February 15, 2019 by Dovid Rotshtein

How we launched seven Magento 2 sites in three months

Apple’s comeback.

Putting a man on the moon.

Trump winning the presidency.

These are all events people never thought would happen.

We’d like to add one to the list: Launching seven Magento 2 sites in three months.

“Impossible,” you say?

“We did it,” I say.

Here’s how…

Background

Helm is a leading provider of customized branded merchandise, marketing fulfillment, and eCommerce retail turnkey solutions to some of the world’s largest and best-known companies.

They created and were maintaining seven websites for Fiat Chrysler Automotives (FCA):

The Problem

All were on home-grown, legacy platforms built over 20 years ago.

“The fact that our aged eCommerce platform was still working is a testament to how well it was built,” explains Paul Carmouche, IT Manager at Helm. “But making changes and updates was a nightmare. It required huge IT resources that put a tremendous strain on our organization. We knew we needed a new solution.”

But the final blow came in Q3 of 2018.

FCA made a non-negotiable requirement for all their vendors to be ADA compliant by December 31, 2018. That left Helm a few short months to complete the impossible: Launch seven Magento 2 ADA compliant sites by the end of the year.

The Solution

Helm needed to act.

Fast.

They needed to find an accomplished agency that knew Magento cold. And was crazy enough to take on such a giant project with such a short timeline.

They reached out directly to Magento for a referral.

With a reputation within Magento as a go-to rescue agency with a proven track record of on-time M2 launches, Magento referred Helm to us.

After an initial meeting with Helm, they awarded us the project based on our expertise in Magento 2 migrations, detailed reporting, and eagerness (or call it craziness) to take on such a giant project with a tiny deadline.

The Process:

It’s true.

We’ve launched Magento 2 sites in less than 90 days. But this was seven sites. On an ancient platform. With a home-grown ERP to boot. Throw in ADA compliance and an absurd timeline for good measure and you have a beast of a project.

After meeting with Helm, we decided to conduct a two-month discovery to just wrap our heads around the project’s complexity and scope.

What they told us made our head spin.

Not only did we need to create seven unique Magento 2 ADA compliant websites and connect them with their custom-built ERP, all seven needed to share a common shopping cart.

Yup.

And that’s not all.

Customers also needed the ability to checkout on any of the seven sites at any time. Even if they didn’t add anything from their current site into the shopping cart.

But wait, there’s more!

All seven stores were brand specific with distinct catalogs. Although all seven sites were connected, products could not be shared. Yet…all products placed in the shopping cart must appear on every site, even though they may not be part of that site.

Let me explain with an example:

  1. You’re a Jeep guy and you want to buy a Jeep cap. You visit Jeep’s merchandise site and add a 1941 Camo Cap to your shopping cart.
  2. Your wife owns a FIAT 500 and wants a FIAT cap so you hop on over to FIAT’s merchandise site. They’re out of stock and you now want to checkout.
  3. You view your shopping cart and lo and behold, your Jeep cap is there even though you’re not on Jeep’s site anymore.

It’s like when you were a kid riding in the back seat of your parents’ car at night and watching the moon. It looked like it was following you, right? That’s the same idea here. Except that your shopping really IS following you.

Accomplishing this functionality was a first for our team of developers (who took turns working around the clock for the entire month of December) , but after some heavy modifications to the standard configurations, the end result was a seamless customer experience across seven unique sites.

Try it out for yourself. It’s pretty neat.

The Results

On December 26, 2018, we launched all seven Magento 2 sites on Magento Cloud. All were ADA compliant, shared a shopping cart and performed beautifully.

“Holy cow. We did it.” That was the reaction of our CEO, Ben Chafetz .

“The manpower, brainpower and sheer willpower to complete this project on time was nothing short of amazing. We’re all very proud here,” expressed Ben.

The accomplishment was even recognized on the Magento side by Technical Account Manager, Damon Tavangar in an email, “Amazing. Really great work on launching Helm, that was a lot of sites to launch with other twists thrown in as well, but you guys made it look easy.”

On the client side, Joe Spada, Director of Marketing at Helm describes: “Magento has enabled us to tie all seven FCA sites together into a seamless shopping experience for our clients and customers. The deep stack of out-of-the-box features and easy-to-use, powerful admin have been a gamechanger for our entire eCommerce channel. With such a sustainable, scalable eCommerce platform driving our online growth, we’re on point to move our business forward.”

And even though the sites have only been live for a short time, the numbers are already speaking for themselves:

  • 85% increase in gross sales
  • 73% increase in number of orders
  • 69% increase in items sold

Ranking #2 in Google

A welcome surprise occurred on the SEO side as well.

The folks at Dodge noticed they were ranking #2 in Google for search terms related to “Dodge Lego set.”

They beat out internet giants Amazon and Target and only lost the #1 slot to Lego itself.

Dodge Lego Set

“We knew Magento was built to drive conversions,” explains Helm’s IT Manager, Paul Carmouche. “But this type of performance on the SEO side really showed to us that Magento is built to perform well in Google as well. That was a welcome surprise.”

Other SEO-related stats:

  • Overall traffic increased an average of 44% across all sites.
  • Session duration increased an average of 26% across all sites.
  • Traffic from mobile increased an average of 46% across all sites.

Conclusion

In about 90 days we accomplished the impossible.

It may not be as exciting as Peter Graves in Mission Impossible or Richard Dean Anderson as MacGyver, but it’s still a showstopper for us.

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