Are you looking to commission a new eCommerce site?
Posted by Sarah Willcocks, Screen Pages on 22/10/2018
Are you unhappy with your current website or not getting the service you want from your current supplier? Whether you are an MD, eCommerce Manager, Marketing Director or Business Owner, choosing the right platform and agency could make the difference between the success or failure of your online business.
At Screen Pages, we have helped over 300 companies build their brands online and as a result, have seen it all.

We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we can help you to avoid some common mistakes and misapprehensions when it comes to deciding what is right for your business.

Below is a list of the top 5 mistakes merchants make when commissioning a new site:-

 

1/ The cheaper, the better

 

Warren Buffett, who’s widely considered one of the greatest investors of all time, says that the most important thing when it comes to thinking about money is opportunity-cost.

If you have a certain budget for your new site you’ll need to allocate it in a number of different ways:-

  • Platform license fee
  • Design fees
  • Development fees
  • Project Management fees
  • Testing fees
  • Ongoing hosting and support fees

Often the instinct is to try and keep costs to a minimum by  choosing the cheaper options such as low cost platforms (Woo Commerce, Shopify, etc), agencies with low day rates, or cheap and cheerful hosting solutions.

It is easy to think that if you pay less for certain things, you will have more money left to spend on other things. However, are you going to get the best return on your investment if you do so, and is it going to cost you more in time and money in the longer run?

For example, if you hire the agency with the cheapest prices, is it going to take them longer to deliver results? Why are their day rates so cheap? Do they have the skills needed to do a professional job? Will your project be delivered late as a result and cost you money in lost sales?

Another thing merchants don’t consider when going the cheaper route is the value of their own time. Time is money so consider how much time you are going to have to spend on your project if you don’t make the right choices for your site.

The best example is Ikea. The reason they are able to charge so little for their furniture is they effectively pass on much of the work that other furniture manufacturers would do, to their customer.

Once you have chosen your new bed, you have to pick it, pack it, deliver it and assemble it yourself. Clever. In addition, most of us are not professional flatpack assemblers therefore the quality and the output is not going to be as good as it looks in the catalogue or showroom. How many times have you put the wrong screw in the wrong hole or found out that you don’t have the right tool to do the job properly?

It is precisely for this reason that a whole industry of services has grown up around Ikea that can provide you with anything from delivery/collection to assembly of their products. Ironically, by the time you have paid for the product and the services, Ikea furniture is not that good a deal anymore.

That metaphor applies to website design and build so make sure that you hire a professional agency that knows about user journeys, personas, conversion ratios, integration, security, performance, online marketing, etc. If the agency you choose does not have these skills, you are going to have to fill these gaps yourself or pay someone else to do so.

2/ Thinking you need to spend more for better quality

 

This is the exact opposite of mistake #1. Spoiler alert! What most people don’t realise is that all websites are made from the same stuff. On the front-end it’s all just CSS, HTML and JavaScript.

If you go to Apple.com, Facebook.com, Amazon.com, any website on the web, and you look at the source code, it’s just CSS, HTML and JavaScript. The HTML is the content, the CSS gives it design and structure, and the JavaScript gives it interactivity. That’s it.

A lot of people think they should hire a very large and expensive agency for their website because bigger means more successful and better right? Wrong. Bigger means bigger that’s all.

So, when you’re choosing an agency, the size of the agency is not what matters but the quality of their work is.

Do you like the quality of their portfolio? Have you taken references? What are their customers saying about them? Are they experts in their field?

For example, all Magento Solution Partners need to meet certain criteria to become a Magento partner. Make sure you choose a qualified and trained Magento Solution Partner but the biggest is not necessarily the best or right fit for you.

3/ Thinking you need an agency that is famous for design

 

The problem with this approach is that a lot of ‘designers’ are only concerned about the aesthetics of a site. Does it have that wow factor? Is it really cool? Is it trendy? All good stuff but not really the primary purpose of an eCommerce site.

If you’re running a commercial enterprise, the purpose of the website is to make money. And the only thing you should judge a website by is, ‘does it bring in more money?‘ Otherwise, what’s the point of getting it? Right?

What a professional agency does when working with clients is identify:

  • Who are the different types of people coming to the site?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What’s the next step that they want to take?
  • How can we get them to place an order?
  • How can we get them to come back again?

Defining those variables is the process for converting leads into customers.

And that’s marketing. At Screen Pages, we do marketing first and design second.

4/ Not taking into consideration how you will use the site once it’s built

 

Most people, when they’re buying the website only think about the front-end. They think about its appearance, and they don’t really think about the ease of use or the number of hours or frustration it would take to edit and update the site.

The usability of the website for you and your employees is a crucial consideration when choosing the right platform and agency.

At Screen Pages, we recommend Magento because it comes out of the box with rich, easy to use content management marketing and merchandising capabilities designed for merchants, not techies.

In addition, we design and build sites taking into consideration how they intend to be used moving forward to make it easier for merchants to focus on the task of growing their traffic and orders.

So ask if you can look through the backend of one of their sites to see how easy it is for you to edit and update because that should definitely factor into your decision.

5/ Not doing your due diligence

 

Take references! Look them up on Google and LinkedIn. See what people are saying about them and if that resonates with you.

Check out their sites on mobile. Mobile is now the primary source of traffic for most eCommerce sites so their credentials and capabilities in this area are crucial.

Find out what kind of support they can give you after your site has been built. The reality is that you are going to want to change and update your site almost as soon as it has been built so you need to understand what kinds of services you can expect to receive going forward.

To conclude, choosing the right platform and agency is a difficult process but getting it right could save you a lot of money, sweat and tears in the long run. Start by choosing an agency you know has the right skills, expertise and approach.

If you choose the right agency, they will advise you on the best platform, hosting, support contract, etc to suit your business. If you choose the wrong agency, all of those decisions are at risk.

For more information and advice, give us a call on 01932 359160 or email us at info@screenpages.com

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