Top Ten Magento Community Extensions

Out of the box, Magento Community Edition is a resource rich Ecommerce platform. It’s improving with each iteration, but there are still some gaps to fill. Here are my ten favorite extensions to get a Magento site fully functional and generating sales:

Sphinx Search Ultimate (Mirasvit)

If you’ve used Magento’s native search feature, you’ve probably concluded that it’s mostly useless. You might be surprised at how many sales you lose because customers can’t find what they’re looking for. Enter Sphink Search Ultimate by Mirasvit. This search feature has the look and feel of Amazon’s search feature.

  • Uses AJAX: loads search results without leaving the page.
  • Suggested search results: appear automatically with image and price in dropdown box.
  • More search options: search by CMS pages product categories, and even AW Blog posts.
  • Spell Correction: generates results from suggested related search term when no results are found.
  • Great Developer Support

MageMonkey: Mailchimp Integration, Abandoned Cart Recovery (ebizmarts)

MageMonkey is an outstanding free extension that integrates Magento’s newsletter feature with Mailchimp. If you aren’t familiar with Mailchimp, it’s a very useful free service for sending newsletters. If you’re sending newsletters via Magento’s built-in feature, do yourself a favor and check this out.

  • Mailchimp integration: newsletter subscribers in Magento are synchronized with your Mailchimp account.
  • Allow newsletter subscription on customer registration and checkout
  • Abandoned cart recovery feature emails customer when they don’t check out. Even guest checkout customers can be retrieved if they enter their email. Auto generate coupon codes to sweeten the pot.
  • Transactional emails: send custom emails to customers after order to review products, or on their birthday, or if their account becomes inactive.
  • Great Developer Support

ShipStation

When sales pick up, it’s a hassle to go into each individual order and hit the ship button. Plus you have to manually enter tracking info.

ShipStation is more than an extension to handle shipping, it’s a powerful backend entirely separate from Magento. All your Magento orders are funneled into the ShipStation web application. Everything’s tailored to get your orders out cheaply and quickly:

  • Browser based application: access ShipStation on any computer that has access to the internet. No special software required.
  • Efficient interface: manage your orders from ShipStation. Order updates are pushed to your Magento store
  • Print packing slips and shipping labels from ShipStation. Plus, order status is automatically updated.
  • Customer order filters, package presets: There are many useful keyboard shortcuts and package presets to automatically populate weight, package dimensions, and shipping methods.
  • Special shipping rates: Hook up ShipStation to your FedEx, UPS, or Endicia account to get special shipping rates. Supports many carrier providers.
  • Support multiple channels: do you have an Amazon storefront? How about Ebay or Etsy? With the right account plan, you can manage all these orders from your ShipStation account.

While the ShipStation Magento extension, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to access Shipstation. If you have a moderate sales volume or multiple storefronts from different applications, this service will pay for itself in saved labor costs.

Rewards Points Platinum (Magestore)

People love rewards! This extension is a great way to generate customer loyalty. I have found this to be the best extension for increasing sales.

Their is a Standard and Platinum version of this extension. Go with the Platinum version, it’ll pay for itself many times over. Here are some of my favorite features:

  • Customers earn points on purchases: set points rules for all products and categories, or use shopping cart and catalog price rules to give more points for specific items. Great for double rewards promotions.
  • Customers spend points like cash on the website. You can set an expiration date or minimum points threshold.
  • Give rewards for customer behaviors: hitting sharing buttons; signing up for customer account, newsletter; reviewing & tagging products.
  • Customer driven referral program. Reward customers for referring friends. Set customers loose with coupons to give to friends and family.
  • Manually add points to customer accounts to reward them for whatever behavior you like.
  • Great Developer Support

AW Blog (aheadWorks)

Manage a blog from your Magento backend. AW Blog is a free extension that integrates a blog into your website. This way, customers stay in your store near your products.

  • Build a blog right in your shop: keep the look and feel of your website. Avoid reinventing the wheel
  • Feature rich extension: allow advanced posting date; manage blog comments; build categories and tags
  • Build SEO links: Write blog posts to keep your customers coming back. Fill them with important keywords related to your business to generate better search engine ranking
  • It’s Free

Gift Card (Magestore)

This is a particularly useful extension during the holiday season. If you want to sell gift cards for your online store, then this is the extension.

  • Gift cards automatically generated: when a customer orders a gift card, a gift code is automatically stored in the system. All resulting transactions are recorded in the backend.
  • Generate your own codes: make your own gift cards one at a time or in a batch. Print them out and mail them for special promotions, or email them to special customers.
  • Email or snail mail your cards: set up your backend to allow snail mail delivery of gift cards, or only allow email delivery.
  • Set Delivery: customer can set a future delivery date to time for birthdays or holidays.
  • Great Developer Support

Subscription and Recurring Payments (aheadWorks)

This extension is a mixed blessing. If you want to accept recurring payments for subscription services like publications or product of the month clubs, you need this extension. AheadWorks has the market cornered on this one.

However, be ready for an integration headache. Do yourself a favor and order the professional installation service if you’re not 100% confident installing Magento extensions. If you dare, be sure to follow the instructions to the letter.

Also, this extension doesn’t play nicely with other extensions, expect to troubleshoot subscription problems. Unfortunately, aheadWorks won’t help you out either if another extension is at fault. It’s up to you to figure out how to make it work. In short, expect to have to pull in a professional Magento developer.

That said, it’s a feature rich extension that allows customers to checkout using Paypal or credit card. You can offer different subscription periods to your customers, and they can manage their subscription from their customer account.

Daily Deal (Magestore)

This extension is great for clearing inventory. Plus, people like to look for sales, this extension helps feature those sales and keep people coming back. Put a countdown timer on featured items, give customers an incentive to buy now.

  • Create a Daily Deal page that features your sale items
  • Automatically apply discount percentage or percantage range to selected products
  • Countdown Timer: Set coundown till sale ends, including a featured sidebar on product listing
  • Place products in queue: select multiple products to be put in Daily Deal rotation.
  • Great Developer Support

Product Label (Magestore)

This deceptively simple extension applies product labels based on a variety of catalog rules. Create your own label design or use the label design provided.

  • Use catalog rules to apply labels: specify a condition and automatically apply a product label to all matching products.
  • Choose customer or provided labels: add your own label graphics and text or use the supplied graphics. Populate with custom text.
  • Label hierarchy: apply label priority to ensure which label gets displayed first.
  • Admin configuration layout: specify in the label admin where you want the label to appear.

Fooman Speedster (Fooman)

A fast site is more important than anything else when trying to boost sales. No matter how fancy your site is, if it’s slow, people will leave. In addition to following these general guidelines, try installing Fooman Speedster. Just make sure to install on a development site first and test, because it might result in unexpected behavior.

  • Combines multiple Javascript and CSS files into a single Javascript file and single CSS file, to enable faster page load times
  • Reduces the total size of files to be loaded as well as the number of HTTP requests, for empty and primed caches
  • Fully automated once installed, with automatic versioning when Javascript/CSS files are updated
  • Compresses files without requiring gzip support on your server
  • Creates far future expire headers for the combined Javascript and CSS files
Weigh In: What are your favorite Magento extensions?