What Should I Look For In An E-commerce Agency?
If you are here, you might be at the point where you have questions about implementing an e-commerce strategy for your business, need ideas on how to manage your current e-commerce plan, or you actively need help and you are ready to outsource your e-commerce to an agency to manage. Wherever you are in your journey, we can help you make the right decision for your company.
An e-commerce agency is a B2B business that offers a range of digital advertising professional services to help e-commerce companies manage and meet their business goals. E-commerce agencies help businesses with digital marketing, user experience (UX) design, content creation, SEO strategy, social media management and all of the behind the scene activities that go along with each of these components. When selecting an e-commerce agency to support your online business, there are several key factors to consider before making your decision. Let’s get into it.
- Expertise and Experience: This area is key. If you are at the point of needing outside help, do your research and once you narrow down the companies your are considering hiring, you will need to assess their expertise and experience in e-commerce. This part should actually be easy. Look for a proven track record of success in designing, developing, and optimizing e-commerce websites and strategies. It should all be readily available for you to view. Take the time to read their client testimonials. Be ready with your questions when you speak with them. E-commerce agencies with a high level of experience will stand out front and center. From there, narrow down some more.
- Understanding of Your Industry: Make sure the agency you choose has a good understanding of your industry and target market and has the experience to back it up. An agency with similar companies in their portfolio will be familiar with the unique challenges, trends, and consumer behaviors related to your specific niche.
- Services Offered: If you have specific areas in which you need help with, make a list if you can. From here you can determine the range of services the agency offers. If there are areas in which you are really needing help, but you don’t see the services listed within their services offered, it’s an easy elimination. For your list, consider things like e-commerce website design and development, online marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rate optimization, analytics, and ongoing maintenance and support. Ensure that their services align with your business needs and goals.
- Technical Competence: Evaluate the agency’s technical expertise and capabilities. The agency should have a strong understanding of e-commerce platforms (such as Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce) and other relevant technologies, integrations, and APIs. Additionally, they should have expertise in mobile optimization, responsive design, security, and scalability. If you are planning on outsourcing, you are quite literally putting all of your faith in their ability to do a better job then you can, so make sure that the have the experience to back it up.
- Customization and Scalability: No business stays exactly where they are when they start. If they do, they sure as heck don’t actually stay at the top of their industry. Make sure your agency can create tailored solutions that meet your specific requirements and goals. No two businesses are alike, and an agency should have the ability to accommodate any given situation. With Ecommerce needs that vary greatly, the agency your choose should be able to develop a scalable and flexible platform that can adapt as your business grows. Your goals for success should be theirs too. You succeed, and they succeed too!
- Marketing and Conversion Focus: An e-commerce agency should have a strong focus on marketing and conversion optimization for the success of your business. Your agency should have expertise in understanding how to drive traffic, increase conversions, and improve the overall user experience with the end goal of maximizing your online sales.
- Understanding Analytics (Data-Driven Approach): Your agency should have an emphasize on data-driven decision-making. A quality e-commerce agency should have the ability to analyze user behavior, track key performance indicators (KPIs), and use data insights to make informed recommendations for improving your e-commerce performance.
- Communication and Collaboration: Working with an e-commerce agency should be a collaboration. You know your business best and continued communication and collaboration are vital for a successful agency-client relationship. Be sure that you feel that the agency you choose has established clear lines of communication, provides regular updates and reporting, and is responsive to your questions and concerns. Your agency-client relationship is a team effort and you should feel that they are as invested as you are in the success of your company.
- Pricing and Budget: Part of the responsibility of your agency is helping your business determine a manageable budget, both for the investment in your ecommerce needs and the investment in the management of your online business. Consider the agency’s pricing structure when doing your research, and determine whether it aligns with your budget and expected return on investment (ROI) and be sure to request detailed proposals and quotes to understand the costs involved and any ongoing fees or support charges.
- Client References and Reviews: Make sure you take the time to check out the client references, read reviews and testimonials. This will provide you with insights into the agency’s reputation, client satisfaction, and the quality of their work.
You may also want to schedule consultations or meetings with potential agencies to discuss your needs, ask relevant questions, and assess whether they are the right fit for your e-commerce business. Any reputable agency will want to talk to you about how they can support your business and help you grow.
E-Commerce Agency Services
If you are early into the researching for your e-commerce business, you may not have a list of services that you need. A typical e-commerce agency typically offers a wide range of services to support businesses in establishing and growing their online presence. Let’s go over the most popular services provided by e-commerce agencies:
- E-commerce Website Design and Development: It’s important that your website is visually appealing and user-friendly. In addition, it’s your agency’s job to make sure your business has a functional e-commerce website that showcases products or services, facilitates seamless transactions, and provides an excellent user experience. Never underestimate the appeal of your website design with your users.
