Partnering with the right ecommerce consulting team will have a fundamental impact on your growth trajectory. On the other hand, partnering up with the wrong one can hold your business back and end up costing you both time and money.
What is Ecommerce Consulting – And Why do You Need it?
I have been working in ecommerce since 2005. First, in the role of CMO and CDO, where I was the buyer and user of ecommerce platforms, martech tools, and ecommerce consulting services. And later, I switched to “the other side of the desk” (if people even sit like that anymore?), and ran strategy for digital transformation agencies and system integrators. I provided guidance and advice for companies trying to figure out where they were with digital, where they needed to go, and how to get there.
In this article, I take a closer look at the different aspects of ecommerce consulting – what I have seen over 17 years in ecommerce and what you should expect from your ecommerce consulting agency.
Ecommerce consulting is not only about what platform you choose and how to implement it; it goes way beyond that. It’s a multifaceted collaboration that should include advice and guidance on all the different aspects of your ecommerce operations.
Your ecommerce consultants should be able to provide expert insights and advice on your ecommerce strategy, including digital marketing, content, and commerce decisions. They should guide you in selecting the right platform for your ecommerce business, the right marketing tools for your business needs, and customer experience and conversion rate optimization.
A lot of what is written in ecommerce consulting focuses on optimization or post-deployment. And this is primarily because many companies miss the importance of a thorough process pre-deployment and pre-selection. Unfortunately, many brands shortchange those vital phases in ecommerce strategy and jump straight to platform selection and “build” mode.
It’s easy to understand this impatience, as ecommerce brands are always trying to get to market with new things at the highest speed possible. However, skipping these necessary steps is a mistake and comes with costs further down the line. Switching to a new platform used to afford the business immediate benefits (e.g., better structure to the catalog, better presentation of products, more options for check-out, etc.). Today, switching may actually set a business back!
3 Areas of Ecommerce Consulting: Platform, Tools, and Services
1. Ecommerce Consulting: Platform
Selecting the Right Platform
Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business is a significant decision that deserves full attention. The advice from an experienced ecommerce consulting agency can help you select and organize a platform that is optimal for your unique needs and will help you grow your business.
Ecommerce consulting services in this area include:
- Ecommerce platform and template development.
- Selection of plugins and extensions.
- Selection of specific add-on features and other extensions.
Your business objectives should guide the selection process. It should ensure that your customers are getting the best possible experience and that you will be able to capture market demand by opening new sales channels and reaching new market sections.
Building a Multi-Country, Multi-Language, and Multi-Currency Site
Your ecommerce consulting agency should also be able to provide research, market mapping, and competitive analysis to move on to launch channel-specific or co-branded websites. They should look at the efficacy of microsites for distributors or partners and help you capture demand from your different target audiences by offering your content in multiple languages and by providing payment options in multiple currencies.
Related reading: 8 Steps to Building a Winning International Ecommerce Strategy
Implementing Your Platform Strategy
Once you’ve chosen your platform and decided on your localization and website architecture strategy, your ecommerce consulting agency should be there to implement it all. They can help you with all the software development on the platform you’ve chosen and ensure the result is a coherent omnichannel experience that will wow your customers. They can give you recommendations on everything from hosting choices to security processes and guide you every step of the way to help you avoid common pitfalls.
2. Ecommerce Consulting: Tools
Aligning Your Martech Tools
When it comes to MarTech, there’s a wide array of tools to choose from, and doing so can often feel overwhelming. Your ecommerce consulting partner can advise you both on what tools to select and how to integrate them with your ecommerce platform and the rest of your tech stack. Different businesses benefit from different setups, and an experienced partner will help you develop the different use cases and guide you on best practices.
Integrating Your Systems; Tools, and Platforms
There are a lot of moving parts in ecommerce. And to create a coherent customer experience, they all need to fit together. When it comes to integrating the different systems and tools in your tech stack, experience is key. No two integration projects are alike, and working with an experienced ecommerce consulting partner will prevent you from making costly mistakes. At Vaimo, we have successfully completed over 500 ecommerce builds, meaning we have a lot of learnings and insights that benefit the companies we work with.
Related reading: What is Decoupled Architecture
Getting an Outside Perspective
An essential benefit of working with experienced ecommerce consultants is that they offer an outside perspective on your business, your processes, and opportunities for new business development. Your ecommerce agency should be able to help you negotiate with partners and create alignment between different products, vendors, and customizations.
3. Ecommerce Consulting: Services
Improving Your Reach With SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Going LIVE with your ecommerce site will not be enough to make your presence felt in this competitive market. You need to optimize every part of your website to make sure people find it and get the best possible experience through the different touchpoints in a customer’s journey. For people to find your site, your pages must be properly indexed by search engine crawlers and visible on the first page of Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
An experienced ecommerce consulting agency will help you build your website and site structure in a way that is optimized for search to maximize your traffic. This is crucial, as a website that isn’t appearing on the first page of the search engine pages for its relevant keywords is equivalent to not having a website at all. Being FOUND is the first, best step to GROWTH!
Create a Coherent Omnichannel Customer Experience
Today, online consumers expect an intuitive shopping experience, regardless of what channel or device they’re using. They expect a customer-centric experience, including self-service options, access to information, and flexibility in things like communication, customer support, and shipping. Product offering, assortment, and merchandising are all crucial components of the overall experience.
Experienced ecommerce consultants can advise you on every part of your CX strategy. From private label products that could benefit your ecommerce channel and expand your audience to guidance on pricing strategy and visual merchandising.
Related reading: Unified Commerce — The Future of Retail Experience
Optimize Your Site for Conversions
Optimizing your site for conversions should be a continuous focus, as it’s one of the most effective ways to increase your marketing ROI in ecommerce. If you’re struggling with your conversion rates, your ecommerce consultants will provide you with guidance on how to tweak and update your customer journey for maximum results.
An ecommerce consultant can look at your ecommerce website and run systematic tests to identify the best ways to improve your conversion rates. Sometimes there are issues in the back end that need fixing, or there could be problems on the frontend side that a fresh and experienced set of eyes will help you locate. An ecommerce consultant will identify the issues and provide an actionable roadmap to mitigate them.
And last but not least, in order to manage and optimize your site for the best omnichannel experience that delivers on your business objectives, you need to have your analytics in order. Google Analytics is great for most web-based reporting. But a recent study by Kustomer, found that scattered data was cited as the biggest weakness in organizations, with insufficient personalized experiences ranking second. To have a true enterprise view of the omnichannel experience, you need to consider a solution such as Vaimo’s partner Adobe and their Analytics Platform. Adobe Analytics is an enterprise analytics solution that provides the enterprise the opportunity to create insights and value from ALL available data . . . not just web.
Related reading: Google Shopping Title Optimization: Tactics To Boost Your Conversion
How Vaimo Can Help
Ecommerce consulting is a form of management consulting that provides businesses with advice and counsel on everything from designing an ecommerce strategy to platform selection and marketing tool rationalization. Ecommerce consulting involves all parts of the customer experience and includes analytical services for search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization.
For a successful ecommerce strategy and operation, all these areas need to align. They are inextricably linked, and failing to address each one of them will ultimately create friction in the channel.
At VAIMO, we offer unbiased feedback on ecommerce solutions, MarTech, and optimization work, allowing you to focus on core business needs. This ultimately saves time and resources and ensures alignment with your ecommerce goals.
Although we often work at the very beginning of the strategy phase, we also provide teams that can extend your core team as they develop enhanced digital commerce and content skills. Reach out to our team of experts to learn more.