How to Build an Ecommerce Team: A Best Practices Guide

Guides & Advice
18mid read December 21, 2021
Guides & Advice
How to Build an Ecommerce Team: A Best Practices Guide
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In the early days at your company, you most probably wear more than one hat in an ecommerce team structure. You manage your inventory, communicate with your customers, write down some kind of marketing strategy and product descriptions — all alone.

Until, at some point, you realize that tasks start slipping out of your hands; instead of a jack of all trades you become a master of none.

Building an ecommerce team can be challenging as you might not know which positions to fill first. That’s why we’ve decided to prepare this guide for you. From highly technical to ecommerce marketing roles, this article will help you allocate top talents to accomplish your ecommerce growth goals.

Let’s dive right in!

What Makes a Good Ecommerce Manager?

The role of an ecommerce project manager is extremely important. Usually, in companies, this specialist is responsible for:

  • monitoring and optimizing online sales.
  • defining, implementing, and synchronizing trading strategies in collaboration with other departments responsible for tasks such as online marketing and content management.
  • defining the budget for different sales channels.
  • managing the members of the ecommerce team.
  • reporting to top management, CEOs, owners, etc.
  • activating accounts and profiles.
  • collecting the online customer feedback.
  • managing communications.

Most importantly, an ecommerce manager should be able to determine clear KPIs for your business success and translate the company’s actions into tangible results.

Main Roles in eCommerce Team Structure

Depending on how big your online store is, which products or services you sell, and what your business priorities are, your ecommerce team structure will vary. Still, there are a few universal roles in ecommerce that might lift the burden off your shoulders when it comes to managing a store.

Ideally, your ecommerce team structure might look like this:

The ultimate ecommerce team structure

It’s no big deal if you skip certain roles at the beginning of your business journey. The employees will add up as your company grows.

Let’s figure out which team members you definitely can’t do without.

Web Engineer / IT Specialist

Ecommerce differs from brick-and-mortar stores, so your website should be the face of your business. Unless you fancy coding yourself, it would be better to delegate this job to a web engineer. 

An IT specialist helps your team members make the right use of digital infrastructure to build a coherent ecommerce website architecture. Obviously, they must be able to work on both the frontend and backend, as well as have experience in the field of mobile integration. The IT professional is responsible for the storage and security of data, a well-structured catalog of products or services, database & third-party services integration.

While you may not need an in-house web developer (usually, third-party specialists are responsible for all site development and modernization tasks), there should still be someone on the team who is responsible for all the website changes and updates.

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HR Manager

As paradoxical as it might seem, you’d need to hire a person to delegate the recruiting process to them. An HR will keep track of your best ecommerce team structure, your employees’ performances, and payroll. They will report back to you so that you can make an informed decision about your potential team members as well as further positions to fill.

HRs also conduct onboarding for new employees, which saves a huge amount of time for you, and take advantage of HR management software to optimize employment processes. 

Marketing Manager

Solid marketing is the backbone of your ecommerce growth. In fact, about 61% of companies keep investing in digital marketing specialists in their teams.

A marketing manager will spread the word about your products. They collect customers’ data, analyze it, and devise effective strategies to boost sales and drive traffic to your website. They will also draw on your competitive analysis and articulate way to distinguish your brand from others.

Top tasks of marketing managers
Top tasks of marketing managers. Source: Sidecar.

Graphic Designer

Your website should be not only visually appealing but also devoid of distractions. A graphic designer will take care of all the nitty-witty visual details: logos, button positioning, charts & data visualization in blog posts, etc. 

Just like content managers, they will showcase your brand identity recognizable throughout all your sales channels. And their work can also be outsourced to third-party contractors on Feverr, Upwork, or even development agencies for ecommerce website design services.

Content Writer

Content writers often stay behind the scenes producing engaging texts for marketing campaigns, luring product descriptions, and website content that will convert your users into leads. 

About 83% of consumers rate product content extremely important when deciding to buy. So hiring a content writer is indeed a future-proof investment. 

Importance of quality product content for ecommerce.
The importance of quality product content for ecommerce. Source: Salsify.

