Is there any such thing as the perfect partner? The true romantics among us believe there is someone for everyone in this world. It’s just that some are easier to find than others – especially in the business of ecommerce.
The ecommerce world is a close-knit industry. Your peers will have supplier recommendations for you, but you also need to know what to ask when compiling a list of potential partners.
The right partners can make or break your brand
As an ecommerce manager, you’re like the lead singer of the hottest band with all the fans desperate to woo you. You’re working in one of the fastest-paced industries today with new services and technologies popping up all the time while existing ones are offering improved features and performance.
It’s up to you to decide what’s right for you, your customers, and your business. It’s your budget to throw at whatever you want, but also your head on the plate if those decisions aren’t fruitful.
Where to start
As with all the best decisions, your partner selection process should start with a review of your data and systems to identify where you need help. Your primary ecommerce provider can help provide an impartial stock of where your website is at and where it needs to be aligned with your business goals.
Just because there’s a shiny new bit of technology out there that promises to deliver great ROI, it doesn’t mean it’s right for your business right now. Your primary ecommerce provider should also be able to make suggestions based on your requirements and help you draw up a shortlist.
Once you’ve identified your specific requirements and have a list of potential partners, you need to thoroughly assess whether they are a suitable match for your brand, and can deliver on what they promise.
Asking the right questions
Here are 14 important questions to consider to help finalise your shortlist:
- Do you need the partner to be able to visit you on site?
- Is a support service available to you? Is this important?
- How much input will they require from you and your team?
- What level of account management do they provide?
- Can the partner support you across all your geographical locations?
- Does the partner meet your specific technical requirements?
- Who else have they worked for in your sector?
- Do they have additional services that could support you in future?
- What value will they bring you versus the cost of partnering?
- Do they offer bundled services or flexible contracts?
Technical (if required)
- Does their technology/solution integrate (if required) with your current systems?
- How much access will they need to your systems?
- What is their approach to risk management and, if relevant, disaster/data recovery?
Do they have the capacity and capabilities to grow with your business?
Good partners work with you, not against you
Ultimately it comes down to finding suitable providers that will complement your business. There’s enough complexity in ecommerce management without adding yet more confusion.
A partner who is keen to help you grow is one thing, but you also need a partner who will be able to support that growth long-term, especially if the partnership is costly to set-up or where the success relies on them really getting to know your business.
Breaking up with a partner who understands your business but can no longer support you is not only difficult on a personal level, but can cause commercial heartbreak. Enter the partnership thinking of the long-term impact, especially if your budget allows.
As Group Partner Manager at Inviqa, Patrick Schaeffler, says: “You should have a common interest, whether to increase conversions, optimise performance and security, or find new ways to improve the ecommerce experience throughout. Be firm in your requirements, and determined in your selection because a poor partnership can cost more than revenue.”
So, next time you’re thinking about a new partner, talk to your peers, friends, and primary providers, and be prepared to ask both potential partners (and yourself) some hard questions to guarantee a profitable relationship.
About the author
Pam Forsyth is an Account Director based in Inviqa’s Glasgow office. With a strong background in retail, communications and digital, Pam’s ecommerce experience has been honed working with small start-up retailers through to renowned worldwide brands.
A hands-on manager, Pam loves to get involved with her clients, working alongside their internal team to develop their online strategy and identify key areas of improvement and growth.
Having worked across a range of agencies, Pam’s practical experience is second to none with her skills also touching on project management, user experience and analytics.