Questions to ask Ecommerce Client when onboarding - Orvador

Congratulations on sourcing the new client!! It is definitely time to celebrate!

Now comes the process of client onboarding for an ecommerce company, and believe us there is no rocket science behind the process! Orvador has the expertise and experience in streamlining the entire process of client on-boarding, making the job easier for the ecommerce business. Always remember, the right beginning is the first step to a successful and long term relationship in the ecommerce industry, or as a matter of fact, in any industry.

Here’s how we at Orvador do it, and how we do it so well:

All is well that has begun well!!

The first step to the onboarding process is to officially welcome the client on-board, which is best done through an e-mail. The next most important thing is to ask the client to fill or answer a questionnaire, which is generally called an “onboarding questionnaire”. The main purpose of the questionnaire is to get more information about the client and their business. It is a very important component of the onboarding process, and the following reasons explain why –

  1.     It helps to create a desirable “First Impression” – Just as they say, first impression is the best impression, the way we welcome the client says a lot about us. A client onboarding questionnaire acts as the “formal” welcome and helps you create a great impression. Together with the questionnaire, you can include a personalized welcome note giving a brief introduction and overview of your agency. These may not look seemingly important, but they speak volumes about your style of working, dedication and the lengths to which you would go for customer satisfaction.
  2.   You get to know more about your client and the target customers – The true essence of marketing lies in understanding the customers and what their target audience will be, failing which, a product or a brand will never succeed. Understanding your client is equally necessary, as it will be based on that, the process flow can be designed. With the help of a client onboarding questionnaire, you can collect a wide range of information that can be put to use to get a better understanding of the client and their goals or objectives.
  3. It communicates the objectives and expectations clearly – Generally the sales process, before finalizing the contract, undertakes explaining all the details to the client. The targets, processes and expectations may have been explained well, but it is always safe to have things in a documented form. For example, if you are giving SEO services to a client, we suggest adding certain direct and indirect questions in your questionnaire, related to the exact SEO related objectives (both short-term and long-term), whether they have any experience of working with an ecommerce agency before, or what is their way of measuring the success.

Let’s learn the Don’ts first!!

In our opinion, it is more important to understand the don’ts of a process, than the “dos’”.  Even though the questionnaire is usually drafted based on the nature of business of the client, following are some of the questions you may need to reconsider before sending to your client –

  • Those, which require the client to spend too much time and energy to respond.
  • Those, which the contact person in the company may not be able to answer, and would require to pass on to someone else to get the proper response.
  • Those, which may not have a clear response or are too open-ended.

Now let us look at the dos’ – Following are some of the questions that Ecommerce agencies need to ask to their clients before onboarding

Gathering relevant and genuine information from the client is a mandatory step in the process of client on-boarding. Making assumptions about a client is the last thing you want to do! The team that develops the website for the client needs all this information in order to give the desired output – the correct structure of the website, duration of the project, amount of resources to be invested, etc are just a few of the details required.

We categorize the information that needs to be obtained from the client into–

1)    Information about the client and the products

2)    Information of the project

3)    Information about the SEO and marketing plans

In addition, to the above mentioned, we also feel that it is good to ask the client about details, such as how they came to know about our organisation, and the reason why they selected us for their project. It adds more value if the client is given leverage and asked what more we could do for them, to ensure the smooth running of the processes.

Let us now take a look at the questions in detail –

Information about the client and the products

The first step in any business relationship is to study and understand the client thoroughly. Following are the questions that need to be asked to the client before, or at the time of onboarding –

  • What is the official business address and email address of your business?
  • What is the official website URL of your business?
  • Who will be the main point of contact at your company?
  • What are the contact details of the key person in this project?
  • If there are any ready references or other documents that would be useful for us with this project, kindly attach them here –

Following are some of the questions that need to be asked about the product that is being sold under the project that you have landed-

  • What product are you selling?

By asking this question you will be able to get a fair idea of not only their inventory but also about several other aspects –

  •  Whether the products are high-cost or low-cost?
  • What is the price structure followed by the client?
  • How does the price structure vary with that of the competitors – Is the price lower or higher?
  • Are there any variations in the product as per the SKU?
  • What is the frequency of launching a new set of products?
  • Do products have reviews or ratings? This gives us hints that they are already popular among the buyers. UGC is a great way to judge what type of products are bestsellers or popular. 

The response to the aforesaid questions will determine the methodology to be used to construct the website for the client. The layout of the website, design of the online store, platform extensions of the online store, etc. will depend on the above information.

  • Do you have photos of the products?

Photos are meant to grab the visual attention of a customer immediately. A good photo can actually tempt a visitor to explore not just that product, but also everything else available in the store. Just as the physical product is essential for a normal store, photos are the most essential part of an e-store. For stores like Jewellery, Photo zoom option features etc. can have serious impact on the overall conversions. All product images should be neat and clean with sufficient clarity. Spending some time on viewing pictures from Desktop and Mobile would give us sufficient idea about the quality of the pictures. 

  • How will the buyer make the payment?

This question will answer your queries about whether the client would accept major credit and debit cards, or would have a tie up with UPIs or online payment gateways such as PhonePe, PayTM or Paypal for their customers to make payments? Are they charging any additional cost for shipping? Do they provide Cash on Delivery (very popular in India). All these factors can decide the cart abandonment rate and successful orders ratio. 

  • How will the products be shipped?

The main trouble with online shopping is shipping the products post purchase. It is quite tricky as it involves integration at various levels. It is necessary to understand whether shipping will be free of cost or whether there will be any charges, or whether shipping will be offered free of cost beyond a certain value of purchase. Also, there might be certain products that require special handling and conditions, such as perishable goods or breakables.

