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Latest Magento Headlines, GoMage Updates and eCommerce Best Practices

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  • Magento Imagine eCommerce Worldwide Conference in Las-Vegas

    This April appears to be rich in events related to Magento. In the previous article of our blog we mentioned a webinar that is going to take place soon, now we will discuss a world-wide offline conference that will take place on April, 20-22, 2015.

    The event managers invite all interested retailers to attend the conference called “Sparking Curiosity & Lasting Connections through Personalization: A Great Courses Case Study” in Las-Vegas.

    The general director of the conference Jason Meugniot describes the event as follows: “Magento is considered to be one of the most flexible and scalable admin panels for eCommerce. However, it is not so well-known that Magento is also an automated manager and a powerful personalization tool. Our presentation will show, on example of one large site, that personalized strategies and modules of Magento are always oriented to increase your online sales.”

    The speakers of the conference will be representatives of Harbor Freight Tools, Johnny Was, Pam & Gela, Ray-Ban, Relax the Back, Robert Graham, Silver Jeans, Sole Society, Tacori, TOMS Shoes. They are considered to be the most experienced Magento users who managed to build successful channels of retail sales based on the web solutions offered by the system for realization of possibilities in the sphere of eCommerce.

    If you have any questions please feel free to let us know. In order to learn the latest news about the conference follow @guidance and #MagentoImagine in Twitter.

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  • Free Magento Webinar will take place on April, 15

    Free Magento Webinar will take place on April, 15

    Good news for Magento store owners and beginner users: on Wednesday, April, 15, a free webinar on administrative panel usage will take place. In order to take part in the webinar it is necessary to register first. The webinar will be held at 11:30 AM UK, 2:30 PM UAE, 12:30 PM Europe, 4:00 PM IST.

    The webinar will be conducted by Fulcrum Worldwide representatives - Vivek Kumar and Pawan Choudhary. Vivek Kumar has 11-year experience in leading open source technology solutions. He states that he enjoys working with complicated projects and realizing the best clients’ expectations.

    Pawan Choudhary is the head of the initiative department working with clients directly. His plans and solutions have helped many clients all over the world to develop successful businesses.

    The webinar program includes discussing of an e-commerce solution which can meet any requirements you could think of – attract and maintain customer base, work of both stationary and mobile devices, etc. They will also review the system possibilities which will help your business survive and continue to grow even in terms of tough competition on the market. The other important points to be reviewed are personalization of customer’s profile, usage of the order history as well as systems of individual discounts and coupons.

    Fulcrum Worldwide understands how important it is for each store owner to turn clicks into conversions and explore new horizons in their spheres. The main purpose, though, always remains satisfaction of customers’ needs.

    Follow our blog to read new interesting articles and announcements of future events in the eCommerce world.

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  • Configuration and storage of session files

    Configuration and storage of session files

    When online merchants make their first steps working with Magento, they have to spend a great deal of time configuring the admin panel, setting desired parameters, installing extensions, uploading products into catalog. Sometimes, their session expires and interrupts the work, which makes them re-login and start anew.

    However, it is quite easy to configure the session life time. Go to System → Configuration → Admin → Security → Session Lifetime and set the desired time. It is important to remember that time is counted in seconds on the server. So, the value 1800 (seconds) will allow you work in the admin panel for 30 minutes.

    All sessions are stored in the file system by default. This is very convenient for users. Besides, all sessions can be checked using FTP access to the server. However, there is one significant disadvantage in this way of session storage: after some time, the amount of files may exhaust allowed server space. The path of the storage is specified in local.xml file:

     

    <session_save><![CDATA[files]]></session_save>
    

     

     

    The users may choose to save the session files in the database. The database is stable even in case of unexpected system downtimes or overloads. But, when this method of the data storage is used the general system load is increased. So, this way is better for small online stores, since the stores with large amount of products may encounter MySQL server performance issues.

