Hiring An E-commerce Consultant

Hiring a qualified and experienced consultant is one of the best things an e-commerce owner can do to improve their business.  Successfully selling online typically doesn’t just happen by putting some items for sale on a website.  There are many systems that need to be in place in order for your store to thrive.  Finding a consultant who is knowledgeable in all aspects of e-commerce such as site development, product management, and marketing is important to getting the most out of the relationship. Here are some key factors to consider:

Shared Goals

If you are experiencing a problem in a specific area of your business, make sure that your consultant is experienced with how to solve the issue.  It’s a good thing to remember to stay as flexible as possible with the solution they provide.  You’ve hired them for their knowledge, so it’s best to keep an open mind.

If you are looking to grow your company, make sure that you and your consultant are on the same page as far as what the expected growth will be and you have the bandwidth to accommodate new growth.

A Consultant To Match Your Business Type

Interview the consultant and make sure that they have relevant experience for your type of business whether you sell B2B or B2C.  If you are selling an unbranded product, check to see if the consultant has branding experience and make sure it's in their wheelhouse. For example: if you have a new product that customers aren't looking for yet, it takes a very different set of marketing skills to develop a new brand and be effective. Make sure to consider an experienced account based marketing consultant if your company is primarily B2B as well. B2C will deal more with getting your product lines to the front of the pack, expanding channels, engagement, retention and conversions. If you don't have customers looking for the products you're trying to market, it's a much different customer journey than in demand branded products. Make sure to choose your consultant accordingly.

Experience

You may have a specific problem that you need help with, and finding an e-commerce consultant with that specialty is key to getting great results.  Finding a consultant who is knowledgeable in more than one area can help identify other issues that you may have not thought about.

 

Engagement

Be prepared to be engaged in the project alongside your consultant.  Even the best consultants can fail if the client is not engaged and active in the process. Assign a team member to be a liaison between the consulting firm and your team. Having once voice from your team makes communication efficient, clear and accountable. Learn everything that you can from your consultant while you have them.  They often become a long-term part of your team, especially when they've made you millions of dollars. However; if you are using them short-term, once they are gone it will be on you to continue on with the procedures and marketing that has been put in place.

Make sure that you provide your consultant with all of the information they need quickly.  Give prompt feedback so timelines can be met.  Giving the proper support to your consultant is well worth the effort to make sure you get the results you want.

Price

Consultants have the ability to make your business boatloads of money, but when you’re a new or struggling business it can be tempting to try to skimp on consulting fees.  Resist the urge to go for the cheapest consultant you can find.  It will most likely end up badly and then you won’t have the ability to pay for a second person to come clean up the mess the first one let behind.  One of our favorite Judge Judy quotes is “the cheap comes out expensive”.

Research

Do your due diligence and make sure your agency or e-commerce consultant has appropriate experience to be working with you. There are many false profit type consultants that promise the world and just don't have the experience to get you the results you're looking for. Check references and what others are saying about the agency you decide on before spending a dime.