Ecommerce agency guide – how to find the right ecommerce agency in 2021

11 minutes to read • Published 20 September 2021 • Responsive web design, Web development

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      The world has steadily been moving online for years, but recent events have made internet retail more popular than ever. Arguably for the first time, consumers now prefer to shop online rather than doing so based on logistics and convenience.

      This is obviously great news for anybody that owns and maintains an ecommerce website. After all, more potential customers mean a greater opportunity for sales. All the same, competition is fierce. You’ll need to ensure that your ecommerce site is the best it can be. That may necessitate the skills and assistance of an ecommerce agency.

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      What is an ecommerce agency?

      An ecommerce agency is a third-party business that assumes responsibility for many different elements of your website. Typically, an ecommerce agency will aid you with the marketing and maintenance of your site, allowing you to focus on the logistics of the business. Ecommerce agencies come in various shapes and sizes, as we’ll discuss in more detail shortly.

      Does my business need an ecommerce agency?

      Hiring an ecommerce agency is a personal choice, individual to each business. If you’re happy and confident managing all elements of your ecommerce site by yourself, you may consider an agency a needless and luxurious expense. There are many business cases for hiring an ecommerce agency though, including:

      Relieving time and pressure on you and your team
      Marketing expertise designed to attract more customers and conversions
      Technical assistance to keep your ecommerce website active and running
      Reducing the need to commit to hiring full-time staff
      Benefits of hiring an ecommerce agency

      It’s often smaller, start-up ecommerce sites that seek the help of an agency. Online giants like Amazon and their ilk are established enough to hire an army of full-time staff, safe in the knowledge that they will always be needed. An SME that remains in its earliest days of trading, though, may benefit hugely from the flexibility and advice offered by an ecommerce agency.

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      Types of ecommerce agency compared

      The term “ecommerce agency” is quite a broad church. It is essential that, before you start seeking a third party to aid with your ecommerce business, you know what type of agency you need. There are half a dozen primary types of ecommerce agencies for you to consider.

      Type of ecommerce agencyWhat is it?
      Ecommerce agencyTypically a “jack-of-all-trades” description for an agency. It suggests that the business will handle all elements of your ecommerce site needs. Do take the time to discuss exactly what you are looking for, ensuring that you do not commit to paying for services that you do not want or need
      Ecommerce SEO agencyThis agency will be a specialist in PPC and organic marketing. By enlisting the services of an SEO ecommerce agency, your site stands a much greater chance of ranking highly on Google, as well as on social media sites. That can be a great way to attract attention to your brand, especially if you prioritise inbound marketing
      Ecommerce marketing agencyAn ecommerce marketing agency is a full-purpose offering. It will essentially be a conventional marketing agency and all that entails, but with experience and focus on serving the needs of an ecommerce business model. If you’re starting from scratch and have little knowledge or passion for marketing, this is the ideal agency model to raise the profile of your business
      Ecommerce web design agencyAre you familiar with the concept of “sensory marketing?” Many businesses use the psychology of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell to convince consumers to purchase. An ecommerce web design agency can help with the first of these, providing a layout and soundtrack to your site that appeals to consumers desires – whether conscious or otherwise
      Ecommerce advertising agencyAn advertising agency differs slightly from a marketing agency. While the latter builds brand awareness for your ecommerce site, an advertising agency will go straight for the consumer jugular and focus on making sales. This will typically involve eye-catching campaigns, online and off, that convince users to seek out your offering to meet their physical, psychological or emotional needs
      Ecommerce design agencyAn ecommerce design agency will work tirelessly to make every product you offer for sale enticing to a consumer, using beautiful photography and compelling copy – as well as ensuring that your site generally looks stunning

      As we’ll discuss in a moment, these agency types have price points as variable as their specialities. Be sure to consider this too.

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      How much does an ecommerce agency cost? 

      Managing your budget is a crucial part of building, running and maintaining an ecommerce site. It’s hardly a secret that you’ll need to ensure that your expenses do not outnumber your incomings. Naturally, this means that fees and costs may influence your choice of ecommerce agency.

      It’s impossible to say how much the services of an ecommerce agency will cost with absolute accuracy. It depends on what services you may need from the business and how they go about providing them. Here are some ballpark figures based on the types of ecommerce agencies we discussed, though.

      Type of agencyIndicative cost £
      Ecommerce agencyA basic fee could be anywhere from £300 to £3,000 per month on a retainer basis. Discuss your needs with your agency of choice
      Ecommerce SEO agencyThe basic fee above, plus expenses for SEO campaigns – these could be up to £1,000 a month if you are seeking complete SEO services
      Ecommerce marketing agencyOnce again, this depends on how elaborate you need the service offering to be. It’s unlikely to be below £1,500 per month for a reputable agency
      Ecommerce web design agencyYou’ll pay the basic ecommerce agency fees described, plus any additional expenses pertaining to web design. This could potentially run into five figures, but equally, it could be as low as £500
      Ecommerce advertising agencyThis will vary on how many campaigns you run and how. Advertising spend could be anywhere from £500 to £10,000
      Ecommerce design agencySet aside a minimum of £500 – probably more – each month for the use of professional photographers and copywriters

      If you’d like to discuss your ecommerce needs with, including potential costings, please do not hesitate to get in touch. If you choose to look elsewhere, ensure you have a firm idea of your budget and what you definitely need. Do not allow yourself to be strong-armed or sweet-talked into packages that offer no return on investment for your ecommerce site.

