Top 7 Magento Extensions You Should Be Using

Extensions add functionality to your Magento site that you won’t typically get out of the box. The right extensions will increase conversions and generate happy, loyal customers. Here are seven extensions you should be using.

#1 Subscriptions

You’ve probably noticed some Amazon product pages ask you to “subscribe and save.” The product is available for a one-time purchase, but you’ll get a discount if you subscribe to a regular delivery (such as monthly, bi-monthly).

A subscription discount is a highly effective marketing strategy that encourages consumers to commit to future purchases. It works well with products consumed on a regular basis such as protein powders, nutritional supplements, coffee, and just about anything people might purchase on a regular basis.

Statistics show the majority of consumers are looking for a good deal; about 93% use at least one discount code during the year. Subscription discounts make obtaining a discount even easier.

The Subscriptions extension from Web Solutions NYC allows you to:

  • Offer a customizable subscription schedule; customers can choose which day of the month to reorder
  • Designate subscription products
  • Transparently display the minimum cancellation time on both the product page and in the cart
  • Restrict subscriptions to specific customer groups
  • Create custom terms

#2 Free Shipping Threshold

“Free shipping on orders over $30” is a great marketing strategy, but customers aren’t good at keeping track of their totals as they add items to their cart. At checkout, if their purchase totals only $29.95, they’re apt to be annoyed.

Web Solutions NYC’s Free Shipping Threshold extension displays the remaining purchase amount needed to get free shipping. This helps customers reach their goal and also encourages people to purchase more items.

Tip: Take the price of your most popular item, add ten percent, and round it off to the nearest five dollars. Make that your free shipping threshold to encourage people to make additional purchases.

#3 Quick View

The quick view feature is something more theme developers ought to include in e-commerce templates. This Quick View extension shows customers the details about a product without taking them off the category or search results page.

With one click, a pop-up displays product information and the option to “add to cart” in any quantity selected. The customer can see the options for all variations, including color, size, and customizations. They can also click through to the product page if desired.

You choose how much information to display in each pop-up. For example, you could display all product details, including the full description, and even product reviews. Or you could display just the summary.

The pop-up supports all product actions, including:

  • Add to cart
  • Browse images
  • See samples
  • Add product rating
  • Add product review
  • See product reviews and ratings
  • Add to compare
  • Add to wishlist
  • Email to a friend

Consumers are inconvenienced when they have to navigate back to their search results page after perusing a product. Twenty-eight percent of shoppers abandon their cart when the purchase process is inconvenient.

Making product information available to customers without forcing them to leave the search results page makes the process convenient, and will reduce the rate of abandoned carts on your site.

#4 Tax Jar

Many companies commit tax errors in their first year in business. The most common mistake is the failure to collect sufficient sales tax.

The Tax Jar Sales Tax Automator extension automates the amount of tax you collect based on current rates calculated by the SmartCalcs API. Rates are updated monthly.

When tax time rolls around, you’ll be able to sort the tax you’ve collected by state, county, city, or zip code so you can file properly. If you’re running an Amazon or eBay store, you can use this extension on those platforms, too.

For an additional fee, Tax Jar will file your state sales tax return for you each month, quarter, or year. The great news is this extension comes with a 30-day free trial, so what have you got to lose?

#5 Abandoned Cart Email

Abandoned carts are a significant source of lost revenue. Although not all abandoned carts can be turned into a purchase, some can.

Multiple marketing statistics show an average cart abandonment rate of 69.89%. Consumer surveys reveal that 58.6% of U.S. shoppers abandon carts because they were just browsing or comparing prices.

The remaining 11.29% of abandoned carts likely occur for other reasons, usually attributable to a difficult checkout process, hidden shipping costs, or being required to create an account. All these factors are within your control.

The Abandoned Cart Email extension automatically sends a follow-up email to remind users they left an item in their cart. Not everyone intends to abandon his or her cart, so this extension may help you recover lost sales.

Some key features of the extension:

  • Customizes the email schedule
  • Generates coupons to encourage checkout
  • Allows customers to unsubscribe from reminder emails
  • Admin users can disable customer groups from receiving reminder emails
  • Reminders can be automatically stopped when the customer visits or clears the cart

Statistics show 29% of abandonment reminder emails result in sales, so you can’t afford to skip this extension.

#6 Shipping Restrictions

Businesses can be held liable for shipping products to locations where those items are illegal. You can also be held liable for shipping items without the required restrictions.

For example, during the Obama administration, laws were passed that made it generally illegal to send cigarettes through the mail, with a few exceptions. If your product is age-restricted in other states, you’re responsible for controlling sales in accordance with local laws.

It’s impossible to keep up with individual state laws since they change frequently. The Shipping Restrictions extension equips you to create a list of banned zip codes, states, and countries where your product can’t be delivered.

That way, you may control shipping only to the locations you can be certain the products are legal. As soon as users enter their address, the extension lets them know the product carries shipping restrictions. This happens before they can finish checking out.

#7 URL Rewrite Index Optimizer

Magento’s default URL structure isn’t search-engine or user-friendly. The URL Rewrite extension makes it simple to create friendly URLs and optimize the process of re-indexing URL rewrites.

Friendly URLs will certainly boost your SEO efforts and give customers an easier time navigating your site. If URL rewriting seems too technical, read this introduction to URL rewriting published by Smashing Magazine.

Some highlights to be aware of include:

  • The URL should be relevant, appropriate, and memorable. For example, if your product pages follow a memorable hierarchy such as /category/product-name/, visitors will have an easier time navigating your site. They’ll know they’re in the right place.
  • A URL should contain relevant search terms. Google and other search engines take the URL into account when they rank pages. Readable URLs are consistently ranked as one of the most important components in optimization.
  • In a friendly URL, non-alphanumeric characters are replaced with hyphens to make it easier to read.

Rewriting a URL also requires the creation of redirects, but the URL Rewrite extension takes care of those for you.

Given a handful of vital extensions, Magento’s functionality can be expanded to support your marketing efforts and sales goals. Remember not to go overboard with extensions, though; too many can overload system resources.

Install only what you need. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but remember to deactivate extensions you decide not to use.