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The team must be committed, energised and incentivised

Building an Ecommerce Team

An effective team is just as critical to a successful online business as are your website, products and technology.

Effectively building and structuring an ecommerce team are two key elements for rapid and sustainable growth.

An effective team is just as critical to a successful online business as are your website, products and technology. It should form a key part of your Strategy & Planning.

The ecommerce team must be committed, energised and incentivised as the supply for ecommerce type skills is still relatively limited compared to the required demand.

A great ecommerce team never settles; the team needs to have a desire to drive to the next level, know what that level is, and break through their goals, achieving more through the right incentives and bonus packages.

Forrester report – in-house vs ecommerce platform

Building an Ecommerce Team: The IRP Removes Barriers to Growth and Reduces your Team Size

In the case of most online start-ups or high growth businesses, the function of building and maintaining the ecommerce site or platform will usually be outsourced to a licensed, hosted or full service provider; saving both time and money. This is the case with the IRP.

The IRP removes the headache associated with creating a technical solution and allows for a focus on business growth and planning. If the solution also requires stock control and till / EPOS bolt-ons, this will cut down on system integration and overlap, saving you time and money.

Outsourcing an ecommerce platform significantly reduces the overall cost of the IT project. Research shows that in-house development costs 7.6% of total revenue whereas the figure is 3.5% if the IT functions are outsourced. The key benefits of the IRP to your team are:

  • No requirement to recruit & train in-house software development & database teams.
  • No overheads for installation, setup, configuration, maintenance and backups of the servers.
  • No overheads for hosting and ongoing development and upgrades of the website / system.
  • No overheads for SSL Certificates and DNS Configuration.
  • No overheads for the creation and maintenance of a PCI Level 1 security compliant system.

The IRP removes barriers to growth and reduces your team size.

Job roles & functions

A key benefit of the IRP is that it allows you to maintain a focus on your business, without worrying about producing the technology for success. This is core to creating a team with energy and getting results.

The next step is to create the team that can help grow your business in the most efficient and effective way. A start-up or growing online business must include the following roles and functions to maximise the ecommerce opportunity:

Building an Ecommerce Team: The Essential Ecommerce Manager's Role

The essential Ecommerce Manager's role

The Ecommerce Manager is vital in online retailing. They should take overall responsibility for the online revenue generated for the IRP and the costs associated, with a key focus on the CPA% of traffic channels.

The Ecommerce Manager should act as the connection point for the whole ecommerce team and have a deep knowledge of all aspects of online markets and how online revenue is generated.

The Ecommerce Manager’s key functions are: setting and delivering the ecommerce strategy, maximising as many areas of the IRP as possible and focusing on traffic generation, conversion and customer retention.

Building an Ecommerce Team: Five Key Roles - For Growth

Five key roles – for growth

Depending on the size of the company, each of these roles could be at the Team and Manager level – for example Customer Service Team and Customer Service Manager.

  1. Product & Content Administrators
  2. Customer Services
  3. Order Processing & Fulfilment
  4. Sales & Marketing
  5. Graphic Web Designers

Organising your ecommerce operations around the central strategy

The functional areas of an ecommerce team can be closely based around the Traffic, Conversion & Retention methodology introduced in Ecommerce Fundamentals. They include the following (note that, depending on the organisational size, the Ecommerce Manager should ideally be involved with all functions and help set the overall online strategy and plans of action – it is important to establish core responsibilities and goals for each area):

Building an Ecommerce Team: Traffic, Conversion, Retention
  • Traffic – Ecommerce Manager, Sales & Marketing, Design.
  • Conversion – Ecommerce Manager, Sales & Marketing, Design, Product & Content Admin.
  • Retention – Ecommerce Manager, Sales & Marketing, Order Processing & Fulfilment, Customer Services, Product & Content Admin.

Depending on organisational size the ecommerce, marketing and related functions may be brought under a wider Director of Ecommerce role or the company's owner / CEO.

Ecommerce Manager Marketing Related Functions
Strategy & Planning Design Customer Services
User Experience & Usability SEO Management Order Processing & Fulfilment
Traffic Sources PPC Management Product & Content Administration
Conversion Optimisation Email Marketing Buying & Sales Management
Customer Retention Affiliates Finance & Legal
General Site Management Social Media  
  Comparison Shopping Sites  
  Content Marketing  
  Community Management  
All Roles & Functions: Analytics, Customer Insight & Reporting


Building an Ecommerce Team: Recruitment and Sample Job Description

The role of an Ecommerce Manager

Identifying, appointing and confirming an Ecommerce Manager is one of the most important steps an online business can make.

Ideally this role is separate from the owner(s) of the business and is not directly involved with your shop / retail outlets or any other function or department.

See our separate article The Role of an IRP Ecommerce Manager for an overview of the Ecommerce Manager’s role and an example job description.

There is a trend to develop key functions and skills in house. Agencies and Service Partners may be necessary and indeed critical at times during the growth of your online business, but they will come at a cost.

In the quest for profitability, long-term internal investment and / or training in vertical specialisms such as design and search marketing will provide you with more control and opportunity.

There is also a growing emphasis on content and content marketing. One area that is clearly seeking greater investment and activity is content marketing and its creation. This may involve up-skilling of existing staff as well as new roles.

It throws up some interesting new challenges around the increasingly blurred content-related areas of SEO, PR and Social Media. This includes everything from product descriptions to on-site help and buyer guides, imagery, v-commerce, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What are the priorities of online ecommerce businesses?

The priority and focus should always be to Acquire, Convert and Retain. Key focus should be on the IRP Commerce Equation - Traffic x Conversion Rate x Average Order Value = SALES. Everything else should be viewed in this context.

In a 2014 report from ecommerce consultancy firm Econsultancy involving online businesses turning over less than £1m to those generating revenues of £150m , the top priorities for their ecommerce business and teams this year were listed as:

  1. Conversion Rate Optimisation
  2. Content Marketing & Optimisation
  3. Email Targeting & Personalisation
  4. Mobile Optimisation
  5. Social Media Engagement

Additional reading

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