NCR Retail Online (NRO) is a powerful ecommerce solution designed to meet the needs of most Counterpoint merchants.
NRO is powered by Magento, a 3rd-party ecommerce platform owned by eBay that powers more than 200,000 ecommerce sites worldwide. On top of the Magento platform, NRO adds a host of features and benefits, including integration with NCR Counterpoint, website hosting with technical support, PCI-compliant payment processing, and automatic upgrades as new ecommerce features become available.
NRO is already feature-packed, but if you need something extra, like a custom feature or a unique look-and-feel, our Professional Services Team is here to help.
What’s the Difference between NRO and Magento?
NRO and Magento are not the same. While NRO is powered by Magento, NRO also includes Counterpoint integration, website hosting, technical support, automatic updates, PCI considerations, additional features and extensions, and a built-in theme that’s specifically designed to work with NCR Counterpoint.
With all of these benefits come some restrictions. To maintain PCI compliance and ensure that your site is eligible to receive new features and Magento upgrades, we do not allow you to access any server-side code. If you wish to add features or extensions, you will need to work with our Professional Services team, to ensure that any enhancements to your site don’t prohibit you from receiving new features and upgrades.
What Are the Costs for Professional Services?
Customizations, design, training, advanced configuration assistance, and consulting are offered as hourly services. The time it takes to complete your request will vary based on complexity. For most requests, we can provide an up-front time estimate before starting the work. Complex requests and advanced needs assessments may require preliminary ‘exploratory’ work to determine the costs and feasibility of your requests (hourly rates may apply to exploratory work).
How Long Does Delivery Take?
It depends on the scope of work you need. Some Professional Services can be done very quickly, within days (sometimes even within hours). Larger projects can take longer. Once we understand your specific needs, we can provide a delivery timeframe for your project.
Can I Get FTP Access To My Site To Add My Own Code?
No. One of the key benefits of NRO is that new NRO features and updates to the underlying Magento platform are included in every hosting plan. Furthermore, we designed NRO to remain outside of PCI scope, so certain functionality is locked down and cannot be changed. In order to deliver automatic updates to all of our NRO merchants and to maintain PCI compliance, we don’t provide FTP access to NRO sites.
If you wish to add features or extensions to your NRO store, you should contact our Professional Services team to discuss options.
Can I Talk to a Designer about My Needs?
Yes. Sign up for a complimentary 30-minute design consultation for NRO. A member of the Professional Services team will schedule a time to chat with you about the look and feel of your site and how to accomplish your site design goals.
Can I Buy My Own Magento Theme?
No. NRO includes the built-in Celebrity theme (and more themes are planned). We’ve made many modifications to this theme to work with NCR Counterpoint. For example, our built-in theme supports Counterpoint’s alternate units, gridded items, vendors, categories, etc. Other out-of-the box themes don’t support features from Counterpoint. Utilizing the built-in NRO theme as the starting point saves time and money as this theme includes updates and support assistance, and will support new features for Counterpoint and NRO as they are released.
Many design options are available within the built-in theme! We offer several skins that change the appearance of this theme, and we can work with you to achieve your desired look-and-feel. Just let us know what you need!
Do I Have to Use Your Design Team to Change My Site?
How Does the Design Process Work?
If you’d like to work with our Professional Services team to design your site, the design process works as follows:
- Design Consultation – We’ll start with a phone consultation to better understand your needs and dig deeper into the areas that are important to you.
- Authorization - When you’re ready to get started, simply submit the online authorization form.
- Concept Blueprint – Our design team will create a blueprint of the proposed site design – basically, a concept image of what the site could look like in NRO with design changes to the built-in theme. Your NRO website – including the header area, top navigation, left navigation, and general site behavior – will function like the built-in Celebrity theme as seen on our demo store. Utilizing the built-in NRO theme as the starting point saves time and money as this theme includes updates and support assistance, and will support new features for Counterpoint and NRO as they are released. You will have the opportunity to review the blueprint and provide feedback. Our design team will revise the blueprint to your satisfaction. Revisions are handled under hourly services, so the final blueprint cost will depend on how many revisions you request.
