How to Choose an eCommerce Consultant

Hannah Gierosky

Do any of the following statements apply to your eCommerce site?

  • Your eCommerce site attracts visitors who are jumping ship before check out.
  • You have a high percentage of non-repeat customers.
  • Your site has a slow page load time or out of date images.
  • The product catalog is difficult to manage.
  • Your site revenue is not meeting business goals.
  • Your back office is overwhelmed and unable to keep up with orders.

If so, it may be time to evaluate your eCommerce platform and, possibly, replatform. This type of project takes a significant amount of consideration, as its results will have long-term influence on the company. Given the time, budget and human capital invested, this is not a project undertaken lightly. Replatforming is a complex journey, from strategy to development to post-launch. It requires a well-developed roadmap to help mitigate risk, and a partnership with the right consultant for your project. These two aspects can make the difference between success and disaster. 

So, how do you know which eCommerce partner is right for you? A recent blog from Harvard Business Review discusses the typical search and selection process for those looking for an eCommerce consultant. The most obvious components of the search process include asking for recommendations, reviewing portfolios and targeting those with industry expertise and experience. However, there are two aspects highlighted in the blog that companies often overlook when making their decision: compatibility and a results road map. 

Reviewing portfolios, asking for recommendations and targeting those with industry expertise and experience

This information should be readily available on a potential implementation partner’s website. If it isn’t, that should be your first indication that maybe this organization is not a good fit for your project.

For a client considering a consultant for an eCommerce project, expertise and experience can be evaluated in part by reviewing certifications held by the development team. These certifications validate all of the hard work and experience team members put into their job so that they can provide the best possible solution for clients.

Determining Compatibility – What makes a good fit?

Once you have determined that your potential consultants are in fact capable of the job, it is important to consider compatibility. Would you hire a new team member without first considering their cohesion with the rest of the group? Probably not. The same consideration should be given to a potential consulting partner.

Beyond making sure personalities mesh well is ensuring that development styles are similar. You don’t just want a great result; you want a pleasant experience throughout the process. As the Harvard Business Review blog points out, this is a crucial aspect of the success of the project that many clients don’t consider prior to choosing a consultant.

Once the compatibility of your two teams is determined, you need to consider a results road map. The question is no longer can they get the job done, but how will they get the job done? How are they going to take your plan from point A to point B? Although you and your consultants may be in tune where the results are concerned, you will want to make sure you are on the same page as far as the process as well. Remember: your consultants can’t read minds! Discuss what you want from them and ask questions about their strategy.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for eCommerce projects, it’s important to choose a consultant with a general process or framework for their strategy; a repeatable but customizable approach to implementing, consulting and working towards eCommerce success. It is imperative to have a baseline of topics and areas of discussion, as opposed to an unorganized approach to the process. A roadmap that determines what will be achieved in each phase is helpful for outline purposes, but it is equally important to view each phase as a time to discuss a topic and derive a strategy to achieve the set goal. A consultant that uses this type of approach to a project is extremely beneficial for success. 

As the Harvard Business Review blog said, “It’s hard work to vet consultants before you hire them. But it’s not nearly as hard as suffering through a costly multi-month project that…doesn’t even solve the problems you wanted to fix.”

Although time consuming, the process of selecting the right consultant for you is worth it in the end when you have a well-executed solution that achieves your goals.

Need more information? Contact us.


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