Every ecommerce business faces times when growth plateaus. If you’re struggling with flat sales, the best solution might be to hire an ecommerce consultant.
Ecommerce consultants bring outside knowledge and experiences to your business challenges. They work with ecommerce stores of all sizes, either on specific projects or on tactics to improve day-to-day operations.
Here’s what ecommerce consultants do, how to choose the right consultant for your needs, and a list of the top ecommerce consultants.
What is an ecommerce consultant?
An ecommerce consultant is a third-party expert who understands issues facing an online store and recommends improvements to ecommerce performance.
Many ecommerce consultants draw on years of first-hand experience to advise merchants. Some offer expertise in specific industry niches, and may work on solutions themselves as contractors.
What does an ecommerce consultant do?
An ecommerce consultant can advise companies on a range of ecommerce areas including:
- Web design
- Product development
- Marketing strategy
- Logistics and operations
- Multichannel selling
- Physical retail
- New technologies
- Legal and compliance
4 ways an ecommerce consultant can help grow your business
Ecommerce consultants specialize in many areas. Here are some of the challenges you might hire an ecommerce consultant to help you overcome in your online business.
1. Optimize conversion rates
To optimize your store’s conversion rate, ecommerce consultants will suggest user experience (UX) enhancements to make it easier for customers to shop.
The goal of conversion rate optimization is to reduce friction points in customers’ purchase journey. Ecommerce UX covers the overall experience of someone visiting your store, from browsing to shopping cart to checkout.
Consultants will audit your website and identify areas with poor UX, which could frustrate customers and lead to cart abandonment.
2. Expand digital marketing
Customer acquisition is a popular focus for ecommerce businesses and consultants. Finding ways to access markets and audiences can be a challenge—that’s where ecommerce consultants can step in with fresh ideas and strategies to put your business in front of new customers.
Consultants can help you launch and run targeted ads, audit digital marketing channels, develop and monitor sales funnels, and find new customers by leveraging apps.
3. Choose which products to sell
Ecommerce consultants can help you look at your inventory and identify profitable products. Product development, identifying new product opportunities, and working on new product ideas are all areas where you might spend a consultant’s time.
Let’s say you launched a business selling shampoo, and sales have plateaued. So, you decide to extend your product line by adding conditioner.
An ecommerce consultant can analyze your idea, conducting market research to see if it’s worth pursuing. They might suggest safer alternative growth strategies, such as improving your current shampoo product.
An ecommerce consultant can also look at pricing strategies, finding places to boost profit margins, or identifying high price points impacting conversions. When pricing a new product, consultants can help you find a balance between profitability and affordability.
4. Maximize profitability
Ecommerce consultants can also work on general improvements to the efficiency of your business to maximize profitability. A consultant can help you:
- Negotiate contracts to get better deals on inventory, shipping, and software
- Audit business processes to remove waste
- Introduce tools to automate or delegate tasks
- Create a growth roadmap
Visit the Shopify Experts Marketplace
Find experienced commerce professionals who will help you grow your business. Browse the different services Shopify experts offer, post a job, and hire a professional to work with.
Advantages of using an ecommerce consultant
Get an unbiased outside perspective
When involved in a business day in and day out, it can be hard to think outside the box. While that tunnel vision helps you stay focused, it can lead to missed opportunities. An ecommerce consultant can bring an informed, unbiased outsider’s opinion of your operations.
Free up time for core business growth
Outsourcing work to a consultant gives you time to focus on impactful tasks. Hiring the right ecommerce consultant puts your business in good hands—and you won’t have to invest your time working on the consultant’s tasks.
Boost your sales (and save money)
For less than the cost of hiring and training an employee, ecommerce consulting services can help you realize ways to optimize your cash flow. This can encompass digital marketing solutions, social media strategies, ecommerce platform recommendations, and other critical needs for running an efficient business.
How much does an ecommerce consultant cost?
The estimated cost of an ecommerce consultant is between $25 and $300 per hour. Some consultants charge monthly retainer fees in exchange for a set number of hours or deliverables.
Consultant costs vary depending on a project’s size, scope, location, and industry. Consultants with years of experience will likely cost more than junior consultants, but may suggest solutions that create higher long-term returns.
Top 10 ecommerce consultants
Launched in 2011, Monumental is a consulting firm for merchants that use Shopify. UX and UI design are its core specialties, but it also helps clients with more complex Shopify customization and integration projects. Previous Monumental clients’ niches include pets, clothing, and ebooks.
2. Bain & Company
Bain & Company is a large Boston-based consulting firm with offices worldwide. It has worked with businesses in consumer products, fashion and luxury, and grocery stores, including companies with online and physical storefronts.
Bain & Company has ecommerce expertise for B2B companies that sell to other businesses.
3. A Group Consulting
A Group Consulting offers expertise in key marketing areas, like pay-per-click advertising (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), and a range of operational areas—even legal consulting for business registration. A Group has worked with several large media and recruitment companies in the past.
BearingPoint is another global consulting firm with expertise across almost every business function. It has ecommerce strategy experts with experience in consumer goods and retail. Specifically, BearingPoint can help you implement a new digital strategy or omnichannel marketing initiative, manage categorization to improve UX, or adopt new IT processes.
