Finding Your Way Around the Magento Admin Panel – a Guide for Beginners

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Magento is the most popular and the most powerful e-commerce platform available today. Since being launched in 2008, Magento has grown into a vast and powerful community of merchants and programmers who help make Magento the most versatile way to sell your goods online.

There are three versions of Magento that you can choose from and they are all designed for different needs. First, MagentoGo is a platform for smaller businesses that takes care of all of the backend work. You won’t need to hire a web designer or a programmer if you have the time and know-how to set up your store online. MagentoGo is hosted and comes with support and security. It is not free or open source, however, so it’s not as customizable as Magento Community.

Magento Community is open source and free platform upon which developers can build a store.  You’ll need to set up your own hosting and security and Magento Community Edition requires an expert, so if you are considering one for your store, you should consult with a web designer and a programmer to create the online store that you envision, because without any programming experience, you won’t be able to do it yourself.

Magento Enterprise Edition is designed for larger businesses that need access to technical support and all the possible features that Magento offers. Enterprise Edition includes expert consulting, professional training and 24/7 technical phone support. It costs from $14,420 for a basic edition to about $50,000 for Magento Enterprise Premium, so it’s designed for Merchants who are selling a lot and absolutely cannot afford any difficulties whatsoever.

After you’ve chosen your preferred Magento platform, it’s time to get to the fun part, which is selling something! If you’re new to Magento, I’m going to show you the basics of how to navigate around your dashboard and how to set up your products and the way you wish to sell them. We’re going to discuss the following:

  • How to add a product and set all of the required attributes.
  • How to customize a product for special add ons or to sell it at a special price.
  • Where to find your Content Management System and what it contains
  • The difference between pages and static blocks and how to edit them.
  • How to gather basic analytics and to see how your sales are doing.

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Categories and Products are in the catalog section of your dashboard. Let’s start by adding one category by clicking Catalog > Manage Categories. We’re going to give our customers the option to shop by brand or shop by products, so those will be our root categories. We can add a description, meta keywords and meta description if we want to.

You can add a subcategory for our products, for example, “shirts”. A subcategory in the “brand” root category can also be “Shirt Company”.

So, “Shirt Company” makes “shirts”. This way, whether your visitors want to search by product or brand, they will be able to find what they are looking for.

Also under Catalog, you will find Manage Products. This is where you will add each of your products, categorize them, and assign them different attributes and options.

To start off simply, you’ll use default attributes and simple product. The things you will need to do to in order to add a product is : its Name, weight, a unique SKU #, and a price. You’ll also have to keep track of inventory. You will be able to decide whether or not to display out of stock items and you will eventually be albe to integrate your inventory if you are selling on other platforms as well (Amazon & eBay).

Next we’ll take a look at the content management system in Magento. Here, you will find all of your pages and static blocks that make up your online store. If you have a designer or programmer working for you, I would talk to them before you touch any of this. They might be doing behind the scenes work that you won’t be able to see in the WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) view. Deleting something accidentally could change the way your site looks and works.

Magento will help you keep track of your sales and track orders. You’ll be able to see how much you are selling and who you are selling to. You’ll also be able to track trends so that you can plan your sales strategy. You’ll have an organized list of your customers so you can keep in contact with them if you wish.

You can find this information right in your dashboard. You can decide whether to review reports from today, this week, or even further back.

I hope that this article helped you learn your way around Magento a little bit and to show you some of the different things that Magento is capable of. As a store manager, you will have a very easy time learning how to add products and keep track of sales.  If you are a beginner remember to keep in touch with your designer and programmer as you are learning your way around.

Magento can be a very powerful tool for your business if you just take a little time to learn how to use it!

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