Hiring the right people can make or break an ecommerce business. After all, ecommerce is a service business. Yet before you hire people, you must know what you want from your business and from your people.
In this article, we examine how to craft a simple ecommerce strategy and how to recruit the right team to implement it.
Create Your Ecommerce Strategy
What is your ecommerce strategy? Is it to become the industry leader in women’s handbags? Premier designer of linen handkerchiefs? The coolest watch producer on the planet? Your values, company culture and vision shape and build your online reputation. So you must define what you stand for before you hire a single person. Everyone on the team will work toward that goal.
Take a moment to jot down the following, replacing X with your goal:
- We stand for X, and our people will help us make it happen.
That statement should be somewhere on your site, in the About Us section, for example, so that it will be noted repeatedly via search engines. If you don’t stand for something specific, your message will be confused, and so will your employees and customers.
Once you have defined what you stand for, drill down further:
- What will your pricing be in comparison to competing brands: premium, middle of the road or the lowest possible?
- How important is the service that you provide to customers?
- On a scale of 1–10, is product quality top end or the lower end for your customers?
- What extra value do you deliver to customers? For example, do you offer informative articles, a comprehensive analysis of product specifications or a free newsletter of tips to use your product in unimaginable ways?
- What is the one thing you want your customers to experience after they buy your product, such as making a fashion statement or being part of a community of like-minded buyers? Your customers should feel good about your brand and come back to buy more.
Merchants must be more strategic, thinking clearly about their approach before opening their ecommerce store. Walmart, for example, claims its ecommerce site is “the tie that binds the company together.”[i] If your store is already running successfully, revisit what you stand for and the above points.
Click to Tweet Crafting an ecommerce strategy before you hire key people is the secret ingredient to ecommerce success.
Recruit the Right People for Your Ecommerce Store
You’ve got your ecommerce strategy humming along nicely — now you need to hire people to put it into practice.
Start with listing your top three hiring priorities for the year. For example, according to Internet Retailer, 34.5% of surveyed retailers listed marketing jobs, 25.3% listed IT positions, 18.4% listed research/analytics and another 18.4% listed web design positions.[ii]
Write down what you think is required to keep your ecommerce site up to date and marketed globally, customers happy and business flowing. Run it by anyone who has a stake in the enterprise. This is a team effort; you should never run the company in functional silos.
Your list might look like this:
- Technology expert, who knows how to add the bells and whistles needed to sell product, measure results (analytics) and get paid
- Web designer, who can turn your vision into a well-designed ecommerce platform
- Strategy manager, who is responsible for strategic direction, planning and implementation
- Finance manager, to create income-balance sheets and profit-loss statements and determine working capital needs
- Marketing manager, who understands the reliance of technology on ecommerce and how to market the company and its products
- Customer service manager, who can service customer inquiries
- User experience manager, who can field customer inquiries regarding the sales order process
- Social media manager, who can promote the brand and field customer messaging
- Supply chain manager, who can make sure product is readily available, of good quality and at the agreed-upon price
- Web globalization manager, who can make sure the site is targeting the right audience in the right language, design and payment method
- Policy manager, who can ensure everyone complies with the company’s policies concerning legal, corporate, social media, returns and so forth
Click to Tweet Steps to craft an e-commerce strategy and recruit the right team to implement it.
Once you know your needs, it’s a matter of finding the right people to fill the open spots. Leverage your network, apply word of mouth and gather referrals from your constituency base. Broadcast your needs through social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Who do you look for? People who can get the job done, blend in with the company’s culture (getting back to what you stand for) and bring great experience and value to the table. Seek the A-players. Hire individuals who:
- Exceed your expectations
- Are trustworthy
- Are culturally intelligent
- Know how to communicate written and orally, internally and externally
- Are enthusiastic about your type of business
- Are adaptable
- Can serve as brand ambassadors
- Are detail oriented
- Are able to speak intelligently across all disciplines, from technology to marketing to supply chain management
And it can’t hurt to have a few people on board who speak another language — Spanish or French, for example, especially if a high concentration of your ecommerce customers speak that language.
Use this article as a guide. Once you’ve got the strategy down and people in place, present a unified front and be consistent across all customer touch points. You’ll be well on your way to creating a rich online shopping experience.
[i] How to Get Hired by Walmart eCommerce: http://news.dice.com/2013/07/16/how-to-land-a-job-at-walmart-ecommerce-2/
[ii] Online retailers want to hire more marketers and designers: http://www.internetretailer.com/2013/07/22/online-retailers-want-hire-more-marketers-and-designers
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