Moving to Magento 2? Here are 5 quick ways of improving your store along the way

Many retailers are making the move over to Magento 2, so we thought it was a great opportunity to hear from guest blogger Paul Rogers, who has spent the past year helping online retailers make the switch. Here he rounds up how you can take advantage of moving to Magento 2 to improve your online store.

Magento 2 migrations are happening all over the web, and over the past few months, I’ve learned a lot about the potential pitfalls and opportunities that come with it.

In most instances, your development partner is going to encourage you to avoid additional customizations and new third party integrations where possible (and even remove some existing ones) – which is fair, as this adds extra complexities to the project and will result in disproportionately higher costs and a longer build time. Creating new features and integrating new services can be a lot of more impactful than you may think, with things like styling, template changes, module conflicts and unstable extensions all needing to be taken into consideration (with M2 often adding a multiplier to this). It’s important to remember that Magento 2 is still a relatively young product and adding new features can be more impactful than it might have been with Magento 1.

So with this in mind, I’ve laid out some quick wins that can help to drive more return from the project, without adding new complex integrations and custom development work. All of the following items fall into either ‘out of the box features that are under-utilized’ or ‘relatively low-risk integrations’.

Take the opportunity to improve your product data

Most retailers migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 will have been using the platform for a good few years and, as a result, will have various issues with their product data (be it messy attributes, general data errors, unnecessary attribute sets, poor naming conventions etc). I would recommend taking the opportunity with the Magento 2 migration to optimize product data, as this will help give you a fresh, more unified product catalog to work with as you look to do more with the data. This can often be more complex with retailers who are using an ERP as a master for product data, but the same principle applies.

As part of this exercise, it may be worth reviewing the data you have against your products and looking at what else you could be using to better merchandise your product listing pages, product up-sells/cross-sells and search results. If you’re using Magento 2 Enterprise the rule-based related products offering has also improved, and this represents an opportunity to get more value from this area too.

One thing to bear in mind is that you should work on big changes to core product data alongside your development partner, to ensure that it’s aligned with the data import.

Use rules for merchandising/product promotion

I’ve touched upon the benefits of creating additional product attributes to give you more data for merchandising and product promotion – such as cost price and units sold. If you’re using Magento Enterprise, the newly re-factored visual merchandiser allows for cleaner and more stable rule-based merchandising, which is capable of dramatically reducing the manual work your team is doing via visual merchandising or manually setting the ordering of products.

The rules you’re creating are based on your product attributes, so the more data you have in your attributes, the more freedom you have with merchandising and the more complex the rules can be. For example, you could create a rule to promote products with a margin of over 40% and that have sold over 100. Or you could promote items that are available for Click and Collect, in categories containing larger products (which would be more likely to need this).

This data can also be used for search (solutions like Klevu apply the same kind of merchandising rules), email (you can pass this data into dotmailer) and product recommendations (Nosto can also use these attributes as part of its promotion rules).

These are just a few quick examples, but for a more in-depth look you can check out this guide to merchandising more effectively in Magento.

Get more customer and product insight

Magento Business Intelligence is available for Magento 1 too, but it’s something that a lot of people are building into their requirements as part of the migration to Magento 2. When Magento first announced that they’d acquired RJMetrics, I thought if appeared to be more suited to enterprise-level merchants and to get the most out of it, it was pretty expensive.

However recently, Magento has launched far more affordable packages (starting at around $100 per month) for BI which makes it accessible to merchants of any level – with some of the out of the box reports adding a huge amount of value! Here are some of the reports that are available as standard:

  • First time vs repeat revenue
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Time between orders
  • Top customers
  • Average customer value
  • Repeat order probability
  • Products ordered per day
  • Category of product ordered per day
  • Products that are growing in popularity
  • Various reports around top performing products
  • Various reports around order status / order processing
  • Various reports around AOV

You can then also gather data around things like:

  • Previously frequent purchasers who have stopped purchasing
  • One time purchasers
  • Frequent purchasers over the last 12 months
  • Customers that have completed large orders

These are just a few examples of reports available as standard, but you can also query the data available to generate more insight. In addition to this, there are loads of custom reports you can create, and you can then get even more insight by pulling further data in from third parties. Most of my experience of Magento BI so far has been via Lewis from Pinpoint, who is completely obsessed with it!

Optimize your search

Magento’s out of the box search is known for being poor (in terms of accuracy and the OOTB UX) – across both Magento Community and Enterprise edition. I would generally suggest looking to use a more specialist, third party solution like Klevu (full disclosure – I consult for Klevu, but it was my primary recommendation beforehand) to achieve far more accurate results and provide a more enterprise-level experience.

The key selling points of Klevu are around machine learning (optimizing results in real-time based on how products are performing – based on orders, add-to-carts and clicks) and natural language processing (extracting more meaning from the query – helping to understand far more complex queries). These features are the ones that tend to attract the larger, enterprise-level merchants, who are looking for an AI-based solution to reduce the manual overhead.

Some of the core things I’d look for from a third party search solution include:

  • NLP capabilities
  • Strong error tolerance
  • Automated catalog enrichment (helps with long-tail keywords and error tolerance)
  • Ability to serve non-product results
  • Manual boosting capabilities (product-level and attribute-level)
  • Quick auto suggest interface
  • Ability to use filtering to refine results

Read more about Magento conversion rate optimization.

Personalize your product recommendations

I use Nosto with most of my clients – purely because the personalized recommendations have always provided a strong ROI. I also recommend using the email blocks, as again, the fact that these are personalized will generally add a lot more value (especially if you’re trying to really push personalization as part of your email / CRM strategy).

Nosto will personalize the recommended products in your email marketing

As with Klevu, I’m a big fan of using machine learning to improve the accuracy of what’s being promoted to users, and Nosto is a market leader in this space.

I’m currently working with a sports retailer, who is looking to personalize journeys and market more effectively as part of this Magento 2 migration project. By moving to Nosto, we will not only drive a lot of value around product recommendations, but will be able to record more from customer attributes (native in Magento Enterprise) to gather more data from customers.

One of the main things we’re looking to do is gather information around the sports team that the customer supports – this will enable us to promote specific items to them and also tie automated email workflows around this team. Once we’ve got this data, we’ll be able to run email campaigns around:

  • New kit available from your team
  • New offer available on X products from your team
  • New accessories available from your team
  • Complete the look (based on other items from the team’s range)

In an ideal world we’d then also use another system to extract information around the products / categories the user is browsing for further insight (you could use Web Insights from dotmailer for this as part of email marketing).

Another way we want to use customer attributes is to gather information around who the customer is buying for (e.g. self-use or as a gift for someone) – this will then help to further build the profile of the customer and also validate the sports team data we’re collecting.

These are a handful of areas that can be quick wins when making the move to Magento 2 which will have a big impact on your online trading. Do you have other areas you’ve seen results? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

Paul Rogers is an experienced Ecommerce Consultant who works primarily with the Magento platform. Paul, who runs a small consultancy called Crimson Fox, has worked with merchants from all over the world, helping them to get more from Magento and drive more revenue online.

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