- Platform Selection and Setup: The agency you partner with should help your business choose the right e-commerce platform (such as Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce) after assessing your specific needs, and will have the expertise to assist with the setup, configuration, and customization of the chosen platform.
- Mobile Optimization: For an e-commerce business, naturally it is imperative that your agency ensures that your e-commerce website is optimized for mobile devices. The experience for your user should be seamless across different screen sizes and devices.
- User Experience (UX) Design: A strong focus should be on enhancing the usability and overall experience of the e-commerce website. Not to mention, including intuitive navigation, clear product presentation, streamlined checkout process, and effective call-to-action elements. All of these components should be managed by the agency you choose.
- Payment Gateway Integration: Your agency should also be able to integrate secure and reliable payment gateways to enable smooth and secure online transactions, including credit cards, digital wallets, and other payment methods.
- Product Catalog Management: Your e-commerce agency should be able to assist you in setting up and managing product catalogs, including organizing product categories, attributes, images, descriptions, and inventory management. All of these elements are crucial in the success of your business. You really want your user to find what they are looking for and view the images with ease and feel confident in making an immediate purchase when possible.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also a very important part of the success of your e-commerce business. Optimizing your e-commerce website will improve your visibility and ranking in search engine results, including keyword research, on-page optimization, meta tags, and content optimization.
- Digital Marketing: An e-commerce agency should be able to help in other areas of your digital marketing efforts. It should be part of your agency’s plan to both develop and implement digital marketing strategies to drive traffic, increase brand visibility, and attract potential customers through channels such as search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing, content marketing, and email marketing. All of these elements should be part of the plan.
- Analytics: The analysis of user behavior, including conducting A/B testing, and implementing strategies to increase conversion rate, such as optimizing product pages, improving checkout processes, and reducing cart abandonment is crucial to your e-commerce strategy and is a must-have requirement for any agency you interview.
- Reporting: Going hand and hand with the analytics element is the necessary reporting that you should expect from your e-commerce agency. Your agency should provide you with regular reports to track key performance indicators (KPIs), website traffic, user behavior, conversion rates, and other metrics to gain insights and make data-driven decisions to continue to improve and grow your business. Expect nothing less.
- Ongoing Maintenance and Support: Pairing with the analytics and reporting, you should expect a high level of ongoing technical support, troubleshooting, security updates, platform upgrades, and performance optimization to ensure the smooth functioning of your e-commerce website. Communication/collaboration comes back into play here. Think of your e-commerce agency as a partner in your business endeavors. At the end of the day, you both should have the same goals for success in mind.
- Consultation: Your agency should have the experts that you consult with in your monthly meetings. In addition, your team of experts should be up-to-date with e-commerce best practices, digital marketing strategies, platform management, and other relevant topics to empower your businesses and assist in managing your online presence effectively.
These are just some of the services that you should expect when outsourcing your e-commerce needs. Keep in mind, services can vary depending on the agency’s expertise and the specific needs of the business. An introductory consultation is important to discuss your requirements with the agency and understand the full scope of services they can offer you and furthermore how they can tailor their services to meet your e-commerce goals.
Common E-Commerce Platforms
When thinking about e-commerce, it’s important to analyze which platform is the best fit for your business. Some of the more popular e-commerce platforms available that businesses can choose from to create and manage their online e-commerce websites are as follows:
- Shopify: Shopify is one of the most popular and widely used e-commerce platforms, known for its ease of use and comprehensive features. This platform has an extensive range of customizable themes, secure payment integration, inventory management, marketing tools, and seamless scalability.
- WooCommerce: WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin for WordPress websites. It offers flexibility and provides a robust set of features and extensions, allowing businesses to create customizable online stores that work with existing WordPress content management systems (CMS).
- Magento: Magento offers extensive customization options, advanced marketing tools, multi-store management, and a large community of developers and extensions. It has lots of features and is a highly scalable e-commerce platform suitable for businesses of all sizes.
- BigCommerce: BigCommerce offers features like multi-channel selling, responsive templates, payment integrations, and marketing tools. It is a cloud-based e-commerce platform that provides a user-friendly interface, powerful built-in features, and scalability for growth.
- OpenCart: OpenCart offers features such as a user-friendly admin interface, extensive payment options, product management, and multi-store functionality. In addition, it is an open-source e-commerce platform known for its simplicity and ease of use.
