It's a good idea to build a sample Magento store before you get deep into customizing Magento for your own site. Magento makes this easy by providing sample data and product images.
When you load the sample data from Magento your store will show sample products and you can see all of the features of Magento. Many of these features you might not use if you did not see them in a sample store. Adding sample data is also a great way to test your payment gateway. With a sample store you can test purchase transactions to make sure your customers can buy products, calculate shipping and tax. You can also test refunds. Also you can make sure that you get paid.
Here is how to load sample products and data from Magento.
(1) Download the sample data and product images from Magento. Save the product images in a folder that you label "media."
(2) Setup a blank MySql database.
(3) Import the file of product data into your MySql database. When you do this the database fields and structure are mapped for Magento. (You need to do this step before installing Magento to your server. If you miss this step you will need to delete your Magento files from your server and start again.)
(4) After you have installed Magento move the media folder you made in step (1) into the media folder of your Magento install on your server. (Here is the path. magento/media/) Use your FTP tool to do this. Filezilla is a free FTP tool and it's and easy to use.
(5) Because this is a test store be sure to go to Admin->System->Configuration->Design->Header and enter text telling the customer that this is a test store. Something like " Demo Store. Orders will not be shipped." You will also want to put a similar message in the footer. Finally you should also enable the ribbon at the top of each page that reads "This is a demo store. Any orders placed through this store will not be honored or fulfilled."
If you use sample products to test your ordering, tax and payments gateway you may want to price the products very cheaply as you won't be shipping any products. This makes your test user more comfortable when they try out the store and enter their credit card. People will be willing to help you test your store as long your products are priced cheaply.
You can reprice the products in the Magento Adminstration screen by selecting a product and pricing it at $1.00 or less. Some payment gateways have floor limits on how low they will accept a price. So check with your payment processor beforehand. If the floor limit is set at $10.00, for example, the purchase transaction will fail. So tell your payment gateway to set the floor at a $1.00. Setting up a sample store is easy to do and it helps you test your ordering and payments. It's also a great way to learn more about Magento.
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