Knowing which positions to hire for, where to place your talent and how to structure the foundations of your organization can feel like a daunting task.
We’re here to talk through some strategic steps that can be taken to develop your eCommerce business from the roots upwards. Using some simple strategies, you can make those crucial business decisions streamlined and stress-free.
- Why is a strong eCommerce team important?
- How to make your eCommerce team cost effective
- 6 Types of eCommerce Company Structures
- Departments within an eCommerce Team
- Roles to hire for a successful eCommerce brand
- How to incorporate eCommerce into your company structure
- eCommerce with multiple brands
- eCommerce within marketing or operations?
- Should I hire developers in-house or outsource?
Why is a strong eCommerce team important for your online business?
Building a successful eCommerce business is all about sourcing a team of individuals who share the same vision. As a hiring manager, you need to consider which skills are required within your team to achieve success for your online brand. Selecting employees based on their talents, ambition, and above all, attitude, is vital. Diversifying a range of abilities across your team isn’t easy, so you need to be strategic in how to delegate those skills across the board.
Therefore, taking time to plan the structure of your eCommerce team is one of the most important steps in the early days of cultivating your brand. By carefully considering what talent you need, you can manage your assets and get your business off to the solid start it deserves.
First and foremost, you need to assess the needs of your online business. The structure of an efficient team should always be formed around your brand’s vision. Each individual that makes up your team should add value, and to achieve this you need to have a real handle on what your business wants to achieve in the long run.
Here, it’s important to remember that large teams don’t always equal success. Instead, be smart about who you hire – and this can mean keeping to a small team. For example, establishing which tasks and roles need to be fulfilled and how long these tasks will take, might mean that you hire freelancers for a period, and keep your core team of full-time employees small.
Aim to keep costs down
It goes without saying that staying cost-effective is crucial to any business. However, this doesn’t mean holding back on your employees’ salaries. Rather, you need to focus on the best ways you can handle your budget strategically. As an eCommerce business, you can keep your overheads down in a number of smart ways. Let’s break some of them down:
- Think ahead when creating departments. For example, ensure you have a marketing strategy in place before hiring content writers – they don’t need to be wasting time finding out what this is.
- Adopt a collaborative attitude from the offset. Creating positive relationships with other online brands might help you out in the future.
- Remember that retaining customers is often more cost efficient than finding new ones. Think of ways to garner customer loyalty.
- If you provide a product, costs can be minimized by reducing packaging and streamlining delivery methods.
Remember your business goal
Establishing your business goals at the start of your brand’s life is only the beginning. The next part is ensuring you stay consistent in your vision.
Remember, every member of your team should have a clear understanding of this goal – this makes onboarding processes much easier for new employees too.
Consider investing in HR
Depending on the size of your company, investing in an effective HR department could be a very wise business decision. For midsize companies, operating without an HR department means that senior team members will need to devote their own time to hiring talent – this might be a waste of your resources.
Investing in HR maximizes the chances of hiring the right people with the right skills. With a dedicated team specifically working to find the right talent, your business is more likely to grow in the direction you want.
The landscape of today’s business world offers unmatched flexibility for the people you can hire. This ranges from full-time employees to occasional contractors. If you only need services or additional tasks occasionally, then hiring a contractor for that period is a great cost-effective move.
These freelancers might not always be available when you need them. Therefore, it’s important to distinguish whether your talent needs to be outsourced or whether your business would be better suited to hire someone full-time.
Marrying the ethos of your brand with the attitude of your team is critical for eCommerce success. You need to properly assess whether new candidates are the right fit for you, and whether they are going to prosper within your team’s environment.
Whether roles are to be conducted remotely or in person, you need people you can thoroughly trust to get the work done properly, so taking time during the hiring process is vital. A great way to analyze whether a potential candidate is a good match for you is to offer them a paid trial task. This gives both of you a chance to scope out whether this new relationship is going to work.
Onboarding isn’t a quick process. It takes time to ensure that a new employee is properly accustomed to your company’s primary goals and understands what is going to be required of them.
It’s not uncommon for new employees to need training to get their skills up to scratch and, unsurprisingly, this takes time and resources. Therefore, take this time into consideration when creating a business plan, and remember that it shouldn’t be compromised: proper onboarding is important for well-integrated employees. We’ll offer more on this at the next point.
