We’ve finally made it to the final column of the How to Start an eCommerce Business series. Over the 2 month series, we’ve done deep into the steps that you must take in order to set the foundation for a profitable eCommerce business. All of the advice that I’ve offered in this series is from my experience running multiple eCommerce businesses on Amazon, WordPress/WooCommerce, and Shopify.
If you are just joining us today, make sure to refer back to steps #1 through #10 so that you can get caught up on how to start your eCommerce business. I’ll walk you through choosing your product niche, setting up the store, preparing operations, and creating a Facebook ads game plan to bring in potential customers.
Step 1: Choose a Product Niche
Step 2: Choose a Fulfillment Strategy
Step 3: Build Supplier Relationships
Step 4: Choose a Store Building Platform or Online Marketplace
Step 5: Build an Online Store with WooCommerce
Step 6: Create Pricing Formulas and List Products
Step 7: Create Customer Service Policies
Step 8: Set Up Operations
Step 9: Launch Online Store
Step 10: Facebook Ads and Sales Funnels
In this column, we’ll be diving into the final step to putting your eCommerce business on track to reach profitability without all of your time having to be committed to its operations and success. As you read this column, keep in mind that the best business owners and the most successful businesses are ones that surround themselves with smarter people to handle the operations. This has been a mantra that I have lived by my entire entrepreneurial career and it has truly paid dividends for my own sanity and profitability.
What is Online Hiring and Who Are Remote Workers?
Abridged History of Online Hiring
Online hiring has been slowly evolving since the 1990s once the Internet started to take over the business world. As more and more businesses transitioned online, so did workers around the world. The idea of working from home became a reality and people loved it.
“So, you’re saying that I can work from the leisure of my home and still earn money while doing it?”
As businesses grew into the the 2000’s, the idea of online hiring really took off when the first online hiring platforms were created, i.e. Freelancer.com and oDesk.com. These two first movers, so to speak, still continue to dominate the market today because of the foot ahead that they had on the rest of the competition. The basic concept is that a business owner from anywhere in the world could go to an online hiring platform, post a job that they need to fill, and then freelancers from around the world could apply to the job posting. The interview would be conducted via Internet and so would the eventual hiring process. All communication and payments would also be completed through the platform.
In simplest terms, the online hiring industry is just hiring, but through a website.
Who Are Remote Workers?
Remote workers are the freelancers that I referred to in the story above. These are the skilled professionals, most who have experience working for corporations and businesses of all sizes, who decided that they would rather work from home than in an actual business office. They have a specialized skill set (for example: social media management, content creation, Amazon account management, etc.) and they offer it to companies through these online hiring platforms.
Depending on where you are hiring from, you will receive a different caliber of talent, varying knowledge levels of the English language, and of course hourly rates starting as low as $2 per hour all the way up to expert rates of over $100 per hour.
Building an Online Team for your New eCommerce Business
Now that you have a good idea of what online hiring is and who these remote workers are, let’s dive into the bulk of this column where we’ll talk about how you can build your own remote team to handle the operations of your eCommerce business so that you can stay focused on growth and the ares of the business where you add the most value.
Why Build a Remote team?
The core reason that I add this as the #11 step to building a profitable eCommerce business is because you are not going to be able to perform all of the operations of your eCommerce business at a high level as it grows. I emphasize at a high level because there is a good chance you could scrape by using all of your hours in the day to perform the many tasks associated with running your eCommerce store, but you aren’t going to be doing them at a high enough level for it to create real value for your business.
However, if you have a team of eCommerce specialists (which does not mean they have to be expensive) that have experience in the given area of the eCommerce operations, they are going to be wholly dedicated to making that aspect of your business thrive. If you have those specialists running your operations, you can stay focused on driving further growth.
Hire these eCommerce Specialists First
Below is a list of the core eCommerce specialists that you want on your team. Under each job position, I will include a short description of what they should be doing and an estimate of the hours that will be needed out of them to get started. Last, I’ll add an estimate of the cost per hour for that specific position. At the end, we’ll tally all of the estimates so you can see the cost it will take to run your eCommerce business with a team of eCommerce specialists.
