Getting ready to launch a Magento store? Congratulations! With 2 billion online shoppers worldwide, online commerce is a great way to build or expand your business.
Succeeding in the online space requires more than building a nicely branded Magento store. You’ll need to map out the entire selling cycle, so that customers can find what they need or get new ideas, and you can create a positive experience for all involved.
That lifecycle includes:
- Merchandising your store and populating your catalog with product descriptions and images
- Building your pages and managing content
- Integrating products and sales into your ERP system so they can be invoiced, tracked and delivered, and keeping tabs on your inventory so you don’t accidentally sell products you don’t actually have in stock.
- Creating a robust search tool to help customers find relevant products
- Nurturing your customers through email campaigns and sales promotions
Paying your taxes
We like building sites in Magento Commerce Cloud because the company bundles a lot of features into it, which means you ultimately pay less than with a traditional web-hosting route. That said, there are seven extensions you’ll still need to support the full customer life cycle.
Merchandising: Unirgy uRapidflow Pro
This extension makes quick work of merchandising your store, especially if you have a large product catalog. It provides advanced cataloging and high-speed data import and export, so you can upload and manage product descriptions and product images on your site. We’ve been working with it for years, and can attest to its power.
Building Pages: BlueFoot
BlueFoot is a page builder tool, now owned by Magento, that offers a robust set of tools for creating and managing content on your Magento store. You can use it for your product descriptions as well as your blog. Featuring a drag-and-drop approach, it makes it easy to design and create web pages according to your vision.
ERP Integration: Xtento Tracking Import
This extension makes it easy to import orders from a CSV or XML files into Magento and process it from end to end. It captures the payment (charges the credit card), notifies your customer when an order is received, ships the order, adds the tracking number, notifies the customer when his or her order has been shipped, as well as changes the order status after the order has been imported. All of this happens automatically.
ERP Integration: Xtento Order Export
This extension provides a fast and convenient way to export your orders, invoices, shipments, credit memos, customers to any third-party system. You can export all sales related data in any file format (Text/TXT, Tabbed, CSV, XML, ASCII/Fixed-Length-Files) and connect your Magento store to almost any ERP, CRM, warehouse, drop-shipping or shipping system.
Magento Commerce Cloud offers elastic search capabilities, and makes it easy for you to adjust keyword priority and manage word exclusions. We highly recommend it, but it does require some infrastructure set-up and ongoing maintenance. It’s worth the effort, however, because a bad search is worse than no search at all.
Customer Communications: Email Service Provider
An email service provider (ESP) is essential for sending marketing emails and sales promotions, and to allow customers and prospects to sign up for your promotions directly from your website.
There are four we work with frequently and feel confident in recommending:
- Listrak – Offers email and SMS capabilities on one platform. We like it because it allows you to send transactional messages, as well as newsletters.
- Bronto – A fully fledged marketing automation suite, allowing you to manage email, as well as your Google Adwords campaigns and social media engagements. It’s more complex, which means it’s also more expensive.
- Dotmailer – Dotmailer offers the best integration with Magento, which means you can access a lot of its features from within your Magento store. It offers a nice feature in which it can generate an email to a customer with product recommendations based on searches they’ve performed on your site.
- MailChimp – MailChimp is extremely powerful, and is a ubiquitous product for marketing. It’s also free for users who have up to 2,000 subscribers. You can also manage a handful of Google Adwords and Facebook campaigns from within MailChimp.
There are two extensions we recommend, based on the size of your ecommerce operations and tax liability:
TaxJar is well suited for SMB customers, and like MailChimp, offers a free tier for smaller users. It prepares your state taxes, and can autofile them for you if you choose.
Avalara is an enterprise tax solution, and can do the tax nexus calculation for your and your accountants. In fact, Avalara has a professional services team that help you determine all of the jurisdictions in which you have a tax liability. Like TaxJar, it will prepare and autofile state taxes.
Bringing it All Together: Something Digital Commerce Accelerator
If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Something Digital’s Commerce Accelerator offering for Magento Commerce Cloud lets merchants to go live with an operational online store faster and at a lower cost to market. Our standard offering includes all of the integrations described in this post.