You did your research and selected the platform on which you want to build your B2B e-commerce site.
Now you need an expert team to build the website, and you want to make sure they specialize in this field.
But what constitutes an expert team? How do you find out which company is best? What makes a company fit to be your development partner?
How do you properly compare all the companies out there? It’s tough because as an engaged business owner, you don’t always have the time.
You are overwhelmed with all the options available to you and have no idea where to start. Don’t worry, we have you covered.
It’s important for you to understand that your company’s website will be the key to your business’s success.
You have to ensure that it’s developed with the latest trends in e-commerce business, and by a developer who knows how to give you what you need.
In this post, we will walk you through the 11 things you need to consider before hiring the proper B2B e-commerce partner.
Before you start evaluating companies, you need to do some prep-work.
Why is it important to do your homework before hiring a B2B e-commerce development partner?
You should prepare a list of factors to be considered for hiring a B2B e-commerce solution provider. The research does not include just the name of the companies you want to interview, but also your own requirements.
If you don’t know exactly what you want right from the start, you risk adding to the project during the development stages, leading to additional time and costs.
Why go through all this hassle, when with GoDaddy, you can own a website at just $50/month?
Because if your B2B e-commerce is operating at an enterprise level, it needs a completely different scale to operate. You cannot achieve that with GoDaddy.
First, make sure you know exactly what you NEED and WANT. What do you need from your development partner? What are your expectations from them and of the final product?
To understand your requirements, start by evaluating the process and structure of your business. Identify:
- your target clientele
- the purpose of your website
- what do you want to offer your clients
- the core values of your company that you would like to convey to your clients
- how you can be different from your competitors, etc.
Do you have any preferences regarding any specific:
- website style
- CMS, etc.
Do you have a budget in mind? It’s better to have a fixed budget for the project so that it can be observed throughout the project.
Once you are clear about what you want in a partner, you can start evaluating potential development companies.
Your success is dependent on how happy you keep your customers. Your website is a communication between you and your customers.
If you simplify their lives with a hassle-free buying process, they will certainly offer you more business.
The fact of the matter is that we have the tendency to gravitate towards things that offer the least resistance. In this case, it should be your website.
What will you get after doing all this work? Knowing what you will be rewarded, helps motivate you to complete it.
Your B2B e-commerce website will provide the following:
- An easy-to-use and completely functional B2B e-commerce solution
- Higher reach for your business
- A site that will pull in customers creatively and inteligently
- Increased traffic with better optimization
- The capacity to give helpful information to customers
- Effortless navigation for customers to search items, pictures, information, etc.
- Easy to use highlights incorporating shopping cart, calculators, currency support, etc.
Now that you know what your needs and expectations are, it’s time to find out how you can shortlist companies for your project.
Considerations before hiring a B2B e-commerce development partner
We have created a list of 11 factors to consider, before choosing your B2B e-commerce solution provider.
1. Domain expertise:
You should know the range of your partner’s technical expertise in B2B e-commerce development, to ensure they’re suitable for your project. Ask them technical questions to make sure that they know the answers, giving you a fair idea of their technical aptitude.
Also make sure to check their proficiency in different fields such as SEO, PPC, and social media. Ask them questions about W3C validations, coding best practices, meta tags.
Ask them how much experience they have with third-party integrations.
You can ask them to show their level of prowess with past projects, where they might have handled e-newsletter signups and marketing through Constant Contact, MailChimp, or Campaign Monitor.
Ask them if they can integrate CRMs or sales platforms such as Salesforce, HubSpot or SharpSpring, and how they integrate social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.
What is their experience with various B2B e-commerce platforms?
You wouldn’t want to work with a company that has no experience in developing B2B e-commerce websites. Make sure that they have been working in the field for at least a few years, and that the team is well-experienced in working on e-commerce projects. Ask them which platforms they’ve worked on? Have them show projects they developed using platforms such as Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, PrestaShop, WooCommerce, etc.
You will need team members with different skill sets working on your project, to ensure that your website is developed in the best way possible.
Ask them if they have case studies from previous projects. Reviewing these will help you decide whether or not they are capable of developing high-performing B2B e-commerce websites, solving business challenges through design and custom functionality/coding, etc. You will also be able to see if their other B2B e-commerce projects were able to achieve the desired results.
3. Industry reviews and references:
There is no better way to know about an e-commerce developer than through their clients. Ask them for a few references whom you can contact. Through their experiences, you will be able to gauge the company’s strengths, weaknesses, quality, work ethic, integrity, dependability, etc. better.
Check the company’s reviews on sites such as Clutch or Skilled. Through these reviews, you will find out whether or not they are favored for projects similar to yours. Also, check if they have ever been recognized by their peers with any awards. Do your research to find out how they rank among others in the industry. This will validate their quality of service, work, and craftsmanship.
