Hara Partners Blog

  • Magento Community vs. Enterprise

    Guido Jansen details some key similarities and differences between the two editions of Magento in this illuminating blog post from his website. Here are some useful excerpts and paraphrases with accompanying explanations from his piece on Magento Community vs. Enterprise:

    Magento Enterprise encompasses all Magento Community features plus:


    • Advanced Access Control List (ACL): detail when, where, and how users interact with your system.
    • Content Staging and Merging: test new designs, update products, and enable features on a site-by-site basis without affecting the live site. Work on multiple staging sites, then take them live without any downtime!
    • Private Sales, Events, and Invitations: debut and customize limited product offerings, incentivizing member groups, B2B traffic, and viral marketing.
    • Customer Segmentation: target customers by age, gender, habits, and more, maximizing marketing resources.
    • Loyalty System: reward customers with loyalty points based on transaction history and referrals. Includes fully configurable interfaces and loyalty point management.
    • CMS+ Content Management Engine: publish and manage complex content with no technical knowledge.
    • Automated Email Marketing Reminders: increase retention and target promotions or discounts for customers with abandoned shopping carts or wishlists.
    • Assisted Shopping: customer services personnel can easily manage and suggest products in shopping carts.
    • Full Page Caching: tune page performance to reduce load time, boost conversions, and foster a smoother browsing experience.
    • Recurring Payments: efficiently facilitate subscriptions and renewable memberships.
    • Customer Attributes: improve service and customer satisfaction by compiling and applying user-generated data.
    • Solr Search: leverage this ultrafast, open-source enterprise search platform for more precise, optimized results.
    • Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) Functionality: streamlined, customer-based requests integrated with back-end workflow and progress tracking.
    • Persistent Shopping Cart: Long-term cookies enable multi-device shopping without multiple logins, customizable based on comparison, transaction history, segment, and wishlist.
    • Minimum Advertised Price (MAP): bypass manufacturers' price restrictions, enabling adjustable pricing at customer-friendly levels.


    Default Enterprise Edition dramatically outperforms default Community Edition in terms of page load times, even when the server is tuned with modified Apache preferences and PHP APC:


    • When tested with the Siege benchmarking and load-testing utility, Community Edition can barely handle 100 simultaneous users, approaching 10 seconds in load time. By comparison, Enterprise Edition pages with 100 simultaneous users load within 1 second.
    • Community Edition fails completely at 200 and 300 simultaneous users, while Enterprise Edition clocks in at 0.72 seconds for 300 simultaneous users.
    • In fact, Enterprise Edition at 300 simultaneous users outperforms Community Edition with 10.


    The latest release of Enterprise Edition (v1.12) includes the following functionality not available in the latest release of Community Edition (v1.7):


    • Multiple Wishlists: customers can save to multiple lists and copy or relocate products between lists. Lists can be made public if desired, and merchants can review lists to gather information.
    • Visitor Segmentation: develop targeted promotions to new, unregistered users to increase conversions.
    • Add-to-Cart by SKU: streamline B2B, large-scale, recurring, or offline catalog-based orders without requiring individual product page visits.
    • Expanded Rule-based Product Relations: Recommend up-sells, cross-sells, and relevant products with a higher degree of accuracy and relevance.
  • Magento Go credit: magentomaverick.com


    We all know how difficult it can be to get a business off the ground as a small or emerging entrepreneur. Costly overhead, unforgiving economic circumstances, scarcity of talent—the obstacles pile up quickly. And to compete effectively, it’s absolutely crucial to maintain a solid online presence; global customer bases and internet-based service offerings are the new norm. Hosting solutions aimed at this small-to-medium-business demographic seem like a godsend in such an environment. Magento GO, released in 2011, aims to leverage Magento’s extensive e-commerce resources to provide rapid, seamless hosting for merchants in this niche. Basically, it uses a Software as a Service (SaaS) model to handle all the software, servers, hosting, and security for small businesses looking to retail online as soon as possible. This all sounds great, but let’s take a closer look: for whom is this model appropriate, and what should users know beforehand?


