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Using Magento - 5 frequently asked questions

5 of our most frequently asked questions by clients who have adopted the Magento Community platform for their new ecommerce website.

This article relates to an out-of-the-box solution, some responses may or may not be applicable to more customised solutions.

1. Why does the search return seemingly unrelated results?

There are several factors which affect the results a search will return. Understanding how the search works and how to use the Search Terms feature will help you provide the best experience for your users and provide you with some insight on how the search is being used on your site.

Magento’s default search is limited to product search, it searches product attributes (which can be specified when you create a product). It does not search category attributes, static block content or CMS pages.

There are 3 search type options that Magento’s search can be configured to:

Like – returns results based on similar words to the search words
Fulltext – returns results based on exact match to the search words
Combined – a combination of the above

Most of our clients find the Fulltext option returns the most relevant results particularly where there is a sizeable catalogue involved. It is worth noting that the search will return results for a phrase and each word independently so a search for ‘heeled shoes’ would first return results with ‘heeled shoes’ and then results with the word ‘heeled’ and results with the word ‘shoes’. So the more words entered into the search, the more results will be returned.

On fulltext option, Magento will not return results for words with less than 4 characters so a search for ‘red car’ will not return any results. To combat this, we can use the Search Terms feature within Magento. 

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The Search Terms feature is a great tool for gaining insight into how the search is being used on your site. The Search Terms table shows you what terms users are entering into the search, how often these terms are being searched and how many results are displayed for these terms. Analysing the data in this table can help you to make informed business decisions.

This feature also allows you to specify a synonym or redirect for specific search terms. So for example, you could specify a search for ‘onesies’ to bring back results for ‘onesie’ or a search for ‘mum’ to redirect to an appropriate page on the site.

Now you understand the basics of how the search works, there’s just one final piece of advice – don’t forget to re-index! The most common cause for a search returning unexpected results is not re-indexing.

If you’re finding the search is not comprehensive enough, there are extensions available for a more full-featured search function. We recommend a Solr search extension for Magento Community. (Magento Enterprise comes ready with the option to use the Apache Solr search engine.) The benefits of a Solr search include better performance, attribute weighting, misspelling correction and the ability to return results based on delimiters, providing a much richer experience for the user.

2. How do I control the display order of my products on the category pages?

There may be occasions where you would like particular products to appear first on a category page - this can be easily achieved in Magento. On the Category > Display Settings tab, set the Default Product Listing Sort By field to Best Value. On the Category Products tab, give your products a value under the Position column and save the category changes.

We recommend values are spread in increments of 10 when you set these for the first time (i.e. 0, 10, 20, 30, etc.) so you can always reposition and add new products without having to renumber every product (e.g. 0, 5, 10, 20, 25, 30, etc.). You can also use negative numbers (-1 would appear before 0 in the display order).

3. What size should I upload my product images?

Product images can be any size however we generally recommend that they are all square and no smaller than 370x370px (for standard Magento solutions) otherwise your images will be stretched to fit and can look pixelated or distorted. 

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To get the best out of the zoom function, they should be no smaller than 1000x1000px, and no bigger than 1600x1600px. We find that 1200x1200px works best in terms of providing a good balance between user experience and site performance. Try and keep the file sizes to around 100kb or less.

4. What is the product tag feature?

The product tag feature allows logged-in users to tag your products with keywords. This can help other visitors to the site find products via the search. The uptake on this feature is very low as it requires the user to have an account and to be logged in, and there is no incentive for the user to contribute – most users just don’t bother.

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5. How do I use the related, up-sell and cross-sell feature?

One of the great marketing features of Magento is the ability to specify related, up-sell and cross-sell products. 

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Related products – these appear on the product detail page
Up-sell products
– these appear on the product detail page (We also recommend / You may also be interested in)
Cross-sell products – these appear on the cart page

Specifying related, up-sell and cross-sell products is done on a product by product basis. Navigate to the product (Catalog > Manage Products), on the Product Information menu you’ll see tabs for Related Products, Up-sells, and Cross-sells. Click the appropriate tab and use the filter to find or shortlist your products. Tick the products that apply and save.

We often get asked ‘what’s the difference between Related products and Cross-sell products?’ Aside from where these products are displayed on the site, it’s really up to you how you decide to use these sections and it may be dependent on the type of products and market you’re in. By definition cross-sell products encourage the user to spend more in addition to the product they are viewing so it may be the handbag to go with the shoes for example. Related products could be construed as being the same thing but it may also be products of a similar nature, an alternative option of the same price bracket to the product being viewed. The important thing to consider here is where these products are being displayed and how it fits within your customers’ purchasing journey.

In addition to the related, up-sell, cross-sell products feature there are third party platforms that can be integrated with Magento to provide a more personalised experience. MyBuys is a customer-centric marketing tool which profiles each visitor to your site based on everything you know about them as an individual in order to provide a set of recommendations most likely to appeal to that individual, so your product recommendations are more likely to convert.

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