Magento is one of the world’s fastest-growing ecommerce platforms, with its open source nature and flexible functionality appealing to agencies and clients alike.
A well-trained, experienced Magento agency can utilise the platform’s great features to ensure it grows your site to its full potential and beyond – but with a growing number of agencies out there, trying to find the right one for you can seem daunting.
With great growth, and the fast evolving landscape of ecommerce, comes a number of untrained agencies trying to cash in – so how do you tell the quality agencies from the poor? Here’s what you need to focus on.
Post Contents & Navigation
This post is a bit of a beast!
Need expert tips in specialist areas? Take a look at what this post has to offer:
- What You Need to Prepare as The Client
- How to Research the Development Agency
- Top Magento Questions You Should Be Asking Agencies
- Post-launch Support Questions That Need to be Addressed
We hope you enjoy!
What You Will Learn:
Uncover The Magento Agency’s Background
Uncover the agency’s true size, expertise and if they outsource to unskilled foreign freelancers to maximise their margin and increase your risk.
Can The Magento Partner Deliver In Your Marketplace?
Discover if your chosen partner has a solid Magento portfolio, how projects are managed and if they have done complex migrations and integration.
Can They Support Solid Growth Post-Launch?
Learn how to choose a partner that can provide essential support, training and modern marketing services to maximise your Magento opportunity.
Get The Right Magento Agency Now: Get access to a FREE downloadable PDF that will show you the exact questions to ask when searching for a Magento partner.
Be clear about what you want the website to deliver
It sounds simple, but doing your research before you meet with a potential agency is key. In part, it’s your job to tell the agency what you want and how it will help to achieve company objectives, and their job to suggest exactly how they can help you achieve it and potentially how else they can assist.
Top tip: Have a think about the pages you want, the functions you want them to do and any payment or other integrations (e.g. shipping, PayPal payments or integrations like shop EPOS etc.)
Decide on your budget
By this point, you’ve done your research and you know the kind of budget you have in mind for your next website – you need to know this before you meet with an agency. It’s your job to tell the agency at what price you website needs to be delivered enabling the to produce the most cost effective proposal. Remember to get the agency to breakdown the cost of functional requirements, so everyone is clear on cost and nothing is hidden or inflated.
Top tip: Consider the specification you’ve made above in terms of pages, functionality, integration, and then decide who will be responsible for product, content and imagery creation – you or the agency. Remember, once complete your website will function 24/7 like a full, salary earning member of your sales team.
How big is the company?
The size of an agency shouldn’t matter as long as they have the resource and skillset available to complete your project successfully and within the given timeframe. That’s what you really need to address for a productive working relationship. Find out how long they’ve been running for and their background in creating niche related ecommerce web stores.
Top tip: Generally working with smaller agencies will ensure that you get a more hands-on, personal approach though.
What are their rates vs. skills and speed?
Here, we’re talking about getting value for money. Ask for agency rates upfront, and ensure they send you an estimated timeframe for the completion of your new Magento project. An experienced, qualified agency will set goals throughout the development process, to ensure that they complete it within the given timeframe and budget.
Top tip: Make sure you get a breakdown from the project manager of how the time and cost is spread out over the prooject’s tasts; this shows a clear understanding of your solution goals and accurate pricing.
Do they outsource work?
If the agency outsources, the chances are you’ll get a cheaper price and that’s great if the work quality is equal – but it does come with its pitfalls. You may not get the same, personalised experience which you come to expect from an agency, and the site could well take longer to complete due to communication barriers.
Top tip: We have worked with small and Fast Track 100 clients that have outsourced development – the results are almost always a horror story. Make sure you clarify what parts of their business, if any, are outsourced.
What’s the location of the agency?
Does the location of your Magento agency matter to you? If you prefer a hands-on, collaborative approach to your projects, with regular meetings in place, then a local agency could suit your needs – meeting in person only strengthens working relationships. It’s important to work with an agency in the same country, so that you can make the trip if you need to.
Top tip: If your preferred agency is quite far away, ask how they handle this with other clients e.g. Regular calls, Skype calls, project management software and other collaboration tools that close the distance.
Who will be working on the project?
You need the right person in charge of creating your new ecommerce project. Find out who exactly will be working on your Magento site – talk to them, hear their ideas and make sure they have a formulaic plan. The leader of a Magento project needs key understanding in areas such as marketing and analytics as well as technical knowledge.
It’s worth considering that in general, the split stakeholders on a Magento project is as follows, you’ll need to make sure the agency in question has this resourse available.
Top tip: Connect with key stakeholders on Linkedin and you get to see their CV, background and recommendations.
How much Magento experience do they have?
