The new reality caused by the pandemic shows that in order to survive, retail businesses have to be present online. Now it’s clear that having a stable presence online is a must, and developing the eCommerce side of your business is the key to growing your company. If you haven’t done it before – it would be reasonable to start thinking about partnering with an eCommerce development company. How to make the right choice and ensure mutually beneficial cooperation? Here are a few tips from Forbytes’ Chief Business Development Officer Orest Chaykivskyy that can help.

Find an experienced eCommerce development company you can rely on

The website in eCommerce is just the tip of the iceberg. When you think about a well-established eCommerce solution, there are many important questions you need to consider to make the right decision for your business. Should you use a platform or a custom solution, how to structure collaboration between your purchasing and ordering department, how the system will work with your warehouses and deliverers, and much more.

eCommerce is a solution that consists of many different parts that work as one system. In the first step of your project, it is also important to think about whether to build with your own tech team or choose a Partner – an established eCommerce development company that already has the necessary expertise and can offer valuable advice along the way. By choosing a partner that has successful cases in their portfolio you are obtaining the knowledge of their entire team. An important requirement for successful eCommerce development is access to talented software engineers and experts.

Focus on strategic relationships instead of company size

Is it better to choose a smaller or larger development company? There is not one single answer. I would suggest not to pay attention to the size of your potential partner. Consider which level of collaboration they can give you. Discuss your goals for a particular period of time, probably even for a few years. How do they see your project development and your collaboration in the long run? Do they want to grow and change hand in hand with your business? Think whether this partnership can be strategic for you.

It’s a different level of a relationship. In this case, more established eCommerce outsourcing companies are better as they have the right structure, proper processes, a wider range of competence, and that’s what I see as a significant success aspect.

Cultural fit is essential for a good working relationship

A collaboration between two companies is, first and foremost, a collaboration between people. Being able to speak a common language is quite obviously an advantage, but it is also a good idea to pay attention to the culture of the company.

Having over eight years of experience with Scandinavian partners, I realize that the knowledge of culture is the advantage that differentiates us from our competitors. We understand how important things like quality and reliability are for Scandinavian businesses and that is what we are constantly improving. We are also encouraging our employees to do the same.

Does your potential eCommerce development company realize what is important for you? When you are on the same cultural page with your partner and share the same aspirations, even a substantial time difference won’t be a problem.

Personal contact always simplifies your communication. We try to start every journey with a new partner with face-to-face conversations and meetings with their representatives at least once per quarter. However, the COVID pandemic has made significant changes in the way businesses work, and face-to-face contacts are a privilege now. This is another reason why a good understanding between you and your eCommerce development company is important.

Ask questions

The right development partner will ask you a lot of questions. To be able to help you in growing the eCommerce business, they need a clear understanding of how your company works. The indicator of a high-level development partner is questions about your strategic goals. They can ask if you are prepared to change your regular business processes to meet your goals for the eCommerce journey, whether you are prepared to listen, and build win-win relationships. To help you choose the right solutions, they need to know about your business issues.

The same rule should apply to you: ask your potential partner questions. How can they show you that they provide reliable eCommerce development services? Have they successfully delivered projects? Who can confirm it? A company that carries out high-quality work will definitely have satisfied partners who can share thoughts about their cooperation.

Establish communication rules with your eCommerce development company

In remote partnerships, communication plays a major role. It needs to be considered and properly agreed by both parties at the beginning of their journey. There needs to be either daily or weekly meetings, both parties need to agree on guidelines on how they will work, whether they will use Scrum, Agile, or any other approach. A potential partner who thinks about a successful result will be quite flexible in adjusting their processes. Their main goal will be to adjust processes to the level that they are confident they will deliver results.

Define roles and responsibilities on your side. More clarity of who is responsible for communication and decision-making on your side increases the chance that the partner will deliver the project successfully and on time.

Test your partner during the discovery phase

If your potential partner offers you a project Discovery phase – we approach it as a good sign. During the Discovery phase, a Partner company can analyze your needs, which technologies to use, what competence they need to fulfill your goals, what potential risks could occur during the project. The right partner will communicate all these questions to you with an explanation of why a certain amount of work will take a certain amount of time and money.

Your eCommerce partner has to know how your business operates, and how your entire chain works: from order processing to your current sales channels, logistics, what ERP system you are planning to use, the number of products you are going to sell, and the performance your system will require. Your partner should inquire about different aspects of your business to suggest the right solutions.

A proper evaluation of a project is an effort from both sides. The more information you give to your partner – the clearer and more accurate estimate you will receive. We have seen examples when clients were not truly interested in collaboration or went with a cheaper alternative. And after some time they come back to us and say “We spent a lot of money and did not receive the expected result.” We care about our reputation and we provide our clients with clearly defined information on what they would receive for which amount of money and time. So my advice is to pay attention to this factor during the Discovery phase with your new partner.

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Mind your Time-to-Value (TtV)

To understand whether you are receiving the results that were estimated, you need to be involved in the process and understand its timing. Usually, the onboarding period when we are getting familiar with each other and finding the right approach for successful collaboration takes between 3 to 6 months. In most cases, our clients start to see significant changes and value from our partnership after approximately three months. For bigger projects, it can take up to 6 months to see the first good results. At this point, you can validate whether you have chosen the right partner.

Your success in eCommerce development will require a long-term partnership. eCommerce is in no small part about technology, and technology is changing rapidly. New tools and new instruments appear every day. If you want to be a market leader, you must implement innovative solutions that will benefit and satisfy your customers. This is no easy task and it requires constant work. Make sure your development partner is ready to support you along the way.