Welcome to the second instalment of our monthly Magento extension round-up, where we quickly review some of the more notable free extensions which were released on Magento Connect and GitHub in the past month. This month we look at extensions for adding your own custom stock statuses and customer attributes, auto-registering customers on checkout, Instagram integration and more.
There are times when you'll want Magento to display a custom stock status. For example, maybe one or more products are available in limited or fixed quantities, and you want to show a message that helps incentivize the user to make a purchase.
This extension lets you customize the stock text that is displayed. To do that, it adds two extra attributes to products which support the following:
- Allow a custom stock status to be set
- Allow the default stock status to be hidden
You can then modify the custom status text for a product in the backend. The main disadvantage of this approach is that if you have more than a few messages you want to set up, you'll have to update the appropriate products individually. It would be nice to have a set of rules instead; for instance, if the stock level of a particular product is below a threshold, set a specific stock status dynamically.
Still, if all you want to do is display some custom stock text, this extension could be exactly what you need.View on Magento Connect
This provides a simple Instagram widget for Magento. You add your client ID, and insert the widget onto your desired page. You can then limit the number of images that are retrieved, and set your own title and description. Depending on your needs, you may need to customize the style or layout of the gallery.
Overall, if you're looking to add basic Instagram integration, and you want something simple you can drop in to your site, this may fit the bill. If you need something more full-featured, it might be worth checking out the Instagram Extension by iKantam.View on Github
This extension will auto-convert your guest users into registered users once they've placed an order. If you want to ensure that all your users are registered users, then you may find this functionality useful. The extension itself is very simple, and requires no configuration (except to enable it).
If you do decide to make use of it, you should probably make sure that your customers are aware that an account will be created on their behalf, since some customers may have a preference not to be registered as a result of a guest checkout. Depending on your requirements, there may be better ways of going about this, such as disabling guest checkout altogether.View on Magento Connect
Magento includes various customer attributes by default, including first name, last name and email, amongst others. There are times, however, when you'll need more attributes than Magento provides. For example, perhaps you want to collect data on customer interests, or their preferred brands. You can add additional fields through code (see our blog post on the topic), but you might want something that's a bit easier to use.
The Evince Customer Custom Attribute extension adds an admin interface that allows you to create and manage customer attributes, without having to make any code changes. When creating the attribute, you can select from a variety of input types, including: text, date, multiselect and boolean. You can also select where you want to display the new attribute, for example, on the checkout page or registration page. Additionally, you can define relations between attributes. That would allow you to create one attribute that's dependent on another.
Taken together, the built-in options provide a lot of power and flexibility. It's easy to see how they could be used to cover a wide variety of use cases.
One thing to be wary of is that this extension appears to be offered both freely through Magento Connect, as well as for a fee through the developer's website. This also appears to be the case with some of the other extensions provided by this developer, and why they have chosen to publish extensions this way is unclear. An alternative extension with similar functionality is Customer Attributes Manager by hientranquang.View on Magento Connect
Customers will always have questions about the products that you're selling, and though they can always contact you through your contact form or email address, ideally product enquiries would all end up in one central location. Since customers may have some of the same questions, it would be helpful if relevant questions and their answers could be displayed for each product, allowing customers to find answers to common questions without having to contact customer service.
This extension sets out to solve those problems. Users can submit a question, which will then show up in the admin panel in a pending state. You, as the store owner, can then add a response and approve the question. The question and its answer will then show up on the page for that product. The extension works reasonably well, and doesn't require much configuration to get up and running.
Be aware that you'll almost certainly have to customize the product enquiry form to fit in with the rest of your site; the default form is quite plain. An alternative is Quick Enquiry by SeverTek.View on Magento Connect
This extension shows the amount remaining on a cart for free shipping to be used. For example, if a customer has added a $20 product to their cart, and the minimum order amount for free shipping is $50, then a message will be displayed that notifies them that they need to add $30 more to use free shipping. You can choose whether you want to display the message on the cart page, or in the left/right sidebar for the site. The message text can also be customized.
Overall, the extension is easy to set up and quite straightforward. If you need more complex functionality or customization, you may have to look elsewhere.View on Magento Connect