If youve chosen Magento for your web store, congratulations! Youve joined a community of more than 150,000 merchants worldwide that are using the Magento platform. Now that youve made your selection, the next step is finding an implementation partner that is right for your business. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Recognize the Various Types of Magento Partners
There are three types of Magento partners that can help you implement your online store.
- Magento Solution Partners are system integrators, web designers and eCommerce experts that help you build and design your online store. The recently announced Solution Partner Program consists of over 250 solution partners segmented into to two levels, Gold and Silver. There is also a Magento Associate program for firms looking to build their skill set and develop a Magento practice.
- Magento Industry Partners create the applications that help you customize your online store to meet your specific business objectives. These 100+ partners offer tools to manage email marketing, payment processing, shipping and fulfillment, accounting, back-end integration, customer relationship management (CRM), search engine marketing/optimization (SEM/SEO), analytics, product data management, customer service, and many others.
- Magento Hosted Partners provide either dedicated servers or cloud services to host merchants online stores. With high availability and performance capabilities, these partners allow you to operate an online store without a large IT investment and ongoing maintenance.
2. Know Where to Find Magento Programmers
Implementation partners can be found in dozens of countries speaking dozens of languages, but its important to select a partner that is certified by Magento so they have proper training and access to various tools, product licenses and support. Certified partners can be found in the Magento Partner Directory found on their website:
3. Understand What to Expect from a Magento Consultant
When evaluating a Magento consultant, it may be difficult to know services to expect. The answer is to have a firm grasp on your companys needs (or wish list) and then find a partner who can deliver it.
Before you can do anything, you need a plan. If you have developed a plan on your own, then interview partners to see who can best help you implement it. If you dont have a plan, find a partner who can help you build one. It is up to you to set the expectations up front of what you want/need your partner to do.
4. Ask the Right Questions
The best way to determine which Magento consultant will provide the best customization for your Magento instance is to ask the right questions. Uncover what the partner really stands for and then determine if that philosophy aligns with your goals. Here are some questions to consider when conducting your Magento developer evaluation:
What is the profile of your typical customer?
How complex are your engagements?
Do you work with many struggling Magento users who are on the brink of shutting it down?
- How many of them do you save?
- What makes them decide to stay?
What other platforms do you support and why Magento?
If I become a customer with you, what will you do to keep me as a customer?
What can I expect from your customer service? Get details.
Do you have any references I can talk to with similar situations to my own?
Do you have any case studies I can read?
What is the breadth and depth of your technical staff?
- Youll need more than a Magento programmer. Look not only for technical skills and design skills but also for a working knowledge of multi-channel business processes which will be important if you sell through more than one channel.
- Look for design savvy, working business process knowledge, eCommerce expertise and Magento experience.
5. Look at the Big Picture
Many companies are short-sighted when implementing an eCommerce solution. They only look at their immediate future and the web store itself. The key is to look for a partner that has an eye on the big picture, just as you do for your own business. You may sell through other channels besides eCommerce, such as a brick and mortar store, direct, or even other online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
You have back-end applications that will need to be integrated and business processes that need to be followed so you can operate your multi-channel environment efficiently. Your Magento consultant should know enough about eCommerce to understand that Magento is a major component of your overall selling strategy, and that how well it fits into your environment is just as important as its implementation.