In the midst of a rapidly changing eCommerce landscape, choosing the right eCommerce solution partner is crucial for business success. New technologies, fragmented buying habits and changing consumer expectations are forcing businesses to adapt quickly and often without warning.
To succeed in the digital era you need a partner that will spearhead your digital success so that you can focus on all the other areas of your business. But how do you find the right partner? And how do you know you can trust them to drive the success of your eCommerce initiative? To do so, you need to have a clear understanding of your priorities and ambitions. With this, you’ll be able to see which partner is a good fit for your business and who has the capabilities and knowledge to help you hit your goals.
If you’re on the hunt for an eCommerce partner but don’t know where to start, then you’re in the right place!
We’ve put together some key headings to consider when choosing your eCommerce solution partner.
It might seem an obvious place to start (and it is), but what has your partner actually delivered and to who? Given the multifaceted nature of eCommerce, you’ll want a partner that has proven experience in all areas of the eCommerce puzzle. Because if they don’t, then you might be thrown some nasty surprises further down the line.
So, in addition to your specific requirements, it’s worth asking yourself questions like: Have they delivered projects in B2C, B2B, across industries and to well-known successful clients with proven results? Do they have both local and global eCommerce experience if you want to go cross-borders? Do they have an end-to-end portfolio of services that will cover all areas of your digital ambitions?
Take some time to research and get to know your potential partner. You’re looking for demonstrable evidence of the above questions be it through reviews, case studies or recommendations. This way you'll know whether the partner can take your eCommerce vision and make it a reality. And if you haven’t yet got a vision, then it’s equally important that you have a partner who can work with you to define this based on your current digital maturity and based on your ambitions and objectives.
The most successful eCommerce implementations often have a range of integrations to improve business efficiencies and to optimise the customer experience. PIM, ERP, POS, Order Management, Search, CRM, Payment Gateways, Loyalty Programmes, User-generated Content and Personalisation—these are just some of the integrations that we’ve implemented for clients here at Vaimo to help them scale and achieve their goals.
So the key takeaway here is to look for a partner that has the skills and expertise in integrating the systems that you are currently working with. Integrations have the power to transform your eCommerce offering, but done wrong, they have the potential to wreak havoc on your business.
Credentials & Accolades
Above everything else is the success that a partner has delivered for its clients. But to dig a little deeper, you can also check their credentials. Firstly, to see if they’re respected amongst their peers and technology providers, you can look into their standings. Let’s imagine that you’re interested in moving your online business to the Magento Commerce platform. You need to consider questions like: Is this partner recognised in the Magento ecosystem? Are they amongst the top-recommended solution partners by Magento (i.e. Magento Global Elite Partner)? And How many years have they been delivering eCommerce projects on Magento Commerce?
Then, there are also awards. Yes, awards don’t mean everything, but they can at least provide an indication of the partner’s competence. Whether for the partner itself or its clients, you can see if their eCommerce projects have won the praise of their peers and the public.
So whether it’s for design, innovation, implementation, customer experience or growth, you can get a sense of a partner’s capabilities by the eCommerce accolades that it has achieved.
If there’s one thing about the modern-day customer, then it’s that they want to shop when, where and how they want. The ball is well and truly in their court. To respond to these increased consumer expectations, your business needs to be wherever your customers are. So just having a website simply won’t hack it.
Today, you need to be in every channel and you need to make the transitions between channels seamless. From physical store to app to online customer service to delivery tracking, you need a partner that knows omnichannel inside out for the seamless and frictionless customer experiences that modern audiences demand.
Reliability and support
OK, this might not be the juiciest area when it comes to choosing a partner, but it’s one of the most important. In our digital world, downtime of any sort has huge ramifications for your bottom line. If customers can’t access your site or make a purchase, they’ll be gone and they might never return. Then there’s the ever-growing problem of online security. Whether it’s data breaches, stolen money, lost productivity or theft of intellectual property, weak security infrastructure could ruin your company’s reputation for good.
Your eCommerce partner should thus have a dedicated team and resources in terms of hosting, maintenance, support and security. Also, look at what sort of technologies they’re employing to keep your site running smoothly and your customers' data safe and secure.
Remember, a digitalisation transformation initiative is no small feat. It will take time and will require input and buy-in from stakeholders across your business. So forget the technical accomplishments of a partner for the moment… First up, you need to get on. Because, just think, you’ll be interacting with this partner on a regular basis and maybe even more than some of your colleagues! And you could well be working with this partner for months and years to come depending on the scope of your project and plans.
This one’s a little harder to measure and quantify than other areas, so to some extent, you’ll just have to go off of good ol’ gut feel. But to see if the partner is on the same page as your business, ask yourself the following questions:
- How do they define success?
- What are their principles/ethics as a business?
- Are they the type of partner that will listen and take my opinions on board, or will they just charge ahead and do it their own way?
- Do they have the expertise to not just build a solution but provide advice and extra value along the way?
- Could I see myself collaborating with this partner and its employees on a regular basis?
As we’ve just seen, how you feel about a partner certainly comes into play. But for cold, hard evidence then you can’t beat results. And by results, that doesn’t just mean how many websites they’ve delivered… But what’s actually happened as a result of these sites.
So think more along the lines of how a new solution has affected the solution partner's clients’ traffic, conversions, sales, customer lifetime value, purchases from mobile, growth, revenue (and any other metrics that are priorities for your business).
This will give you better insights into whether this partner can turn technology into real, tangible outcomes for your business.
Finally, of course, there’s price.
And in a lot of cases, this will be the deciding factor—you’ve got your eCommerce budget set and you need to stick to it.
But when it comes to price, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Ecommerce solutions vary in pricing structure and schedule, depending on the partner. You may get one quote that is based on fixed costs, is fully transparent and gives you a realistic idea of what you will pay over the duration of the project and afterwards. However, another partner may quote a lower starting price to begin with to get the deal, and then hit you with individual charges during the build and after your site is live. In this case, it’s impossible to truly estimate the final price of the solution.
And it’s this variability in pricing structures that makes direct price comparison near impossible. Yes, one partner might seem the cheaper option to begin with, but what about after they’ve introduced other fees further down the road? It's important to demand clarity here from solution providers when requesting and reviewing proposals.
Embarking on an eCommerce project is a huge initiative for any business. For this reason, you need to analyse any pricing schedule you see. Because getting a transparent, long-term view of price from the start will be far more valuable than opting for a price which could change and shoot up at any time in the future, without warning.
At Vaimo we partner with brands, retailers and manufacturers globally to drive success in digital commerce. With our expertise in B2B, B2C, PIM, Order Management, ERP integrations and marketing automation, we’re able to offer your business an end-to-end solution to help you succeed in the digital world. If you’d like to learn more, just reach out to our team today!