So, you’ve decided to start your ecommerce business. Congrats! If you’ve chosen Magento as a platform for your store you made a good decision.
Magento is one of the most feature-rich and powerful ecommerce platforms there is. It offers unlimited hosting control, lots of extensions and personalization opportunities. All this makes it extremely popular with B2B and B2C businesses of different types and sizes.
There are more than 270,000 merchants that chose Magento as a platform for their stores. This means it currently powers around 1,2% of all websites on the Internet! And according to BuiltWith, 9% of all ecommerce sites use Magento, with more and more vendors making a switch to it.
That being said, Magento (and Magento 2) is not the easiest platform to work with if you never had prior experience with it. That’s why many business owners decide to outsource the creation of their store to a company specialized in Magento development. But how do you choose an agency to make your dream project come true?
With the platform being so popular there are lots of Magento agencies out there. They are not all created equal. Picking one can be very complicated with so many companies offering their services and claiming they are the best.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of picking a great agency, and give you 10 questions to ask yourself about the company.
A good place to start is by looking for reviews of Magento development companies online. Places like Clutch, GoodFirms, Techreviewer all have rankings of Magento agencies based on user ratings. The company you are going to hire should have a lot of positive reviews, all from verified sources.
Reading through reviews will help you understand what to expect when working with a specific agency. You’ll see what their strengths and weaknesses are, what kind of clients they take on. Pay attention to the details: Was the communication clear and timely? How did they respond to an emergency? Were they open to discussion?
If you see a certain negative characteristic in several reviews, you are likely to experience it too.
We don’t need to tell you that experience matters. That’s why it is important to know how many years the development company has worked with Magento, and how many projects they’ve completed.
The more certified developers they have and the more different types of projects they’ve worked on, the better.
Another important point is to ask how long the typical project development cycle lasts. It is important to keep in mind that the average length of the Magento project is 6 to 7 months. Comparing this number to the one the agency gives you will help you understand their level of expertise.
To make sure the Magento agency you are choosing is qualified to complete your order, you should check if the developers from the company have Magento Certification.
After Magento became a part of Adobe, Magento Certification turned into Adobe Certification, which you need to renew every two years. The agency you pick should have the updated version of the certificate.
A step above being certified is becoming an official Magento Partner.
According to Magento themselves, they break up their web developers into three categories:
Each of these groups offers its own specific talents, so you can choose one depending on your needs and the type and size of your business.
Magento Solutions Partners are consulting companies that focus on building leading B2C and B2B digital experiences and helping businesses worldwide create a lasting impression on their customers. They do it through things like digital strategy, project scoping, integration with third party applications etc.
Magento Technology Partners help develop and optimize in many ways including product information management, improved customer discovery and enhanced purchasing journeys, business systems integration.
Magento Community Insiders are certified Magento developers who can work with you on your e-commerce project. The Insiders Program is an entry point to becoming a Partner, but to be considered Community Insider, an agency still needs to have certified Magento developers on their staff, and experience in working with Magento.
To qualify for the partnership, a development agency must complete a certain number of Magento projects and have Magento Certified Developers in their team. These developers will have to sit for an exam every year so that they stay up to date.
Being a partner signifies that the agency has all the latest industry knowledge, and works on building a lasting relationship with the Magento community. If you have an opportunity to work with a developer like this – go for it, you’ll likely get top-level service.
As we said before, the company you’ll end up choosing should have a well-developed workflow.
Ideally, the whole process should be documented somewhere – on their corporate website or in a document they sent you. If not, just ask them about it! They should tell you all the main steps in your cooperation and approximate timelines. The ability to answer this question indicates that the agency works effectively and reliably.
The Magento agency you’ll work with should ask you many questions, since they are a solid base to understand what you look for. The better they understand your vision of the project, the better they will be able to meet it. The agency needs to know everything, including your target audience. If the agency didn’t ask many questions, and is still able to provide you with estimations, this a red flag. A company like this likely isn’t interested in the quality of the complete project.
