May 17, 2017
One of the strengths of Magento is the speedy time to market. But in March of 2017, the luxury watch company, Jomashop, astonished everyone by launching a Magento web store in just 10 days. This is the story of that remarkable implementation.
Yitzchak Lieblich of Web Solutions NYC was in his office in Midtown New York when the call came in. It was his client Jomashop, the major retailer and wholesaler of luxury watches, fine writing instruments, handbags, and fashion accessories. ‘Yitz’, as he is known, had worked on several web optimizations for Jomashop, a company that had risen to #161 on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list. But this new project, his client said, was going to be different.
Jomashop had acquired an ailing rival company, World of Watches. They needed to integrate the WoW website into their own eCommerce operations, taking over its sales without losing the valuable SEO juice sending customers to the original site. In essence, Jomashop needed to be the magician pulling away the tablecloth without disrupting the plates. There was one complication. The WoW servers were destined for shutdown in just two weeks. Ironically for the watch company, the countdown had started.
“This timeline was unheard of,” said Yitz. “This was an emergency situation.”
EVERY SECOND COUNTS
Jomashop was torn between two solutions. Should they use a basic SaaS platform to build the new site, or Magento? They had grand ambitions for the WoW business and feared a SaaS platform wouldn’t give them control of their product and category pages, or support their merchandising and marketing plans. Most importantly, the other platform’s limited SEO capabilities could jeopardize the rich SEO opportunities that were the whole reason for the project. Met with a difficult choice, Jomashop decided to have the other platform as a backup plan and told Yitz and his team to get started with Magento 2.
This was the project that Yitz had been preparing for since the launch of Magento 2. For a whole year, he and his 35-person team had learned the platform from the ground up. “We didn’t want to do it with a client as a guinea pig, so we built out the top 20 most popular Magento extensions that people always ask for. Then, we knew we could fast track a client into Magento 2, and install all of our custom modules.” Essentially, Web Solutions NYC had built a ready-made car, with a working engine. They just needed to add the bodywork.
What color they painted the car, Yitz explained, was a matter of a few finishing touches to the frontend.
“It was the flexibility of Magento that allowed us to do this,” he said.
Web Solutions NYC signed the contract on Thursday, March 23, and immediately set about finding a hosting platform. They had an emergency service provision built over the weekend, and on Monday, March 27, they got access to the server. “Then it was full steam ahead,” said Yitz.
“We had one team working on data import, moving over the data. We just imported the whole Jomashop database. We had Varnish working for performance, then we started installing and configuring modules, adding a couple of third-party modules, and then the big one was getting the functionality to work. It was just grunt work. Getting it done.”
THE CLOCK WAS TICKING
The modules that Web Solutions NYC had ready to go included Authorize.net CIM for payments. Then there were some visual modules like Layered Nav, and Quick View, to copy the original store’s user experience. They added a disabled products module, to ensure that when a product goes out of stock, the site would keep the page alive and suggest other products, increasing SEO performance. Their Legacy Order module made migration easy, and could be used not just for M1 to M2, Yitz explained, but for “anything to M2.”
The new WoW store was built on the Magento Luma template, though you couldn’t tell by looking at it. The Jomashop team reused many product assets from the original WoW site to make the new one look almost identical. It was a week of intense work for the Jomashop and Web Solutions NYC teams, but the plan was to get the site up first, then fix any minor issues.
The team finished the site at the Imagine conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, April 4th, adding the final touches at the Magento booth. Yitz remembers changing the DNS and directing the domain to the new World of Watches site, powered by Magento 2. The new website looked amazing, and Jomashop was overjoyed: “It was great to see our two teams come together to hit this aggressive launch timeframe to go live in 10 days,” said Osher Karnowsky, General Manager of Jomashop. “Magento and Web Solutions NYC came through in a big way to set a new record for a Magento 2 implementation.”
JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME
The launch happened so fast that the new site hadn’t even been approved for credit card transactions. For the first few days, they had to go 'old school' and accept money orders at check out. The site was so successful, they had to throttle that back when they received more money orders than they could process. But overall, the site was a massive success.
“It was a relief,” Yitz said. “We had a deadline and we always fulfill them, but on such a crazy one this was pretty satisfying. This was our first M2 launch.”
Jomashop never had to use that other platform. Yitz says that such a custom web store would not have been possible on any SaaS platform.
“I love that I never have to tell a client that something isn’t possible with Magento,” he added.
“Magento is open source. Anything is possible.”