How massive is the e-commerce industry? Here’s an interesting quote:
"Ecommerce is the only trillion-dollar industry growing at a double-digit percentage each year.” - Robert Moore of RJMetrics.com
Pretty impressive, isn't it? It’s no wonder entrepreneurs and business owners are flocking to the e-commerce bandwagon.
But what's the catch?
Related Article: The Comprehensive Guide to A/B testing for E-commerce
The thing about e-commerce sites is that they are continuously evolving and becoming broader in terms of scope, that not even general digital and marketing literacy can suffice in handling its growth. Thus, it becomes relatively tricky for e-commerce site owners to search for team members with versatile skillsets needed in putting together a high-earning website.
In short, orchestrating a team for developing and maintaining a winning e-commerce site is becoming increasingly challenging.
If you’re struggling with the same challenge right now, then you’re in the right place. I’ll be sharing with you 5 project management tips that you can use to make the process of developing and maintaining an eCommerce site as painless as possible.
1. Have a Solid Hiring Process
Simply looking at their profiles, their list of skills, ratings, and the feedbacks of their previous clients will not suffice. The fact is, just because they did better on their previous e-commerce website development project, doesn’t mean that they can handle your specific needs.
That is why the interview process plays such a crucial role when it comes to uncovering which of your applicants are the real deal, and which are those who are merely posing as experts.
A good strategy to employ during interviews is to give your prospect a situational problem. Something they might encounter when working on your e-commerce site. These are some of the most common questions that I ask to have a better insight of the applicant’s skills:
- How do they deal with duplicate content (like disclaimers) so Google won’t have to penalize the website?
- What are their best practices for URL structuring?
- How do they deal with product variations and its tendencies to be tagged as duplicate content by Google?
- What are some of their best tips for optimizing the checkout process?
- What are some of their best tips to prevent abandoned shopping carts?
If they can manage to give you a solid answer on the situations that you shared with them, then the chances are good that they can, in fact, get things done.
It’s also a good idea for you to set a probationary period. Set a clear expectation with them where they would work with you for only an x amount of time (I usually go for one month), then if you’d like their performance during the probationary period, you’ll extend the contract.
This usually puts your team on their toes. They would tend to work to the best of their abilities because they want to keep their jobs.
Of course, this will lead to a smoother process of developing your e-commerce site. Because your team is consistently trying to give their best, you’ll have lesser firefighting, and more on the actual advancement of your site development.
Austin Brawner presented a 4-step-formula that will help you hire "A players" for your team. He explains that the hiring process can either make or break your e-commerce site. Therefore, you should get it right on the start. Learn more about this by listening to the podcast.
Additional tip - If you are oblivious about the nuts and bolts of developing an e-commerce site, you can hire a specialist to be with you during the interview process, so he/she can do the screening for you.
2. Hire a DBA Expert
Whether you are planning for your e-commerce site to carry just a few products or you are planning to launch with thousands of SKUs, more likely than not, all of your product information, customer data, and transactions will at some point be stored in the database.
In fact, the quality of your product catalog, its usability, and its level of searchability will often be the factors that will differentiate your e-commerce site from the sea of competition.
Therefore, as a project manager, it’s your prerogative to consult with a knowledgeable Database Administrator (DBA) early on in your project planning cycle.
An experienced DBA will help you properly design your product catalog so that your customers can easily find and select the right products.
In addition, a database expert will help you plan for the busy holiday seasons by ensuring that both your database and your site performs well.
Last but not least, with e-commerce data breaches now featured in the news almost weekly, you should pay close attention to data security throughout the project. Whether you’re deciding how and where to store customer address details for shipping, or whether ensuring that payment data is submitted securely to the payment gateway.
So what if you cannot afford a full-time DBA? The good news for project managers is that there are companies offering part-time DBA services. I recently had a chance to speak to a solutions manager with Remote DBA who outlined the wide array of database services they provide, which includes a number of on-demand and pay-as-you-go options.
