When you’re outsourcing a large eCommerce project, finding the agency that’s right to take your business to the next level seamlessly is a big task.
It’s a task that should be considered a project in itself. You need to first set out your goals, map how each KPI will be measured, and research thoroughly. Any decent agency will show respect for thoroughness and even hesitancy, and will demonstrate openness and transparency, knowing that it’s crucial for both parties that the right decision is come to.
1. How do you plan to support us in this changing landscape?
To say the way we’re all shopping is changing rapidly is really a big understatement. You need an agency that’s got its finger on the pulse, and one eye always on the future, when it comes to understanding how to roadmap where their client’s web experience should be, before their competitors get there first. The right agency for you puts meticulous and intelligent strategy before plotting a project, and they’ll have plenty of actionable ideas of where you should be going next.
2. Do you specialise in one platform?
For instance, here at JH, we focus solely on Magento. The reasons for this are twofold: Firstly, because we believe that Magento is the best platform around by some distance, offering greater performance and scalability to businesses who want to grow. And secondly, because we feel that specialising in one platform is the way to make sure your clients get the very best in expertise.
3. What level of support can I expect?
All agencies will tell you that they communicate regularly, and keep their clients in the loop at all times. But you need to break this down and ask what this looks like, move away from the subjective “we always communicate regularly” and find out exactly how often that means, who’ll be your point of contact, and when would regular updates be expected. Also, you’ll need to know if the agency offers their clients out-of-hours support, and if so, if there’s an additional cost for this.
4. What is your team structure?
With smaller agencies, you might have a Project Manager who’s looking after both their internal team as well as talking directly to you, the client. Here, we have Account Managers who are responsible for the regular day to day contact with their clients, Project Managers who handle things internally and Solutions Specialists who make sure the project strategy is best in class, absolutely always. Our teams work in pods, with the developers and designers too, and each one is allocated strategically to projects for best fit.
5. Do you care? Prove it!
Sounds obvious, but you need an agency that cares about your success, and genuinely so. A successful relationship with an agency should feel like a partnership, or like an extension of your internal team. And an agency that works this way will have ample examples from previous projects that they’ll relish the chance of telling you all about. To put it mildly, we welcome the chance to tell people about how we helped grow the likes of the amazing Swoon Editions and Neom Organics, about becoming their partners and see them tripling revenues.
6. Do you outsource any of your work?
This is key, because no matter how good a contractor or freelancer is, it’s hard for them to feel as invested in the success of projects as it is for those working in in-house teams. All project work undertaken by JH is done in-house by us. We don’t use any outsource providers, as we like to keep utmost control over the quality of each aspect of every project, and we feel that this is best done when we use our carefully selected, and thoroughly invested in team, who all share our company values of working hard, loving what we do, and delivering brilliant work.
7. Do you have experience in our vertical?
We believe that eCommerce is actually a vertical on its own, as most of the approaches and projects that work well for one online business, translate well to another. And so essentially it shouldn’t be a deal breaker whether or not an agency has previous experience in your field or not. What’s more telling here, is their answer in terms of whether they show a willingness to delve into your industry, to research best practices, to get to know the customer journey, and to understand your audience intrinsically. An agency with a passion to become an expert in whatever vertical they’re presented with is where you want to be.