Orders in Magento: The Basics

by on May 15, 2014

This is part 1 of a 5 part series on Order and Payment Processing in Magento.

Magento is a robust e-commerce platform with a lot of features and capabilities, and as such it can sometimes be confusing to navigate through the numerous options. This series of blog posts is aimed at helping store owners better understand the workflow and underlying logic of how orders work in the Magento backend.

Components of an Order

The first step is to understand how Magento organizes its order data. What we call an “order” actually has 4 components: order, invoice, credit memo, and shipment.

An order is essentially a “request for products”. It contains all of the customer’s billing and shipping data, the list of items ordered, the order totals, public and private comments for the order, and any other order-related information (like custom checkout fields). An order is created once the customer presses the final “submit order” button. Depending on what payment method the customer selected, they may or may not have entered their payment information at this point.

An invoice is a record of payment received. If there is no invoice, Magento will think that you haven’t been paid for the order. Depending on the payment method, an invoice may be created automatically at the same time as the order, or must be created manually.

With PayPal, the invoice is created automatically once the user completes payment on the PayPal website. If the user never pays, the invoice is never created.

With a credit card gateway (such as Authorize.net), you have two options for capturing payment: authorize only or authorize and capture. With authorize and capture, the invoice is created automatically. With authorize only, the invoice must be created manually.

With payment methods that don’t actually accept payment information, such as a “pay in store” method, an invoice will not be created automatically.

A credit memo is a record of a refund. Since you can’t refund what hasn’t been paid, you can’t create a credit memo for an order that doesn’t have any invoices. Depending on the payment method that was used, creating a credit memo will also automatically refund the customer’s money. A credit memo will also do some internal housekeeping functions like returning the item to stock.

A shipment is a record of a physical package that you have sent or are preparing to send. You have the ability to add tracking numbers for all the major carriers here.

Order Statuses

There are a couple of different statuses an order can have, depending on how far along in the order processing workflow an order is, and/or what you’ve selected to do with the order.

New orders that have not been paid for (i.e. orders with no invoice) start out as “Pending”, except for PayPal orders which start out as “Pending PayPal”.

Once an order has been invoiced, it moves on to “Processing”. These are orders that have been paid for and are ready to be shipped or otherwise dealt with.

Closed” and “Canceled” are essentially the same thing. An order with no invoices can be canceled; an order that has been invoiced can only be closed.

On Hold” is an order status you can apply if you want the processing of that order to be stopped temporarily. No changes to the order can be made until the “On Hold” status is removed.

Finally, “Complete” means that all of the items in the order have been shipped.

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