Busy e-commerce merchants have a number of ways that they can adequately staff their e-commerce operations and it usually includes some combination of internal hires, contractors, and service providers (including agencies). Getting the mix “right” is not always easy and it requires balancing the skills and trades that are easier to find and manage with those that aren’t.
Although Accorin can be incredibly flexible with our service, we have two primary types of staffing solutions that we provide to our clients in support of their ongoing e-commerce operations.
- Our Maintenance, Support, and Evolution (MSE) retainer, where we provide N hours per month across a mix of skills that is complimentary with the merchant’s internal team.
- Our modified “staff augmentation” model where we contract with the merchant to provide specific FTE skills (through specific people) on a full time ongoing basis for a level of service based on the required time (typically 6 months, 1 year or two years).
These staffing models come with flexible contracts that allow our merchants to add or remove service as their needs change. But every merchant operation is different, so here’s a bit more information about each model including anonymous case studies for each.
Maintenance, Support, & Evolution (MSE) Retainer
The “MSE” is our most popular post launch and takeover support program. The program provides merchants with continuous access to a number of the key operational skills needed to proactively manage and grow an e-commerce business; including the ability to complete proactive and planned tasks in the following operational categories:
- Dev Ops
- System Maintenance
- System Integration Support
- 3rd Party Software integration support
- E-Commerce platform support
- Performance monitoring and enhancement
- Security monitoring
- Marketing support
|Module updates||Functional issue resolution||New features & functional enhancements|
|Private App hosting||Technical issue resolution||System integrations|
|Log file reviews||Hosting issue resolution||Training|
|Patch updates||Marketing support||Reporting|
Accorin has supported hundreds of merchants with MSE retainer support over the last decade and it continues to be the most popular way that new clients onboard with us. The average tenure of our MSE clients is approaching 4 years.
At Accorin, we guide our clients into Bronze, Silver, or Gold categories of service and support under MSE. This allows a merchant to match the skills they need and or would like to outsource with the internal skills that they already have. Every client gets a dedicated Project Manager with whom to work (All Adobe Commerce project managers are Certified Magento Solution Specialists) and plan ongoing tasks and series of sprints. Larger retainers allow for greater flexibility and completion of a larger number of evolutionary projects such as:
- adding features
- completing upgrades
- changing site structure
- adding new content / merchandising components.
Larger retainers are better suited for merchants doing $5mm+ online that have a need or desire to partially outsource the ongoing skills required to properly service and support an e-commerce operation, and that have a number of integrations (ERP, CRM, PIM or custom).
Most of our Magento / Adobe Commerce client merchants with multiple storefronts, integrations, and / or B2B functionality engage with us at the “Silver” or “Gold” level of support. Our Shopify and BigCommerce merchants that utilize our Rocketflowz tool to manage custom functionality and integration are “Silver” level clients. Bronze level clients tend to be merchants with simple catalogs, minimal integrations, and mostly B2C functionality.
Our clients that outsource a majority of their e-commerce operations to us (we have several, including some conducting $50mm+ per year online) work with us at a customized “Enterprise” level.
The following is an overview of the differences between our typical service levels.
|Monthly Hours||Approx. 30 hrs||Approx. 50 hrs||Approx. 80 hrs||Customized per client|
|Communication||Bi-weekly check-in call with your Account Manager.||Weekly check-in call with your Account Manager.||Weekly check-in call with your Account Manager.||Daily / Weekly check-in call with your Account Manager.|
|Quarterly Business Review||Included||Included||Included||Included|
|Maintenance||Proactively planned||Proactively planned||Proactively planned||Proactively planned|
|Monthly Hours||Approximately 30 hrs. per month||Approximately 50 hrs. per month||Approximately 80 hrs. per month||Customized per client|
|Support||Expert Support Included||Expert Support Included||Expert Support Included||Expert Support Included|
|Evolution||Evolution activities are estimated and planned as part of the retainer, or as stand-alone projects based on complexity.||Evolution activities are estimated and planned as part of the retainer, or as stand-alone projects based on complexity.||Evolution activities are estimated and planned as part of the retainer, or as stand-alone projects based on complexity.|
|Term*||12 months / 30 days notice to switch levels||12 months / 30 days notice to switch levels||12 months / 30 days notice to switch levels||12 months|
Our MSE terms remain flexible with cancellation terms and the ability to move across “tiers” as needs change. That way our clients can manage their budgets and staffing needs while continuing to work with us.
Modified Staff Augmentation Model
The other model we operate for clients is a modified staff augmentation model where we provide FTE equivalents for a specified period of time. Typically clients who engage with us for these types of arrangements need to supplement larger internal teams with specific skills and they choose to work with us instead of hiring in order to gain stability. Adobe Commerce front end / back end, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Big Commerce, and Shopify expert developers, engineers and project managers are all available. We typically provide our staff members on 6 month or year-long contracts but we can make arrangements for different terms as well.
Most of our staff augmentation personnel are offshore team members but we are able to arrange terms where there is significant overlap between US hours and the hours of our offshore offices. For this reason we call this arrangement “modified” staff augmentation because the dedicated professional continues to work in our office, not yours.
Staff augmentation is best suited to enterprises that have an internal, dedicated IT management structure; so the key advantages of staff augmentation with Accorin include:
- Guaranteed knowledge and certifications in the skill sets you need (quality)
- Guaranteed tenure (they don’t quit)
- Availability and coverage for days and holidays that are not typically covered by US W-2 employees
- Track Record
- Offshore Rates available with significant savings over US hourly contract rates
What is the Rationale for Outsourcing?
Outsourcing e-commerce operations with Accorin provides e-commerce merchants with stability, reliability and in many cases cost savings. Every e-commerce merchant has differing needs within their operation and we realize that so we provide our clients with flexible terms no matter which route they take with us: MSE or Modified Staff Augmentation.
There are more e-commerce support positions available than there is staffing for in the industry so hiring full time W-2 employees is expensive and potentially very costly; especially if that employee leaves shortly after training and onboard. You can read more about the considerations with insourcing Vs outsourcing in an earlier blog post.
The Bottom Line
Accorin provides two solid, proven approaches to outsourcing e-commerce operations. Each has its advantages and every merchant retains the flexibility to change as their operations change.
If you would like to consider a quote, a rate card please contact us and we will get back to you ASAP with additional information; we’d be happy to set up an assessment call (about 30 minutes) so we can deliver an accurate quote with current rate cards.