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How to Set Up Your First Magento Store

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This post is part of a series called Fundamentals of eCommerce .
How to Write eCommerce Product Descriptions that Sell
The Power of Split Testing in eCommerce

Magento is one of the world's most popular eCommerce platforms. Developers love it because it's open source, meaning they can customize it to their heart's content. Big businesses love it because it's powerful, and they've got the deep pockets to pay the $50,000+ annual fees for the Premium Enterprise subscription. As such, Magento is perfect for global brands, who've got the budget for Magento Enterprise and to hire a team of developers to put together a bespoke eCommerce store that precisely fits their needs.

Leading brands including The North Face, Nike, Lindt, Sierra Nevada and Pentel use Magento to power their online stores.

For microbusinesses, Magento's major benefit is its biggest drawback. When you're bootstrapping, you need a low-cost, out-of-the-box solution, not a complex, expensive platform.

Magento Go is Magento's way of catering for the small business market. With Magento Go, you get the power of Magento — including access to the Magento Connect App Store — without the expense. Prices start at $15 per month, including hosting, making Magento Go competitive with other hosted eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and Bigcommerce.

In this tutorial, I'll guide you through starting a Magento Go store. We'll only cover the basics, as there's a lot of work to do to get a Magento store up and running. That's because it's a little more complicated than other platforms, so if you're new to setting up websites, you may prefer other eCommerce options. Let's get started!

1. Sign up to Magento Go

Step 1: Check Out Magento

Head over to the Magento website and take a look around. There's a ton to look at, including success stories, details about the company, and in-depth tutorials. Much of it is written for developers, so don't worry if it's over your head.

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In particular, it's a good idea to check out the Magento showcase, where you can click-through to the websites of leading brands which use Magento. Browsing these sites will give you a feel for what's possible using this powerful platform.

Step 2: Head Over to Magento Go

If you like what you see, you're ready to sign up to Go. In the top menubar of the website, click GO. This will take you to the Magento Go homepage.

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Magento Go gives you a thirty-day free trial period. You don't have to provide credit card details to take advantage of the trial, and during the trial period you'll have a fully functioning store.

Click Start Your Free Trial.

Step 3: Name Your Store

Next, you'll be asked to pick you store name. Don't stress over finding the perfect name, as you can change it later.

Enter your email address too, then click Let's Go!.

Step 4: Fill Out Your Business Details

You'll now be asked for your name, username, password, location and phone number. You also have the option to enter your industry and experience level.

Your password must be at least eight characters long and include at least one capital letter or special character.

Fill out the form, and click Create my store!.

When you click this button, you are accepting Magento Go's terms of service. You can read these by scrolling down to the bottom the Magento Go homepage, and clicking Terms of Service.

Step 5: Wait for An Email

Super! You've created your store. Magento Go will give you a high-five.

It will take Magento Go a couple of minutes to set up your store. They'll send you an email when it's done, like this one:

You can take a look at your store by clicking the Your URL link

Step 6: Head Over to Store Admin

The email includes a link to your store admin page. This will be along the lines of yourstorename.mygostore.com/admin.

We're going to customize your store now, so click-through the link to your admin page. This will take you to your store dashboard and quickstart wizard, which looks like this:

2. Choose Your Store Design

Now that your store's set up, it's time to get it looking great, and ready to impress any customers who visit.

Step 1: Head to the Design Interface

In your store's quick start wizard, hover your mouse over the Design menu option. It's the third item in the menu.

In the submenu that opens, click Select & Customize Your Design. This will open a small window explaining how Magento themes work.

Click Continue, which will take you to the Theme Editor.

Step 2: Browse the Themes

There are over thirty themes to choose from by default. Browse through them to find one you like.

To take a close look at a theme, select the Preview button beneath the theme thumbnail.

Step 3: Choose Your Theme

When you've found a theme you like, click Customize.

Why Customize rather than Select Theme or Install Theme? It's because Magento expects that you'll edit your theme. As such, the basic themes provided are a little more barebones than with other hosted eCommerce platforms.

You'll be asked to give the theme a name. Optionally, you can also add a theme description and thumbnail.

Click Save.

Step 4: Edit Your Theme (Optional)

If you know CSS, or you're willing to learn, you can now customize your theme. Do this by selecting the relevant option in the side menu:

You can preview your updates at any time by clicking Preview.

Step 5: Save and Apply

Lastly, to fully install your theme, click Save and Apply in the top menu.

To see your theme in action, visit your store.

Step 6: Add Your Logo

Return to the Magento Go quickstart wizard by clicking Start my Store in the top left. In the Design menu click Set your store logo. You'll be taken to a menu where you can upload your logo.

Choose your logo image from your computer, then click Submit.

3. Add Products

Now that you've snazzed-up your store with a template and logo, you're ready to stock your shelves with products.

Step 1: Open the Products Page

Again, return to the quickstart wizard. Under the Products menu, select Create New Products

You'll be given a spiel on what you can do with products on Magento. Read it if you like, then click Continue.

Step 2: Choose Product Type

Next, you'll be asked for an Attribute Set and whether you want to use Complex Product Types.

For now, leave the Attribute Set as Default.

The Complex Product Types option lets you list virtual products, gift cards, bundled products, configurable products and grouped products. For now, we'll just add a simple product, so leave this option de-selected.

Click Continue.

Step 3: Complete Product Details

You'll now be asked to complete the product details. These include the product name, description, SKU, delivery details, and weight.

For the product description, you can turn on a WYSIWYG Editor. WYSIWYG stands for "What you see is what you get". Turning the editor on will enable word processing options such as bold and italic text, paragraph formatting, etc.

Alternatively, you can write directly into the description box using html.

Special product options include Status, which lets your select whether the product is enabled (i.e. live) in your store, and Visibility, which allows you to specify whether the product can be found in the search bar, catalogue, in both, or neither.

When you're done, click Save and Continue Edit.

Step 4: Add Prices and Images

To add a price to your product, click Prices in the left hand menu. Complete the required fields, which includes tax class, then click Save and Continue Edit.

To add product images, click Images in the left hand menu. Select Browse Files to add an image from your computer.

Once you've selected the image or images from your computer, click Upload Files.

You can then select which image you want to be the base image, small image and thumbnail.

Click Save and Continue Edit.

Step 5: Add Meta Information

In the left hand menu, click Meta Information. Here, you can choose the title and description that will show up in search engines, and add keywords for SEO purposes.

When you're done, click Save to save the product and return to the Manage Products area of the dashboard.

3. Payments and Shipping

Before you launch your store, you'll need to set up Payment and Shipping options. You can do this in the quickstart wizard, which you access by clicking the Start My Store button in the top left.

Now you're familiar with the Magento Go platform, this is a relatively simple process.

4. Launch Your Store

You've created a basic store, now you're ready to go live. Head to the quickstart wizard, and in the Get Going menu select Launch Your Store.

In the dialog box that appears, click Go.

Congratulations on creating your store with Magneto Go! In Magento's own words, "We have only scratched the surface of what is possible with Magento Go". But hopefully you'll now have the confidence to get started. Happy selling!

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