Monthly Archives: November 2012

  • Happy Thanksgiving from Hara Partners

    We at Hara Partners would like to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Thanks to all of you, we have established and furthered great relationships across a variety of industries.

    We are also grateful for our team for consistently delivering outstanding e-commerce solutions with professionalism and aplomb. We're proud to expand the Magento community with creative, successful online business platforms.

    Warm Regards,

    Mai Erne, CEO

  • Magento Developer Class in L.A.

    We are excited to announce that another Fundamentals of Magento Development course is coming up soon:

    What: Fundamentals of Magento Development

    When: December 10 - 14, 2012

    Duration: 5 days Classroom

     Where: Culver City, CA, at the Magento headquarters

    Who should attend: Any Magento developer who wants to dive deeper into the Magento platform and learn about the basic concepts and architecture. 1-2 years of object oriented programming experience is recommended.

    Format: Instructor-led, Physical Classroom

     Price: $3,850.00 per student

    This class is a great opportunity to have your developers trained in the architecture, terminology, and core functionality of Magento. The class teaches the essential development skills for implementing and customizing solutions on the Magento platform with 40+ hours of hands-on training. Additionally, your developers will have the opportunity to engage with our Magento U instructor and other students.

    Course Outline

    Day 1: Basics

    • General OOP and MVC concepts
    • Event-driven architecture
    • Magento module-based architecture
    • Magento directory structure/naming conventions/code pools/namespaces/module structure
    • Configuration XML
    • Factory and functional class groups
    • Class overrides
    • Event observer Page 6 v.021811
    • Request Flow
    • Application initialization
    • Front controller
    • URL rewrites
    • Request routing
    • Modules initialization
    • Design and layout initialization
    • Structure of block templates
    • Flushing data (output)

    Day 2: Rendering

    • Template structure
    • Blocks
    • Design layout SML schema, CMS content directives

    Day 3: Working with Database in Magento

    • Models resource and collections
    • Magento Object Relational Mapping
    • Write, install and upgrade scripts using set up resources

    Day 4: Entity-Attribute-Value model

    • Model concepts
    • EAV entity
    • Load and Save
    • Attributes management

    Day 5: AdminHTML

    • Common structure/architecture
    • Form and Grid Widgets
    • System configuration XML and configuration scope
    • ACL (permissions)
    • Enabling and configuring extensions

    Learning Objectives
    Students will leave the course understanding the Magento architecture, MVC and data models, how to work with Magento modules, and how to customize and extend Magento to ensure the best upgrade path for the websites they extend. Specifically, they will:

    • Understand basic Magento structure
    • Be familiar with terminology and core functionality
    • Be able to perform basic functions such as:
      • Set up new modules
      • Create new table in the database
      • Write an upgrade script
      • Set up new configuration variables
    • Be familiar with basic Magento customization techniques such as:
      • Overriding classes
      • Using observers
      • Creating custom controllers
      • Overriding controller/action
      • Basic operations with layouts
      • Basic skinning operations
  • cuddl duds

    Cuddl Duds

    We'd like to promote the humanitarian efforts of one our premier clients, Cuddl Duds. They're teaming up with Fashion Delivers to donate 12,000 items of women's clothing to Hurricane Sandy victims. Their layered garments will provide warmth, safety, and comfort as ongoing relief organizations struggle to cope with the aftermath and colder weather. We're proud to contribute design elements in the interest of bringing this worthy cause to the public's attention. Through the strength of our collaboration, timely aid can be delivered to those who need it most.

    Additional donations of clothing and home goods, as well as monetary support, are welcomed at Fashion Delivers. You can get involved and contribute here.

    About Cuddl Duds: Cuddl Duds, a Komar Layering brand, specializes in smart layering products for women that are both functional and stylish. Their collections are designed with varying climates and preferences in mind, offering a variety or colors and prints available in classic styles, including v-necks, crew necks, turtlenecks, hoodies, leggings, and more.

    About Fashion Delivers: Fashion Delivers battles the effects of poverty and national disaster by supporting hundreds of community-based social service agencies throughout the U.S. and around the world. They work with adult apparel and home fashions industries, collecting donations of new products to help individuals and families in need and liaising with a broad network of nonprofit agencies to quickly distribute items. Read more about their agency partners.