- Site Design Implementation – Once you’ve approved the final blueprint, we’ll begin the coding to implement your design. Time required for coding can vary, but most designs can be completed in ~10-30 hours, and can be scheduled for delivery within 30-60 days of project approval. Some designs can take more or less time depending on the nature of the design, and delivery timeframes can also vary depending on our current schedule. Once we better understand your needs, we can provide a more accurate time and cost estimate.
- Advanced Needs – If any features you want will require customization or add-ins, these features will be quoted and delivered separately from your site design. We can identify and discuss these needs during your initial design consultation.
Please note that time estimates are approximate. Your specific needs may be more or less complex, and therefore may take more or less time to complete.
I’m a Third-Party Designer. What Are My Options?
You have the following options:
- Do-It-Yourself - Start by editing the content areas in the Admin Panel, and optionally modify the underlying CSS of the built-in theme. Not sure where to start? Download one of our responsive template skins, and modify the CSS to better meet your needs.
- Work with Professional Services - Our designers will work with you to turn your proposed design into a functioning website. Submit your proposed site design to our design team for costs and feasibility. Note that not all requests are possible with the built-in Celebrity theme. Once your site design is complete, you’ll have access to the content areas in the Admin Panel and underlying CSS should you wish to make additional changes on your own.
Note that some back-end files are locked down and cannot be changed. FTP access is not allowed as this would prevent future updates from happening automatically (thereby costing you more time and money to maintain your customizations separately).
Extensions & Customizations
How Do I Add Custom Features?
If you need additional functionality that isn’t available out-of-the-box, contact our Support team. We’ll work with you to find the right solution.
Can I Use Magento Extensions in my NRO Store?
Yes, with some limitations. You can’t install extensions on your own, and not all extensions can be used with NRO. You will need to work with our Professional Services team if you want to add custom functionality or Magento extensions to your NRO store.
There are a multitude of third-party extensions available for Magento. Some of these extensions can be a great addition to your ecommerce site, but it’s vital that you allow an expert to handle the review and installation of any extension in order to avoid problems with your store.
It’s also important to understand that NRO and Magento are not the same. NRO already includes additional features, extensions, and a built-in theme. Even quality Magento extensions require additional testing and/or development to work within NRO.
If you want to add additional features/capabilities to your NRO store, the first place to start is in our NRO Extras store, where you can explore and order extensions that have already been tested and approved for use with NRO.
If you can’t find what you need in NRO Extras, just tell us what you want to accomplish, and we’ll find the best solution that works within the NRO platform. Sometimes, the right solution is an existing 3rd-party extension. Other times, we may need to provide a custom solution. Either way, our goal is always to meet your needs in the most cost-effective way possible.
How is Pricing Determined for Magento Extensions?
The price for each Magento extension includes 5 components:
- The extension license itself. This fee is set by the 3rd-party developer.
- Extension installation fee. Installation also includes internal project documentation and source control for your selected extensions, so we always know exactly what extensions you’re using, in order to better support you.
- NCR requires an Annual Maintenance Plan (“AMP”) with each 3rd-party extension, to ensure that you are always eligible for the latest extension updates. The cost of the AMP is the fee charged by the extension developer for 1 year of updates, plus a fee from NCR that covers all update installations as needed for the entire year. In some cases, there may also be a small additional NCR fee added to the AMP for complex extensions that have been customized for compatibility with NRO (such as those surrounding checkout or payments) due to the ongoing development requirements for extension updates to be remain compatible with NRO.
- If the extension is already known to be compatible with NRO, no hourly services are required. If the extension is new to the NRO environment, the following hourly services are required to ensure that it will work correctly in your online store:
- Code review, to ensure that the extension follows Magento development best practices and is supportable by NCR
- Testing, to ensure that the extension “plays nicely” with NRO and with any other extensions you might be using
- Development as needed for any code adjustments required for NRO compatibility
- NCR will provide you with any documentation that the 3rd-party developer makes available, so that you can set up, learn, and use each extension on your own without incurring additional cost. However, in many cases, you may also want our assistance in configuring a given extension to achieve your specific objectives. Optional hourly services are available as needed for any extension assistance/training you might want.
