Why is it hard to choose an e-commerce agency?
It could be challenging to choose the best e-commerce agency for your future online business since there are thousands of options. In most cases, e-commerce agencies specify in a particular business industry or accumulate their experience working with one specific platform or e-commerce solution. All e-commerce teams are very different, offer different services of varying quality.
How do you choose the best agency? For that, it is vital to know what kind of services and solutions you need. Such an understanding will help you narrow your search and increase your chances of finding the best technology partner.
What do web development companies offer?
As we said above, each e-commerce agency specifies in a narrow field of technology and expertise. To make your search easier, at least you need to be aware of what they can offer you. Below we share the classification of IT agencies based on what services and projects they provide to their clients.
Some development companies specialize in custom-built websites. It means that they create a website from scratch according to your requirements. The development process is complicated since it involves target audience research, the development of custom features and design.
Custom website development requires significant time and budget. Still, a custom website is an excellent solution for developed brands and big companies who want to provide visitors with a unique experience.
A web template is a set of HTML web pages. Anyone can add his or her text and images on these pre-designed web pages to create a website. Such websites usually are built with CSS and HTML. The main advantage of such sites is that anyone can set up their website or shop online without any help from developers and designers.
Some developers also use this solution for web development. With a template-based website, you can tell the world about your business or services since it will rank by search engines. WordPress site and a template design bought from ThemeForest, Template Monster, or Elegant Themes is the most popular way of setting up a pre-built website. This approach allows you to develop a site or an online shop with a limited budget and in a short period. However, if your online store has more than 100-1000 products, then consider Magento 2 platform themes.
E-commerce websites allow owners to sell goods or services online. Online shops could work on existing platforms or could be custom-built. In the IT market, companies that deal only with the development of online shops are called e-commerce agencies. Their experience might include many e-commerce platforms, payment gateways and other solutions from the online retail sphere.
The online shop can offer basic features, like a shopping cart, product catalog, and payment gateways or include more complex integrations such as social networks, CRM or online marketplace integrations and so on.
It takes more time to create e-commerce websites, even template based, in comparison with usual sites. Why? Because the team adds a product catalog and tests all the features to ensure that the online shop is bug-free.
Full services agencies consist of several departments. For that, they provide a large variety of services. A typical full-service company includes development, design, management, and QA departments. This way, they can create not only a website but also design, mobile applications and custom features with further maintenance.
So, the customer receives an “all-in-one” solution. It is more convenient for future website owners to work with a full-service team than control the workflow of a stand-alone freelance developer and designer.
Hiring a full-service team is expensive. However, it is justified since many specialists are working on your future website.
How to choose a web development company?
It is not as easy to choose a development company as it seems. We can compare the development of a website or an online shop by building a house. If you hire wrong specialists for building the foundation, who will use the incorrect, materials, your future project will fail, and you will be displeased. To avoid such situations in the development of your website, we share the most important aspects of choosing the best e-commerce team.
1. Check out the company’s work portfolio
Evaluating the experience of an e-commerce team is the central aspect, that future website owner should do. Knowing the specialization of your e-commerce team will help you to understand whether this agency can fulfill your requirement toward the upcoming project.
For that, the first step is to check out the portfolio of the team. In most cases, IT companies share their projects on their websites. By checking the portfolio, you will evaluate the functionality and usability of their live projects, estimate development and design skills.
An agency’s portfolio could include similar works that can meet your requirements and expectations. Moreover, you will receive insights on the company experience in a particular area. Additionally, you can visit the company’s profile on specific networks such as GitHub, Behance, and Dribbble.
2. Read client reviews on Clutch
The best way to find out about IT company competence is from reviews from their previous clients. For that, you can use the Clutch website. The website specializes in gathering feedback from the IT companies clients around the globe.
These reviews will give you the insights on whether your future agency is favored for projects similar to yours. Also, you can check if your prospective team has any awards and recognized by their peers. Such research will give you the idea of their rank among others in the industry.
3. Ask for client references
All established web development companies have previous clients. It is a good practice to contact a team’s clients and ask about their experience. In case former clients are satisfied with the services provided, you can trust this agency. If past clients are not satisfied, you should look for other options. A short interview with the previous clients allows you to receive a clear idea about your future IT service provider.