Onboarding processes constantly develop to be more streamlined and effective. Accept that this will happen in the early stages of your new eCommerce business. To begin with, create a basic training program for new team members that places your brand identity at the core.
When new employees join, they should be able to grasp the vision of your brand and get an idea of how they can contribute to it successfully. Remember, not all of your employees will be onboarding in person. Remote onboarding places even more urgent importance on clear communication and teamwork. For new team members, consider setting up Skype or Slack chatrooms to keep teams virtually supported.
Creating an eCommerce team that runs seamlessly requires some thoughtful tools. This is where designing a clear workflow for your employees comes in. Whether you have a small team or a large one, each member of the team should be able to access a workflow that is simple to use and accessible from any location.
As we’ve mentioned before, you should ensure that your business provides ongoing HR management. This involves ensuring people are managed, company culture is supported and staffing requirements are fulfilled. Your employees need to have a solid network there to ensure they are supported in managing tasks and relationships.
Implementing the right management structure for your eCommerce business is the first place to start. As your brand grows, this structure should allow for resources to be allocated and tasks distributed as smoothly as possible. Let’s talk through six different organizational structures you might consider.
A functional structure divides the separate elements of your business such as finance, production, and marketing. With a functional structure, different tasks and responsibilities are shared across each area.
A different approach to a functional structure is a flat eCommerce structure. With this model, there is little to no middle management, and employees are much closer to the management.
This allows for more efficient communication directly from employees to management. Lower-level members feel they can approach higher management and are often less intimidated.
If your team is split across multiple locations, then it’s worthwhile considering a geographic structure to your eCommerce business model. This type of structure spreads tasks across regions, allowing each branch of the business to approach decisions based on the requirements and demands of their specific location. This could be helpful if there are vast time zone differences.
Another type of eCommerce structure to consider is a product-based one. This structure places management around separate products or services that your business provides. This is a great option for larger enterprises that sell multiple products.
Through this type of structure, team members assigned to that product can become experts on it, allowing for better product development and more insightful marketing.
A market-based structure poses some similarities to a product-based structure. However, instead of basing each team around products, it focuses on the business’ audience. Each team will work to specifically suit that audience.
Last but not least, a process-based structure is worth considering for your business. Through this type of structure, employees are distributed according to their core tasks. Whether it’s marketing, sales, or research, each department will contain a hierarchy of levels.
A popular structure due to its ability to create effective communication channels between each department, this can help increase the speed and efficiency of your brand. Once completed, they can pass work on from department to department, optimizing the entire process.
Once you’ve established which management structure suits your eCommerce brand best, it’s now time to decide on what type of roles you need within it. The eCommerce market is competitive and fast-paced: to stay ahead of online trends, you need to ensure you bring in talented employees who can offer specialized and diverse skill sets.. Below are some of the key areas you should look to fill to secure a successful team.
Your development team is going to be at the heart of all of your business processes. Developers are responsible for creating your brand’s image online, and ensuring that your customers can successfully interact with it online.
Therefore, the development team should consist of individuals who thoroughly understand the technologies involved with a project, and have a solid grasp of the requirements of visual appeal as well as functionality. Choosing an eCommerce platform like Magento means that this important aspect of development is covered for you.
Your business analyst team is there to observe business data and use this to fulfill your brand’s primary goals. This team is vital: they are there to ensure that the needs of your business are put into action.
Project management teams are in charge of delegating tasks to individuals in your company. When employing individuals for this team, you should consider candidates who are excellent communicators, can nurture good relationships, and also possess diplomatic skills too.
Marketing teams are responsible for promoting your brand via compelling content. From email marketing to social media marketing and competitor analysis, the scope of your marketing strategy is wide-ranging to ensure that the name of your brand gets out there for everyone to see.
Your sales team is the engine behind your company’s profit. They are responsible for generating leads, drumming up new business, negotiating with existing clients, and coordinating sales tasks among other teams.
Your accounting team is responsible for various tasks that are crucial to the financial foundations of your business. From sales and expenses to financial reports and taxes, the accounting team handles these critical aspects of the financial runnings of your company.
Visitors to your online store should feel supported throughout the entire digital shopping experience. To do so, a customer service team is vital. This might consist of a live chat feature or a calling system that can be used for support.
The role of your human resources department isn’t just about hiring people at the beginning. HR is vital to ensure that employees across your entire team maintain support throughout each and every working day.
Protecting your eCommerce business from any legal action is paramount. Hiring a lawyer who can deal with your legal activities is always a worthwhile move.
