Considering moving to Magento 2? In less than 5 months Magento 1 reaches its end of life. If you're wondering which version is the best fit for your business, download our guide to weigh up the pros and cons.
We realise implementing a new Ecommerce solution is a daunting task. With the entire cultural, financial and day-to-day management of the business at stake it’s crucial to choose the best partner to help make your project a success.
One of the bitter-sweet advantages of choosing Magento over other enterprise Ecommerce platforms is its vast global community of developers, agencies and solution partners who can help to build and maintain your online store. However, with hundreds of potential partners to choose from, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
In this article, we highlight 5 must-haves to help you choose the best Magento Ecommerce agency for the job.
1. Magento Certified Partners
Magento continues to dominate as one of the most popular Ecommerce platforms with 13% of all Ecommerce stores powered by Magento. To be precise, that’s over 250,000 active sites using Magento. It is also used by the Alexa top 1 million websites with 19.64% market share, according to Pagely (2018).
Due to Magento’s popularity and high demand, thousands of developers around the globe have shifted to provide Magento services. With a wide variety of service providers out there, it's tempting to work with less capable suppliers based on price, rather than put value onto an agency’s knowledge of the platform and experience scaling Ecommerce businesses.
Deep-down we all know that the saying “you get what you pay for” is true - and an experienced Magento partner isn’t going to be cheap. This creates more demand for low cost services and the vicious circle continues. As many online merchants aren’t aware of the true costs associated with maintaining and scaling a complex Ecommerce operation, our first tip would be to choose a Certified Magento Partner over an independent Magento developer or agency. You just won’t get the quality you need to create a thriving online business at £100 a day.
The Benefits of Working with a Certified Magento Partner
- Magento Certified Partners are trained, vetted, and proven to deliver quality code that provides positive customer experiences for both B2B and B2C buyers.
- Certified partners must continually perform and maintain key performance metrics to remain within the Certified Partner Community.
- Typically, Magento Partners have a focus on Ecommerce and Systems Integration. Some will have experience integrating other systems from ERPs, OMSs, PIMs, to logistics, analytics, payment gateways whereas others may simply deliver the design.
- They must be familiar with cloud platforms and features to enhance your performance, security and deployments.
- When it comes to support, Magento partners are given multiple user accounts and priority escalation paths for support issues. If you choose to work with a certified Magento partner, you will have a faster issue resolution time compared with independent partners.
- Last but not least, Magento Partners must have a minimum number of certified developers and solution specialists, with demonstrable success in launching several Magento Enterprise sites to the satisfaction of their customers.
As you’d expect, the product, training, and requirements are constantly changing. By choosing a Certified Magento Solution Partner you can be safe in the knowledge that your chosen partner knows Magento inside out. Whilst it may be tempting to think of a certification merely as a piece of paper, partner certifications don’t only verify the Magento Partner’s ability, but their relationship with the Magento team directly.
2. Strategic, Long-term & Cultural Fit
When choosing a Magento Solution Partner it’s important that they’re able to meet your core requirements and that you can build a strong relationship over many years to come.
Remember this is a strategic, long-term relationship that you may have for the next 5, 10 years or even more. How you feel about them is just as important as what their solution does. That said, avoid basing your decision solely on relationships - it’s always a good idea to create a list of ‘must-have’ requirements for your long-term goals. This knock-out stage will help you create a shortlist and avoid any potential setbacks once the implementation is underway.
We find a strong relationship relies on collaboration, innovation and a willingness for the partner to understand your unique business and web requirements now and in the future.
3. Detail, Due Diligence & Experience
With so many potential Magento solution partners out there, start by looking at their credentials and experience. If you’re in the very early stages it’s best to look through their portfolio of customers, ask for details on previous projects and ask about the most complex integrations, web builds and design work they’ve done.
Most Ecommerce agencies will have impressive looking portfolios. It’s important to delve into the detail and ask yourself, “how were the vendors involved?”. Some agencies showcase Ecommerce sites when they only worked on the front-end design.
Further down the line, to help objectify the decision-making process, you may want to rank agencies by the service provided (project management, account management, support), location and size of overall businesses and complexity of implementations they’ve carried out.
