One man helping another to climb up the cliff

Ongoing Magento support for Strapworks

Staylime renders ongoing Magento support to a manufacturing enterprise, having successfully implemented new functionality and a bespoke design theme for company’s Magento 2 Commerce store.

  • Domain Strap manufacturing
  • Market United States
  • Duration 2 years & counting
  • Services Extension customization, custom development, theme development, support & maintenance
  • Technologies Magento 2 Commerce
  • Team Project Manager, Account Manager, Backend Developer, Frontend Developer, DevOps Engineer

Partnership background & goals

Strapworks is a well-known American strap manufacturer and supplier based in the US. Over the years, a small family-owned rafting supply business has expanded to become one of the market leaders with over 70 employees on board.

Having served over 400,000 customers across the country, including such giants as NASA, FBI, and Apple, Strapworks services now cover the entire supply chain, spanning strap production, customization, and shipment to corporate clients and individuals across various industries.

Initially, the customer maintained an online store based on CMS Volusion, but then decided to migrate to Magento Commerce 2.1. As the business grew, the default installation was no longer capable of serving the company’s needs as efficiently as before.

Introducing the necessary customizations was not an easy task for Strapworks: while the company invested time and money into the revamp of the store, their technology contractors kept on failing to deliver the expected results.

Jan Guardian
Jan Guardian, Chief Business Development Officer @ Staylime
Desperate and discouraged, Strapworks made one last attempt to get things done and contacted Staylime. The major goal of the project was to render ongoing Magento support and optimize current business processes of the customer leveraging the best of new technology. Within the project scope, we also had to implement mission-critical functional capabilities the Magento 2 store lacked.
In particular we had to:
Formula 1 racer buckling up
  1. Simplify and bring in more flexibility into product configuration
  2. Allow for one-click import/export of heavy-loaded .xls files outside the Magento 2 admin panel
  3. Customize order management to include chained orders
  4. Implement the Personal Products functionality based on out-of-the-box Magento 2 Commerce

With a detailed roadmap in place, Staylime got down to this pivotal project.

Technology challenges

Custom development might be tricky, especially when it comes to enterprise-grade projects.

Since Advanced Product Options was chosen as a base for delivery, we faced the necessity to deal with the shortcomings of the version of the extension that was available in the market back then. Due to a complex architecture of the module, implementation of the dependent options was a task so difficult, the previous vendor our customer collaborated with failed to do that.

Parashutist with a teared strap

Besides, we were also challenged by unexpected glitches in Magento 2 Commerce itself.

For instance, in the default installation, when a product was resaved, previous option IDs were replaced by new ones, which made it almost impossible to use the store as supposed to. To tackle the issue, we had to reach out directly to the Magento Commerce Dedicated Support team. Having acknowledged the bug, they then fixed it in the version 2.2 of the platform.

Jan Guardian
Jan Guardian, Chief Business Development Officer @ Staylime
All in all, we always kept the customer aware of the challenges and problems arising during the development process and did our best to work out the most efficient ways of resolving them promptly, which Strapworks highly appreciated.

Solution overview

The solution delivered by Staylime streamlines the entire process of uploading products and product options to the Magento 2 admin panel, making it a lot more convenient and, most importantly, fast.

As mentioned earlier, we implemented the required functionality on top of the Magento 2 Advanced Product Options extension by Mageworx, which was highly customized to support Strapworks’ business operations.

Here are the major features and capabilities our team introduced as part of the development:
A scheme of dependent product options

Dependent product options

Dependent product options (‘OR’ dependency type) feature was integrated into the out-of-the-box APO extension’s functionality to ensure flexible product configuration.

Option wizard

Custom option wizard

A special interface for products with multiple options allowing to group options into separate tabs. Integrated into the Advanced Product Options extension, this feature takes into account dependent product options too. When selecting an option, the corresponding tab is opened where all available values are displayed. Tabs are instantly minimized as soon as the options are chosen, whilst additional information can still be viewed upon hover over the option. This makes the page visually clean, speeding up product configuration significantly.

Dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing

Store administrators can dynamically configure product prices by setting a rate for each particular product option and associate it with other product options. Their prices will be then automatically multiplied by the corresponding rate. For instance, the total price of a strap is calculated based on three options — length, color and material. When a buyer chooses the required length, the price of the three options will be multiplied by the rate assigned to the ‘Length’ option.

A man hiding the price of a product with his hand

Hidden price

Due to the product configuration specifics, the base price of each product outlined in the catalogue was usually far from true. With the custom-delivered functionality, the product price is concealed until a user starts configuring it on the storefront. Admins can hide the price of a particular product and add an explanation to guide the user further (e.g. ‘Make a selection to see the price’). What’s so peculiar about this feature is that it removes the price not only on the product page itself, but anywhere it is mentioned on the site, including the category page.

A man with a cart full of straps

Credit terms checkout

This option allows providing selected clients an opportunity to place an order and pay for it later (within 15, 30, or 60 days). The credit payment can be made in the user account whenever the client is ready: they will be redirected to a custom checkout form to pay via PayPal or a credit card. Store administrators get access to a dashboard where all late payments are listed. Email confirmations and alerts can be set up at any phase of the process to kindly remind the clients to make the payment on time.