- Drupal Commerce: Drupal Commerce is also an open-source e-commerce module and used for the Drupal content management system. You can count on flexibility, customization options, and seamless integration with Drupal’s content management capabilities.
When choosing an e-commerce platform, time should be set aside to go over what makes the most sense for your business with your e-commerce agency. Your company will need to consider factors such as your specific business needs, budget, scalability, level of customization required, and available technical resources. In addition, a thorough evaluation of the platform’s features, security, support, and community resources will help to make sure the e-commerce platform you choose aligns with your e-commerce goals and long-term growth plans.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategies
Like with most endeavors, having a plan ahead of time is important for your company’s success. Effective e-commerce marketing strategies will help you attract and engage customers, increase sales, and build a strong online presence. Your e-commerce agency should be skilled in each of the following strategies and be able to come up with a customized plan that makes the most sense for your business. Familiarize yourself with the following strategies for success:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): When you optimize your website for search engines you can show up organically. Your e-commerce agency will do keyword research to determine which words/phrases are most used when someone is searching for your product or service. Once keywords are selected, it’s important to optimize product pages and descriptions to reflect those keywords. In addition, your e-commerce agency will help you create compelling content using your keywords throughout and build high-quality backlinks to improve search engine rankings.
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC): Your digital marketing (e-commerce) agency should run targeted PPC advertising campaigns using platforms like Google Ads, LinkedIn, FB Ads, YouTube, social media marketing, etc. to reach potential customers, as well as set up targeted keywords, demographics, and ad placements to drive traffic and conversions.
- Social Media Marketing: It’s important to leverage social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest) to engage with your audience, build brand awareness, and drive traffic to your e-commerce store. Make sure you have interesting content, run targeted ads, and if you can take advantage of an influencer partnership, better yet.
- Content Marketing: You would be amazed at just how important it is to have informative content to engage your audience and attract organic traffic. Think about posting weekly blogs, have videos, tutorials, guides, and product reviews to educate, inform and intrigue your customers, establishing your brand as a trusted authority.
- Email Marketing: If you don’t have an email list already, think about building an email list of customers that have showed previous interest and send targeted campaigns to promote products, offer exclusive discounts, share updates, and cultivate customer relationships. The more you can personalize your emails, the better engagement you will have. The end goal, of course, is acquiring a conversion (or purchase).
- Influencer Marketing: Influencers with a relevant following can really make an impact in promoting your products and endorsing your brand. Your partnership can include sponsored content, product reviews, or social media shoutouts to reach their engaged audience.
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): Your agency should continuously analyze user behavior, test different design elements, and optimize your website with the goal of increasing conversions. The checklist to keep in mind here is Improve the checkout process, simplify navigation, enhance product pages, and the use of call-to-action buttons.
- Customer Reviews and Testimonials: You should have a highlighted section on your website of satisfied customers to leave reviews and testimonials on your website. Positive reviews build trust, increase credibility, and influence purchasing decisions for your user.
- Retargeting and Remarketing: Implement retargeting and remarketing campaigns to remind customers who have shown interest in your products but have not purchased why they may want to go back to your website and complete their transactions.
- Loyalty Programs and Referral Marketing: Everyone likes a thank you and a reward goes a long way for a encouraging your customer to go back and purchase something else. You may also consider implementing a loyalty program to reward repeat customers. It’s as easy as offering incentives, discounts, or exclusive perks. Additionally, a referral program might encourage your already loyal, happy customers to refer their friends and families.
- User-generated Content (UGC): Encourage your customers to share their experiences, reviews, and photos of your products on social media, maybe have a reward for sharing in place. This will help build trust and let potential new customers see real-life product usage.
- Personalization and Segmentation: Use the data that you accumulate on your customer’s purchase history to deliver personalized recommendations, offers, and messaging. Furthermore, segment your audience based on their preferences, demographics, or purchase behavior to deliver targeted and relevant marketing campaigns.
Ready To Get Started With An E-Commerce Strategy?
Are you ready to implement an e-commerce strategy into your digital marketing plan and see just how it can impact your business? Or maybe you have more questions that you need answered first to understand how it all works for your business. Wherever you are on your digital marketing research, we can help!
We can analyze your target audience, help you set clear goals, and continuously track and measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. We will optimize your approach based on data-driven insights and feedback from your customers to maximize your e-commerce marketing success. Your success is our success!
We can answer your questions about e-commerce with knowledge learned through firsthand experience. We would love to talk with you and help your business get started with an e-commerce strategy. Contact us today to get in touch with an expert and find out how we can partner with you to expand your business!