The magic of Magento: choosing the right partner for your ecommerce project

With well over a quarter of a million businesses using it and $155 billion in gross merchandise volume transacted on the platform annually, it’s clear to see why Magento has become the most popular commerce solution in the world.

From Nespresso, Liverpool FC, AXA and Christian Louboutin, to Nahdi, Screwfix, Universal Music Group and Gap, the biggest brands – across all industries and on every continent - are using the platform to power their digital presence.

With the uncertainty around bricks-and-mortar shopping in the current pandemic climate, having the right online presence is more vital now than ever - as ecommerce continues to dominate the retail landscape.

Finding a digital developer to help you create an engaging customer experience, cut through the jargon, give honest appraisals and advice, and support your business throughout the process and beyond, is key.

If you are planning on expanding quickly into multiple territories, do they have the experience to continue on this journey with you? Do they have a creative team to help your design stand out from the crowd? Will they be honest, constructive and provide workable solutions?

While every business is unique and will go through different procurement processes, here Redbox takes a look at some of the steps to consider to help you choose the right partner for the job.

  1. Review your existing site

A good place to start with any new tech project you are undertaking. Set up a team from across the business to review your digital operation from top to bottom - customer feedback is essential.

Now look at the digital stores of rivals closely. What are they doing differently to you? How about other brands in other industries? What do you or their customers like about them and what could you improve upon or develop?

Consider design or tech trends that are being discussed in ecommerce. What might help you stand out and encourage new customers, without alienating your core customer base? What content solutions would improve the customer experience further? Which payment solutions could you consider incorporating to make the shopping experience even better?

  1. It’s good to plan

When you have reviewed your own online store, it’s time to start laying the foundations for the plan for your new project.

A good digital agency will explore this with you in more detail, but having an initial plan in place will put you in a better space from the beginning and help you make crucial decisions on potential partners.

When would you like to launch? Are you launching in multiple countries? What issues in the business as a whole could stop deadlines being met on the build?

What’s your budget? Remember, your online store is likely to play a major part in your business growth for years to come and costs must reflect this.

  1. Do your research

With many ecommerce agencies to choose from, how do you know which one is the right one for you?

Can you solicit any recommendations? If you can, the key here is to challenge the person making the recommendations (the partner or sales manager) on their motivation for choosing the agency. Was it cost? Do they help meet the sales person's targets more easily? This may establish the reasons that they are recommending them and help with your decision.

Has the agency experience of working in the markets you are looking to launch in? Do they have knowledge of your industry?

Payment methods, logistics, taxes, regulation and more, vary greatly from country to country. To work with a company that has experience in these areas is invaluable.

Take a good look at the ecommerce agency’s own site. What brands have they worked with? Do they include case studies with quotes from satisfied ecommerce managers or directors? Some brands will expect their ecommerce partners to sign NDAs, but others will be only too happy to talk about what a great job they have done and give examples of how their work has led to more customers and sales.

Has the agency won awards for their work? It’s another sure-fire way of determining if they are good at their job and you’ll be likely to find out more about the processes and ideas they went through in quotes or press releases that come from the awards’ ceremonies themselves.

If you want a new design, what does their design team look like? Are they renown for producing visually exciting experiences?

Finally, check out the Adobe partner site. What is the partner status?  An Adobe Platinum Partner status would suggest that the agency is at the top of their game.

Adobe Platinum Partners have a significant presence in multiple Adobe geographic areas, with specialised skills and competencies in multiple Adobe Experience Cloud solutions.

  1. Arrange a meeting or RFP

Depending on the company and region, the next stage is a request for proposal (RFP), or if non-formal, a meeting.

Use this to assess if:

  • the agency is the right cultural fit
  • they have the technical, strategic and creative capability
  • you can work with them
  • they have the right credentials
  • they have done their homework on your business
  • they can scale up as your business expands
  • they’re willing to go that extra mile, and visit your stores for example

You’ll also want to gauge how past relationships have been structured and whether you will get a dedicated team.  Find out what success looks like to them and importantly, whether they are excited to work with your brand.

  1. Make your decision

When you have narrowed it down to two or three agencies, it’s time to choose the one that fits your company best.

Some brands may expect the agency to undertake a small piece of work (audit or discovery) to ensure you can work together, as well as build trust.

But the most important consideration is that you are not just looking for an agency, you are looking for a partner. The partner you choose should bring new ideas and energy to your business and will work alongside you for many years. After the initial project, you are likely to want to update your site regularly and if you expand into other territories, will need a company to work with you as you launch into these markets.

A partnership requires trust, communication and harmony. You don’t want to settle for an agency that takes on your project but leaves you feeling as though you are a hindrance every time you get in contact.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re looking for an agency to take over someone else’s work, it may cost you more in the long-run especially if they have to spend time unpicking their work or discovering major issues or faults.

In this scenario, ask the agency to give you examples of any problems on past builds and the solutions they put in place to overcome the problems.

Pawel Dabrowski, Nahdi’s head of omnichannel explained after collaborating with Redbox on its omnichannel implementation:

“When we were looking for partners to lead the implementation, Redbox met us and brought the confidence both from a business perspective and from an understanding of the overall ecosystem.

“Other potential partners had more of a sales approach, but Redbox could answer all of our technical questions, as well as provide examples of the work they had done for other brands.  It gave us the assurance we needed and confirmed they had the right commerce solutions to support our business.”

In conclusion

Finding a tech partner that can fulfil all your needs is no easy task.

Take your time researching possible partners and speaking to other brands who have worked with them. You’ll soon get a good idea of whether they are the company that you want to work with long-term.

What are their credentials? What are their technical and design capabilities? Do they have multi-brand experience, as well as international reach?

Redbox speaks from a unique vantage point - recognised as one of the top Magento partners and one of only a handful of agencies worldwide to receive Adobe Platinum Solution status. Redbox is widely considered the No.1 Adobe Commerce Partner in the UK and Middle East.

Over the years, it has gained a reputation for delivering high-end digital and omni-channel experiences for some of the best-known B2B and B2C brands, including Nespresso, Universal Music Group, Fortnum & Mason, Screwfix and Nestlé.

Earlier this year, Redbox joined the SQLI Group - one of the most ambitious digital services agencies in Europe. SQLI has multi-platform expertise and capability across Europe and gives Redbox access to even more resources, skills and experiences than before.

If you are looking for a reputable partner to undertake your digital commerce project, pick up the phone and speak to Redbox.