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10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an Ecommerce Digital Agency

When choosing a potential partner, you assess companies by a range of criteria, starting from the best fit to your business model and finishing with specific matches to your expectations, such as transparency in communications or cultural fit. We collected all the burning questions to a digital agency from organizations like yours - to help you find a perfect partner in delivery. Sergei Lakishik — Grinteq CEO — joins the conversation and sheds light on what to expect from a collaboration with an ecommerce digital agency.

Sergei Lakishik, Grinteq
Sergei Lakishik, Grinteq CEO

Sergei Lakishik has jumped into the IT industry in 2014. Following the rapid career path from a sales manager to the CEO, he gained extensive knowledge across the software development process, business analysis, and project management in IT. With a Master's degree in strategy and consulting from Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Sergei co-founded a digital agency that so far has supported 50+ ecommerce brands of all sizes to build ecommerce experiences for their customers.

1. When an engagement with an ecommerce digital agency becomes handy?

As the Global ecommerce software market expected to reach USD 20.4 billion by 2028, the demand for custom ecommerce development services has been skyrocketing during the last few years. More and more brands prefer to hire an ecommerce agency to meet their technical needs. And there're a few reasons why.

One of them is the lack of expertise of the required level in the local market.
If we speak about the US, the low availability of resources goes next to the extremely high candidate rates, and not only for senior-level software engineers. Overheated market forces businesses to expand their search criteria and look for suitable candidates outside the country. Working with an agency makes it simpler for faster and more efficient hiring, along with other benefits of minimized HR and Legal work.

When considering small companies: as a rule, they don't have a large technical department. In this case it's best to go with external full-cycle support that could include Business Analysis, UX/UI design, maintenance, and support services.
In addition to a quick scaling up of the team, it allows them to reach a faster deployment performance, share risks and achieve predictable outcomes.

How to build an online store with an agency. Simple guide >

2. Can I rely on off-shore delivery, given the distance between us?

This question may have been relevant a few years ago. Today, the majority of the best digital ecommerce agencies have turned to remote. Software developers, business analysts, designers, and project managers may be in different parts of the world, but that doesn't mean the project won't be delivered on time or the quality of the end-product will suffer.

Grinteq is a remote-first agency. We've spent years on setting up our processes to simplify paperwork, establish smooth and effective communication with the client — e.g. adjusting team working hours to the client's time zone — and transparency during the whole project development process. And we really believe, there're no borders in the digital world.

3. Are there any upfront recruiting or contractual fees when hiring ecommerce developers through an agency?

It's as simple as that — no. That's one of the best benefits customers get when working with an agency. Usually, these types of expenses are complex and
time-consuming: talent search, recruitment, onboarding, and further training and development. With our internal staffing program, we are taking care of all the HR and Legal issues you might like to avoid, allowing you to focus on your core business.

4. Can I change from one ecommerce developer to another if it doesn't work out?

In case a developer working on your project doesn't seem to be a good match — that's fine. Cultural fit is important, and your business is the top priority for your partner, so they will work hard to ensure that your business and operational KPIs are met.

Here at Grinteq, if at any point you change your mind, we will find someone with the right fit. But to be honest, this case rarely happens. We have a one-month trial period, during which a customer decides if their need is fully satisfied with the skillset we provide or whether they would like to change the candidate.

5. Let's talk money: what are your rates?

The rates heavily depend on the skillset of an ecommerce developer, their experience, and capabilities, supported by the formal certifications. When pricing projects, we consider factors such as the duration of the contract, terms of cooperation with the client, services included, and so on.

Senior developers' work in the US costs around $100-150/hour. Hiring through a digital agency is cost-cutting. But what's important: despite offering hourly-based pricing, the developers hired through an agency become long-term client's team members, not just short-term freelancers. And loyalty is one of the crucial benefits of partnering with vendors.

As for our rates, they are lower than in the US — and the costs depend on the project scope. For instance, if we're developing a cartridge for a payment tool, the final cost may vary from $25K to $60K — the calculation is based on specific client's requests. Generally, a client has a set up project budget and we always make a pre-project estimation to see how to balance the cost with stated requirements.

See how we developed an online payment integration for Square >

6. When should I start thinking about payments?

Some agencies prefer to take payments upfront. We prefer to deliver the results first. It provides flexibility and opportunity to customers to assess the quality of the work done. Seems fair enough 🙂

7. Who owns the Intellectual Property Rights?

By default, given the nature of the services, all the intellectual property belongs to clients, which is also clearly stated within the contractual agreement.

Let's also look at it from a business perspective — ecommerce digital agencies can't sustain their business without a portfolio to showcase to potential clients. And it's fair for them to use a client's logo or a short description of the project in a case study — without any sensitive data, of course.

If you want to maintain your privacy, just mention it to your point of contact during contracting. In other words, Grinteq is also okay with a white label model upon request.

8. Who manages the project and staff?

It's up to you.

If all you need is to hire dedicated teams to cover specific parts of your project — great! In that case, we connect you with a senior developer who will work directly with your CTO, Team Lead or PM. From our side, we will make sure that contract terms and cultural fit are met. Hiring dedicated developers is a good idea if you're looking for a specific technical skillset and happy to manage the project yourself.

Getting full-cycle support (including consulting, business analysis, project management, UX/UI design) from an agency is a better fit if you're looking for someone else to take care of the overall delivery of the project.

Either way, your partner should make sure any assigned developers meet defined benchmarks and keep the project on track.

9. What to expect from a software development project with an ecommerce agency?

First things first: as soon as you engage with an ecommerce development agency, they ask you for a detailed description of what you have and want to achieve. We always take into consideration three factors to provide the implementation scope for your idea:

  1. tech stack — to ensure security and stability + using the stack that enables the product scaling;
  2. cost-efficiency — to avoid unnecessary pricy elements;
  3. speed — it speaks for itself.

Once the best combination is defined, the agency takes responsibility to deliver the project. Since then you have a day-to-day communication with the team and get detailed reporting during the whole cycle of the project development.

When the project is deployed, it's handy to support the system, add new features, update design with the same partner that developed the initial code. Long-term partnerships are much more beneficial for final products.

10. How do we organize our communications?

It does depend on client preferences. We've seen clients that rely on our expertise, and cases where it was crucial to use the client's approach to communications and reporting.

We use Jira and Notion to organize our work internally, Git for maintaining the code for a project, Slack, Hangouts, Zoom, Telegram for calls. The frequency of communications varies from client to client, so you simply agree on the terms that fit your company.

🙋‍♂️ If you have questions left, Sergei still have enough energy to answer.  
Write us at info@grinteq.com

Daria Maksimenko

Daria Maksimenko

A novice interviewer and content writer at Grinteq.