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How to Setup and Configure Magento

This guide explains where the basic Magento configuration settings are in the admin panel back-end. The majority of Magento configuration options are one time changes that you'll need to set in place following the initial installation. Other options add value so you can learn where they are for future reference.

Log into your Magento Admin Panel

Once you have successfully logged in, the top Admin Panel appears as follows:

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Across the top menu we have access to many areas of Magento. They honestly take time to sink in, but in brief, these areas can be explained as:

  • Dashboard - The dashboard is basically the 'home' section of the Admin Panel. It summarises some interesting revenue reporting numbers along with reports about new customers or your best highest grossing customer.
  • Sales - Once your e-commerce site is on the road and taking sales, this will be the most popular area that you'll likely to use. It contains all of your new orders, invoices, shipments, credit memos and anything sales related, including some advance sections like tax classes.
  • Catalog - The catalog is the heart of your products. It's in this section that you'll create every product that you would like to list on the website and maintain your product categories.
  • Customers - You can add new customers or maintain existing customers.
  • Promotions - At a later stage if you'd like to add a coupon discount code to your site or perhaps even offer free shipping, you can do this via promotions.
  • Newsletter - Every customer that joins your website will by default be asked whether they'd like to enrol in your website's newsletter. It's in this section that you can maintain who is enrolled and who is not, plus most importantly create newsletter templates and fire them all to subscribed customers.
  • CMS - The CMS (content management system) will be the heart of the pages that exist on your website. That includes the main homepage, contact form and anything else that you'd like to add.
  • Reports - What product is selling best or is low in stock? The report sections are very useful for maintaining an overview of your site.
  • System - To begin with, you'll spend a lot of time living in the system menu. It contains the most important section which is the 'Configuration'; the controls for every aspect of the Magento installation.

In this guide we're concentrating on the system configuration options.

System Configuration Options

The system configuration options are the mechanical components on the design and the customer options offered. For example, what theme will your site have? What shipping options are you going to offer? What payment methods?

Step 1 - Entering the System Configuration area

The configuration options live in the 'System' -> 'Configuration' menu as shown below:

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This section has an extensive menu down the left hand side. We're going to initially focus on the basic 'General' e-commerce store options.

Step 2 - General settings

From 'General' on the left, choose the first 'General' option to set up where your store will be operating from.

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Choose your country from the country menu.

We're going to continue down the general options to 'Store Information'. Open this section by clicking on the title - you should find that it pops open to view.

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It's important to include your store name i.e. your business name, a point of telephone contact, what hours you operate, country location, VAT number if applicable and your business address. This information is used as a reference on customer orders and invoices so it's important that this information is completed and that it is correct.

We now need to save these changes by selecting the 'Save Config' button positioned in the top right area. It's worth familiarising yourself with where this button is placed because this is consistent throughout the entire Magento back-end admin panel and required for every change that you make. Always remember to save so you don't lose the information that you've changed, especially after you've spent a lot of time writing a product description.

From the left hand side, still under 'General', next proceed into 'Design'.

Step 3 - Design settings

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It is worth investing the time looking through the design options of your Magento installation and clicking on the options show to expand them out. This part includes how to set up website logo, your website title and meta options, footer text, basic email template and logo settings in 'Transactional Emails'. These settings will likely come into use later once you've absorbed more information about the website options.

E-commerce and e-mail go hand in hand, so it's important to set up your store email addresses. Still under General, from the left main navigation head into the 'Store Email Addresses' section.

Step 4 - Store Email Address settings

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These email addresses are used throughout Magento with incoming and outgoing emails. Honestly you don't need to set up different email addresses for every section here; entering your store name as the sender and a simple generic email address such as info@yourdomain.co.uk is acceptable for every section. Once completed, remember to 'Save Config'.

If you don't have an email address set up yet which you want to use on your Magento website, you can easily create an email account via your cPanel account.

On the same theme, pop into the next option down in General into 'Contacts'.

Step 5 - Contact form settings

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By default Magento has set up a 'Contact Us' page. It's a simple contact form that will likely be a first point of contact for your customers. In the 'Email Options' section it is therefore important to enter an email address for yourself where you can receive incoming emails - set up your email address by replacing the hello@example.com default. The rest of the options are acceptable. Save your changes by choosing the 'Save Config' button.