    Not So Simple


    Magento GO is advertised as a turnkey, ready-to-launch solution, but it actually requires quite a bit of legwork from your team to get things up and running. It’s by no means an instant store—the setup package includes a 300-page PDF, and the average storeowner would need both a design and a tech team to implement desired interfaces and functionality. And that’s just for a no-frills, by-the-numbers site. That’s not to say it isn’t faster than a full Magento build; it is, by a long shot, and chances are it’s also easier. But you get what you pay for: ask yourself if it would really be worth it to invest in a less-than-stellar representation of your company if you’ll immediately pay extra to improve it further with customized modules or design.


    The Playing Field

    In the long run, Magento GO competes with hosted solutions offered by companies like Volusion, whose staying power and scalable hosting options shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. It exists somewhere between Volusion and full Magento, acting as an all-in-one alternative to the former while lacking the flexible performance of the latter. Users will undoubtedly enjoy the intuitive feel once it’s launched, and the free trial offers a direct way to get a straightforward idea of Magento GO for anyone who’s interested.


    Hosting with Hara

    We at Hara Partners are proud to offer our own Magento-optimized hosting solution for small-to-medium enterprises. What sets us apart? First of all, we’re seasoned Magento experts with tens of thousands of hours of combined experience implemented customized, integrated Magento sites for a variety of customers. But the real clincher is our ability to deliver on multiple fronts for retailers in need of e-commerce results. We put the time and effort in to craft feature-rich, individualized sites with your business concerns at the forefront. Our in-house team provides complete Magento services out of one hand: developers, salespeople, content specialists, and designers collaborate on a daily basis to cover the entire site launch lifecycle, from strategizing through go-live and ongoing support. Take a look at our website and see what Hara Partners can do for you.

  • Magento extension credit: artofcreations.nl


    Magento’s comprehensive array of features and functionality is one of its main selling points for e-commerce retailers and developers. Understandably, this can make it hard to choose when the time comes to decide on the right checkout option for your business. On the one hand is Magento’s built-in Onepage Checkout; on the other; a host of competing Magento extensions vie for your patronage, each claiming to reduce shopping cart abandonment the most.


    In the interest of clarity, let’s examine one such Magento extension—GoMage LightCheckout—to see how it compares with Magento default. Available in all Magento editions, this extension supports 14 languages and comes with plenty of support options. Some of its features include:


    • Gift wrapping per item
    • Polls on the checkout page
    • Item-switching on the checkout page
    • Rewards, Coupons, and Loyalty Programs
    • Automatic location detection
    • Facebook and PayPal compatibility


    GoMage LightCheckout expedites the checkout process while simultaneously boosting security (including European VAT validation) and supporting custom development. Its configurable functions use Magento OnePage as a springboard: broader shopping cart control, multiple addresses, registration checkpoints during the order, manageable delivery windows, etc. Both interfaces increase profits and retention by condensing users’ checkout experiences; GoMage LightCheckout just does Magento one better by squeezing more administrative control into the same shell.

  • Magento product credit: Magento Commerce

    Here’s a quick overview of Magento Product Types: how to apply them, where to use them, and some tips for customization.

    Simple Products

    Use the Simple Product type for real products (i.e., products that exist in the real world). In essence, any physical/virtual product that "ships" ties to a Simple Product, which represents that SKU ("shelf keeping unit"). Inventory is always kept at the Simple Product level.

    A Simple Product will only show up in your Magento store directly if it generally has a single configuration--"one size fits all." See other product types below for multiple-configuration product types. Example Simple Products with a single configuration:


    •  A Box of Crayons, small (24 Colors)
    • A Box of Crayons, Large (64 Colors)
    • SuperHighTech 26” HD Computer Monitor
    • Han Solo Action Figure (6”)

    Virtual Products

    Virtual Products are those that do not have a physical or digital counterpart. They do not ship, nor do they have a download link. This product type might be used for services like:

    • House Cleaning
    • 1-Year Newsletter Subscription

    Note: If using Virtual Products for “subscriptions,” be aware that there is no built-in way to manage auto-renewing subscriptions. All purchases made in Magento, regardless of Product Type, are one-time purchases.

    Downloadable Products

    Downloadable Products are similar to Virtual Products, with the option to add one or more digital files for download. Files can be uploaded either

    (1) via the Admin interface, or
    (2) directly to the server via FTP and then added by URL.

