Building Blocks of a Successful eCommerce Team

Keeping up with the ever-changing world of eCommerce is a challenge. Google comes out with a new algorithm each month. Facebook changes weekly. There’s always a new social media platform on the horizon; trends are born, mature, and fade away within a year. An eCommerce business owner faces many questions: How do I decide what to do? What’s the best way to grow my sales, and how can I execute it? Should I try something new or stick with the tried-and-true? And how can any one person keep up?

The answer is simple: One person can’t, at least not for long. So the million-dollar question isn’t “What do I need in order to run a successful online business?” but “Who do I need?” In my career I’ve played several key roles within the industry. I’ve been the online business owner, the eCommerce manager, and the agency partner, and each role brought its own needs and challenges. I’ve learned that with the right team members in place, you can turn your business into a well-oiled machine. So I want to share a list of three essential people needed to make that happen.

1. You need a strong eCommerce manager to be the superstar of day-to-day operations.

You think this can be you, the business owner, but it can’t. Your time needs to be invested in the big picture—what I call the “$300 an hour” work—not handling every technical hiccup. You should be charting the course for the future and steering the ship.

Your eCommerce manager, on the other hand, will be in the engine room, handling day-to-day operations and keeping the online store tuned up and running smoothly. If you work with an agency, your eCommerce manager handles your side of the partnership. They make sure initiatives are being driven forward and that you’re getting the most out of your agency experience.

If you don’t have an agency, it’s even more important to have an eCommerce manager to handle the details. The fast pace of online retail makes it a high-maintenance industry, but technology’s constant evolution means big-picture thinking is absolutely critical for long-term greatness. Juggling both is a tricky task for anyone. So get yourself out of the day-to-day minutiae; put someone else in charge of making sure your business machine runs full steam ahead.

2. Invest in a marketing expert. You won’t regret it.

Marketing gets sales in the door; ultimately, that’s what pays the payroll and grows your profits. You must have someone fully dedicated to getting your company’s name in front of new customers. Your marketing director should be managing social media interactions, email campaigns, and online sales in direct coordination with the eCommerce manager.

This is one position where you definitely want to invest in experience. Pay a little more for someone who really knows their stuff. Look for someone who can strategize and help you see things from a new and interesting angle. They should be the “spark of creativity” in your organization.

3. Get a smart and energetic eCommerce customer service representative.

A customer service rep fields phone calls, addresses customer complaints, manages returns, and assists with day-to-day tasks. It’s tempting to assume your eCommerce manager can wear the customer service rep hat too, but don’t fall into that trap.

Think about it: Your customer service rep is the voice of your business. They need to accurately portray your business and keep your customers happy. Have you ever gone out to a nice dinner, only to find that your server was too swamped to take good care of you? Heaping all of the background and customer-facing work on one person is a good way to set yourself up for failure. You’ll wind up with one majorly overworked person, and more than likely, unsatisfied customers.

Overworking your eCommerce manager can also contribute to high turnover—and significant expense in hiring and training. I’ve experienced this first-hand as an eCommerce manager myself. Keeping your employees happy is a huge step toward keeping your customers happy, and happy customers equal a successful business. So make sure an energetic person with a great attitude is always on hand to give their full attention to every customer who reaches out.

Bringing it all together

Each of these positions represents an integral part of a productive and thriving eCommerce team. Although some positions may have to be hybrid until the company grows enough to fully employ these roles, aim to separate, flesh out, and fill each one as soon it’s feasible. Put the key foundational team members in place and build from there. It’s worth the investment, because you will see the return.

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