What makes a great Ecommerce SI partner?
Proper due diligence in the SI selection process can be a huge contributor to the sucess of your ecommerce project. A poor partner can mean you are limping through your busy seasons, constantly doing damage control. On the flip side, a strong Systems Integrator partner can allow your team to think ahead and innovate, not to mention they can help increase your conversion rates and web sales.
Wendel Hullihen is the Senior Web Operations Specialist at Woolrich, Inc, a brand synonymous with quality outdoor clothing for over 180 years. To support the release of our ’41 Questions for your Ecommerce Systems Integrator” ebook, we chatted with Wendel about what makes a great SI partner (and how to find them).
1. Customer Service
It might seem obvious, but it is a huge relief to work with a responsive and engaged Systems Integrator. A strong SI will pick up the phone when you call. Unfortunately, there are some that don’t, which can seriously hinder your business. Most companies won’t discuss support issues in a pitch meeting, but you can learn a lot about prospective partners through their references. Make sure you ask any references you speak to about specific support experience including response time, time to resolution and problem solving. With a supportive and responsive SI in place, your internal team can focus on their core responsibilities instead of dealing with issues, weird bugs or work orders that go missing.
2. Platform Experience
All ecommerce platforms are not the same, and all developers are not equal. If you’re deploying an enterprise platform like Oracle Commerce, it’s in your best interest to work with a partners who has done it before (preferably a number of times). An experienced integrator will be faster at troubleshooting, more proactive at suggesting improvements and more efficient working on your projects. To qualify potential partners, ask for specific details about existing clients on your platforms, with as much technical detail as they’ll give you. Beware of a flashy logo slide! Strong brand references don’t mean much if none of them are using the same technology as you.
(Editors Note: Also ask which companies on their logo slide are still customers – just because they did a microsite for an IR500 company five years ago, doesn’t mean they have the technical chops to build your site).
3. Work Style
Choosing a development partner isn’t about finding the number one integrator, it’s about finding the best match for your business. The success metrics for this one will vary from team to team, but a successful relationship often comes down to how two teams work together on an ongoing basis. For Woolrich, we’ve had much greater success working with a team in our timezone, with whom we can meet in person occasionally. This setup isn’t perfect for everyone, but it works for us, and I would recommend that merchants consider what would suit their team best when they’re picking a vendor.