    When a customer buys a Downloadable Product, Magento will generate a secure, encrypted link for the download to disguise the file’s actual location from the customer. This category might include products such as:

    • Music/MP3s
    • Computer Software

    Note: If you have SSL enabled for your site, downloads may fail for all versions of IE, as IE contains a bug that prevents downloading over secure connections if the no-cache header is set. This can be easily fixed in an htaccess file by removing the no-cache and no-store headers, or by forcing download links to be non-secure.

    Configurable Products

    Configurable Products are virtual (i.e., they don't exist in the real world) and they require underlying Simple Products. They can only be used together with Simple Products; they can't exist on their own.

    Magento product

    In the above example, all "hot cinnamon spice tea" is sold on one page as a Configurable Product, and the different package sizes and options (which are Simple Products) are offered within this page.

    Here's another example of modeling different variants that are available via a choice of options. Say you offer T-shirts in two colors and three sizes. You would create six Simple Products individually (each with its own SKU) and then group these six as a Configurable Product; customers can choose the size and color and then add it to their cart.

    Note: Very similar functionality is possible using Custom Options for Simple Products. The difference between a Configurable Product and a product including Custom Options is that Custom Options do not have an inventory option.

    Grouped Products

    Grouped Products are similar to Configurable Products, allowing you to create a new product using one or more existing products in your store. For instance, let’s assume you have a “Han Solo Action Figure” and a “Luke Skywalker Action Figure” already in your store and you wanted to sell them as a bundle. You would simply create a new Grouped Product (let’s call it “Star Wars Heroes"), then add both action figures to the group via the “Associated Products” tab.

    Note: Unfortunately, you can’t set a special “group” price directly from the product page. To offer a discount for buying items together, you will need to create a new Shopping Cart Price Rule.

    Bundled Products

    This Product Type, also known as a “kit” in other e-commerce software, is ideal for circumstances where the user has to select at least one option from a number of configurable options. This might include products like:

    • Customizable Computer Systems
    • Customizable Tuxedos/Suits

    Unlike Grouped Products, Bundled Products allow discounts on the underlying Simple Products.

    [Adapted from Tom da Brain's description on the Magento Commerce wiki]
  • Nyc startup Credit: JP Durrios

    Silicon Valley's reigning status as the king of startup culture may have a challenger. A number of factors have come together in the last five years to forge a highly supportive startup community right here in New York City. In the wake of pioneers like Foursquare and Kickstarter, ambitious entrepreneurs are shifting their attention eastward to see what the Big Apple has to offer. Meanwhile, a growing pool of talented engineers and developers are flocking to the city, eager to try their hands in burgeoning tech positions. Together with dedicated, VC-backed accelerator programs and incentives sponsored by NYC's government, these elements constitute a hotbed of creativity that could be the East Coast's answer to incumbent tech leadership in California.


    NYC Startup Statistics


    Let's take a look at some figures from the Center for an Urban Future's survey of the NYC startup scene:

    • By region, NYC posted astonishing growth in VC deals between 2007 and 2011. Compare:

    ◦  LA/Orange County: -8%
    ◦  Silicon Valley: -10%
    ◦  New England: -14%
    ◦  Texas: -17%
    ◦  San Diego: -38%
    ◦  New York: +32%

    • While private sector jobs in NYC grew 3.6% between 2007 and 2012, IT jobs grew a whopping 28.7%.
    • Since 2007, 486 NYC startups have received angel, VC, or other outside funding. Of these, 82 have received at least $10M in financing.
    • Between 2007 and 2010, employee headcount at NYC digital media companies grew 74%.
    • The media/information and computer/tech industries nearly doubled their Manhattan footprint from 3.8M sq. ft. to 6M sq. ft. between 2010 and 2011.

    With statistics like those, it's no wonder people are scrambling to get their startup ideas off the ground.  Resources are plentiful, and you can't swing a stick without hitting a success story. Where it will all lead is hard to say—but for now, there has never been a better time for developers and businesspeople to collaborate and prosper.

