An ecommerce consultant can bring insights, information, and experience that a small or midsize retail business does not have. But hiring an ecommerce consultant can be somewhat expensive, so you will want to ensure you get a good one.
Ecommerce advisers can do many different technical tasks, from assisting a brick-and-mortar merchant plan for the inclusion of ecommerce to assisting an internet retailer plan its pay-per-click advertising plan for the year. The purpose is for the company to profit from the consultation.
The Consulting Role
In his book, How Not to Be Wrong, mathematician Jordan Ellenberg tells a story of Abraham Wald, a statistician who worked with the U.S. Statistical Research Group during World War II.
In accordance with Ellenberg,”When American planes came back from engagements over Europe, they were covered in bullet holes. However, the damage was not uniformly distributed throughout the aircraft. There were more bullet holes in the fuselage, not so many in the engines.”
U.S. Air Force officers, Ellenberg explains,”saw an opportunity for efficacy; you can find the same protection with less armor,” that Ellenberg points out may be heavy and slow down airplanes,”if you focus the armor on the areas with the greatest need, where the airplanes are getting hit the most.”
The Air Force was not sure how much armor was appropriate, so that they requested Wald to compute it. However, as Ellenberg points out that”was not the response they got. The armor, said Wald, does not go where the bullet holes are. It goes where the bullet holes are not: on the motors. …The motive planes were coming back with fewer strikes to the motor is that airplanes that got hit in the engine weren’t coming back.”
The Air Force was just looking at airplanes that survived combat. The planes that have shot down seemed rather different.
Here’s the lesson: Ecommerce consultants should be like Wald, assisting you to identify where the bullet holes are not and why this is meaningful. Ecommerce advisers should fill in the knowledge and experience gaps in your company.
Here’s the lesson: Ecommerce consultants should be like Wald, assisting you to identify where the bullet holes are not and why this is meaningful.
Address a Particular Problem
Ecommerce consultants should be hired to deal with a particular issue or to help achieve a particular aim.
In the case from Ellenberg’s publication, the Air Force wasn’t simply asking Wald for his view about how to handle the air war in Europe. Instead, it brought him a particular challenge. Finally, Wald assisted the Air Force reevaluate the issue, but it was a particular problem that was being addressed.
In the ecommerce circumstance, retailers will need to do the same. A little boutique that wants to begin selling products on Amazon may want to get an ecommerce consultant with that type of specific skill. But that is quite a different task than a pure-play ecommerce company seeking purchasing advice or help setting up an ecommerce warehouse.
Search for Specific Knowledge or Experience
There are certainly some good, general ecommerce consultants who have experience working across several regions of ecommerce, such as website development, product management, and promotion.
But there are also experts — ecommerce consultants with particular skills to handle your ecommerce challenges.
Understand What the Ecommerce Consultant Will Do
The U.S. Statistical Research Group was tasked with solving mathematical problems for the army with the purpose of helping to win a war. Even though the help the group supplied might take several forms, it was apparent to everyone involved what service was being provided.
Clarity of purpose is also in order when you employ an ecommerce consultant. Be clear about what the consultant is to perform and what form the ecommerce consultant’s work product will require.
Do you need a document that outlines how to build your internet marketing plan or do you want a genuine internet advertising strategy lined out with dates, media buys, and such?
Use a Deal to Define Deliverables and trademarks
Finally, make certain everything discussed is recorded in a contract and statement of work which includes specific language about what the ecommerce consultant will do for your company, how that work is going to be delivered, and when it needs to be expected.
Include details regarding the rights to the consultant’s work product, how conflicts will be handled, and how the contract could be terminated if you are unhappy with the procedure.
Ecommerce advisers, in summary, can be quite useful — providing insights, information, and experience your company otherwise does not have.
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