What Should You Look For in an Adobe Commerce Agency?

In summary
  • Choosing the right developers or agency partner will have a great impact on your experience with Adobe Commerce, in part due to the technical knowledge required to effectively use the platform.
  • Hiring freelancers or your own development team are viable options in some situations.
  • A long-term partnership with an agency is like adding a business partner and can even help make better-informed decisions for current and future goals.
  • Research and communication are essential steps of the process of finding the right developer for you. You should have goals and expectations going into any partnership, and be able to talk about them with the agency you work with.

You’re ready to build or upgrade your Adobe Commerce store, but don’t have the team to undertake the task. Now what? How do you move forward, and who should you bring in to execute your vision? There are multiple paths you can take, so you want to be sure you’re choosing the right one for your needs. From hiring a freelancer or employing your own developers, to bringing in an agency partner, let’s explore the factors to consider when making this decision.

What is Adobe Commerce?

Adobe Commerce, previously known as Magento, is a robust eCommerce platform. It is highly customizable, and has an immense community of developers behind it. While some view Adobe Commerce as clunky, heavy and difficult to use, if you have the right team with the proper knowledge, you’ll find it to be a great platform. Because of the technical knowledge required to truly take advantage of this platform, your development team or agency partner will have a large impact on your experience with Adobe Commerce.

Why does your agency partner matter?

In addition to the knowledge required to properly use Adobe Commerce, your agency partner matters when it comes to your overall success. eCommerce, whether it’s the core of your business or a recent addition to your brick and mortar business, is an important part of success in this day and age. If the experience on your website is lacking, you will likely feel the impact on the business you see– or, more likely, don’t see– being done on your website. Choosing the right agency partner is like picking the right tool for the job; the work will be more efficient, and the end result will be that much better.

Trail sign

Freelance vs. full time

Maybe for your project, you could get away with a freelancer. There are some extremely talented freelancers out there and are a great fit for certain tasks. Freelancers tend to be good for short-term projects, or long-term projects with only a few hours required.

Websites like LinkedIn, Fiverr, and Upwork are great resources to turn to if you choose this route. You can search for people that may fit the bill for you, and look at their endorsements, reviews, and portfolios from previous work. These tools allow you to make the most educated decision possible.

What about the risks of using a freelancer? If they’re that talented, they’re likely prime targets for other companies or agencies to hire them. That limited availability could be pretty frustrating. The bus factor is pretty high when you have a single developer working on a task, and given how technical Adobe Commerce is, this risk may not be worth it depending on the scope of the project. While Fiverr and Upwork have policies in place to support you if your freelancer ghosts you, they can’t get that wasted time back for you.

Business meeting/interview

Should you hire a developer?

Maybe you’re considering hiring developers instead. Having someone you can rely on in-house could potentially be a better long-term decision than using freelancers. There are factors that should be taken into consideration before posting that job listing though. There are ebbs and flows in workload for developers related to busy and slow seasons in the business. If you hire developers, you should be prepared to potentially have to let them go when business slows down.

In addition to bringing in developers, it would also be wise to hire a project manager. Developers do not like to get caught between multiple people on the leadership team, all with different demands and expectations. A project manager would be the go-between for leadership and execution, which would help reduce frustration from all parties, and establish reasonable and agreed-upon expectations.

eCommerce is constantly growing and evolving, and should you choose to hire developers, you are also responsible for keeping them trained on new technologies. Adobe Commerce certifications aren’t required to work with the platform, but help immensely in ensuring your developers have the necessary knowledge. These certifications now expire every two years, so in addition to encouraging further education, you should also plan on allowing the time they need to get recertified every two years. Investing in your developers not only helps keep their skills up to par, but also can help with employee retention. Adobe Commerce developers are in demand, and if you aren’t willing to invest in your developers, chances are another merchant or agency will.

Are you expecting a short-term or long-term commitment?

Maybe now you’ve determined that it’s in your best interest to use an agency for your project. Now you must determine if you’re looking for something short-term for one project, or a long-term relationship to help you along the way. There are certainly agencies out there that would be more than happy to just build a website and hand it off to you, and there’s nothing wrong with this arrangement. You could, however, find that if you need an agency’s help down the road, you may be left starting a relationship from scratch. This means spending time with a new partner and teaching them the ins and outs of your business and your needs.

If you were to partner with an agency long-term, you only have to go through that learning process once, and the agency will be in the position to grow with your business, so-to-speak. The agency would be better-equipped to help you make the best decisions based on your needs– both current and future– and their expert knowledge.

The things people don’t talk about when selecting an agency

Like any good relationship, communication with your agency partner is key. Money is one topic that you should openly discuss when selecting an agency, but maybe not for the reason you’re thinking. Most agencies should be asking you for a budget. While this may feel like they are trying to maximize their billing to you, they’re probably asking to set expectations. Let’s say you have a significant backlog of work. Agency One may be $20/hr but it takes them 10 hours, while Agency 2 may be $200/hr and it takes them 1 hour. Agency Two could leave you with some sticker shock by burning through the work so fast, so being up-front about what you expect to spend is critical.

How soon do you need this project started, and how long until the agency can fit you in? Developer availability is a blessing and curse– it hits the profit margin but it allows them to take on work immediately. Depending on the agency’s size and current workload, you may need to wait before they can get started on your website. Talking about this in the initial discussions will keep everyone on the same page as far as timing is concerned.

Another detail that not many people consider is location. It’s possible to work with agencies all over the country or even the world thanks to technology. But what about working with someone that’s based in close proximity to you? Few people leverage this added value, but being able to sit down in person and talk through anything over coffee can be beneficial, and strengthen the working relationship.

Key points to evaluate

There are countless agency options to choose from these days, so what can you do to narrow your search? There are a few key details that you should assess while doing your research.

  • Are they certified? One of the ways to check for certifications is to check the Adobe Solution Partner Directory. Certifications aren’t everything, but they can be a helpful indicator of the agency’s knowledge of and commitment to a platform.
  • References. Reviews are helpful, but is there someone you can talk to directly that has experience working with them?
  • Portfolio. Seeing the overall quality of their work should influence your decision. Better yet, have they executed similar tasks or projects to what you need?
  • Are they SOC Type II compliant? With new data breaches being reported all the time, your customers are counting on you to keep their information safe. Choosing an agency that has gone through the audit process and is SOC Type II compliant is one step you can take to safeguard the data that has been entrusted to you.
Key and glasses on top of notebook
SwiftOtter, Inc.
It relates to <a href="https://swiftotter.com/technical?tags=7" class="plain-tag">Magento 2</a>, <a href="https://swiftotter.com/technical?tags=10" class="plain-tag">Marketing</a>, <a href="https://swiftotter.com/technical?tags=18" class="plain-tag">Productivity</a> and <a href="https://swiftotter.com/technical?tags=21" class="plain-tag">Project management</a>.
Joseph Maxwell - president / senior developer at Swift Otter

President / senior developer at SwiftOtter - @swiftotter_joe