Contending with the... paradox of choice? With a handful of tempting options in terms of ecommerce services providers that seem to be fitting your project's needs entirely?
And choosing gets frustratingly challenging since they all “tempt” you with:
- a visually-arresting design “backed up” by an ideally simple navigation structure
- a team fluent in SEO, ready to propel your site right on the “highest peaks” of Google rankings
- an impressive experience in implementing e-commerce-specific features and functionality
- 24/7 assistance: both pre- and post-launch issues and nasty bugs stand no chance to escape their team's vigilance
- module, theme, and plugin customization skills to suit your ever-growing needs
… and the list goes on
So, how do you decide when all your choices seem to be equally... promising?
What's the proper evaluation system to use on all these “candidates”? How do you narrow down your own checklist of “must-have experience and expertise“ to the essentials?
And what are the essential things to look for in a potential e-commerce services provider anyway? Keep on reading...
1. Use This Checklist to Rate Other eCommerce Websites from Their Portfolio
Engage in some research work first, starting with the candidate's own portfolio.
Look for other ecommerce websites listed there and start evaluating the following aspects/site components:
- the overall design: as a first-time visitor on those websites, do you find them visually-appealing enough?
- navigation: it should be as simple and, therefore, intuitive, as possible; easily navigable inventories here included
- imagery and particularly product images: are they high-quality?
- is there any type of interactive chat system integrated, that users can use for dropping their questions?
- is there a review system implemented; are customer testimonials displayed and visible enough?
- checkout: the simpler the better; in this respect, the single-step checkouts, with visible “Add to cart” buttons, leading you straight to the payment page, make the surest “bet”
- is there a status bar informing customers know just how many more steps there are left till they complete the checkout process?
All these are crucial aspects to check off your preliminary checklist, so mind you give them due consideration. Track down all the above-mentioned elements (adding a “minus” to your evaluation list if they miss), then take your time to analyze and to rate them one by one!
The completed projects of an ecommerce services company are filled with valuable “hints” in regard to how your own project might end up looking/performing!
2. Does The Platform Suit Your Budget and Back-Office Administration Experience?
And you might want to start your conversation precisely with this question:
“What ecommerce website development platform would you use for my project?”
From WordPress to Magento commerce, to PrestaShop, to OpenCart, to Drupal Commerce, the range of possible answers to this key question is wide enough to get you thinking.
... to get you pondering on whether their platform suits:
- your planned budget for this ecommerce project
- the time you're planning to invest
- your team's skills and hands-on experience in back-office management
Do you want your online store to be up and running in no time? Conveniently easy-to-use and overall... simple?
Or is it a big ecommerce website, with a large inventory, incorporating a whole infrastructure of complex ecommerce functionalities, that you have in mind?
There's a specific platform to go with for every type of need and goal that you might have. Make sure your potential ecommerce services provider has already built itself a reputation working with that particular platform that best suits you and your project!
3. Put SEO Expertise High on Your List When Choosing Your eCommerce Services Provider
Need I add more?
The expertise and time invested in building a visually-arresting, ideally easy-to-use website gets reduced to... wasted efforts if they're powered by an effective SEO strategy.
Now it's the perfect time to tackle specific SEO goals that your potential partner would have to meet:
- putting together SEO-friendly URLs
- integrating meta tags relevant to each page
- achieving mobile responsiveness
- using certain page load time optimization techniques
And the list of SEO-oriented goals and aspects to evaluate at this phase continues with the analytics tools that this ecommerce services company has in its toolbox.
In short: look for proofs that this company's proficient in turning key customer-behavior data and valuable stats into... actionable insights for you to leverage.
4. Carefully Consider Their Time Estimate: Do They Leave Any “Room” for Extensive Tests?
In other words: “fast” could also mean:
“Let's skip or reduce the pre-launch testing to bare minimum!”
It's a trap, don't fall for it!
Make sure that the time estimate that they'll give you:
- complies with your own release schedule
- does cover the pre-launch testing period, too
A time needed for them to do their own testing, for your own team to run theirs and, of course, for this partner team to get all the identified bugs and issues fixed.
5. Do They Commit to Crafting High-Converting Copy, too?
If so, look for relevant “samples” of copy they've already crafted for past clients.
Is their copy:
- persuasive enough?
- clear, concise, yet informative?
- simple, yet engaging?
Does it efficiently outline/tell those products', those brands' unique features/stories?
Then, you might just have a “winner”.
Still, there still are 2 more essential aspects to check off your list before you can give your final “verdict”. Keep on reading...
6. Can They Meet Your Current and Future Customization Needs?
Maybe a standard turnkey solution doesn't suit your ecommerce project's specific needs. Maybe those plugins need some tuning work to meet your specific requirements.
Is this ecommerce services company IN for customization, too? Or do they stick to assembling pieces provided by an open-source platform when putting together your ecommerce website?
Be skeptical when you're being offered “one size fits all” solutions! When you detect proofs of zero experience or total lack of enthusiasm at the perspective of having to custom-tune those:
- ecommerce theme
… to your project's particularities and to your own future goals.
7. How About Post Launch Support? What if You “Detect” New Issues Then?
Is it a “full-option” type of ecommerce services package that they'll provide you?
Will they be there, ready to intervene, if, after your website' launch, you detect any bugs that escaped the pre-launching testing phase? Or if new issues breakthrough?
Now it's the perfect time to let them know about all your expectations regarding post-launch assistance.
The END! Time to evaluate some “candidates” now and, with this evaluation system at hand, to choose the ecommerce services provider that makes the perfect fit for your project's needs!