How to find the right eCommerce consultant?

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Published on 19/07/19 by Bradlie Houldsworth.

Why hire an Ecommerce Consultant?

Taking on a qualified and experienced eCommerce consultant is one of the best things an online retailer can do to improve sales and efficiency. A consultant is often part-time and either C-level or hired for one particular project.

The types of businesses who need a consultant vary, and we see both start-up businesses and established multi-million turnover companies hire consultants for different reasons.

There are often tens, if not hundreds of systems that need to be in place for your eCommerce operation to thrive. Finding a consultant who is knowledgeable in all aspects of eCommerce such as website development, product and catalogue management, campaign strategy and digital marketing is vital to getting the most out of the relationship.

These are the common reasons for eCommerce businesses to hire a consultant, such as:

  • Sales are not performing against target/budget
  • Profit is lower than expected
  • Team efficiency is low
  • Product management is behind your competitors
  • Site development is stagnant or lacking in strategy
  • Or, large teams are lacking in leadership or knowledge

Allow them to find your pain points

If you are experiencing a problem in a specific area of your business, make sure that the consultant you hire is experienced with how to solve the issue and has done so successfully in the past. However, it is important and a good thing to remember to stay as flexible as possible with the solution they provide. Often, eCommerce consultants have worked in many different businesses and have experienced a wide, varying level of problems and solutions.

When unpicking and understanding a problem, pain points can be discovered that were previously unknown or not thought of. Your eCommerce business consultant should be able to spot the underlying issues within your business or operations, and then recommend (and sometimes implement) suggested strategies for fixing the issues.

Experience is key

You may have a specific problem in your particular market niche, or at least you think you do. There are a lot fewer consultants than there are eCommerce businesses, though. Consultants often work in specific niches, such as fashion, B2B, sportswear or beauty – but any hiring process should ensure the team or consultant you choose has the skills and experience to help you reach your goals.

Finding the right eCommerce consultant or agency with the right experience is key to getting great results. It is worth considering though, that finding a consultant who is knowledgeable in more than one area can help identify other issues that you may have not thought about, where a consultant from a different niche may enable more ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and strategising.

How to find the RIGHT consultant

After identifying the need, the overall goal of recruiting a consultant, and then getting the sign-off for the hire, it is important to conduct a series of interviews to make sure that they have relevant experience for your type of business. Finding a consultant is relatively straight forward but finding a good one is much, much harder.

There are many options available for sourcing an eCommerce consultant, including:

  • Recommendations – this is the most common way of consultants being found, where a retailer will ask for recommendations from other business owners.
  • Events – many consultants love attending events, where networking is vital to their contact list and their knowledge of the industry.
  • Google – if a consultant does not have a website of their own, then it becomes problematic to rate them or gage their reputation.
  • LinkedIn – the social network for professionals to network, build a name and communicate with others in their industry. Most use ‘eCommerce Consultant’ in their profile, to help you identify them when searching on LinkedIn.
  • Ask your agency – asking your agencies (including graphics, site dev, UX, marketing etc) to recommend a consultant may offer more options.
  • Ask your platform – most eCommerce platforms (such as FUSN, Magento, Shopify and Salesforce have a list of eCommerce consultants who they can recommend)

How to engage and communicate with your eCommerce consultant

Be prepared to be engaged in the project alongside your consultant. Learn everything that you can from them while you have them. Although some consultants become a long-term part of your team. If you are using them short-term, once they are gone, it will be on you to continue with the procedures that have been put in place.

It is often your consultant will begin with many fact-finding sessions, where they will ask for the information that they need. It is important to their success to give prompt feedback so timelines can be met and make the most of the engagement. Giving the proper support to your consultant is well worth the effort to make sure you get the results you want.

Freedom and putting trust in your Econsultant is important, as without this it is likely he/she would become disengaged and not provide value to your company.

At what price do they come?

Consultants can make your business a lot of money, but when you’re a new or struggling business it can be tempting to try to skimp on consulting fees.

Conducting general research with others in the industry and find out about who you’re hiring before deciding to get some help.

As long as you can see true value and ROI in your consultant, then many retailers increase and decrease their involvement over time, but the relationships are long-term.

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