New stores are popping up every day. There is an incredible amount of content out there to help merchants make the most of their Shopify store. That doesn’t mean that it’s that easy for everyone, or that all that content is giving you good information.
You may need some customization to a theme.
Perhaps you need extra functionality, or even some integration with other systems.
Maybe you tried to set up your Shopify store yourself and hit some frustrating snags.
Perhaps you reached out to a developer to assist them with the customization but are not happy with the results.
Or maybe you want to move to Shopify from another platform.
It’s not necessary to do everything yourself: focus on what you do best and have a professional develop your website. You are more likely to see better sales conversions that way and save yourself countless hours better spent elsewhere.
How do you know that you’re choosing the right person/company to help?
Here are some things to look out for when you’re sourcing service providers:
Trade references are a great way to verify the creditworthiness of a service provider. Many service providers will feature a few choice testimonials from past customers on their website or social media platforms. If the contact details (name and company) are provided for the customers listed on their website as testimonials, you can always reach out to them if you have any questions about the service they received.
While these are good to check out, it is also important to look for some independent reviews. Independent reviews can be found all over the internet (ratings on Google, social proof from social media platforms like Facebook, or even crowd-sourced review forums like HelloPeter or Yelp). These are generally unsolicited reviews and the company has very little control over the content listed there.
A service provider’s portfolio shows a high-level example of their expertise. If they have customer case studies, this is also a great way to see what kind of work they specialize in and the kind of results it bears. A portfolio is going to show you what they value in their work and what they regard as achievements. If it is underwhelming take that as a sign.
Keep in mind that portfolios might only show a ‘highlight reel’ of what the service provider does, so if you don’t see exactly what you need it might be worth digging a bit deeper. Take a look at where those featured customers are now, are they doing well or have they dropped off the map - this could be a good indication of the effectiveness of the store.
Depending on your store, you might require a specific amount of manpower.
For example, if you have a huge catalog or a bumper customer base and some heavily technical backend requirements, you need to pay more attention to what level of client customer base the developer is used to servicing.
One way of finding this out is to take a look at work already done, which many developers will happily tell you (or even list on their website). Look for similarities in the scope and scale of these merchants, and the complexity of their stores.
Don’t only look for what you need right now - think about where you might be in a couple of years' time, what level of functionality you might like to implement then could change who you decide to use now.
This is a complicated question: it really depends on your store and your requirements now and in the future. It will differ greatly if you are setting up your store from scratch, or you are adding some custom functionality, or you need a monthly retainer for ongoing additions and maintenance to your store. Obviously the more you need doing the more it is going to cost.
Pricing is not standard across all Shopify Experts. Some developers will have an hourly rate and discuss how much work they can do for you in those hours, while others might quote per project (you agree beforehand what constitutes a complete project).
The best thing to do is once you have narrowed down your options for a service provider, is to ask them for a quote. You may need to pay initially for a technical spec document that encompasses every aspect of the work that needs to be done, however you can use this to get accurate quotes from other providers.
Whether or not a service provider is a good fit for you depends on what you need or want to get out of the working relationship, and whether or not they ‘get’ you.
Do they specialize in your type of business or are they more generalists? Decide if that matters enough to you to look elsewhere.
Some service providers are very focused on customer retention and support by providing ongoing training and face-to-face consultation. Others get right to the point and move through tasks in conveyor belt fashion. There are pros and cons to both.
Decide what kind of relationship you want with your Shopify service provider and find out if that’s what you will be getting before you sign an agreement.
You want to invest in your Shopify store by partnering with a service provider, but you don’t want to become tattooed with their brand and lose your brand identity and maneuverability in the future.
After working with a service provider, you want to know that you will be able to add new apps and functionality and not be tied down to having to use them again. You also want to be sure that the work that is created is extendable, ie. will have a decent lifespan.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that because a service provider is a Shopify Partner that they are backed up by Shopify themselves. Anyone can be a Shopify Partner. What you need to look out for is a Shopify Expert.
In order to become a Shopify Expert (see our listing), a service provider needs to go through a stringent application process that involves submitting current work on multiple Shopify stores. Once this is approved they are only then designated as Experts.
In our opinion, if your service provider isn’t a Shopify Expert then you are taking a chance.
The great thing about Shopify is its diversity; it is purpose-built to meet most of the needs of every eCommerce business.
It integrates with tons of other software to enable even more functionality. The Shopify app store offers more than 2,400 apps, and merchants use 6 apps on average in their stores. Partnerships and skills in other core areas like Klaviyo, Spently, Sezzle, and any other related software can be useful.
Choosing the right Shopify service provider is a game-changer, and doing it right the first time means you save time and effort on going through this process again, and potentially wasting money. If you would like to find out more about how we size up to other Shopify service providers, we encourage you to browse our case studies and portfolio and see what our Shopify merchant customers have to say about working with us. Otherwise, get in touch with us to see if we’re a good fit for you.
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