Some of the content writer’s responsibilities include but are not limited to creating engaging content for a variety of sales channels, including website blog posts, social media, press, etc. They also work together with SEO specialists to optimize your webpages for search engines.

If you have a small ecommerce team, an in-house content writer will form a part of your marketing department and closely collaborate with the SEO and sales specialists to build your brand tone of voice online. You can also outsource content creation to external contractors found on marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork.

Logistics Manager

The logistics manager is responsible for the safe, high-quality, and timely delivery of bulk orders from suppliers (either to your warehouses or directly to the customer). This employee is also involved in the design of international transportation, transport insurance, and quality control.

Inventory Manager

The main responsibilities of an inventory manager are to keep track of goods and, in particular, to ensure that the number of goods displayed on the website matches the number that is stored in the warehouse.

Customer Support Specialists

Online retailers often hire people to communicate with customers through chat, phone calls, and chatbots. Customer Service is also responsible for handling returns and customer complaints.

Accounting and Finance Specialist

The financial side is often outsourced to third-party specialists, although sometimes large marketplaces have their own staff to assist the ecommerce director with budgeting, market speculation, and income statements.

Business Analyst

Business analysts help ecommerce companies make key strategic decisions, such as entering new markets, developing new products, and scaling the business. These positions are usually occupied by senior consultants or industry veterans.

Designing an Efficient eCommerce Team Structure 

The article on building an ecommerce team: a best practice guide can’t go without the advice on how to hire top talent for your store. We’ve gathered these tips over the past 10 years of working with ecommerce brands and here’s what we’ve discovered. 

Define Your Business Needs

It’s not 100% sure you’ll need to fill all the aforementioned roles right from the beginning. You can start by teaming up with an expert ecommerce development company. Or hiring an accounting and finance specialist to handle your taxes. Or recruiting a designer to build your visual brand identity.

When building an ecommerce team, remember that each new role comes with a certain stage of your business development. Figure out your business needs and processes before hiring a professional.

Stay Cost-Effective

Cost-effectiveness isn’t about saving on your employee’s salaries. It’s about spending your budget wisely.

The recruitment process should go hand-in-hand with your business processes; otherwise, you’ll just pour money down the drain. Imagine if you hire a copywriter but have no content marketing strategy in place — your new employee will either have no tasks or, even worse, produce content completely out of line with your business goals.

Establish Clear Expectations From Your Ecommerce Team

Before you start looking for new staff for your online store, decide what your ideal group of employees would look like. There is a good rule of thumb: only hire people who are better than you. Never compromise. Mediocre workers, like bad politicians, have a toxic effect on the entire team, and it will take a long time to train them or remove them from the team.

Determine the type of environment you wish to create in your company and see how your candidates’ aspirations align with it. Only 10% of applicants will be great employees, so do more interviews and consider more applicants.

Make Hiring a Collaborative Effort to Assess Candidates Objectively

Don’t let managers make staffing decisions. Some managers lend themselves to being influenced by and hiring their friends or relatives, despite their lack of professional skills. Finally, allowing managers to make talent decisions will give them too much power over team members. Have a group of unbiased people make the real hiring decision.

Involve future subordinates and colleagues of the candidate in interviews. A professional recruiter must be present at the interview. Make sure the interviewers make adequate notes. Return to your notes from time to time and compare them with the success of the new employee to hone your assessment skills.

Ask behavioral and situational questions

The purpose of interviews is to predict how candidates will perform when they become members of an ecommerce team. There are two types of interview questions: behavioral and situational. In the first, the candidate is asked to describe past achievements and explain how they relate to the requirements for the position.

Here are some examples of behavioral interview questions

  1. Tell us about a time when your behavior positively influenced your team.

Follow-up questions: What was your initial goal? Why? How did your colleagues react? Do you plan to work on your positive team influence?)

  1. Tell us about a time when you effectively led your team and achieved your goal. What approach did you take? 

Follow-up questions: What were your goals? How did you achieve them personally and as a team? How did you adapt your leadership style to different people? What was the bottom line of this particular situation?

