Hello to Amasty blog readers!

Today we’re interviewing Steven Wu, the Co-Founder and Technical Director of R & W Media. His company is a member of Amasty affiliate program.

Steven WuSteven has been working in the e-commerce industry for more than 10 years. He specializes in developing custom Magento solutions. He has written for online publications and well-known print magazines. In the past, Steven has worked with brands such as HTC, Cisco, Hitachi, BT, Panasonic, HSBC and Natwest.

 – Could you please tell us a little bit more about your company?

 – R & W Media is a leading Magento e-commerce agency, based in London, UK. We specialize in designing and developing highly converting Magento solutions that deliver results.

We comprise a team of expert UX and creative designers, with years of experience designing user-friendly and highly engaging ecommerce sites. Our development team is an elite team of certified Magento developers, heavily skilled in customizing the Magento platform to our client’s bespoke needs.

To keep our clients communicated we have dedicated project managers, to ensure we provide optimal service to our clients at all times.

 – What is your company’s core advantage when it comes to e-commerce (Magento) development?

 – We have years of ecommerce experience, with a decade of digital experience and most of all we know Magento inside and out.

But our main focus is providing the best customer service to all our clients. We aim to provide consultation drawing from our years of expertise. We want to help our clients grow their business online and become a market leader. We work with companies ranging from start-ups to large multi-million pound SME ecommerce businesses. Bottomline is we help our clients achieve their goals and exceed their expectations.

 – Can you share the most unusual/difficult project you’ve worked on?

 – One particular project that was challenging for us was when we were replatforming The Toy Store website on to Magento. To coincide with The Toy Store website launch, they were also launching a new retailer shop in London. So this meant we had a tight deadline that needs to tie in with their marketing campaign, that couldn’t be missed.

The Toy Store had thousands of products, besides this, the client wanted to create an omnichannel shopping experience for customers. So it meant we had to develop and optimise Magento to handle all this data and ensure it was all fully synchronised.

Throughout their retailer stores and online store, The Toy Store uses Microsoft Dynamics to manage their whole stock inventory. Working with our technology partners we fully integrated Microsoft Dynamics with Magento. By customizing a middleware software, products now flowed into Magento and orders were synced back to Microsoft Dynamics. On top of this loyalty points collected online could be spent in-store and customers could view purchase orders all online. This resulted in a rich omnichannel shopping experience for customers. The launch was a huge success and now the new Magento store can handle thousands of products without trouble and fully optimised for performance.

 – What’s a perfect first-time request for customization from a customer?

 – When it comes to any Magento customisation, we always sit down with the client and discuss what kind of customisation they are looking for. What features are required, what is the objective and timescale required. This will be part of the project scoping phase. Where we plan the project based on the requirements necessary.

Once we have the finalised scope and confirmed this with the client this will be all documented. Our designers and developers review this to break this down to into sub-tasks so they know what is involved in executing this customisation.

Wireframes and designs will be delivered to the client as a visual of what the final piece would look like before we go ahead developing it.

Our project manages keeps the client updated and ensures the project is delivered on time and meets the client’s expectation.

 – How do you communicate with your customers?

 – We keep our clients informed regularly through our project management software. We use Active Collab, it’s a fantastic project management software we’ve been using since the conception of our company. Our project managers use this software to keep our clients updated throughout the lifetime of a project. Although we don’t bombard them every day with updates or reports. Only when necessary.

With our project management software, clients can check the status of projects, look at specific tasks and who’s working on it and the current progress, without having to ask us directly. This helps to relieve our project managers have to post updates to the client on every small task.

Whenever a new task is assigned or a comment is left, our project managers are immediately notified so they can respond to it directly to our client.

Our project managers will also regularly setup calls and meeting with our clients to for catch ups and to discuss vital points regarding the project. We aim to respond to any emails, comments or calls within 1 hour of receiving it.

 – As you’re a distributed team, I guess you’re familiar with the customers’ fear of not being into full control of the project because of the distance and time zones. What do you do to make this fear go away? How do you make your customers feel involved during the process?

 – Most of us are located at our London office. However, we’re an open and modern working company. So we provide options for our team to work from home. Also, we aim to hire the best designers and developers available. It’s not possible to hire the best if you instigate a 10-mile hiring ban. So some of our elite developers are working from a distance.

Some of our developers or designers are not always working in the office, this allows them to fully focus on the job at hand, without any distraction or time wasted on the commute. Our staff can effectively manage their own time.

As we have a very strong method of communication with our clients, none of the distance affects the client’s’ perspective and work is always delivered on time. Clients have mentioned our communication skills and getting back to them even on an unanswered call has been extremely fast compared to other agencies they have worked with in the past.

So there has never been any chance of not being in full control. Instead, we found work efficiency and quality has improved working as a distributed team.

 – Please name top three customers’ mistakes customers make when they’re ordering Magento development and customizations.

 – Some clients have worked with other ecommerce applications other than Magento. Such as Shopify and Woocommerce. These platforms are much smaller and simplified than Magento. So a lot of clients have unrealistic expectations that the same time frame for building, for example, a Shopify store would be the same with Magento.

This is untrue, Magento typically takes longer to develop in. As it’s a much more robust and in turn more complex, it requires more time than other applications. So we typically need to inform and educate our client on this matter. And to ensure we set the right expectations from the beginning.

Our clients occasionally comes across an extension or see a feature from a competitor’s site and want the exact feature replicated on their own site. It’s great to see they’re always trying to improve and keep up with the market. However, we notice that clients try to have and rely on too many extensions. Currently, the marketplace has over 1000 extensions.

Not all extensions are created equal. Having too many extensions can cause your site to load extremely slow, hurt performance, code conflicts or worse irritate customers. That’s why we’re very selective about third-party extensions. If we can develop it in-house we normally do. However, if a reputable extension provider has an extension that does the same job this can help save hours of work. Always be careful of using third-party extension, as mentioned before problems can arise from using one and some are not fully tested and we’ve seen many extensions are extremely buggy. That’s why we only work with industry leaders of Magento extension providers.

Another mistake clients make is that they think hosting companies are the same. Or that a generic hosting provider can provide optimum Magento hosting solutions. Unfortunately, Magento is a very specialized application and requires expert knowledge in this area to fully provide an optimised Magento hosting solution.

This is why we partner with UK’s leading Magento hosting providers. Who has a track record of providing the best managed Magento solutions. Our hosting partners have in-house Magento engineers, so they know how to fully optimise Magento for performance. Whether you are running a small online store or have a multi-million-pound turnover our hosting providers can help support your hosting infrastructure.

 – And please follow up with the best tips for customers so they can make the process of creating/updating their Magento site more efficient.

 – Boosting sales is crucial for any e-commerce business looking to expand. Although Magento comes equipped some amazing out of the box functionality, the marketing features are a little desired.

This is why we recommend you integrate Magento with a respectable email marketing provider such as MailChimp or a marketing automation company such as DotMailer.

Once integrated you can better manage your email subscribers, send out product recommendations, retrieve cart abandonments and use advanced features such as marketing automation can really help increase conversions for your online store.

We thank Steven for giving these insights into the company’s work and are excited to collaborate with great e-commerce and Magento agencies!