    In order to set the path of the session files storage it is necessary to access app/etc/local.xml file and add the following:

     

    <session_save><![CDATA[db]]></session_save>
    

     

     

    When the data are transferred from the file system to the database, it is necessary to edit the file config.xml and remove the following line:

     

    <session>{{var_dir}}/session</session>
    

     

     

    Of course, each user is free to choose the way of session data storage which is the most convenient for them. If you have any additional questions, please contact Magento experts directly and they will do their best to assist you.

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  • Events and observers: principle of work

    Events and observers: principle of work

    Today we will review such method of modification of basic Magento functionality as “design pattern”. This method is considered as a standard one and it is necessary to understand it in order to work with the system successfully.

    The principle is based on creation of a module using so called ‘event’ and ‘observer’ files. The ‘event’ suggests an action which leads to modifications in the store, e.g. when a user presses ‘Checkout’ button. ‘Observer’ monitors the changes and then passes them to the system to make it perform specific actions in a certain order.

    In order to create a file Observer.php it is necessary to go to /app/code/local/Pfay/Test/Model/ and insert the following code:

    <?php
    class Pfay_Test_Model_Observer extends Varien_Event_Observer
    {
       public function __construct()
       {
       }
       public function saveCmsPageObserve($observer)
       {
             $event = $observer->getEvent();
             $model = $event->getPage();
         print_r($model->getData());
             die('test');
     }
    }
    ?>
    

     

    This observer is created with ‘SaveCmsPageObserve’ function due to which the events will be fixed after a CMS page is saved on Magento backend.

    As you can see, this file will monitor the events using ‘getEvent’ method that will send all the modified parameters automatically.

    In order to make the observer work properly, it is necessary to inform the system about its existence. Go to /app/code/local/Pfay/Test/etc/config.xml and edit the file config.xml. Add the following code:

    <strong><events>
       <cms_page_prepare_save>
        <observers>
           <Pfay_Example_Model_Observer>
               <type>singleton</type>
               <class>example/observer</class>
               <method> saveCmsPageObserve</method>
               </ Pfay_Example_Model_Observer>
           </observers>
      </cms_page_prepare_save>
    </events>
    </strong>
    

     

    The part of code <strong> <cms_page_prepare_save> </strong> represents a controlled event in this example. In order to launch saveCmsPageObserve, the observer should wait for the action cms_page_prepare_save to start.

    The process of completing the task in Observer is controlled by dispatchEvent which generates events. It is located in \core\Mage\Adminhtml\controllers\Cms\PageController.php and should look like this:

    Mage::dispatchEvent('cms_page_prepare_save', array('page' => $model, 'request' => $this->getRequest()));

    It is possible to create separate files ‘Event’ and ‘Observer’ for each group of actions or processes in Magento. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact our experts, they will be glad to assist you.

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  • Magento 2 – coming soon

    Magento 2 – coming soon

    Web marketing manager Owen Radford who is specialized in Magento and Wordpress sites has recently announced soon release of Magento 2. Besides, he has announced a preliminary plan of beta-versions launch.

    According to Owen Radford, the first rumors about a new engine were heard back in 2010 and this topic was discussed during 2011, but the development was moving forward slowly. At last, it is time to present Magento 2 to the system users. This is going to happen in the end of 2015. This December, Magento development team began testing of the beta-version.

    Image from: business2community.com

    The following stages are still to be performed:

    • Q1 – testing of the candidate release by the developers for the end users;
    • Q3 – presentation of beta-version to the end users;
    • Q4 – launch of complete new engine version and mass release.

    What’s new should the users expect from Magento 2? It will include update of the technological possibilities, optimization and simplification of installation, configuration and update processes, simplification of Magento integration, higher capabilities and scalability.

    “Now we work with the up-to-date technologies only: HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery. One of mischievous commentators called creation of new Magento 2 ‘no more that its rewrite on JQuery’, however this is absolutely not true. In any case, the efforts taken to update and optimize the system are also very important”, Owen says.