  • [Adapted and excerpted from Thad Rueter's feature in Internet Retailer magazine]


    Google Shopping Credit:



    Google Shopping, introduced in late May and designed to supplant Google Product Search, is provoking anxiety, confusion and, here and there, enthusiasm among retailers large and small. No one likes it when free becomes paid, but Google Shopping also represents another step for Google in combining search and commerce—essentially, to function not only as a search engine, but as a sales engine.

    According to Mike Effle, CEO of Vendio Services Inc., an e-commerce services provider, 80% of merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide have provided free product listings to Google’s comparison shopping service. He went on to say, “these merchants were drawn by an online shopping audience that ranks behind only eBay and Amazon in visits.”

    What Will Google Shopping Look Like?

    The new format may mean consumers see fewer AdWords ads at the top of the search results page, followed immediately by paid Google Shopping listings—product images with their prices and links to retailers below the pictures—which are labeled “sponsored.” Those listings can include additional product information. Immediately below the row of images will be links that enable shoppers to browse by product type; retailers presumably would adjust bids for those products based on seasonality and other factors, including to highlight best sellers, and to maximize margins. Natural search results appear below the Google Shopping module.

    The new Google Shopping listings won’t cost consumers anything to view. The starting point will be the same as with the expiring Google Product Search: Merchants will upload such product data as price, image and description to Google’s Merchant Center. But then they’ll have to bid for their listings to appear when consumers search on product-related terms, just as they bid on paid search ads through Google AdWords.

    How Will Google Shopping Work?

    Product Listing Ads now become the vehicle through which retailers advertise on the Google Shopping service. Merchants bid on the amount they will pay if their product listings in Google Shopping attract clicks or result in sales—that is, on a cost-per-click or cost-per-acquisition model. “Ranking in Google Shopping will be based on a combination of relevance and bid price,” says Sameer Samat, vice president of product management, Google Shopping.

    In promoting the paid comparison shopping service, Google representatives talk often about retailers having more control over their listings because merchants will be able to bid based on product attributes or sales, attracting consumers more likely to buy than in the past. After placing those bids, retailers then should let the ads run for one or two weeks, and measure the returns. Then comes more refinement, and the lather-rinse-repeat cycle of figuring out what works best as the ads become ever more precise. “The merchant can then optimize from there at a more granular level, for example breaking up ‘shoes’ into different subcategories or bidding higher on specific brands of electronics in their inventory,” Samat says.

    Google Shopping: The Numbers

    The paid comparison shopping model could boost Google’s revenue by at least $250M annually, says Scot Wingo, CEO of e-commerce services provider ChannelAdvisor Corp. That’s hardly pocket change, though it pales next to Google’s second quarter 2012 revenue of $10.96B, which was propelled by a 42% year-over-year increase in the number of clicks on ads that appear on Google search results pages, the company’s prime source of revenue.

    Google mainly seems to want to make its search engine a more attractive place to start a shopping trip, and to stem the flow of consumers beginning their research on There’s ample evidence that Google has been losing ground to Amazon among web shoppers. A Vendio study of online marketing channels found:

    • Clicks from Google Product Search to merchants monitored by Vendio declined 21% in July compared with a year earlier.
    • In July 2012, Google Product Search accounted for 18% of clicks and 28% of orders among comparison shopping engines.
    • Amazon Product Ads were the only major channel to register gains, increasing clicks by 1.25% between April and June. During that same period, clicks declined 9.65% for Google.

    Forrester Research Inc. data show:

    • 30% of U.S. web shoppers began their product research on in the third quarter of 2011, up from 18% in the third quarter of 2009.
    • 13% began their product research at Google, down from 24% in the same period in 2009.

    Google is providing little detail on how much Google Shopping marketing might cost. “Costs vary widely, not only by size but by the retailer’s vertical, inventory, number of products carried, and bids,” says Samat. “Our focus is on making sure the ROI from Google Shopping at any level is high for the retailer.” A March estimate from ChannelAdvisor provides a view of the price differences between Google ad products and their effectiveness:

    • The average cost per click for AdWords for its clients was 67¢, compared with 50¢ for a Product Listing Ad, a format with richer product information such as images and prices.
    • The average conversion rate for AdWords stood at 1.49%, compared with 2.40% for the Product Listing Ads that Google has displayed for the past three years and 2.60% for the free Product Search listings.
    • Average order values stood at $112.24 for AdWords, $105 for Product Listing Ads, and $105 for Product Search.

