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One of the best ways to expand Magento’s features is by integrating the ecommerce platform with other web services. There are plenty of extensions designed to do just that. In this article, we are going to review several web services you can integrate with your Magento installation and the best extensions to use for the job. Let’s have a look, shall we?

magento integrationShipping with ShipWorks

Shipping is always among the most important parts of the online shopping experience. The more shipping methods you offer, the easier it would be for customers to find one they are comfortable with the most. Unfortunately, adding multiple shipping methods to a Magento site isn’t always easy; that is until ShipWorks is around.

ShipWorks is targeted mainly for US site owners or customers, but it supports a lot of shipping companies operating in the UK and Europe as well. With a simple setup process, you can configure ShipWorks to integrate popular carriers including FedEx, DHL, UPS and USPS with your Magento shopping cart.

ShipWorks also offers a lot of added features that will make your customers’ shopping experience that much more pleasant. For instance, it can automatically popular shipping fields based on order history or past address validation results. There is no need to recalculate shipping costs or complete the shipping form from scratch.

On top of that, ShipWorks also updates shipping rates automatically thanks to clever use of APIs. You no longer need to define shipping costs for different destinations manually – or update the entire matrix every time a carrier introduces a new set of shipping rates.

Facebook Connect

Despite several new social networks becoming very popular over the past couple of years, Facebook is still among the most lucrative one to get into. Integrating Facebook into your Magento site will make it very easy for customers to sign up and make a purchase. You can even allow Facebook users to like products on your site and post about the liked products on their feeds.

Facebook Connect is the extension to use if you want to integrate Magento with Facebook. It supports Facebook signup and login, so customers don’t need to fill a long and boring signup form to create an account. The extension will also collect customer information from Facebook automatically, including the customer’s most recent avatar.

What I love the most about this extension is how easy it is to set up. The entire setup process can be completed in just a few minutes. Once set up, it will add a Facebook login button to all of your login forms. You can also display Like buttons across all pages on your site to further boost your social presence.

Zopim Chat

Zopim is a very handy web service to have for two reasons. First of all, it gives you the tools you need to offer live customer support to your customers. Secondly, Zopim can also help you assist customers who are not sure about the products or services they want to buy.

Once Zopim is integrated with your Magento site, you can have a live-support popup icon placed on the bottom-right corner of the customer’s browser. When clicked, customers can connect to a live support officer directly.

With Zopim activated, you can also monitor how customers browse through your site in real time. If you see a customer spending too much time on a page, for instance, you can reach out to that customer directly and ask if he or she needs assistance. This type of personalized approach can help increase your conversion rate when done properly.

To integrate Zopim with your Magento site, you need to install the Zopim Chat extension. The plugin is available for free and can be set up rather quickly. Be sure to set up your own Zopim account first before installing the extension. You can use either the free service or one of the available plans from Zopim to gain access to extra features and tools.

Tracking and Delivery Notifications

Giving customers regular updates about the status of their orders can help boost your store’s credibility by a long way. Unfortunately, most store owners stop at providing their customers with a tracking number or shipping details. You can actually take it a step further and offer customers live tracking and delivery notifications without spending more time or effort. The key is AfterShip Auto Tracking & Delivery Notifications extension for Magento.

AfterShip automates everything for you. You still need to enter the correct tracking number for each of the customers’ orders, but the extension will handle the rest for you. It can even be configured to send automated delivery notifications to customers. This particular feature, however, is only available to premium users.

At this point, AfterShip supports more than 300 carriers, including FedEx, DHL, UPS and USPS. It is definitely one of the best Magento extensions to use if you are serious about offering top customer experience.

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