    [Based on Rachel Metz's article and the Center for an Urban Future's infographic]
  • magento and html5 credit: html5rocks.com

    Confirming its reputation as a flexible powerhouse among e-commerce platforms, Magento has recently released HTML5 enhancements for both its Community and Enterprise editions to enable an improved mobile experience. By incorporating the language in its open-source architecture, Magento has positioned itself to offer advanced control and responsiveness to its growing mobile user base at the opportune moment. Together, Magento and HTML5 are poised to revolutionize web applications.


    Magento and HTML5 capabilities


    Merchants and users can expect significant advances in out-of-the-box mobile Magento commerce thanks to the integration. Magento’s official endorsement bypasses cumbersome workarounds that threatened to bog down innovative feature development in the past. Key capabilities include:

    • Device-native audio and video interaction
    • Gesture-based control and manipulation, such as image scaling and drag-and-drop shopping carts
    • Fantastic cross-browser compatibility
    • Expanded upselling and cross-selling functions
    • Intuitive search and results display

    This is a strong move not just for the future of Magento, but also for web development in general. HTML5 is also a powerful alternative to Flash, which isn’t supported by many mobile devices, and thus could be the ticket to extensive market penetration for a number of previously limited online retailers. As HTML5 comes into its own, e-commerce merchants will realize just how worthwhile investment in mobile applications can be.


  • credit: http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net


    Hara’s resident videographer Bradley Murray captures Eastbay’s inimitable brand feel with this behind-the-scenes lookbook footage. Our trademark style comes through in spades—crisp, assured camera work, fully spontaneous without sacrificing depth or detail. The urban, stylish aesthetic dovetails perfectly with Eastbay’s product offerings and has all the makings of a viral phenomenon. This sizzle reel positions Eastbay as the go-to brand for today’s driven athlete, each vibrant piece projecting purpose and aplomb. Murray’s direction of photography also showcases Eastbay’s versatility—the video covers active wear, footwear, accessories, and casual ensembles alike.


    If you like what you see, head over to our Vimeo page to see what else we’ve been working on.

  • remy martin credit: remymartin.com


    Hara's creative team put together this compilation of music video clips for Remy Martin to demonstrate the scope of their product integrations—in particular, the VSOP collection, acclaimed for its pedigree and smooth taste. Millions of views on each high-profile performer’s video clearly position them at the forefront of contemporary urban culture -- Remy Martin will always live in these videos.


    Quality and speed were of the essence in quantifying real-time impact for the House of Remy. The Hara Partners technical video production team worked tirelessly to create a complete, engaging viewing experience from concept and storyboard through production and editing. The result brings Remy Martin’s established history together with the best and brightest of today’s entertainers. With 150 Million views and growing at the half-year mark, it’s obvious that the integrations continue to be a resounding success.

  • video production credit: platinumkidssound.com

    Video Production - Remy Martin Jamaica Experience

    The Hara Partners video production crew teamed up with Remy Martin to film a video exclusive of the Remy Martin Jamaican Experience.

    The crew spent a week filming over 40 prize-winners and their guests celebrating at Sandals Grande Riviera and Villa Golf Resort, where they were treated to a Sean Paul concert, top-shelf cognac, and breathtaking scenery courtesy of Remy Martin.

    In keeping with the spirit of the gathering, the Hara film crew brought the grandeur of the Jamaican landscape to the forefront. Prize-winners’ crackling excitement comes through in live shots against a backdrop of lush vegetation and idyllic Caribbean waters.

    The video is packed with plenty of behind-the-scenes elements, including backstage access and interviews. Sean Paul himself shows up, humble and down-to-earth, as always.

    Hara's creative team was commissioned to create a video for Remy Martin’s Facebook social media campaign that truly conveys the scope of these events.

    The creative and technical video production team carried the theme from concept to videography, then on to production and editing.

    Take a look and immerse yourself in the moment.


  • Many businesses are drawn to Magento because of its flexibility and ability to support a wide range of business needs. And Magento is the perfect platform for growth, as evidenced by increasing ranks of businesses under the Magento flag. Magento comes in a free Community Edition (CE) as well in a more sophisticated and scalable Enterprise Edition (EE).

    Here's what to consider when upgrading from Magento Community to Enterprise. Read on for a breakdown of the upgrade process, including important considerations you'll have to address at each stage.


