Out of the box, Magento can compete with any other ecommerce software on the planet. On top of that, it is completely free for the community edition.

Because it is an open source platform, selecting Magento for your web store solution can lower development project costs considerably. Slim budgets do not mean you have to compromise on the quality and features you need to offer.

At the front end, you can quickly develop a cutting-edge online store, complete with a responsive design. However people are viewing and using your online store, Magento has the flexibility for you to present your products and offer options to your potential customers.

On the back end, Magento boasts a tremendous built in feature set, developed from the ground up for commerce. Even the largest, highest budget brands will find Magento easy to work with and hard to grow out of.

But while the base feature set stacks up well with alternative platforms, retailers in competitive markets need much more out of their site to stay on top. Integration with fulfillment, marketing personalization and automation solutions, as well as advanced analytics and testing capabilities are necessary for these businesses. This is where Magento really shines — the vast plug-and-play extension library available in Magento Connect makes adding these advanced features and integrations cheap and easy.

To illustrate this, let’s quickly look at five of the most powerful ones out there.

Optimizely – manage and optimise conversions

This extension allows your Magento store to integrate with one of the world’s leading ecommerce a/b testing solutions.

Using it, you can turn your user experience design into a science, testing anything and everything with easily configured a/b tests. This will produce an endless stream of actionable data for your marketing and design teams.

Optimizely is expanding, though. They now go beyond testing into personalization and targeting. While previously retailers needed a second (or third) service provider (like Monetate, mentioned below) to implement these things, Optimizely is working hard to change that and fill as much of their customers’ needs as possible themselves.

Bronto – integrate lifecycle marketing campaign expertise

If you want to convert first time buyers into long-term repeat customers then Bronto offers you an amazing range of options.

At its heart, this extension turns email marketing into a highly refined and highly personal end user experience. It allows you to leverage any customer data you have access to in order to segment your customers and more precisely target your email marketing.

For example, you can import purchase history information in order to market a new version of a product to the purchasers of the older version. From this data you can also use Bronto to automatically calculate recency, frequency and monetary value metrics. You can then use these values and more in your customer segmentation and messaging planning in order to drastically improve response to your messaging.

On top of this, Bronto is a very simple but powerful marketing automation tool. Set up and optimize things like onboarding email sequences and shopping cart abandonment retargeting campaigns.

Instantsearch+ – transform the user search experience

Instantsearch+ is a powerful search addon that greatly improves your site search by learning and providing autocomplete and intelligent product suggestions.

When a customer types in the search bar, this add-on will rapidly deliver a list of products for selection, making it easier for the potential customer to get to where they need to be. Not only is this an expedience for customers, but it is a powerful discovery tool, displaying products related to the one they are searching for that may be of interest to the visitor.

Part of its power comes from the fact that it is 100% cloud-based and CDN backed. Which means no load on your server, because it delivers its results, including thumbnail images, from the cloud.

Monetate – develop and test online store personalization

Monetate is one of the leading ecommerce personalization solutions available. It works by taking any and all available customer data and using it to deliver the most relevant experience and product assortment possible. Customer location, previous history, source, and even behavior once they arrive is all analyzed, and your messaging and product results are adjusted to match.

One of the most powerful aspects of this integration is its ability to undertake real-time behavioural targeting. So let’s say somebody arrives at the site looking for an umbrella. Monetate can tailor sitewide marketing messages to that initial visitor intention.

To take the example above further, Monetate also includes geo-targeting and weather targeting modules. If somebody comes your site looking for an umbrella, the site can even deliver a message about the weather in that area, connecting your online store to their local environment and immediate needs.

Used effectively, Monetate can ensure that each customer finds a uniquely relevant experience every time they visit.

Fooman Google Analytics+ – help patch your leaking sales funnel

Finally, this free integration builds on the core analytics module by automatically setting up advanced ecommerce tracking.

It allows you to track every step of the sales process, allowing you to refine your sales funnel based on accurate user data.

One of its most powerful features is its ability to use the power of Google Analytics to find damaging drop-off points in your sales funnel, or during your checkout process. By analyzing this data you can close the loop and convert more sales.

Google Analytics is a powerful program, and using the Fooman GA+ extension can allow you get it running immediately at it’s full potential.

Cutting Edge Online Retail Does Not Mean High Investment

As you’ve now seen, one of the main advantages of Magento is its easy integration with the most powerful ecommerce tools and services out there. Due to Magento’s commanding market share, major service providers have all already developed pluggins, available for immediate installation from the Magento Connect marketplace.

This means businesses using Magento can spin up a ccutting-edge ecommerce website with an absolute minimum of invested time and expertise. Which leads me onto my final and most compelling point.

Many of our clients have worried about their position in the marketplace for the long-term, because of their perception of the difficulty of competing with the quality they see around them.

By demonstrating how powerful Magento is with only a minimum of expansion, we have been able to show them that with a clear plan and great goals, backed up with expertise, they can secure their business for the future with an incredibly manageable investment.

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