Working With an eCommerce Agency: Everything You Need to Know
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An eCommerce marketing agency’s main focus is about marketing your online store. They’ll write content to promote your products and services, work with you to figure out what shopping feeds you need to be in and handle all the technical, acronym-filled aspects of marketing.
This includes everything from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to PPC (Pay Per Click), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), and anything else that drives traffic to your website. For a small company without a dedicated marketing team, these agencies are an all-in-one marketing solution.
In contrast, eCommerce development agencies provide a full scope of strategy and support for every aspect of your eCommerce business. These agencies are technically-capable and can plan and execute more complex solutions. For bigger companies that require innovative, agile solutions, working with an eCommerce agency is the right move.
eCommerce development agencies are also involved in the technical aspects of an eCommerce business, like website design and development, platform migration, data-migration, content personalization, and back-office integrations.
eCommerce Website Optimization
Even when you have an eCommerce website that’s performing well, there’s always room for improvement. And the more traffic your website has, the more important it is to keep optimizing your website. A slight performance improvement on your enterprise-level store could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of increased revenue.
These optimizations include everything from improving page load speed to A/B testing different versions of copy and even designs and the user journey for your website. Having optimized plenty of eCommerce websites before, an eCommerce agency can help you quickly identify areas for improvement on your website and how to make it happen.
Hiring an eCommerce agency with relevant industry experience will make life a whole lot easier for you, especially if you’re in a technical industry. The more technical and regulated your industry is, the more important it is to find an agency with relevant industry experience.
When you work with an agency that understands your business vertical, there will be fewer things to explain, less frustration when they don’t “get it”, and more productivity in getting things done. Otherwise, good luck explaining your cybersecurity services to an agency that usually works with online retailers selling shoes.
The closest thing to a guarantee that the work you need can and will get done is historical proof. That’s why you should look for relevant portfolio samples.
In addition to providing proof positive for success, having relevant samples means that the agency is familiar with the challenges of similar projects. When that’s the case, they will likely come up with creative solutions or propose a better way to complete the project, define a task, or improve operational efficiencies based on prior experience. Keep in mind that if you’re working in a niche market, it’s may be hard to find an agency that has worked with a business that’s exactly the same as yours before. In that case, you can work with an eCommerce agency with high-quality samples and great references even if they’re not in your vertical.
Personality and Cultural Fit
Whether it’s a one-time project or an ongoing strategic engagement, you’ll be frequently working with the eCommerce agency partner you select. There are always meetings, calls, and planning sessions to discuss and agree on features, functions, and goals.
So, if you like the team, working with them is a great idea. Working with pleasant and friendly people will make the process a whole lot easier.
Platform Experience and Certification
There are several platforms competing in the enterprise-level eCommerce space. And that’s why you need to work with an eCommerce agency that thoroughly understands your business and technical requirements, the platform you’re using OR the platforms you are considering.
While most people with basic development experience can watch a few tutorials and build a Shopify store, not everyone can build a scalable and reliable website, with atypical features not included out of the box, based on industry best practices. You know, something that won’t be rendered totally useless with the next version upgrade or security patch. That’s why you should always work with certified experts in your eCommerce platform of choice.
In addition to building reliable eCommerce solutions, certified partners always know about future updates before they are released. This allows them to scout ahead and help you plan updates and improvements to your website in a way that makes them future-proof.
Everyone is a hero in their own story, even agencies. So, asking an agency how they treat their customers and expecting neutral answers pointless. Of course, according to them, they are a customer-centric, service-focused, work-loving, quality-worshipping agency. That’s what everyone says, and it doesn’t count for anything.
Instead of buying into this stereotypical response, look at the agency’s reviews and ask for references. This way, you can verify that an agency does offer good customer service and deliver high-quality work. If you personally know a retailer who has worked with an agency before, that’s even better.
Shopify / Shopify Plus
Shopify is arguably the easiest-to-use eCommerce platform. The basic version of Shopify is one of the best options for small to mid-sized businesses with less than 100 SKUs (Stock-Keeping Units). For larger enterprises that want to use this platform, there’s Shopify Plus.
In general, this platform is better for B2C, with excellent scalability options and a large app library to choose from. And of course, if you have the budget—and there's a need for it—you can customize Shopify to meet just about any functional and technical requirements you may need.
For B2B and B2C companies with large and complex product catalogs, BigCommerce is a solid choice. This eCommerce platform has different pricing tiers based on annual sales volume. This SaaS platform is ready to support large product offerings out of the box and its functionality can be extended with third-party applications.
It’s no surprise that WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform: It’s open-source and free. And as it is with most ‘free’ software, there are lots of paid plugins and themes that you can buy to extend your store’s functionality.
WooCommerce is designed and primarily used for small businesses on a tighter budget. If you’re operating at that scale, you’ll probably be hiring a freelancer to design and develop your website, as other eCommerce platforms may be more power than required and outside of a comfortable price point.
Magento is a highly-capable eCommerce platform. Magento was initially released in 2009 and was replaced with the improved version, Magento 2.0, in 2015. And just like how with great responsibility comes—or should come—great power, higher development costs come with Magento projects. Magento is the leading platform for open commerce innovation. Every year, retailers on Magento handle over $100 billion in gross merchandise volume.
This platform is powerful, flexible, and extensible. With power and flexibility comes a bit more complexity. Compared to other platforms, building an eCommerce website with Magento requires more technical development expertise. If you plan on developing an eCommerce solution using Magento, we highly recommend you work with a Magento Solution Partner.