4. Flexible engagement model as per timeframe and budget:
Before you proceed to hire an e-commerce web development agency, it is a good idea to list your priorities – budget, timelines, flexibility on collaboration, clarity in scope, minimum period of engagement for which you need to hire resources, etc. In order to avoid any ambiguity at the end of the project, it is important to talk about the type of engagement model to be used.
Will it be fixed price, dedicated hiring, or an hourly price model? Refer to the image below to understand the differences between these three models.
The engagement model you choose will decide the budget, development time, time to market, etc. Ensure that everything is in writing so that there is no possibility of questioning expectations.
Ask about their approach towards e-commerce development, because you will get a real insight into their work strategy. Being aware of their work strategy will allow you to set realistic expectations for them, and you will be able to set milestones and timelines accordingly.
Ask them which type of processes they follow. Agile, CI/CD, DevOps, or a combination? Which process or a combination of processes will be the most suitable for your project? Inquire about their overall approach, what takes place at each stage, and what your involvement will be at each step.
Open communication is very crucial during the development process. You need to ask them about their approach to communicating with their clients on project progress.
It is always best if they encourage face-to-face meetings. Although, with the technology available these days, meetings can be conducted anytime and anywhere via video conferences and screen sharing services. In the end, it’s all about speed and convenience. How easy will it be to arrange a meeting with the key decision makers?
Preference for face-to-face interactions is important for building trust and fostering greater synergies. If, for geographical reasons, it is unrealistic to have frequent face-to-face meetings, then try to visit once to review the proposal, see their workplace, and meet the team that will be working on your project.
Ask them whether you will be provided with a single contact who will take personal ownership of the project. This will be beneficial because you will be able to communicate regularly with someone who is working on your project.
7. Adherence to best practices:
If you want to know about the quality standards of your development partner, you need to analyze their website, content, social media profiles, and overall digital presence.
You will learn whether they are following the latest design practices, if their website is fully functional, whether they publish new and quality content consistently, and also whether or not they engage with their followers and visitors, etc. If they are not following these best practices, then they might not be able to handle your project as you would like.
8. In-house development or outsourcing:
Ask if they do all the development tasks themselves, or will a portion be outsourced to another company. These tasks can range from designing, coding, content development, marketing, etc. B2B e-commerce websites are complex and require a collaborative and agile process. Design and development go hand in hand and should be done in parallel since they require the involvement and input of both teams throughout.
A company that has a well-versed team capable of handling all the tasks in-house will not only increase overall efficiency, but will also result in a better quality product development.
If some tasks are outsourced, you cannot expect the same level of synergy between the teams and may result in deficiencies.
9. Website ownership and legalities:
There are some e-commerce development companies who like to retain the copyright to their work. Ask them who will have complete ownership of the site once it is completed. This includes the graphics, content, and code. Also, ask whether or not you will be provided with the original design files.
You don’t want to be one of those companies unable to implement simple changes to their websites once communication with their development partner ends. To prevent this from happening, ask them to provide you with all the source files at the end of the project.
These can be up-to-date descriptions of your database structures, Photoshop and Illustrator files, login credentials for site hosting, access to code repositories, etc. This will be helpful in the following ways:
- if you decide to hire your own development team, or
- if you take over the website management yourself, or
- if you change development firms.
Add it to the non-disclosure agreement, or to a written contract for copyright assignment, which you will be signing with the development firm, and make sure that they are absolutely transparent in this regard.It should state that you have ownership of the website, source code, and its contents.
Don’t miss this step, especially if your website holds business IP or customized features. Signing an agreement will not only ensure the safety of your website’s idea but will also enable you to take legal action against them if they disclose your website’s idea on the market.
10. Warranty on the work:
What if you are delivered a website that doesn’t function the way it was intended to? It is crucial to know whether or not your developer will be providing a guarantee for their work.
Ask if you will be charged for any code issues post-delivery and post-launch. If they agree not to charge for such issues for a specified period of time post-launch, it shows that they possess a great deal of integrity.
If they say that you will be charged for anything and everything as soon as the website is launched, you may consider negotiating with them, otherwise, additional costs might start adding up.
11. Accessibility and after-sales support:
Once a project is complete, it doesn’t mean that the communication with the development company ends. Find out how accessible they are. Ask them about their process of handling service issues, including errors and bugs. How will you submit your issues or complaints? Will it be via email, online HelpDesk, or by phone? Discussing an issue on the phone is the most convenient way, especially if you are facing a crisis such as a website breach, crash, or downtime.
After-sales support is as necessary and important as the initial communication during development. Find out if they will be providing support post-launch, and to what extent?
Choosing a B2B e-commerce development partner requires some homework. There are a number of factors on which companies can be evaluated, but what are the most important ones? There are good companies out there who are delivering quality work but they won’t all be perfect for your business needs. Because your business is unique, and your website must deliver a quality experience to your customers, you must figure out what’s most important to your business.
Your new B2B e-commerce website will be a reflection of your strategic business goals. It is only possible if you hire a company that helps you achieve those goals. Asking far-reaching questions before the hiring process will ensure that you will achieve tangible results, which will translate into a measurable return.