What does it take to build a successful e-commerce business? A strong product? Optimized listings? A tireless team?
If you want to grow quickly and sustainably, expand internationally, win new customers, and make more sales, you need to set up your team for success. Driven, engaged people will show up, take ownership and steer the business to the next level. So, who are these mysterious unicorns?
Let’s take a look at the people you need to build a successful e-commerce team. Before we dive in, it’s important to note that each business is unique. Only you can build the best team for your specific business. However, we’ll go over essential roles for most e-commerce businesses. If you are in the early stages of your business, one person may take on several of these key roles. On the other hand, if you’ve been running successfully for a few years you might hire several people with more niche expertise.
Lay the right foundation
When you build your e-commerce empire, you need a solid foundation to ensure your business survives rough times. Marketplace suspensions, poor customer experiences leading to negative reviews, supply problems, that pesky product that refuses to sell… Every business hits snags in the road.
The right team makes it a lot easier to get through these challenges come out on top. That’s why they need to have certain qualities.
- Strong communication skills: Your team needs to be able to talk to each other, your suppliers, your partners and your customers. A lot of problems are the result of a communication breakdown. Avoid them by hiring the right people.
- Flexibility: Global commerce has gone through huge changes with the introduction of e-commerce, and new technology will continue to move all the goal posts. Hire people who thrive in that kind of environment and are ready to seize opportunities as they arise.
- Market awareness: Hire people that understand the market and don’t get scared by its ebbs and flows. People that can play (and win) the long-term game, but know how to take advantage of short term shake ups.
- Love data: Data is at the heart of e-commerce. While not everyone on the team needs to recite cart abandonment rates and email open rates, hiring folk that use data to measure success, test hypotheses and drive growth will increase sales.
Let’s take a look at these winning individuals.
The e-commerce manager
This is an essential role. Ignore it at your peril. The e-commerce manager handles the day-to-day work, deals with partners, and makes sure the business is running smoothly. They may also manage the rest of the team and provide mentoring and support. They know what’s going on, who’s doing it and why.
Hire someone who understands the various aspects of e-commerce, works well with others and can keep a cool head when issues come up. If you want to take a more in-depth look at this role, Demac Media put together an excellent starter guide to finding the right e-commerce manager for your business.
The business strategist
While the e-commerce manager handles the day to day, the business strategist is in charge of big picture thinking. They look at the data, understand the business’s position in the larger marketplace and identify potential opportunities. This is a strategic ideas role perfectly suited for an e-commerce business in a fast growth stage looking to expand across different channels or eyeing up the international marketplace.
The channel manager
You need someone to stay on top of all your different channels, whether that’s marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, paid media or owned property. The channel manager looks after the inventory flow from location to location and makes sure your customers can get what they need.
A pragmatic channel manager will help you make the most of your different options and watch out for crucial opportunities. Inventory management software makes this role a lot easier, but the right human touch can be irreplaceable. Look for someone who thinks strategically and can identify or create opportunities in various channels.
Supply chain manager
Every e-commerce business needs someone who can handle shipping and logistics, stay on top of procurement, and manage the warehouse, whether that’s through software, your own team or outsourcing. If you are using a 3PL, you’ll need someone that can liaise with various parties, use inventory management tech successfully and pass on any important information to the e-commerce manager and business strategist.
The digital marketer
Digital marketing is an essential part of e-commerce. It’s how we reach (and win) customers and sell our products. A skilled digital marketer is an incredibly powerful weapon.
Hire a cutting edge marketer that tracks marketing attribution, tests relentlessly and isn’t afraid to try new things. They don’t have to be an expert in everything, but they do need to be familiar with conversion copywriting, SEO, paid channels, content strategy, product optimization, inbound strategy, social media marketing and team management.
Avoid anyone that tells you they can deliver on all the stuff we just listed by themselves! A phenomenal marketer should know enough to know when to outsource to niche specialists for the best results. Hire someone who can manage these specialists and does work that aligns with your goals.
The chief engineer
Site speed, user experience and an intuitive interface are incredibly impactful and will win or lose you customers. You need an engineer who can work the front and back ends of your site to keep it operational.
Hire someone that has experience with a few different systems, can identify trends, and knows what can be done in house and what can be outsourced. Like your chief digital marketer, you want a smart generalist that understands what happens behind the scenes and knows when to bring in outside help.
The customer service rep
Your customer service rep is the voice of your brand, so they need to understand your brand completely. That’s why having at least one in-house rep can help you create a staggeringly better customer experience than your competition.
Your customer support representative is the face people remember. Hire someone who actually likes people, and can handle customers well even when they are challenging to deal with. And, you want someone with social media and tech savvy because so much feedback comes through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and various comment sections.
Growing your team
As your team grows, you will bring more people in as in-house employees, consultants or contractors. You may hire a copywriter, a financial officer, an app developer… Before making that offer, make sure the new hire will help you achieve specific goals and help you grow your business.
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