Say hello to our friends at Shero!
At Corevist, we don’t stand alone. We create the greatest SAP eCommerce solutions on the planet, but we can’t do it without our amazing partner network. Partner relationships often happen behind the scenes—but we want to change that. We’ll be running an occasional feature on our blog highlighting one of our partners.
This month, we’re talking to Beth Shero of Shero. Beth and her husband, Gentian, run a full-service Magento agency specializing in eCommerce. Beth and Gentian have a real passion for their clients, eCommerce, and extensive knowledge of Magento that’s second-to-none.
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with Beth and asking her a few questions about Shero.
George: You, Gentian, and the whole team obviously bring a ton of passion to the table. What’s your story? How did you get started in the Magento world?
Beth: We launched Shero 7 years ago. I was working for another agency before we started our own. Gentian was a manager at a restaurant, and he was doing a Masters in History. Everything started to collide. We asked ourselves, why are we doing this? We never see each other. We’re always exhausted. What’s it all for?
Gentian always thought I was very skilled as a designer. He said, “Why don’t we start our own agency?” So we did. 😊
At first, we did WordPress and custom PHP applications. But we didn’t get into Magento until we started our own eCommerce site—i.e., we were merchants. At that point, we began to realize that WordPress and some other platforms had a number of limitations for eCommerce.
Then we discovered Magento. We fell in love immediately and decided to focus on that moving forward.
Since we already had experience as eCommerce merchants, that’s where we started—understanding the pain points of a merchant. We thought we could make life easier for eCommerce merchants. We love eCommerce and working with different customers. It’s always fun to learn about different businesses.
At that point, we had one PHP developer and an intern. We were quite small! We didn’t grow rapidly until 2 years ago when we opened our Albanian office. Then we went from 8 to 20 employees. Now we have 22 employees. We’ve grown rapidly in 7 years. Of course, that comes with challenges. We have to manage client expectations as we grow, and we have to keep our team directed towards the same mission of providing excellent customer service, always going above and beyond. I’m always all about the customer, thinking of their best interests first. We focus on that in our partnerships, too. That’s us in a nutshell.
G: How has Shero allowed you to grow in your career?
B: I’ve always been a graphic designer. When I graduated, I thought I would never do web design. I hated it in college! But I couldn’t find a job when I graduated. I applied to a digital agency. They asked me, do you know HTML? I said, sure!
I taught myself on the job. I did application design and basic WordPress design. From there, I learned about building websites, teaching myself a lot of things. I did it from the ground up and learned some hard lessons. I also learned what it means to go above and beyond, to really delight our enterprise customers. I started focusing on the business solution side of it—planning, setting goals, and executing those with a full-time team.
I never would’ve seen this future while I was in school. But I absolutely love my job. I love working with the customers and providing those services.
G: That’s a big shift, from print to digital. What was that transformation like?
B: Now I swear I’ll never do print again! Funny how that has switched. I was so passionate about it, and I really wanted to be this amazing print designer—but they don’t tell you in school how real life is. The reality of the market hit me, and I decided to adapt.
Then I found that doing digital was so much more fun because there are so many aspects to it, and it’s easy to change. Print, once you do it, it’s set in stone. I really love the flexibility of coming up with an idea, implementing it, and rolling it back if it’s a bad day. You learn as you go, through digital, from gauging, from analytics, business intelligence, and things like that. You can analyze digital and learn from it as you go. Print, you don’t know those things. It’s quite limited. Digital is more flexible.
G: Let’s talk about your specialty—Magento. What advantages does Magento offer for ERP-integrated B2B eCommerce?
B: At Shero, we have a strong focus on B2B now. The market has begun to go through a seismic shift, and we’ve responded. In the past couple of years, it’s been quite a transition for B2B customers, going from thinking “old school” to realizing that a lot of younger people are getting into B2B. That requires an experience similar to B2C, so younger buyers and older tech-savvy buyers can do everything they need to online. It’s the 24x7x365 self-service model that Corevist is so big on.
Magento is perfect to meet this market need. It’s open source and super flexible. You can pretty much do anything you want—I say that with a grain of salt, of course. You have to plan and put your business objectives first. You can’t just throw together a technology solution because everyone is doing it. What is your goal, and how can Magento support that goal? You need to start there.
