The pandemic is over. E-commerce demand is stabilizing and merchants are looking for ways to streamline, improve efficiency, cut costs and increase revenue. One way merchants can achieve these goals is by outsourcing e-commerce operations including maintenance, support, and evolution of all key e-commerce technologies (platforms, integrations and martech). What are the key considerations for outsourcing your EcomOps?
E-Commerce is Complex. Employees are Expensive.
Highly successful e-commerce merchants outsource ongoing, regular maintenance and support primarily because they can get the full range of services provided by an entire team or department without having to hire employees. Here at Wasserman, we have about 20 clients that operate using this model having come to us from SIs that focus on design and development or shifting from an internal team model. It’s not unusual for companies to go through cycles of change where they shift between hiring and outsourcing for a few years – which makes sense as the economy changes and as rates and availability of resources change.
What is Your Tolerance for Employee Turnover Risk?
E-commerce is still very hot and admin resources with technical experience are in high demand. And while the pandemic and “great resignation” have ended, there is still considerable risk that you search for key people to join your team that may only be around for a year or even less. Having all that knowledge walk out the door in the form of an employee resigning can be painful. Companies like Wasserman Digital Design & Technology help merchants outsource technical operations so the risk of turnover, change, or downsizing is low. When you outsource (with Wasserman) you can typically reduce hours you commit to with reasonable warning and without filing a bunch of paperwork with the state (as you need to do with a layoff).
We don’t go on vacation. In fact we work during many weeks when most of the US is on vacation or holiday. Need to complete key projects during the last two weeks of the year? Many of our resources work straight through that period – so our clients don’t have to.
What Size Merchant Are You? Is outsourcing better for larger or smaller E-commerce merchants?
It takes a very large operation for scaling an internal team to make sense. Yes those operations are out there but we believe it’s really a better fit for merchant organizations that can scale and reduce the risk with a dedicated team of developers and support personnel of 10 or more individuals. Even then there is still risk because outsourcers like Wasserman already have the scale – you don’t have to build it. Outsourcers like Wasserman can also provide flexibility so if you decide you prefer to hire a front end developer onto your team, they can still be integrated into the outsourcers team and operation. Both large and small merchants are a fit for outsourcing maintenance and support tasks. The larger the organization, the more flexible the contract should be and scaling of hours can be accommodated based on internal hiring activity.
SaaS vs PaaS vs Custom?
Is outsourcing MSE a better fit for custom e-commerce sites? Merchants that run SaaS? Both? The answer is yes. Most e-commerce merchants are running a core SaaS or PaaS platform now and also running a number of integrations and ongoing support needs that make outsourcing more cost effective and more efficient. The average number of integrations with SaaS platforms that Wasserman manages is 16. That’s 16 connections that can go wrong. Anytime. We use automated monitoring tools and round-the-clock operations to make sure nothing goes wrong. Of course merchants can also set up dev ops, monitoring and security assessment operations but doing it without scale has its risks. 20 years ago when e-commerce was in its infancy most e-commerce sites were custom and the best scenario was to utilize the people that built a site to maintain it; as a long time colleague once said to me “if you knew where the pipes were buried they were easier to fix.” Now it’s more common to transition from developer to a team of MSE specialists for longer term maintenance and support whether a site is complex and highly customized or on a SaaS platform.
Can I Mix In-house teams with Outsourcing?
Yes – most reputable SIs that provide this service will work with a hybrid model where the maintenance and support team for an e-commerce operation is mixed with full time employee members of the merchant’s team. Every business is different and there might be some aspect of the day-to-day operation that is better suited to the W-2 / employee / insourcing mode. For example, consumer brand e-commerce sites have a lot of design requirements in support of ongoing consumer-targeted social media and digital advertising campaigns. That means landing page designs are an almost daily change. Smart outsourcing arrangements can leverage hybrid teams to integrate the in-house designer with the outsourced development team; this allows the merchant to match the skills (and costs) to meet budget and pace of change required by the business.
Sounds Good? Contact Us!
Once an e-commerce merchant is comfortable with the idea of a team being remote, they can realize financial and operational benefits by outsourcing maintenance and support services vs hiring an entire team. Experienced e-commerce agencies / SIs will work with merchants to establish the right mix of resources and the service levels that are the best fit for the business and site(s). Furthermore, flexibility is key to a successful relationship with an outsourcer; businesses change and sometimes the makeup of an e-commerce team needs to change in response. Please contact us if your team is changing and you are looking for a solution to improve your e-commerce maintenance and support.