    “It’s important to note that we do expect the [Product Listing Ad] program to change dramatically with the sun setting on [Google Product Search] as the number of competitors in the auction will increase dramatically,” Wingo says.

    A Changing Environment

    Google executives argue that requiring retailers to pay for the Product Listing Ads on Google’s comparison shopping service will encourage them to make sure their product data, prices and sales are current and accurate—which, in turn, will help Google deliver better results to consumers. “As an advertising system we need to be much smarter, and do a better job for retailers [by] sending more qualified clicks to them,” Samat says. “Google Shopping will empower businesses of all sizes to compete effectively, and it will help shoppers turn their intentions into actions lightning-fast.”

    Google also is encouraging merchants to take part in a host of other e-commerce services, like Google Analytics and Google Trusted Stores, that will help solidify Google’s position as a sales-generating and sales-support tool. Its free Trusted Stores program, for example, allows participating merchants to display a badge on their e-commerce site that shows consumers such customer service data as average on-time shipping rates, along with a guarantee to address any issues that arise by working with the e-retailer on the customer’s behalf. Google monitors merchants for at least 28 days to vet performance standards, after which a merchant may display a Trusted Store badge.

    If Google’s vision succeeds and more online shoppers rely on the service, those merchants not taking part will have to find ways to compete with Google’s souped-up sales engine. “Online retailers that lack the expertise or pocketbook to use Google Shopping profitably will need to double their efforts to improve their businesses through SEO, social marketing, and the more defined, fee-driven marketplaces with predictable margins,” says Effle. “Weaker merchants may not survive this transition, but those who do will gain market share.”

    How to succeed with Google Shopping

    • Treat it as comparison shopping, not search marketing: Google Shopping enables consumers to shop via price, brand, size and other attributes; that’s different from AdWords paid search ads focused on keywords.
    • Start broadly: craft bids for Product Listing Ads at the category level, see what works, then tailor bids to specific products or attributes.
    • Decide on CPC vs. CPA: Google says that cost-per-click bidding would work best for retailers focused on traffic, while cost-per-acquisition would serve merchants more interested in sales.
    • Place minimum bids on all inventory: Google says that placing even very low bids on products submitted via its Merchant Center ensures that interested shoppers have access to those items.
    • Follow the paid search rule: for every dollar you spend, get $5 in sales.

    Google Shopping versus AdWords

    • Purpose: Google Shopping enables consumers to comparison shop. AdWords shows paid search ads to online consumers.
    • Focus: Google Shopping is all about products; AdWords revolves around keywords. Advertisers need not provide keywords for Product Listing Ads on Google Shopping, as Google determines relevant keywords from product feeds.
    • Complexity: Managing Google Shopping, with Product Listing Ad bids centered around product features, promises to be more complex than crafting an AdWords campaign.
    • Format: Google describes Product Listing Ads as “AdWords ads that include rich product information, such as product image, price and merchant name.”

    Source: Google, other e-commerce experts

  • Dear friends,

    We extend our thoughts and prayers to those of you affected by the hurricane, especially those who are still coping with injury, lack of basic necessities, or loss of property and life. We hope you and your friends and families are safe, and we commend the efforts of all the emergency responders and volunteers who have come forward to help.

    It's been amazing to see people unite to provide relief in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Our staff rallied together to stay informed, offer advice, and share resources over the past few days. Many of us are still dealing with the hurricane's devastating consequences. We are immensely thankful for the members of our team who helped us weather the storm and extended their arms to help others in need.

    Our facilities in New York City fared relatively well, all things considered. We lost one of our Internet providers entirely, but the office stayed connected through our other Internet link. We did suffer a power surge, which exposed some issues in one of the fail-over systems in our communications hub. Fortunately, our team was able to restore this quickly. We appreciate your continued patience as we address any issues you may be having on a case-by-case basis. We resolve to maintain the superior quality and performance that we are known for, and we are honored to serve you and your customers as the nation moves forward from this disaster.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us directly by email, or give us a call at 212-937-6367. Please also refer to our blog for information on updates and developments as they occur. Know that your safety and security is foremost in our minds, as is the welfare of families across the Eastern seaboard.

    Best wishes and warm regards,
    Mai Erne, CEO & the Hara Partners team

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