Magento retailers live in happy times. Not only is there a thriving community and a healthy marketplace for new extensions, but with rapid developments in technologies such as payment and inventory management, stocking, selling and shipping is easier than ever.
While custom e-commerce development should always be your first response to functionality challenges, there are some Magento extensions that are so good as to make reinventing the wheel entirely unnecessary. Let’s call them Magento staples: beautifully coded, eminently useful apps that should be on every store’s wishlist.
As former e-retailers with 8 years of experience, we’re exceedingly familiar with the Magento ecosystem. What follows then is our pick of the very best Magento extensions for 2018 that no site should be without.
Our Pick of the Top 10 Magento Extensions
I remember back in 2008, when, struggling with getting our retail business off the ground, we were faced with the admin hell that was accepting payments through Sage Pay. Jump forward ten years, and the payments landscape has dramatically changed. Services like Stripe offer immediate account creation and almost instant approval to start trading. And thanks to the Cryozonic Stripe payment extension, plugging into their system is as simple as install and go.
Offering stellar post-sale support (not that you’ll need it), Cryozonic’s code is well-written and regularly updated. As well as supporting all major cards, this full-featured Magento payments extension also offers Apple Pay, Pay with Google and Android Pay functionality.
For stores looking to offer European customers their preferred payment methods, Cryozonic also sells an add-on extension that enables payments via Bancontact, Giropay®, iDEAL, SEPA Direct Debit and SOFORT. Installed on top of the base Stripe extension, your store will leave no payment method behind if your goal is conquering the European markets.
Most famously used by shoe giant Nike, the WebShopApps Matrix Rate extension was an incredibly adaptable shipping app used by tens of thousands of Magento merchants around the world. We’re talking in the past tense because most of its functionality is now part of this UK company’s ShipperHQ SAAS product.
Offering all of the features of Matrix Rates, plus handy extras like address validation, date & time and in-store pickup, the ShipperHQ system represents the most complete and mind-bogglingly customisable Magento shipping platform on the market.
WebShopApps ShipperHQ: Buy here
We say the best, but in reality, there is no extension quite like the newly-developed Inventosaur app. On the one hand it’s an inventory analyst with the power to tell you what is not selling as fast as it should for the continuing health of your cash flow, and on the other, a beautiful front end marketing tool that presents simple and data-mined bundled cross-sells of the very same products that you need to sell more of.
Offering non-standard Magento analytics like average stock turn rate, average time between customer orders and average customer re-order percentage, Inventosaur manages to combine inventory analysis, fast as lightning product promotion tools, and a marketer-facing analytics package in one very pleasing Magento admin dashboard.
Inventosaur: Buy here
If there’s one thing you need to do in 2018, it’s put a focus on content. As Amazon squeezes the consumables market and your wiggle room for ad spend falls, a strategy of developing well-written original content on your store’s blog could be one of the best defences against long-term sales decline.
And just as you’re shaking your head at yet another person telling you to get on the content train, take a look at the blog of cycling shoe brand Quoc. Not only did Where Beagles Dare! design and build the site, but we are helping this young British brand to strategise, create content and grow traffic on their newly-formed blog, The Pedaler. A recent Google report showed a 208% increase in traffic over the previous quarter, so yes, content done right, works.
Magento is pretty useless at hosting and manipulating content, but luckily WordPress isn’t. Connected via the Fishpig extension, your store can host a tight, well-coded connection to a WordPress blog. With the world’s best blogging platform at your fingers, now all you have to do is start your content journey.
Fishpig: Magento 1 and 2
If we read another blog about the importance of site search, the consequences will not be pretty. If you don’t know that site search is important, I’m not sure this blog will be much use to you. But, if you know search is essential, and are looking for the best Magento site search extension, read on.
Another SAAS product/extension, the Algolia app for Magento puts enterprise-grade e-commerce site search functionality at the heart of your store. Like all of the extensions listed here, we used Algolia on our Magento store during our previous lives as e-commerce retailers. We found their support to be superb, and the product immensely powerful – there is nothing else to say.
Algolia for E-commerce: Buy here
Oh Magento, why is this not bundled in as standard?
Until that long hoped for day, there is the Aheadworks Gift Card extension. It’s simple, well-coded and in use across a heap of stores around the world. If you would like to offer both e and actual gift cards to your customers, you can’t do much better than this.
There’s a whole host of reasons why you might want to export your Magento order data, and when the .csv calls, there’s no better answer than Xtento’s Order Export extension.
They are cracking guys at Xtento. There’s pretty much nothing they won’t do to make sure you are using the app as you had hoped. And in use, it’s brilliant. Our daily workflow involved exporting orders and importing them into a shipping app (the aforementioned WebShoppps Matrix Rates) and not only did this handy app accomplish this with aplomb, but we were able to set up multiple profiles for the different carriers – genius.
If your workflow requires you to export Magento order data, then Xtento should be your go-to extension.
Xtento Order Export: Buy here
While no replacement for straight-line speed, an accomplished cache extension is a Magento essential for version 1 stores (Magento 2 includes an FPC as standard). Not only will it cut load time for previously-visited pages, but you can expect a healthy boost in search engine rankings, and a reduced bounce rate as both crawlers and customers notice your site’s snappier response.
We’ve tried a few, but the hands-down best is Amasty’s Full Page Cache extension. Backed by solid, responsive support, the app includes a wealth of settings to better tune characteristics to match your store.
We’re not going to lie, the ebizmarts Magemonkey email marketing extension used to be amazing. Then they replaced it with a Mailchimp-branded version, and all hell broke loose. Luckily, the talented guys at ebizmarts kept their heads down, and now the app is solid and reliable. Which is good news, because, for lovers of the Mailchimp platform, there is no other choice in the Magento ecosystem.
Offering a tight, reliable connection to your Magento store, the Mailchimp app provides transactional mail support (a lifesaver because to edit with the Magento templates is to stab yourself in the eyes), abandoned cart automation, recommended product blocks – the works. And best yet, you can design and set them up directly inside Mailchimp using their ‘so easy it feels like play’ interface.
Getting the good word out about your store is hard. So for new or established businesses looking to widen their circle, affiliate marketing represents a cost-effective and straightforward way to motivate others to promote your store.
Actually, cost-effective is not quite accurate, because after dealing with the soul-sucking 3rd parties that constitute the affiliate game, you’ll want to go to bed – for a year.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Mirasvit Affiliate Extension (Magento 2 only). The app is simplicity itself. Once installed, you’ll see a new Affiliates section inside the customer dashboard where interested parties can create an affiliate account. You can auto-approve, or check their details before letting them access your assets – banners and text links – which are easy to upload and organise inside your Magento admin area.
Setting a fixed or percentage affiliate rate is equally easy, as is configuring when and how to pay affiliates.
If you would like to see a live integration, visit Inventosaur’s affiliate page here, and create an account.
Mirasvit Affiliate Extension: Magento 2