Dmitry Dulepov writes "Magento is a very popular open source e-commerce platform. It was created by the company named Varien in 2007. Varien worked with osCommerce but it did not suit Varien's expanding requirements. After writing more and more changes to osCommerce, Varien finally wrote its own e-commerce software from scratch. It took Varien seven months in 2007 to publish the first public version of Magento." Read on for the rest of Dmitry's review.Since that time, Magento started to get popularity, and now it is one of the most popular and advanced e-commerce solutions available. The list of companies who uses Magento is huge.
Magento is very powerful. But power comes with its costs. Magento can be complex to users. Fortunately there are lots of books available for those who want to set up their web stores using Magento. Some of these books were released by Packt Publishing, the company known to focus on practical books.
Recently Packt released a somewhat unusual book. It is called Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cookbook. The book is written by William Rice, who is a software training specialist from New York city. As a trainer, William has a way to explain difficult concepts in an easy way: a gift necessary in case the of Magento. Each chapter consists of several topics. Topics break down into four parts:
- Getting ready
- How to do it...
- How it works...
- There's more...
Each section is a set of instructions that tell the reader how to quickly and efficiently achieve their goals.
Chapter 1 is about making users come to your store. It talks about adding meta tags, optimizing images, creating site maps and keeping them up to date. The very first topic tells how to add meta tags to product pages. The "Getting ready" section describes constraints and requirements to fulfill before the task can be performed. For example, for meta tags it says that access to the administration interface is necessary, and research should be done about the best keywords and customer expectations. The "How to do it..." section follows with detailed instructions about adding meta tags. It asks the reader to log into the Magento backend, select the correct menu items and edit products. Most of steps are illustrated with large images and example content in them. Thus it becomes very easy to follow directions. Example texts are also very good.
The "How it works..." section shows the reader how to verify that keywords and description appear on the page. It also describes how search engines may use this information to show search results for the user. This section also talks about choosing better keywords.
The "There's more..." section provides useful links that should help the reader to get started with the task.
Other advice in this section includes optimizing image usage by using better titles and descriptions, improving the site's title, adding a site map and making Magento update it. All advice comes with great level of details. If the reader is completely new to any of these topics, she or he will have no problem following these instructions.
Chapter 2 talks about the importance of placing products on shopping sites. It gives a complete set of instructions to add products to Google. Google is a major search engine, so any shop would benefit from having Google list its products. As in the previous chapter, the reader is guided from the very beginning (such as creating a Google account) to the final step. The instructions are written so that the reader can proceed to the step she or he needs directly (for example, use his existing Google account).
Chapter 3 talks about creating information pages in Magento that would drive people to product pages. Selling is like a science. It is not enough to drop in a couple of good looking images and dummy text to start making cash. To sell products effectively, one needs to make customers want to buy those products. One of the ways is to write about shop's goods in an attractive way. This chapter shows how to write about products and make customers love them. It is not typical blah-blah advice that anybody can find online for free. It is a real guide on creating a version of the page, looking at it critically and improving it. Most such pages will become landing pages when users search for products.
Chapter 4 talks about making pages more interesting to users. This includes adding video, writing stories and changing the layout of product pages. Also it shows an interesting technique to customize products for customers. Each of us likes to feel as if a product is made specially for us. This chapter explains how to make it and gives examples.
More good advice in this chapter is about images. Any reader will get a very interesting hint on using images better. The author of this review really liked the idea and had to resist the temptation to repeat it here. Unfortunately, this review does not allow me to explain the necessary level of details of this nice technique.
Chapter 5 describes how to increase sales with upselling, using related products, cross-sells, etc. With upselling the customer can get more products similar to the one purchased. That really works. Upselling can help customers to get more of they want. Related products play a similar role, but they show products that look alike or close in some way to the product that the customer wants to purchase. There are also other options to sell more products. They are described in this chapter.
Chapter 6 is about using promotional pricing effectively. It is not a secret that we all love promotions and discounts. Magento products can have a set of rules that define price change when more items are added to the cart. This chapter teaches how to use these rules.
Chapter 7 shows the way to engage customers using customized e-mails, RSS and newsletters. There is also a discussion of using social networking to increase sales. Newsletters are slow, and are considered to be spam by many customers; social networking is ascending. This chapter gives valuable advice about using social networking to boost sales.
Chapter 8 is about getting the customer's feedback through various tools. While there are tons of shops on the Internet, many people go to Amazon first (and often buy there). It happens because Amazon not only sells, it also allows customers to review products. When people read good reviews, they become engaged. Seeing a positive review highly increases the chance that more customers will buy the product. This chapter tells the reader how to manage feedback from customers.
Chapter 9 talks about a complex topic of internationalization and improving international sales. Magento has several ways to translate products and pages. This chapter shows the best way to do it. Also the reader will learn about installing language packs and adjusting URLs for international stores.
Chapter 10 talks about creating a wholesale stores. Wholesale customers are different from regular customers in several ways. In particular, they usually do not pay sales tax. This chapter describes how to use the same physical Magento installation to serve both types of customers. It gives several serious benefits. For example, the amount of products will always be correct.
I was really fascinated by this book. I knew some basics but I found that this book contained so many useful techniques that I am glad I came across this book. It is really useful. William Rice is a great author and once again he wrote a great Magento book. Many ideas will also be valid for non-Magento store owners, but Magento users will benefit a lot.
Would I recommend this book? Definitely! This book is a must for any Magento shop owner.
The copy of the book was provided to me by Packt Publishing. Packt Publishing never asked me to write anything particular or change my texts. This and all my other reviews represent my true opinion about reviewed books.
You can purchase Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cookbook from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.