by Joshua Hobson

When starting an eCommerce business, or looking to make improvements to your existing business, it’s always important to make sure you have a strong team in place. Having a skilled, comprehensive team that spans all areas of the business is crucial to continued growth and success. So where should you start when developing a team structure?

When starting an eCommerce business, or looking to make improvements to your existing business, it’s always important to make sure you have a strong team in place. Having a skilled, comprehensive team that spans all areas of the business is crucial to continued growth and success. So where should you start when developing a team structure?

Operations Team

Operations Team

Your operations team will cover the majority of the handling and management of your products, so making sure that you have efficient operations will allow you to dispatch products quicker and handle more orders.

There are various sub-departments within operations team and you may even outsource some of these to external agencies and organisations in order to spend more time on other areas of the business.

Have you considered:

  • Dispatch and delivery liaison?
  • Returns?
  • Supplier liaison and buying?

When starting an eCommerce business, budget may be limited and so outsourcing to a fulfilment company can sometimes be more cost-effective - whether you are considering dropshipping or programs like ‘fulfilment by Amazon’.

Customer Service Team

Customer Service Team

Once you have a team in place for sending orders to customers, you will need to consider how you will deal with customer service. Who will reply to complaints or queries? What platforms will you use? Will you outsource?

Having a team in place for dealing with any angry customers will mean that you’re more likely to manage them in a positive, polite and structured way - meaning you’re far less likely to lose their custom.

Have you considered:

  • Complaints?
  • Returns?
  • Queries and phone orders?
  • Social media?

Customer service may be managed by one single member of the team, but have you also considered out of hours service? This may be something to think about - especially if you have international customers in different timezones.

Some companies offer out-of-hours customer service to make sure that you don’t lose any customers when you’re asleep or when your team aren’t at their desk.

Finance Team

Finance Teams

Whilst finance is often considered the ‘boring’ part of growing an eCommerce business, it’s incredibly important. Having inefficient finance procedures will not only stall your growth but may also have wider, more serious legal complications.

Have you considered:

  • Tax?
  • Sales reporting?
  • HR and payroll?
  • Other accountancy needs, such as bookkeeping?

There are hundreds of accountants and bookkeepers who you can outsource this element of your business to and who are experts in their field. Or you may want to invest in a Finance Manager to cover all aspects of this in-house to ensure that they’re always up to date and on top of your business.

Website Team

Website Team

The very nature of eCommerce will mean that you will want an online store. Will you have an in-house web team or will you hire a web agency to help with this? This may depend on the size of your store. If you have a very simple catalogue of products, you may need minimal support. On the other hand, if you have a extensive product range, with varying sizes, delivery info and stockists, you may want to invest in a combination of an in-house team and an expert eCommerce agency partner.

An eCommerce site usually has more things to consider than a traditional, stand-alone website and if you have ambitious growth plans, you may also want to consider more advanced optimisation of your website.

Have you considered:

  • Web design?
  • User interface and user experience?
  • Web development?
  • Conversion rate optimisation?
  • Search engine optimisation?
  • Platform development / support?

Whether you have the skills to do this in-house or if you need to hire an expert eCommerce agency, it’s important to have a plan for each of the above so that your online store is as thoughtfully designed and optimised as it can be.

Marketing Team

Marketing Team

A marketing team may be the team responsible for the ongoing growth of your customer base and so an investment in marketing is investment in your future growth.

There are many elements of marketing to consider and you may not want to explore all of them at once - but having a general marketing team or outsourcing an expert marketing agency will mean that you will always have ongoing activity.

Have you considered:

  • Social media?
  • Content and blogs?
  • Copywriting?
  • Email campaigns?
  • PR?
  • Print marketing?
  • Digital advertising (Google AdWords)?
  • Blogger and influencer outreach?
  • Competitions?
  • Video?
  • Search engine optimisation?

Marketing is often outsourced by online retailers so that business owners can focus on managing orders and identifying products to sell - but many also use a combination of an in-house team and an agency who work together to build a comprehensive digital strategy.

Tech Support Team

Tech Support Team

Once you build your various teams, you will probably start to notice that you’re using a lot of systems - whether they’re cloud-based, on PCs, on mobiles and apps or if you simply use a printer…often!

Do you have a dedicated team to help with any tech issues and offer support? Many web teams are skilled in tech support and are used as both, but if your web team is busy, then you may want to dedicate a separate team or identify an organisation outside of the business who can help with tech issues.

Have you considered support for your:

  • Online store?
  • Computers and printers?
  • Data management?
  • Marketing software?
  • Customer service software?
  • Communications?

Tech support can be an easily overlooked team but when you suffer downtime or a breakage of your systems, it can mean a lot of lost business so it’s important to have a solution in place for these issues.

Management & Consultancy Teams

The last team on our list to consider is your management team. Do you have a team dedicated to making key decisions and supervising other departments?

A lot of start-ups have a collective mindset with very little hierarchy which may work for your business but having one key decision maker can be an efficient way of ensuring that your online store is always moving forward.

It’s also becoming more and more evident that growing eCommerce businesses need their management team to have digital specialism or comprehensive knowledge of the digital landscape.

But if your key decision maker is not a specialist in a certain area of the business (such as web development or social media), can you hire a consultant?

Many experts offer consultancy services and can be very valuable to growing businesses, having that industry insight from experienced professionals without the cost of hiring a full time manager.

Just have a plan...

You might not have all of these teams in place (at least, not at first), but what’s important is that you have a plan for each of these elements. For example, having a plan for your tax records is important from the beginning, but you might not have a dedicated finance team until a few months down the line.

If you need any help in identifying solutions to any of the above, we can offer some insight from our years of eCommerce specialism - you can ask us anything on Twitter at @Statement or simply get in touch with any queries.

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