For example, we can create a unique experience for B2B, and another one for B2C within the same organization—keeping those channels separate so that your B2B customers don’t get mad because you’re selling B2C, too. That has real business value if you’re diversifying your channels and you need to protect your goodwill.
G: Everyone is gearing up for the B2B Module that’s launching with Magento 2.2. Are you excited for this module to launch?
B: Oh yes! We’re super excited about the B2B module. It empowers manufacturers and distributors to get up and running so much faster. In the past, we had to build a lot of customizations for B2B customers. Every B2B client we’ve had is completely different from every other B2B client! Each one has different challenges and different expectations. But Magento as a platform has allowed us tons of flexibility, and that will continue for 2.2 B2B module stores.
The 2.2 B2B module will eliminate some of that need for customization, which is huge!
Overall, the flexibility of the B2B module is really empowering. And being able to integrate to SAP streamlines their business process. Instead of manually managing inventory, manufacturers can integrate inventory to make their lives easier.
Another thing we’re super excited about is the Bluefoot CMS. It’s a drag-and-drop CMS solution. It will empower those B2B clients to communicate with their customers in different ways. People get so intimidated by adding content, but if they’re empowered, it can help them create landing pages, communicate their message, and market more effectively.
That’s actually a really big struggle for a lot of Magento clients. Telling their story and communicating effectively requires a lot of development work. We see clients who have a hybrid of Drupal and WordPress, or who have an annoying way of managing things in the standard Magento setup. Bluefoot will set Magento apart on the enterprise level because it allows people to manage that content in one place and streamline it. Bluefoot will elevate the amount of storytelling and communication with the customer. It empowers them to do more with the site than what they thought they could do. B2B is usually very standard, very generic. I think this will bring B2B to another level, communicating to customers in a different way.
G: What’s one thing that you wish SAP manufacturers knew about Magento B2B eCommerce?
B: I’m still a bit of a novice in the SAP world—which is why our partnership with Corevist is so great. But the biggest thing that I’ve seen is a lack of awareness on how much planning it actually takes to implement eCommerce successfully and integrate it with SAP. Without proper planning, things can fall apart really quickly if the project is large and complex.
Also, the more knowledge SAP folks can gain about Magento, the better. That would really empower them. I wish they took the time to understand that in great detail. Without that knowledge, it’s hard for them to make proper decisions.
G: What’s the most challenging Magento development situation you’ve encountered?
B: We tend to deal with customers who have pretty unique requirements. The most challenging one we’ve dealt with usually include outside integrations with third-party APIs. For example, we just launched a Magneto Enterprise project called Primitives by Kathy. That was one of our most recent challenging projects. It’s B2B and B2C. It has multiple stores. It has 3 different brands within the store. Oh, and the cherry on top? It has POS integration with a 3rd party called Red Rook!
On top of that integration, we extended it through APIs so inventory, invoicing, and customer logins are updated on the fly and pushed all the way to the POS system. Understanding some of the business challenges they were having helped us shape the goals of that project. The client presented us with a very complex view of the problem, but we found that it boiled down to be simpler than they originally thought. Sometimes that happens when there are so many people involved. Some of their knowledge overlaps, and some of it doesn’t.
G: What Magento certifications has Shero Designs received? What does each one signify?
B: We are a Magento 2 Trained Solution Partner. We have 15 trained Magento 2 developers. It’s not a certification, but everyone has gone through the training. We can’t wait for that to release so we can get certified. That’s one of our highest professional priorities.
We also have Magento-Certified Solution Specialists, Magento Certified Developers, and we are a Professional Magento Solution Partner.
These are general certifications for working with Magento. Our biggest thing is having the absolute highest Magento standards, and making sure our devs are certified to provide the best solution possible. That really stands out to me as part of our goal to provide the best solution and service.
G: Any closing thoughts on Magento, SAP, or anything else?
B: We can’t wait for the 2.2 B2B extension to launch, and we can’t wait to keep working with SAP manufacturers and distributors! We thrive on these challenges, and we love partnering with Corevist to get it done.