How to choose the right Shopify Agency
Whether you’re planning a new Shopify site, or you want to migrate an existing site over to Shopify, finding the right agency is key.
Here’s our guide to how to choose the right Shopify agency.
1. Not all Shopify agencies are the same
First thing’s first, it’s important to remember that not all Shopify agencies are created equal.
There are agencies that focus more on development, for example, while others deal mainly with design. Some specialise in the development of Shopify apps, while others do a bit of everything.
Before you start a project, it’s important to be clear on what part of the process the agency can help you with and what support you’ll need to find elsewhere. It can be tempting to opt for an all-in-one solution as this seems like the easiest approach, but it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s incredibly tough to find an agency that can truly deliver a first class service across the entire process. And, if you do, it will come at a considerable cost.
2. Define the type of project you need and your budget
Before you start looking for an agency, it’s important to have a clear idea of the type of project you need support with. There are typically three types of project:
These projects are usually at the lower end of the price range, sitting anywhere between £1000 – £3000 depending on the complexity of the job and the experience of the agency.
Full custom project
This is a tailor-made store with all the features you need to provide the best possible user experience and design. These projects are the most complex and require the input of two different specialists – the UX/UI designer, who will design the store and create a mock-up, and the developer, who will make those designs a reality.
Pricing this type of project can be complex, as it will need to consider a range of factors, such as:
- the complexity of the project
- the experience of the designer
- the experience of the developer
As a general rule, the price for this type of project can be anywhere from £8000 to £40,000+.
A modified theme
These projects sit between a theme set up and a full custom project. Only certain elements of the site require customisation, rather than the entire website. The cost of these projects also sits between the other two options and will depend on the complexity of modifications required.
Very often, clients have unrealistic expectations about how much a Shopify project will cost. This is understandable as they aren’t familiar with the sector.
Speak to a number of different agencies to work out the sort of price point you can expect to pay. And don’t just find the cheapest way possible to get the results you want. Those who have experience and expertise in the sector, charge the amount they feel comfortable working with, whether they are freelancers or an agency. Looking for the lowest possible fee usually means looking for someone who can’t charge anymore because they don’t have the experience or expertise. And this risks having a negative effect on the end result.
The bottom line is, if something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is!
3. Request a price range before revealing your budget
At some point in the process, you will be asked what your budget is for the project. This is totally normal, so don’t be put off if the agency asks you – they’re not trying to trick you, they’re simply trying to understand what deliverables are realistic for your price range.
Be honest about your budget. If you go in low to try and get the work for less, the agency will propose work that fits within your budget, which means you might not get everything you wanted, even though you could actually afford it.
A good approach is to request a price range before giving your budget, this will help you to:
- See if your budget is realistic
- Avoid getting overcharged if your budget is high
- Better understand the factors that can influence the price
4. Searching for a Shopify agency – what to look for
When searching for a Shopify agency, it’s important to take the time you need to ensure your choosing the right one. After all, you want to get the best possible results!
Here are the key things to look for when searching for a Shopify agency.
Always ask a potential agency if you can see a portfolio of their previous projects – most will be happy to oblige.
However, keep in mind that the majority of agencies are usually super busy, so may not have time to present each project in their portfolio with a long explanation of the thinking behind it, how it was delivered etc. This is no reflection on the quality of their work, just on the time they have available (and surely it’s a good sign if they’re spending all their time working on their clients’ sites?).
Another thing to remember is, once a website is delivered to the client, they can make changes as time goes on. So the site you are currently seeing may not be the version that the agency delivered – the client may have made their own changes at a later date. So don’t base your judgement on one project only, look at their work in general.
You should also look at the type of clients the agency works with. Do they tend to work with startups or enterprise clients? Do they deliver full custom sites or theme set ups? How big are the brands they’ve worked with? If, for example, the agency has never worked with small startups, they’re probably not the best choice for you as their services (and prices) likely focus on big brands
As well as previous projects, look for reliable reviews from former clients.
You’ll find these on trustworthy sources such as Google, Trustpilot, Facebook, and Yelp. Once you’ve read the review, see if you can find the client who left it in the portfolio. This will help you match the results to the feedback.
You should also look into the accounts that left the reviews to ensure they are real clients and not bots. And, if you come across any bad reviews, look into them further. How did the agency respond? Bad reviews happen, the important thing is understanding the circumstances and what the agency did to try and resolve the issue.
5. How to contact a Shopify agency
First impressions matter
When contacting a Shopify agency, remember first impressions count!
The first contact you will have is likely to involve introducing the project, explaining your goals and expectations, and finding out if the agency is available and able to help.
Here’s a tip that will save you time and money at this stage – everyone working in this industry is usually really busy and many are in the position to choose the clients they want to work with. The more skilled an agency is and the better its reputation, the more this applies.
So, if you’re keen to work with an agency, it’s well worth avoiding the following:
- Being impolite
- Behaving as though they should be honoured you are considering working with them
- Being lazy and providing only minimum information
- Being unprofessional
You get the picture! Behaving like the above will make the agency deem you a risk to work with, meaning they will either increase the price to protect themselves or they will decline your project altogether.
Providing a brief
The next stage is providing a brief.
The initial brief will be your vision for the site, written down on paper. It is tempting to include only minimal detail at this stage, but it’s important to consider things from the agency’s perspective. They will check every point on your brief and consider how they can implement it. So ensure your brief is as accurate and comprehensive as possible.
If your brief is for a custom design…
If your brief is for a custom design, make sure you are as detailed as possible. This will give the designers a precise starting point, and ensure the developers know exactly which features and functions they will need to implement.
If the brief is not for a full custom design…
If the brief isn’t for a full custom designed site, make sure you divide it into two parts – must-haves and optional. Remember that each must have point could increase the cost, so depending on your budget and if you’re creating an MVP or not, try to ensure the must-have list is the true essentials.
Sometimes, design agencies will provide a brief formatting document to ensure you cover all the information they need. If they provide this, make sure you use it.
Ask price range before price
The pricing process can be a long one as it can take some time to figure out all the work involved. If the agency is asking you for more details, this is because they want to get a better picture of the overall project. So don’t rush them into providing a final quote without all the necessary information – this will only result in them providing a higher quote to be on the safe side.
Instead, ask for a price range initially to ensure it’s going to work with your budget.
See how the company approaches your project
Finally, consider the agency’s approach to your project. You should be able to see their experience and customer service in action.
Remember you don’t need a ‘yes man’ who agrees with everything you suggest, you need an expert who can guide you through the process and recommend what is best for your business. Talk to the agency, see what they recommend, and see if they give you options to increase the value of your project.
Choosing the right Shopify agency isn’t a straightforward task – but it’s important you take the time to get it right, from the start.
So think about what type of project you’re looking for, consider your budget, and start the search for an agency that can deliver. Always ask for examples of prior work and reviews, and then provide a full and comprehensive brief.