1. What Are the Name and CVs of the Team Members I Will Work With Most?
The chances are that the person you speak with at your interview won’t be working on your account daily. Understandably, the agency wants to send out their most personable expert to meet with potential clients. However, you need to know that the people working on your account work well with your company.
These are the three things you should look for when you get the names and CV of the folks working on your account:
How many years of experience they have in DTC ecommerce
The strategic experience of your primary POC, not just the account management experience
Their experience in managing or driving ecommerce revenue at least 2x your own goal levels
These essential characteristics will reassure you that you’re working with experts and not interns each day. You want to know that your account is in good hands once you’re past the introductory phase.
2. Why Do You Think We’ll Be Successful Together?
You’re looking for qualifications for this question, but you’re also looking to be sure that you’re a good personality fit with each expert you interview. There are two things you’ll look at in their answer.
First, do they know your company? Have they taken the time to do their research before the interview? This will show you that they’re always prepared and they care about your company and this job.
Second, you’ll want to hear proof that convinces you they can do the job well. You’re not looking for overpromises or exaggerated claims. You want to know that they’re confident in their work and processes for growing ecommerce companies.
3. Which Partner Service Providers Impress You The Most?
In this question, you’re looking for several different components, and this is beyond the ecommerce consulting services offered by the company directly. They may be ecommerce experts themselves, but you want to know that their network is robust enough to truly move the needle in your organization outside of whatever ecommerce strategy they will build. Do they have enough contacts with other service providers that go beyond apps and software?
Also, listen for a holistic network of partners. This shouldn’t be a grocery list of common tech providers such as UGC software, CRM, email marketing provider, and advertising networks.
Do they have an impressive ecosystem of partners that will benefit your company? If so, then they could be a valuable asset to your organization.
4. For Each of Those Partners – When Would They Not Be a Good Fit For Your Clients (and Who Might You Recommend Instead)?
You want to ensure that the expert you work with isn’t trying to put your organization into a box. You don’t want a cookie-cutter generic strategy applied to your company. You have specific goals and want to follow a strategy that is custom-designed for you.
When you hire the right expert, they will see when their usual plan or partners aren’t a good fit. And you want to work with someone flexible and willing to find the right solution for you and your DTC ecommerce business.
5. What Case Studies Prove Your Experience in Ecommerce Consulting?
Any time you hire an experienced ecommerce consultant for your business, you want to see their portfolio. As an expert in the ecommerce industry, each person you talk to should have at least one stellar example they can show.
This case study doesn’t have to give away company secrets. However, it should be complete, with real data showing how their work expanded and grew the company.
Additionally, what you’re really looking for over specific data information is how well the consultant could recount the issue they had. Then you want to hear their process for solving it. This includes identifying the biggest issue, analyzing the situation, and developing a strong action plan to solve the problem.
Hearing their process is more important than anything else in this question. Do they work in a manner that is compatible with yours and your company? Would they be a good fit for your team when issues arise in the future?
6. How Will You Use Data to Help Us Grow?
The role of big data in today’s ecommerce market is undeniable. It’s all about synthesis that is more tailored than what you’ll find in standard best practices. And the consultant you work with should be ready and willing to share their data in regular reports. So, before you begin working with anyone, be sure to outline how often they’ll communicate their progress with you and what their roadmap for using data could look like.
Find out how they like to communicate and where they’ll get their data from. These details will give you valuable insight into the future working relationship you’ll have with the ecommerce consultant you choose.
7. What Could You Do With Our Budget?
For this question, provide some information upfront to each expert. Name a specific number for your budget, not a ballpark estimate. Be ready and know your actual budget so you can know what you can get for the money you have to allocate and invest in your ecommerce strategy.
Many people worry this will lose their leverage when it comes time to negotiate the contract. However, it will gain you leverage in that you will be able to compare each company specifically based on their return. You want to compare apples to apples, and you can’t do that without providing a specific budget and then seeing how each expert can use that to grow your business.
Every expert should be able to grow your business regardless of your budget. So, don’t be afraid that a larger company will shy away from a smaller budget.
And remember, you can also change your number before signing the agreement. This doesn’t lock you into any specific amount. It simply gives you a level playing field for your research.
It’s okay if they don’t want to guarantee results as they answer this question. But they should be able to give you an estimated return on your investment. You want to see how they can each work with the same budget and what they would do differently.
8. What Services Won’t You Offer and Why?
This can be an interesting and eye-opening question. You’ll find that everyone is ready with a response to which services they do offer. But, by framing it this way, you’ll see who is willing to talk about their weaknesses. One may be an ecommerce marketing consultant, while another is an ecommerce business consultant. The difference really matters. The business consultant, for instance, may not have experience with digital marketing services or social media marketing strategies yet may be highly experienced in working with a founder on launching his/her online business startups.
And, if you see a trend in a certain service or strategy that most experts want to stay away from, you can ensure that your own strategy also limits using that service.
9. What Can Clients Do to Maximize Their Return When Working With You?
Again, this answer is looking for processes over actual return on investment. The answers to this question will give you insight into what actions you can take to ensure success for the ecommerce consultant you hire.
Make a note of the answers here, and then look at your current processes. What can you incorporate into your workflow to ensure success and maximal return when working with your new ecommerce expert?
10. What Are the Biggest Mistakes You See Clients Making Today in Ecommerce?
While all the questions you ask are important, this is the one you need to listen to intently. This is free advice that you won’t get anywhere else. The answers to these questions will give you valuable insight into the mistakes your competitors are making.
