It might sound like a cliché, but good communication is the basis of any successful cooperation. This also applies to cooperation between the e-commerce agency and your store. In our daily work we have encountered many communication mistakes made by both us and our customers. We decided to gather them into one article, which we hope will help to build a good, partnership-like relationship.
E-commerce agency – why is good contact so important?
Mutual misunderstanding very often leads to serious problems. Not only in personal life but also in business. In case of cooperation with an e-commerce agency, any mistakes in communication lead not only to stressful tensions, but can also have costly (both temporal and financial) consequences.
Poorly understood business goals, inaccurate project guidelines, long response time to messages – these and other factors are able to put even the most promising ecommerce project into action.
Therefore, mutual understanding becomes a key element of a long and fruitful cooperation.
How to talk with E-commerce agency?
As an e-commerce agency we cooperate with online stores selling their products in various industries. On a daily basis we have contact with e-Commerce Managers and owners of online stores from all over Poland. Many years of experience in dealing with customers has made us develop effective communication habits, which we want to share with you.
Below we present some proven ways to achieve a high level of cooperation.
Ask if you don’t understand something
The IT industry is specific. It has its rituals, and the language used by its representatives. For many e-Commerce Managers, especially those with little contact with the technological part of the store, it can be a bit confusing. ” Deeploys”, “stagings”, “iterations” or “sprints” are rather not your everyday way of communicating.
So you shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for explanations for terms you don’t know. Communication must be fully transparent and understandable to both parties in order to be effective and satisfactory.
This applies not only to the language itself but also to the design details. Don’t you understand the solutions that the agency offers? Please ask for more information. This will make you know exactly what your technology partner is doing and if it goes in the direction that was planned in the project.
Why is this important? Full understanding allows not only to determine the exact scope of work, but also to eliminate all possible doubts appearing on the way.
Keep up with all your tasks
One of the most frequent communication problems between clients and an e-commerce agency is the lack of information about the status of particular tasks. This often means that you don’t know at what stage the issues you are reporting are at. Is there a solution to this?
Yes, there is! It is enough to organize regular, common statuses, on which you will discuss the current status of work with the Product Manager acting for the agency, answer additional questions, and you will have the opportunity to correct certain project assumptions before they are finally implemented in the store.
You can carry out such statuses by phone or through any communicator. We know from experience that often even 15 minutes of status talk once a week can save valuable developers’ time and thus your project budget.
Why is this important? Controlling the status of tasks and the time spent by the agency will allow you to enforce them more effectively. Any complications that arise along the way can also be solved on an ongoing basis, which significantly shortens the project duration.
Clearly specify your requirements and your budget
Understanding what the agency says is one thing, but it is quite another to be clear about your own requirements. Every project you commission an agency should be described in such a way that it clearly presents the assumptions and goals it is supposed to meet.
The question of budget is also important. If you want to complete your tasks as quickly as possible, determining the amount of money you have at your disposal for programming work will significantly speed up the establishment of rules of cooperation and, consequently, the completion of the project will be fully successful.
Why is this important? A clear presentation of the scope of tasks allows the agency to better plan the work and will give you the assurance that it will be done according to the specification.
Provide the agency with all necessary information
No one knows your store like you do. For this reason it is very important at the stage of building good communication with an e-commerce agency to provide it with all the necessary materials and information to work.
This rather broad concept includes not only detailed questions about the functionality of the store, but also access to servers and tools used by your business, the content necessary to place within a running site, product photos, graphics, etc.
Why is this important? Providing the agency with all necessary materials and accesses will speed up the moment they can get down to work. And this has a very big impact on the schedule.
Choose your priorities wisely
Cooperating with an e-commerce agency on a daily basis, you have access to experts in the field of e-shop support. Therefore, it is normal for you to entrust them with further tasks aimed at improving the functionality of the store or correcting errors that appear in it.
However, the key issue in keeping the communication at the correct level is to choose the priorities for each of the outsourced tasks wisely. For example, if you run into a critical error that makes it impossible to sell, you have every right to report it to the agency and expect an immediate response from them. However, if you dream of making minor changes or adding new features to the store, it is better to prioritize such tasks. Otherwise, you will harm yourself. Programmers focused on resolving further “critical requests”, which can wait quietly, may not notice the real problem politely waiting in line with other issues.
Why is this important? Prioritizing the tasks assigned to the agency will allow it to better plan the work on the store. At the same time, you will avoid the risk that a serious failure will be repaired with a delay, because the programmers were dealing with other “important” tasks, which could have quietly waited a little longer.
Keep testing all changes
The test version of the store is used to check if all modifications created by the agency work according to the design assumptions. The task of the e-Commerce Manager is to verify whether the changes provided by the agency are in accordance with the specification and give permission to update. If necessary, make the changes required by him.
It turns out that this does not always look like the above. This is not the rule, but many e-commerce Managers pay too little attention to testing new solutions in a secure “staging” environment. Do not be like them and check carefully what you are going to put in the store.
Although an e-commerce agency often has testing departments, a second pair of eyes can catch nuances that technical people may not notice.
Why is this important? Thoroughly testing every new feature on the test server saves time and nerves caused by making further corrections on the “living organism”.
Use case-specific communication channels
Speaking of proposing amendments. If the e-commerce agency you work with allows you to do it through a dedicated system – strictly stick to this rule. It happens that e-Commerce Managers, after finding an error in the store, inform the agency about it by e-mail or telephone. Typically, this behavior causes delays. The e-mail message can be read after many hours, the Project Manager taking care of your store may be out of reach of the phone (e.g. he is in meetings) – various things happen along the way and you are never sure when your problem will appear in the ticket system.
Why is it important? The use of a dedicated bug reporting system (e.g. Helpdesk used in our agency) makes the report immediately visible in the technical department – the service technician on duty will accept it and direct it for further work. Additionally, you have the option of checking its progress regularly.
Summarize each arrangement with the agency by e-mail
Telephone conversations are the fastest form of communication. However, human memory is wonderfully unreliable, so to make sure that everything said during a meeting or status is taken into account, it is worth writing it down.
An email summary created by the agency or by you will allow you to formalize all additional arrangements resulting from the conversations. It gives a saved basis for making necessary changes in the project and (most importantly!) allows you to immediately assess whether both parties have understood the exact meaning of the discussed issues.
Why is this important? The e-mail summary is not only a list of the conversation with the most important points included in it. It is also an opportunity to verify plans and make sure that the agency fully understands the scope of its duties.
Cooperation between an e-commerce agency and online store. Why good contact is the key to success
Success in e-commerce is not only a good price and attractive discounts for customers. It is also a successful cooperation between your store and an e-commerce agency.
And the basis of successful cooperation is good contact with its representatives. Maintaining proper communication influences many factors, among others:
- The e-commerce agency knows exactly what you expect from it, so you get solutions that fully satisfy you,
- You know at what stage is each of the tasks you commission. You have the ability to make changes and solve disputable issues as they arise,
- You know exactly when the new features will be released and thanks to testing them on the staging, you have the possibility to make possible corrections before they reach the production version of the page,
- You better manage the budget for store development and maintenance,
- Urgent requests are processed within the contractually agreed time.
All this makes your e-commerce business, driven by a properly selected agency, able to effectively fight the competition and achieve steady growth in turnover.
Are you looking for an e-commerce agency with which you can establish a partnership? Do you have a store on Magento and need technical support? Or maybe you are troubled by other questions about e-commerce? Take advantage of our free consultation.