A good eCommerce web development company should have the same qualities you would look for in any business partner; knowledge, experience and reliability. They should be able to communicate well, deliver a quality product within deadline and on-budget as well as offer crucial back-up services for when your website goes live.
However, a good eCommerce web development company should also have some additional qualities that will make the difference between a satisfactory website and one that is exceptional.
So, what makes a good eCommerce company?
Key Qualities for an eCommerce Web Development Company
As well as getting the basics right, a good eCommerce web development company should also be able to demonstrate technical skill, creative and imaginative flair as well as be multi-disciplined.
Free and Open Source Platforms
When it comes to the choice of platform on which to develop your eCommerce website, you have plenty of choices. From commercial solutions like Shopify and BigCommerceto free/open source platforms like WooCommerceand Magento, there are a range of solutions that can be offered. It is also possibly to find a developer who will build a custom eCommerce website from the ground up to meet your specific requirements; however, this is becoming less popular due to the flexibility of the platforms available on the market and ability to easily custimise them with new add-ons, plugins and extensions.
At first glance, many people categorise the available solutions by their price. If budget is restricted, then an open source solution might seem like the most cost-effective way to go. Certainly, when compared to a custom designed eCommerce website, there can be a huge price difference.
There are a wide range of eCommerce web development companiesout there, so it is important to select one based on the diversity of solutions they can offer you.
With an open source platform, you have a greater choice when it comes to:
- Plugins and extensions to tailor your eCommerce website
- Easy integration with multiple payment gateways and third-party systems (ERP, CRM, etc)
- Support for multiple languages, currencies and store-fronts
- Fast migration to other hosting services
- Availability of developers and a global support community
Open source eCommerce websites are ideal for both small and medium businesses and offer flexibility as well as security. However, not all platforms are created equally and there is no single service out there that is suited for every application.
Working with an eCommerce specialist who understands your business and can provide a range of ways to develop your website is essential.
Integrated Marketing Approach
It can be quite common for companies to overlook the importance of consistency when it comes to eCommerce and other aspects of your project.
Integrated marketing is a critical component of choosing a good eCommerce web development companyand ignoring this could cause significant problems with brand promotion and sales.
Why is integration important?
A successful eCommerce website should not only mirror the company’s marketing strategy and be consistent with your brand, it should also work as a standalone mechanism to generate its own sales leads via employing good SEO practices.
If you run anonline marketing campaign with coupons for discounts on your eCommerce store then these should not only be compatible with your website but complement your other marketing.
Not only that but consolidating your eCommerce site with other platforms like Amazon, Facebook and eBay are critical when it comes to extending your reach, streamlining your business and increasing product sales.
Working with a specialist who can bring a fusion to your SEO and digital marketing strategy can make a huge difference to the success of your site. From running multiple stores, content creation and management to off-page SEO and inbound marketing, there’s more to good eCommerce web development than meets the eye.
The life expectancy of any eCommerce solution is limited to a few years at most and being aware of this in advance should help reduce the overheads associated with staying up to date.
Working with an agency who can create a flexible solution that can be adapted to meet the needs of an ever-changing digital commerce landscape is essential.
You should ask yourself whether your eCommerce web development company can create an agile system that can deliver scalability. Do they have the experience to grow with your business? How do they keep up to date with new trends and legislation?
Getting The Basics Right
Whilst it is essential to partner with a good eCommerce web development companybased on their expertise and knowledge on the above key qualities, you shouldn’t forget that choosing the right partner is also about how they perform in other areas.
So, what other attributes should you be looking for?
Consistent and Reliable Track Record
Appointing any business partner should always include a review of their portfolio and client testimonials.
Find out who the developer has worked with by checking their online reviews and use this to validate their experience in your industry.
You should be looking, not simply to verify their credibility but, to assess the quality of their deliverables. How do their live eCommerce sites perform? Are they creative and memorable? Do they deliver a great user experience? How does the storefront compare to the rest of the site and is it consistent with the company’s marketing?
A good eCommerce web development company will be able to produce clients who are willing to act as a reference for their services and it is worth taking them up on these. Whilst you can assess the quality of the end-result yourself by simply visiting an online store, you should be asking questions about the process of achieving this. How well did the agency perform against the initial project plan when it came to the budget? Did they deliver the project on time? How efficient were they to work with? Did they communicate well?
An Experienced & Diverse Team
Developing an eCommerce site requires more than just technical knowledge and should be undertaken by a company that can offer a mixture of disciplines when it comes to project managing your site.
Ask for a profile of the people who will be working on your project and validate their backgrounds. Whilst your main point of contact may be the team leader, don’t be shy about asking to speak directly with the designers themselves; after all, they are the ones who need to interpret your vision for your eCommerce website.
Creating the best experience for your customers should be a collaborative effort between you and as many experienced professionals as possible so select an eCommerce web development company that can work with you and not just for you.
Clear Project Planning
At the outset of any project both time and money are critical components to lay down in stone. Once you have discussed your ambitions with your prospective agency, get them to provide a full breakdown of pricing and deadlines.
This should include key components and measurable deliverables, including (but not limited to):
- Initial design
- Configuration of database
- Server optimisation
- Server management
It makes sense to compare prices with other companies but, when doing so, it is essential that you ensure you are doing this on a ‘like-for-like’ basis. Check the detail of the proposals and be clear about what is, and what isn’t, included.
Finally, the project proposal should include a clear statement of work that indicates the agreed time to market deadline.
Communication is Key
All good relationships are built on communication and this is a critical component of partnering with any business.
Poor communication is the fastest way to introduce additional expense and delays in any project and can ultimately lead to a failure to deliver. You should not only feel confident that your ideas and instructions are being understood but you need to be able to follow progress on your project.
As well as their ability to bridge confusion to clarity, it is also important to assess their methods of communication.
Find out how available your eCommerce web development companyis and whether they offer flexible ways to communicate. If you favour a face-to-face approach, are they local or will they charge you for attending a project meeting? Do they use flexible working hours? Do they offer Skype chats or other video conferencing? Do their working hours reflect yours? Exactly who will be your point of contact and, if they aren’t available, who else will be up to speed with the project?
Ask your project manager how the monitoring process will work in practice. How will they provide evaluation of progress and what analysis tools will they use to demonstrate this to you?
Your eCommerce web development company should be competent at delivery and interpreting information in a concise, clear and comprehensive way. They should be effective at listening, provide good feedback and be accurate in all communications with you.
Post Launch Support
The measure of a good eCommerce web development companyis not simply in the successful delivery of your platform and it is key that you work with an agency who can provide you with ongoing support.
From technical services like server management through to digital marketing, a single company to meet all of these demands that already has an understanding of your business can streamline this process.
It can be tempting to bring some of these services in-house or out-source them to existing partners but integrating eCommerce marketing, CMS and ongoing website design could deliver huge benefits.
As well as lowering the overall cost of these services with one company, a consistent approach to all aspects of your digital marketing strategy should improve performance.