Should You Hire A Shopify Expert in 2020?

2020 is fast approaching, and with a new year comes a new year’s resolutions: To exercise more, travel more, and for some, to finally start that new business. If you’re considering using the Shopify platform, you’ve likely wondered to yourself, should you hire a shopify expert to get you up and running, or is this project something you should bootstrap and get off the ground without spending any cash during the setup phase? While a large amount of people lean toward the latter in that they’d prefer attempt a store setup/site build themselves, more established business owners tend to recognize the time vs money trade off equation, and look to Shopify Experts to help them turn around a professional, clean store quickly. Throughout this post we look at the pros and cons of both approaches, and hope to shed some light on what it’s like to work with a Shopify Experts Agency! 

THE TIME VS MONEY EQUATION

As mentioned in our introduction, as a business owner, it’s important to recognize the concept of time versus money. A relatively simple concept, the time vs money equation is simply asking yourself the value of your own time, while also looking at the opportunity cost of potential money spent, or not spent. 

Business owners should be pondering if their time best invested in learning the ins and outs of the Shopify platform, how to set up a store, attempting some graphic design, and launching their alone, or is it best invested performing other activities to get the business launched?. A tough question that realistically only the business owner can decide themselves, but an important one nonetheless. Could you time be better spent sourcing quality suppliers? Learning the ins and outs of online marketing? Or maybe even finding and training your first staff members for your business? If you’re working with a minimal startup budget, are a whiz at graphic design and web design, or have an extended amount of time on your hands, going the store setup route yourself may be the ideal option. If you’re time poor, and design isn’t your strongest attribute, looking for professional help may be the best solution.

The second and equally important question to ask in relation to the time vs money equation, is how much quicker could a Shopify Expert have your business launched, running, and generating revenue? Even if you do view learning the Shopify platform and setting up your own store as something that is absolutely worth your time, if a Shopify Experts agency gets your store up and selling in ⅓ of the time, there is an opportunity cost to setting it up yourself. It’s important in this scenario to compare the differences between the costs of a setup and the anticipated revenue you believe you’d generate in the interim period where you’d  be setting the site up yourself. If the potential revenue generated greatly outweighs the costs of the setup, then it may be worth looking at outsourcing the project. If you think the difference will be minimal, or revenue generated for the first few months will be nominal, it may be time to fire up your laptop and get down to work!

Pro tip: We’re beginning to curate a number of instructional videos on our YouTube channel, which you can view here. Should you have any requests for specific videos on aspects of a store setup, just let us know!

THAT ‘SHOPIFY EXPERTS’ EXPERTISE

Another extremely important point to establish is how complicated your project is, and how much experience do you have executing similar projects? If you’re a web developer, or highly experienced with Shopify, then the majority of projects may be easy, straightforward, and well worth your time to nail down yourself. If your project is complicated, requires significant custom code, design changes, and more advanced features like paid membership access, it may be worth finding an expert in these specific areas. 

Shopify Experts bring a plethora of expertise to the table in terms of the store setup, but it often doesn’t stop there. Many experts have worked on hundreds of store builds, and have seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to Shopify and e-commerce in general. A good expert (especially an agency), can provide not only setup, but be a sounding board for ideas, advice on aspects of your business, and suggestions in areas of your business you may have not considered yet. 

SHOPIFY EXPERTS MARKETING

We get dozens of inquiries from e-commerce entrepreneurs to be, looking to setup a store and get selling online. While it’s fantastic to see the entrepreneurial spirit is truly alive and well, many merchants underestimate the hardest part of running an e-commerce business - the marketing. The old adage ‘build it and they shall come’ that may sometimes ring true for retail businesses simply does not apply to online ventures. The advantage of e-commerce is selling at a global scale from day one, but the largest disadvantage is the lack of free impression marketing that brick and mortar businesses enjoy.

A good Shopify Expert can build you a beautiful store, while a great Shopify Expert can also help you generate revenue for your store. Many Shopify Experts are well versed across a wide range of digital marketing; Facebook, Instagram, Email, SEO, Google Ads, you name it, there are vetted experts in the community that can help. 

Whether you decide to outsource marketing on top of your store build, or are looking to do the marketing yourself, we always encourage clients to gain a basic understanding of marketing strategies and language. YouTube has a huge selection of introductory digital marketing content across almost all platforms and topics, while platforms like Udemy offer paid courses that are extremely affordable, and for the price, offer some real bang for your buck.

Gaining a basic understanding of digital marketing will not only allow you to potentially handle marketing for your business yourself, but it will also allow you to better understand your expert's marketing strategies and processes, better vet potential marketing agencies/freelancers, and truly evaluate their efforts and understand whether it makes sense to continue working with them.

HOW TO FIND THE BEST EXPERT FOR YOUR NEEDS

There are Shopify Experts that specialize and have experience in almost every are your business is going to need but how do you know which expert is the best fit for you and your business?

Reviews/References

Shopify Experts (the ones vetted by Shopify), will have reviews on their Shopify Experts profile. Past clients are given the opportunity to review experts on a variety of factors, and rate their experience on a range of 1-5 stars. Obviously, experts with a strong history of providing value to their clients are going to have more positive written feedback, and more positive reviews.

If you want to go a step deeper than this, consider requesting references of past merchants experts have worked with. Agencies/freelancers who have great relationships with their clients will likely have no problem providing references, assuming your request is reasonable in terms of size. If you’re looking for a smaller one time project, agencies and freelancers likely will not want to reach out and bother past clients in these type of scenarios. 

Portfolio

Ask to view your potential partners portfolio, and examine if their design style, type of setup, and complexity of store builds are something that matches your vision/requirements. If their entire portfolio consists of small, simple setups, and you’re looking at building a large, complex platform, it may make sense to choose someone with proven experience in these areas. 

Case Studies

This point applies more to marketing experts, but any agency/freelancer that is dedicated to their craft will have written documentation that communicate the value they provided to their clients. Whether it’s showing a month by month increase in search engine rankings and explaining their approach to attaining these, or how they approached and successfully built out a complex store, reviewing case studies will give you a great feel as to whether your chosen expert can execute on your needs.

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WORK WITH A SHOPIFY EXPERTS AGENCY

For larger projects, the majority of agencies/freelancers will start off with a consultation to learn about your needs. After they’ve established your needs they’ll draft a proposal that outlines the statement of work, along with a price estimate to complete. Make sure to ask questions on topics you don’t understand. Hourly rate, number of revisions, and scope of work are very important to nail down.

After the proposal is agreed upon and a contract is signed, an on-boarding document is usually sent over to the client, requesting numerous assets, information such as content, pictures, and details for configuring settings, access to accounts etc.

Depending on the size of the project, some agencies/freelancers will be available via phone/web/in person for regular check ins on the project, while others may lean toward email only communication to ensure productivity is maxed out, and everything is in writing for reference in the future. 

After your project is complete, the majority of experts should be happy to provide support, small tweaks, and further help with getting your business to the next level!

Have a Shopify store already? What factors did you take into consideration when choosing your service provider? We’d love to know, email us at info@theecommguys.com and we’ll include them in our post.

The Ecomm Guys is a Shopify Experts Marketing agency based in Ottawa, Ontario. We specialize in SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads Management, and of course, Shopify.