How to Choose an Ecommerce Agency

As directors of business development at Something Digital, we are constantly asking ourselves the question: what is going to help this prospect decide to choose Something Digital as their partner on their eCommerce journey? Since we are thinking about this every day, we figured it would be a good idea to share our thoughts on the matter. Choosing an agency ultimately comes down to three decisions: Do I trust these people? Is the price they’re offering within my budget? And does this agency’s capabilities match what I need from them? With that, we bring you part one of our three-part series of how to choose an eCommerce Agency:

Trust

There’s a reason we chose to write about trust first: it is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of choosing an agency. If you have an immense amount of personal and professional trust in the agency you choose to lead you on your eCommerce journey, then you can extend your budget because you know the project will be done right. Obviously trust is a feeling (a belief even), it can be emotional: “I get a good vibe from these people”, “they seem trustworthy”, “wow these people seem to know what they’re doing”, etc. But you can take action to get to know them better, and establish a stronger relationship to allow for a smooth eCommerce journey.

Ask yourself the question: what is this agency’s reputation?

Assuming you already have an eCommerce store, you may be using a platform like Shopify or Magento. What you may not know is these platforms have dedicated channel management teams that interact daily with their partner agencies. They can tell you verticals an agency works in, what systems they have integrated with in the past, issue resolution they have come upon working with a particular agency and so on. Asking your account manager at these platforms for recommendations on an agency is a great first step to finding the one that is right for you and your business.

But don’t stop there, you may use a reviews platform like Yotpo, or a personalization company like Nosto, or a deferred payments company like Klarna. Well guess what? They all have channel managers that interact with agencies too. These people are great resources for you to gauge a particular agency’s reputation in the eCommerce marketplace. Not only that, but you will also get insight into the agency’s familiarity with your tool set!

Develop a relationship in the sales process

News flash! The business development person you are speaking with probably is not going to be intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of your eCommerce store after you start working with the agency. On top of that, it is the salesperson’s job to make you feel comfortable with them. So, it is always valuable to get introduced to those who will be more involved. For example, at Something Digital we have development, creative, strategic engagement and project management leadership who are excited to get on calls with prospects. These people will be your escalation points on the project, so it is important you develop a rapport with them. One excellent way Something Digital has found will develop a strong relationship with people is the actually the traditional way: breaking bread. Sharing food with one another has been a great tool for our clients to establish a personal rapport with us,  When you truly sit down with someone and connect with them over a delicious meal, your hesitations are cast off and you become friends. Friends do right by each other. If anything ever goes wrong (and if you’ve been in the agency/client game long enough, you’ll know that even you’re the best that’s actually a “when”, not an “if”), you’ll have the relationship to fall back on.

The other thing developing that relationship does for you is it allows you to assess the culture of the company you are working with. The reality is, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with these people, so you need to know if these people are the type of people you want to spend time with. A colleague explained it to me this way: if you were stuck in an airport with them on a 10-hour delay, would you ever want to see them again after that? If you would, then they’re probably a good culture fit. Another point here, at some point in your relationship, issue resolution will happen, so when something goes wrong, having that relationship established is hugely beneficiary. On the other hand, things will also go right, so ask yourself the question: when things DO go right, are these the people I want to celebrate with?

First get a sense of an agency’s reputation, and then find ways to connect with them more intimately.You’ll have a leg up on deciding if they’re the right agency for you on your eCommerce journey. Trust is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of choosing your agency partner.

Keep an eye out for part 2 of our 3-part series on choosing a partner agency. Until then, contact us with all your questions and to learn more!

Tony Ciarelli

Tony is a Southern California native who enjoys spending time with his family and playing beach volleyball with his friends. Tony’s other interests include listening to the Grateful Dead, watching the Yankees, Lakers and USC Trojans, and hanging out with his wife (not necessarily in that order).