The Smart Post

What Should I Expect From an Ecommerce Agency?

February 11, 2021

Clear expectations make everything better. Working with an eCommerce agency is no different. Knowing what to expect before the work starts will help you get the best results. When you have clear expectations for working with an eCommerce agency, you’re more likely to find an agency that’ll live up to those expectations. 

You can also better decide if an agency is a good match for your needs or not. And by a good match, we mean both technically and culturally. Even if an agency is technically competent, a cultural mismatch would make it difficult to work with them. Personalities, work styles, and management styles would be different, and a crash would be inevitable. 

Best part? You can avoid the feeling of regret and disappointment that comes from choosing the wrong agency. And believe us, you’ll want to dodge that bullet. 

It’s like that feeling you get after ordering an expensive dish at a fancy restaurant then finding out that it doesn’t taste good, and you could have made something better at home. When you work with an eCommerce agency, the meal is a much more expensive service. 

And it is NEVER exquisite without effort.   

The following are the key things you should expect from an eCommerce agency. 

Setting Your Expectations

While expecting an eCommerce agency to set your expectations sounds like a tongue-twister, it’s super-important. It’s completely normal if you don’t have clear expectations when working with an eCommerce agency, skydiving, undergoing surgery, or anything similar. 

These are not everyday activities that most people are familiar with. If an eCommerce agency doesn’t do any expectations management, that should be a red flag. This means that they either don’t care or they have zero empathy with their clients.  

If you’re trying tandem skydiving for the first time and the instructor tells you to put on the suit and get on the plane without explaining anything, you should be concerned. If you do what they say and hope they’ll explain how things work when you’re dropping together at 120 mph, it won’t be your wisest decision.   

Communicating Clearly and Regularly

Working with an eCommerce agency is like being in a relationship. Without clear communication, you can’t be sure what the other person wants or know how they feel about anything. The bigger the project you’re working on with the eCommerce agency, the more critical it becomes to have clear and regular communication.  You should expect the agency you’re working with to send you detailed progress reports with all relevant metrics.

This expectation applies to migrating your eCommerce website to a new platform, handling your back office integrations, running your digital marketing campaigns, or any other service.  When you consider working with an agency, you should always ask them about their communication and reporting.  

Tactical Outsourcing

Unless you have found a unicorn agency that is great at everything, there will probably be some outsourcing going on. And that is not a bad thing. Realistic agencies that truly understand their craft know their strengths and weaknesses. That is why they will be outsourcing some of the work to external experts.  

This practice is common among eCommerce organizations. Having access to a reliable network of experts is one of the benefits of working with such agencies. Before inking the contract, you should ask the agency about their outsourcing process. 

For example, you should ask if you’ll have to interact with outsourced resources, or is it something that the agency would handle for you. In all cases, having to interact directly with outsourced resources is something you do NOT want. 

You should also always ask about the type of work that will be outsourced. Will the agency outsource tasks like technical SEO, digital marketing, and design, or will they be outsourcing some parts of the development process?

While some projects won’t have any outsourcing at all, knowing how much outsourcing will be done and the qualifications of the people doing the work is essential. It will help you set proper expectations for the quality of the work.  

Interest in Your Business

It is hard for anyone to excel at something they do not fully understand. Unless an agency understands your business inside out, they will not be able to deliver good results. And for an agency to understand your business, there should be some interest in what you do.  

Having an interest in your business is something you should expect from an eCommerce business. When that interest is not there, you should be concerned. 

Understanding your business means having the curiosity and willingness to do what it takes to become familiar with how things work and provide the best solutions for your problems. If the agency does not take the time to fully understand how your business really works, that should be a deal-breaker. And by ‘understand how your business works’, we mean everything from customer personas to buying preferences and user behavior. 

Standardized Systems and Processes

Established agencies have standardized systems and processes for everything. Since your project isn’t a first for any experienced agency, there will be existing systems in place for everything, from the onboarding process to the milestones and payment structure. 

When you work with an eCommerce organization, you should expect that they’ll want you to abide by the processes that work for them. And since the agency is usually responsible for anything that goes wrong in the project, it’s not too much to ask.

You should also ask the agency if they can integrate new solutions with the systems you already have. This will make things easier for the customer team and will give you a good idea about the agency’s flexibility before you start working with them.

If you notice that the agency is as clueless as you on how the process should be, you should consider finding another agency. 

The Wrap Up

Having clear and realistic expectations for what you’re getting into is a must. When you’re hiring an agency for your eComm business, it’s a must. While there are different expectations for different types of projects, the points we’ve covered summarize what you should expect regardless of the project type. Setting your expectations before you start interviewing different agencies will help you choose one that can meet, or even better, exceed your expectations.