And they could also shed some light on the mistakes you’re currently making as well. So listen intently to what everyone has to say to this question. The feedback you get could be surprising and should be interesting, to say the least.
Each person you’re interviewing is an expert. And they’ve worked with several other companies in your industry. So they’ve seen it all and can tell you what doesn’t work so you can avoid those mistakes in the future.
Also, another key insight you could get here is by noting if you hear vague or basic advice in their answer to this question. These are the consultants you should avoid, as they’re not true experts.
Experts can give you specific examples to back up their advice. Stick with the experts who’ve seen it all and know how to avoid the mistakes and correct any you’ve already made.
11. What Size and Type of DTC Companies Have Given You Testimonials Publicly?
Testimonials are as important as a portfolio and case study example. You want to know that this consultant has had experience working with companies similar to yours.
Ten years of experience working with a Fortune 500 B2B content marketing department won’t translate the same as having two years of experience working with another DTC ecommerce company roughly the same size as yours.
Ask to be able to read these testimonials. Be sure that you get enough information so that you can feel good about working with this consultant. Don’t let them be vague or give short one-sentence testimonials, as you want in-depth information before hiring the right expert for your organization.
12. Why Do You Think My Product or Service Can Out-Compete Our Competitors?
In this last question, you’re looking for a few layers in each answer. And there isn’t any particular right or wrong answer here. Rather, what you’re looking for is an in-depth answer that isn’t vague and shows they’ve done their research before the interview.
If any of your interviewees cannot answer this question well, then it’s highly likely they won’t be able to help you. Especially not to the degree that you want so you can grow your business to the next level. You want to hear a convincing argument that shows they know your industry and where the gaps are in the current market.
Frequently Asked Questions
As you begin your journey finding the perfect ecommerce consultant to help you grow your business, you likely have more questions of your own. We’ve gathered some of the most common questions here and their answers for your own resources.
What Is an Ecommerce Strategy?
Simply put, your strategy is a map or outline that shows how you’ll achieve your goals. So, naturally, before you can create your strategy, you need to know your company goals. And then, you can map out your strategy based on those goals.
Increasing traffic will require a different strategy than one to improve conversion rates for ecommerce sites. User experience UX tactics will differ from those addressing customer service. And each strategy will lead to using different tactics. While having a great email service provider (ESP) that tracks your abandoned cart rates is a great tactic, it won’t do anything to help you increase leads for your business.
This is why you need to know what your goals are before starting your strategy. And it shows why it can be imperative to discuss these with your consultant. When you know your goals, you can find the right expert to help you achieve them.
What Is an Ecommerce Consultant?
An ecommerce consultant is an expert in running and growing an online store. They will analyze your current results and track the current marketing within your industry to create the best plan of action to grow your business. They will also listen to you and your goals to ensure that their strategy aligns with where you want to take your company.
What Are Typical Ecommerce Consultant Services?
An ecommerce consultant is an expert in several different components of digital marketing. They must be able to effectively direct strategies and training that could improve your:
Content marketing campaigns
Search engine marketing campaigns
Email marketing campaigns
Website development and design
Each of these important components will make up the whole of your marketing strategy. And a great consultant will be able to run each of them flawlessly.
Where Can I Find an Expert Ecommerce Consultant?
Many people will start with a simple Google search. And this is understandable as that is how most of us answer all our questions. However, when it comes to finding the right expert for your business, you need to search for the best solution actively.
The best way to find an expert and help you solve your most pressing ecommerce problems is to start with your current network. What LinkedIn and Facebook groups are you already active in? Ask around and see who repeatedly gets a mention from your peers.
Then reach out and ask for their references and portfolio or case study examples. Finally, you’re ready to narrow down your list to a much smaller pool of experts you can sit down with and ask the above twelve questions.
Is It Worth Hiring an Ecommerce Consultant?
You might hear everyone telling you to hire an expert to grow your business. But have you ever asked yourself if that’s the right move for your company? Take the time to look at your business and see where the problem areas are.
Then you’ll know whether or not it’s worth it to hire an expert to come in and help you reach your goals. If your main problem is that your orders aren’t shipping out on time, you may need to hire an operational manager. However, if your main problem is that you need more traffic and revenue online, you need an ecommerce expert.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Consultant?
The short answer here is that it depends. While most of the skills that an expert ecommerce consultant needs to be successful can be learned on the job, certain certifications are helpful. For example, if someone has a Content Marketing Certification from HubSpot, then you know they have the right information and skills they need to uplevel your content.
Additionally, a Google Analytics certification or the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certification from Google are great examples of qualifications that can help your consultant be successful.
What ROI Should I Expect From Working With an Ecommerce Consultant?
It can be difficult to nail down a specific dollar return on your investment in digital marketing. However, in general, you should be able to expect a 3x return on each dollar you spend. This will vary widely depending on your industry and your ability to increase your average customer lifetime value.
So, while a particular campaign might return a lower initial ROI, if you’ve optimized your funnel, nurture sequence, and each customer’s buyer’s journey, then you’re sure to increase your long-term average ROI.
What Types of Platforms Should an Ecommerce Consultant Be Familiar With?
From Wix to Shopify and from BigCommerce to WooCommerce, the types of platforms vary widely as each ecommerce industry. However, you need to ensure that your consultant is an expert in the platform your company uses. So, be sure to walk through your entire tech stack with each interviewee to ensure that they will be able to help you straight out of the gate.