It's worth noting that if you don't want a contact form on your store, you can turn it off by going into the 'Contact Us' option and changing the setting to 'Enable Contact Us: No'.

Step 6 - Sales settings

Next we're going to be looking at the sales options. From the left hand side menu, scroll down to the 'Sales' heading and choose the 'Sales' option just beneath. In this area, we're interested in the 'Invoice and Packing Slip Design' option as per the below:

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The options that we set in this section is related to the invoice that your customer will receive after they've ordered from your website, and also the invoice that you will print in order to fulfil the order. To make the invoice look professional, here we can set up a logo and your business address. It is recommended that you have a logo available that is up to (but not strictly) 200x50 in resolution. If you do not have one, you can add this later. If you do have one, you can add this by selecting the 'Choose File' button and locating on your file system where your logo is. Enter your business address in the 'Address' text area shown. It's helpful to give this information in case customers need to return items they've received. Remember to save the changes.

Still in sales, from the left navigation we're going to head down into 'Sales Emails'.

Step 7 - Sales email settings

When a customer creates an order from your website, this is the part that sends the email. It is enabled by default but the reason why we're taking a look at this is because it offers the ability to email you when an order is received. The area looks like the following:

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In the 'Send Order Email Copy To' option type in the email address that you'd like to receive a copy of the order on. This can be incredibly helpful especially for quick fulfilment on an order. Next adjust the option to 'Send Order Email Copy Method' from 'Bcc' to 'Seperate Email'. The Bcc option is often not reliable which is why a separate email is recommended. Once adjusted, select 'Save Config'.

Continuing in sales, from the left navigation choose 'Shipping Settings'.

Step 7 - Shipping settings

This section dictates where you are shipping from. Quite often it'll be your business address but this still needs to be configured. The settings look like as follows:

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Complete the origin country and full address followed by 'Save Config'.

Still in sales, from the left navigation head into 'Shipping Methods'.

Step 8 - Shipping Methods

If you're selling a product, it's vital that you ensure that the right amount of shipping is paid on a product. However, we're going to keep to basics in this article and discuss the 'Flat Rate' shipping method as per the below:

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'Flat Rate' is as basic as it gets. You simply define how much you want to charge for postage, whether that applies for everything or per item and give the shipping method a name such as 'Standard Postage' or your local courier name. As we can see the 'Enabled' status is set to 'Yes' which means that this option will appear when a customer orders a product and is subsequently presented with shipping options. If nothing is enabled, the customer won't be able to complete a purchase, therefore for the benefit of this guide we will leave this option enabled.

You may be thinking that you need to change the shipping amount depending on the weight of the product that has been ordered and that can be done via a different shipping method. Magento by default offers several shipping methods already installed. They offer integration with a number of US courier servers and a 'Table Rates' method is offers much more control. As this method is considered an immediate option, this information will be provided in a separate article.

Finally in sales, from the left navigation select 'Payment Methods'.

Step 9 - Payment method settings

At the top, we can set up the 'Merchant Country' as the country that you are based in via the drop down menu.

By default Magento has given the ability to accept PayPal as the main payment method, but there are several PayPal integration options which can be confusing at first, as the following shows:

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If you've got a PayPal account already registered, you can configure that to be the recipient of site payments. From the list we want to choose the 'Payments Standard' option. Select 'Configure' where this option is shown. This will then open further options as the following shows:

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From the top, start by entering in your PayPal account email address. Next select the 'Get Credentials from PayPal' option. This will then redirect you to PayPal's website where it will ask you to login (if you are not already logged in). This action cleverly configures the rest of the payment method's options. We complete the process by selecting the 'Save Config' at the top.

Now that we have configured PayPal as the payment method, when customer's visit your website and complete a purchase, this payment option will be given to them.

If you look further down the payment methods below where we set up the options for PayPal, you will see that there are many choices such as 'Saved CC' and 'Check / Money Order'. Magento enables these by default but you may want to disable these if you require payment straight away. You can disable them by adjusting the enabled option:

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To disable the option where 'Enabled' is shown, use the drop down and choose 'No'. You can expand the other option 'Check / Money Order' as well and also choose 'No'. Remember to select 'Save Config'.

Basic Settings concluded

Now that we've set up the basic settings for Magento, the next stage is to start building up your categories and products and see them come to life on your website.

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