4. Evaluate the quality of the company’s website
You can learn more about the quality standards of the e-commerce team by checking their overall digital presence. For that, you need to analyze their social media profile, website, and content.
Pay attention to the website design, features and the quality of the content they publish. Their website design should be up-to-date. If the company does not follow the best practices, it might not be able to handle your project.
5. See how fast the company responds to your email
Responsiveness is one among other factors to consider when choosing a web development company. If you decided to work with a small team, they might not have a dedicated sales staff. In this case, you can contact the owner or the assistant at the company. You can give them 24-48 hours to answer your request. If the company is interested in learning more about your web project, it is a good sign. Remember that without an understanding of your goals and needs, it is impossible for the team to give you an accurate estimation.
How to choose a web design company?
A custom website design provides online businesses with a competitive advantage over generic website templates. If you want to develop a custom design for your website, you should look for an agency that specializes in UI/UX design. Below we share tips to find the right web design company.
1. Learn about the company’s approach to usability
Online shop usability is very important for retail business. It influences the experience of shoppers at your online store. E-commerce website usability affects many essential business metrics, like conversion rate, time on page, a bounce rate.
What is more important, many of these metrics affect your online shop SEO. For that, ask your future e-commerce team what approach they apply to provide your prospective customers with the best experience possible.
2. See if the company has examples of similar projects
There are different business areas and spheres. Each sphere has its requirements for design and website functionality. If you have a particular project in mind, ask your future e-commerce team to show you their work on similar projects. By evaluating the ready-made project from a related field, you can build your opinion on the team professionalism.
3. Ask the company about how they measure results
When looking for a web development team, you can ask about the results of their previous clients. In particular, about the customer retention rate of online stores, built by the agency. The client retention rate below 60% indicates that the website has poor usability. At the same time, the 70-90% retention rate of the online shop means that this is your e-commerce dream team.
Local vs. outsourcing
Location is one more factor among other things to consider before choosing a web development company. Working with local or outsource agencies has its benefits and drawbacks. Below we share some of them.
The pros of a local web development team
– Effortless communication – When working with the agency from the same location, it is easy to arrange face-to-face meetings. It also leads to better results on the stage of specifying the requirements for your future project. Moreover, any problem with the website can be resolved in real time.
– Cultural similarities – If you plan to develop an online shop or a website for the local target audience, local developers are preferable. They already know the needs and wants of your future customers and website users.
– Legal issues – It is more convenient to work with the development team from your location since you are citizens of the same country. Therefore, in case the project goes wrong, it is simpler to solve legal issues.
The сons of a local web development team
– Cost. The costs of hiring a web development team, in particular in the USA and Australia, are much higher than working with an outsourcing team located in Eastern Europe. What is more important, the difference in price does not mean that the local team would perform better result than an outsourcing agency.
– Time. If you want to hire the best local web development team, be prepared to find that you are not the only one. For that, it could be hard to find a reliable developer for a particular task. Local agencies do not always have free developers with the necessary skill sets and a high level of technical expertise.
The pros of outsourcing a development team
– Expertise – You can hire an outsourcing team or a particular specialist, who has previously worked on projects similar to yours.
– Streamline management – When working with a specialized web development agency, you can rely on well-established project management, since all development processes are properly set up.
– Talent pool – The outsourcing agencies have an open talent pool. Therefore, they have more developers and specialists with a high level of technical expertise in their field. Moreover, businesses hire such agencies to complete a particular task, like UI/UX or mobile app development.
The cons of an outsourcing a development team
– Synchronization – If you decide to work with a team from another country, be ready to schedule a meeting in advance. Moreover, because of time zone differences, it is okay to wait for replies to emails from agency representatives.
– Cultural barriers – These barriers could be a potential issue when working with an outsourcing team. Cultural barriers could result in frustration and reworking some parts of the projects several times.
Despite all the drawbacks, outsourcing web development is quite popular. The common locations for outsourcing web development are South America, Eastern Europe, and Asian countries. Why? Because the developers from these countries have lower hourly rates compared to developers from the USA., Australia, and Western Europe. Below we share the image with the comparison spreadsheet. Here you can see the difference in the developer hourly rate depending on the location. Top Magento Developers Earn Much More!
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