With 96% of eCommerce businesses wanting to increase their budgets, it’s important to stay ahead of the competition. Outsmarting your competitors improves your conversion rates and ensures long-term profitability.
Hiring an eCommerce agency is a great way to future-proof your business and enhance your marketing efforts. If you can find an agency that aligns with your brand and understands your target audience, you get an investment with a huge payoff.
However, as an eCommerce business with unique needs and requirements, finding the right fit can be challenging. How do you find the right eCommerce agency that not only understands your needs but also effectively navigates the complexities of your niche?
In this guide, we’ll provide detailed steps to help you find the right eCommerce agency for your online business. We’ll also offer tips and best practices to make the hiring process smooth and productive.
What is an eCommerce agency?
An eCommerce agency is an external team that provides professional services to help eCommerce businesses achieve their goals.
Ideally, an eCommerce agency understands the unique needs of your online business. As a result, these agencies are able to plan and implement an effective online marketing strategy that will help you achieve your business goals.
Essentially, an eCommerce agency’s services include the following:
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Some eCommerce marketing companies help you improve your website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Like the typical SEO agency, an eCommerce agency conducts keyword research and optimizes websites for search visibility — the only difference is they’re tailored to eCommerce businesses.
- Web development: Some eCommerce agencies can help you develop and maintain your eCommerce website by using platforms like WordPress and WooCommerce. These agencies offer web design services to help you optimize your website’s user experience, ultimately boosting sales.
- Online advertising: Some eCommerce agencies can help you strategize and execute pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns across various platforms. These include paid search (Google Ads), Meta Ads and ads within online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
- Market research: Some eCommerce marketing agencies can help you gain insights into your target audience, competitors and industry trends. This enables you to make informed decisions that speed up the growth of your eCommerce business.
What are the benefits of hiring an eCommerce agency?
Hiring an eCommerce agency offers many advantages to your eCommerce business. Here are the most noteworthy benefits:
As an eCommerce business owner, time is your best resource. The more time you have, the more opportunities you get to promote your brand and seek new ways to grow.
If you hire an eCommerce agency, you won’t have to perform all marketing tasks yourself. These agencies take the load off your shoulders, giving you more time to focus on other aspects of your business, such as increasing brand awareness and strengthening your online presence.
Whether it’s website maintenance, optimizing your website for search engines or running a successful marketing campaign, the right eCommerce agency can get things done faster and more accurately.
Gives you access to cutting-edge tools and resources
When you hire an eCommerce agency, you’re essentially delegating tasks to them. The best part? It’s not your responsibility to provide them with the tools needed to perform their jobs.
Most eCommerce agencies are what you’d call “power users.” They use tools with robust functionality (with extensive integrations to boot) and have access to the best resources to ensure your eCommerce business takes advantage of technological advancements and the latest trends.
Given how fast the eCommerce industry is evolving, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and ditch outdated methods. To stay on the leading edge of your niche, you need to hire an eCommerce agency that updates its tool stack regularly.
Suppose you want your eCommerce brand to build an online presence on TikTok. You can hire an eCommerce agency to leverage the best available social media marketing tools or analytics tools to maximize profitability.
You get deep expertise
Some aspects of running an eCommerce business can become very complex and nuanced. These include payment processing, app development and supply chain management. If you’re an entrepreneur who wears too many hats, you don’t want to strain your cognitive resources further by handling more complex tasks.
Hiring an eCommerce agency gives you the knowledge to unlock new levels of success. These agencies’ expertise cuts across different disciplines, including digital marketing, content marketing, content creation and influencer marketing. By working with these agencies, you’ll gain new business ideas that wouldn’t have been possible when working in-house.
Hiring an eCommerce agency requires financial outlay. But not hiring one is even more expensive, especially if your in-house team members lack the necessary skills and resources to run an online business successfully.
When you hire an eCommerce agency, you save money in the long run because tasks get done faster. Plus, you don’t have to invest in the latest tools and resources.
Since an eCommerce agency gives you access to an entire team with an array of relevant expertise, you don’t need to budget for various specialized roles (not to mention employee benefits, employee training, paid leaves, tools and infrastructure).