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      What makes a good ecommerce agency?

      If you have decided to seek the assistance of an ecommerce agency, you’ll need to ensure that you choose the right provider. Teaming up with an ecommerce agency should be a collaboration that’s enjoyable – and beneficial – for everybody involved.

      Essential criteria that you should look for in any ecommerce agency include:

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      • Price. There is no avoiding the fact that cost will play a significant role in your choice of ecommerce agency. It should not be your overriding factor, but it will influence your thinking. If you find an agency that you love but cannot afford, be up-front – you may be able to negotiate a cheaper package with fewer features
      • Industry expertise. Convincing customers to commit to a purchase in 2021 has never been more challenging. If your ecommerce agency is going to help you, they need to convince your target audience that you understand their needs. That requires expertise and experience in your particular niche
      • Track record of success. We hope this goes without saying, but you’ll need to see some measure of previous success from your proposed ecommerce agency. These results should be black-and-white, indisputable statistics, not just word-of-mouth testimonials
      • Technical skill. Maintaining and managing a website can be a time-consuming task, and downtime due to a fault can be hugely detrimental to an ecommerce site. Ensure your agency can keep your site active and restore it if something goes awry
      • Flexibility. An ecommerce agency needs to be able to move with the times rapidly and effectively. They need to show a willingness to bend and change tack. Avoid an agency that says, “we have always done things this way, and that’s how it will stay.” 

      These are all non-negotiables. If you feel that an agency will not meet your needs on any of these counts, look elsewhere. There will be plenty of other agencies to choose from.

      How to work with an ecommerce agency

      It’s important to remember that, when hiring an ecommerce agency, you are not just looking for a supplier. Equally, your agency of choice should not be seeking a client. Instead, this relationship should be a harmonious partnership that benefits all concerned.

      This means:

      • Bring ideas to the table. If you expect your agency do everything, you risk eventually losing control or oversight of your site. Equally, though, remember that you are paying an agency for their expertise, so listen when they speak
      • Keep an open mind. Your agency may suggest some new or experimental techniques to drum up sales and conversions. They may not all pan out, but those that do so will give you an advantage over your competition
      • Keep an eye on the data and performance of your agency. Do not be shy about asking them to explain anything you consider irregular, such as sudden drops or spikes in conversions. A skilled agency will recognise these patterns and work to resolve or leak into them
      • Work together to keep the back end and technical side of your ecommerce site up and running. If your agency suggests a short burst of scheduled downtime during slow business hours, follow their advice. The impact will be much lower than an unexpected outage that takes days to fix

      Finding an agency is not dissimilar to hiring employees. You’ll need to search a while to find the right now, and chemistry and compatibility are just as important as qualifications. If you pick the correct agency, however – and work with them in a way that everybody enjoys – you’ll benefit from a fruitful relationship for many years.

      Top 10 ecommerce agencies 

      If you’re looking for an ecommerce agency, get to Google and start your search. Alternatively, to save you a little time, here are ten for you to consider.

      Agency nameGood to know…
      SpectreFull-service ecommerce agency based in Glasgow that is sure to meet most needs
      PushONHas offices in various UK locations and works to build the following of ecommerce sites and brands
      CaracalBased in Brussels and is costlier than some agencies but offers excellent service levels
      WecomeetCheck out the ecommerce brands London-based Wecomeet work for and weep
      Classy LlamaBased in the USA and has years of experience and expertise in ecommerce
      Brand MatrixA global agency that specialises in growth and marketing – ideal for an ecommerce site
      CalashockHave been working with the most prominent ecommerce names in the industry for several years
      ThoughtshiftLocated in Sussex, are masters in ecommerce marketing, especially SEO packages
      9xbBased in Leeds, describes itself as an agency that offers “ecommerce without limits”
      Chain ReactionAn agency working out of Dubai with a huge staff team, ensuring a wide array of perspectives

      Modesty prevents us from including on this list, but please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your needs with us.


      What is an ecommerce agency?

      An ecommerce agency is a business that works with your company to ensure that an ecommerce site is an unqualified success. That could mean working on your marketing campaigns, advertising the site to drive sales, helping with your content, designing the website so it looks appealing to shoppers – or, as is often the case, all of the above.

      How do I start an ecommerce agency?

      If you wish to start and run an ecommerce agency, ensure that you are appropriately educated. Your reputation as an agency will stand or fall based on the results you post for clients, so do not launch until you are confident you can deliver. Once you’re ready to begin, set a clear and distinct business model and promote your agency heavily online. Social media, in particular, can be a powerful tool for attracting new business as an ecommerce agency.

      What is the best ecommerce company?

      “Best” is a subjective term, especially when it comes to ecommerce agencies. There are so many different business models to choose from, and personal chemistry will play a major role in the potential success of a working relationship. If you’d like to discuss your ecommerce needs with, we would love to hear from you.

      How do I choose an ecommerce agency?

      You’ll need to ensure that an ecommerce agency understands your business – and thus, by extension, your customers. In addition, you’ll need an ecommerce agency that can prove they have enjoyed success in the past, will be flexible and communicative, fits into your business budget, and above all, that you enjoy working with. Chemistry matters, as this will likely be a long-term working relationship.

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