What It Takes to Build an eCommerce Team From Scratch, And Key Roles You’ll Need To Fill
eCommerce is the fastest growing segment of the retail market and entrepreneurs from legacy brands to online startups are racing to capitalize on the digital gold rush.
While eCommerce presents expansive growth opportunities, it requires human resources and infrastructure that differ from traditional brick-and-mortar or wholesale businesses.
Similarly, if you’re a digital-first company looking to scale, it’s crucial to accurately determine your staffing needs. This means knowing which roles to hire for, when to do it in the life of the business, and where these employees should be located.
The hiring needs of your organization will fluctuate with the scale of your business, the goods you sell, and where you operate.
If you own or manage a growth company, the people you need to run your operation can multiply quickly. In midsize organizations without an HR department, company leadership will need to devote significant amounts of time finding the right hires and training them.
While you may be able to cut costs by hiring contractors to perform services that you only need on occasion, outside help isn’t always available when you need them most. It’s essential to distinguish jobs that should be kept in-house from those that you can outsource to contractors, which is specific to the nature of each unique business.
When you make hires, it’s important to account for the time needed to train them and make sure they are capable of performing nuanced tasks specific to your business. This can also take time away from senior members who could be focusing on strategy and growth.
Once you build a team, it’s equally important to manage tasks efficiently, ensure different departments aren’t isolated in silos, and be ready for market fluctuations that influence consumer demand and your staffing requirements. As your team grows, managing people, cultivating corporate culture and building relationships becomes increasingly complex.
Ultimately, while eCommerce opens up unprecedented growth opportunities, it also requires a lot of work that may differ from your brand’s core business.
This post addresses the type of jobs typically found in eCommerce brands, developments in the industry and solutions that can save you time and money.
Here are the key roles you have to fill in order to build an effective eCommerce team:
1. Director of eCommerce
This person is responsible for overseeing the entire eCommerce operation and making sure that each team member or department is doing its job.
Tasks for the eCommerce Manager include overseeing buying, web sales, contracts, managing partnerships, reporting, contributing to strategy decisions, budgeting and generating P&L statements.
For smaller companies, the Director of eCommerce is responsible for carrying out additional core tasks rather than overseeing other employees. Additional tasks can include aspects of digital marketing and site administration.
To build a robust and efficient team, before hiring a Director of eCommerce, it’s crucial to know what tasks will be handled by other team members and which ones the director of eCommerce will have to carry out him or herself.
2. Web Developer
It seems obvious but make sure your web developer is familiar with eCommerce sites. He or she should be capable of making both frontend and backend alterations to create the customization you are looking for, in both core functionality as well as the consumer facing design.
Consumers are increasingly embracing mobile shopping, making it ever more important that your web developer is versed in mobile integration.
In eCommerce, your website is your storefront; therefore, it’s essential that your site is easy to use and efficient to manage.
On a foundational level, this means it should be aesthetically pleasing, process various payment types, offer multiple search and filtering options. Additionally, it should be able to support the complexity of your product or service catalogue, connect with inventory, and generate financial reports.
What’s more, you should be able to connect your site with sales funnels like social media content marketing, affiliate programs and link with apps that can add more versatility when it’s needed.
It’s important to note that while you may not need a web developer in house, you will need someone who can make occasional alterations and updates. Experienced web developers can charge $100 to $150 per hour or more and inexperienced hiring managers run the risk of unexpected dev times and costs; so, be sure to accurately account for these variables.
3. Digital Operations Manager
The digital operations manager ensures that the website works seamlessly from the shoppers perspective. The operations manager’s tasks include inputting and monitoring SKUs, ensures that all the product listings are displayed properly, verifying discount code functionality, and assessing load speed. He or she also monitors the customer’s journey throughout the digital shopping experience, A/B testing layout options and other duties related to user experience.
Additionally, this person corresponds with the inventory team to ensure that front end sales numbers match inventory accounting.
Essentially, the operations lead is in charge of the content management system (CMS) and making sure that user interface functions seamlessly.
4. IT Technician
The IT technician helps your team members properly utilize your digital infrastructure.
This person also links information online with inventory and logistics teams to efficiently move and monitor merchandise.
Further, the IT technician is responsible for data storage and security.
5. Logistics Manager
While the eCommerce shopping experience takes place online, getting products to customers happens in the physical world.
