What is the most efficient way to manage your digital storefront?
In the complex and competitive world of e-commerce, merchants face a pivotal question: What is the most efficient way to manage their digital storefront?
There are two strategic options
1. Establish a comprehensive in-house team of technologists, strategists, developers, and project managers to manage the digital storefronts
The benefits of extending your in-house team with external eCommerce Technology Support (ETS)
Access to Diverse Skills and Expertise
Operating an online store requires a fusion of multiple skills, such as frontend development, backend development, project management, QA testing, data analytics, cyber security, etc. Building an in-house team with these skills can be daunting, time-consuming, and expensive. Outsourcing to a trusted and competent eCommerce technology support provider offers access to a multi-disciplinary team, ensuring seamless store operation around the clock and a focused approach to your e-commerce technology support while you’re growing and managing an already complex business.
Cost-Effectiveness and Scalability
Establishing an in-house team can carry substantial costs, from recruitment and training to salaries, benefits, and team management, amongst other responsibilities. Conversely, support providers offer a cost-efficient and scalable alternative that allows businesses to adjust their support requirements based on their changing needs. This is strategically the best solution for any scaling business. It is often seen in other business functions when executives and managers delegate their work to operations and free up their time to work on other priorities for the company.
Staying Current with Technological Advances
In an ever-evolving industry, keeping up with technological advancements is critical. Technology support partners have a broader view of the industry and can implement and manage cutting-edge technologies, ensuring your online store remains at the forefront of innovation. A good support provider would have a large network of partners who work closely with their team to ensure you have the answers and the right people in the room when needed.
Gaining Industry Insights
An in-house team may lack exposure to diverse business models and scenarios. By contrast, outsourcing partners work with various clients and technology partners across different sectors, gaining an in-depth understanding of industry trends, customer behaviour, and successful strategies. This knowledge and insights can be extremely valuable to you in planning.
Enhancing Operational Efficiency
E-commerce support providers should be able to support and manage everything from your e-commerce storefronts (national or international) and the rest of your e-commerce technology infrastructure, freeing you and your team to focus on core business functions and meeting your goals.
The dynamic nature of e-commerce requires your businesses to be agile. E-commerce support providers can adapt quickly to industry changes, customer behaviour shifts, or technology updates. Providing the responsiveness needed to stay competitive. We suggest talking to your partner about response times and the expectations around the same. If needed and depending on your SLA 24/7 support is also available to ensure that first response times are fast, even in the middle of the night or early hours.
Effective Task Prioritization
Managing an online store involves numerous priorities that can sometimes change daily, from addressing technical glitches to managing the customer experience. A good support provider ensures each ask/request is addressed according to its importance, ensuring the smooth operation of your business. This way, strategic priorities are not cannibalized by urgent tasks keeping your in-house team busy. Any good provider would spend time with your senior leadership and operations teams to gather a full picture of your operations and feel like an extension of your in-house team. If you feel you and your partner are siloed, something is wrong.
Preventing Staff Burnout
An in-house team may be overworked during peak seasons or sales events, leading to burnout and potentially impacting your store’s performance. Support partners are equipped with a deep bench of talent to handle these peak times, ensuring your online store’s continuous, smooth functioning. With frequent and honest communications with your support provider, you and your team can weather these peaks and much more without additional stress and anxiety.
Partnering with a support provider for your e-commerce reduces the stress of managing an in-house team, providing peace of mind and freeing you to focus on the strategic aspects of your business.
Customers may visit your online store anytime, and issues arising during off-hours can lead to lost sales or, even worse, a damaged reputation that can spread like wildfire on social channels. Depending on the service level agreement (SLA), E support providers can guarantee 24/7 support, ensuring your online store is always up and running and that your team has immediate support from experts when it’s needed.
Improved Security and Compliance
Outsourcing provides access to security experts and robust security measures, helping you stay ahead of cyber threats and navigate complex compliance requirements.
Access to Up-to-Date Documentation
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date documentation can be tedious and a low priority for the in-house team, so it often gets neglected. Outsourcing partners have expertise in maintaining comprehensive records of your digital storefront’s infrastructure, configurations, and processes.
An in-house team may miss opportunities due to being occupied with critical work or other priorities. A support partner ensures you fully exploit the potential opportunities ahead of the curve to capitalize on your strategy.
Risks of outsourcing your eCommerce Technology Support needs?
While outsourcing is an efficient strategy, not all providers are the same. As always, do your due diligence. Not all support providers are the same, so speak with several providers, vet them, and do a reference check.
While the benefits are significant to outsourcing, there are some risks:
Dependency on Support Partner
The wrong provider would look to create a dependency to keep themselves around longer instead of showing true value. This risk can be mitigated by choosing a reputable partner with the capability, proven processes, a deep talent pool, and a collaborative approach to seamlessly support your in-house team, manage priorities, and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Cultural and Communication Differences
Cultural and communication differences can occur, especially when working with offshore partners. Coordinating and communicating could also be challenging if your partner operates in a different time zone. This challenge can be minimized by choosing a nearshore or onshore partner.
Risk of Confidentiality Breach
Outsourcing involves entrusting an external agency with your vital business data and customer information, creating a risk of data leakage and confidentiality breach. Having the right NDA can mitigate this risk.
Outsourcing means handing over a significant part of your business operations to a third party, which may limit your control over your e-commerce operations.
To minimize this risk, clarify and formalize your expectations to ensure your team always has the relevant access and control.
There will always be some risks involved in outsourcing, and like in any marriage, parting w ways with your ETS service proivder can be stressful. However, these risks can be minimized by deploying a stringent vetting process to select a provider, starting them on probation with smaller responsibilities, setting expectations with measurable metrics, establishing clear communication, and institutionalizing regular meetings.
In conclusion, while outsourcing e-commerce technology support services presents certain risks, the benefits significantly outweigh the potential downsides if managed strategically. It frees up resources, improves efficiency, and provides access to expert skills and knowledge. An external e-commerce technology support partner can be incredibly valuable and provide a competitive edge in the digital marketplace.
Book an appointment to learn how the Tidal Commerce ETS package can complement your in-house team, help reduce stress and costs, manage strategic priorities and fully exploit market opportunities with improved response times.