Ecommerce: Hiring Options for End-to-End Ecommerce Support
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Many entrepreneurs when starting out with online selling do some back of the envelope calculations which look something like this:
If I sell 1,000 units per month at $XXX I will make $XXXXX. And if I grow that to 10,000 per month I will be rich and drink cocktails on a beach. Although this is entirely possible there are quite a few steps between the back-of-the-envelope calculations and the cocktails.
Having worked with hundreds of small to very large online retailers and ecommerce clients, it just ain’t that simple. USource has assisted disruptive startups grow from an idea to being mid-large scale online retailers, with ad spends in excess of $USD100,000 per month (front-end), and customer service teams answering and responding to email/ ticket volumes in excess of 500 per day (back-end).
Growing and scaling an online ecommerce business is not as simple as just setting up a Shopify store and watching the orders role in. Small scale yes. Large scale you need a plan, a clear roadmap and water tight processes.
Apart from the channels in which they operate substantial online ecommerce businesses cannot defy the day-to-day requirements of starting, growing and managing the operations of a business.
At USource we help clients with the end-to-end ecommerce support and assistance.
You can plug our team members in to the front-end of your ecommerce ops – Advertising, Social, SEO, Design, Writing. Or you may have a back-end requirement for administration and customer service support. And if you’re a mid-large scale ecommerce operation we can integrate across your entire operation – providing a centralized and scalable team (at speed) offering support across inventory management, 3rd party marketplace support (Amazon, AliExpress, Etsy, eBay), shipping, customer communication, processing refunds or a customized solution for your ecommerce business.
Advertising & Organic Social
How much are you investing in organic social? Do you have a visual product that can be promoted by niche influencers, or do you have a product service that’s in demand, and can scale with a high visibility branding campaign?
These are just some of the factors you will need to consider if you want to go beyond a side hustle. Without a clear investment strategy in marketing and advertising there is a good chance your hustle will just remain a hobby.
Ecommerce Operations & Administration
With each sale comes administrative work. Who would have thought?! Sitting back and watching the sales role in just got a little more difficult.
As an ecommerce business grows the level of administration work grows. What are the types of administrative work you will find yourself doing:
- Product management on a website
- Inventory management
- Product ordering
- Shipping & despatch
- Returns & exchanges
This is just the smallest of snapshots, and within each areas there are dozens of sub-tasks. Initially one person, the owner can possibly manage the administrative load, but as the sales increase hiring and outsourcing your ecommerce administration work makes sense.
Customer Service for Online Retail & Ecommerce
This is where the fun begins. Customer service operations for online retailers and ecommerce businesses is the engine room keeping customers happy. Get things wrong and you will be flooded with unhappy customers and negative feedback reviews online.
USource customer support team members and agents can help with:
- Shopify: store management and administration
- Custom: (mid-large scale) scalable ecommerce teams for 24 hour operations
- Customer Support: live chat, email, calls
- Customer Assistance: Order online, pre and post sale support
- Marketplace management: Amazon, AliExpress, Etsy, eBay
- Dropshipping: Oberlo, Dropified, ShipStation, Sprocket
- Ticket Management: Gorgias, Zendesk, Freshdesk
- Administration: Customer/supplier invoicing, refunds/disputes, customer review management, bookkeeping, inventory and logistics management
End-to-End Ecommerce Support
Unless you’re super human, or you can duplicate yourself, you simply cannot do it all yourself. Our mid-sized ecommerce clients can hire 6-8 full-time team members. It looks something like this:
Digital Advertisers (Qty: 1-2): to focus on Google Ads (e.g. Google Shopping) and Social Ads (Facebook, Instagram, etc)
We find due to the size and complexity of each ad platform, and the differences in audience interaction each ad platform is best managed by a specialist who focuses on just that platform.
Designer / Video Editor / Copywriter (Qty 3): For keeping your brand fresh and relevant. When you need new copy, they can help. Ready to launch a top-of-funnel awareness campaign on You Tube, your Video Editor can step in. You may not need them full-time, maybe 5-10hrs per month, but as your business grows they can grow with you.
Virtual Administrative Assistants (Qty 1-2): they do the heavy lifting, ticking boxes on the day-to-day administrative work. They can crossover into customer service roles, which is usually a sound approach for small ecommerce operations, but as a business get bigger it’s important to have clearly defined roles between general virtual assistants and specialized customer service roles.
Customer Service (Qty 1-5): The number of customer service support team members will depend on the size and scale of your business. A quick way to assess the number of staff required is volume of sales, or volume of tickets, emails and/or calls. If the numbers are low a part-time customer service agent in your busiest times may be enough. Otherwise, you may need rolling coverage 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, spread across a full-time team of substantial size.
What we have found is many ecommerce businesses grow organically. It’s a side hustle, started alongside the owners full-time job. Then it grows into something bigger.
The owner started out by hiring one freelancer, then hired another unconnected freelancer. Before they knew it they had an outsourced team of unconnected freelancers – doing different things – and pulling in different directions. Ouch! Timesink!
Here’s where the growing pains become obvious. The back of the envelope sales figures, when the business was just an idea, have become difficult to achieve. Or if they are achieved there is a lot of lost time, miscommunication, mistakes and headaches.
As the team of loosely connected freelancers grows to support a fledgling ecommerce empire the cracks get bigger. One freelancer is doing one thing. Another freelancer is working on something completely different, without knowing what anyone else is doing.
There is no connection, no shared goals, no roadmap.
In the trenches it can look something like this — the messaging from the freelancer in charge of advertising hasn’t or doesn’t get to the writers and designers. The designers don’t speak to the administrative staff. And the customer service team is fielding questions from angry customers because they have no idea what’s happening in the rest of the business.
It doesn’t have to be that way. USource understands these sticking points. We’ve seen so many ecommerce businesses start and thrive. We’ve also seen just as many or more wither…and one of the common issues is lack of a centralized team.
Speak to us about how you can outsource part or all of your ecommerce and online retail operations.