Keeps you updated on ongoing projects
Most eCommerce agencies have a dedicated communication system in place so every client they work with gets regular updates on the progress of their projects. This eliminates the need for constant follow-ups and status checks, saving time and enabling you to focus on other crucial aspects of your business.
How to hire an eCommerce agency
With myriad options available, finding the right eCommerce agency for your online business may be challenging. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, here’s a detailed tutorial.
1. Clarify your needs
Before you start looking for an eCommerce agency to hire, find out why you need one in the first place.
Here are key indicators that it’s time to work with an eCommerce agency:
- eCommerce growth has stagnated: If your brand hasn’t seen any business growth for some time (indicated by low sales and stagnant organic traffic), hiring an eCommerce agency may propel your business to new heights and help you drive conversions.
- You’re time-constrained: If you’ve been pulling some all-nighters to keep up with the demands of managing your eCommerce store, then it’s time to delegate some tasks to eCommerce professionals.
- Your marketing campaigns aren’t delivering desired results: If you haven’t been hitting your metrics and business goals, consider outsourcing your marketing tasks to an eCommerce agency. An eCommerce marketing agency has the know-how and skill set to steer your business in the right direction.
- You lack expertise and resources: Running an eCommerce business requires expertise across multiple fields, including SEO strategy, marketing and data analysis. Teaming up with an eCommerce agency gives you access to a team of professionals who can fill the gaps in your knowledge and resources.
Once you’ve pinpointed your need, reassess your business objectives and marketing strategies. Many eCommerce agencies offer free consultations. During these sessions, openly discuss your goals and challenges.
By laying all your concerns on the table, potential candidates can offer tailored suggestions and create action plans. This not only provides you with valuable insights but also helps you identify the agency that best meets your needs.
2. Set a budget
Evaluate your organization’s financial status to see if there’s some wiggle room to hire an eCommerce agency. To give you an idea, the cost of hiring an agency ranges between $140 and $250 per hour.
As already mentioned, hiring an eCommerce agency doesn’t come cheap, so budget wisely to ensure the financial stability of your eCommerce business.
3. Search for eCommerce agencies
Create a list of reputable eCommerce agencies. Casting a wider net helps you find the best fit for your eCommerce business.
Start by using search engines. Search for phrases like “eCommerce agency” if you want to explore more possibilities. However, you can also be more specific by searching for keywords like “eCommerce SEO agency,” “top eCommerce marketing agencies,” or eCommerce email marketing.” If you can find award-winning agencies, even better.
You can also use social media platforms to find eCommerce marketing agencies. Professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn are particularly useful for this purpose.
You can also ask for recommendations by reaching out to your professional network, business associates or other eCommerce business owners. Personal referrals are a great resource for finding eCommerce agencies with a track record of excellence.
4. Create a shortlist
Once you have a list of potential candidates, you need to narrow down your list to the best possible candidates. Creating a shortlist of results-driven agencies prevents decision paralysis down the line. You’ll be able to evaluate the best-performing agencies instead of spending time on those that don’t have the skills and resources you need.
Ideally, your shortlist should contain three to five eCommerce agencies. Since you’re choosing only the best candidates, you have to be more rigorous in your research.
Here are key elements to explore during your research:
- Social proof: Look for case studies to get some insight into the agency’s methods and past successes.
- Reviews: Use platforms like Glassdoor, Trustpilot and Google Reviews to gauge public sentiment and gather honest feedback from real clients.
- Social media platforms: Explore the agency’s social media channels to get a solid grasp of its business strategies.
- Industry forums and communities: Participate in discussions on platforms like Reddit, Slack and Discord. You’ll be surprised by the wealth of information and firsthand experiences these community members share.
Niche expertise, reputation and price are relevant factors to consider when creating a shortlist of the best eCommerce agencies to hire.
5. Vet your best candidates
Now that you have a shortlist, it’s time to jump on a call with your best candidates. After all, there’s no better way to find the right fit than speaking with them. Non-verbal cues like tone of voice and enthusiasm can help you make the right decision.
In the first step, we suggested identifying why you want to hire an eCommerce agency. This is where you mention your needs in detail. The responses and recommendations your shortlisted eCommerce agencies provide will help you determine the right fit for your business.
