – offering services ranging from Magento development and consulting to Magento SEO and performance audits.

Our team are almost all Magento certified and have worked on some of the biggest Magento stores around.

If you’re looking to build a new Magento store, or just need help with something Magento-focused, please feel free to get in touch – we’re happy to just provide advice or quote for work.