top five extensions for e-commerce development
Want to find out how to optimise your e-commerce development, and create a seamless user experience? We talked to our expert developer Dave to find out more…
When developing a new e-commerce store using any existing CMS (think Magento, Shopify, Woocommerce…) there is a wide collection of extensions available to you. Built by third party providers, they bring the functionality required for an e-commerce store, without the need to reinvent the wheel each and every time.
There are believers out there who think all functionality should be bespoke built for the problem in hand, as every problem faced in this form of development is different. However, with a whole community offering extensions including ongoing support and regular updates for security and functionality, it would take a brave development team to decide to build something bespoke, and support it ongoing.
The main issue can be finding extensions that do what we want them to do, in addition to providing decent support, detailed documentation and flexibility. Magento Connect helps with this in terms of their star ratings, and popularity score it awards each extension. They even offer a grading system for extension providers or partners that they work with, helping developers out that little bit more.
Take a look at our top five must-have extensions that we use for everything we do in e-commerce development workflow at seventy7:
The official SagePay extension for Magento, provided by Ebizmarts is a must-have for any ecommerce store that will be using a SagePay account. It’s also a great solution if the end client doesn’t have a payment provider in mind.
With the simple install of the module, including adding in API details from your SagePay account into the Magento admin area, you can start taking payments on your site in no time at all, with minimum hassle.
Support is offered from Ebizmarts, and SagePay is just a phone call away if there are any payment issues.
The extension comes with two different options: a paid extension, and a free version. Both have the same basic functionality, but the paid one offers added extras, such as the ability to process returns through the back-end of Magento, and admin/back-end (MOTO) payments.
When deciding between different CMS systems, it often comes down to ease of content updates.
We find that clients often don’t feel comfortable editing programming embedded into static blocks in Magento, as it requires a level of technical knowledge that isn’t always available to them.
Magento was designed as an e-commerce platform specialising in selling online, as opposed to a platform for content and blogging. However, each of these aspects are becoming more and more important, helping to increase purchases. Essentially, a modern website needs to incorporate content with e-commerce.
Enter FishPig: offering the best of both worlds, it allows you to have Magento powering the shop sections of your site, and WordPress installed for a blog on the same domain.
The extension also allows for a continued look and feel for your site, which is crucial for the UX and customer journey. Users can be put off if they feel they have been taken to a completely different site, and can’t figure out how to get back to where they were. Instead, this allows the cross population of data from both platforms into a single view, such as by pulling through product details into WordPress blog posts and recent posts in the category and home pages.
There is a list of extra extensions that allow you to build on the functionality of WordPress during development. These include some of our personal favourites like Advanced Custom Fields, Contact Form 7 and Visual Editor. For a full list, check out the FishPig site.
A main reason for user drop offs is being faced with long user forms to fill out for billing and delivery information. However, this process doesn’t have to be daunting for customers.
The Postcode Anywhere extension for Magento replaces the address input boxes with auto complete fields, to make the process easy for both new and returning customers.
The extension works on a credit based system, where you pay per address lookup, but it is a small price to pay for making your customer continue with their purchase, as opposed to them disappearing off your site and you losing a sale.
With some very simple layout updates inside the checkout, this one extension can have a great effect on the overall conversion rates of your site.
MailChimp has been an industry leader in email marketing for a while, and with the MailChimp extension it’s even easier to keep your mailing lists in sync across the two platforms.
When you have collected a new user email address, you want to make sure that you can send them any advertising that you send out through your MailChimp account. This extension allows you to specify which list you wish for emails to be assigned to, as well as accommodating for auto responder emails for a large number of triggers with its Mandrill module.
With any new e-commerce development project, we need to be prepared for how the site will run once it has gone live, and how we will promote the products we’re selling on other channels.
The Wyomind Simple Google Shopping extension creates an XML file that contains all of your product data. This can be set to update on a scheduled cron task to make sure that the file is up to date. This XML file can then be specified to your Google Merchant account in order to populate your Google shopping feed.
With inbuilt testing functionality and the ability to preview the feed before importing it into Merchant centre, the extension helps to cut down on testing time and having to go back and forth, resolving errors in your feed.
Are you looking for help with e-commerce website development? Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve got tons of experience in this area, working for some of the world’s top brands, and we’d love to help you.