Managing communications and expectations between an eCommerce agency and your internal stakeholders can be a daunting task. It’s your job to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding objectives and expectations – while still retaining control of the workflow. Whether you have just partnered with an outside agency or are overseeing in-house teams, successful communication management will maximize productivity, minimize the unknown and produce greater quality work. We should know we’ve been in the eCommerce business for 25 years.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into practical techniques you can utilize for managing communications and setting realistic expectations with your eCommerce partners.
Start with a specific, limited scope
There’s nothing wrong with being a little nervous about handing over the keys. After all, working with a new eCommerce partner can be intimidating – you both want to make sure it’s a proper fit, and the work is good. However, we recommend that you ease into a partnership rather than jumping straight into the deep end. Start by establishing a very specific, and perhaps limited, scope of work. This would allow both of you to understand the team dynamics and address communication styles and cadence. In addition, it’ll allow both teams to get used to providing and receiving feedback and updates. Setting these sorts of expectations early on in the journey will set both parties up for success throughout the course of the partnership. And if things go well early on, you’ll both trust each other more and expand your scope and projects.
Be prepared to provide some level of support, especially early on in your partnership. Your ability to provide the necessary resources and guidance at the outset of a project will have an invaluable impact on your relationship. Supporting your partner with comprehensive brand guides, market research, and other critical intelligence can mean the difference between the success and failure of any project. Rather than leaving them to ’figure it out,’ proactively show your commitment by filling out their questionnaires or offering sound advice and direction when needed. Simply put: give your partner the elements they need to succeed – because in the end, if they succeed, you succeed. All of this may sound overly simplistic and obvious, but often, partnerships and projects die on the vine due to a lack of support.
Put Experienced Employees in Charge
Establishing an eCommerce partnership should not be taken lightly. Suppose you don’t put the right people in charge of managing your creative business partnerships who have a firm grasp of handling the process. In that case, the partnership is at risk of failure, and productivity could drop off quickly, which is why you should never assign a new hire to any new eCommerce partnership. Investing in the partnership from the start by having experienced, knowledgeable professionals oversee it will save time, money, and hassle down the road. If you have a new employee with whom you want to gain experience, that’s perfectly normal and, in many ways, to be expected. But we recommend making them a #2. Let them learn from your more veteran team members on what to do and, perhaps most importantly, what not to do.
Be Aware of Human Limitations
As experienced professionals, we must also recognize our partners are people too and remember that compassion and understanding are essential components of any partnership, which is why both sides must remain aware of each other’s limitations and establish parameters upfront. Of course, we all have to work within the parameters of time, resources, and capabilities. Still, when working with partners, meeting established deadlines is essential to any project, and it’s important to understand that sometimes it really is ‘too late’ to make last-minute changes. And if your new partner consistently misses deadlines or delivers nothing but excuses, you should address it immediately to protect yourself and your company.
It is also essential to be aware that we are in a global workspace. So, if your eCommerce partner is in a different timezone or even on another continent, we recommend giving them time to receive your correspondence and reply. And as with all aspects of modern life, think twice before you fire off an angry email or text message.
Be willing to take risks!
We list this recommendation last because this step naturally comes after trust is established and rapport has been built. Although client trust and rapport are invaluable business foundations, both sides should be open to capitalizing on their collective experience and introducing fresh ideas that may take both parties outside their comfort zones. For instance, you may be a worldwide leader in Widgets, but your eCommerce partner understands how to make digital strategies successful. Whether it be leveraging the latest marketing strategy or tweaking the design of your Widget, have confidence that both parties’ diverse skill sets will help lead the endeavor to success. After all, two heads are better than one – and you may even create something revolutionary together!
Bringing it all together
We have certainly learned a thing or two about eCommerce partnerships. Achieving the right balance between internal deadlines, having a top-notch communication process, and implementing a comprehensive marketing strategy are the keys to a successful eCommerce business. In addition, as we have learned over 25 years of business, innovations come at a rapid pace, so staying nimble, open, and willing to adapt is critical.
If you’d like to poke our brains a little more about eCommerce, please reach out to us below.