1. Order Fulfillment
This is an eCommerce specialist who has fulfilled hundreds of orders before on the given platform you are using. If you are using Amazon, get someone with Amazon experience. If you built your store with Shopify, get someone with Shopify experience. So on and so forth. They will check orders a couple of times a day, process the ones that come in, send tracking to the customer, and follow up to make sure the product is delivered.
To start: 1 hour per day
Hourly rate: $3-5 per hour
Total cost: $3-5 per day
2. Customer Service
This individual will be answering customer inquiries, handling live chat (if you have it), setting up returns, processing refunds, and talking to suppliers if there are any issues with the order. Again, make sure that you get someone who has the experience on your platform. This applies to all of the positions I am telling you about.
To start: 1-2 hours per day
Hourly rate: $5-7 per hour
Total cost: $5-14 per day
3. Inventory and Pricing Updates
This eCommerce specialist is going to be updating your inventory levels depending on the stock files that your suppliers are sending you and adjusting your prices to recognize sales or to beat out competition. For drop ship businesses, inventory management can be a time consuming task depending on how often your suppliers send stock level updates. As the business owner, you should not be using your time handling that.
This individual should also be able to optimize the SEO and product content of all your listings. You should have them go through the listings one by one on a schedule to make sure that all of the information is always optimized for the sale.
To start: 1-2 hour per day
Hourly rate: $3-5 per hour
Total cost: $3 to $10 per day
Total Cost Per Day For This Team of 3 eCommerce Specialists
When we tally it all together, we get a range between $11 and $29 per day. For $11 to $29 per day, you can have three experienced eCommerce professionals on your team handling the core operations of your business. As you are getting your business off the ground, you may not think it is smart to invest that money into those people, but please believe me that it absolutely is. If you take on all of the operations by yourself, you are going to struggle to grow your eCommerce business.
What You Need to Be Focused On
The goal is to have an experienced and affordable team handling your eCommerce operations so that you can focus on continuing to grow the business and start ramping up sales for your online store. As the business owner, you need to be the one that is bringing in new sales, creating relationships with potential customers, and talking about your product in communities where people may want what you are selling.
Here are the areas of the business where you should be focused as you get started with this internal team. Once you have a process and system down for these tasks that I will mention below, you need to do the same thing you did for your first three eCommerce specialists…hire someone to run it for you at an affordable hourly rate for a set period of time each day.
Owner task #1: Build social media presence
Set up social media channels for the platforms where it is most likely that your customers will be. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are pretty much givens. Set up your account, create a profile banner, add content about your online store, and create a schedule of content that you will post on a daily basis.
Setting this up gives potential customers more trust that you are an actual business and that they can trust to buy from you. No one wants to buy from a company who they can’t find on social media.
Owner task #2: Build relationships where your customers are interacting
With your social media presence built, now it’s time to find the people that would be interested in your product. Here’s an example. You just opened an online store selling custom baby clothes. There are millions of moms interacting on social media every day. You may want to find all of the groups where these moms are talking about baby clothes and start interacting. Introduce yourself and tell them about your store, but in a non salesy way. Offer advice when people ask questions and regularly check in to provide good thoughts.
You can also build relationships with bloggers and influencers who are reaching the mommy demographic. Look up blogs that are reviewing baby clothing and introduce yourself. You may not get a response from every single site, but if you can get reviewed a couple of times, it could introduce a new flow of traffic to your site.
There are plenty of ways that you can get into the eyeballs of your potential customers. With your operations under control, you need to be the one pushing your brand and looking for new customers.
Owner task #3: Build an ads strategy and sales funnels
One of the most popular ways to land new customers today is through the use of Facebook Ads and Google ads. With extra time in your day that you are not spending on operations, spend your time becoming an expert in Facebook Ads and an online sales funnel program like ClickFunnels or LeadPages.
With Facebook ads, you can start with as little as $5 per day. Make sure to read my advice on setting up a Facebook Ads campaign in Step 10 of How to Start an eCommerce Business.