  1. Tell us about a time when you had difficulty interacting with someone (colleague, classmate, client). Why was it difficult for you to work with this particular person? Follow-up questions: What steps did you take to solve the problem? What was the outcome? What could have been done differently?

In situational interview questions, a hypothetical situation related to the position should be proposed. An attentive interviewer will dig deep to gauge the validity of the answers and the thinking process based on what the candidate is saying.

Remember that your job is not just to evaluate the candidate. You should strive to make them love you. Turn the interview into a wonderful adventure so that the candidate feels that you care about what they care about and, in general, that this is the best day of their life.

Recruiting is the most important task in HR policy, and keep in mind that most of us are not at all as effective as we seem. If you redirect resources to improve recruiting performance, you will get a higher return than almost any training program.

For instance, here are top Magento interview questions to screen a web developer for your project.
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20 Magento 2 Interview Questions to Hire Top Talent in 2022

Hire Your People

Distinguish between in-house employees and third-party contractors. While it’s true you can cut costs by outsourcing minor tasks to freelancers, they’re rarely committed to your business growth. They’re a good option only when you need short-term help with specific tasks or seek expert assistance on an issue like accounting or IT.

Most commonly outsourced tasks in ecommerce team structure
Most commonly outsourced tasks in ecommerce businesses. Source: Clutch.

If your budget allows it, expand your in-house team. Such employees will take a vested interest in your business strategy as the success of your company is their success. 

Engage an HR in the Hiring Process

Employees are the heart and soul of your company. This is why it is so important to take the process of recruiting seriously and hire people who can work efficiently whether they are at home or in the office.

While you focus on other business tasks, a dedicated HR will optimize your hiring process and build an effective ecommerce team for you through: 

  • Live conversation. Interviewing candidates in person will allow you to assess their communication skills, general behavior, and body language.
  • Objective skill assessment. If you are hiring an employee for a management or technical position, it is important to take a strategic approach. To get started, take a look at online skills assessment tools. Job sites sometimes offer tests to help assess a candidate’s skills. Also, don’t forget about references from previous employers. Personal recommendations and testimonials on LinkedIn are great.
  • Internal motivation. Your virtual team members won’t have many colleagues to help them focus on the current task. Your HR will keep a potential employee motivated.
  • Regular live meetups. One-on-one meetings will help you track progress towards your employees’ short- and long-term goals. An HR gets the opportunity to hear about their contribution to the company’s success, which motivates them and helps your business to move forward.

How Do You Retain the Best Talents? 

Decent employees may be a dime a dozen, but stellar employees are worth their weight in gold. The talent you keep on your list has a big impact on your ability to scale your business efficiently and keep customers coming back for more. Once you find a team that meets and exceeds your expectations, they are well worth the effort to make them stay.

Offer growth prospects

Your employees need to have professional prospects, as repetitive tasks can lead to reduced productivity. You don’t have to give your people promotions right away, but a good way to stimulate the development of ambitious employees is through the opportunity to learn a new skill or explore another business line.

That being said, you should already be ready to answer general questions about promotions, compensation, and your overall goals for your team when asked.

Bet on flexibility

Given that many people work remotely, flexibility is essential for those looking to balance their careers with their lives outside work. Allowing your staff to pick up their children from school, make it easy to see a doctor, etc. is a signal to them that they are valued and trusted. These days, you can do a variety of jobs remotely, and the sooner your company adapts to a flexible model, the faster it becomes competitive.

Promote a healthy and honest work environment

Many people quit their jobs not because they didn’t like their responsibilities, but because they could no longer tolerate the work environment. As a manager, it is your responsibility to create a convenient working environment and then to ensure that the guidelines you set are adhered to.

Almost every company has a harassment and discrimination policy, and your flexible scheduling will help your employees meet their own needs.

However, you can go beyond what is required by law and set the stage for a space that does not allow rash comments, aggressive political conversation, or other behavior that could alienate certain employees. Toxicity in the work environment is the real reason people quit their jobs.

In-House vs Outsourcing Hiring: Can You Build a Successful Team Remotely? 