    Closer to the release date the other changes and new features will be announced. The developers indicate that it will be difficult for Magento 2 to compete with well-known and long used Magento 1.x, but they still hope for success.

    Switching to Magento 2 will be done gradually. The new version is not yet available for mass usage. First, the developers plan to implement it through the upgrade process from the older versions, but the possibility of backup will be preserved.

    As soon as any new information about Magento 2 is available, you will see it in our blog. Watch our updates and do not forget to share them with your friends!

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  • Comparison of products

    Comparison of products

    A possibility of comparing products is one of the important functions in online stores. This option is frequently used by marketing specialists as a tool of attracting and keeping customers on the site. What is good in Magento is that most of the necessary optimization features are built in the basic system package. It is important to know about them and learn how to use them. Today Magento experts will show you how to choose the options by which the products can be compared.

    Comparison menu can be configured for any products - the main condition is that they have at least one coincident attribute. Actually, customers may even compare a vacuum cleaner, a skirt and a chair, if those items have the same color. That is why it is reasonable to create more extensive filters for products comparison. This will increase the level of comfort on your site and will help customers develop their experience of buying products online.

    In the process of adding a new product you can control which attributes are chosen for comparison. Each option has a field for “Frontend comparison”. Set it to ‘Yes’ if you wish that option to be used for comparing this specific product with other ones.

    In order to modify that option for previously added products you should go to Catalog – Properties – Manage properties and select the option you wish to edit. In order to see a full list of options available for comparison it is necessary to choose ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for the field ‘Products comparison’ in the last column. Click on the attribute in order to modify it. Choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the drop-down list for ‘Frontend comparison’. As soon as all actions have been done, save the changes.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact GoMage experts directly. You can find a lot of interesting information in our blog, please share the most useful articles with your friends and colleagues.

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  • How to use related/up-sell/cross-sell products for increasing sales

    How to use related/up-sell/cross-sell products for increasing sales

    In order to enhance the goods turnover, increase the volume of visits and the level of sales Magento developers have created a lot of various plug-ins and modules, some of which are even included into the base Magento package. Now, we will review how to make customers interested in products similar to those they are ordering, but at higher price. Such products are usually called ‘related’.

    The purpose of displaying related products is offering customers to buy something along with the products they review. These products are displayed in the top right corner of the page. Each product has a checkbox that a customer can check in case they wish to buy that product. In this case, it is not necessary to go to the related product page and add it to the cart separately:

    Related products

    Configurable and bundle products which can also be offered by the store do not have the checkboxes. A customer will need to go to the product page, select the necessary options (color, size, etc.) and then add the product to the cart. More expensive analogues of the product being viewed by a potential customer are offered with the purpose to persuade the customer to buy them instead. Those products are usually of better quality, higher price or of more popular brands, they are also called ‘Up-sell products’. Such products are displayed in the block called “You may also be interested in the following product(s)”. The block also contains “Additional Information” section which displays the price of the alternative products and links to their pages.

    Upsell products

    Another group of additional products is not related to the items being viewed by a customer and functions as an ‘impulse buy’. In usual stores this place is taken by stands with magazines and chewing gum which a customer can put into basket standing at the cash desk. Specific cross-sell products can be assigned to each product group. If a customer has several items in the cart, cross-sell products will be displayed in random order.

    Crossell products

    In order to assign a related product to a specific product in your store, go to Catalog – Manage products in the admin panel. Select the product which you are going to edit. Click the button ‘Modify’ and go to ‘Up-sell / Cross-sell / Related products’ section on the left side. Choose the necessary products from the drop-down list. In order to review all items you should click ‘Disable filter’.

    When the product is chosen you will see the field for ‘Position’. It determines the sorting order of Up-sell / Cross-sell / Related products in the cart or directly on the product page. Please note that this position is activated for Up-sells only when there is at least one item in the cart. If there are several items, up-sells will be switched randomly.

    Please feel free to contact GoMage development team directly if you have any questions. You may also read about other ways of increasing sales in our blog.