    Magento Community to Enterprise: Step by Step


    Evaluate all functionality and modules


    The version of CE you're using will affect your approach to upgrading. If you have version 1.5.0 or earlier, there is more work involved, beginning with version 1.5.1, Magento released architectural updates for CE that alleviate these difficulties somewhat. Unfortunately it is still a somewhat involved multi-step process.

    First you should identify and record all extensions or plug-ins operating in your platform. Compare their functions with what Magento Enterprise provides. Magento Enterprise functionality is in general more stable and tested. Elements like coupons, promotions, and loyalty points can all be easily implemented post-upgrade. Keep in mind that you'll need to migrate any corresponding data to the new format, so don't ditch extensions outright without a way to preserve this information.

    We do offer an in-depth module analysis that will explain to you all functionalities and our project managers will help you choose the right modules to support your business.

    Of course, there are plenty of EE extensions available should you need them, many of which duplicate CE extension functionality not covered already by Magento out-of-the-box. You may have to purchase a different version or license key for full compatibility. Contact the extension provider if you have questions on how to upgrade extensions. In the rare case where an extension isn't replicated in EE, budget and plan for code adjustments or a custom-built logic set. Also, decide whether you'd like to keep your current theme or install a new one. Chances are it will migrate as well, but back it up anyway.


    Inspect all Magento core files


    You need to know how and where changes were made to your core Magento files, as these aren't upgrade-safe and it's highly likely that an upgrade will overwrite most or all of them.

    Hara Partners offfers the Magento Health Check to analyze your Magento code base.

    It is crucial to backup all files used to integrate Magento to other systems, as these will be important points of verification as the process continues. Integrations are usually upgrade-safe, but it's wise to backup all files just in case.


    Staging and Testing


    Do not perform any complex work such as an upgrade on your live website.

    Your live website should not be touched until you have a working upgraded site. Even better is to have two sites run in parallel in case you need to pull the plug and go back for whatever reason.




    An upgrade should follow a planned process, making sure to account for all core files and extensions.

    We recommend not to add too many new functionality or features right off the bat—instead focus on launching a stable upgraded site as-is. Be patient and acquaint yourself with EE's flexibility. Once the site is running, you'll have plenty of time to explore all the new tools and learn which work best for you. Again, stability is key; with a solid, operable production platform at your disposal, you'll be able to plan for new features accordingly in the new architecture.


    Testing and Revisions


    In many ways, this is the most crucial step. You're now officially on the Magento Enterprise  platform, but you still need to validate the entire upgraded development site before it becomes your production site. All the details matter here; you must be positive that the site operates and interacts in a substantially similar manner to your previous instance.

    Test the integration interfaces once again, paying particular attention to transaction behavior. Go through the extensions one by one and check that revised functionality based on EE out-of-the-box performs as expected. Allot time to test front-end functionality, identifying areas with special cache logic to integrate with Full Page Cache placeholders and cache lifetimes.


    Prepare for Go Live


    You have two options when converting your production site to EE:

    Schedule minor downtime, with a “site down for maintenance” page ready to go, or cut over to a parallel EE production site, complete with upgraded software. This may leave a few orders behind in the old site, so plan to migrate that data or address them on the old site before terminating it.

    Be aware that any DNS changes pointing to a new host may take up to 24 hours to become fully effective everywhere; to mitigate this, reduce Time to Live settings on your DNS entries to the lowest possible value three or four days ahead of time. Even with these precautions, expect some traffic to still route to your old IP address for a few days unless your firewall or network configuration can route to the new host internally.

    No matter which option you choose, make the production move at the beginning of a low-traffic period. This doesn't necessarily mean weekends—do a little research and pinpoint the ideal transfer period. Inform all support, administrative, and customer service personnel ahead of time so they are prepared to handle a spike in call volume or customer inquiries.


    Post-Upgrade, Pre-Launch Support


    Of course, Murphy's law inevitably plays a role in any large-scale endeavor. There will be problems you couldn't anticipate during and just after the launch. To combat this, your support staff may need to put in extra time during off-hours periods. For at least a week, your entire office should be prepared for unpredictable customer behavior or bursts of activity. It's just part of the process of moving from Magento community to enterprise, and it won't last forever. Once the first week or so is over, you'll see comfortable patterns reemerging, and then you can begin to think about further features or functionality to explore.


    [adapted from this article on levementum.com]

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