Today, regardless of the industry, you can work with specialists from anywhere in the world. You can easily gather a remote team of high-class professionals while reducing costs and avoiding the difficulties associated with organizing work in the office.

Still, in-house employees bring a handful of benefits to your business as well. Here are the pros and cons of in-house vs outsourcing hiring and the ways in which you might benefit from each.

In-House Employees

An in-house team includes all employees completing tasks and conducting activities exclusively within your company. They live your culture, contribute to the development of your business strategy, and have an in-depth understanding of your business.

Pros of in-house hiringCons of in-house hiring

Higher employee retention rates. Employees are interested in personal growth as well. So if you invest in their training and motivation, they’ll stay more loyal to your company. Besides, you strengthen your internal team’s collective knowledge and can tackle new projects outside your initial expertise.

The cost. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the real cost of an in-house employee is typically 1.25 to 1.4 times more than an employee’s salary. The reason is obvious: you’ll need to consider payroll taxes, employee insurance, and other expenses of maintaining an in-house employee.

Employee engagement & dedication. Your in-house team is as committed to your ecommerce project as you are. Because they’re aware of your business context, they will suggest ideas to improve your business strategy and might even proactively fix issues.

Time. Highly skilled specialists are a rare find on the job market. Many of them already have a job, and you’d be expected to offer something better to lure them in (e.g. salary, interesting project, etc.). Building the best ecommerce team structure takes time and resources worth their weight in gold in the modern business world.

Better collaboration with other teams. In-house teams are more productive because they know each other. There are no communication delays, so you can take a marketing/business/logistics plan from idea to implementation in a very short amount of time.

Burnout. If you’re the Jack of all trades, it doesn’t mean your employees will be. Overtime or extra responsibilities might cause employee burnout and result in poor productivity. So you should take care of your in-house team’s health.

More control over project implementation. Because your in-house team is more closely knit to your company’s mission and values, you can interface with your teammates directly.

In-house hiring should be best for merchants that scale fast and wish to keep control of the essential business functions. Such businesses are in the process of establishing their business culture and seek professionals to join their teams for long-term cooperation.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing implies delegating the ecommerce tasks to third-party contractors and/or freelancers. For ecommerce businesses, it’s quite common to outsource website development and customer service tasks.

Pros of hiring a freelancerCons of hiring a freelancer

Agility & flexibility. Because you save time on employee sourcing and onboarding, you can make decisions faster and complete particular tasks more efficiently.

Quality. Because a freelancer isn’t aware of your business context, the quality of their work might not exactly meet your expectations. You’ll need to spend extra time on briefing a freelancer as well.

Higher expertise in the field. You have access to a vast talent pool of professionals who have gathered experience from a variety of projects. If you’re stuck with a certain problem, they can fill your knowledge gap and devise a non-standard way out by providing ecommerce consulting services at a fairly reasonable rate. 

Less control over the task execution. You won’t be the only client of a hired freelancer, so you can’t expect your issues to be fixed at the drop of a hat. 

Cost. Freelancers usually charge a fixed rate per hour that doesn’t include taxes, insurances, and other employee associated costs. 

Communication & control problems. You might experience communication delays, be it for the time difference or poor internet connection.

Outsourcing ecommerce tasks is best for merchants with fluctuating revenues and requiring assistance on simple, mundane tasks that are not related to the core business processes. 

Bottom Line: Consider a Hybrid Approach to Building a Stellar Ecommerce Team

It might take a lot of time and energy before you find the right person in your ecommerce team. But you might take a shortcut and delegate a part of your ecommerce responsibilities to the agency.

That’s right, combining in-house and outsourcing is the most popular approach to building the best ecommerce team structure nowadays, and we have an offer for you.

Elogic is an end-to-end ecommerce development agency with 10+ years of experience and dozens of successfully implemented projects. We understand the importance of a high-performance ecommerce website where every second of uptime and every customer counts. Partnering with Elogic, you can be sure of the transparency of communication and fast & secure project delivery — as if we were by your side!

Before you start building your dream team, we suggest reviewing ecommerce team roles to get a full understanding of the topic.
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Roles in Ecommerce: Building a Dream Team for Your Online Business

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