A consultation video call will help you gauge:
- Each candidate’s enthusiasm and understanding of your business goals.
- Their communication skills.
- Their problem-solving abilities.
- Their cultural fit with your business.
- Their transparency about their processes and methods.
During the consultation, make sure to ask the following questions to determine the best fit:
- How will you tailor your services to our needs?
- What makes you different from other eCommerce agencies?
- What tools and software will you be using?
- Do you have any experience working with businesses similar to ours?
- Will we maintain ownership of our assets?
6. Review proposals
Agencies often offer to send proposals after each discovery or consultation call. A proposal should outline an agency’s overall digital marketing strategy to successfully meet your goals, building upon the suggestions and recommendations provided during the consultation call. If an agency doesn’t send a proposal after a consultation call, request it.
Each proposal typically includes:
- Scope of work.
- Challenges and how the agency can help you overcome them.
- Cost of services.
- Estimated time frames for project deliverables.
- Confidentiality agreements.
As you review the proposals, assess which agency understands your vision and your goals. Which agency offers a realistic and actionable plan? Can it be accomplished within your defined budget and time frame?
7. Sign a contract with your chosen eCommerce agency
Once you’ve accepted a proposal from your chosen eCommerce agency, you’ll need to sign a contract. Read the contract carefully to ensure the terms and conditions are fair to both parties.
After the contract is signed, the onboarding process will begin. Onboarding is the kick-off point for a successful collaboration, so you must ensure the marketing agency you hire gets up to speed with your campaign goals and the necessary steps to achieve them.
Tips for hiring an eCommerce agency
Here are some tips and best practices to help you find the right eCommerce agency for your online business.
Avoid skill overlaps
When hiring an eCommerce agency, ensure its services complement the capabilities and strengths of your in-house team.
Assess your in-house team to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Then, hire an eCommerce agency to fill any identified gaps. This ensures there are no skill overlaps. Duplication of effort results in wasted time and resources, and this can quickly drain your budget.
Be clear about your budget
Clarify your budget and expectations, especially when you take a consultation call. Clarity is important because it enables the agency to understand how much you’re willing to spend, and this helps them tailor their services accordingly. Clarity and transparency set the stage for an effective collaboration.
Choose a reputable eCommerce agency
While an agency’s diverse experience working with different clients offers fresh and unique insights, it’s still important to find a results-driven agency with a proven track record in your industry. After all, hard-won knowledge gained from firsthand experience will prove invaluable when tackling challenges unique to your industry.
To check if an agency has worked with companies similar to yours, browse through their case studies. Study how they resolved each client’s problems and how their recommendations contributed to those organizations’ sustained growth.
During consultation calls, ask candidates if they’ve worked with other businesses in your industry. Ask for a detailed account of the partnership and its outcomes.
Establish open communication channels
All great collaborations share a common ingredient: open communication.
When working with an eCommerce agency, create a schedule for regular update meetings. This way, you and the agency are always aligned in terms of challenges, goals and strategies. You can also use a workflow management tool to ensure all tasks are building up to a larger goal.
Final thoughts: How to hire an eCommerce agency
A successful partnership with an eCommerce agency is not just a transaction but a collaboration where ideas flow freely and mutual understanding is valued. When looking for an eCommerce agency to hire, you don’t want a mere service provider. You need a strategic partner invested in your success.
That said, before searching for the best eCommerce agencies, ensure you’re set up for success. Success as an online entrepreneur begins with choosing a reliable hosting provider like Bluehost.
FAQs: How to hire an eCommerce agency
Digital marketing for eCommerce companies specializes in generating targeted traffic and enhancing online shopping experiences. Unlike general marketing, an eCommerce marketing agency tailors its strategies to online stores.
When selecting an eCommerce agency, prioritize expertise, credibility and transparency in pricing and communication. Assess the agency’s ability to align with your brand vision and work within your budget and time frame.
A full-service eCommerce agency caters to businesses’ end-to-end online needs for successful sales and growth. They offer everything from web design to conversion rate optimization (CRO), simplifying the process of building a successful eCommerce business.
Amazon is a popular example of an eCommerce platform. Founded in 1994, it has become one of the world’s largest online retailers. Other examples include Etsy and eBay.