In my 10 years of building websites and consultations, I have learned a lot.
I’ll admit that I have given some stupid advice and few were even gems.
Besides the plethora of happiness and regrets, there is one thing that I absolutely adore.
I’m a big fan of an online store especially the ones that bring creativity to the table.
But, as a consultant, I hear this a lot.
And it kind of bugs me.
It’s hard to find a reliable agency that works or the final product wasn’t what I expected.
If you have been under these shoes, I have a solution.
Here are 9 questions that you must ask your agency before hiring them.
Now, these aren’t bulletproof and doesn’t assure of inconvenience. However, you will know that your dream is in safe hands.
What eCommerce platform do you use to create an online store?
It’s important to understand the platform suitable for your business. You should make an extensive research on your part. And ask your e-commerce partner about the platforms they specialise in. If it’s just one solution then it might not be the ideal choice. However, if you are looking to create the store on the same platform that they offer, you can hire them.
But as they say it – If you have a hammer, you consider everything as nails. It works the same way for design companies as well. They may try to compensate the specific skill set they have learned in every other technology as well. So, make sure you understand the language they work with.
Are you platform open source or proprietary?
While proprietary platform gives you more control and customised option, it can definitely cause different problems. You need to consult the same developer every time you want to make changes. Websites build on the proprietary platform can be other developers to make necessary amendments. Additionally, they can be costly as the support and maintenance cost is typically higher for these sites. This platform works similar to sticking to the same doctor for a lifespan.
How much experience do you bring on the table?
I don’t think you want to risk your dream business on the hands of someone who doesn’t understand about development and business standards.
The experience of building successful online store is one side of the coin. The person behind the large line of codes should also understand the business culture. I don’t work with the person who is just one dimensional. He should understand the concept behind development. Getting the final product running isn’t the deal. Getting the right product is.
What will be our line of communication?
Won’t it suck if you have to continuously make phone calls just to make small changes? Yes, it does. So, create a clean path by asking about the communication standards. If you prefer to be in constant contact, you should ask them about the process that will ensure your involvement. If not, you can ask them the line of communication for making necessary amendments.
There are project management tools like Trello, Wunderlist, and basecamp that ensure flexibility. You should also ask for the main point of contact. Will I have a dedicated project manager? This sort of questions lays the foundation for a profound communication.
What are our terms of the contract?
If you are dealing with a legitimate company, you will need to have a contract signed. In your contract, you should make sure certain points do exist.
- Fees and payment terms
- Support costs
What features can I expect in my online store?
Although this question sounds a little technical for a non-tech guy, it’s best to know about the features they are going to install on your website. You perhaps have done some thinking as well otherwise you wouldn’t have thought about creating an online store. Are they using a custom theme or an existing theme? Have they ever implied any extra features other than what they have been using for certain projects? These questions ensure versatility of the web company.
Does the development team know about SEO?
SEO is vital when it comes to e-commerce development. You don’t want to end up with a website that literally SUCKS on SEO. The development team should take care of on-page SEO from the developmental phase. Most e-commerce websites end up with thousands of duplicate content due to poor URL configurations. You don’t want this problem to come to your website. So make sure they follow the best SEO practices while developing the site. From ensuring that the codes are w3c validated to making sure important pages are indexed, you should be up on your toes when it comes to building your online store.
Payment systems and support
Payment gateways are an integral part of an e-commerce website. You should make sure that the development agency has enough knowledge about the most popular gateways. Make sure they can properly integrate the specific payment system with your bank. A multiple payment options is a preferred system that you want to have on your site.
Similarly, there will be additional changes in the near future. You should make sure that they also prominent support services for a reliable price. You don’t want to end up with another company for the support. It not only gets hectic and time-consuming, but also the cost gets much higher.
What do you need to know about me?
This certainly isn’t a job interview. But, a profound web agency must know about their clients. They have to make a proper audience research and build buyer’s journey on the basis of your information.
Every website should be unique and the process should be customised accordingly. If they don’t ask much about you and your business module, you may end up with a website that doesn’t have the feel you want for your website. Also, these are the foundational questions that will help open the relationship door between client and e-commerce partner.
These are the 9 questions you must ask your e-commerce web agency if you want to be on the safe side. Don’t play with your business. Invest your time and efforts on working with a proper research. Hopefully, these questions will help you out.