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  • How to create a poll

    How to create a poll

    Polls are used as a powerful marketing tool. They help to determine the level of demand for a specific product category and customers’ feedbacks on specific products. The advantages of polls are that they do not take much space and are highly informative. Magento developers have included this option into the basic Magento package. So, you do not need to install any specific extensions in order to learn users’ opinion about your products.

    In order to enable polls you need to go to System – Configuration – Additional settings and enable the poll module. This option is usually enabled by default. Save the changes and then go to CMS – Poll manager in order to create a new poll.

    Click ‘Add new poll’ button. The question will be visible in the top of the external site interface. When you create a poll it is set to the status ‘Open’ automatically. If you need to remove the poll, set the status to ‘closed’. The multi-select menu will help you to choose on which site pages the poll will be visible.

    Click the button ‘Add new answers’ and you will see the field in which the answer variants should be entered. All users can see how many people voted for each variant. Every new answer should be created using ‘Add new answer’ button.

    There is a small trick for arranging a new poll. If you enable ‘Vote count’ option you will be able to influence the poll results and change them. When a user clicks on the necessary answer the number will increase automatically. You can also view the results in the admin panel.

    Magento functionality allows creation of several polls. In this case, they will be displayed on the site in random order.

    You can read more about SEO tools, marketing solutions and new GoMage Magento extensions in our blog. Please share the most interesting articles with your friends and colleagues, and feel free to contact us directly in case you have any questions.

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  • Customer information

    Customer information

    Magento is a large CMS which offers a lot of various functions. One of the system sections contains maximum available information about each customer. When a user creates an account on their own, the admin panel will display a lot of new options which are not available if a profile is created through the backend.

    The administrator is able to see brief information about a customer: last visit date, online/offline status. If there are several stores in one Magento, this section also shows in which exactly store that account was created.

    The store manager can see shipping and billing addresses specified by a customer (they may be different). All complete and pending orders submitted both by the customer and by the administrator on customer’s behalf are also displayed in that section. Besides, the information about all products in the cart is available, and the administrator has an option to remove a specific product. A click on the order will redirect you to the product page with all information about it.

    In the ‘Newsletters’ section you can check all subscriptions of each specific customer, as well as subscribe or unsubscribe each customer from selected newsletter.

    The section ‘Product reviews’ shows all reviews submitted by each customer. If you click on a review you will be redirected to the corresponding admin panel section.

    The customer information also shows all tags entered by customer. Clicking on any tag will take you to the corresponding admin panel section.

    The tab ‘Customers online’ shows both registered and guest users. Authenticated clients will be displayed under their names and the other customers will be identified by their IP addresses. Those users are usually assigned to ‘Guest’ category. Besides, you can see which URLs they accessed on your site. Clicking on a customer will show you all available information about them.

    You can find more information about Magento and its extensions in our blog. Please feel free to contact us directly or leave your comments, we will be glad to assist if you have any questions.

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  • How to install a new theme over an existing one

    How to install a new theme over an existing one

    Frequently, online store owners wish to optimize and refresh the view and layout of their stores. This usually requires installation of a new Magento theme. In order to simplify this process, you can install a new template without removing the previous one.

    In order to do this, it is necessary to upload the folder “app”, “skin” and “media” of the new template into your active Magento directory. As soon as the folders are present on the server, go to System > Design and choose default folder.

    Then, select your recently uploaded theme on the server. Go to CMS > Pages > Home page > Content in the newly installed template. In this section you will find the code which needs to be copied into the same place of the working template.

    The same actions need to be done in “Design” section. It is necessary to copy the corresponding XML content into the working Magento template.

    It is important that “Layout” settings of the old and new templates should be identical. The last step would be going to CMS > Static blocks and replacing the code of each block with the code of the new theme. However, this should not be done for block “Footer links”.

    After the settings are saved the changes will be applied on the site. If this does not happen at once, flush the cache and try again.

    You can find a lot of interesting articles in our blog. Please share them with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave your comments or contact us directly.

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