Picking up on what I’m putting down? Once you have your operations handled by seasoned eCommerce specialists, it is your sole priority to bring new business to your store. There are thousands of people who attempt to start their own online store, but fail because they did not focus on bringing in their first customers and making them happy with their experience. If you can get the first 100 customers in the door and really give them an amazing experience, you can tap back into them with more offers and ask them to refer their friends as well.
How to Get Started Hiring your Online Team
Now, I must state full disclosure that I am quite biased when it comes to how to hire your online eCommerce team because I am a co-founder and owner of FreeeUp.com, the online hiring platform specialized for the eCommerce industry. My first recommendation would be to set up a meeting with my business partner and online hiring expert, Nathan Hirsch, through the FreeeUp platform where he will listen to your business needs and help you get the people that I’ve outlined in this article.
However, if you want to take the harder route of recruiting, interviewing, and hiring your own online workers through a different online hiring platform, then read the steps below. These are the steps that we take at FreeeUp to vet all of the workers that make it into our online hiring network.
Step 1: Identify the first position that you want to hire for
Write out the exact details of the position and the person that you want so that you can be specific when posting your job and speaking with applicants.
Step 2: Find the best platform to hire through
If you don’t want to use FreeeUp, my second recommendation would be Upwork.com because of the size of its network. They have millions of freelancers from all over the world and you can search for exactly who you want. The difficult part about their platform is that you are responsible for posting the job, setting up the interviews, and making the right hire.
Step 3: Start the hiring process and get to the candidate that you want
Choose the candidates that you want to interview with and set up your interview process. Talk to all of them asking questions about their experience and how they would be able to fill your role. Once you have chosen the best possible person, go ahead and hire them onto your team.
Step 4: Create a training guide
Even though the eCommerce specialist that you hire will have experience with the position you are hiring for, you should always have a training guide to outline how you want the task performed.
Step 5: Set up training with the worker
Train your worker on the task using the training guide that you created. Set up a screen share so that they can follow along as you complete the task. Once they feel comfortable, have them share their screen with you while they perform the task. Continue training until you see them complete the task perfectly. I suggest performing all communication via chat so that they have something to refer back to once they start in the role.
Step 6: Integrate into role, set communication guidelines, expectations, etc.
Once your new team member knows the task, talk to them about what you expect. Set up a daily schedule with them. Tell them how often you want them to provide updates. I suggest daily and weekly so that you are always in the know of what is happening. Also, tell them how you manage as the owner of the company so that they understand how they can best work with you.
Step 7: Repeat with another task within your business
Voila! You now have one eCommerce specialist trained and up and running. Now it’s time to perform the same steps for the second and third specialists. once you have all of them set up, make sure that you introduce them. eCommerce has many overlapping areas and they will need to communicate on certain issues.
Step 8: Build your ultimate remote eCommerce team and enjoy the free time that you have
As the months go on and your company starts to grow, look for opportunities where you can hire another remote worker to take over a task that you’ve created a system and process for. As I said above, perfect the process for something like running social media then find someone who can handle it on a daily basis. Boom, you now have 5 more hours each week where you can focus on something else.
Building a Remote Team Is Critical to a Profitable eCommerce Business
I share this final piece of advice because I know from personal experience how much time it can take to run the operations of an eCommerce business. As I’ve said throughout this entire series, I’m not offering advice to build an eCommerce business so that you can think it is going to be easy. Building a profitable eCommerce business is hard work and requires a dedicated team to make it all come through to fruition. With the amount of competition of selling product online today, you are constantly facing large companies like Amazon and other young startups just like yourself.
One man eCommerce shops eventually shrivel up and die. If you commit to building a remote eCommerce team to handle your operations and continue to take tasks off your plate, you are going to put yourself in a situation where that will not happen.
If you have any questions about hiring your remote team as you get your eCommerce business off the ground, please leave it in the comments or reach out to me at Connor@FreeeUp.com.
Thank you for joining me in this 11 column series as we have walked from day 1 of starting an eCommerce business all the way through to step 11 where we are building a team of eCommerce specialists to help us build profits and maintain a positive customer experience. The future is very bright if you follow this advice, but you are going to have to work hard. Best of luck to all of you!