People are the driving force behind your business. Let’s talk through some of the critical roles that form the backbone of a successful eCommerce business.
The director of eCommerce is at the head of your business, managing all aspects of your eCommerce strategies and ensuring that your business achieves its overall goals.
Responsible for harnessing your marketing strategy and developing online content such as videos, copy, and images, a digital marketing manager oversees all things that your brand wants to portray to your customers.
Responsible for analyzing the metrics of your business, an eCommerce business analyst is vital in transforming data into presentable formats.
A software engineer manages the technical elements of your brand. From developing your eCommerce site to developing an efficient IT strategy across your company, this individual should be tech-savvy and forward-thinking in their approach to how your brand incorporates the latest technology.
Your business needs an IT technician to deal with the digital infrastructure of your company. This can include troubleshooting any issues and helping secure your company’s online data.
An eCommerce program manager is responsible for ensuring that information about your product or service is accurately and efficiently shared among your retail partners, keeping your eCommerce processes running smoothly and in good time.
Responsible for budgeting and taxes to market speculation, finance and accounting roles can be outsourced as well as hired into an in-house team.
If your business distributes products to customers, transporting items from A to B will be a vital part of your eCommerce business. Logistics managers are there to ensure that your goods make the journey from your manufacturers into the safe hands of your customers.
In charge of managing product inventory, this role is vital in ensuring that all your digital operations run smoothly.
Whether it’s dealing with customers through live chats, phone calls, or face to face, customer support specialists are there to handle communications with your customers, ensuring a top-quality customer experience
Ensuring that your brand has a visual appeal is paramount. For this, you need a designer with a creative mind. From logo design to brand colors, a graphic designer will handle all aesthetic aspects of your branding.
To convert traffic to leads, you need to ensure that your eCommerce site contains copy that is succinct and uses call-to-actions. From blog posts and press releases to social media, your content writer should possess exceptional grammar skills and be able to properly execute the tone of your online brand.
A virtual assistant is there to manage the daily planning of the CEO. From managing business meetings to establishing the routines of workdays, a VA can be massively beneficial for keeping practical details and plans organized.
Aligning your eCommerce strategy within your company structure is important to fulfill your overall business goals.
For small to medium-sized companies, stand-alone eCommerce can work, with the entire team reporting to the CEO. However, in larger companies, eCommerce can work well integrated into brand management and marketing. An example of this could be one in which an eCommerce director oversees merchandising, marketing, and operations.
If your eCommerce store contains multiple brands, it’s worth considering whether you should structure your eCommerce departments around them.
For example, if one brand in your store sells much more frequently than others, consider allocating more eCommerce resources to that brand. There is no one-size-fits-all here – it all depends on the size of your company, and whether you have the capacity to allocate specific eCommerce teams to each unique brand.
Depending on the nature of your business, you need to decide whether to place eCommerce under marketing or operations.
This depends on the nature of your business. For example, if you’re a large brand with a complex supply chain and customer service needs, it would make sense for your eCommerce to be placed under operations.
When it comes to hiring an in-house development team or outsourcing your talent, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons. Let’s talk through them below.
|In-house Development Team||Outsourced Development Team|
|Ease of communication between members of the in-house team||Fast turnaround times with the ability to set your freelancers milestones to be completed|
|In-house developers will have a good understanding of company culture||Talent can be sourced from around the globe, broadening the scope of skills|
|There may be gaps in skills among an in-house team||Working across countries can cause logistical problems when working in different time zones|
|More costly to employ full-time employees||Outsourcing tasks requires an element of trust for quality control – being able to oversee quality checks in-house can have its advantages.|
Selecting a well-rounded range of people is vital to building a successful eCommerce business. For your brand to prosper, you need to curate a hardworking team that strikes the right balance of skills, experience, and future foresight. In the early days of building your business, properly assessing organizational structures and deciding which one is best for you will set you in good stead for a successful brand.
As we’ve established in this guide, smart planning is everything. Whilst talented people are the driving force behind business success, you need to ensure that you have thoughtful company structures in place to support them. And don’t forget – the possibilities are endless for who you hire, and how you hire – whether it’s remote workers, freelance workers or full-time staff.
If you’d like to chat with experts who can help you evaluate your staff needs, give Jamersan a call. Our eCommerce consultants can help you decide the smartest way to spend your resources for the staff you need.