The logistics manager ensures that bulk orders from your manufacturer are safely transported to your warehouses. This team member also overseas customs clearance for international shipments, transport insurance and quality control.
In addition to shipping, the logistics manager also manages last mile fulfilment. This could mean monitoring your own delivery fleet (which would require a logistics team) or managing relationships with third party delivery services.
The core responsibility of the logistics manager is to assure that you get your goods from your manufacturers and your customers receive their shipments in a timely fashion.
6. Inventory Manager and Inventory Associates
While you may be able to get by with hiring a single person for each of the aforementioned roles, this department will most likely require multiple people.
The core responsibilities of the inventory manager is to overseas merchandise, ensure that the information from the digital operations manager matches the physical products in storage. The inventory manager also oversees inventory associates.
Inventory associates are responsible for wrapping and packaging goods, organizing inventory, clerical duties and moving products to the logistics team for fulfillment.
7. Digital Marketing Manager
The digital marketing manager is in charge of bringing traffic to the site, meeting ROI goals and strategizing about campaigns.
eCommerce companies typically utilize paid search campaigns, social media, email, affiliate programs, influencer marketing and programmatic strategies to build online brand awareness and earn customers.
The digital marketing manager also oversees content creation, SEO, SEM and other core tasks often performed by other members of the marketing department or a third party agency.
It’s important to note that the digital marketing manager must coordinate with the web developer and digital operations manager to ensure that marketing strategies such as loyalty programs, discounts and rewards are seamlessly implemented into the site and user experience.
8. Customer Service Representatives
Customer service varies from other industries in that eCommerce staff don’t typically encounter customers face-to-face. Instead, eCommerce brands often hire staff to use live chat and answer calls, and sometimes deploy chatbots to correspond with customers.
Customer service representatives are also responsible for processing returns and handling customer complaints via email and social media. It’s essential to build a streamlined digital process for customer service to coordinate with inventory about returns.
9. Finance and Accounting
Finance and accounting is similar to other businesses and is often outsourced to a third party. Sometimes eCommerce brands will have a person or small team that will help the Director of eCommerce with budgeting, market speculation and P&L reporting.
Of note, it makes finance and accounting a whole lot easier if your website is designed to keep a live and compiled list of revenue and expenditures.
10. Business Analyst:
Business analysts help eCommerce companies with key strategy decisions such as penetrating new markets, developing new products and growing the business. These roles are typically filled by senior level consultants or experienced industry veterans.
Internationalization is changing eCommerce
The proliferation of both the internet and mobile data networks around the world are leading to an expansion of international eCommerce.
To strive within the changing global digital commerce landscape you must have flexible infrastructure both online and offline.
Flexibility is crucial to building an eCommerce team. This includes the flexibility to increase inventory storage and process thousands of orders a minute in times of high demand. It also means having the option to increase inventory staff during peak demand and operate with a lean team during low periods. It’s also crucial to manage multiple currencies, and payment preferences as well as storefronts in different languages.
As you scale your business to sell in international markets, you need to scale the capabilities of your staff. This often means adding more people to manage the increasing complexity of your growing business, which only gets more complicated with language barriers.
Ultimately, flexibility is crucial to building an eCommerce team.
Benefits of partnering with a full service eCommerce provider
It can take a substantial amount of time and money to hire, let alone find and recruit, quality team members for an eCommerce company.
Reliability and trust are essential to building a top performing team. There’s always a risk that a hire doesn’t have the skills needed to perform core tasks. Uncertainty in growth forecasts also poses operational risk when you have a large staff, a transportation fleet and warehouse infrastructure.
Working with a full service eCommerce provider like Scalefast can give you peace of mind and a competitive advantage. Scalefast’s vast logistics network, global warehouse facilities, web development services, established partnerships and industry expertise can significantly reduce the number of staff you need.
What’s more, Scalefast’s flexible partnership structure provides predictable pricing, reduces the risk of customer churn, unused warehouse space, and idle inventory staff.
Ultimately, utilizing an enterprise eCommerce solution partner reduces upfront capital expenditure, minimizes the risks of expanding into new markets, saves you time and money by running a lean team, provides you expert insights into industry trends and affords you time to focus on your core business.
Contact sales@Scalefast.com to learn more about how Scalefast can help you build your eCommerce team.