Finding the right ecommerce agency can be challenging – whether you’re looking for a Magento or Shopify Plus agency for a specific project or you need an ongoing support agency for ecommerce growth.
You may have an existing shortlist of three to five ecommerce agencies and are struggling to identify the top team to work with.
How can you narrow down your ecommerce agency shortlist?
#1 – Which agencies do you feel comfortable with?
Gut feelings are important. Whilst this isn’t something you may want to finalise a decision with, it could help you narrow down the shortlist.
If you have a cultural fit with the ecommerce agency you work with, the project will run a lot smoother and you will be able to have an honest, reliable and sustainable relationship with the ecommerce agency team.
It can be helpful to ask to meet the wider team to get a better feeling, and meet your potential account managers.
#2 – How do the agencies communicate with you?
Communication is also key. Whilst it’s not easy to understand how communicative the agencies on your shortlist will be, you can mark how communicative they are during the RFP process.
A good agency will ask questions, share ideas and research and will ask you to clarify certain requirements. This can be a good marker of which agencies you can narrow your shortlist to.
#3 – Which other retailers do the agencies work with?
Another good marker is which retailers the agencies work with. If there are some agencies with little to no experience in your retail vertical, then you may want to explore other options.
If an agency works with other retailers within your vertical then they are certainly worth having a conversation with. They will know the ins and outs of that industry and will be able to offer specific insight into unique challenges you may be facing.
If you’re a retailer with a wholesale or B2B offering then you will need to work with an ecommerce agency with specific experience here. The unique challenges that can come with B2B ecommerce will need specialist insight from an agency ith B2B experience.
You would also benefit from asking to speak with the retailers they work with for an honest testimonial. Ask to schedule a short call with their flagship client and ask them questions about what it’s like to work with the agency.
#4 – How do they manage both proactive and reactive work?
An agency should be reactive to issues and new work from the client, but they should also be advisory on proactive recommendations in order to grow your ecommerce business. A successful ecommerce agency will be an additional member of your ecommerce in-house team, to advise and support on both proactive and reactive work.
It may be important to you that an agency is able to jump onto urgent issues and fix bugs in a sufficient amount of time. In order to meet expectations, there should be an understanding, from the beginning, of what an agency classes as ‘urgent’ and what the expected time frames are for different types of bug fixes so that both parties are happy.
When you also approach the agency with new work, changes and feature requests for your website, it is important to know what the process will be.
Do they have a brief template? Will they provide a quotation? What happens if they go over the estimated hours in a quotation? Are jobs charged ad hoc?
You can read more info about what questions to ask when looking for a support agency here.
#5 – Are they ecommerce platform accredited?
There are many agencies out there who have Magento or Shopify Plus experience and knowledge, but it is important to identify whether they are an official solution partner.
This means the agency has had to meet very high quality standards, demonstrated through exams and training in order to become certified. All developers, project managers, and account managers will have extensive Magento or Shopify Plus knowledge from having such a close relationship with the platform.
You may want to explore other options if there are some agencies on your shortlist without these specialist accreditations.
#6 – What relationships do they have with technology partners?
Both Magento and Shopify Plus are great ecommerce platforms, but can become much more powerful with the appropriate technology partners. An ecommerce agency should have good relationships with technology partners and be able to advise on the most appropriate technical tools to fuel your ecommerce growth.
It will be rare that you will want to use either Magento or Shopify Plus without any add-ons or supporting technologies such as payments, personalisation, site search and more.
#7 – How do they price against other agencies?
Of course one of the factors you will be considering in your shortlist is price. How do the agencies price amongst each other?
However, you shouldn’t make any decisions on price alone and you should compare value. What value would they add to the project or campaign?
#8 – How do they demonstrate return on investment?
More importantly, how do the agencies on your shortlist demonstrate return on investment?
This will likely vary from project to project, but if the agencies can demonstrate or estimate return on investment, it can be a good sign of their proactivity and data-driven approach to how they work.
It may be that they use a conversion rate model (if a new site improves conversion rate by X%, how much extra revenue would it drive), or they may use a % of sales model if they are a PPC agency too.
This can help you to visualise your investment and how the agency will work to help you achieve ecommerce success and grow.
Finding the right ecommerce agency is challenging
We understand retailers don’t just need an ecommerce agency, they need a partner. They need a proactive partner who can help with wider ecommerce growth.