One thing to keep in mind when you add extensions to your NRO store… each time new features are added to the underlying NRO platform and each time you add a new extension, there’s a small risk that the new feature or extension could conflict with one or more of your existing extensions, requiring additional development work to resolve the conflict. If you use any extensions in your NRO store, we recommend that you review your storefront after each NRO release and each new extension installation, and notify us immediately if you see any issues.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to have us fully test of all your extensions with each new release or extension, prior to upgrading your storefront to that release or adding the extension, we’d be happy to do so on request (standard hourly rates apply)
Configuration, personalized training, conflict resolution, and technical support are not included with the extension purchase price, but we’d be happy to help as needed through a-la-carte, hourly Professional Services.
Search Engine Marketing
Can You Recommend a Good SEM Firm?
Yes. We recommend Weathervane Consulting. Weathervane Graphics is a full service web design, internet marketing and graphic design company. Weathervane will work with you to create meaningful marketing materials and provide your organization with a strong online reputation so that you can achieve your goals.
Can I Add My Own Order Tracking Scripts?
Yes. You can add basic scripts to your site that do not require order-specific information (learn how). However, scripts with order-specific information (e.g. order number, order total, specific product info, etc.) must be implemented by our Professional Services team (hourly rates will apply). Typically, we will need script details that are usually defined with the help of an SEM consultant. SEM campaigns can be complex, and it’s important to make sure you know exactly what you need before requesting customization services to implement scripts in your storefront.
Do You Have a Mobile Theme Available?
Yes!. NCR Retail Online includes a built-in theme that is available in a responsive version. A responsive theme is a smarter layout that automatically adjusts your content to better accommodate mobile devices of various shapes and sizes. Responsive web design is Google’s recommended approach to optimizing your site for mobile delivery.
Can I Integrate My Blog with NRO?
You have the following options:
- Internal Blog - NRO includes simple blog capabilities
- External Blog - If you require more advanced blog features than the built-in blog offers, you can host an external blog (e.g., WordPress) outside of NRO, and simply link the two sites together. In most cases, you may want to tweak your site designs for a consistent visual experience (if you need assistance modifying the NRO theme, contact Professional Services for an estimate). For example, www.schaefers.comis a WordPress site hosted outside of NRO that has the same look and feel as their NRO site, shop.schaefers.com.
What Are My Options for Enhancing Searches?
Achieving the best site search is rather like the “holy grail” of ecommerce. Search solutions for Magento are myriad. There are inexpensive extensions that purport to improve the relevancy of the search results, but the few we’ve tested have not proved worthwhile. The ones that work well carry a price tag that reflects the complexity of delivering relevant search results.
You have the following options:
- Built-in Search Functionality - NRO includes built-in search capabilities. Start by adjusting the built-in capabilities (Tip: try changing the built-in search settings to Fulltext under System / Configuration / Catalog / Catalog / Catalog Search). It’s also possible to improve searches with some manual effort – see tips for improving search results.
- 3rd-Party Search Provider - The quickest solution to improving the relevancy of Magento search results, and the one we recommend at this time, is a 3rd-party approach that offers:
- Adaptive algorithms that intelligently select the most relevant and accurate results to display
- Detailed user analytics and behavior to better inform your decision making
If you’d like to explore this option, contact our Professional Services team for more information.
- Other Search Options - We can explore other search options on your behalf, but it’s important to understand that any extension price plus the work to test the extension in NRO would be billable regardless of whether or not the extension ends up meeting your needs. Extensions built on top of Lucene/Solr or Sphinx, or any solution that requires an additional server-side platform, must be carefully tested and will likely carry additional ongoing costs that can’t be estimated until we understand what the extension requires.
Can I Move My Custom Work from CPOnline to NRO?
No. CPOnline and NRO are different platforms based on different technologies. Your CPOnline customizations will need to be re-evaluated and re-coded for NRO. But remember, many features that required customization in CPOnline are already built-in to NRO, including the home page slideshow, image zooms, alternate product images, dropdown navigation across the top, category landing pages, etc.
Should I Continue to Invest in my CPOnline Site?
In some cases. For merchants still running NCR Counterpoint V7 or with highly specialized ecommerce customizations, CPOnline may the only option right now, and therefore you may wish to enhance your site with graphic design and/or customization packages. However, it’s important to understand that the CPOnline platform is no longer being actively developed. While we have no plans to discontinue CPOnline in the immediate future and we will continue with normal product maintenance as needed, our development efforts going forward are focused on the NCR Retail Online (NRO) product. If you are an existing CPOnline merchant and would like to discuss specific features of NRO and how they can work for you, please contact our Support Team.