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Most industry experts would agree that a successful online business offers a unique product backed by a well-defined understanding of their niche market. The product must also have meaningful organic or man-made demand.
The best product(s) on the market can’t be successful without a well-designed website. An ecommerce store that is slow, boring, disorganized, and difficult to navigate can limit the revenue generation for your online business. Potential customers will immediately exit your website if content is not presented in a sensible, clean, easy-to-access, and aesthetically pleasing manner. In other words, website content and UI/UX/CX must be laser-focused and highly intentional. A business should aim to create an unmatched ecommerce experience for users.
Businesses can leverage the expertise of digital agencies like marketing agencies, development firms, or ecommerce agencies to assist with developing an excellent online shopping experience for customers. Most SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses)—and many enterprise businesses—do not have internal resources dedicated to managing an ecommerce website. Website management duties often fall onto a member of the Marketing or IT department, who might not have the ecommerce experience needed to create and maintain a successful online store.
Sure, your team might be able to put together a basic, cookie-cutter website using a simple ecommerce platform, but the days of finding success with the “build it and they will come” mentality are obsolete. To overcome this, SMBs turn to digital agencies for their expertise. However, not all digital agencies are created equally, and choosing the right agency to build your website can be overwhelming. To help, we have outlined the top three things to look for when searching for the perfect agency for your online business.
How to Find the Right Digital Agency to Create and Manage your Online Store
Rule 1: You Must Work Well Together
Surprisingly, this is not always obvious. Many businesses thrive on simple, binary transactions and conduct business with the attitude, “you don’t have to like the people you’re dealing with, as long as they’ve got what you want at a price you’re willing to pay.” However, this is not the best approach working with an agency that is creating your online presence.
Hiring an agency should be considered entering a partnership. After all, the agency has been tasked with growing and maintaining an important segment of your business.
Remember that entering a partnership with an agency can be a long-term relationship. So, you should consider finding a different agency to work with if personalities clash in the early stages of the partnership.
Rule 2: They Must Understand your Business
Enter a partnership with an agency that has a global understanding of your business, and recognizes your online sales goals. Sales will suffer if the agency’s end product appears disjointed.
Perhaps the most significant component in this conversation is utilizing the most appropriate ecommerce platform for your online business. The best agencies take a “platform-agnostic” approach. In other words, a platform-agnostic agency will work diligently to help you objectively choose the best platform to maximize the success of your ecommerce business.
Key Indicators of a Questionable Digital Agency
- An agency that suggests a basic SaaS (software as a service) platform for a wholesale company that offers complex, pre-negotiated pricing on a per-customer basis.
- An agency recommends a complicated open-source platform for a start-up company that sells t-shirts.
Rule 3: They Can Do What they Say
The goal of partnering with an agency is to build an outstanding ecommerce experience for your customers, not to have them run your business. As previously mentioned, the success of a great product, relies on the design and layout of a great website. Stellar design and development skills are not negotiable.
How to determine whether an agency has the resources available for your project
- Agencies that specialize in marketing and design tend to contract third-party developers. Find out how many in-house developers the agency has and ask enough questions to ensure you that the prospective digital agency has confidence in their contractors and project managers. This key step in finding the right agency can help keep the project on time and within budget.
- Be apprehensive about working with an agency that hires off-shore developers. Some agencies have excellent overseas developers, but nothing compares to the cohesiveness of a fully in-house team.
- Website developers must be competent of the ecommerce platform being utilized, regardless of where they are located. The results will be less than desirable if the agency’s web developers aren’t proficient in your ecommerce platform.
- Every reputable digital agency will proudly show you their portfolio of design work. An agency may be lacking confidence in their design abilities if they are reluctant to provide you with their portfolio or project samples. In ecommerce, every design component must deliberately encourage the customer to complete a purchase. Every web page should be aesthetically pleasing and have a call to action. Customer experience and functionality must be at the forefront of an ecommerce design. This concept should be apparent to all agencies. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Don’t select an agency solely on reviews. Some agencies may have a great online reputation and a solid team, but lack experience relevant to your industry. Don’t rule out the possibility of working with a lesser-known agency that showcases their outstanding portfolio and truly understands your business.
Every business has unique project requirements like budget, customization, implementation time, and post-launch items. Conduct extensive research to find the agency best-suited for your business needs.
Your agency partner is largely responsible for the success of your online business, so choose wisely.
About The Author
Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.