14 Feb 2021
8 Top Considerations When Choosing an Ecommerce Agency
Recent events have pushed shoppers online more than ever before, meaning all eyes are on your digital offering. If your business isn’t up to scratch with a seamless transition between offline and online shopping you’re going to lose valuable customers - it’s as simple as that. If you’ve found yourself at a crossroads, be that taking your first steps into building an ecommerce store from scratch, or acknowledging that what you’ve got already just doesn’t cut the mustard, our team have shared a few things to take into consideration before making that all important ‘which agency to go for’, decision...
Blinded by jargon
It’s an industry that’s easily able to talk the talk, but not necessarily walk the walk, so don’t be blinded by overuse of jargon and technical blabber. It’s important the agency you choose is on ‘your level’ and translates complex information in a way you’re able to digest, understand, and implement. Ask questions no matter how small or insignificant you think they may look to the provider. You need to be crystal clear you’re choosing the right agency, and if the team you’re going to be speaking with throughout the project don’t speak your language, you’re going to face immediate barriers.
Transparency & openness
A new website is undoubtedly an exciting time for your business but it’s also a big investment, so you need to ensure you’re clued up on exactly what’s happening at each stage of the project. You want a team you can trust to relay honest information and detail throughout. It’s perfectly normal for delays and technical issues or ‘hiccups’ to occur, but you should be able to rest easy knowing if that is the case, your agency will be honest and upfront about it. You should be able to gage the nature of the agency and the team that’s going to be building your website during your proposal stage. How open are they at clearing up exactly what you do and don’t need? Are they willing to advise against a feature add on if it’s not required/damaging to your site’s performance?
Ultimately the success of your online business is heavily reliant on the platform powering it, and it’s important that you get to grips with the ins and outs of its capabilities. Consider how easy it is to use and navigate, how fast it loads pages on existing client websites, is it scalable and flexible to allow for your long term business plans? It’s also worth checking out where you stand with website ownership. Whilst you own your brand, the domain name and the design of the website, is it hosted on a server that you can access? Are you able to view the underlying code that powers it? Most importantly, in the rare case that you’re not happy with the the quality of service from the agency, can you simply swap to another agency, retaining the same website you’ve nurtured and grown to love without having to re-platform? Most agencies will have a preferred platform to build on, so just ensure you hear the pros and cons of a couple of options before making your decision.
You’re not just paying for a one off service, remember you’re hiring a long term technology partner that’s likely to be a part of your business for a number of years.
Get under the bonnet of your prospective agencies and know exactly who you are hiring. Dig deep into their company values, what they believe in, their working style, the company culture, then question if it all aligns with the way your business works and what you value and believe in. More importantly, how well do they understand your business and product offering, your target audience and your industry as a whole?
Costings are up there with one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an agency. The bottom line here is you’re not going to go for a product or service your budget cannot comfortably accommodate, and in order to prevent wasting both your own and the agency's time, it’s wise to establish their price point as early on in the conversation as possible. Learn about hosting costs, infrastructure fees, licensing fees, additional development time, support packages and options, the cost of feature add ons and upgrades, and how frequently they are required.
Attention to detail
You want the kind of agency that checks, then checks again to ensure it’s right. A meticulous attention to detail is key in the delivery of a really aesthetically pleasing ecommerce store. What you don’t want, is an agency that’s rushing your project through the pipeline and cutting corners to shave off time spent working on it. Your site design needs to be a true reflection of your brand and all that you represent - everything from your brand colours and font styles to imagery and banner ad designs need to be ‘on point’!
Level of support
Support comes in all forms, from a simple admin task like a password change, to a larger scale feature addition or bug fix. It’s a given that you’ll want to make regular changes to your site throughout the course of the year, even from the get go, it’s easy to forget features you wanted to add for launch, that you end up requesting post launch later down the line. It’s worth remembering that a website isn’t, and shouldn’t, be static. A good development agency will provide you with all the necessary tools required to make minor content updates, page additions and news articles yourself. However, when it comes to feature additions, you’re going to still rely heavily on your tech partner. Most agencies offer a range of support packages to ensure you have them on hand as little or often as you need them. Check out the packages and the costs, find out their expected turnaround times for support tickets and what level of support they recommend for your business.
Research, research, research. Take the time to explore the agency’s most recent work and browse their existing client websites from the perspective of the end user. How impressed are you with the user journey? How does the site look as well as perform for you as a customer? Would you return to the store? Real life examples are where you’ll be able to see for yourself exactly what that agency is able to deliver. Pay particular attention to the industries they’ve worked with, do they align with your business? Is their work representative of what they say they do? Case studies are also incredibly useful if you can get your hands on any, to quickly cut through the noise and see the direct results/performance uplifts from recent project work.