Look through the agency’s portfolio and have a look at the completed websites. Do you like how they look? Is their functionality similar to what you are looking for?
It would be especially beneficial to look at projects in your industry. Bonus points if they have a lot of them – it is a sign the agency will know what you are going to expect, and what the typical challenges in your area are.
Make sure you get a detailed cost estimation from the development agency. They should be able to break down how the time and cost will be spread for the projected tasks. After talking with them you should have a clear understanding of the pricing system.
You should also ask the agency about the charges for any additional services and maintenance.
Be aware that in a lot of cases the price determines quality. You don’t necessarily need to go to the most expensive agency there is. But if the estimated cost you are provided with is too small, be aware that there must be a reason for it.
At the end of the day, it all depends on how much money your ecommerce store is projected to generate. If you expect your website to have a big scope and get a lot of traffic, the budget should reflect that. Spending more to get a fully personalized website based on your needs would definitely be worth it.
Trusting an outsource company with your data can be scary. Every good agency is well aware of that. They should have an excellent security system to keep your data confidential.
If your Magento agency is to be trusted, they will state clear measures they take to make sure your information stays safe. Some of them are:
Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA): A legal document that both your and your agency sign that states that none of the sides will share any critical data without permission.
Breaking up data and sharing each part with an individual person that needs it for their tasks.
Code Transfer: Transferring you any intellectual property over the code/technology. You don’t want to pay fees for using a code that is actually yours. Not every company will have that in their contract, so you should definitely bring it up.
This is a personal matter, so it’s hard to give specific advice on. Generally, you should feel comfortable working with the development agency.
Before diving in and agreeing to work with them, take a look at the people who would work with your project. Apart from getting their certification details and technical skills, try to understand if you are going to be comfortable communicating with them.
One of the aspects is their location. Everyone lives in different time zones, and English might not be everyone’s first language. Pay attention to when the agency responds to you and what their level of English is. You don’t need to work with a native English speaker that lives in the same country you do, but their location shouldn’t be a barrier in your communication.
Another thing is their general communication skills. You should be comfortable voicing your concerns and feel like the agency does their best to understand you. The company needs to keep you updated throughout the entire process of building your ecommerce store.
What’s comfortable will be different for everybody, so we advise you to pay attention to how you feel after every interaction with them.
Here are some other questions to ask yourself: Do they ask you a lot of questions (we already mentioned how important it is)? Do they respond fast? Do they give you in-depth answers or send generic short replies?
Good Magento developers also provide several possible channels of communication, depending on what you are used to. They should be reachable by email, phone, Skype, and if you prefer your own communication channel, they should adapt accordingly.
If you want your ecommerce project to be successful in the long run, quality testing and deployment should be a priority.
It’s good to have an understanding of what to expect of project deployments and of what happens afterwards. The roll-out process should be done correctly, so that your customers won’t get affected by any technical or functional issues .
Once deployment is complete, the agency should focus on a smooth and proper maintenance of your store. The best agencies always provide ongoing 24/7 support at all times, so any errors can be fixed quickly.
Some agencies also offer the complete service pack for your ecommerce project. It can include things like hosting, SEO, online promotion. Be aware that the chances your agency is top of the line in all of these things are pretty small. It is probably going to be better to pick separate agencies for different needs.
Choosing a good agency can be tough, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience in the area, and never worked with an outsource company before.
There are a lot of agencies offering a number of services, and it can take a lot of time and effort to narrow your selection to just a few options to choose from.
Hopefully, we gave enough information for you to be comfortable choosing a Magento agency to work with. Remember, for an ecommerce store a website is likely a main company asset a customer will interact with. Therefore, selecting the best Magento agency is a key to boosting your sales and establishing a good brand image.
If you have any questions left about Magento ecommerce platform or the development, feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help!