As mentioned previously, it’s best to work with an Enterprise Magento Partner in their Certification Program – this tests their skill in real scenarios and ensures their Magento product knowledge is up-to-scratch. You should also look for customer recommendations; ideally from retailers or online merchants that are in a similar position as you (be it size/turnover, growth aspirations, industry, complexity, the volume of orders or operational complexity). It’s worth asking about online growth, improvements to average order value, and online conversions.
4. Bring Together a Strong Team from the Start
Your Ecommerce platform is an integral part of your business, and no decision you make should ever be taken lightly. If you involve the key project sponsors from the start you’ll save yourself a lot of time and unforeseen issues down the line. You’ll also encounter less resistance to change if the team are involved in the decision-making process early-on.
When you hold your first project-planning session – get everyone in the same room to discuss: the system being replaced, the business benefits, integration and scope. Make sure you bring together a team with knowledge of the operational management behind your Ecommerce business. Your IT department may have a more technical outlook than your marketing team. Your CMO or Ecommerce Director may have more emphasis on features, functionality or integration. Also, if you’re looking to change your Order Management System / Sales fulfilment Systems then this will also impact on your Ecommerce sites, stores, and so on.
Seamless integration should be a core consideration for any Ecommerce project. If done well, integration can provide your business with the flexibility to adapt and change overtime – done badly, it will become a barrier to growth. Evaluating your prospective vendor’s expertise should help to distinguish the ‘digital agency’ from the true, Enterprise Ecommerce providers.
It’s important at this stage to outline the project strategy and agree the functional and non-functional requirements:
- What are your absolute “must-haves” when it comes to the functionality?
- What is your desired cultural fit?
- What would be the ideal track record of the Ecommerce partner?
- What are the absolute “must-haves” in terms of non-functional requirements, for example:
- The partner must have successfully implemented a project in a similar market.
- The partner must have at least 10 years’ experience in Ecommerce, how about experience in ERP, OMS etc.
- The software must be used by at least X companies in the UK.
Don’t be shy about identifying your unique needs and asking prospective Magento partners how they can meet them.
A successful Ecommerce project isn’t just about finding the right Magento Development Agency... UX consultants, project managers, creative designers and solution architects are also important roles. For larger, enterprise level projects you’ll want to get an idea of their project methodology and how you’ll work together. You’ll want clarity on what to expect from the project timeline from initial discovery to design and development to go-live. More importantly, how will bugs and scope creep be handled.
It’s also important to choose a Magento partner that has services to help you achieve your objectives online – with training and on-going support.
5. Culture for Continuous Improvements
The Magento platform is constantly changing and Magento 2.3.3 is on its way. It’s important to work with a partner that is ready to help you take advantage of the features in the latest version of Magento. Make sure your chosen Ecommerce partner is up to speed on the latest developments in the Magento world to avoid falling behind the competition.
Last but not least, we realise its continuous improvements and marginal gains across the entire journey that delivers a true ROI. Small ongoing improvements can make or break a sale and are often the unsung hero behind a successful Ecommerce operation. When you look for a Magento solution partner, don’t just work with an agency that will build your site and finish the project there. Instead, find a partner that understands the importance of pushing your design, adding exciting new functionality and has a focus on conversion rate optimisation. All this will make your customer experience an absolute delight.
Any strong player in your shortlist should have a team of specialist Magento Developers, Ecommerce graphic designers and project managers to ensure you create a site that looks great, reflects your brand and drives conversion. If they talk about content-driven commerce, personalisation and responsive design then you’re onto a winner.
If you’ve got an upcoming Magento Ecommerce project we’d love to hear more about the project, drop us a line on 0161 946 0000 or contact us.
For retailers – big and small – for whom success depends on growing online, we provide what it takes to sell better online. We do this by delivering class-leading Ecommerce websites that drive online growth and sales fulfilment solutions that facilitate next day delivery and customer service excellence.
We are independent and technology-agnostic but with close partnerships to several leading technology companies so we can always recommend the most appropriate platform for our customers' needs.
With a 20-year heritage in technology implementations, we take pride in helping our customers achieve long term benefits from the solutions we provide. We can do this, because we've done it before, for people just like you.
This is a prestigious accolade within the company’s global partner ecosystem and is a recognition of Maginus’ growing partnership with Magento.
Download our easy-read checklist to help you decide whether you’re ready to take your online business to the next level.