To meet changing consumer behaviour, businesses are looking to e-commerce platforms like Magento and Shopify. These platforms reduce time to market and increase growth for companies through the scalability and adaptability of their extensions. They go the distance for customers too, providing an immersive and customisable shopping experience.
The business value of Magento 2
It’s impossible for an e-commerce platform to fulfil the role of all platforms. Platforms are either business model specific (like B2C/B2B, B2B2C etc) or industry specific (fashion, consumer goods, healthcare etc). But what most mature platforms have in common is the ability to extend and customise to meet the specific needs of any business model.
Magento 2 comes with a pre-defined set of out of the box features and unlimited extension/customisation capabilities. There’s even a marketplace of extensions, themes and third-party connectors built by communities comprising solution, and technology partners.
Why should I care about extensions?
Many companies have launched all-new digital products and channels to meet changing consumer behaviours, as a result of Covid-19 and a mass migration to digital. But launching a channel quickly, in a cost-efficient manner, is only possible when the e-commerce platform’s capabilities and its supporting resources are used carefully.
For platforms powered by Magento 2, extensions can reduce time to market. However, businesses without the right customer insight may fall short of using extensions as part of their implementation, resulting in increased time to market and steep development costs. To avoid this focus on the technology architecture and functionality of your platform.
1. Custom functionality
There is no out of the box platform which meets all the functional features and building custom features from scratch is costly. Your best option is to look out for an extension which can do part of the job you need it to and then customise it.
- Is this extension compatible with my edition (an enterprise extension may not perform as intended on a community platform)?
- Can the extension be customised?
- Does the extension have support from the vendor?
- How reliable is the extension in terms of security, performance etc.?
2. Third party integrations
Businesses usually have legacy enterprise systems to handle various operations such as order management, inventory and marketing. Magento’s technology connector community is vast and most technology applications have connectors built.
Businesses can gain significantly by using a pre-built connector, opposed to building a custom integration from scratch. Connectors may not meet all business scenarios out of the box, but they can be used as a baseline to build on top of. It can be especially hard for non tech-savvy businesses to gauge this.
3. Experience design & Magento 2 themes
Finally, even though it’s not recommended, it’s still possible for companies to quickly launch sites with a limited budget by using themes. Unlike other platforms, Magento’s marketplace has a plethora of front-end themes that can be leveraged as a baseline.
A custom experience design approach has greater benefits in terms of creating a unique brand experience. It might seem costly but the investment is worthwhile, as not having one can compromise customer experience. To that end, brands will want to think long and hard about their implementation and the drawbacks they present.
My advice and suggestions about Magento 2
Whatever the extension, it’s best not to overload your platform. Extensions that perform and serve customers best are typically simple and intuitive. Anything too complex, or feature rich, will overwhelm your customers and effect conversion.
That said, as a baseline, you’ll want to install:
1. Shop By Look
This extension pulls together the concept of selling a complete look - widely used in fashion, apparel and furniture retailers. The Shop By Look extension helps customers purchase a complete matching style or set of products, reducing mismatched purchases and individual purchase stress for the user. For merchants, it can help increase bulk sales, heighten inventory turnover and increase average order size in an e-store.
- Create a special look listing page.
- Add product details of a complete look.
- Display individual products in cart.
- Offer discounts on a complete look.
- Social sharing of a custom look.
2. Visual Page Builder
This is a powerful drag and drop page builder and visual content management system which powers the quick launch of new pages with little technical know-how.
- Create a new page from scratch or use pre-made templates.
- Pre-built UI elements like sliders, countdown timers, email capture forms, social icons and more.
- Check page performance with analytics reporting.
- Optimise conversion rates by running A/B tests.
3. Language Translator
The Language Translator extension makes Magento stores easily accessible in different geographies by translating store content into multiple languages. By allowing customers to access store content in their regional language it adds to customer satisfaction and helps builds global reach for merchants quickly.
- Easily search and translate any string from the store.
- Store admin can translate products, CMS page data, static blocks, and product reviews with mass translation feature using either CRON or console.
4. Advanced Marketplace Feeds
If your business sells products on marketplaces and you need to automate your product data feed sync to the marketplace, this extension simplifies the feed setup process for multiple marketplaces. The extension syncs incremental product data feed from the Magento 2 platform to the marketplaces at configured time intervals.
- Supports more than 100,000 products.
- Create custom data feed.
- Ready-made template configurations.
- Support for Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay, Bing, Facebook, Idealo, PriceGrabber, ShopMania, Shopping.com, Shopzilla, and others.
5. Loyalty Reward Points
Acquiring new customers does equate to future value for your brand; what if they never return? Your business cannot grow without customer retention. The question is, how do you grow trust and promote loyalty?
Based on customers' specific actions this extension when used by merchants can offer customers points that equates to monetary value that can be spent on the store. These points often motivate consumers enough to return. However, it's worth remembering that loyalty is mostly based on convenience, reliability and speed of fulfilment - particularly when we’re shopping online.
- Allow customers to earn points when spending money on stores, buy specific types of products, sign up to store, review a product, subscribe to the newsletter, and more.
- Customers can share their referral code with their friends to earn reward points.
- Customers use points to get discounts.
- Customers can manage their reward points.
- Customers (both account holders and guests) can view the points earned alongside the product price on the product page and category page.
It’s important to remember who you’re serving when installing extensions. Ultimately, your customers should decide the future direction of your platform; they’re the ones using it. So, whatever you’d like to implement, make sure it speaks to a pain point, or provides value to your customers. There’s no point implementing specialist functionality and wasting effort on doing so if it’s going to work against the experience. To find out for sure, and avoid over engineering it’s simple; talk to your users and engineer solutions with them in mind. And accept that less is (often) more.