As an ecommerce agency, it’s crucial you are able to keep up with the needs and expectations of your clients, both new and existing. Falling behind can have a significant impact on your reputation, while taking the steps needed to stay ahead can cement your position as an industry leader.
Today, the role of the online store in retail is undeniable; over the course of 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that online retail sales increased by as much as 100%. Crucially, the trend upwards was still increasing in January 2021.
Not only is the online store here to stay, but getting it right is now more important than ever if retailers want to keep up with their competitors.
In our latest blog, The Definitive Guide for Ecommerce Agencies, we take you through every stage of the process to make sure you can plan, launch and maintain the perfect online store for your clients, time and time again.
Step 1: Choose the right platform
So let’s start at the top; the planning stage. How do you make sure that you are consistently (and successfully!) planning the right online store for your clients?
The answer’s simple: Ask, Assess, Advise, and Execute.
Getting the planning stage right means starting from a solid foundation, and you can’t do this without an in-depth understanding of your client’s business and their needs. So go on a fact-finding mission, and ask questions;
What do they do?
What are their challenges?
Why are they better than their competitors?
What does success look like for them?
Make sure not to rush this stage, or ask only surface-level questions, as this isn’t going to give you the necessary information for the next step.
Now you’ve got the information from the client, you can get to work assessing your data and finding a suitable range of options that meet their technical and financial needs. Be sure to also consider areas such as the potential for future growth, the need for upgrades, and the long-term implications of support and maintenance.
Your assessment should also include a review of competitor sites; spend time learning about the trends in your client’s industry and use data to make sure your recommendations are rooted in fact.
The next step is to take this to the client. With your assessment in hand, you’re in a position to offer your recommendations. Remember, you can add value and build trust with your client at this stage, by going above and beyond with the advice you give. A little guidance can go a long way.
Now, the only thing left to do is execute the plan. We’ll go into this in more detail in Step 2, but for now, remember that it’s easy to get overly eager at this point; you’ve put a lot of work in to get here! Slow down and take your time to get it right. Try to follow documented and repeatable processes to ensure consistency and remove uncertainty, for both you and your client.
Check out our recent blog for an in-depth look at preparing the first step of your ecommerce journey.
Step 2: Deliver on time, and on budget
It’s all well and good taking the time to ask the right questions, assess your data, and advise on a plan for implementing an ecommerce project, but the work isn’t done just yet.
It’s important to both you and your client that, as you approach the execution of your plan, you know exactly how you’re going to do it, on time and on budget.
The key to this, as with any project, is making sure you set the scope from the very beginning. Make sure everyone involved has a clear outline of tasks and expectations from the get-go. Not only does it mean that everyone involved understands and agrees what is to be done, it can also prevent scope creep, which often leads to a project going unfinished, cancelled, or having gone way over budget with no end in sight.
It may seem obvious, but you also need to ensure that your in-house team understands what is required from them, and that you have all the resources, skills and expertise ready and waiting.
Appoint someone to oversee progress and project manage the execution from start to finish; be sure to select someone with the right experience, as an underprepared project manager can lose control quickly. Communication is key if you want your project to run smoothly.
For more information on how you can make sure your agency delivers on time and on budget, check out our full blog here.
Step 3: Minimise maintenance and downtime
Your business depends on maintaining long-lasting relationships with your clients, and a huge part of this will be ensuring their ecommerce sites deliver without any issues or downtime.
But all sites need maintenance, so how do you balance this to keep disruption to a minimum?
Downtime can be planned or unplanned, but either way, minimising the impact it has on your client’s business is crucial. There are two main elements to this: using the right platform, and utilising your agency’s internal expertise.
When choosing a platform, make sure you take into consideration the impact of ongoing maintenance. Many legacy platforms require continuous upgrades to stay secure as a result of previous ‘easy fix’ coding. This can leave developers face to face with bugs and technical issues.
Newer platforms have been built with support in mind, and use a lean core and modular structure that can reduce the impact on server infrastructure during updates.
And, when it comes to providing your expertise, this can be much easier and less costly if your agency has opted for a platform that provides full source code training, access to documentation and one-to-one technical support.
You can learn more about how you wow your retailers, and build long-standing relationships by keeping disruption to a minimum here.
Step 4: Identify and implement improvements
So far, we’ve covered planning, execution, and maintenance. But what about upgrades and improvements? It’s inevitable that as an ecommerce site grows, it will need to change. How should your agency handle this?
Firstly, it’s critical to maintain good communication with your client. Review analytics and discuss it with them regularly to understand the context; raw data can only tell you so much!
Keep in mind though that you’re the expert. The client may have ideas or suggestions of their own, but they’re paying you for your expertise so don’t be afraid to challenge them if you think there’s a better solution.
Secondly, stay informed. Your chosen platform will release new tools or functionalities from time to time, so keep an eye out for anything that could reduce costs or increase revenue.
Once you’ve identified the improvement you want to make, it’s time to implement them. This will be much easier if you’ve selected the right platform for your client’s site; some will make the process fast and painless, while others can make it slow, difficult and expensive.
Learn more about how you can wow your retailers by suggesting and implementing improvements here.
The Aero approach
We want agencies using Aero to be able to maximise the opportunities the platform offers. The result: Retailers get an online store they’re proud of and that delivers the sales they need.
That’s why we offer Aero agencies full training and support, from providing dedicated agency days, to access to the platform’s source code and immediate support. We even help agencies win business, from introducing retailers to joining pitch meetings.
If you want our support building your agency’s reputation with a platform that will delight your clients, request a free demo of Aero today.