Today, ecommerce is on the rise. According to Statista, ecommerce accounted for nearly 19% of retail sales worldwide in 2021 and is forecast to reach almost a quarter of total global retail sales by 2026.
However, the increasing competitiveness, rapid advancement of ecommerce technologies, and growing demand for excellent customer experience can prevent some companies from capitalizing on ecommerce growth.
To overcome these challenges, digital merchants can seek out ecommerce consulting services to help them identify areas for improvement, build an effective ecommerce strategy, and find a technical solution suitable for the company’s goals.
But how to find qualified ecommerce consultants for your ecommerce business? This article describes seven steps to select the right consulting provider and make the best out of working with them.
What ecommerce consultants do
Ecommerce consultants are outside specialists that help digital merchants improve their web stores and overall ecommerce performance. Good ecommerce consultants have a broad expertise and profound knowledge of ecommerce’s various aspects, such as business processes, technologies, digital experiences, and customer engagement techniques.
For example, ecommerce consultants can help with:
- detecting reasons for cart abandonment
- targeting the right audience and reaching new customers
- improving conversion rates
- adopting techniques to boost sales
- adding multiple customer contact channels to your website
- ecommerce search optimization
Additionally, ecommerce consultants can run a comprehensive audit of your web store and create an actionable roadmap for improving its performance and revenue.
Why businesses need ecommerce consultants
Hiring ecommerce consultants offers many advantages to retailers. First, being third-party agents, consultants can give an unbiased assessment of an ecommerce store and freely point out its shortcomings.
Second, companies can save time and money because recruiting a candidate as an ecommerce consultant is cheaper and more efficient than hiring, onboarding, and training a full-time employee with a retail learning platform, especially if a consultant is needed only for a short-time project.
What is more, by delegating the tasks of website analysis and strategy to ecommerce consultants, retailers can focus on more global business-related tasks. Finally, due to their experience and expertise, ecommerce consultants can discover new opportunities for business growth that store owners can be unaware of.
How to choose your best ecommerce consultant
Although there are plenty of individual ecommerce consultants and consulting firms, companies can struggle to find the best fit for their business. The best way is to pick up several ecommerce consultants meeting your basic requirements and follow these seven steps to narrow down your options.
1. Identify your needs
Some consulting service providers can offer a one-stop solution for more common ecommerce problems, while others can specialize in specific areas. So, it is essential first to decide what do you want to achieve and then look for a specialist who can do it.
Determine whether you need a general overview of your ecommerce store or a drill-down into a specific issue. If you have a specific problem to solve, you need to look for a consultant with relevant skills and experience.
2. Look for consultants working with your business type
Since ecommerce business models vary in many ways, choosing an ecommerce consultant that works with similar businesses as yours is vital to success. Helping a particular company type, ecommerce consultants get to know all the intricacies of their trade and can give the most relevant recommendations.
Here is a rundown of ecommerce business characteristics that need to be considered:
- a startup or established business
- B2C or B2B
- type of products sold
- business size
- sales market
3. Match your budget with consultancy fees
Another important factor is the budget you plan to spend on ecommerce consulting services. Consultants’ fees typically vary based on the type of tasks as well as the client’s size and specifics; some specialists can also ask for an advance payment. What is more, global consulting firms can have a fixed minimum contract term which can be unbearable for small ecommerce companies.
Therefore, digital merchants should discuss consulting fees and a complete payment plan in advance to choose a service provider that fits their budget.
4. Evaluate the consultants’ experience
Experience is one of the crucial factors to consider before hiring an ecommerce consultant. Many years in the industry can be a sign of professionalism and a high level of skill.
However, you should also ask potential consultants to provide additional information, such as the number of clients or client retention rate, certifications, strategies they use, and previous success stories for clients with similar ecommerce issues.
5. Explore the candidates’ portfolio
The portfolio will give you a better idea of the consultants’ achievements, clients they have worked with, niches they are experienced in, and the scale of the completed projects.
In addition, you can find clients with cases matching your company’s and get an idea of the impact of the consultants’ involvement.
6. Study reviews and testimonials
After you’ve studied the portfolio, researching clients’ testimonials and reviews can help get a fuller picture of a potential ecommerce consulting service provider. Moreover, the feedback can reveal additional details about how a particular consultant works with clients.
Reliable ecommerce consultants usually post testimonials on their websites to demonstrate how they helped their clients achieve success.
7. Get to know your candidates
Once you’ve completed your background check and picked out top candidates, schedule a call with each of them or visit their office to meet the team. In a personal conversation, you can better describe your business, challenges, and details of your project.
What’s more, the initial discussion will give you an understanding of the consultant’s social skills and company values. In the end, interpersonal skills are as important as expertise in ecommerce consultants and can be a substantial factor working for or against a certain candidate.
In addition, during a meeting, you can freely ask any questions that concern you. For example, you can ask about their work process and collaboration with the clients. Finally, you should ask about the KPIs they use and how they help measure the project’s success.
Ecommerce consultants help businesses properly adapt to the constant changes in the industry, bridge the gaps in the ecommerce strategy and technology, improve ecommerce performance, and discover new business opportunities. But to make investments in ecommerce consulting services most effective, companies should find a consultant that will perfectly match their requirements.
Although spending time and effort on preliminary research can seem overwhelming and unnecessary, finding the right professional will lead to significant business growth and stronger positions in the market.