Plenty of agencies will be open to ‘giving Magento a go’ for the first time – but this won’t be smooth sailing. It’s not easy, so experience with Magento is vital. Choose an agency with at least a few years’ Magento experience on a wide range of projects and make sure they have the resource to truly make a difference to your site too. You absolutely do not want to be paying a day rate for someone to ‘learn’ Magento.
Top tip: Ask to see examples of solutions made and the delivery timescales (hours/days).
Are they a Magento partner with certified developers?
To become a certified Magento partner you essentially take an exam with 60 multiple choice questions to earn the badge at the end of it – this does not guarantee that the developers can do the job you need, or the person working on your project is the badge holder. Your priority is ensuring that the technical skills of the team working on your project match up to your site’s requirements.
Top tip: Ask to see client websites the agency have built from the ground up or migrated from another solution into Magento. Seeing a range of small to large stores that have had the agency’s complete involvement will earn your trust.
How do they project manage their development process?
How solid is the agency’s development process? Do they have good time management, milestones and testing processes in place? Good project management is key to development success, and a great agency will have a tried and tested development plan in place featuring all of the above, and more.
Top tip: Most modern agencies operate an Agile or Scrum development approach – this focuses on meeting deadlines and quality testing sections of code to reduce the risk of bugs and missed milestones. Ask if your chosen agency does this.
Can you speak to a project manager?
So they talk the talk, but do the agency’s project managers seem clear on these objectives? Ask to speak to a project manager, and have them clearly explain their development process to you step-by-step.
Top tip: You want to hear about the process, and any project management software used along the way.
Have they done complex Magento integrations?
Knowledge of custom functionality and integration is key to achieving your individual site ideas and goals during the development process. Anyone with experience in Magento will tell you that it can be complex, so make sure your new developer can provide evidence of successful integration on previous projects.
Top tip: Think about what your store will need to integrate with; eBay & Amazon marketplaces, payment gateways like PayPal & Sagepay as well as ERP systems, marketing and accounting software are all common.
Have they done complex Magento migrations?
If you’re moving your website from a bespoke system or other content management platform, it’s key to select a Magento agency that has experience of you coul have colossal risk exposure. The agency’s project manager should have the full involvement of the front end developers, technical back end developers, solution specialists and technical SEO team at hand. A huge specification process must take place to ensure the risks are either eradicated or greatly reduced.
Top tip: Make sure the agency has a strong SEO team in place; you could trash your search engine rankings and revenue overnight by not applying the correct migration configuration to your store.
What user training is provided?
Always ensure that your chosen agency provides you with apt user training, because this will reduce your support costs in the long run. Magento is bound to be an alien solution to you at first, so make sure that relevant team members are provided with sufficient training and knowledge to manage the website, so that the only support you need is technical.
Top tip: Most good agencies don’t just leave you with a Magento for Dummies book. They provide on-site training or actual screencast videos of them doing taks on your site to ensure you have documented training for staff turnover.
Can you speak to previous or current clients?
If an agency won’t let you talk to previous clients, then you should be asking why. Putting you in contact with previous or current clients should not be a problem – this will allow you to ask questions about timekeeping, any issues, and how they were addressed during the development process. It’s your chance to hear, first-hand, what to expect.
Top tip: What better way to choose an agency than hear first-hand from an impartial current client. Ask how they handled their website build as well as their management skills post-launch.
What support is provided after launch? And how much does it cost?
Magento is one of the more robust ecommerce platforms out there, with vast functionality, which means you will need a little extra support from time-to-time. User training ensures that you can tackle many issues in-house, but you need any agency there just in case too. Make sure the price is right for you.
Top tip: Find out what timescales their service level agreement (SLA) for support contracts has. This will tell you what working hours and response time you can expect for any service.
What other services does the agency have to offer?
Does your agency understand SEO, marketing and social media? Is this important to you? Do you want a team, all under one roof, who can answer any queries you have about all aspects of your website? Or do you want to involve other agencies? As a priority, you need to make sure you’re dealing with experts in all areas – if they all work for the same company then this could be a great opportunity for you.
Top tip: Having an array of services also helps with your Magento store build. The involvement of a full service agency ensures your site will be designed well, technically astute and geared for search engines and marketing.
In order to harness the full potential of your Magento web store you need to understand what you chosen Magento agency can provide during the build and driving performance.
By working with one of our dedicated project advisors we can provide you with all the answer to these questions and an itemised quotation. Our big brand experience and proficient development team will lead you to solid growth in your chosen marketplace – providing a solution that truly meets the needs and objectives of your business.
Schedule a call with our advisors today for free, no obligation advice!