Product card linked to an .xls file

One click product import/export

Products and all their features can be quickly imported into the system or exported to .xls files in one click, eliminating the need of complex configurations in the Magento admin panel. We adapted custom scripts to enable seamless processing of loads of product data. We also made it possible to display each option value in a separate cell so that to allow for easy editing of products even when the number of values is huge. All this combined helped us to overcome Microsoft Excel’s limitations and avoid improper data transfer, contributing to accurate and fast product data handling within the system.

Swatch options

Swatch options

Last, but not least: we brought in a new option type that replaces conventional text descriptions with beautiful product icons on the preview.

Design upgrade

No need to say that Magento design may have a negative impact on user experience if not delivered in-line with industry guidelines, practices, and trends. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to Strapworks.

Developed by an independent design agency, their theme not only had a dated interface design, but also didn’t meet the common UI/UX and performance requirements, which heavily affected the overall experience and, consequently, conversion rates.

Two construction workers: one overloaded with tools and the other having them organized with a strap suit

However, given budget constraints the customer did not want to engage into a complete redesign.

In view of this we proposed a few modifications to the customer that would let them keep the style but enhance user experience.

Jan Guardian
Jan Guardian, Chief Business Development Officer @ Staylime
After a couple of iterations, our team introduced changes that inherited the style of the legacy solution, yet featured a better-thought-out layout and usability. Strapworks genuinely loved the concept, and so we proceeded with the frontend development.

Ongoing Magento support

Appreciating our transparency, quality of service and out-of-the-box thinking, the customer approached us with a request to become their strategic technology partner and continue ongoing Magento support.

A belt
It goes without saying: we were thrilled to discover that Strapworks chose us over their local agency.

Performance optimization

Upon completing the custom Magento development activities, we shifted onto the performance aspects of the store. The product catalogue set up by Strapworks was so heavily loaded that the Advanced Product Options extension could not handle the store data properly.

To meet the challenge, our team revised the extension and got rid of any excessive features the business did not use.

Jan Guardian
Jan Guardian, Chief Business Development Officer @ Staylime
Within a month, we steadily made all the required alterations following best practices and standards and have finally worked out an optimal configuration of the customized module. The effort was worth it: the website performance increased by 30 points in Google PageSpeed Insights.

Migration to AWS

Even though hosting considerations were initially out of scope, we could not help but notice the irresponsible and unprofessional attitude of the existing Strapworks’ hosting service vendor. Delays in responses and inability to resolve arising issues of the support team affected both the development timeline and the overall business performance, which was completely unacceptable for a company that big.

Given the initial requirements and expectations of Strapworks, we proposed their team to opt for Amazon Web Services as a more suitable hosting platform.

We had no doubt that such a reliable, scalable, and secure IaaS like AWS would serve the company’s needs better. The customer agreed, and so we engaged a DevOps engineer into the project to carry out necessary assessments.

Jan Guardian
Jan Guardian, Chief Business Development Officer @ Staylime
Having reviewed the current infrastructure, our DevOps engineer prepared a staged migration plan, estimated delivery times, and performed the migration to AWS. Currently, the ball is on Strapworks’ side: their team is making the final checks before letting us deploy the website to production.

Project outcomes

When implementing this project, we aimed at building a robust product that not only takes into account Strapworks’ vision, but also provides the best possible experience to end customers.

We were not afraid to go the extra mile to find and suggest the most effective, sound solutions. And the work we did ultimately has hit the bull’s eye — the outcome has exceeded our customer’s expectations.

Jan Guardian
Jan Guardian, Chief Business Development Officer @ Staylime
The upgraded solution optimizes and enhances the product configuration, one of the most critical back-office processes for ecommerce, being able to support millions of product option combinations. With the delivered credit terms functionality, we gave Strapworks a convenient tool to manage their credit line within the store. Needless to say, our team built this feature way before it has been introduced in Magento Commerce 2.2.

Currently, the new store is deployed to the staging environment and is about to go live, as we are introducing the final touch-ups and enhancements.

Two construction workers hanging an opening soon banner

Impressed by our attitude and professionalism, Strapworks CEO, Douglas Foster, was committed to a continued business partnership with our team. Apart from entrusting us with the ongoing Magento support, Strapworks engaged Staylime into new technology projects within their business diversification strategy.

With our help, two of the company’s other websites — honestdog.com and killerstraps.com — have undergone a major upgrade. Having conducted detailed analysis and briefing, we created brand-new design concepts for these stores and now are actively working on their frontend development.

The workflow was perfect the entire time; they were always very helpful. They never said no and were always wonderful in supporting our ideas. The communication was the best we’ve ever had from a developer.

They did a great job of communicating with us every step of the process. I also appreciated that they continued to work outside the framework of the original scoped project to make sure we were happy customers and received a fully functioning product.

Douglas Foster
Douglas Foster President, Strapworks LLC
Jan Guardian
Jan Guardian, Chief Business Development Officer @ Staylime
As a result of the development, not only have we delivered the required solution to our customer, but also unlocked an opportunity to further enhance the Advanced Product Options extension. Some of the features we introduced, such as Swatch options and load optimization, have been successfully implemented in the new release of the extension, strengthening its positions on the market.