5. Exo Digital
Exo Digital is an Australia-based consulting firm that creates immersive digital transformation experiences. Exo Digital focuses on UX and UI design, web and mobile app development, and customer experience design. It also helps clients research and validate new products and business ideas.
6. Groove Commerce
Groove Commerce helps businesses build and grow websites. It provides SEO, design, and email marketing consulting for ecommerce brands, including clothing, automotive, food, beverage, and toy retailers.
7. McKinsey & Company
McKinsey & Company is another large consulting firm with many specialties and capabilities. Its McKinsey Digital consulting services focus on everything online—from digital marketing to operations and analytics.
IntuitSolutions focus on supporting ecommerce clients who use the BigCommerce ecommerce platform. It’s helped numerous automotive, pets, CBD, tech, and beverage merchants to build and optimize their websites.
9. OC&C Strategy Consultants
OC&C Strategy Consultants offers consumer goods, retail, and digital marketing expertise.
OC&C can advise ecommerce clients on business growth, branding and positioning, plus specific tasks like channel expansion, private label products, and acquisitions.
10. Irish Titan
Irish Titan has expertise in Shopify as well as other ecommerce platforms. It’s a full-service ecommerce agency that has helped merchants across tech, farming, shoes, and car maintenance design to develop and grow their online stores.
How to choose the right ecommerce consultant for your online store
Choosing the right ecommerce consultant starts with knowing your goals and budget. From there, a thoughtful vetting process will help you find the right match.
Determine your goals and budget
Ecommerce consultants specialize in various client needs, so it helps to know what you’re trying to accomplish before you search for support.
Consulting firms like those above might be a good fit if you need help across many areas of your business. But if you’re looking for specialist marketing or logistics advice, a firm or individual focusing on those aspects of ecommerce will likely be more valuable.
Alongside setting goals, think about how you’ll measure success. This will help set expectations during discovery calls, as well as during the project.
You’ll also want to have a general idea of your budget. Many large global consulting firms require minimum contract terms, so knowing how much you can invest will narrow down your list of potential consultants.
While a Google search is a legitimate way to source potential consultants, results tend to skew toward consultancies with the biggest marketing budgets. With so many agencies and individuals to choose from, you may also end up with a long list of candidates.
Better are dedicated resources, like the Shopify Experts directory, that contain vetted lists of qualified ecommerce consultants for you to browse.
Narrow down a list of consultants based on your goals and budget. Check for alignment between a consultant’s area of expertise and your business.
Armed with a list of ecommerce consultants, you’ll want to dig deeper into each candidate’s portfolio to see their work in your niche.
Most consultants will have an Our Work page showcasing client case studies, like this one from Exo Digital:
Along with impressive work for comparable ecommerce businesses, consultants should have proud clients eager to share their experiences. Look for previous client opinions via:
- Third-party sites like Clutch and G2 for user reviews
- Consultant case studies (when read critically)
- Previous clients who can offer testimonials
Consultants should be able to demonstrate how they’ve added concrete value to their client’s operations.
Set up a discovery call
Once you’ve validated your top contenders and nixed the ones that don’t fit, you’re ready to schedule discovery calls. A discovery call allows you to have a personal conversation with the ecommerce consultant where you can describe your business and challenges and what you’re looking for. They’ll share how or why they’re a good fit.
Be prepared to ask questions during these discovery calls. You’ll want to get enough information to confidently compare and select the right consultant. Try asking questions in the following areas:
Ask the consultant about their process, how they work with clients, what types of budgets they work with, and how they like to communicate. It’s also important to ask how they track success.
Ask questions about the current state of your industry and niche to gauge the consultant’s familiarity with your business area.
Ask hypothetical questions specific to your ecommerce business, or pull from your work experiences and challenges. This will tell you if the consultant really knows what they’re talking about or if they are reciting from a sales script.
Make the hire
You’ve vetted your options and chosen your top ecommerce consultant. Now it’s time to review the proposal from the consultant and cross-check that information with the contract. Note any discrepancies before you sign.
It’s also a good idea to check how long the engagement is for and if you have any fees or penalties for early termination.
Grow with the right ecommerce consultant
Ecommerce may be a competitive industry, but with the right strategy there’s room to stand out. An ecommerce consultant can help you overcome common growth challenges and issues unique to your business.
Whether you hire an established consulting firm or partner with an expert from your niche, follow this guide to find a consultant who can help your business find the next stage of growth.
Ecommerce consultant FAQ
How much does it cost to hire an ecommerce consultant?
Most ecommerce consultants cost between $25 and $300 per hour, depending upon their level of experience and track record at solving industry challenges. Some consultancies charge flat flees for specific services, such as a website audit.
Are ecommerce consultants necessary for success?
Ecommerce consultants aren’t necessary for success. But when your business stagnates, the outside perspective a consultant brings can make the difference between renewed growth and a continued plateau.
How do I become an ecommerce consultant?
You can become an ecommerce consultant by packaging your expertise and experiences into a service offering. Think about what value you have to give ecommerce brands and promote your services within a specific niche or as support for general ecommerce challenges.
When should I hire an ecommerce consultant?
There are a few situations where it makes sense to hire an ecommerce consultant:
- When you need unbiased, expert feedback on your business
- If you’re looking to expand your product offering or target a new market
- If your growth has plateaued and you’ve exhausted internal ideas