Choosing the right eCommerce agency to support your business can be an intimidating process. “Can we trust them?”, “Will they get us and our needs?”, “Will we get the results we want?” – all these questions may be racing through your mind.
The sheer number of eCommerce agencies out there is daunting in itself but finding an experienced agency who understands your challenges and complements your internal team’s capabilities should be a top priority.
Choosing the wrong agency could not only impact your web project but your wider eCommerce business too. To lend a helping hand, we’ve pulled together some pointers to help you find and choose the right agency for your business.
We’re all unique
You, me, everyone – we’re all unique and the same applies in the agency world. Every agency is different. From their platform(s) of choice, the services they offer, their specialist skillset, their strengths in different industries.
It’s important to seek out an agency whose strengths align to your project, industry and individual business objectives. Building, maintaining and evolving an eCommerce store is not a one size fits all solution. Each and every project is unique and because of this, your agency’s approach should be tailored to you.
Don’t skip the research
Before taking on any agency, research is crucial. An agency’s website is a good place to look at how they present themselves and will likely feature information on their previous project experience, services and certifications.
To get you thinking along the right tracks, here are a few questions to consider while conducting your research:
- Do they have a good website themselves?
- Which brands have they worked with? Be sure to look at any available examples.
- What relevant certifications do they hold?
- Are they known in their community? Think industry awards and events.
- Which sectors do they specialise in – if any?
Can you trust them?
When you engage with potential agencies, transparency is essential from the get-go. An agency should be open and honest about their previous experiences with clients. This means not only talking about smooth projects but the challenging ones too.
Having these conversations early on allows you to understand how they overcome hurdles and gives them a chance to detail their processes and successes. At each and every stage of your project you should feel reassured and confident that your agency is being transparent. This also plays a big role in understanding how and where your budget will be allocated in order to achieve your objectives.
If you can find an agency who understands your business challenges and can deliver a solution on budget, you’re already halfway there!
A proactive and collaborative relationship
Some agencies will naturally strive to deliver more than you expect. Maybe they engross themselves further into your business to better understand your customers and your needs. Or perhaps they have a strong emphasis on collaboration and aim to become an extension of your team.
These types of attributes can often make an agency stand out and show a proactive approach to delivering a positive experience.
A proactive agency will also look to the future, considering your long-term business ambitions. Many web projects are run over multiple phases, requiring ongoing iterative changes and updates. In many cases, a good agency will suggest a retainer is put in place allowing them to conduct regular health checks, maintain performance and ensure you continuously get the most value from it – long after launch.
Is it too good to be true?
If an agency’s project quote is half the cost of the other agencies you’re engaging with, or they promise unrealistic delivery timeframes, this is a warning sign.
We recommend requesting a full cost breakdown to ensure everything you expect has been taken into account. This way you can also ensure there are no surprises lurking around the corner that could cost you. In other words, if it sounds too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is.
Get to know your team
The people who attend your first agency meeting won’t be the only people you will be working with. What about the rest of your project team? During this part of the process, it’s important you’re given the chance to meet the people behind the agency.
It’s worthwhile arranging an introductory meeting with the agency so you can meet the whole team. Your project will involve interaction with multiple departments and this meeting will provide a better reflection of their culture, values and whether they’re the right fit for you. Even though this is made somewhat more difficult by the pandemic, businesses have adapted to build these all-important relationships so make sure you understand how the engagement processes of any agency you speak to have changed to accommodate.
Making the move to a new agency partner
Sometimes no matter the time and effort you put into your research, you can find yourselves with an agency partner that’s not quite right. Changing agencies is not uncommon and can occur for a multitude of reasons:
- Your goals have changed and your agency no longer aligns with your new direction.
- Over time your business has grown and your agency may not have the tools to support you.
- It’s just not the right fit; not every agency will be the right one for you and sometimes the only way to find out is through working together.
Whatever your reasoning, looking to move partners can feel daunting but as long as addressed correctly, it’s part and parcel with the industry. Before setting the wheels in motion, make sure you check your contract. You might still have time left before you can leave the partnership, or you may be obligated to provide a certain amount of notice.
With legalities out of the way you can start the process. But be careful you don’t jump the gun. Before ending the relationship with your existing agency, make sure your next agency is lined up based on the research and considerations we’ve mentioned in this blog.
It’s normal to feel nervous
Every business will feel apprehensive ahead of choosing an agency. There’s a lot riding on this decision which is why it’s so important take your time and not rush the process.
When looking for an eCommerce agency, you will likely be looking for a long-term digital partner too. Your chosen agency should instil confidence that not only will your project be successfully delivered, but that they can provide support past go-live too. Choose an agency you’re confident can deliver and who you can see yourself working closely with for the project duration and beyond.
Following our pointers, we hope you find it that bit easier to choose an agency that you can build a strong and supportive partnership with. If you’re in the process of selecting an eCommerce agency and you’d like to know more about team Pinpoint, get in touch.