February 5th, 2021

Hiring an Ecommerce Specialist? Hire an Agency Instead.

Author: Eric Lynch
Eric Lynch
Partner & Director of Business Development

Ecommerce is one of the highest ranked job openings in the country right now. But what does your business really need?

The past year has seen a boom in online business, largely driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. While businesses have been growing their online footprint for years, quarantines and lockdowns reprioritized the shift for many organizations. And, while the initial push was somewhat haphazard, many of those organizations are now reassessing their resources and considering how to make the transition more permanent.

The result, unsurprisingly, is that demand for professionals skilled in ecommerce has gone through the roof. Businesses are looking for Michigan ecommerce developers, SEO specialists, and digital marketing gurus. Unfortunately, many are looking for all of those specialties in one person.

This is a mistake. No single person can accomplish what a team can do. That’s only common sense. But what’s more, hiring a single person into a role that requires several fields of expertise is expensive. As it turns out, agencies don’t just offer a broader range of expertise—they’re also less expensive in the long run. Here’s why.

1. Ecommerce covers a broad field. No single person is going to have the skillset you need.

Many business owners, if they’re new to ecommerce, aren’t aware of everything involved in running a high-quality site. They hear platforms like Squarespace or Wix claiming that you can have a business launched with just a few clicks of a button, and they think that’s all it takes.

But that’s a little like seeing the price of a T-shirt and thinking the same investment will get you a bespoke suit.

The skills needed to effectively run an ecommerce website are diverse. They include:

If you’re looking for someone who has mastered each of these skills, you’re looking for a unicorn. And if that unicorn, by some magic, did exist, they could easily demand a six figure salary. But even in that unlikely scenario, they still wouldn’t be the right choice, because it would take one person more hours than there are in a work week to keep up with everything that needs to be done. One person can’t do it all. But a team can.

2. Agencies have to stay at the top of their game to be competitive.

Let’s think again about our unicorn employee—the one you hired for their incredible skillset, and have now overloaded with so much work they can barely keep their head above water. A year or two goes by, and your website starts to look dated. Your social media is in a rut. Google updated their search algorithm again, and your SEO rankings are suffering. Your unicorn doesn’t seem so magical anymore. What happened?

What happened is that the very same employee who was supposed to be an expert at everything no longer has the time in their schedule to maintain their expertise in anything. The online world changes quickly, and the knowledge gap between what they knew when they started working for you and what they know now has widened.

Agencies can’t afford to let this happen. Any agency that doesn’t stay on top of their game quickly loses their competitive edge, because agencies survive—and thrive—on the quality of their expertise.

3. Employees are expensive. Agencies deliver more value for money.

If you take a look at our pricing guide, you’ll notice that our ecommerce services range from 40–60K to build an ecommerce website, to over 100K if that work includes significant branding and discovery work, video editing, and other marketing deliverables. Meanwhile, our monthly marketing retainer rate is $125/hr.

Those may sound like big numbers, especially if they’re a capital expense. But keep in mind what those prices include: A team of experts with specialties in web development, web design, videography, SEO, content writing, project management, and graphic design.

Compare that to the salary of an ecommerce employee, including employment taxes, benefits, and the human resources involved in recruiting, hiring, training, and managing that employee. Those costs are going to repeat each year, and will only rise as your employee’s experience grows. Maybe in Year 1, an agency is more expensive than an employee. But by Year 5, your employee is costing several times as much, and (because they are only one person and not a team), not delivering nearly the same value.

4. Employees leave. A good agency is interested in a long-term relationship.

We’ve worked with a lot of companies over the years. Most of our contracts have been marked by warm and trusting relationships with points of contact at our client company. It’s always a disappointment to us when our point person at that company moves on to a new position, as often happens. But that only underscores another value we bring to many businesses.

We frequently outlast our client’s employees. Sometimes that employee was the person who advocated for us during our initial sales meeting. When they move on to their next position, it has even fallen on us to catch the new hire up on the work we’ve been doing.

As much as we hate to see a good contact go, we know this comes as much more of a blow to the business, which now has to recruit a replacement. That’s why it’s our goal to be a constant for our clients. Some of our client relationships go back to the founding of our company. We’re committed to delivering the best service to our clients, and they can see that. That’s why our relationships last.

A small team of people can get a lot of work done in a short period of time.

Simply put, an agency specializing in ecommerce will get your business a lot farther a lot faster than a lone employee. That’s because while one team member is working on the web design, another is handling the copywriting, a third is managing the SEO audit and a fourth is shooting principle photography for the new brand video.

This is how our agency is able to consistently deliver results that astonish our clients. Working together, we can bring your ecommerce businesses up to scratch in no time, meeting milestones in a quarter which you had set yourself for the end of the year.

Because it’s not that unicorns don’t exist, it’s that you’re looking for them in the wrong places. Don’t try to hire an individual to do the work of a team. Hire an Ann Arbor agency instead.

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