When you’re about to launch a new online store or you want to refresh your existing one, having a reliable partner to help you with development, design, marketing and setup can really save you a lot of time and energy. They can also offer you unique knowledge and insight to help your online store be the best it can be. But when looking at various eCommerce agencies, how can you know which one to go for?
There are many agencies out there who are are brilliant at creating beautiful designs for eCommerce sites and making sure that all the code and technical development is sound - but if your plans are to grow, then you will want an eCommerce agency who can not only do that, but who also understand how to run a business.
At Statement, our agency began as an internal team for a multi-million pound automotive lighting business that quickly realised that there were no local agencies who understood the needs of our fast-growing business. Soon enough, many similar brands got in touch who had the same problem and our internal team grew into Statement.
Because of our years of experience working in an existing business and dealing with operations, managing logistics and developing systems, we understood what retailers needed from a website.
An eCommerce website is more than a place for retailers to showcase their products. It’s an asset that many businesses can use to grow their business, expand their offering and reach new customers so it’s important that your eCommerce agency understands this fully.
Different sectors have different needs when it comes to having an online store. A children’s toys retailer will need a completely different site to that of a workwear brand.
If you can see that your potential eCommerce agency has already worked in your industry and understands aspects like tone of voice, audience and delivery expectations, then they’ll be better placed to help you grow your online offering.
You can usually find this out by visiting their website and seeing their case studies. Although it’s rare for an eCommerce agency to put all of their projects on their website, most agencies won’t mind sharing previous projects, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Once you’ve found examples of previous work or have contact information for the agency’s past clients, see if they have given any testimonials or interviews about their work with the agency. This can give you a good idea of the agency’s strengths. Or if you want to delve further, you could also get in touch with the clients directly and ask any specific questions you might have. A good agency won’t be offended by your diligence.
One potential downfall of knowing your agency has similar clients is that there may be potential conflicts of interest. However, a strong agency will make it clear how the projects differ and shouldn’t take on any work that may compete with their existing clients.
The eCommerce and digital industry changes so quickly and so significantly that if your agency is behind the times and offering advice that is five years out of date, then you could actually be damaging your online store instead of improving it.
Do they read all of the industry blogs and updates? Do they invest in regular training and development of their staff?
If they share eCommerce articles on social media or if they have a blog which they update often, you can usually be reassured that they keep up to date and know what the latest trends and regulations are.
It can also be useful to find out what kind of team they have and if each staff member varies in skill and specialism - for instance, a team which involves marketers, designers, developers and other creators may be able to offer you a more well-rounded project than a team full of developers only.
Whilst you should probably prioritise skill, creativity and reliability - another thing to consider is whether the agency is approachable and friendly.
Chances are that you may work with this agency for a long time and so it is important you all get along and that you feel comfortable when working with them. It’s also crucial that you can get in touch with them quickly if there are any urgent matters so if they’re slow to return calls, then that could be a problem.
Most of these issues won’t necessarily be apparent before you start working with an agency but there are ways you can get a sense of how they work - from checking their social channels and seeing if they’re active and engaged, to just checking their website to see if they offer plenty of different ways for getting in touch.
Having a local team, whilst not essential, can be beneficial. It can be nice to know that if you need to have a catch-up about your project, you don’t need to travel far or rely on phone calls.
Although, development in technology does make it easy to get in touch with your agency no matter where they are - this is only the case if they use this technology and embrace the tools available. If they do, you may not have to worry whether your agency is in Wakefield or Washington.
If you are looking for an eCommerce agency, then get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to discuss your project with you.
Start your planning now with our free, comprehensive 2019 eCommerce Calendar.