So whether you want your customers to find just the right product for themselves, for your site to operate fast during the holiday season, or if you want to safeguard your customer data from the “bad guys” on the Internet, be sure to integrate an experienced DBA into your project lifecycle from the early planning phases to launch.
3. Create a Separate Group Chat for Your Managers
Creating a separate group chat where all my managers meet has done wonders for me. Not only will you be able to see them collaborating and fixing major problems right before your eyes, but also, you can learn tons of things just by reading their convo.
This is a group chat that the managers use as a central hub to connect with other managers from different departments so they can iron out the nitty gritty and polish the entire workflow.
This is especially helpful when there are overlaps between the tasks of 2 different departments. A good example is your web design team, and your conversion optimization team.
It’s important for e-commerce sites not just to look good, but for it to be optimized for conversion. The thing is, sometimes, a website’s looks (whether good or bad) can distract people from doing the one thing that they are supposed to do on your site - to buy.
That being said, your CRO manager and your web design manager should be closely collaborating with each other so that they can create for you an e-commerce site that isn’t just good looking, but also high converting.
When you have group chats like these, the entire team of managers can chime in on what’s happening and have a bird's-eye view on the current happenings of the entire project.
This eliminates the need for you to pass along the messages to every manager since they can see the Skype convo.
Additional tip - If you’ll find your Skype chat to be a bit too noisy with all the notifications popping up, I urge you to customize your notification settings.
Surprisingly, not many people know about this feature. If you go to the “conversation” menu, then click, “notification settings”, this box will pop-up.
Once you have your notification settings customized, you won’t get any notifications if the keywords you typed in aren’t mentioned. This means lesser noise for you, making it easier for you to be more productive in managing your team.
4. Give You Managers 3 Things to Prioritize
Of course, giving your team a set of goals to accomplish is only but natural. In fact, I haven’t known of anyone who runs a project (no matter what it is for) and not have their goals set.
However, more than just setting goals, I take it a step further by specifically asking my managers to set three monthly goals, three weekly goals, and three daily goals.
Of course, these goals should be connected to each other. Meaning, my weekly goals should contribute to the completion of my three monthly goals, and my daily goals should contribute to the completion of my three weekly goals.
If there’s one thing that I like about the number, it’d be that it is very achievable, yet when you achieve it, you feel like you’ve done a lot.
That said, not only do my teams end up feeling productive, since they managed to achieve their goals, they also don’t feel burned out because the goal isn’t too overwhelming.
5. Invest in Training to Foster a Good Working Relationship With Your Team
A lot of people would argue that you only need to invest in your team’s training when you’re going to work with them for the long haul. And I agree.
However, several business owners or webmasters tend to look at the process of developing an e-commerce site as a one-off thing so they don’t take the time to invest in their team’s training.
For them, once the e-commerce site has been created, they start letting go of their team members since they no longer have any need of them.
Instead of simply letting go of my team, I take the time to send them training materials (for free) so they can appreciate the relationship that they have with me.
I do this while we are still working on the e-commerce site, or even after the site is built.
I am a firm believer of what Zig Ziglar said about helping other people: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
The more I help my team with their training, the better they become the next time I deal with them.
And yes, you are bound to deal with them again since you will need to do upgrades, fixes or improvements on your e-commerce site.
While orchestrating an entire team to develop your e-commerce site can be such a challenge, remember that with the right project management skills, you can have your team work like clockwork, helping you avoid TONS of stress.
This makes the entire experience a lot smoother and the experience a bit more pleasant..
In addition to the tips I shared above, there are online courses about PMP certification where you can learn more about project management tips from seasoned managers. These courses will equip you with the skills you need to orchestrate your team in developing your e-commerce site as efficiently as possible.
If you found this post to be valuable, I’d surely appreciate it if you take the time to share or leave your comments. I look forward to hear from you soon. Cheers!