CEO & IT Architect
Have you decided on implementing an online store or expanding an existing one? Have you read my previous article freelancer or e-commerce agency and you decided that your online shop requires a bigger team? Today I will explain how to choose the right Prestashop agency and what you should check before beginning a partnership.
The topic of this article refers to implementing online stores through Prestashop platform, but you can use these tips while deciding to search for the right e-commerce agency or software house.
STEP 1 – Pre-selection
The easiest way to choose an agency is by asking for a recommendation from the people you trust. If that were the case then you wouldn’t be reading this article. The first step is to search for at least 10 e-commerce agencies that specialize in implementing the system you’d like.
The agency’s website – what to look for:
- The quality of the website.
- Credibility – how long they’ve been on the market, the number of finished projects if they have any reviews or opinions.
- Case studies – every agency should have an “our work” tab. Click on it and take a look at the linked websites. Do they look good? Are they user-friendly? Are they aesthetically pleasing? Remember to look at the product presentation, checkout process, and payment methods.
- Who makes up the team? If it seems unclear on the website, don’t hesitate to contact the agency via phone or email.
- Check the company’s social media.
- Do the company’s employees share their expert knowledge? This isn’t a must but, most companies are judged based on their employees’ work.
Is the technological specialization of the implementation company important?
Saying that when someone claims to take care of everything, they will take care of nothing tends to be accurate. Especially in such a specialized industry like IT. If you’re looking to implement e-commerce, working with a software house that specializes in mobile apps isn’t the best idea. They’ll probably be able to implement the software, but since they don’t work with this type of client daily, they probably won’t be able to give you advice. This is why you should take the company’s domain specialization into account.
Many technologies, especially open-source software, have developer and partnership certifications. This is something that should interest you. For example, you can check if the agency is an official PrestaShop partner, which means that its developers are certified by Prestashop. This guarantees a specific standard of the software produced for your business.
Does the size of the Prestashop agency matter?
It isn’t easy to answer this question. A bigger Prestashop agency means more people, but that doesn’t always guarantee a quick implementation. Large agencies often attend to a few clients at a time. A smaller agency with a little team is usually more involved in its clients.
A small agency is probably hoping to grow and is likely to focus all of its attention on your project, but there is a larger risque of incompetence compared to a more experienced agency.
Obviously, the bigger agencies like to work with the big fish. This is a form of “security” for the decision-maker. We contracted IBM to work for us and it didn’t work out, but we hired the best so it’s not our fault. However, do you want to make a decision based on only this?
The size of the agency, counting in people, is not a reliable and important parameter. Both small and large companies have pros and cons. It will be much more important to check references, communication skills, and the level of advice the company can give you.
STEP 2 – Contact and offers
You’ve done some basic research based on the previous points and have chosen 3-5 Prestashop agencies that interest you. Now, it’s time to meet the potential candidates.
Set a meeting to check their communication and advisory levels
In the case of larger implementations, an online or offline conversation is standard. If the agency corresponds only by e-mail and does not show too much commitment, it bodes poorly for the future. If that’s the case, you should request an interview yourself.
During the first interview, you will be asked to present your project. After the presentation, you should ask to see projects implemented by the agency that are similar to yours. If you are implementing a project in Prestashop, please consider contacting us.
During the second or third interview, ask to talk to a team member, someone technical, marketing, maybe a software designer or UX designer. Interviewing a specialist will show you whether you are an important customer for the given agency and the level of competence and advisory they offer.
It’s also good to discuss a specific problem that you would like to solve. The answers will show the level of commitment, expertise, and knowledge the agency already has in implementing Prestashop projects. Constructive criticism is another important aspect of the conversation.
It may be that you insist on a solution, but the Prestashop agency has tested it several times with previous customers with no success. Of course, the final decision is always up to you, but the agency should present you with solutions and explain their validity. Prepare an estimation of costs and profits resulting from implementing the changes.
What technical questions should you ask during a meeting with the agency?
Asking technical questions can tell you if the agency is using the correct tools to guarantee safety and stability on Prestashop. This includes:
- code repository,
- changing the management system,
- automatic deploy,
- continuous integration and continuous delivery.
Other essential topics include solutions for optimizing the store operation from the technological side. If you feel that your technical knowledge is lacking, you should consider hiring an implementation consultant.
Implementation and project maintenance billing methods
Fixed price – it is a billing model which helps to maintain a specific budget for the project. The upside is that you know the total cost right from the start. The downside is a higher price because the Prestashop agency has to assume a buffer for corrections, changes, or challenges that will appear during the implementation of the project. It is a good model for small, repetitive, and not personalized projects.
Time & Materials – in this billing model you only pay for the completed work. You pay a set hourly fee for the number of hours that the agency spent on completing your project. You should receive updates regularly. This is a more popular billing model for big projects. Unlike Fixed Price, this billing model allows you to make changes to the project while it is being completed. It is the best option for big and constantly growing projects.
Comparing offers from several Prestashop agencies
If you decide on Time & Materials, you should request an estimated amount of hours needed to complete your project. An estimation will allow you to compare not only two similar offers but also compare both billing methods. The difference in hourly fees will surely be around 10 to 15 percent. Remember that an experienced team will do much more in 10 hours than a less experienced one.
Before deciding on Fixed Price, be sure to find out what you’re receiving for the price. That is the only way to compare “apples to apples instead of apples to pears”.
Remember that a good specialist costs a certain amount of money. The final price shouldn’t be the decision maker.
The contract – what to remember before implementation
- In what period will the agency carry out your Prestashop implementation?
- Can you buy an hourly package for a given month, which will allow you to control the timeliness of the project?
- Is an SLA (Service Level Agreement) arranged( a set response time and a specific date on which the reported problem must be solved)?
- What communication channel does the company use?
- What is the frequency of updates and consulting?
- What is the system for task management if there is one?
- What is the form of reporting project progress if there are reports
- The form of cooperation should be flexible and safe for both parties.
- A record of the project documentation should be kept at all times.
- Does the price include launching a test version of the implementation website before it is added to a working store?
If no one has notified you about these aspects, it is worth considering whether the company anticipated them and whether they have experience in implementing these types of projects.
STEP 3 – A test task for the agency
If you are planning a large project and long-term cooperation with an e-commerce agency, it is worth giving a small project to implement at the beginning. You will then be able to assess not only the speed and quality of the task performance but the level of communication and consulting. Especially if you are dissatisfied or your current contractor is insufficient, you can arrange a small task with the new agency or even a certain test period.
Choosing a Prestashop agency – summary
None of the professional agencies cares to wind up the number of work hours because good companies have a lot of work.
Professional Prestashop agencies care about efficient, developed solutions between the client and the agency, in which we achieve the business goal within the budget we assume.
This is purely from a business point of view. If the cooperation is efficient your problems decrease, and your income increases. This means that you are satisfied with the cooperation and that your store is growing. As the store grows, there are new implementations for agencies in which you are willing to invest, because they give you a great return. I wish you such cooperation.
Lastly, I have a proposition for you. If you run an online store or plan to implement a store on Prestashop, try our FREE CONSULTATION. Click on the FREE ONLINE CONSULTATION button, provide your contact details and choose the topic of the conversation.
NOTE: This is not a conversation with a sales representative but with an expert. We will contact you and arrange a phone call, during which one of our specialists:
- Piotr Szeliga
- Dawid Grajek
- Tomasz Królak
will talk about your project, answer your questions, present the best solution for you and give an initial quote in 24 hours.