As most software developers know, support for Magento 1 ended almost a year ago. We’re firmly in the land of Magento 2.
It’s time to strategize how to use the powerful features of Magento’s second big iteration to customize the experience of your online store to improve the customer experience, reduce friction, and ultimately convert more sales.
What Is Magento 2?
If you are new to Magento 2, or if you are not a software developer but rather a current or aspiring online seller considering which platform to use for your online store, let’s take a moment to explore what Magento 2 is and where Magento fits in the e-com platform universe.
Magento came into being in 2007, the brainchild of Roy Rubin and Yoav Kutner and produced by Varien, Inc. It started as a subsystem of osCommerce, but Rubin and Kutner spun Magento off into its own thing — a uniquely flexible and customizable open-source e-commerce platform. Adobe went on to acquire the platform in 2018.
Today, Magento is the most popular e-commerce platform in the world. It was acquired by eBay before landing in the hands of private equity company Primera. It has won several SourceForge Community Choice awards and many other awards for open source software.
Magento 2 was released in November 2015, with discontinuation of support for Magento 1 taking place in June of 2020. E-commerce stores love Magento for features like:
- Easy and flexible catalog management.
- The ability to manage multiple stores, websites, and currencies.
- The ability to schedule and preview updates.
- Easy-to-build promotions.
- Built-in full-page cache fueled by Varnish.
- Compatibility with modern technologies.
- Sleek and smooth checkout process.
- Easy-to-personalize customer experience.
- Easy customer engagement through gift cards, award points, and other rewards.
- Lightning-fast search technology.
- A robust marketplace of extensions.
- An active community of users and support.
Ready to start customizing? Here are seven Magento 2 customization tips you should know about to build the most effective e-commerce store with the world’s most popular online selling platform.
Magento 2 Customization Tip 1: Implement One-Page Checkout
One of the best upgrades in the transition from Magento 1 to Magento 2 was the reduction of the number of steps required to check out. Magento 1 came standard with four steps in the checkout process. Magento 2 reduces those steps to a standard of two.
According to Forbes, studies rank cart abandonment anywhere from 67% to as high as 80%. Those are customers who were interested enough to visit your product page and click “add to cart” but somewhere between the cart and pulling out their credit card, you lost them.
Customers ghost on their carts for a variety of reasons, but 21% of cart abandonment surveys reported that they abandoned their cart because “the process was taking too long.”
In other words, a faster process would have made them into buyers instead of cart-abandoners. Maybe it would have even enabled them in an impulse purchase. Who wants that to be the reason they lose sales?
Other reasons for cart abandonment, like too many payment card security checks, could arguably be fixed by pulling friction out of the sales process.
Magento 2 removed some of that friction by cutting the number of steps in half. But what’s better than a two-step checkout? How about a one-step checkout?
When considering customizations for your Magento 2 e-commerce store, implementing one-page checkout should be a top priority. One-page checkout, as the name implies, consolidates the checkout process onto a single page.
Grouping the checkout steps on one page makes a multi-step checkout process feel like it’s only one step. Each step expands as the customer arrives at it, giving them a sense of how close they are to concluding the sale — i.e. the confidence that it won’t drag on forever.
Magento 2 Customization Tip 2: Add Autofill to the Checkout Process
Another way to take friction out of the checkout process and increase conversions is to add autofill. With autofill, consumers don’t have to burn time — time enough to have second thoughts about their process — typing their personal information into fields with every purchase.
Autofill instead flows the customer’s personal information into those feeds, reducing typing time by an average of 40%.
Of course, this is a sensitive issue for many consumers. No one wants to feel like their personal information is being stored on a website they don’t control, in a format that might not be secure.
Earlier e-commerce paradigms tried to require that a customer create an account, with a username and password, to store information or to even make a purchase. But requiring the extra step of making a user account actually adds friction into the checkout process rather than removing it, making it more likely that you will lose sales. Ultimately, you will make more sales if you allow guest checkout.
The solution is to add extensions and integrations that allow your Magento 2 site to interact with the autofill APIs that the user already uses, including browser autofills, browser extension autofills, password manager autofills, etc. In this way, the information is already stored in a format that the user trusts — a format that becomes accessible through your Magento 2 web store.
Another option to consider is to integrate fast checkout through Google Pay, Amazon, PayPal, and other Cloud-based account integrations. That way, users can easily autofill their information using their existing accounts rather than having to create a new one.
Magento 2 Customization Tip 3: Improve Review Form Templates
Customer reviews are a key driver of sales. Studies show that 91% of customers look at reviews before making a purchase, and 84% of consumers consider user reviews to be as trustworthy as recommendations from friends and family.