  • Which language(s) do you want the website to be?

Now this is something that is as tricky as the shipping of products. The answer to the question whether the site will be multilingual or just a single language has a lot to do with the website design. Just imagine, every product, their names, reviews of the products, URL, landing page and metadata will have to be attuned perfectly, so that the e-store presents itself properly in all the languages, supported by the website. There is a lot of time and energy involved in all this! If the client wants to target an international audience then multi language can play a vital role both in SEO and Conversions. 

  • Who will be responsible for managing and maintaining the webstore or website?

This is very critical information that may actually decide the tenure of your relationship with the client. If the client wants you to handle the technical aspects of the webstore then it means that you have to take the full responsibility of DEV end task execution as well. However, if the client proposes to do the same on their own then it would involve a healthy and great communication about Marketing and SEO tasks. Either way, there are pros and cons.

This may also at times be seen from a different point of view – as to who will be the host of the website – meaning who will take the overall responsibility of the website. If the client decides to take the responsibility of the site, then they need to have the necessary infrastructure and know-how to handle the same. If all the resources are available with the client, then you only have to worry about keeping the ecommerce store together, and keep it functioning as per the client’s requirements.

Information of the project

There are certain questions regarding the project that play a very important role while onboarding the client. Orvador suggests asking the following questions regarding the project to the client-

  • What is the time-frame that you are looking for?

Time is very critical to any project – there are times when not adhering to the timeframe has led to adverse impacts on the image of the ecommerce company. When we know the expected time-frame for the completion and delivery of the project, we can calculate the various factors that might affect the timeline etc. For eg. SEO is a slow process and takes 6-8 months to show results whereas Paid Marketing on the other site is just the opposite. So the timeline of marketing is an important factor to count in before signing the contract and it is always best to keep it transparent. 

  • What is the purpose of the Project – is it just ecommerce or is it versatile?

There are some clients who wish to incorporate many things and accomplish more with their ecommerce website, rather than just selling products. Apart from creating a virtual market place for their products, they intend to use their ecommerce store to create an identity, offer after-sales service, and also provide a place to share their opinions and ideas or to connect with their customers. This question will lead you to design the site accordingly and work on SEO and content management as well.

  • What is the budget allocated for this project?

This question is very important for both parties – the client as well as the ecommerce agency. Budget is the factor that would decide on how much of the available resources can be invested in the project. There has to be a proper set of KPIs defined based on the budget and after evaluation of the current marketing budget of the client. In Paid Marketing, budget plays a vital role for achieving desired results. Effective implementation of the project management strategies is also important. This also shows the efficiency of the agency in terms of finances – how they can do more with less in hand.

Information about SEO and marketing plans

It is important to understand the marketing strategies and other details about the project. Following questions prove to be very useful when asked during the onboarding process –

  • Can you tell us about your major competitors?

It is very important to understand the competition, as they are the major source of information as well as inspiration. The key is not copying them, but to understand how well you can do the same thing, in a different and better way. Orvador believes that being as good as your competitor is not the secret to success, but being superior to them is the mantra to success. The aforesaid question may further be divided into more questions, such as

  • Name your 3 (or 5) major competitors online?
  • Who are your major competitors in the physical market?
  • What, do you think, is your advantage over your competitors?
  • Where do you think your competitor has an advantage over you?
  • What are your main business keywords? 


  • What are the latest developments in your industry?

Only a business that has solid plans for the future can survive in the ecommerce industry. When you understand the needs of the present customers, and at the same time keep the future needs of your customers in mind, you can achieve longevity through innovative solutions. You will need to understand even the slimmest twists and turns that may arise due to changing times in your industry, which may affect your business in the long run.

Now let us see the SEO related questions that need to be answered by your client. Being an SEO and content marketing agency, it is of paramount importance to understand the strategies, technical know-how and SEO goals of your client. Following questions will throw some light on the same – 

  • Do you have any previous experience of working with an SEO company?

If your client has already worked with an SEO agency before, there are chances that they have already filled such onboarding questionnaires, which they may even be willing to provide. This would save a lot of time for both parties. Also, this could tell you some ideas about the previously established parameters and KPIs. Your client may also have a decent knowledge about all the SEO jargons which can make your reporting easier. 

  • What is your expected time-frame for SEO results?

As we have already mentioned that SEO is a slow process, which may take anywhere from 6 to 8 months to show the actual results, it is important that your client also understands this. Giving impractical targets and expectations are going to give troubles to both the client and the agency. Hence it is better to know the time-frame well in advance. As an SEO or Growth Marketing agency, you can help your client achieve better results if all their SEO mistakes of store are fixed at topmost priority in the first few months. 

  • What are the most preferable keywords for you?

Knowing the exact keywords requirement solves many problems for an SEO agency. There are bright chances that the client already knows the keywords that are of high value to them; by incorporating the same in your SEO strategies may save a lot of time.

  • Is your content SEO optimized

Having the keywords and content drafted based on the keywords may help you a lot, but that is not the only thing in SEO. There are chances that the content is not suitably optimized from the SEO point of view. From the SEO angle, your keywords may have to be added, edited, or replaced; there might be a requirement of images and other graphics. Hence it is necessary to ask the client beforehand, if they are supplying you the content.

The Bottom Line

 It really doesn’t matter what the project is worth, you will require complete and right information from your client in order to have a successful business relationship. Skipping this process or not following the due meticulousness required, could mean an inability to create a webstore that would function as per the requirements of the client.




Ajit Singh Kullar

I am an SEO expert and digital marketeer, with over 10+ years of experience in digital marketing, client consulting, brand-building, and client-based e-commerce & product-based websites building.

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