It is not easy to hire for an ecommerce company. Your team’s collective efforts are crucial to the success of your business. Every decision in hiring can be a chance to use new technology to automate a part of your business’ operations. It is important to think strategically before you dive into the applicant pool. Jonathan Wu, the COO of Touch of Modern, a leader in men’s commerce, shares his experiences of hiring successfully.
Before Touch of Modern was launched, we knew that we had found something big: fast merchandising. A few hours prior to our first email newsletter being sent, someone had already seen the website and made a purchase. We have grown to more than $100 million in sales in less than four years. Our equity capital was only $12 million.
Your natural instinct should be to focus your efforts on the core of your retail business, what makes it unique. You must first think about how you can make your time more efficient if you want to build a lasting business.
In my first role at Touch of Modern, I was responsible for sourcing new merchandise and account coordination. Later, I also had to manage inbound shipping, recruitment, payroll, accounting, financial plan, and analysis. As my role evolved, I was also responsible for customer service and fulfillment. Unexpected challenges are inevitable in a growing company. You will have to manage them while keeping the ship afloat. You will be expected to find someone to take over your daily responsibilities so you can spend your time focusing on scaling the business.
After we had our public launch, I focused my attention on building our buying team together with Jerry Hum, one of my co-founders. This gave me new perspectives and freed up my time while also allowing us to focus on our core departments. As new buyers tried out trending categories, our merchandising evolved over the years.
When a task becomes too time-consuming, you will know it is time to find someone to replace you. It is important to do a thought exercise before you hire for a new position. This will help you decide whether to hire new talent or if technology can be used to automate the task. Consider the tasks that consume a lot of your time and the available automation solutions when deciding which roles you want to automate.
I was the only recruiter for our team until they reached 50. I also managed accounting and finance until we reached 100. Accounting and finance took up so much time and can be subject to human error. I decided that an automated solution was worth the investment. Touch of Modern implemented Tipalti’s automated accounts payable solution. This allowed us to distribute more than 20,000 supplier payments each year worldwide, with no additional staff.
Simply stated, scaling strategically using talent and technology will free up time and energy for your business. You will be better prepared to face unexpected challenges when you grow quickly by taking the time to fully understand your business and investing in the right automation solutions.
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How online retailers can prepare for Cyber Monday and Black Friday
It’s never too early to begin preparing for Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales for e-commerce sellers. It’s worth it to plan well. In 2016, the U.S. had online sales of $1 billion almost every day. The share of holiday e-commerce sales is expected to increase from 10.6 to 12 percent. It is time to prepare your online store to assist busy shoppers in finding what they need, to protect your business from holiday fraud spikes, as well as to deliver services that bring customers back after the holidays.
Optimized for Mobile
mobile was responsible for nearly half of all online retailers’ traffic in 2016 and almost one-third of their sales. A minimum of one report for the holiday forecasts that 35 percent of online retail sales this year will be from mobile devices. Your store pages should load quickly. A 2016 study showed that more than half the mobile users will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. To reduce cart abandonment, your category and product menus must be simple to read on a small screen. Your mobile checkout process must also be easy and secure.
Clear Shipping and Return Policy
Consumers want to know upfront what shipping and return costs will be. It’s almost a requirement that all orders come with free shipping. More than half consumers consider it a necessity. It’s time to ensure that your shipping and returns policies and information are current, clear, and easily visible on your website.
Also, this is a good time to review the cutoff dates of your carriers for delivery before Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. As the deadlines approach, be sure to add this information to each page so customers know when they have to receive free shipping. Expand your shipping options if you offer only one or two shipping options. Customers have more options when it comes to where and how they are delivered by you, whether your carrier offers other shipping options or adds new carriers.
While shipping with package tracking can be more expensive upfront, it can save you unnecessary customer service headaches. Shoppers expect to have the ability to track their orders from warehouse to delivery. You can also get proof from your shipper that you have not delivered the item as requested.
Increase Transaction Security
Fraud attempts increase during holidays; they increased by 31% during 2016. Fraudsters love to order expedited shipping, but so do stressed customers who want to get their shopping done quickly. You can plan now to identify the best processes to screen out fraud and not delay legitimate rush orders. False declines are more costly for online retailers than completed fraud. Many shoppers who have been declined by mistake won’t shop with the seller again.
Enhance Your Customer Service
To keep your customers satisfied, plan your gift-wrap options and pricing now. You should ensure that your customer service staff is available to answer customers’ questions during peak sales periods and review any flagged transactions. This is a great time to review your customer service channels and hours, and add that information to every page of your website. Your holiday customers can complete their shopping with a wishlist tool and email reminders.
It takes a lot of effort and diligence to prepare your online store for holidays. It can lead to more holiday sales, less holiday fraud and stronger customer relationships. This will also help you sell more throughout the year.