Clearly, it’s important not only to collect customer reviews but to highlight them on your product pages. Unfortunately, one place where Magento 2 suffers a little out of the box is the review form template.
The standard review, a table with multiple-choice radio buttons for the star ratings organized in a grid, is a little confusing. There are also three text boxes, all with required inputs. Overall, it’s dated and cumbersome. Most modern users won’t bother with a review form like this.
The best solution is a CSS upgrade to make the form smaller, with more elegant vector bars where users can click on the star rating they want to leave. It’s a much more sleek, modern user interface rich with crowd-pleasing micro-interactions.
Also consider a code edit to prominently place your reviews on the product page, so users can’t miss it.
Magento 2 Customization Tip 4: Make Sure Your Site Is Fully Optimized for Mobile
Mobile browsing overtook desktop browsing in 2016. Studies suggest that by 2025, as many as 72% of internet users will interact with the web only by mobile device. The time to “go mobile” was years ago, and the importance of full mobile optimization will only increase over time.
A downside of Magento 1 was the amount of CPU processing the sites ate up on a browser. While many things about Magento 2 are better, this aspect is actually worse. The source code is very taxing on a CPU. That’s bad news for mobile browsing.
Although technically mobile-responsive, out-of-the-box Magento 2 is likely to load slowly on mobile devices. This hurts your user experience and your SEO. Not good for a world moving fast in a mobile direction.
If you can, move your database to a separate server — the fastest server possible, properly configured, with a fast solid state drive. Reduce the size of the database and the number of database queries. Compress files, encode images, and consider a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
All of these efforts will lighten your site, allowing it to load quickly on mobile devices.
Magento 2 Customization Tip 5: Personalize Ordering Options
The gold standard of the new generation of user experience is personalization. Visitors are far more likely to convert to customers if the experience is personalized to them.
A Magento 2 shopping experience can be personalized by customizing the ordering experience based on the user.
Add extensions that allow you to add custom fields to the order form. Make sure that the extension allows you to restrict the fields based on store views and customer groups. That way, the fields will be shown to the customer based on the browser cookies and data added to the user’s profile and resulting from their on-site behavior.
You can also attach customized fields to specific products, which can inform future personalization and help you segment the customer into further groups.
Magento 2 Customization Tip 6: Adjust Layout to Prioritize Key Information
Like most website-building platforms, Magento 2 sites usually start with themes, which give the site a certain look and feel. The building blocks of a theme are layouts and templates. These blocks consist of pieces of code in PHP files. These modular units aren’t stuck in place within the theme. They can be moved anywhere within the theme to customize what the user sees.
How you structure your layout makes a big difference. By adjusting what customers see first, you can structure a user journey that starts the moment the customer lands on the page. Depending on your brand strategy, you might want them to see recommended products, explainer videos, content articulating the brand story, and more. Whatever your hook is, put it at the top.
If you know what you’re doing, you can structure your site like a story, with a beginning, middle, and an ending that gets a user excited to buy. Make sure to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. Create user personas and brainstorm what those personas would like to see first.
Don’t forget to prioritize your branding near the top of the site. People may show up for the products, but good branding is what causes them to connect with your company and turn them into repeat customers or brand advocates.
Magento 2 Customization Tip 7: Work With an Experienced Partner
Maybe you read the above six tips and find yourself brimming with ideas, ready to get down and dirty with the Magento 2 source code and build a crackerjack online store in your image.
On the other hand, maybe you’re excited by the possibilities, but you have no idea how to implement them. Maybe you are a current or aspiring e-com seller, not a web developer. Maybe you have the talent on your IT team, but they aren’t experienced with Magento 2 and don’t know how to implement the above customizations.
If you aren’t a Magento 2 expert, consider bringing a Magento 2 expert onto the team. A third-party provider experienced with Magento 2 can quickly and efficiently customize Magento 2 for your needs and with the right integrations. The expert can also work with you on the customer journey to design the best, most personalized UI for your customers.
It might seem like it costs more to work with experts, but the right provider will actually save you resources in the form of time, personnel hours, and mistakes. If you’re not sure if you can get it done correctly and quickly the first time, consider partnering with a web development agency experienced with Magento 2 — especially one with experience designing user experiences in your industry.
It’s an exciting time to build an e-commerce site. Magento 2 represents the cutting edge of customizable e-commerce development software — all in an open-source package, and an award-winning one at that.
When you choose a customizable platform, you owe it to yourself and your brand to make the most of the opportunity and customize it. The above seven tips will help you make your Magento 2 site into a sales-conversion machine.